26 April 2011

Frustrating day of glider training

During and after the storm
Before Solo Checklist:

  1. Pre-solo written test: Complete
  2. Boxing-the-wake manuevers: Lousy. It got pretty bumpy over the ridge, but I won't hide behind that excuse again.
  3. Crosswind landings: Subpar. Winds were out of the south (nearly direct crosswind from the left). It got squirrelly below the tree line, and I didn't sort that out quickly enough before the instructor intervened.
The weather on Sunday, 24 April was interesting. In the afternoon, the duty officer spotted a storm cell on the RADAR and called all hands to put the gliders away. A few minutes after the last sailplane came to rest safely in the hangar, the precipitation rolled over the ridge and drenched the airport. About ten minutes later, the sun was shining again.  

23 April 2011

Annual Inspections

What lurks beneath the pilot's seat in a Grob 103
Today I participated in the annual inspections of the club's two-place gliders. We removed the seat pans and inspection panels, vacuumed out all the cruft that had accumulated over the past year, and otherwise prepared the birds for the A&P/IA's inspection.

I was happy to get a look at how sailplanes are put together. It was comforting to see that the flight control linkages are composed of very stout and reliable pushrods. Now I know that capacity flasks really exist--I counted three of them in the Grob--and are not just figments of the Glider Flying Handbook's imagination. Though I know nothing about aeronautical engineering, I found the overall design of the ASK-21 to be extremely well thought out. For example, the holes in the seat pan allow the safety belt buckles to just barely fit through, making disassembly easier than it otherwise would have been.

These gliders are simple compared to powered airplanes, and simple is a virtue: the actual inspection process took only a few hours. After a tailwheel tire replacement on one and an air brake adjustment on the other, both gliders were back in service and flying this afternoon.

22 April 2011

Two Weekends of Glider Training

The ceiling was too low on Saturday, 9 April, to support glider operations, though I did get to sit in on the ground portion of another pilot's flight review, which was a good overview of relevant procedures and regulations. Sunday didn't look much better, and I had about an hour of ground instruction while waiting for the clouds to rise. Fortunately, they did, and I got a great training day in.

15 April 2011

Touch and go

After it became clear that I wasn't going to be needed to work on Thursday 14 April 2011, I took a look at the weather forecast and quickly scheduled one of the Cessna 172P's for a two-hour block. The online scheduling system showed lots of reservations, which was unusual for Thursdays when I was training over the winter. Lots of people either had the same idea--it promised to be the nicest day in the past week--or the fair weather pilots are beginning to emerge from hibernation. Either way, it is great to see more folks out flying.

08 April 2011

Weekend of Glider Flying

I went out to the field last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (1-3 April) for a full weekend of flight training with two different instructors.

 On Friday, the conditions were too turbulent to perform the maneuvers that I needed to practice, so I didn't fly. I got practice running wings and ground handling, but I'm still rather clumsy at that right now. It was pretty cool to see standing lenticular clouds (lennies) along I-66 on the drive in, but none appeared around the airport. These clouds indicate that the conditions may be right for mountain wave soaring, but that didn't pan out. The wind direction was 300 degrees at about 20 knots, which is also usually good for ridge soaring, but there was no lift to be found.

07 April 2011

Cessna 172 Pattern Work

After getting some practice landing the glider and learning the sight picture, I wanted to make sure that I could still land a Cessna 172. So I scheduled an hour in my favorite C172P last Tuesday, 29 March, to bash around the traffic pattern at KHEF.

I managed to get 4 takeoffs and landings in before the pattern started to get busy and the wind picked up. I called it a day at 0.7 hours on the Hobbs, as I am trying to keep proficient and current while being parsimonious with my remaining flying funds.

05 April 2011

First glider takeoff and landing attempts

Fortunately the weather was flyable on Sunday, 27 March. I hopped in my car and headed to the field shortly after receiving the email nod from the duty officer that flight operations were on. There wasn't much lift to be found--my longest flight of the day was just 17 minutes--but the conditions were good for training.