Saturday, January 28, 2006

Check ride and next goal

Our club has a rule that in order to use the club gliders, each private pilot has to have a check ride with an instructor in the first two months of each year. This is my first time for that check ride. Not a big deal - we fly with instructors occasionally anyway. But I had not flown ANYTHING since mid-November, and had not flown a Blanik since August. So it had the potential to show off my rustiness.

Actually, it went fine. Smooth takeoff, boxed the wake, let off at 3000'. Three stalls, then some straight flight and turns at minimum control speed. Then some 720 and 360 turns at normal speed. No big deal. CFI complimented me on my very smooth flying. No big lift today, either, but we did find some zero sink and 100' lift, so I was able to get about 20 minutes out of the flight, even after losing altitude with stalls and inefficient Vmc flight.

Since the runway was empty, CFI suggested I land there. For some of you, maybe that isn't anything to write home about, but at our field the FBO strongly encourages everyone to land in the dirt and focus on spot landings. As a result, I've only landed on asphalt about 5 times out of 136 flights. On downwind and base, we could see that the wind was switching around quite a bit. (There was a tractor raising a dust cloud, and it was very obviously changing directions - a terrific indicator.) But my approach was very straight, my float perfect, the touchdown smooth, and the rollout straight and short and I stopped with wings level. Probably one of my best landings ever. The guys who came out to help push me back said it was a "9.5".

So it was a good flight and now I'm not rusty. I think my next short-term goal will be some simulated cross-country flight, once the lift starts picking up. Both the Wander cross-country book I'm using, and the ground school I'm in, suggest a triangular course in the neighborhood of the airport. Three 17-mile legs gives about a 50-mile circuit, while staying within gliding range (10 miles) of the home base. I want to work on a flight profile to work out the altitudes, and preview the course and turnpoints in Google Earth, and then give it a shot. At typical speeds, it should be somewhat over an hour, so I can work it out with the usual hour-long slot for use of the club ship. I've flown that long, but never in any particular direction, usually just browsing around for lift. This course will make me look for lift in the right directions and plan ahead about where I am going.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I was "signed off" for my Private checkride (last month) I asked my instructor if I should take dual/solo "warm-up flights" on test-day. He replied "Heck no!" and grilled me...

What flight is your best of the day? (first flight)

What flight are you most-at-ease? (first flight)

My instructor told me "this first-flight-goodness" is typical.

So really no surprise you did so well after a layoff. Now... Ha! I'd bet if you kept flying (solo) that day, some "rustiness" would creep back in (of course maybe-not).

Blanik's rule! Really I love those metal birds...

Anonymous said...

Roger, Why is your club at Hemet? Lift is scarce, the field "dreary", the soaring-scape sub-par and the commute (road-access) trafficky.

This is of course no attack on the membership, but has anyone attempted to check out other gliderports? Crystal for instance?

Anonymous said...

Roger, Why is your club at Hemet? Lift is scarce, the field "dreary", the soaring-scape sub-par and the commute (road-access) trafficky.

This is of course no attack on the membership, but has anyone attempted to check out other gliderports? Crystal for instance?

Roger said...

I have not checked out Crystal, though other club members do fly from there. If I get into XC, I might go that way because it's a better starting point.

We do go fly from other places once or twice a year: Tehachapi, 29 Palms, Warner Springs (way back before my time).

Over the years the club has been based at Elsinore, Perris, and now Hemet.

From central Orange County where I live, it's about 20 miles further to Crystal than to Hemet. Depending on traffic (I avoid a big chunk of the 91) I could see the round trip taking an hour or more longer...

Anonymous said...

Flew 2 flights at Crystal yeaterday (Feb-9), nice 2-4kt lift. DG-505 and Blanik. Interestingly, the Blanik seemed to "center the thermal" better than DG, but of course felt (comparatively) like-a-rock in no-lift conditions. This was my first decent (real lift!) fly-day this winter (the skies this year seemed plagued by the high-thin-overcast that kills lift). But (like you) I just wanted to stay current until good weather arrives.