Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some work and a sled ride

Today the weather forecast was really iffy. Light winds, and lift could go to 7000', but incoming cirrus clouds could spoil it.

The PW5 needed a little work, so I tackled these in the morning:
  • The battery wires were fraying. A and I put new lugs on the ends.
  • The gust locks for the ailerons needed new foam and bungee cord. We'd been using rags as padding for a few months!
  • Replaced the long rear bungee cord on the canopy cover.
  • The O2 system had been left turned on, so the battery was dead. A kindly went to town for a battery.
Some of the student pilots are coming to me with questions about procedures and resources. Without actually getting into ground school, I explain what I can. As one pointed out (and as I've blogged about), many of the books tell you what but they really don't explain the why. For example, one wanted to know about radio procedures on the UNICOM frequency in the landing pattern. What do you need to say, and in what sequence? Why in that sequence?

1. First, say who you're addressing, e.g. "Hemet traffic:" Why first? To get the attention of people who may not be fully listening. You're saying, "Hemet traffic, listen up!"

2. Next, who you are. "Glider two papa delta..." If you said this first, then who you're addressing, people would miss your call sign because they didn't start listening until they heard "Hemet traffic." Listeners aren't fully listening all the time.

3. Where you are. "Entering 45 for..."

4. What you are going to do. I get really specific because we gliders share the airport with power traffic, and they are most of the radio traffic. They're on the other runway (23) and they do a left pattern (which they don't specify). I want them to understand where I am going and that I'm not conflicting with them. "... right-hand pattern to runway two two." I emphasize the second two because they're normally listening for "two three".

5. Finish with who you're addressing. "Hemet". In case #1 got cut off, or was garbled, or they really weren't listnening at the beginning.
Once you understand the why of the sequence, it's easy to remember!

A had not flown the PW5 for a while so I went over the controls and features with him. He took off before noon and had a nice hour-long flight. Unfortunately, he used up all the lift. ;-)

I let off in lift but could not get back into it. The cloud cover had gotten thicker and there was very little sunlight hitting the ground. All I found was about 3 knots of sinking air. Near the Initial Point at about 1300' AGL I found a little weak lift but it was not even big enough to complete a circle in. I ended up with an 18-minute ride. Bummer! After about 2:00, most people were not staying up any more.

At least my landing was good. There was maybe a 4-knot headwind at most. I think I touched down right on the line, and stopped well within the first box. I think what made the difference was that I picked out my aiming point as soon as I turned base, and kept checking my angle to it all the way on the base leg. I think I've been looking elsewhere on base leg, and then not being at the right altitude when turning final. By establishing my aim point on base, the base and final legs are all part of the same glide slope.

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