Monday, May 25, 2009

Tehachapi Day 2

Sunday started with an extensive discussion in the "map room" to help the newer pilots get oriented and learn how they would fly northard over the Sierras. The floor-to-ceiling relief map is a terrific tool for this kind of training! Unfortunately, the weather was not expected to be adequate for any XC flights today, the same as Saturday.

It actually was cooler and windier. Everyone who went up early agreed that the lift was not working in the mountains but found shear line lift in the valley, but only up to 7200' MSL. Winds were about 15 knots but pretty straight down the runway.

About 3:30 I took a friend of a student pilot up for a flight. It wasn't his first glider flight; he'd been up one other time. Very bumpy on tow, but my passenger didn't mind. We got off tow at about 2200' AGL (6400 MSL) into lift and got up about 7200' right away. We flew around for a little while with a 1-26, but did not find much to keep us up. The wind was strong and took us down the valley very quickly. Pretty soon we were scratching around at pattern altitude and heading in.

The 1-26 was way below us... He must have been at 600 or 700 feet AGL when he entered the pattern, well below the usual 800 to 1000. Since he was ahead of us, I made an early decision to use the power runway since I didn't know if he would clear the glider runway. I'm glad I did, because there would not have been room.

Wind on final approach was pretty fierce but fortunately not crossways, and I made a good landing well into the runway. I was able to taxi all the way to the taxiway closest to our tiedown area.

I was surprised to find that the total flight time was only 15 minutes... It felt like we soared longer than that. But with only a 2200 foot tow with a pretty quick climb rate, and a fast downwind in the pattern, I guess that adds up. Better luck tomorrow, I hope.

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