Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Short Dual Flight at Tehachapi

Friday's weather was terrific for soaring. Saturday's was significantly drier - no CU at all but still decent lift in the valley. Some pilots got 2.5 to 3.5 hour flights - I didn't fly, just helped launch and gave a briefing to a pilot G who was new to the PW5.

Sunday was also dry but was even weaker... very few flights. But G was able to stay up for a while in the PW5, so C and I decided to give it a try in the Grob 103, knowing it would not be great. But I had a couple of things I wanted to work on. My last approach and landing at this airport (back in May) was not so hot, so I wanted to give it a shot from the front seat where the forward view is better.

C did the takeoff, tow, and the first half of the flight. As expected, we only found about 1-2 knots of lift in a narrow band. It may have been a weak shear line, but the wind was only 8 knots at 8,000' MSL, and I'm not sure that's enough for a shear.

I took over after a while and went looking for thermal lift. I did find a bit, but again only 1-2 knots for a very short time. I was wishing for flaps like we have on the Blaniks. (If you pull Fowler flaps halfway out, you can get increased wing surface area without much drag, and sometimes that makes all the difference in weak lift.) Pretty soon we were back to the airport and down to pattern altitude. Too bad - it was a nice clear day and I would have liked to fly for more than 35 minutes.

I'd had time to analyze why my last landing in May was so ugly, and made a number of corrections. My pattern planning and my approach glideslope were much smoother than last time, and my speed was right where it needed to be (we only had 8 knots of wind, straight down the runway). Final approach was straight and level, flare was at the right height, touchdown was not rushed and so it was very gentle, and the rollout was perfect. It made me feel much better about landing the Grob at this site.

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