Monday, September 06, 2010

Dual thermal flight over the Tehachapi Valley

Sunday afternoon we spent an hour or so troubleshooting an electrical problem in the PW5, and cleaning it out. This morning we put it in the trailer so it can be repositioned to another gliderport for the fall and winter.

I also got my Official Observer to sign my Silver duration forms so I can send them in to the SSA. We've each been traveling, so I hadn't seen him since my flight on July 4.

This morning I helped N prep and launch the Grob 103 for two instructional flights. Now he has been "signed off" to fly the Grob from the rear seat. Our club requires signoffs for different aircraft, seats, and locations, beyond what the FAA requires, in order to enhance safety and learning. After his second flight, I jumped into the front and we took off at 12:44. N did the takeoff, and I did the landing.

There were very few gliders up today, probably because originally the forecast was not so great. (Also, I think a lot of pilots use the last day of the holiday weekend to drive home if they live far away.) I think we thermalled with one and saw only one other.

We let off over the mountains at 8200' MSL and went back to where we had seen lift, but could not connect. We tried some ridge lift (wind was from the east) but it wasn't strong enough and we made our way back to the valley.

Fortunately we connected with decent thermals which twice took us back up to 7000-7500 feet. Not high enough to go exploring - even to the end of the valley - but high enough to have some fun. There was some other spotty lift which may have been a north-south convergence line but was not very organized. Once when we got high enough I tried for anabatic lift over the lowest ridge of the mountains, but it was not working well enough for me to turn and climb the next ridge.

So we came back and landed on 9L at one hour and 14 minutes. Landing from this direction enables us to roll right up to our tie-down, avoiding a long push in the heat.

Huh. As I'm writing this, a glider just took off to the west. Today was the only day in which the wind reversed itself. Some days it reverses many times and we need to push the lined-up gliders back and forth to reverse takeoff direction.

Look at my three posts from this weekend, and you'll see that the conditions and best flying locations were different each day. One thing for sure - flying at Tehachapi requires you to learn flexibility! I'm very pleased to have had good flights (if not very ambitious ones) all three days. A total of 5:18 in the air, but I can only log half of the dual flights as PIC time.

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