Saturday, 29 September 2012

A windy day...

It's the first day of my annual leave from work, so I decided to head out to the club for the day before going off on holiday to Augusta with the family.  I arrived at my customary early time, even after getting caught behind a pair of oversize loads being towed up Great Eastern Highway and being stuck at a crawl all the way from Midvale to nearly Wooroloo.  Got started with the usual duties - preparing the gliders and tug, basic maintenance etc.  Had a nice surprise when it was time for the daily briefing when I sat down opposite a guy I immediately recognised as one of my high school teachers from Craigie High.  I hadn't seen Bob Bignell since graduation in 1991 but we both recognised each other immediately.  Bob's been a member at the club for over 15 years, and it was great to catch up with him after all this time.

The day's activities included a number of Air Experience Flights (AEF's) in the morning, and with only the IS-28 two seater available for lessons (the PW-6U was having a new wheel brake installed,) I deferred my flying till the afternoon.  So, the bulk of the morning was spent helping Rob out with renovations in the clubhouse - lots of sanding!  The clubhouse is starting to look really good, and it's a credit to the members who have devoted so much time to doing the work.  Still lots to do though, won't be finished until summer!

Around lunch time I headed out to the lineup to help out with launch duties for the remaining AEF's.  The instructor today was Kevin Saunders, who I had not previously met.  Kevin is the club president, and I had a good chat with him about my progress before it was time to fly.  Around 1:30pm the last of the AEF's was over so it was time to strap in and head up for a flight with Kevin.

We planned on launching to 2,000' but at 1,500' we hit a nice bit of lift so Kevin called for release.  After a single turn through the thermal we lost it, and despite a quick search we were unable to regain it.  Consequently, we were down to about 1,200' and had to consider entering the circuit.  As I made for the circuit entry point, we crossed another weak but fairly broad thermal, and hooked into it for a brief ride up to 2,500' and some additional airtime.  We used the airtime to practise control coordination, focussing on use of the rudder to counter adverse yaw from the ailerons.  All too soon though, we were down at pattern height and it was time to land.  I managed a passable landing, although Kevin was running the spoilers.

Upon landing, Kevin was called away to attend to some issues over at the clubhouse, and it was looking like that was it for the day - there were no other instructors around.  Just as we were getting ready to pack up though, Rod Carter showed up to see how things were going today.  He offered to take me up for at least one more flight as he had some spare time, so with a minimum of fuss we were hooked up and on tow towards 2,000'.  I'm now confident I can handle the aerotows independently, and Rod was hands off for the entire tow.  All the way up the tow, Rod was quizzing me on what I'd do if the rope broke, what options I had for landing... which paddocks ahead were usable and which weren't and at which point I'd decide to turn around and land downwind on the runway.  This was very useful for me, as although I'd been briefed on what we'd do on rope break in previous flights, this was the first time I was asked to decide for myself.

On release, and after making clearing a clearing turn, we stumbled into a reasonable thermal and headed up to 4,500'.  Rod had me make a number of coordinated turns and pointed out some landmarks in the distance, then directed me to steer towards some of them and maintain course for a while.  Some weak thermals allowed us to stay up around 4,000' so once Rod was satisfied that I could steer a course acceptably he asked me to demonstrate the stalls that we had practised in our previous lessons.  These were easy, I did three stalls with good recoveries, and then it was down to circuit and landing.  The landing was ok, but I was struggling to control speed again.  Rod signed me off for stall and recovery and my pre landing checks, so even with minimal airtime today I was reasonably happy that I was progressing.

The day wrapped up with more work in the clubroom, and a nice cold beer afterwards :)  I forgot to take my camera or phone up with me today so had no photos to add.  It's going to be a bit of a break until my next lesson as I'm off for a couple of weeks holiday, and then I have the Ride to Conquer Cancer - a big fundraising cycling event in which I am participating.