Sunday, 6 October 2013

Family fun!

If you've been following along you'll know that last week I passed my exam for the FAI "C" Certificate.  One of the benefits this bestows upon a sailplane pilot is the authorisation to carry family/friend passengers.  When I was explaining this to my daughters, you can imagine what the immediate response was - "Take us gliding!!"  Read on after the jump for more...

The weather was very pleasant this weekend and I was going to head up to the club on Sunday for a bit of flying in the expected thermal conditions.  My two girls had begged me during the week to take them with me so that they could come up for a flight with me.  As an aside, my Mum had also just moved up to Baker's Hill, about halfway from my home to the airfield in Cunderdin, so it was a good opportunity to take the girls up to see their Nan's little farm as well.

We headed up after lunch on Saturday, leaving plenty of time for the girls to explore the new property and watch the local kangaroo population.  We had an excellent barbecue for dinner and settled in to bed early - it was bloody cold up there at night and we had to be up early to drive to Cunderdin.  On the way out in the morning, I introduced the girls to the famous Baker's Hill Pie Shop - a ritual stopping point and home of the world's best pies.  They were duly impressed.

Arriving at the airfield about 08:30, it was good to see the hangar already open and the gliders out - someone had been busy.  Surprisingly there were only a few other members about, I had thought that with a decent forecast it might have been a bit busier.  I introduced Madeline and Heather to all my friends, and during the briefing they asked to help out with getting the gliders ready for the day.  Many hands make light work, so we were happy to get them joining in.  It was great that they wanted to get right into everything, I think they'll actually enjoy becoming flying members themselves when they're a bit older.

There wasn't much in the way of planned activity for the day - Dave had his elderly mum coming out for a guest flight, and with my plan to fly my girls for a guest flight each, that looked to be the sum of activity for the day.  Gina decided that if we were finished early enough she would fly the PW-6 solo, there didn't seem to be any reason why she would not have the majority of the day free to do so.  I decided to join her and offered to take EE, one of the Jantar's up after I had flown the girls.

The girls came out and helped me DI the PW-6 and the Jantar, I spent a fair bit of time going over the PW-6 with them, answering questions about what all the different parts were and what they were for - they wanted to know everything!  Then it was time to tow the gliders out to the lineup and commence the day's activity.

Dave's mum arrived for her flight at about 11:30 so she went up first.  Dave had trouble finding a thermal once off tow, so the flight was cut short and they landed after only about 10 minutes in the air.  We hooked them back up immediately and they were off again, this time finding some lift and enjoying a decent flight.  Cumulus clouds had started to pop everywhere around the airfield, signalling nice thermal activity, with the cloudbases looking to be about 4,000' or so.

Once Dave had landed, it was time to get my girls sorted for their first ever sailplane flights.

This is my younger girl, Heather, who turns 10 in a few days. She was absolutely adamant that she would be first off the ground with me. Unfortunately, she weighs stuff all, more than 10kg below the minimum weight for the front seat (yes, gliders have minimum as well as maximum pilot weights...) and consequently had to take a ride in the rear seat with a large firm cushion to prop her up. She didn't have much view forwards, but the PW-6 has great visibility out the sides from the rear seat. She thoroughly enjoyed it, we managed to thermal up to cloudbase at 5,800' and tour around the local area before heading back down. She also got to see another glider from one of the other clubs up flying, we passed and waved at 5,000' as he continued on his task for the day.

And here's Madeline, who is just over 13. Luckily, she just made the 45kg front seat cut off, but even so I stuck 7kg of lead ballast in with her to make sure we didn't have a CG too far back. The thermals were a bit better when she came up and we got up to 6,500' with an hour of flying.

Both girls were great passengers, they both had lots of questions to ask and neither of them showed any inclination towards air sickness at all, even in the turbulent air of the thermals.  Once we had finished our flights, they both expressed a desire to come up more frequently, and eventually become flying members themselves.  We got Gina sorted out in the PW-6 to go fly, but I'd had so much fun with my girls that I decided not to undertake any solo flying for the afternoon, so the Jantar remained unused.

Driving back home that evening, I had two very tired girls in the car, and they slept most of the way.  Once we arrived, however, they sprang to life to tell their mum all about their adventure and show her the video footage that we'd recorded.  Now we just need to talk her into coming up for a flight :)

Till next time!