Be honest. Whatever your level of skill or experience, wouldn’t you love to fly with at least a bit more finesse? Don’t you wish there were some eclectic disciplines to sharpen technique, extend your limits and augment control? Well there are! And you don’t need to go out of your way or spring for any specialized equipment to take advantage. Say you’re fiddling around locally and there’s more lift than you know what to do with, or maybe you can’t handle any more ecstasy and just wanna get down. Any time you have nothing more ‘important’ to do is the right time for some glider calisthenics.
First of course, find a quiet corner of airspace clear of traffic, runways and airways, because some of these drills can be considered aerobatic. An established practice area might be perfect, especially if it comes with convenient lift. Also, don’t forget to announce your intentions on the appropriate frequency, then go have fun.
That last one give you the willies? If not, these next two might, but folks I’ve shared them with over the years have enjoyed them plenty. See what you think.
And on it goes.
Done properly, such exercises are quite safe and tons of fun. They promote mastery of your craft at the edges of its envelope — where mastery is most important. Imagine a world of ways to loosen your bounds and up your game, with many yet undiscovered. See if you can develop some of your own, and if they work great, pass ‘em on! What better way to spend all that excess energy?
For weeks now we’ve been under the influence of a large high pressure area far inland, bringing north and/or east winds, and that is scheduled to continue this coming week. As before, north is good for lift in our mountains, and east not so much. Which it’ll be is a day-by-day question, but it looks like Saturday might be the best…
The winter solstice (shortest day of the year) is only a week away, and we’ll be closed from Monday the 18th through Friday, Jan 5. We wish you all the best for these coming holidays, and want to remind everyone you can wrap up your holiday shopping at smile.amazon.com/ch/26-4006234 and Amazon will donate a percentage to Southern California Soaring Academy Inc.
Congratulations to Susan Bell, who got her commercial glider rating this past Monday!
So now what? Because this awful Santa Ana fire weather has all been blowing down from the north and east, up here in the desert we’ve not seen even a bit of the smoke. We should expect several more days of the same, with temperature gradients essentially preventing useful thermal activity, but if that wind is northerly enough, ideal slope soaring conditions will prevail, and again, more bow wave.
In the summer of ’93, one day each week we ferried a 2-32 for glider rides at a sleepy country club on the shore of Lake Champlain. This gig was such a kick that 45-mile aerotows there and back were usually the most interesting part. Even so, there was nowhere else I’d rather have been. Why? Unless you like enigmatic answers, don’t ask.
Headed home one time, we were skirting class C airspace when suddenly, despite our being painted on radar, here came a Cessna departing BTV and intersecting our course from 90 degrees left — behind Tug the tow pilot’s peripheral vision.
He was on tower frequency but we had no radio in the glider, de rigueur. My steering either way would make things even more hazardous; turn left and hike our closing speed for a three-way head-on, or turn right to put the bogey directly behind. This was someone already failing to see us crossing directly ahead in broadside position.
Obvious choice, release and turn away. But then what? Beyond glide range from any proper airstrip, we’d just spent the whole day proving there was zero lift of any kind. No chance of gliding home in free flight.
I picked a couple potentially landable fields and waited while the Cessna bore on in. It was exactly at our altitude and moments from cutting the line when someone finally awoke and banked hard over to starboard, behind us by the grace of Gaia. (Oh to be a fly on the wall of that debrief!)
Though I came about point nine seconds from pulling up thirty feet and releasing, actually I did nothing, and Tug was unaware of the whole episode until after we landed. He heard a lot about it then of course, and laughed so hard he sharted. No really, but we needn’t go into that.
All done and said, watchful inaction averted a late-night retrieve, and the Cessna’s propeller possibly gnarling our line and steel ring!
…given my heart a change of mood,
and saved some part of a day I’d rued.
Another week, same setup only closer to the end of the season, and therefore to dark, wouldn’t you know, halfway home we stumbled into wave. Tug nosed down to hold altitude and soon we were over eighty. “Screw this,” said I, cutting loose to rise away and sail home in ironic style.
While Tug circled below searching for me I smiled inside, thinking, ‘If I had a radio you’d be glancing up about now. C’est la vie.’
Ahh, first time in daze with no reason to land except impending darkness. Most fun of the whole week! My soul begged to stay up all night, but it grew chillier by the minute and nature was calling too. So that day would end as anticlimactically as a thousand others. Vie la c’est?
When I rolled to a stop at dusk, there stood Rave, the boss, arms folded and slowly shaking his head. I had taught him to fly, then worked with him daily for years, poor guy. He never could stay mad at me for long.
I got away with so much whateverwecalledit back then! And have ever since, come to think about it. That’s why I try so hard these daze to think of ‘other’ things.