Ramblings of an Armchair Squadron Cadet (AKA Jonathan Delbruck)

Although I am at this point still only certifiably an armchair Crystal Squadron pilot, I have been venturing farther in every as yet unexplored direction as possible, in preparation for my induction flight, sometime in the next year, I hope. I remember what Fred Robinson used to talk about, and the scintillating sense of “I can do this” that he projected on us, his protegés during his tenure as steward of the San Gabriels soaring scene. It’s a funny thing, that advice I ignored back then, perhaps because I was not yet ripe for it, still echoes down the halls of distant memory and guides my learning process, as I encounter each unique new situation. Binson Fredro is the quiet voice of my guardian angel.

Monday’s flight (July 31) launched X1X into a blue sky populated with numerous rapidly billowing cu’s over Second Ridge, the mountains, and scattered over the Mojave as far as the light haze allowed me to see. Released at 1,900 after a right 270 over the field, it was easy to thermal up a couple thousand, move over to Second Ridge, and quickly ascend for a dive to Baden-Powell. I punched into some 15-kt sink off the sheer east face and back around, working the convergence off the Angeles Crest Trail ridge until I was misting the canopy at 15,000. I decided this was a good time to push the goal posts. Heading out towards Tehachapi, I got half way from Palmdale to Rosamond when I remembered I had dinner plans tonight and turned east at 12,000, taking a long straight run towards the Southern California Logistics Airport, the Happy Hunting Grounds for about a hundred runout transport jets just east of hwy 395. Try as I might, I could not get below 10,000 any time during that long triangle, even though I had to dive to 80 knots several times to get through sink that was bending the vario needle against the stop. This is the kind of day I am praying for on September 9, for the Dust Devil Dash. If I do OK in that end-of-season event, I may start next year off with the confidence to finally get out of my armchair comfort zone, and join the squadron. (Sorry guys, but my one unintended landout at Rosamond doesn’t count. Thank you Dale, for the rescue!)


July 30, Barry’s report:

Karl and I made it to Gabbs last Sunday. I had a funeral to attend on Saturday, and Karl and Rose were going to the Hollywood Bowl Monday evening so we decided that Sunday was the day. Sue is up at her annual music camp in Wala Wala Washington for the week, so Gus McCarthy volunteered to crew for me. Many thanks go to Chris and
the line crew for getting Karl and I in the air quickly at ~11. I left Mt Lewis at ~11:40 with ~ 14,000’ and arrived at Rosemond at 8,000’ where I found some weak lift. Karl got there a little behind me, and he found a good thermal near the Backus Road/hwy 14 intersection where we climbed back up to ~11,000’ and got on our way to Kelso Valley. I headed for some clouds to the north of the airport where I got up to 13,500’, and Karl headed to the east of the air- port and was getting low. I decided to loiter there and wait for Karl to dig out in case he had to land and needed a re- lay to Rose. After struggling for about 20 minutes, Karl managed to climb out and we were both on our way to Boomer where we could see good clouds further to the north. I finally connected with the cloud street abeam of Cinder Cone and was now running along between 15-16,000’. By now, things were starting to fall apart north of Mt Whitney so I crossed over to the Inyos near Mazourka Peak where I got up to cloud base at 16,000’. Up ahead there was much Vir- ga and rain on White Mt, but we got a report from another pilot who reported that conditions were good further north. When I got to Boundary Peak, I could see that conditions toward Minden, Yerrington and Fallon were all blocked with over development and rain, so I left Boundary Peak with sufficient altitude to make Mina and Gabbs. Conditions were rapidly falling apart all over the area as I landed at 5:10 with a 10-15 kt wind blowing out of the northeast.

I called Gus to report that we were both on the ground, and he reported back that the truck had suddenly lost power and was limping into Gabbs. Once he got to the airport we opened the hood and discovered that a clamp that con- nects the turbo charger to the air induction system had broken and that the hose had become disconnected. I had
a couple of extra radiator hose clamps in my toolbox, but the largest one that I had was just a little too small to work. What to do.. Earlier, Karl and I were looking in the abandoned hanger for something to sit on, but we found that it was full of miscellaneous junk that you might find in a ranchers barn. I figured that his place just had to have a hose clamp laying around, so Gus and I dove into the junk piles and started digging around. Sure enough, after just a minute I found an old greasy hose clamp in the bottom of a box that was exactly what we needed. Gus climbed into the en- gine compartment and, with the help of a little WD-40, he got the hose secured with the newly re-purposed junk pile hose clamp.

With the truck fixed, we got the gliders back in the trailers and Rose broke out the beer, salad, and spare ribs that she had packed. We got out the lawn chairs and sat on the concrete pad and watched a beautiful sun set while we ate dinner. Because Karl and Rose had to be home early the following day, we packed up and hit the road ~8 with the intention of getting to Bishop or Lone Pine. Because I was a little unsure of our field repair, I decided to not push it too hard and possibly blow the hose apart again. As Gus and I lagged behind, we watched Karl and Rose speed off into the night to get as far south as they could to cut Mondays drive down. As we drove over the Petrified Summit to the south of Gabbs, we came upon some range cattle in the road that were acting just a bit strange so we slowed down and passed them in the dark. We were on our way again, but were now keeping a sharp eye out for more cattle. As Gus and I got down to the hwy 361/95 intersection, we saw Karl and Rose off to the side of the road so we pulled over to see what was going on. And with that, I’ll let Karl tell the rest of the story…..!?


Karl’s report:

Yep, an other Diamond, weather just worked out for us per Blipmap. Barry launched 1st,  2nd Pawnee per Chris got me next. Thanks, we like it. I left Mt Lewis 11;50 at a comfort- able altitude of 14K, thermaled to 11K, better than forecast S of Backus where Barry joined me. So I went for the hills of Cache creek expecting good lift, had a hard time 9K, what the heck, I will walk into better on the way to Kelso.

There I was 6K low, huge looking windmill blades, me thinking about birds getting wacked out of the sky, concentrate, gaining enough to fly along the ridge to the Rock pile, I was way to low to join Barry, darn everything is big down here below the peak, like fishing (Henry used to say “A Jerk on one end is waiting for a jerk on the other end”), I got a jerk, hang on don’t loose it, oh what a relieve 13K, off and the running.

Sacatar 15K under some clouds, looking back fewer clouds, I am at the end of their life cycle, at the switch backs 13K, decided to cross to the Inyo’s, Westgard a water dropping storm cell, “connected” 13.4 abeam Manzanar, Waucoba

16K, chasing under the clouds W of the rain, one stretch dive brakes fully deployed to stay below, looking pretty messy up ahead. English accent pilot reported pretty good Boundary N or NE, got confirmed by John Gonzales heading S in his RV10, thanks guys).

Got to White Mt Pk 12.7 with two free glider washes 14.8K, I want to get out of here, 13k at Boundary Pk, Montgom- ery pass 11.2k, screwed up again, OK working some mediocre thermals, keeping a sharp eye on some of the cloud formations. I gained enough to charge for the lucky one. Yahooo 17 Grand, easy run to Gabbs. For a while it looked like blowing dust at the airport we landed to the east, nice not having the sun in the face.

By now you have read Barry’s report. C3 team felt very good and the pilot still had plenty of adrenalin pumping we started driving, van running good, no problem to maintain the “required” 70 MPH Nevada speed. Pow!!! a Jack rabbit ran right in front. My old van with steel bumper handled that. Rose saw some cows on her way so I slowed down a bit, just as I wanted to tell her “here are some on the left” one of those beasts decided to copy the rabbit and kept walk- ing from the right side, right into us. (Suicide alley, an other pilot had the same problem a few years ago. Open range)

Everything went so fast, good no traffic even by moving to the left got her with my right front fender. Checking the damage rabbit smashed the left additional driving light, bloody mess, the cow fender all mangled, 2 lights busted but all the bulbs still working, good to have some clear tape on hand. (Over $ 3K to fix. Not sure yet when the van will be legal again, most likely missing 2 weekends) (In case you win the Lottery……….)

With all that excitement we drove home got to bed 3:30 AM. Lionel Richie concert at the Hollywood Bowl was quite good. And now you know the rest of the story.