Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gliding adventure

Photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/105494084231616659850/6287271869386479233

A couple of weeks ago, my friend S suggested we go a-flying together. So, ready for a nice, relaxing weekend with nothing too stressful or tiring, I woke up at 5am on Saturday, went to the airport, jumped in a plane, and flew to Hayward airport, near San Francisco.

The >3 hour flight up was uneventful save for some bumps at 6000MSL over Pasadena which neatly resorted all my gear in the back. At HWD, I refueled, S jumped in, and we motored off low and loud over some large houses on inconveniently tall hills. We managed to overtake a helicopter before landing at Williams gliderport, a little haven of peace and quiet amongst the fertile fields of the central valley. 

I relaxed in the shade between comatose dogs, ate some food, and then in the afternoon took a quick gliding lesson. S also flew a couple of times, and was dangerously close to going solo! That evening we managed to find a diner with theoretically optimal decor, went for a quick run, then passed out gloriously.

The following morning we were considering driving to Willow, just down the road for breakfast. Says me, "why drive when you can fly?" and of course mine was the only plane that could seat S, me, and our CFI. So off we went, and 20 minutes later were tucking into some tasty tasty food. 

Dodging crop dusters we headed back to Williams where the wind pushed me down the runway not quite as far as my brakes were able to stop us, parked, and prepared for the next lesson. S clambered into a trusty ASK 23, prepped for tow, and disappeared into the distance. Her CFI and I stayed on the ground, suffering terribly in the spectacular weather (Mt Shasta was visible on the horizon) while S circled and, eventually, brought the plane in for a textbook landing.

We distracted her with a photo while the gliderport operator snuck up behind with a bucket of water and performed the traditional baptismal rite.

Not long after we packed the plane, clambered in, and headed off to Davis via Sutter Buttes. At Davis we skipped lunch to talk with my friends V and N(A?) and their adorable tiny human S, before heading back to Hayward, refueling, and setting course for home.

I climbed to cruising altitude, set the trim, and turned on radio-sing-all-the-songs-I-can-remember, starting with Pirates of Penzance. With a strengthening tailwind I was over Pasadena in barely 150 minutes, whereupon I idled the engine and glided out of 9500MSL to land. 

Back on terrafirma I tallied my logbook and had surpassed 210 hours as PIC. I didn't fly for another 4 weeks to make up for it - some time the following day my brain finally stopped buzzing around my skull. 

Gliding is terrific. I would like to do more of it, and may well head in that direction in personal piloting development. But that evening I went home and packed my stuff - I was moving the following weekend!