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on keeping a notebook (http://nibot.livejournal.com/101235.html) (heat-moon) [Dec. 25th, 2018|04:56 pm]
tobo
"Remember what you have seen, because everything forgotten returns to the circling winds."

Navajo Wind Chant/quoted by Wm. Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways, at the end.
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6/13 Sailing! [Jun. 14th, 2015|10:01 pm]
tobo
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So I joined the sailing club! Vickie and I went down on Saturday morning, and within minutes we were donning lifejackets and helping to rig a boat. It was an outlandishly beautiful day, the fog burning off to reveal stunning blue skies, and the sailing club's marina is a vibrant and fun spot to hang out even if you're not sailing.

One major division in the taxonomy of boats is between dinghies and keel-boats. The latter have a heavy lead weight in the keel that's basically guaranteed to right the boat no matter how far it leans over. The dinghies just have a "centerboard" to keep them sailing straight, and have no such guarantee against capsizing. The sailors themselves act as counterweights by "hiking" outward when the boat is "heeling". (So much nautical terminology - I love it!) This club mainly sails dinghies, which I assume is also conducive to learning better sailing discipline, since the boats are so unstable.

The club has its own series of "ranks," as it were (or "ratings"), the first of which is "Junior Skipper," whereupon one is expected to volunteer to teach new student sailors. Our skipper, a "junior skipper" in the club, was William, an enthusiastic instructor whom I liked at once. We took out a Venture, one of the clubs larger dinghies, which he - a keelboat man - preferred due to its slightly better stability (over the club's smaller boats, Bahias).

The wind was blowing around 15 knots, and the sailboat got going pretty fast. William gradually got us three neophyte crewmembers up to speed, first handing off the jib (the sail in front of the boat), then the tiller, and eventually the mainsail. After two hours I had the tiller and the mainsail while hiking out with the boat heeled over and making a rather thrilling headway through the waves, across the bay between the Emeryville and Berkeley marinas.

On what was to be our last tack, somehow we capsized! To be honest I don't exactly remember what happened, but I think William and the other student were at the controls, and that student was having some trouble with over correcting and controls reversal, so I think he had just accidentally steered us too suddenly too far downwind, and the boat went over. (We were, evidently, over-canvassed and should have reefed the mailsail.) We had some trouble righting the boat and within minutes the club's skiff was there to help out.

Anyway, a super fun first lesson, and nice to go for a swim in the bay, even if inadvertently.
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5/31 First Solo - Glider! [Jun. 14th, 2015|09:21 pm]
tobo
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I forgot to tell you: I soloed in the glider! I felt ready and confident and it was a great flight - definitely my best glider flight at Byron. The elusive wave made an appearance at Byron, and it was easy to find lift. I flew into the wind over the wind farm near Bethany Reservoir, slowed the glider down to nearly stalling speed, and just parked it there in the upgoing wave, watching the altimeter tick up gradually. The tow-plane had released me at 3700 feet, and I climbed to nearly 5000 feet, then gradually descended to 2300 feet while scouting out for another source of lift, which then took me back up to 4700 feet. After an hour it was time to relinquish the airplane to the eager students on the ground. My approach didn't have the full finesse I would have liked, but nonetheless made a nice touchdown and came to a rest right on the centerline at the first turnout. Huzzah

Now that Google Docs has pivot tables (awesome!) it's trivial to tally up my hours sorted by aircraft. I've flown three gliders:

D5629 (ASK 21): 21 flights, 5.8 hours (all in 2012).
N3981C (Grob 103): 27 flights, 5.0 hours.
N103FB (Grob 103): 7 flights, 2.3 hours.
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6/3 + 6/4 Sailing. [Jun. 7th, 2015|10:35 pm]
tobo
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IMG_20150604_190809

As if flying airplanes every weekend isn't enough - I think I might have to join a sailing club. It's based right here in Berkeley, and $33/month includes all equipment and instruction...

By luck I got invited out twice last week to sail in the bay, both times out of Emery Cove marina, first with a burner on the Knotty Dream, and then with likeabikemike on his Ericsson 24 named R2.

It's kinda beautiful, and with our late sunsets, you can go for a nice sail after work on a weeknight.
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6/7 Byron Flying, Couchsurfing, and Hitchhiking [Jun. 7th, 2015|09:55 pm]
tobo
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[Current Location |Byron, CA]

Fox-Bravo / Amanda

For the first time I had a repeat Couchsurfer - Amanda, who couchsurfed at my place in Germany along with her boyfriend Brian, came up to the Bay Area this weekend for a big Quora meetup, movie-making, and other fun. Today I took her out to Byron to go up in a glider.

After Amanda's flight, I went up for two flights with the instructor (JDB). For the first time I did a satisfactory "boxing the wake" -- this is a maneuver done while being towed by the tow-plane, to demonstrate your control of the aircraft. First you descend down through the tow-plane's propeller wake (very noticeably turbulent!), and then take the glider in a square path around the wake - right, up, left, down, etc. You have to hold a lot of rudder to keep the glider flying straight even though it's off to the side of the tow-plane, and the tow-line is pulling the glider inwards. We also practiced slack line maneuvers - dealing with slack line that might develop in the tow rope.

Amanda continued on her roadtrip back to Los Angles, and I decided to give myself a little adventure and try hitchhiking back to Berkeley. I thought I'd probably get a ride into Byron, stop at the gas station for an ice cream sandwich, and then get a ride to a BART station. But, lo and behold, the first car to pass picked me up, and drove all the way back to Berkeley.

It was brutally hot out at Byron today: 96 degrees F forecast, 105 for tomorrow. Summer is here. Time to head to the mountains!
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East Bay Open Space [Jun. 7th, 2015|07:29 pm]
tobo
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[Current Location |Nimitz Way, Berkeley, CA]

IMG_20150606_161949

Albany-North Berkeley Kiwanis Club Tree Grove
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Flying [May. 10th, 2015|10:25 pm]
tobo
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Me + Larry + Eight One Charlie
Both days this weekend at the glider field, flying with my one of my favorite instructors, Larry. He's a retired physicist.

- First unintentional stall. (Stall @ 40 kts, thermal at 45 kts...) Recovered immediately, not really a big deal.
- First time actually getting lift at Byron and climbing higher than our release point.
- Four pattern tows and one high tow on Saturday, all crosswind takeoffs and landings (Rwy 30 in use, wind 230 at 10ish).

- Today Vickie came along for a demo ride. Nice breakfast at the Byron diner. We split the famous "Skydiver-Patriot Scramble".
- On first takeoff: "Standby for coyote crossing the runway."
- Five pattern tows.
- Larry is clearly getting me ready to solo! We did one simulated rope-break in the pattern from which I made an excellent landing. On another flight he just got real quiet. ("Oh, I guess this is the 'instructor-is-unconscious' test...")
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Highest airports in California [Apr. 30th, 2015|12:46 am]
tobo
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High-altitude airports are noteworthy because - with less oxygen to burn in the engine, less air to push with the propeller, and less air to push with the wings - the performance of small airplanes is greatly reduced compared to when they are operated near sea level. The upshot is that you need a longer runway to take-off and land, and/or can carry less payload.

I had a hunch that the little airport in Lee Vining could be the highest airport in California. Surprisingly, a little Googling didn't provide the answer immediately, so a little hacking was in order. The FAA provides a downloadable database of all of the nation's aviation facilities, and via Nelson's blog I found some Python code to parse it.

So, without further ado, the highest-altitude public airports in California are:
7135.0	MMH	MAMMOTH YOSEMITE
6802.0	O24	LEE VINING
6752.4	L35	BIG BEAR CITY
6472.0	O57	BRYANT FIELD
6269.0	TVL	LAKE TAHOE
5901.0	TRK	TRUCKEE-TAHOE
5871.7	M45	ALPINE COUNTY
5299.0	O39	RAVENDALE
5284.0	BLU	BLUE CANYON - NYACK
5116.0	1Q2	SPAULDING
4984.0	O79	SIERRAVILLE DEARWATER
4899.9	O02	NERVINO
4623.0	O59	CEDARVILLE
4602.0	A28	FORT BIDWELL
4534.0	O05	ROGERS FIELD
Indeed, Lee Vining makes the list at #2. Truckee and Bryant Field, two other airports I visited on my recent epic hot springs trip, also show up on the leader board, at #6 and #4.

There are 37 non-private airports in the United States that are higher than Mammoth, all in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Idaho, and Utah. The highest is Lake County, Colorado, at 9934 feet, and the most entertainingly named is Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport. The only two non-private airports above 5,000 feet not in the western states are Custer County (in the Black Hills of South Dakota) and Bradshaw Army Airfield on the Big Island of Hawaii (arguably a "western state").
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Flying the airplane [Apr. 24th, 2015|11:29 pm]
tobo
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[Current Location |Byron, CA]

P1080456

Spring/summer is here and the hills aren't nearly so green as they were a few months ago! No longer do we need down jackets on the flight line, and cold gatorade is now on my checklist.

Adventures in glider-flying [last] weekend:

* Aborted take-off when the airbrakes popped up (we guess?). Pulled the tow release and landed straight-ahead on the runway. Lessons learned: pull the tow-release when something wacky happens early on takeoff, fly the airplane.

* Instructor's canopy popped ajar. I just kept doing what I was doing while he fiddled with it. Lesson learned: don't get distracted during pre-flight checks, fly the airplane. (Afterwards the instructor joked, "Good thing we had a guy in front who knew how to fly the airplane!" I took it as a compliment and it seemed like his confidence in me increased measurably.)

* Landing #2 behind an L-39 Czech military fighter-jet trainer ... yes, the Bitcoin Jet! No incident, but a reminder: remember wake turbulence procedures even when flying a glider.

* New prospective club member, Mark, came out yesterday for a demo ride with an instructor. Turns out he's a 747 pilot for United Airlines, who learned to fly in gliders in his native Illinois, 25 years ago. The instructor was happy to enter the first new entry in Mark's glider logbook in 22 years. (Also turns out that Mark spends a lot of time in Hannover, Germany, so we talked about Linden, List, Faust, the Hannover glider clubs, etc...)

Byron C83 has the most eclectic mix of traffic. Gliders, the skydiving drop plane King Air taking off in the wrong direction, visiting Cessnas doing touch-and-gos, a biplane, a helicopter, an L-39, ...

Up to around 15 glider flights this year and hoping to solo soon.

* * *

A weather front is coming through tonight. The sky this afternoon in the East Bay was full of lennies. Rain is forecast overnight, and the glider pilots are optimistic about good post-frontal conditions in the morning.
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Mountain Flying [Mar. 29th, 2015|11:34 am]
tobo
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Well this looks awesome:



Some other links:
* Backcountry Pilot: High Sierra.
* Tips on Mountain Flying
* http://www.flyincalifornia.com/recreational_destinations.php
* Fly-in Destination: Columbia O22
* Fly-in Destination: Harris Ranch 3O8
* Fly-in Destination: Gravelly Valley 1Q5
* http://aotf.tv/
* Escaping a downdraft
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