Dylan's Flying Page

Session 7

WHEN     : Saturday 15th April 2000
WHAT     : Second First Solo
WHO      : Dual instruction with Ray Nallie plus solo flight
HOW LONG : 39 minutes in 3 flights

2-33 being towed
on the flight after my solo   After a bit of a layoff due to weather and my personal schedule, I got to do my second first solo. Of course, my first first solo was in powered aircraft almost three years before this particular solo.

  I flew with Ray so he could size me up and make sure I was ready for solo. We talked about boxing the wake for the first tow, and going up to four thousand to review airwork. We got ready, and off we went behind the 180hp Pawnee. It was quite a windy day too - surface winds were about 20 knots. I took off, and everything went nominally. We turned out for noise abatement as we normally do (to keep good friends with the neigbors, we avoid going straight over their house). Then at 300' AGL, >bang!< We were without power...Ray had sneakily pulled the tow release, after making me think we'd do the rope break on the next flight!

  Quickly I assessed the situation. I turned towards the field, and noticed we were going downwind reasonably quickly, and decided to make a tight left hand pattern and land normally instead of doing a downwind landing (Ray later said he released where he did, because both options were possible and he wanted to see how I'd react). Even the 2-33 can make a tight pattern with 20 knots of wind, and in fact, when I turned final we were slightly high, and I used the spoilers. Ray told me to give him a short field landing, which I did. I got reasonably close to the blue markers. The nose skid is a pretty effective brake on the 2-33, so we stopped rapidly.

  The second flight was what I though the first flight was going to be - we boxed the wake, did the usual airwork (stalls, steep turns, spins - not that the 2-33 spins that easily, and slow flight). We returned for landing, and Ray signed me off.

  So off I go. I wingwalk the glider as it is brought back to the staging area, and climb in, waiting for the towplane. After a few minutes, the towplane returns, and I'm ready to go. This time it's the 235-hp Pawnee. We hook up, and I go through the checklist. It wasn't long before I was rumbling across the grass, easing the glider into ground effect. The Pawnee starts to climb, and I keep in the high tow position. Everything goes nominally as we climb out to 3,000 feet (except the tow pilot seemed to be taking me on a cross country, but fortunately upwind. Ray told me several times that it wasn't a good idea to get downwind in a 2-33 on my first solo!) Finally, at 3,000 feet AGL, I release the tow, and go hunting for some thermals. I actually did a reasonable job at maintaining altitude - I didn't climb at all, but I was finding great zero sink! After about 15 minutes of this, the glider club radios me. I have to come down to (a) release the instructor and (b) they need the glider! This gives me an opportunity to practise coming down fast - I try steeply turning the glider, which works good, as well as slipping with spoilers (the 2-33 allows this - not all gliders do). I'm doubly careful to make sure my altitudes are right when entering the pattern. With neither an engine or an instructor, it's just my judgement of the right altitude that will get me back safely. A bit of sink did catch me by surprise on base leg, but closing the dive brakes momentarily fixed it. I turned final and made my landing - not the smoothest I've made, but certainly passable!

  Just like in power, I found that the glider performed a little differently with just me there. I could thermal more slowly, and preserve my zero sink a little better!

  I did get a surprise when I landed. In power flying, when you solo they cut the back of your t-shirt out. However, as I got out of the 2-33, I was greeted by a crewmember running up towards me with a bucket of water! The said bucket of water was dumped on me. However, the crewmember responsible got just as wet...

  Unfortunately, there was nobody at the clubhouse who knew the operation of the Nikon N-60 camera, so no one got a picture of my first solo (the photograph at the top is of the next flight - a rather bittersweet one, as it was the flight to scatter Bill Benner's ashes. He was an older club member, who I never got to meet, but spoke to on the phone when scheduling gliders.)

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