Your connection with the sky

Eleanor’s First Flight – Video

, December 19th, 2012

As a follow-up to my last post, I though that you might enjoy seeing the video that covers Deadly's first flight.  Click on the image above and enjoy!


Eleanor Flies: First Flight with Dad

, November 14th, 2012

There’s no shortage of reasons to learn to fly.  One of the best is sharing flight with others.

I’ve taken each of my kids to the airport since before they could walk.  My son, Nicholas (callsign: “FOD”), has known how to operate a flap lever in a Cessna 172 since he was three.  My daughter, Ella (callsign: “Deadly”) reached for the throttle with her right hand the first time I loaded her into the left seat of a C-172.

I took FOD up in a Cessna Citation Mustang (a light business jet that seats six) on a demo flight at AirVenture Oshkosh three years ago when he was seven.  And I took him up again in a TG-7A motorglider with my airshow team in August for some formation practice.  But, up until now, I’ve never taken up Deadly, who's seven now.  So I set out to do something about that. Read More >>

Pilot Log – April 4, 2010

, April 5th, 2010

The forecast for Sunday looked much better than the day.  Arriving at the gliderport at 10AM, I was disappointed there weren't any cumulus clouds yet, an indication of rising air. The morning sounding showed an unstable airmass, and that usually means lift early in the day.

But you can never know for certain what the day will bring until you're in the air.

First step for me is to assemble the glider. This isn't nearly as hard as it sounds. In fact, it's easy. It takes about fifteen minutes to put on the wings, the horizontal stabilizer, and the winglets. Gear down, then back the aircraft out of its dolly and it's just a preflight away from launching. Read More >>

Pilot Log – March 27, 2010

, March 29th, 2010

Saturday marked the first flight of my Ventus 2 bx 15-meter wingspan sailplane for 2010 - tentatively, a check flight to assess the preventative maintenance I did over the winter. The forecast was for a weak conditions, with blue thermals topping out at 3,900 msl and increasing cirrus cover throughout the day. A short flight close to the airport seemed like a good plan.

I put extra attention into my preflight check. Over the winter, I moved almost every instrument in my panel to a new position, tying to optimize my scan to quickly capture critical information (airspeed, vertical speed, position). It's not unusual to get a tube or wire misplaced, so I checked and double checked all instrument functions carefully. Read More >>

FAI Grand Prix Sailplane Racing Santago, Chile

, January 5th, 2010

ACONCAGUA1January 2nd, 2010 - and it's time for some serious Grand Prix sailplane racing. Sailplane racing is one of the most visually spectacular events in air sports. It demands the strategy of a chess master and the tactics of a fighter pilot - and at this level of competition, real courage.

The technology used to present FAI Grand Prix racing in real-time on the Internet is astounding. Each glider will telemeter its GPS location and altitude to Santiago in real time so the relative standing of the pilots can be seen in 3D computer graphics. Highly experienced pilots will provide color commentary as the races progress.

15 pilots from 8 countries will line up on the starting grid at the Club de Planeadores de Vitacura in suburban Santiago for the 3rd World Sailplane Grand Prix Championship. You can watch the action by pointing your browser at: The races will begin at 19:00Z (3PM local) each day from January 2 - 9 and last several hours each depending on the weather. Join us for some of the best "edge-of-your-seat" nail biting air racing drama available. Read More >>

Flying (Soaring) on the Cheap

, November 4th, 2009

The country's in the midst of the "Great Recession" and it costs $250 to fill the tanks on a light airplane.  You need some time in the air for "mental heath" but the cost is daunting.  What's a person to do?

As a poor college student in the fall of 1959 I faced the same problem. Pratt Read2 I chose to join a soaring club - the Orange County Soaring Association who based two WWII ex-military 2-seat training gliders,  a Pratt Read and an LK-10A , and a single seat Schweizer 1-26 at Skylark Field at Lake Elsinore, CA.  I paid OCSA  $100 to join and $10 a month in dues. Instruction in the sailplanes went for $0/Hr - something I could afford.  A half century of inflation has bumped the membership up to $300 and the dues to $55 but the hourly rate for OCSA's modern fleet of gliders and instruction is still $0.  If you're under 22 and a full time student, the cost is about half that.   That means you can start learning to fly sailplanes for the cost of a fuel stop.    What a deal!  See:

To make things even cheaper, we took camping trips to the El Mirage Dry lake in the Mojave Desert to launch the gliders with auto tows. OCSA still does this except urban sprawl has pushed the camps deeper into the desert.  Here's a story from my early experiences with this type of flying. Read More >>

Bird Brains

, August 25th, 2009

The first would-be airmen tried to imitate bird flight with negligible success.  When aviation took it's own independent path, speeds quickly exceeded that of birds.

Sailplanes are an exception.  Their minimum airspeed is not much faster than the birds themselves.  Large birds like eagles can glide in formation with us.  That they often choose to do so is a matter of great delight for sailplane pilots.  Silent sailplanes seem to get a aerial welcome from soaring birds  that noisy airplanes don't enjoy. Read More >>

“Automatic rough” – Bumps in the Night

, June 19th, 2009

I know I'm supposed to write about sailplanes and soaring. However, I spent a lot of my flying career driving single engine light planes just about everywhere and in just about every weather it's possible to do so. I also read all the blogs on Lets Go Flying which led me to think this subject might interest some readers. Read More >>

Sailplane camps

, June 12th, 2009

Airplane owners think nothing of taking off for a distant location - it's why they own an airplane.  For sailplane owners, it's a little more complicated but just as much fun.

Most sailplane clubs have a tradition of taking their gliders and tow planes to a distant airport for a weekend to fly different skies.  Sometimes it's to the same place on the same holiday every year and sometimes it's an expedition to a place where no one has flown sailplanes before.  Expeditions to new places are always fun Read More >>

Sailplane flight simulators

, May 15th, 2009

PC flight simulators have proven very popular. The current generation of gaming PC's deliver performance that only a few years ago was the province of supercomputer labs. It's not surprising that aviation enthusiasts have written flight simulator software to take advantage of this computer power. Read More >>