• Glider Tow

(All photos and video from iPhone, believe it or not. I'm constantly amazed by that thing. Click to enlarge.)

Another day towing gliders/sailplanes at SkySailing. For a guy who loves sailing and flying--both an incalculably valuable inheritance from my Dad--soaring is the nexus.

The commute from Carlsbad (poor me, in perhaps my favorite all time airplane, a friend's E33 Debonair) suggested the weather would be an issue. SoCal forecast predicted doom and gloom, but usually it's sunshine and happiness despite their warnings. Not this time. Think they got it right. Gonna be an interesting day, as this picture circa 8:15am suggests (click to enlarge any picture).
"Three instructors have students at 9, so best be here ready to go then", she said. Boss Lady knows wherefore she speaks after 20+ years doing this, so I was there with bells on and ready.

And at nine o'clock customers are lining up. Note the clouds in the background.

This Grob 103 was 'boxing the wake', you can just see the towline if you look carefully and click to enlarge.
It was a busy day, and at one point I was #3 to land behind two gliders. But with full flaps and a little power the Pawnee can easily fly slower than they do in the pattern.

Speaking of slow, some pilots, I'm told, are a bit freaked towing the trainers at 55, when the white arc ends at 60 (supposedly stall speed). But the aircraft is entirely happy with or without one notch of flaps at that speed (and the pilots is too, if you pull the stall warning circuit breaker). Keep in mind, this is a bird that's designed to carry 1250 pounds of chemicals, and fly at 5 feet between hammerhead turns. It's honest as the day is long. Sure, it'll kill ya, something not to be forgotten. But, like a Cub, just barely.

The mostly boring, but for the record, video in the pattern.
 That little white spot in the distance is a glider. Really. Use your imagination?
As the day progressed the 200 knot jetstream way up high started to drag some of the air below along, and when it hit the mountains it made waves.
Towed 26 gliders, and added 7.8 hours to logbook, including the commute! Yeah, baby! Makes up for the days when I'm happy to get three tows.

I'm paid the princely wage of $2.50 for each thousand feet (vertical) towed, but was too tired to add them up at the end of the day--and worried about getting home.

On the east side of the mountains, looking toward home 32.9 miles away to the west (according to the GPS), it looked pretty bad. (Those weird black scimitar-like lines are the prop. At certain RPM the iPhone sees them, at others they're invisible. Go figure.)

In any event, ATIS at CRQ said, "Visibility greater than 10, scattered clouds at 2,500, overcast at 10,500." Works for me!

Weather forecasts for tomorrow is for gale force winds and bizzard conditions above the snow level, floods below, rain starting tonight. Didn't want to borrow a car and drive home, and--worse--leave John's lovely Debonair tied out in the mountains where 70knot surface winds, rain and snow are forecast for a week, maybe two. Had some thoughts about pressing on and shooting the ILS, if it came to that, even though I'm not officially IFR current. Glad I wasn't forced to make that decision. (I know, based on history I would have opted for the most conservative, and legal, option. But . . . .)

These clouds, crossing the ridge at 6,500 on the way home, suggested the forecast is right.

And we did get wet on the descent, proving their point. Nevertheless, traffic was light, but we were #2 behind a Hawker on the ILS, winds calm. So I approached high and landed long to avoid wake turbulence.

Another day, another dollar.


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