Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Gliding in Hawaii

I haven’t been flying much since the Tiger is having it’s annual inspection. I have the annual scheduled for January every year. It can take sometime depending on what needs to be done. Although I don’t mind flying in the winter, it’s more fun when it’s a bit warmer. Might as well do the annual during the coldest part of the winter.
To get my flying fix, I did a couple aviation activities while in Hawaii. To stay current for instrument flight, you need to perform some approaches to landing every 6 months. Generally I do these in the Tiger. In Hawaii, I decided to try a flight simulator. The simulator, controlled by an instructor, is nice in that its easy for the instructor to change flight conditions (e.g. like wind) or cause instrument failures to see how you handle emergencies. I went to Flight School Hawaii to try their Hawk simulator. There’s a picture of the simulator on their website – scroll down a bit to find it. I practiced 4 approaches and a holding pattern. I did very well even with a navigation instrument failure.

The other thing I did was take a glider ride with an instructor. We went to Dillingham Airfield on the North side of Oahu. I went with Soar Hawaii. I went up in a Schweitzer 232 glider. Dianne got a picture while I was getting ready to go. We had a tow to about 4500 feet. That got us above the mountain ridge just south of the field and below the clouds that were about 5000 feet. Initially we spent a few minutes making some turns to get a feel for the controls. It took me a couple turns too know how much rudder to apply in order to stay coordinated in the turn. In short, a good coordinated turn is one where the axis of the plane tracks the turn in a smooth way without slipping or skidding around the curve. You can find more info about coordinated turns here and here.

In a glider, it takes good rudder use to achieve this smooth turn. It also took a few minutes to know where to keep the nose in order to maintain the optimal airspeed.

The next thing we practiced was looking for updrafts along the ridge of mountains. There was a vertical speed indicator in the plane that let you know if you were rising or descending. After going through a few updrafts, I found you can also tell by the sound when you hit a rising column of air. By circling or doing figure 8’s along the ridge, we were able to gain enough altitude to be close to the cloud base. We had to do some tough turning to stay clear of the clouds and yet stay in the updrafts. It was a lot of fun. After about 45 minutes the instructor gave me instructions to set up for a landing. We went out to sea about 3 miles in order to lose enough altitude to set up for landing. When on base, he took over and made the landing. It was a great ride and very interesting.

No comments: