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Kris Lapinski


Wave Soaring

By Kris Lapinski, 2018-10-26
Wave Soaring
To meet all requirements for my instructor check ride I had to receive my spin training.  Thanks to my instructor, Bruce Brown we scheduled this training on Wednesday 10/24/18. It was windy day with gust up to 30 knots. Birds of Paradise management who provides tows was surprised that we still wanted fly in this kind of condition but me and Bruce flew in similar, challenging winds before in Blairstown. We released at 5000' above the clouds and prepared for spin practice. Bruce activated aerobatic area and contacted Allentown and Philadelphia approach for traffic separation. I was surprised that we have a lift above the clouds up to 4 knots. This was wave and it was my first time I soared wave. We climbed to 8900'. We probably would climbed even higher but decided to start practice spins and stalls. After loosing 1000' we have no problem to encounter wave lift again. We flew for 3 hr above the clouds at altitude 6-8k'. Cloud coverage was substantial. 80% of area below was covered, however there were holes big enough that we can descend below clouds having proper separation. Orientation was challenging with such cloud coverage and all fields from this altitude look similar. Most of wave we experienced above lake Nockamixon as our land mark, so we know where to head to return to Van Sant. Of course we need to find a hole in clouds first. I was warm but had concern about my feet at this altitude as I was not prepared for such long flight. It was very interested experience. Lift is much bigger in size than thermals. As long as we stayed stationary to our ground references we were ok. We can also circle in the lift. It was not strong but steady. There was also strong lift below clouds with heavy wind and turbulence. Above clouds there was almost no turbulence. Our approach was bumpy but we kept higher speed 65 knots and move aiming point 300-400' beyond beginning of runway 23. We had a whole field for our self as nobody else was flying. I was concern about roll out after landing with heavy crosswind from the right but we manage to stop on center line of 23.

 Thanks Bruce for the instruction. I experience spins in Grob ( I practiced spins in Poland in 2 different gliders and  in USA in Piper for my CFI before my accident) and wave for the first time. What a fun.

Check pictures. One is Pilot Halo if you zoom in with the shadow of our glider.

Kris Lapinski
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Recovering what was almost lost

By Kris Lapinski, 2017-02-10
Recovering what was almost lost

I started flying long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It was in Poland in 1980. Before my 16 birthday I had my mandatory 3 parachute jumps and my first solo flight in 2 seats polish glider-Bocian. I continued my training and earned my silver badge but situation in my local club after government established military law in Poland to squash democratic movement, forced me to quit flying. In that time in my country training was free because flying clubs were financed by the military. Trainee was accepted only after rigoristic medical exams. As a young man I dreamed to be a fighter pilot but as a older, 19 years old I realized that I do not want to serve in a military which may be used against a democratic movement. Joining a military was a very unpopular among young people then.

I returned to flying in USA in 1995. I earned my single engine private license year later and instrument rating year after. In 1999 during my commercial, CFI and CFII (flight instructor and flight instructor-instrument) training I went to ski in NY state and I had accident and sustained spinal cord injury. Being paralyzed from the waist down I was driving and working already 2 months after my discharge from the hospital. Returning quickly to my daily duties helped me a lot in that most difficult time of my life, however I was a sure that my passion for aviation is over and that, I never return to be a pilot and all my training and ratings were wasted.

2 years later I received a brochure from Mont Sinai hospital with the story about Freedoms Wings International. I live in NY and I was very happy that FWI is close in PA. I decided to give them a call and scheduled my first introductory flight with Chris Bigalke. Soon after I started my training and continued throughout next 2 seasons a on weekly or biweekly basis. Thanks to commitment, time and devotion of my instructor-Gill Frost I earned my glider license. Before I earned my glider rating and encouraged by my progress I traveled to Los Angeles where 2 wheelchair pilots established a power plane training for people with disability-International Wheelchair Aviation. I wanted to see if I can fly power planes with a hand controls. Soon after and back in NY I purchased Piper Archer- 4 seats, single engine airplane, installed a hand control and continued my training. 6 years after my injury I recovered all my pilot ratings and even added one more-glider pilot rating.

I must say that joining Freedoms Wings International was the mile stone for me. It really changed my life. I understood that the fact that I am disabled person is not obstacle to pursuit my dreams. It takes maybe more time and energy but with proper planning, devotion almost any goal can  be achieved.

I continued my training. I learned very exciting ridge flying with my instructors-Bruce Brown and Bob Cook. I participated in almost every FWI event, giving introductory flights to dozens of disable and able persons. With Bruce Brown I still hold (2016) NJ state altitude record in multi place glider category and with Bob Cook NJ state distans record in the same category.

Encouraged by Bruce Brown I participate in FAA Wings program which brings flying and knowledge skills to a higher level. I recommend this program to every pilot. It really makes flying safer.

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