Category: student experiences
By Bob Reuter, 2018-05-12
NOTEBOOKS OF A STUDENT PILOT
(What Now, part II)
The thrill of the first flight is wearing off and the learning of the skills needed to fly
safely are practiced and practiced. Take offs and Landings are important, can't fly if you
can't take off and land.
Weather was not my friend this spring as several lessons were canceled at the last
minute, but pilots don't control the weather, the weather controls the pilot, especially a
glider pilot, and the restrictions on the inexperienced student pilot even more so.
I found out about this when club member Bill Thar invited me to fly second seat during
a contest at Wurtsboro NY. Crosswinds were a bit high and takeoffs and landing were
“tricky”, and this is what I have to learn, but when we were “flying the ridge” (there are
three major ways to gain altitude, thermal, wave, and ridge) which is getting the updraft
as the wind hits hills and mountains and goes up over them.
I was handed the controls on the ridge and it was a totally different experience from the
Thermal soaring I had been learning, kinda strange flying sideways a bit while going
straight ahead and climbing. But it was really exciting and got the blood moving, but
thank goodness one of the best ridge soaring pilots was in the back seat.
The Wind failed and we only completed about 2/3 of the “tasks” for the day so we didn't
get any points for the day but it was really interesting watching and experiencing a truly
skilled contest pilot work thermals and ridges where I probably wouldn't have been able
to stay in the air.
Later while on a training flight out of Van Sant airport (where we keep one aircraft
during the summer) I was getting ready to enter the pattern for landing when I found a
really great thermal, instructor said, “you found it, it's yours, work it” round and round
I went and climbed and climbed, finally had to stop when I got to the clouds and well,
gliders are not licensed to fly in the clouds. But it was the first true climb of over a
thousand feet and done entirely without the instructor saying anything.
After we reached the cloud and looked around a bit, this is the highest I've ever piloted,
the instructor took the time to teach me some of the skills that we needed to be a bit
higher to do safely, is really strange to get the plane to “Stall” and then have to recover.
But with a good instructor in the back seat it turned out to be less difficult than I had
imagined and it is key skill for safely flying, and in getting a license.
Of course during this time there was a lot of “hitting the books” to learn the rules of the
road and the various skills needed. One of the things that I got to help out was a
software program that had an identical aircraft as Freedoms wings and it can be easily
set up to work with two joysticks like the hand controls in our glider (Silentwings.no)
this software runs on windows, macs and linux computers and has Internet links where
you can compete with other pilots. (another program is Condor.com, which only runs on
Windows computers but is more popular in the US, both programs are similar and cost
about the same)
The advantage of software training programs is one can practice things that would be
expensive to do over and over or even dangerous to do in the real aircraft. Not to
mention one can do it anytime/anyplace.
Well the aircraft are being prepped for winter and I will be working the books and flying
the computer until next spring.
See you on the grid.
By Bob Reuter, 2018-05-12
Bob Reuter, student pilot
Ok so you've taken your introductory ride and you are wondering, now what??? You really want to
learn to fly that glider yourself... so NOW WHAT??
well first thing is get in touch with one of the fine folks at Freedoms Wings, your pilot or one of the
other members, all of them weather last week or 50 years ago were in the same position you are.
Since I am just a bit in front of you I hope I can help you can get an idea of what is in store for you
before you can fly one of these beauties as it soars on the breath of the wind.
I did contact one of the good folks and they told me the drill and how to do it. Nothing worth while
comes easy and this takes some effort on your part.
First you have to join the Soaring Society of America, they have some great teaching helps and a
magazine for inspiring your dreams.
Then you need to join the Freedoms Wings “club”
you will be given some lessons to study, takes a lot of studying to learn all the rules of the road and
how to read the “street” signs in the sky. Nothing impossible just new and different than anything
you've probably done before. After some beginning study you will meet your instructor and take your
first “Real” lesson.
A lot of things done by the pilot in charge before, you will now have to start doing, things like doing
the preflight inspections and preflight checklists and checks. Of course in the beginning the instructor
or what is called the “CFIG” or Certified Flight Instructor-Glider will be looking over your shoulder.
No matter how good you get, until you have passed the pilots exam you are still a “student” and will be the responsibility of your CFIG, so their going to be “on your case” and you will wonder if you can
ever do anything right, but when you take the sticks in your hand and “catch your first thermal” or do a take off on your own, or get the landing spot on. The feeling makes it worth while.
You will make mistakes and wonder if you will ever be able to get this “glas” bird to do what you want. And most will spend a lifetime trying to do just that. Slowly and some days it will seem impossibly slow, you will feel “I can do this” and then can't or the CFIG tells you to do something that they think
you can but your not sure... you will sweat and grin and sweat some more but during this time you will
meet some really neat people and learn that this club is more than work, a picnic and then it is your turn
to go to the introductory flights as a volunteer to help others experience what you have.
Oh yeah, it does cost a bit, dues in Freedoms wings are probably lower than any other glider club
around and the Club CFIG's are volunteers (be reasonably nice to em) but that tow plane burns
expensive gas and the guy flying it has to pay for the plane and insurance so he has to charge you for
the flight. Figure about $65 per flight... so you fly when you have saved up enough, maybe get some
organizations or others to help, holiday and birthday presents can be gift certificates for tows but the
view out the canopy of that sailplane and the feeling of freedom when you are soaring cannot be
described, your introductory flight is only a tiny sample.
I wish I could tell you more but that's all the further I've gotten, so as I get further along I will relate
more stories about how I'm doing and hopefully I will see you on the grid waiting for your flight.