October 2001

Soaring at Williams

14/10/2001 Spent an easy day driving up I-5 past Sacramento to Williams and getting settled in there. Everybody was friendly and we had a good evening eating at Granellis, the best place in town. It’s a cross between a deli, restaurant and sports bar. Wild.

15/10/2001 Did a couple of check rides in a Williams ASK-21, N694KS, and got passed as competent without any hassle. Then I did a couple of tows in their Junior, N106DS. It’s a very nice Junior with excellent hydraulic wheel brakes actuated by application of full air brake.

ASK-21, N694KS and Junior,N106DS

The operational technique, launching into wind to the north and landing downwind from the north, took some getting used to, especially as there’s no overshoot, with parked gliders and parking barriers set up barely 20 yds behind the launch point. The technique is to land just on the threshold, put the brakes away and run back down the runway, re-deploying the brakes in time to make a gentle stop on the start line. There was no lift thanks to a solid inversion at 2000 ft. Glass smooth above and some localised reduced sink below.

A group of us went for dinner in a good restaurant in nearby Maxwell, one intersection further north up I-5.

16/10/2001 This was the day I converted to the Pegasus 101D, N70LE. Again, this is a nicely kept glider and had also been modified, this time by moving the wheel brake control from the usual lever on the control stick to full travel on the air brakes. It is also fitted with a tail wheel and wingtip wheels. The conversion was fairly uneventful once I sorted out how to avoid undue popping up on unstick (more forward trim) and worked out just how much flatter the approach needed to be than the Junior requires.

Pegasus 101D, N70LE N70LE and me

The Pegasus turned out to be a very pleasant glider to fly, being quiet (especially with the wheel up), and even easier to co-ordinate than the Junior. The biggest problem turned out to be convincing myself that it should be flown in the 45-55 Kt range rather than the Junior’s 41-46 range. Again there was a solid inversion and no lift. Dinner in Granellis.

17/10/2001 The final day promised better weather but this was largely killed by smoke from rice stubble burning. Williams is smack in the middle of the Californian rice growing area and boasts a power station fuelled by rice stalks. In early afternoon the weather cleared enough for the temperature to rise and I had another two flights in the Pegasus. I finally got a climb in the second flight – 1400 to 2000 over the I-5 intersection on the north edge of town, probably bubble triggered by the temperature edge resulting from the sewage farm there. The next picture shows Williams from the west, with the intersection to the left. Williams Soaring is on the far, right side of the dark field behind it, immediately to the left of the curved road running out of town accross the dark area.

Williams from the west

This is a closer view of Williams Soaring. The 18 foot by 2000 foot sealed runway runs north-south. You can see parked gliders and the accommodation block at the south (right) end.

Williams Soaring

Then it was time to settle up and head for Motel 6 at El Rancho Cordova.

Williams Soaring's resident cat

The day ended with a good dinner in ‘Friends’ with John Williams and Lindsay.