Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Which club to join?

There are two soaring clubs within an easy drive of where I live -- one of which is the one I flew with five times last summer.

My decision for the coming summer is "Which club shall I join?". Both clubs co-operated in presenting last winter's ground school, so I had a glimpse of the other club.

For last summer's club, I very much enjoyed meeting the pilots there, the location is the closest, and would be quite happy to continue flying out of that club. The runway is grass, which means they start flying in May, weather permitting, once the runway dries out enough to support the aircraft (the water table is quite high in that area). All basic training is done on the rock-solid 2-33 -- one moves to the Grob or Puchacz once spin recovery training is required, since it is quite difficult to make the 2-33 spin.

The other club is further away, and is a larger club with about three times the members. They have two towplanes, and training is offered on different ships. The location dates back to WW2 when it was an RCAF training base, so the runway is paved (though I have heard through the grapevine that 60+ years of use, and the Canadian winter, have seriously degraded the surface, so one runway is unusable, and one has been re-paved down the centre only). But the presentations made by the club representatives at the ground school were first-rate, and a visit to their website indicates that they are very well-organized. This club is slightly more expensive than the first, but not by a meaningful amount.

There is no commitment, in that I can fly with one club this year, and move along to the other in future year(s) if I choose to switch. At my level of pilot development there is no meaningful difference in their airspaces.

I am going to take the easy way out... I'll go to club #2 for a package of 5 flights, which will (a) allow me to see enough of the club to make a decision, and (b) get me flying a month earlier than if I simply went back to club #1.

Besides, it will give me a chance to fly in a few different types of gliders.

OK, it's not a decision, but a deferment for a month. But most decisions in real life are like that - not a destination, but a progression.

I'll re-evaluate in a month.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Inter-season lull

Ground school finished last week - I made 9 of the 10 sessions (which is simply amazing given how busy my calendar is at this time of year - lucky for me the sessions were on Mondays).

Some of the sessions were amazing, some were pretty dull - it was either the topic, the presenter, or both. And I did pass my radio operator's exam during the last session. Actually, the exam was frighteningly easy.

So now ground school is done, and we're not yet soaring because there are no thermals -- it's still too cold (we had snow this morning - yuck). However, we can go gliding. I should go do a bunch of flights anyway, since it's easier to practice precision flying (holding altitude, heading and speed) when rising air isn't bouncing you all over the sky.

And flying under tow, which I currently find to be one of the toughest parts of gliding, can be learned at this time as well.

And so that's why I have not been posting -- I'm in the inter-season lull. Which, for a blog, is the kiss of death. So more posts to come RSN (real soon now).

In the meantime, I bought my lottery tickets. Lotteries are a tax on the mathematically challenged, but one can always dream. Gliding lessons are much less expensive than powered flight, but still are not pocket change.