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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

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tbutler

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We were into our second week in Denver last week. Louise was busy taking care of her mother and while I could help some, Mom was getting better and mostly needed supervision. Louise needed a nightly debriefing. So being the restless sort, I thought ... "I have always wanted to add a glider certification to my pilots license. Here I am in one of the glider meccas of the U.S. for an extended period of time. I wonder what opportunities there are?" A quick check on the WWWeb brought me to Mile High Gliders in Boulder, CO. I called and talked to the owner, Dave. He set me up for an interview with an instructor the following day.

On Wednesday, I met Sean, late 20s, learned gliders in Hawaii and looked the part! Sean did a short interview, took me out and introduced me to their instructional gliders. We pre-flighted one, climbed in and went flying. I had the controls for a bit during the first flight and then we landed. These teaching sessions will be short; we don't go far from the airport and then return.

After landing we hooked up to the tow plane again and were airborne in short order. This time I got more stick time, some practice following the tow plane (not as simple as it looks), turns, stalls and flying the landing pattern but Sean did the landing. We parked the glider after two flights because the wind was picking up. While you can fly gliders in winds, they weren't suitable for the practice that I needed to do.

Thursday the weather was not suitable, for flying either. I spent a few hours at the airport after dropping off our motor home at Camping World. We are getting a new inverter/charger installed, so I turned our home over to the experts at Camping World in Wheat Ridge, CO.

They had told us we could stay in the motor home Thursday night. A call from them Thursday confirmed that, so I made it a point to arrive before closing time. When I arrived I found we had no 12V current in the motor home. That meant no heat, no water. Even the refrigerator wouldn't work without the 12V for the controls. I caught two workers in the shop and prevailed upon them to help. Since they couldn't find the problem, they hooked up a 12V battery to the refrigerator to keep it running. We stayed the night with Louise's sister.

Friday I spent the morning at Camping World. I worked with a crew of four to five techs who were buzzing around the motor home like bees at a hive. They tested everything and talked back and forth, seeking the source of the problem. They thought the 12 V was working when they left the unit Thursday night. Eventually, after much searching, the "a-ha moment" occurred. Dan said if they couldn't find the problem with the power, perhaps the ground was the problem.

Viola. Connect the ground on the inverter and everything works again! I don't understand it, and that is why I have these guys working on it. I thought the DC was grounded to the frame of the motor home and they were testing the power at various points against the frame. They got nothing until connecting the ground at the inverter! At that point I was off to the airport.

Friday was a good day to fly and I was able to fly six times. The first flight I took over the stick at 500 feet above ground and with each flight I was doing more of the flying. I made all six landings. The second flight we were 200 feet above ground when I got the stick. From there on, I was doing take-offs and landings. By Friday afternoon, I was walking on air. What a great experience.

Before leaving the airport , I signed on for their intense five-day program, which should get me the glider certification on my pilots certificate. This was possible because I already had a pilots license and lots of experience in the air. I had been practicing many of the skills needed already. Now all I had to learn was to deal with the silence of flying in a glider, right? Not really, it is more complicated than that. Basically, I have to learn all the things that are unique about flying a glider. If I didn't have the pilots license it would have taken at least twice as long to get to the glider certification.

Upon returning to Camping World to pick up the motor home, we found it parked heading out the driveway, a good sign. We paid the bill, picked up the keys and then went back to our parking spot at The Prospect RV Park. Everything seems to be working fine so far. I reloaded the compartment with access to the inverter, and when I closed the compartment door, I found water dripping from the refrigerator access door outside. Removing the access panel, I was greeted with a fine mist of water coming from the ice maker connecting hose. I knew this problem, because I had replaced one about two years ago. So I shut off the water at the valve immediately before the faulty hose and turned off the ice maker.

Saturday I took Louise to the airport in Boulder to see the operation and perhaps watch me fly. It was not to be -- the weather was low clouds and flying, while possible, would be just up and down without any chance to practice other maneuvers. I worked several hours with John, a physics professor, on some of the book work required.

We returned to Denver and enjoyed some family time with Louise's two sisters and her mother. We did some shopping. Louise needed some new walking shoes and my Nikes were wearing thin on the soles, so off to the mall for shoes. On the way home I stopped at Lowe's and picked up a replacement hose for the ice maker. I couldn't find the connections for the clear plastic hose that was originally installed and which I had replaced several years ago. I bought a stainless-steel reinforced hose with fittings for under three dollars. The one-foot hose fit fine and now perhaps I won't have to replace that part again. The water is back on and the ice maker works! Time for a drink!

Sunday we woke to sunshine. I was off to the airport and spent the day there from 9 a.m. until about 4 p.m. I worked on my pre-solo written exam in between flights. John took over my flight instruction today and gave me a good workout with three flights in the morning.

After a break in midday, we returned to flying in the afternoon. The winds had now picked up and the flying was more difficult. The fact that I was flying in these conditions meant that they were confident in my ability to cope with the challenge and still learn. Three more flights in the afternoon and I was finished for the day. I turned in my pre-solo exam to John and left hoping that I would see the solo on Monday.

The forecast for Monday is once again low clouds and rain. Tuesday looks better. If all goes well, I'll be able to take my FAA check ride by Thursday or Friday. We are hoping to leave Denver on Saturday, May 2. I'd love to have a new pilots license in my pocket. I have almost half of the flights I paid for under my belt and the forecast suggests at least four of the next five days will be good for flying. I think I'll make it!

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