Three top USAF Academy officers from the 94th Flying Training Squadron test flew the LET L23, L33, and L13AC Blaniks at Bryan, TX, and Wenatchee WA during October 13 through 17, 1999. Altogether 26 sorties were flown. The Academy is considering adding to and replacing some of its glider fleet. Over 30,000 glider flights are flown annually at the Academy.
L23 and L33 Evaluation
Letters from the Academy
Recently, Blanik America received the following request:
"Please forward information regarding your L23 Super Blanik sailplane, and whatever other related information you have on this aircraft for training purposes to me at your earliest convenience. I have been tasked to provide some information regarding the possible replacement of our fleet of 12 2-33 training aircraft for USAFA soaring. If it is still possible to include information on the L13AC in your package, I would appreciate the opportunity to review that with the info on the L23. We are in the process of expanding our programs so that Air Force Academy cadets can receive more flight instruction while they are at the Academy."
In response to the request, Blanik America set up flight testing opportunities for the USAF staff, one at WestWings in Bryan, TX (to evaluate the L23 Super Blanik and the L33 Solo), and another at Wenatchee, WA (to evaluate the L13AC Blanik).
Photos courtesy of USAFA Capt. Joey Medlin, and of Blanik America, Inc.
L23 Super Blanik and L33 Solo evaluation
This is Coulter Field at Bryan, the airport in Texas from where 16 sorties altogether were flown in the L23 Super Blanik and the L33 Solo.
Gary Gandy and Paul Nabors of WestWings, Inc. took care of the USAFA while the team visited in Texas during October 13 and 14. (Paul is in the photo on the left.)
The USAFA team flew the L23 Super Blanik, both without, and then with the wing tip extensions.
LtCol. Joe Pacheco, in the front seat of the L23 Super Blanik (the older version with the two-piece canopy), cranks in a good thermal. Capt. Joey Medlin took the photo from the back seat of the Blanik. He also took many other shots showing the positions of the controls in the Blaniks - the control stick, spoilers, trim handle, rudder pedals, gear retraction lever, details of the front instrument panel, aft instrument panel, canopy opening, aft baggage area, access to wing mounting, etc.
LtCol. Pacheco settled in the cockpit of the L33 Solo.
He then climbed with Joey in the L23 Super Blanik for a joint sortie. They met up with Capt. Russ Maclean, flying in the L33 Solo, for this great shot. The soaring was superb.
Back from a great flight.
L13AC Blanik evaluation
From Texas, the USAFA team then traveled to Washington State to test fly the third type of training gliders which Blanik America distributes, the L13AC Blanik.
This is Pangborn Memorial Airport at Wenatchee from where 12 sorties were flown in the L13AC Blanik.
In case you wonder why everyone has their hands in their pockets, it was quite chilly (28° F) on the morning of October 16, 1999. The USAFA team is joined by a visiting team of Czech pilots. From left to right, Capt. Maclean, Capt. Medlin, LtCol. Pacheco, Martin Stejskal, Igor Petrman, David Neubauer, and Ludek Kluger.
The L13AC was pre-flighted and readied for the first flight of the day.
Vitek Siroky, the Blanik America instructor, checked out both USAFA Captains during four flights.
They passed with flying colors; even the simulated rope break did not surprise one of them.
In turn, the USAFA Captains then flew with their Commander...
The highlights of the flying sessions were the aerobatic sorties the USAFA pilots got to do with the visiting Czech pilots, two of whom were glider aerobatics experts. Back from one of the flights, Russ was all smiles after Ludek Kluger, the Czech national aerobatic glider champion (in the aft seat), had shown him advanced maneuvers such as flick rolls (also called snap roll, kick roll or horizontal spin), half rolls and half loops, slow rolls, stall turns, chandelles, etc.
Also Igor Petrman, another Czech glider aerobatic pilot, got to pass on to the USAFA pilots the experience he has developed flying Blaniks.
Afterwards, both USAFA pilots flew aerobatic sorties in the L13AC together and alone.
There was ample opportunity for answering questions, and reviewing manuals and servicing procedures. Remarks were made that it was a great plane, and that the L13AC - L23 - L33 represent a tremendous value package.
When the pilots finally got hungry, the group adjourned to a local Mexican restaurant for some good food.
Capt. Joey Medlin produced amazing images with his Kodak digital camera. The pictures for this web page were reduced in size and resolution due to space limitations, but you should see the quality of the full-size photos!
In the end, Vitek went for a final ride in the front seat while, as part of the standard USAFA evaluation procedure, Joey piloted and checked out the handling and visibility from the aft seat, and the suitability of the L13AC from the instructor's point of view.
After the evaluation, Blanik America has received the following favorable letters from the Academy:
thanks for your hospitality and all your help in evaluating the Blaniks. We
all enjoyed our time in TX and WA and very much enjoyed flying the gliders.
I also want to thank you for your time and expertise. Your in-depth
knowledge made our trip very productive. The flying was very enjoyable both
in Texas and up with you.
Capt Russell Maclean
Received all of your e-mails, and wanted to thank you for the
information. I am sure they will prove very valuable. Again, thank you for
the efforts to make this trip successful. My captains and I enjoyed flying
all three models of aircraft, and learned a tremendous amount of information
regarding their suitability for potential Academy operations. Please pass
along our thanks to Gary and Paul in Texas for their hospitality and time.
Lastly, I wanted to also pass along appreciation for your web site. Having
as much information available as Blanik America has on every subject of
interest associated with your products and services has helped me make
available that wealth of knowledge to those other parties not able to
participate in our travels, yet who are very important to the process. Best
wishes and many thanks.
JOSEPH G. PACHECO, LtCol, USAF, Commander
94th Flying Training Squadron
Read more about the USAFA here
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