Friday, December 31, 2010

Kiona New Year

New Year's day at Kiona 2010. It was very cold but the wind was light to medium so it gave us an opportunity to practice our light lift and kiting skills. - Everyone flew till their fingers were cold. - Well except me because I traded Mark for his mega gloves so he could do some kiting practice with my light leathers.

Good work Mark - nice job in committing aviation at the sweetest ridge site in the world.

Winds were too light to launch at 11:30 and by 1:30 they were just right to surf paraglider launch. - No ridge running today.

Tomorrow I will be flying my Grandson Timmy for his first flight. - A day with Grandpa for my 5 year old buddy. I think he will do just fine!!!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good Morning Ralph

Good Morning Sam,
Good Morning Ralph.

Memories of childhood cartoons. - Ralph E. Wolf and Sam Sheepdog would come to work every day, say good morning, punch the time clock and then get to work doing battle over protecting or poaching sheep depending on their respective roles.
Doc and I have felt like Sam and Ralph - I thought the Sheep dogs name was Fred until I looked it up for this post. - Will have to correct our mutual greeting as we pass each other tomorrow at Kiona or Saddle, Eagle, Baldy, or at the boundary on the way to Chelan.
Morning Ralph.
This vid is from today at Kiona Dec 16th. - Winds were perrrrrfect 18-22 NNE. - Racked up 38 points on Leo and and hour and 40 or so in the log. Tomorrow should be just as fine.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

E.W. flying when it is blown out North

Finally something to write about. If the truth were known, I have been over-full with things to write about; but they will take a bit more chewing before the click click open occurs. (I was going to say before the pen meets paper; we do need a colloquialism for the modern age.)

The flight log continues - need to update it - one new launch and a happy hour or two of flight.

Today was one in a series of flight adventures where the internet woke drowsy souls with the thought of flight. Bodies began to stir and the will gained traction until a caravan, of sorts, assessed cost and benefit and the pass is crossed. To my knowledge two full rigs made the crossing, maybe three. I was not checking helmet stickers. - Not that it is an insured site anyway.

First let me include mega kudos to Rick (Doc) Shallman for his silent but precise scouting. Rick was at RC launch early to call the blow out, transitioned to the back side of Temple View and to its summit. Leaving soarable conditions, he came back down to shuttle others up, then returned to Kiona to join the fray. All in all, Rick mounted his chains thrice. Thanks for the gift of options, my friend.

As Rick called it, it was blown out at Kiona, until Ross, first on scene, failed to get the word. Now I don't know how truly sly Ross is, but with the following information he stopped 1/3 the way up launch hill to discover what he is calling "KiLOWna."

First point was that only chain clad 4wd should have attempt launch road(and that had been communicated), second point KIONA IS BLOWN, third point - I don't know maybe his rig started to slide without chains about there. - Anyway great call on the spot for launch.

About launch: Kiona, the site proper, is a NE facing ridge and often takes a N to NNW wind - the stronger the W or NW the more we get mech-turbulance scrubbing down the ridge. Up high and away from the ridge it can be quite strong turb. We try never to fly low in the "lee" of the fingers that protrude from PG launch, Dead Dog and the West side of RC launch (technically in a similar lee").

KiLOWna, the new launch, is at the NE base of Dead Dog or in the alluvial plain/washout near the mid base of the rivulet between Dead Dog and PG launch. - 46.240800 119.500048 double click image above for better view. It sits right where I would predict the most violent of mech-turbulance would occur given today's winds. This is where the crew flew all day. Active air, but no violence - the old boys rocked and rolled it to their hearts content and others danced in and out and avoided spending too much time "at risk."

I don't think anyone had any problems; it was just a great place to play.

After watching for a bit, I flew my daughter tandem and told the grand-kids that we would try another day for them.

The road was super slick - I think 3 falls was the max on foot, I only fell once.

After the tandem, I went back up for a solo run as Doc was testing the West end to HG launch. He had pushed up and out front on the edge of the lift band.

Today was a day that if you didn't manage your altitude it would manage you. Pushing out and big ears on occasion allowed us to stay in control. The wind was laminar and very consistent in terms of velocity. If you pushed too far out too low you couldn't get up and a few folks had that happen. - Nice hike up ya all.

My flight was fun. I slid down the ridge to PG and used it to bench up. It just felt so light; but, after a few passes 35mph to the East and 5mph on the West tack I got up and out. - (Chris was on PG just at that level - I flew past him at about 15 feet. - He said his wing wouldn't lift him where he was; but when he hiked up the 15 feet to where I passed he could get up, very tight little window.)

Doc was up and out as well, and after a short conference we decided to run the ridge to the East. Doc had already run West to HG launch at that point. We banked off East like a couple of jet fighters making a strafing run. I was 23 feet up and behind as wing man to the Baron.
As he headed into terrain, I held back to assess his success in making distance against penetration.

The further back Doc went the more convinced I was that I needed to push out (North) first - this I did and it made for a very fast and quite nice run to the East. Doc tracked me after he pushed out of his hole, but by the time he made it out to assess his options I was pinned at the East end. - He noted my pin-dom-ness and recalcitrantly remained in recon mode near PG launch.

The East end of Kiona fades off into McNeil canyon. It plateaus first, then drops over. To complete a "ridge run" the local rule is that you have to make it over the road that drops down off the NE corner to the North. If you do this your "over the back East" and have completed the ridge.

The problem today was that after making the NE corner turn, I realized no penetration West or North. 2/3 bar kept me parked as I descended at about 40fpm. Slowly after loosing most of the ridge I pushed out and West. I made it to the first shape in the hi1l and began to nurse lift and gain distance at about 300 over. After a while, I had climbed back up out front and made progress West. Varios are very helpful in this game, you need to know when your just dropping or just rising at the front edge of the lift band.

The shape of the lift band on Kiona is just way so cool. One works just at and in front of it, it flows the whole ridge like a log in a log rolling pond. Surf the leading edge as it rolls up.

By the time I made it back to launch, it was getting dark and I shot into that "rotor hole" for a "top" landing. Not a big deal, I am just not comfortable with the place yet.

Cold feet, good friends - smiles and flights all around - almost all around but smiles everywhere.

Thanks for coming over and helping me and Doc discover Kiona all over again.

Feet warm now.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Laminar Flow in Eestern Washington

Today I was able to collect on one of the fringe benefits of my new "job." While some may think it is work I still consider myself retired because I am doing what I want to do. For those who don't know I retired at age 34 and have been living a dream every day since then - but that is a different story.

Today's story is that of flying a perfect evening. First hats off to XCSkies. As we move from the thermal season to the ridge soaring season the eye start to focus more on the little arrows and wind velocity than on the color which represent lift above the ground. XCSkies had it dead on - Both Saddle and Kiona were predicted to be great and they were. CJ and George will have to give us a report on Saddle but I can tell you that Kiona was 12 to 18 NNW.

We like winds to be NNE but it was just fine. When I got to launch, just after making a "work" stop in Benton City - now I am getting paid mileage to drive to my second favorite ridge site. (that is the fringe benefit) - I found Curt twisting his hiking poles ready to hike.

He put the poles back in his Toyota and jumped in for a ride in the Tundra. I was planning on RC launch for a nice double ridge run but on the way up I learned he had his speed wing. PG launch it is. We came back down the ridge top to PG and found winds just at the bottom of his soaring range and wonderful for my XL - Ooops no 76s - no track log and the Vario still remains dead so I just flew - dang what a pity.

I had forgotten what laminar felt like, easy lift to 2-300 over and a nice big cushy band to play in.

Back at the ridge I played hover over the mouse games and held position 6 feet over and 8 feet to the right of the boys as we chatted about the wind - Curt had his go pro on so I hope to get some video to post. Curt pushed off and we soared and top landed and hopped about until dark. 30 minutes before sunset all wings were out and got some great "high" wind launching and kiting practice - by sunset we were down to 10 to 15mph and we played with kiting, working D's until well into the flashing light time period.

If there are any FAA inspectors reading this post you can check my SPOT ok time with the official 30 minute after sunset rule. = How late can you go - or is it how low can you go - I always get confused.

I followed the good Dr.s advice, practicing my snake charming arts. I finally got one to lay down on it's back all the way till I had a a 5 foot head held frozen in place and then a rise to overhead with a smooth transition to launch. Is that considered a double cobra when you do a cobra with a cobra?

In any event it was just great fun to hang out in smooth winds with a good group of guys - all while Doc was enjoying a special evening with his wife.

All the Best

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sun Valley

Nat were a lot of work, travel and only a couple days of flying.

Some made amazing flights but I couldn't pull off the transition and had a couple short flights. - Sad days -

I did fly a bit and had a tandem just for fun.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No flying - well - jumping not flying

Pavil the observer and a small fellowship headed to twin falls for a little bridge action.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday to the Nats

The morning began with a rush - everything ready before worship. Off a little late but the sermon was well in the oven by then so it was just a process of flowing it into the pulpit.

Good chats follow worship and then off on 8 hour drive. - Not knowing where I would sleep tonight.

To my surprise we gain an hour on the way to Sun Valley so I don't know I figured it took 8 and 1/2 hours but I could be wrong.

Anyway the HQ was still hopping so I got my downloads promised to pay on line and bug for bed - but what bed. That is where good friends come in.

I have my own bed in the Tamarack styling with the view.

Class A digs and all full of grace.

Tomorrow flying is unsure but we will be in the air at some point.

Dinner, also a graced event, was the best food I have ever eaten. A work of art in presentation which fulfilled the expectations of the eye with the experience of the tongue.

Joy, Wish you were here Gail. - You have to come here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Entiat and Doug's New Tow Rig

Today Chris A and I got signed off on our T3s with Doug and Denise from Aerial. Winds were up at the Ranch so we went out and rung out the new tow boat and did tandem tows.

This was a first for Chris and myself, we traded being victim and pilot. - Both of Chris' launches and landings were great. My launch however left a bit to be desired. I didn't check the wing as it moved to my left and we almost caught a tree on launch. - Lots of excuses are available if you want to query me but I was PIC. Doug did a nice job of training me during the debrief.

It is very challenging to tow tandem due to high launch speed and we were doing no wind forwards. Both Chris and I dislike being victim but ya got to do what you got to do.

Once in the air the pilots enjoyed the spirals but neither "student" felt as happy about the experience. For those of us who fly a lot - being a passenger is disconcerting.

That said - if you have a friend who wants to fly - let one of us know.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Simple Lift and a short XC

A good day - not planned but good none-the-less at Baldy today.

6 of us were at the rock around 11:45. On launch cycles were solid and ready. No one wanted to be first and I was working with Bart so I needed to wait.

Finally Chris launched and top landed - conditions were strong and "not to much lift." I saw stuff that looked good so I launched figuring to top land as well and then work with Bart. - But after launching I found conditions strong - really too strong and it took most of my skill to keep my wing over head and climbing so I phoned in the apology and cranked it up.

Lift was nice round 900 fpm to about 8500 and leaning over to exit 11. - High and easy - lift to over 10,000 at Menastash. - Cross the pocket no worries and top at 11,000.

What a day!! - I thought I had a shot at going round the Firing range. - Took a hard East line but it was all sink so I pushed North but found myself in no-persons land.

Winds were East and South. - just right for a run North deep in the wind mills but I was too far East by that point and I didn't want to go back so I headed North but it didn't work and I ended up with a mega hike - 2 hours of hot walking. Temp on the ground 102! and I ran out of watter 1.5 hours in.-

By 7:00 I had made the road and Chris picked me up, providing a much needed beer and gaiter aid.

Enjoy the video.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cashing at Kiona

Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon were both stellar at Kiona.

Saturday was very high winds and only Doc and I flew - Lovely lift with easy ridge run in play.
I landed to try to give Mark a tandem but it was too strong.

Sunday we were on the hill at 3 and flew till 6:00. Mark and I had the first tandem then Curt stepped into the victim roll and we set up for a great afternoon

The first top landing was not real pretty but safe. After that we landed and launched at will winds were a bit NNW but fine on PG launch. The total for the day: 7 flights two victims and 5 top landings. - only 5 to go - a great way to spend the afternoon.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Into The Lion's Mouth

When I talk with people about Rampart I tell them that Rampart only has two problems: first there is the launch and then there is the landing. Lion Rock does not have Ramparts first problem, Lion's launch is super sweet. There are several choices of directions and no shortage of flow generating mechanical lift or cycles for thermic lift.

The view is stunning and if you go this weekend you will be joined by 800 star gazers. Speaking of which they were out in force Thursday. Driving to launch we had to go through a gauntlet of lovely, yet a bit wacky looking folk who had flung their telescopes all over the mountain meadows. Geodesic domes, popcorn and tee-shirt stands, music and seminars dotted the fields. The experience reminded me of when Jody Foster, in Contact, returned to her telescope field / research station 3 days after the announcement of First Contact to find her path nearly block by thousands of nutty, space alien loving, telescope wielding gawkers.

Back to the flying. - Exploration crew #2 came together after the club meeting on Tuesday. I didn't get to go on last Sunday's "initial" run at the site. - Yes I know it has been flown before. Like Matty, I have been looking at the site for some time - not as long as Matty has but with a similar focus and certainly desire.

The core challenge to Lion Rock is the weather. - Lion Rock weather dynamics and suggestions deserve a right up all their own. From what I could see Thursday was shaping up to be just about right. - CU development needs to be minimal and heating needs to be strong and winds need to be light. - We had two of the three with the winds being a bit stronger at altitude (6 - 7,000) than would have been optimal.

Matty launched first around 11:30 or so and found light lift, climbing to about 800 over. On his magic wing he was able to push into the wind, which was either South or West depending on how high you were. He pushed South over the next ridge and then came back in front climbed up again and then over the back to the fields behind the sky gazers. I would guess his flight was in the 45 min category an appeared to require a good chunk of his light lift talent.

Both Armon and Conrad took their shots early as well - Both made admirable efforts but gravity eventually won out over the early light conditions. To say light conditions does not mean it was easy - The thermic mountain wind dynamic is very challenging and both pilots along with two of the three that landed in the LZ's in the valley Sunday described the landing and or set up effort as challenging. This includes Matty and Frank - I present these names as a warning sign - If our best pilots found these landings, on two different days, to be challenging, we should listen carefully to the experience. I add my flight to the list not claiming best pilot status but as one who affirms the challenging dynamic of the landing Lion. - More later.

Heading into the Lion's cage - or cave, or mouth as the case may be I had only one goal in mind. I want to fly Blewett Pass and land at the Ranch. To pull off that flight I knew I needed more altitude and better lift/wind conditions than the early launch group discovered. I waited till just before two to set up. Around 1:15 a strong blow came through - likely the upper level West dropping in for a visit. When I launched it was mild up slope cycles with a 7 mph West base flow.

I pushed out and found a little mechanical and a little thermic lift in front of the rock but not enough to get up so I pushed on down stream until I caught a drifter that took me up and back to the ridge North of the Rock. There I played the lift game at Table mountain. - Good and very good pockets of lift combined with stronger and stronger West base to drive me back and challenge my commitment to the effort.

Ridge running in the mountains is normally a blast but when the prevailing is too strong then you really set up a bad situation where you just can't stay out in front. - I exited my last climb at 7650ft because of building West as I got higher. I just pulled out in front and then took the elevator down all the way to the ridge in front of the lift. - It was pin city.

Flight over but not on the ground as I knew the West would only get worse. I pushed for the LZ and making 5 to 10k an hour inching my way to goal. I was about 3-500 over when I set up to land and "enjoyed" very poppy lift coming off the LZ field. The upslope valley flow was about 4k under my trim so I just parked it in in 2-300 down.

At tree top plus 50 it was up and down reading the cycles in the tops of the trees. Check out the last video below for the final approach and landing.

I streamed the whole flight to YouTube for those with nothing to do or a keen interest. - Make note of how little turning I did toward the end of the flight. - Just punching into the flow.

I really enjoyed the flight but staying out of the trees wasn't a certainty until the very last.

Till next time with lighter winds.

The flight in Youtube segments 1 though 7.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Eastern Washington Going Off

Thunder with all the clouds to match. - 360 degrees, building all day and now letting loose. Big Exciting Storm!


Two days ago, looking for tandem sledders, Bob and I went to Bill and Nancy's new place.

Bill is a PG & Hang pilot who has not been flying all that much of late but is getting back in the game.

Their house on the hill sits right in the middle of the Needle in Yakima. High on the hill behind Bob's it has always tempted, but rotor worries and access has kept us from flying, though lots of flying was done round-about in the past by others - here? Don't know.

The face is classic ridge with a rounded top, a cross between Eagle and Kiona. Textured topography out front including a gauntlet gap make for some touchy exploration issues. It is generally a bowl with great SW heating and stands as the highest wind break ridge of the Yakima Ridge.

This morning before all the heat broke loose I made the calls and arrived at what we will now call "Nancy's."

Bill has been thinking lots about the best launch but I figured I would just use the hill in front of his porch. Sweet stuff - launching from you own "lawn." Not me yet but soon for Bill.

The flight, starting at 11:30 was increasingly thermic - flow speed was 5-7. Lift in the low 100's - defined house in SSE to S winds. Clearly a launch site on big Thermal days for those who live close. - where to go? West to 410 - North to Baldy and around. - ESE to Sunnyside(not often from S facing launch. And top landing sweetness. Pure ridge days will be a whole new story.

I flew for maybe 15 minutes and then slid down the gauntlet and learned some stuff. All in all a neat new site. It will take some careful exploration due to the topography, but slowly worked it may prove a very fun place to fly.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wenatchee take 4 - kinda.

1hr 45 minutes of battle at Baldy left three pilots on the ground and one lucky bugger still flying. - It happened that I was the bugger. Many times I have been on the other end of this crap shoot but today - well after the battle, not clearly won but ready to stop fighting I gave in and left on a frizbee at 5,000ft.

I have never left the butte that low, but there was lift, strong in places we just couldn't break through the inversion. I knew that if I kept fighting the butte had a better than average chance of ending my day as well so I figured take the frizbee and roll the dice at exit 11.

There are a couple of tricks that I know on the way to 11 and they were working and the low trigger just South West of the exit worked as expected. The problem with that lift trigger is that the thermal goes right into the firing range airspace.

Thanks to Wheelers maps I could track how close I was and play the corner. - I took the low trigger up till I had enough to push deeper. The second lift step really took me close to the corner but it worked and I scooted around and up. This gave enough altitude to push back to the ridge to the primary house. This took me up to well over 6,000 but I decided to wait until it developed more or I got to at least 7,500ft before leaving for the pocket glide.

This came sooner than expected and the glide cross the pocket had a nice surprise, a thermal mid pocket. Up and out with now easy glide to the Boylstons. A couple of sniffs and then I hit it. - What a Rocker. This was the first mega lift stream of the day. Entry into this thermal was the most dynamic and frightening I can imagine.

My inside wing lifted so high that I pendulumed way inside then swung back to the outside as I entered with a big pushback of my wing behind me then a surge forward as I snagged it. And add 50% to that description. I had at least 3 events like this during the flight from that point forward. The lift was so sharp and strong that it just gave me the willys.

Cloud streets set up at this point and they drew me back over the dreaded tiger country. Lift was so big I had to stay to the West of the clouds and it was a real battle of will between going deeper onto the Clockum(sp?) which meant going back into battle with the lift and clouds or giving in and sliding into Eburg. Each lift and cloud made me more committed. Mer was on the radio and kept track of my progress as she headed first toward Quincy then on the Wenatchee.

At one point I had an easy glide cross the Columbia NW of Crescent Bar but a cloud street was setting up back up into the hills just south of the Wenatchee air space. The line was lifty and I pushed back into it but it wasn't strong enough to grant me the clouds so I had to abort but that killed my slide to the easy retrieve side of the river.

I made it back to roads but way south of Wenatchee on the West side requires a bit of a drive for retrieve. Landed nice and had a quick pickup. Good fun but lots of work.

Friday, July 23, 2010

As a child I dreamed of climbing “My” mountain. We lived in Federal Way with a wonderful view of Mt. Rainier. My great grandfather’s proudest achievements was climbing that mass of rock, snow and ice.

In 1982 I created an opportunity to make a go of my childhood dream. I trained all winter, hiking the hills of Berkeley CA, I was completely wired to the task when our little team of three started out of Sherman on the Eastern flank at 11:00 p.m.

Eight hours later at 12,500ft. we were passed and became the last rope heading up the mountain. As a result of our slow pace, not because of me, but our leader, we had to go back down. I was heart broken. My despondency led to 30 minutes of unbroken tears in the tent at base camp. – That day I learned a lot about disappointment.

On Wednesday I experience disappointment, nearly the level of that day on Rainier but having many more opportunities for disappointment over my life I have grown a bit and Wednesday I smiled all day long. While I wanted to fly big on the biggest day and was in the air at the right place and right time, that I didn’t go big didn’t result in tears.

I have had so much joy flying the past 10 days and with two yet to come I just couldn’t get upset. The cause of my poor flight was the loss of my vario due to a software glitch. – I will be flying with a back up from now on.

The day was as massive as expected. Steve P. went 90 miles off Baldy South. The 90 mile task much of which was into the wind was completed by 4 pilots one of whom did it within the time window, validating the task. – Amazing, the biggest task in US history.

After my short 10k flight with quick retrieve I did another tandem, number 10 of the required 25.

Thursday was called due to winds and today should be very nice though not as big as Tuesday and Wednesday.

Below I inserted a bunch of photos from Tuesday for your viewing pleasure. – Top for me on Tuesday was over 12,000ft – very high.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Wheeler and Me late in the Day

Monday was fantastic. Weather says that today and tomorrow may be even better.

Yesterday we had the same task, almost, as the last day of the Nats two years ago. A very big triangle from the Butte to Farmer and Leahy and home.

Lift was the best I have seen in EW. I launched near last do to standings. Prior to launch some of my fellow end of the liners pulled off our kits and helped fluff.

It worked fine except for a double riser twist that the dismount and mount caused. Launch was fine and climb was strong and I was at the top of the stack with 8 minutes to go to start.

Great start – and early climbs. On the way out from Farmer I took a West line aiming for a few clouds. Did not get under the clouds but did find a dusty that was just forming.

It was a big one and I was in the light dust when I got close, easily 2,000 agl and dust. I gently worked edge lift until I was about 2/3rds the way around it with lift getting stronger, then, kaboom – I was weightless my wing was down and I was falling with my instruments hitting me in the chest.

My wing had exited the thermal with such violence that the move is called by some going over the waterfall. – Wow first one for that. – Nothing to do but hang on.

Once things settled down I had a great climb to the clouds which had returned and topped over 12,000 feet.

The rest of the flight was uneventful and I flew until Glass, landing West of Mansfield after tagging Leahy.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Keep reading - More from last night about yesterday.

Just a quick update - I finished 87th today - boy would you all feel so sorry for me because it also was a personal best x 2 - Longest flight ever in terms of time and longest flight XC with doglegs. - total Distance by Leo method 58.7 miles and 141.90 leo points - 34 seconds under 5 hours.

The amazing thing is that tomorrow will be 10 - 15% bigger and the 21st 10% more than that with top of usable nearing 14,000. Now that is a day for ya.


More tomorrow

PWC Day One

PWC Day One

For my blog readers who don’t have all the skinny, the PWC is the Paragliding World Cup. There are two major international events the PWC and the Worlds. In the Worlds each country is allowed a team of 4 PG pilots. The best of each country comes to the Worlds which makes for both very good and very bad pilots in the air at the same time.

In the PWC you have to be in the top rankings,world wide regardless of your country so PWC events have much higher quality pilots on average. The Worlds is a one up event and the PWC is a tour of a number of events culminating in a final. The total number of pilots per event is cut off around 115. If enough international pilots do not come then local pilots will get in – again depending on rank or in my case because of exemptions from organizers, aka Aerial Paragliding. (Thanks guys)

The first day seemed windy in Chelan but once on top it was quite nice. We had an extensive pilots meeting with the “start time” held untill the very end to keep pilots at the briefing.

The task was very similar to the first task of the Nats. – A down wind run to Almira about 100k East past Coulee City. The start cylinder was 15k at farmer which is about 18 miles down wind so it was gong to be important to get an early start so I suited up even before the meeting was over.

Wind tecs including Doc and Doug H. were already skying so getting up wasn’t going to be an issue.

As expected the launch was opened 10 minutes after the meeting ended. It must have been quite a scramble at and prior to the gate because I went out on launch 3 minutes before launch and by the time the window was open for 4 minutes we had already launched 15 pilots.

I took lower launch green monster which was fine but there wasn’t a flow when the bell rang. I had to wait and Doug called down with the – “you going to go" call. - I needed a little puff. – then it came on nice. – I pulled up and caught a twister and couldn’t stay under my wing as it ran West. – I had to put it down – First botched launch this season if you don’t count one tandem.

While resetting, wing after wing launched / jumped over me. – Finally clear, launch was fine as was the climb out.

Top of lift at that point was around 7,000 feet which is just at the edge for an early day crossing. Very few of these pilots were on low end wings like mine so I expected to be by myself on the rim and knew I needed every foot of advantage, but at the same time wanted to stay with the crowd.

With the lead gaggle I headed out from about 6,800 and around 1/3 the way across it was clear I wasn’t going to make the rim with certainty. The lead gaggle was going to be the most difficult to stay with so I retreated back to launch and teamed up with, by that time, the third gaggle.

This crew was solid but anxious. Again we headed out at about 7,000 which is marginal for me and a little bubble got me circling 1/3rd the way across, though it only gave me a bit. By the time we were cross the river none of the leaders of the gaggle had found anything and I knew I would dust if I had to glide as far as they had already.

There is a field I call the cauliflower field because of its shape. A regular thermal pops out of the canyon just South of it and I saw no problem making that field so I left the pack and went for it. Unfortunately the lift I found was too small and too light to sustain and I ended up rimming the first day.

Retrieve included an hour hike and a 45 minute wait. Not a bad day all in all, but I would like to nail one when it counts.

Next Three Days look to be amazing for lift. – Get back up here soon Doc and throw one down.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rest Day

Friday was the day in between and Saturday was official practice for the PWC.

Friday we got up early and did some tandem training. - I got two more flights thanks to Sam C and friends. Then I went home to visit Gail for the day and returned in time for practice launch.

Saturday was one of those days you want to go forever - but we had a meeting at 7:00. The task was set - Butte to Mansfield to Soccer. This out and back about 55k total giving about 100leo points. The day was easy if the timing was right.

I launched late and had no problem skying the Butte in smooth thermals. - We broke for the rim as a crew of 6 and had no problem climbing up to over 8 on the rim. Our crew stayed together and picked up Chris A, who had waited for us, as a leader.

Four or five climbs with wings as markers made Mansfield a cake walk. We tagged the cylinder and headed back. Hear I hit my first sink/down. I got just a little worried till a dusty arrived to save the day. - Back to cloud base which was about 10,000 - 10,500 was top for the day. I had a buddy for that climb and the next glide.

On glide I saw two small dusties disappear and then 45 seconds later one BIG dusty appear. - Hmm. Well that one took me to over 10 again at the power lines and then I picked up the rim thermal to boost again to 8,500.

The soccer field was way down there so I figured I try a top landing at the Butte. I wasn't sure if my truck had been brought down so I hit three trees with 400 to spare and worked easily over launch. Yep the truck was there and I thrashed around in lift from all sides trying to fined a way to set up for landing.

Patricia called up that they had a driver (her) so I didn't have to land. But I wanted to see how it would go and it went fine. My final move was a bit lea side and Thibault called me to push out front which was the right call. - a little side slipping and I set down gently less than 6 inches from where I launched. - Right on launch just below a prepping pilot.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thank you CJ b

The final day of the comp was a challenging day to fly. Similar to other moderate to high wind days in high pressure conditions the launch cycle produced a cramped sky. That is, lots of gliders in a small space.

Some who worked the tight quarters got up but I don’t feel fighting tight conditions when the air is bubbly is worth the effort. I would rather go to an alternate lift point and hope, than to fight and risk a big cost loss. Mid-airs are not fun.

I launched a bit too early and the slog fest was on. Leaving the gaggle I went lea side a bit and worked reasonable lift at three-trees. The wind was just a bit too strong west for me to feel happy working trees for long and once I was 400 over I pushed back to the west face.

That push didn’t pay off and I ended up sliding down the ridge and eventually landed river side a quarter mile west of the LZ. No worries though it was not a great day to fly and only a few pilots made goal.

The wonderful thing was, however, that CJ B was in the LZ and took me up on my offer of a tandem. I had to admit that it would be my first full on, off the training hill, tandem flight. ( I need 25 or so to get my T3 ). CJ is a rated pilot and I am allowed to fly such folk. The interesting thing is that Pilots understand the challenges of tandem and are rightfully wary of being a passenger with a new T1. Landings and takeoffs have a bit more risk.

On the way up to launch we met Frew on the way down in my truck. Thanks Frewzy – He said he didn’t fly due to the winds which were “Nuken.”

We got to launch and sure enough winds easily 25mph were blowing through. But on launch there were very clear cycles. The wind would blow for 2 minutes then go calm to light for 40 seconds then back to blowing again.

We watch and waited until the pattern was clear, with the intent to launch in the lulls. The plan worked great and we had a lovely flight. The landing was sweet with a strong wind making touch down as simple as pie.

Thanks for trusting me CJ you’re the cats pajamas.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blue Sky - No Photo - Day 5

Day 5

Wonderful day of flying on Wednesday.

The task was essentially an out and back from the Butte to Leahy and back via Withrow. Making it to Leahy was a challenge but not as hard as making it back. While the wind was light, it was out of the West/Northwest making the return trip a “slugfest” as a friend called it.

The conditions on launch were very nice, though we were capped at 5,000 until just before start.

I decided that I would take my chance with the launch line yesterday. In the past I have launched first or near the first in order to avoid waiting in line, but I figured 15 minutes on the ground wouldn’t hurt and as long as the line wasn’t huge. As it turned out that line forms real fast when it starts forming and I was lucky to be 20th or so.

The launch crew was doing a bang up job getting folk off between the rocks. They were offering Ants as an option. No one in line wanted Ants because Rocks was working so well there was no need to risk the rotor. By the time I was second up Rocks began to get light and I switched to Ants which worked great. The launch cycle was light but a strong run to the bottom of the launch hill worked fine.

I was in the air by 20 after noon and start was an hour and 10 minutes down the road. We went up and down in good thermals but didn’t get high until just before start. Often there are multiple thermal cores on the Butte and they can alternate. I happened to be further South when the main gaggle boosted up and just before start I caught the cycle to make top of the stack even though the stack was 400 meters North of me.

It is quite a site when 100 gliders all turn to start as a flotilla. I joined in a bit higher and 200 meters back. This was perfect position, giving me the ability to watch other gliders for lift lines and the rim thermal. At the rim the big gaggle North found lift quite far up Farnum and we found it in the next draw to the South.

This lift eventually took us to 7,000 feet and began the trek east. There were plenty of partners helping find lift on an all blue-sky day. On an out and back the line stays quite busy until you turn to head home. After the turn the number of gliders in your area drops off fast.

When I got to Leahy we were in light lift and I took it up to around 6,000ft. I should have milked it to 7,500 or so but with only 3k to go I figured I could tage out and back and regain my thermal without problem. BUT it was a problem. As usual two mistakes back to back usually ends a flight.

Heading to the turn point on the South ridge that defines the Leahy draw I saw an Orange wing on the North ridge and he seemed to be doing better than me in my mega sink. I headed more toward tat wing but that just pushed me further down into the valley and the sink. By the time I wised up I was very low, but just then I tagged and bugged out.

I did get back to the location of my previous lift but fairly low.

I flew through it looking for the strongest point of lift but missed it. I had a visual on the lift trigger but the thermal was leaning more when I got back so I ended up sinking on the windward side of the lift. Eventually I figured it out and returned to the bubbles but it was too little too late.

I couldn’t work the light stuff with the winds building and my flight ended right there.

The cool thing was that a retrieve crew from Colorado was following there own and waited for me. We had a great afternoon chasing Greg Kelly back to near the rim for a sweet retrieve.

Today is the last day – Should be great flying and a party to go.

Totals – Time in air 4hours, 34 XC miles and max altitude just under 9,000ft.`

Camera – I messed up my SD chip and lost two days photos.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nats Day 4

Day 4 was a great day of flying. The conditions were some of the strongest I have flown and by far the strongest for me at Chelan. The cloud streets and lift were very big although not over developed.
I launched second or third - Thanks to Doug Hoffman for being a wind tec for us - great pilot and he showed us it was safe to launch.
Climbing above the Butte with a bunch of R 10.2s is quite exciting. - They are so fast you just have to get out of the way. The lift on the Butte was a bit challenging because of the strong lake side flow but the start cylinder was 10K so you didn't have to worry about getting blown too far down wind.
My start was ok - maybe 5-7 min late but I was just worrying about staying high, staying warm and staying out of the clouds.
I was with the second gaggle until it dispursed or headed down wind and by the time we were 20 minutes into the race I was very lonely. - Lift was everywhere with lots of cloud markers and dusties. I left my last lift at about 7,500 or so and had a long way to go to the next cloud.
About half way through my glide I noted a couple of wings catching light lift to my right and I turned to join them but by the time I got there they were gone and so was the lift.
Two trys for lift is all I got and my slide to the ground continued until its completion.
No compaints - I think I flew well and made ok decissions - got unlucky as far as timing and clouds but that happens. - All in all if I have a similar mental and performance day today it should pay off. We will see. - Today likely a triangle.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 3 -

Day three, a Recap

Comps take so much energy and there is so much yackn with friends the blog is often an afterthought.

Today is an off day due to winds so I figured I would give a bit more robust report for the wondering eyes of this posting place.

Day one was very good flying however as I mentioned before I decided to forgo a great flight and make a stupid decision and cut my flight short.

The start cylinder on day one was 5k. This is about 2 k from the house thermal on the rim that I am use to flying. I figured that a big lift on the rim say to 8k would put me in great shape, maybe even above the flock when we met in the center at start time. The problem was that the Butte was giving 8,000 and the rim was only granting 6,000ft.

The result was that when I finally returned to tag the start and bug back for the rim I was too low to sustain the rim and I landed down by the river. –

Lesson learned: stay with the gaggle – Well that’s the lesson, I just can’t seem to learn it. This is at least the 4th time my arrogance and stupidity have ganged up on me.

Carnage report for day one: One R10.2 balled up and the pilot hucked with no injury. One asymmetric in front of the rocks resulted in a trip to the hospital for observation – injuries appear minor if any.

Day two – that is yesterday – was held down by inversion/ high pressure and west winds right at the max. Mer, Doc and I flew the very same day at Chelan two weeks ago and the results were just the same. For most of the launch cycle, from Green Monster, there was a ridge/thermic soaring fest right out in front. Very crowded, once or twice Doug called a hold on launch for safety to clear space in the air. Very hard to get high.

I didn’t think I would fly at all and spent most of the hour before start walking round and taking pictures. Most every one else was at least in line.

Finally a cycle of reduced wind with good lift flipped my decision matrix and I launched. After about 35 minutes of fighting I got to 5,000 ft but was drifting back fast and had no hope of staying with the comp wings. I pushed forward to get back to lift but it was fruitless. I just stayed safe and ended in the LZ.

Carnage report day two: – One hard impact near Sims with possible serious internal injuries. More info as released.

Day three called due to winds – I assume – I came home for a night in Air Conditioned bliss. – My bungalow in Chelan was one hot place Saturday night.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Today was a simple task - Follow the Leader 88 k out to Almira.
I made it hard by trying to be the leader. - This is the best way to get to dumb land and I got there fast.
Launching early because of my distain for lines I was at the top of the stack at 8,000 feet with 55 minutes to go to start - Not fun but doable. -
Rather than wait I crossed the river figuring I could return and tag rather than glide and time it. - Amazingly stupid.
I got across and was well esablished at 6,000 MSL over the rim but that wasn't enough to glide back to the 5k cylindar and then back to the rim lift so I dusted at the LONE PINE cafe and had a beer. -
The rest of the day was spent mopeing with a fellow competitor who also was unhappy with their day.

tomorrow - fly with the pack.

Day One

Winds look to be up a bit but we will likely still fly. Thanks to Karen for use of her bungalo. My fellow pilots don't want to talk with me about lodging. - It is expensive round here or crowded at Bee Bee campground.

Sign in went fine and it looks like we will be having lots of fun.

Friday's flight was short - inversion cap at 4,500 to 5,000 - Doc made exit 11.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wednesday at Baldy

Wednesday shaped up to be a wonderful day to fly. Winds were just a bit out of the North but generally quite light and variable. Baldy at 1:00 was flowing up on all sides. As we were waiting for the South cycles to kick in a number of small dusties ran right up the spine from the West. This condition can make launch quite challenging - at least launching to the South on the main launch. What happens is that the main house thermal to the West of launch just cranks straight up and spins off the dusties up the ridge line. They run right through launch but a cycle flow never gets established from the South.

I continue to be a proponent for the West launch in all but strong South and SSE conditions. While it is a bit lower and less conducive the communal aspects of gear prep the cycles on light and switching days come right out of the house thermal. I will keep encouraging West launches on light days and hope it catches on.
When we got to launch the flow was North but it was getting lighter and we knew it would clock around to the West if not full SW by launch time. On South launch we got ready an the small black bag from the convenience store that held my water and candy bar was grabbed while we weren't looking. The water and candy were on the ground but the Bag was at 300 ft AGL and climbing - We watched it until we couldn't see it any more. - Obviously it was working.

I went down to West launch, set up and after about 5 minutes caught a cycle that worked just fine. The lift was very solid in the ridge house and after a simple slide down the ridge to the West in 300 up, back again I was in the core and easily 300 over before my first full circle. The house was strong and smooth, it was big and I only hit an edge once or twice and they were not sharp. We launched late, almost 1:45 if I am correct, so the thermal was full on and with almost no overcast I didn't top out until almost 8,000 ft. This was the highest house thermal at Baldy this year.

By the time I topped out the rest of the crew were still frustrating there selves on the South launch and I wanted to fly team. I knew it would take at least 15 to 20 minutes before they either caught a South cycle or gave up and went West. I didn't want to hang around at the top of Baldy, not a nice place to fly so with no prevailing direction I pushed out for West Selah Butte figuring I could get there, top off from the Selah lift and then return to Baldy to team up when the rest of the crew was in the air. - In the process I could get some extra LEO points for a short leg.

The plan worked just perfect. The Selah lift was as strong and located spot on expected. I topped it out at 8,000 again and turning around I saw a couple wings in the air and at least one on West launch.

By the time I got back to the hill two of three were above me and my flying buddy was at eye level. We climbed out well and headed for Menastash together.

Cloud dynamics were in play most of the day, not marking thermals but casting shadows over lift triggers and collectors. There was a fairly thick, transient overcast that played with us all day. When we headed East the North end of Menastash was shaded and there was just a bit of sun on the South end of the ridge's collector.

The South end worked very well and the boomer that we caught near the firing center boundary was nutso. Ralph was scratching both sides of the hill and eventually got higher than me. Mer also got up high and headed out before me into a sink fest in the pocket. The middle of the pocket is usually a good line but not Wednesday. Both Mer and Ralph lost a ton as I was dottling on the South end of the ridge. Mer realized the sink was going to make the Boylstons tough and returned to the thermal I was in and cranked it up with me. Ralph continued on and ended up scratching on the Boylstons and I think his day ended near there.

Mer and I continued deep into the pocket. Thanks to Wheelers maps on my 76S I was able to take the biggest thermal of the day right up to the airspace boundary without breaking it. We had 7 m/s lift, at one point the pitch and frequency was just crazy and when I looked at my 5030 it was stuck at 6739 and not moving the altimeter couldn't keep up with the rapid change in altitude - never seen that before.

After topping the Boylston lift I headed due North 500 ft or so outside the airspace line for better part of a mile and when I cleared Golf I headed over Hotel and overflew it's 5,500 ft cap on the way to the Black Spot.

Lift was plentiful and strong transitioning to the Windmills but heading East didn't seem in the cards as a very large N/S cloud had set up over the Columbia. It was easily a mile wide, and looked like the Morning Glory convergence. It was too high to catch lift at it and I figured once near it and crossing the shaddowed ground would result in certain dusting just over the East rim of the river.

The other options include going South toward Saddle but the cloud really made that option unlikely as well so North by North West it was and work round the hills North of Kititas and Eburg.

The last of the windmills are quite far North and at the top of the hill marked nice lift. The lift kept pushing me deeper and deeper up the Colockum. But by that time, almost 5:00 or so I was certain that the plateau wouldn't sustain a run to Wenatchee. I skirted the lovely fingers about 10 miles North of the farm/hill transition At the top of each canyon was a lift zone, each encouraging me to go deeper and farther but I needed to stay South for a glide out to retrieve.
Uuugh one more lift and, can I make the next ridge? - yep made it but too low - this isn't good - the last ridge I got to was too high or I was too low and I slid all the way down the back side of the lift till I was maybe 300 over. To the South was a West facing ridge I could work down but it was steep and more trees than I wanted.

A quick decision was needed. - Either land on top of the ridge right there or roll the dice and see if I could slide down the ridge catching lift to keep me out to the trees. Last time I faced that call was at Woodrat and I didn't like the sliding into the trees option. So I decide to land way up in the hills. The flow was upslope and as I set up I found myself too high as the hill dropped away precipitously. 180 back up the hill and down wind. - Now the hill was approaching so quickly that I couldn't turn back for a up wind landing.

Down wind and upslope - dam - well a little road rash on my right forearm and hip are a simple reminder to make those calls a little sooner.

At least cell coverage was good until I got lower in the canyon, but it was still an hour hike down to the road and then a three mile ride in a helpful neighbor's Miata to the gate that was keeping Dr. K from and Jill from getting to me. Boy they had a long retrieve, and Jill missed her daughters birthday - what a sweetheart. Thanks for the mega retrieve.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday at Baldy

Next year I will be at Tiger to do my share tandem. But as my T1 is just newly minted I figure the best I could do is throw one down with the XC crowd.

Sunday is a trick for me, my day of work as you may know. Making the hill in perfect time is not always possible. Today I was lucky and made the LZ by 12:20 - in time to watch Mer launch along with CJ and Martin. - Dave and Tim were already in the air.

Baldy was at its normal best in SW conditions. The wind was up a bit so it did help to wait. Dave fought the good fight staying above launch until the boomers really kicked in.
I was last off and had to play catch up but that isn't all bad. Later is better in terms of condition development.
Initial thermal was strong and topped at about 5,500 or so not real developed at mid altitude. Dave, Mer and CJ were above me and heading out and I lost the core which required a restart.

Down I went until I was well below launch, pushing out I began to wonder if that would be it. I was well high above the bumps in front the Airport and the pounder was waiting to kick my gluteus maximus. Normal bullet for the time of day - Now around 1:30. Rock and Roll to 5,800 and then a departure thermal to around 6,500.

This set up a lifty line to the normal route over the NW corner of the firing range (careful not to touch) and a set of clouds took me to the Boylstons.
The far left lift hill has worked in the past, though it is not the highest it seems most reliable. (check my track log if your interested) A real screamer took me very high almost 8,400 in two pops.
By this time the clouds were setting up for a great run. One after another they lay in wait up the Columbia. It is very common to see a convergence line right over the Eastern edge of the river running all the way to Quincy. This is the same line I took on my first flight NE of Wenatchee. Today however the clouds over the hills and West were really shutting things down and it was a race between OD and sun.
I pushed as best I could over Quincy and to the hills just North of there. The hills had just a touch of sun on them by that time, just enough to get a little bit of lift that cast me off for the next valley.

Not much more was left but a hope and a prayer - neither were to pan out as I dusted, but dusted just far enough.

One of my big time goals was to get a 50 mile point to point and a coveted USHPA XC award, what ever that is.

It was a great day of flying all around. - Both Dave and Mer had very nice flights, flying together most of the day which is one of our XC goals. Thanks to Martin for the retrieve and Mer and Dave for dogging it up the hill for the truck. -- You all are the bomb.

News from Pine is that Conrad nailed 115k and two others including Brian Webb bested 100k with a 4th going 60 or better. - Way to Go ya all.

Next year Tiger.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rat Day 4

Today was a great day to fly. – We had solid lift to cloud base at 6,000 and it was often a challenge to stay clear of the clouds. I left launch first, two seconds after launch open. Early paid off as I was able to climb to full on base and ride it all day long.

We never got low until the last of glide to goal. – Two or three gliders were in front of me as we came near goal. – A bit of sink set us down 2 ridges short of destination.

Now we had to work for the glory. Frank and I found a screamer after about 10 minutes of scratching. – The gap to Goal ridge was lifty and we had tons at goal.

Cold fingers early gave way to warm sun – puffy clouds and 50 points on LEO.

As for the comp check out the results at:


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wood Rat Day 3

Windy day - a bit more than what we wanted.
Today was not my day. - While I launched 3 seconds after the launch open time I never felt synced up with any of the gaggles. -

Eventualy I made start after a bit of work and then taged Burnt after a save low but when I went over Burnt I didn't commit to down wind and tryed to retreat. BAD MOVE - I ended up scratching on a lea side second ridge.
I tried but couldn't get my wing to take out a low level set of trees. Below me were bigger trees and power lines.

I don't know but my best guess is that there may have been divine intervention that took me to a nice back yard.

That was no fun!!!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Woodrat Day 2

Amazing, Fun, Saves and Work – Just no points to show for comparitive success.

The day was so challenging that 90 pilots or so only got minimum distance points. There were 11 in goal and only 4 or 5 of us spread over the course line. This kind of scoring day produces a very low total points and the spread between those who dust and those who make task is almost funny.

If you made goal today you got around 180 to 200 points and if you only made the LZ you got 89. For those of us who worked all day and almost cracked the nut we got around 130 to 140.

So having a great day coming in 11th over all and 3rd in class only gave me 45 more points that just launching --- well it sounds like I am whining – It was just such a great day of flying that not getting points makes it seem strange.

To the flying. – Continuing with the plan, all things equal, get off early. I was in line 3rd and after a launch hold I ended up first in the slot and launched 20 seconds after launch opened.

This worked well. I was able to sky to cloud base which was about 5,200 at that point. Over the next 20 minutes or so the best pilots launched and were up with me. We boated about made moves to Rabies and I went with them once but retreated to the hill to tank again. I just didn’t think we had enough altitude to get up at Rabies with the strong West flow.

When the second gaggle got established on Woodrat I let them go and followed. However, I made a tactical error on the top off of the thermal. We had been working well and it seemed that the core was leaning to the South so as I came round I extended South. I didn’t get much lift but didn’t go down so I just tracked South figuring I was wining against the rest of the gaggle. I knew they weren’t getting higher but they were behind me so I couldn’t tell for sure.

When I finally turned I found I had left them in the dust – that is, they hit their top and pushed out front. – Now I was higher by a bit but way behind as they pushed across. By the time I got back to the center of launch they had found a bit of lift out and to the NW of launch and were working it and I was further behind than I wanted.

I had to top off again and then finally left for Rabies with 3 or 4 others. – We were behind and a few from the early gaggle made the hill just before us. The problem was that a lot of folk just were getting crushed. – I found a lifty line that got me to the hill well above ridge top but it wasn’t great. – The wind was strong from the West so the thermals from the West face were ripping off and most of the wings in the area were really struggling and most fell off lea side. – I kept forward figuring that lea was a total no win proposition but the windward wasn’t much better.

There are few landing options on the West side of Rabies and my worst landing ever was up there last year so I was not happy as I surfed the ridge just maintaining. I watched as one yellow wing frizbied windward side up the ridge to the North but I just couldn’t get there so I pushed out and to the South.

This worked for a bit – Nice strong lift when it pushed but then thrashing. Just wasn’t working. – Now the call was to push all the way out to the South and give in to the winery or give it one last hope for glory scratch and swing deeper into tiger country. – There were a few LZ up high so – well you guessed it I went deep and with a great deal of effort I finally scratched out. When I finally crested in lift I found a naked sky. There were no wings on Rabies any more except my Cobra.

On top of the ridge I just skied – I found some of the best lift of the day and after topping at 5,800 or so I pushed back for an easy tag of RAB-PK 2K cylinder. As I did this I caught site of Matt Cone coming back from tagging the same.

Now back to Woodrat to get the big rock. – On the way I relocated the Rabies boomer and punched through the inversion nailing 6,177 to get what I figure was likely high for the day. – remembering that my figuring is seldom right.

The naked line back to the peak was nice and lifty and I was at least 400 over when I got to launch. – The thermals were leaned over to the extreme at this point and the many high wind thermic days over the last month paid dividends. As I surveyed the situation it was clear that most pilots were just not going up and most were loosing ground.

The day was getting long in the tooth – More wind, less lift, so it became a do it now or die very soon. – I may have touched 5,400 on my last spin off the Rat on the way to Burnt. I knew it was a gamble – Matt Cone was already over there and was low, if he didn’t make it I figured my chances were slim. I made my best line and got to the ridge just over which was key to getting a bit more. If you come in below ridge you are just toast on that Burnt piece of rock.

There were two other wings working above the ridge at that point. They were together and a bit further West. – They had been there for a while and on one frizbe back the red wing – think it may have been Chris A. pealed off and went town wind. The other wing was the same color as Mer so I figured it was her but it wasn’t. As “she” was coming back to push windward I figured – toss up – lets work together.

As it turned out it wasn’t Mer but rather a Check pilot who I didn’t know. – We tried but didn’t work well together and after a few tries I just didn’t see it working. I caught a little bubble as he was pushing forward and loosing ground and I split. (this turned out to be a major mistake as he eventually made goal and I didn’t). But we were not working well and I didn’t know who he was.

The rest of the flight was just frizbee down wind toward the Cemetery waypoint. I was looking at the hills and trying to guess what would give lift. – They all had a bit but none had enough to build on. I ended up getting low with a down valley flow coming from – I don’t know where but it was exciting.

I tried to get video because it was just a cool dynamic end to the flight but the camera was not on and you will have to take my word for it that I threw down some serious scratching effort before landing sweet as a bug in a huge LZ.

The only problem with the LZ was the gently grazing cattle some 500 yards up wind. They caught sight of me as I was packing up and the game was on. The first contingent was 4 or 5 mommas and a similar number of 2 month olds.

The biggest of the mommas came close but I was able to bluff them off with a few fast movements with my wing folding arm. Eventually something I did spooked them enough to get them running away from me. Back to folding.

Just about the time I was loading the last of my gear in my pack – having already called my GPS coordinates into retrieve, a much larger contingent of cattle was heading my way. This time they brought the big boy. One BIG BULL who was not looking for a fight but clearly willing to back up momma if a fight were to ensue.

I learned that I have a strong growl that seems to stop approaching cattle for a moment but they were winning, much like the day over most of us gliders. It was the most sketch part of the day as I sideways retreated toward the big 5 line electric fence. – I made it to a post set that might provide an escape route but no guarantees.

I learned that while all cattle are bovine not all are benign!!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rat Race - Day Won

Home Sweet Home
Well not realy "won", but for me it was a good day - I made my goal and that was goal.

Our Northwest Team of Doc K, Steve Thibault, Chris Amonson and myself, AKA as the Baldy Bast...ds did well Chris was second to goal, Steve and I made it as well and Doc K on his 1-2 came in just a few hundred m short.
It was a fabulous day of flying. The conditions were perfect and the task was set to give everyone a chance. Some folk got unlucky on timing and were flushed but a large number of pilots made goal.
Top of lift was between 7,400 and 8,000. My best was in the neighborhood of 7,400. As planned both today and yesterday I was near the front of the launch line. Even so I had to wait for a couple of wings to fire off before I was up on launch.

The cycle I took was just enough to get my wing over head but that was it. – I ran down hill backwards keeping my just inflated wing as dead center over my head as I could until someone yelled “Turn Around.” – I did and timing was just right, I threw my hands up to give the wing just enough speed to get it over the lip and off I went loading the wing as I ran off the lip. A smattering of applause was heard as I headed into the blue. BIG GRIN.

The lift on launch was strong and steady and about 20-30 wings topped around 6,300 and headed for Rabies to set up for a LZ start cylinder. – Lift was easy to find with that many wings in front of me and we topped that around 6,500 thermally in the cylinder at start. I was a bit further North than the crew and was about 300k from the waypoint on the way to the second waypoint as the start bell rang on my vario.

That would be the last time I could fool myself into beleaving I was in the lead as the next turn point was crowded with the lead gaggle when I was still topping off. – My strategy for day was simple: STAY HIGH – never leave lift and never leave first. It worked like a charm.

We took a direct line to Burnt and that was only one of two times during the day that I even thought about not having enough altitude. Even so we had no problem finding windward lift from the NE flow and were soon high on the way to a short glide to Woodrat. More lift and topping in gaggles and off for Rabies again and more climbs.

The last 1/3 of the task Martin and I were best buddies centering every lift we could find. It wasn’t until final glide that we took slightly different lines and ended in goal within minutes of each other.

I am not sure either of us realized how high we were over goal. I was at least 2000 over when I looked nearly straight down and saw the crowd and vans and I looked at Martin who, about the same distance from goal, was across the valley turning circles in lift. I should do a better job of altitude management at the end of the task.
Landing was uneventful and the beer was cold.

Tomorrow day two.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Details of A Big Flight

Badlands at the End of the Day

A blow by blow account of Saturday's flight North from Chelan to 5 miles shy of Okanogan.

All good flights begin with weather. Wednesday through Saturday all looked good. More importantly the regional pressure was softening. Wednesday we had high pressure 1024hPa. This was the day the early bubbles of Baldy kicked me out of the sky and Mer and Frank went long with their launch 45-50 minutes after mine. (I'm learning)

Thursday looked good but I was bummed and winds looked a little strong so I took a pass and Mer went to Banks lake off Chelan, while Doc went to Bridgeport. Friday was also a bit strong on winds at Baldy and my flight to exit 11 was the best for the day - thermals were just getting thrashed and I may have gone a bit early.

Saturday like Friday was lower pressure in the neighborhood of 1012hPa but winds still looked a bit strong at Baldy so Chelan became the target. But it was Saturday and my wife and I really needed to spend most of it together. I asked and she was game for retrieve. We love driving together and Chelan sets up 5 hours together in the car and she seems to like the retrieve challenge. Yes I am blessed.

I put out a limited call for other pilots - I couldn't go for too many folk as the retrieve dynamics and Chelan could overwhelm my beloved driver. - The crew still grew to a posse of eight.

There were 3 or 4 hangs on launch when we got there. - A bit of a mess on launch because we forgot some stuff in the rig at the bottom so my truck left the butte and I had to switch from working out of the truck to out of my kit. No real big issue just a minor snag. The truck was back up in no time and we all got set for launch, it was coming on 1:00. Armon launched first and had no problem skying out early - He went due North for a nice flight.

Next I saddled up. Mer used a nice ploy setting up behind a hang making it set that she would not launch until good cycles were on deck. Quality move. - I set up for between the rocks and miss timed the cycle getting a limp wing mid run for the effort. I shut it down and hiked back up with nobody wanting to jump in. So I set up for second try.

Wing popped open just fine but I had a brake line snag on a rock. Helpful hands cleared the snag but I missed the tip cravat now waiting for me. I assumed the tip was clean but pulling up it became clear I had to shut it down again. Dam Dam Dam. - I swung over to Ants to see if alternating cycles would catch but they didn't - Sooooo - give in.

Now I was frustrated, hot and tired. - Best move now is let everyone go and deal with launching last or near last. - Took off my wing, coat, helmit and gloves and decompressed. - I watch while just about everyone launched and skied. - It was working out front and I could step into the game. - K and I were left after all had gone - now the launch was very straight forward as a number of cycles made a sweet set.

I had a wing climbing - think it was Steve, as a marker right down the ridge and caught the thermal even before I got to him.

A clean climb out ensued with a wing man at the top of the climb - great flying with you Mr. Thibault. - We topped about 7,800 with Thibault getting the last little pop. - He noted Mer breaking for the rim about 400 above and decided to take chase. - I took one more 360 and joined in from below.

Mer found a nice lifty line and we were all at the same flight level though separated by 1/4 mile each, as the three of us slid to the flats. - We were nice and high when we got to the rim due to Mer's great line. Got the rim at about 5600. Mer and Steve kept pushing in looking for lift but not finding anything. - I was in a bind at this point. - If I follow and they don't find lift soon I am doomed. If I turn back to the rim I might be on my own for the rest of the day.

Neither Steve on his 2-3 or Mer on her spicy wing found anything by the time I had to turn back to the best terrain on the rim I could find. - I had been there before so I thought I had a chance. - By the time I was maybe 300 over and heading for a dive over the rim with little chance of recovery I caught some soft lift.

Mer and I took a thermal at the same spot together last year. - This time I was on my own to start with. - I took a nice climb at this point staying happy till about 7,000 - I noticed that Mer was up and about 1000 over me and to the south of me by 1/2 mile or so climbing under a great cloud.

I called for her to not get too far ahead but we later confirmed that that transmission didn't get through. - We need better radio setups or I do anyway. As I was still climbing in that first thermal Mer headed out East way sky high. I couldn't follow her from 1000 below so I just worked up and over to her cloud.

A little slide down then into a massive good house thermal that took me to 10k - This was the thermal that found Todd Udd and myself thermaling tip to tip. At about 8,200 I saw Todd's Discus 18m sailplane about a mile south. After about 4 more 360 he had slipped into the same thermal that I was in now about 9,000 ft. Got the video going which is in the blog below. After the video shut off Todd and I took it to about 10,200 where he pushed out and headed due North.

North was the call for the day but the last time I saw Mer she was heading due East so I pushed out at 10,300 for points East with the hope of finding my guide. What I didn't know was that she had gone on glide East and didn't find anything and then went back to the rim. So I was left on my own. - I don't have very much flat land flying experience. Really this was my second or third flatland flight of note. I have been to Farmer and Eniat but that is it. I started to scan for terrain features like a farm house or draws in the flats whatever. - I headed for Nelson's Ranch and it worked catching a nice little lift from 6,500 to about 8 or so.

Pushing out further East still no Mer. This is going to be interesting - Ahead the flats are ending and I have no clue what to do. - More texture to the land, but will it work or what?
At the transition from flats to draws is the big farm - think it is the Douglas ranch. I figured a nice search around this ranch would pay off. - I caught some zeros but not much. - Hanging out long enough though let me pick off a dusty coming off a diagonal associated with the ranch. - This dusty provided targeting for finding a very nice but quite north leaning thermal to 8 or so sending me on the north track for the rest of the day.

The thermal leaned enough to get me half way to Mansfield. - The line was not bad, a bit boaty, but it was all blue sky flying at this point. As I passed 172 about five miles west of Mansfield I was getting low. - Not real low maybe 2500 over and spotted another very nice dusty. - Caught the thermal on this one but it was not well formed as earlier thermals. Things started to look a little grim as I headed back toward the rim noting a cloud or two and terrain with texture and power lines. - Nothing worked real well until I got under the cloud. -

This one was sweet - Took it big and strong - the cloud was actually top of two or three lift cores in one. The cloud had 3 different masses and at about 8,000 feet in a solid core crank I took a surprise dynamic asymmetric deflation. The cool part was that I had video of the wing to capture cloud effect when the deflation occurred. - ' I topped this one round 9,000 and could see that I had Bridgeport on Glide so I pushed North.

By the time I got to the rim just South and West of Bridgeport I was a bit worried about diving into the town which sits in the lea of the whole flats. Winds felt to be about 10 to 15 from the South based on dust trails and I was a little worried about rotor. As I slid over the rim I felt a bit of lift which made me very happy because I felt I needed the lift to stay safe, - I figured the day was done but just a bit more lift and I can be safe from rotor and just then it went off nice and solid.

The rim thermal took me well above Bridgeport and I topped close to 10k already leaning way over the river.

The hills North of Bridgeport are perfect - It is a ships prow that faces due south with a nice collector for heat to the West - No question there is a boomer here - I just have to find it. - And I did - Best climb of the day then set me up for what turned out to be final glide.

I tried to take the "liftyest" line I could but never found another thermal. -0 It felt like glass off at this point and I knew I would just have to be as smooth as I could. - Half way through the glide I had to decide to stay near 97 or go into badlands - Nasty ground near the end - Mer had taken it straight badlands 30 minutes prior and got a little climb mid tiger country - a very bold line in my estimation.

I had to stay river side and just slid north till I was on the side of the hill with power lines below and a simple swoop and turn to land into the wind. - Good field choice gave way to crossing 97 at about 50 feet, over a wet field on final and a final correction that put me over Railroad tracks at 10 feet for a perfect landing in median between the highway and the tracks. - Just sweet.

Good cell phone coverage put me in contact with Mer who was already headed south with Steve and Bill. Gail was headed North to get me so the crew stopped, gave me a beer (thank you) and left me for Gail's retrieve. - She did wonder why the kiss smelled of hops. - LOL - What a great day.