Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pequeños huevos

So, - this was the deal, - 1:00 P.M. - As Jeff and I got to launch we had light cycles inbound from S to SSE - There was a light to medium light cirrus layer and a fair Cu development at around 5,500 to 6k. As we arrived there were three nice cu and 3 corresponding shadows between Baldy and exit 11. - By the time we were set to launch - 5 - 10 min or less the full flats between Baldy and 11 were totally shadowed out.

In front of Baldy we had a small blocking/shadow creating set of Cu-s - Timing was the trick -- there looked to be an opportunity in 5-10 min. with openings expected as the clouds in front looked to slide east for a bit. - This was the case - We both launched into nice easy cycles and pushing right out front caught 100-300 up 1/2 way out to the airport.

Lift wasn't super solid but was regular enough that we didn't go down. - Winds were S not SW and that effected the lift / thermal shapes.

After a few minutes of play we were up and over the towers and as the core took us up the clouds over the flats to the NE were very dark. Nothing was above us directly but at about 4500 to 5000 I took a whack on the right and felt my wing dragging me up and to the left. - Looking East the clouds were obviously very lifty but not friendly looking - we would have had to go lea side as the windward side of the street was in firing range airspace. To the West we had verga and snow between Uptanum ridge and Mt. Clemmons.

The combination of dicey potential - a windward wack aka rowdy air - rapid changing conditions and being between fronts on the day was enough for me and I pulled in my ears and headed west to clear sky. - I continued to climb for a 2-3 minute or so which confirmed my decision. - Jeff followed my lead and we landed by his rig.

Fun stuff - Bigger balls than mine were needed to make the run - I am sure it could have been done - but I keep hearing Gordon's words: "I could have died" and Mer's "That wasn't any fun" when I look at making runs at big ass streets with certain but rowdy lift.

Spring time is energetic and changes very quickly - It all dropped out by 3:30.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Doc Icarus

The good Doctor, Curt, Gary and I spent Friday afternoon playing the ridge at Eagle Butte. A great deal of my first flight was spent parked in trashy air but the high wind disabling technique worked great to finish off my vertical approach and landing.

Method as follows. -
1. Identify left A riser at 50 feet over
2. 5 feet over with toggles in hands grab your left A riser
3. The instant you touch down make a sweeping move with both hands down and to the left creating a left side frontal with your A riser and a full stall with your RIGHT brake. In the same move spin your body around to the right and move quickly to the wing.

It is a bit like a self defense move. It causes the wing to fold in half on its self with the top half nose down so even if it catches wind it just lays in a lump.

The wing drops non-dynamicaly so there is no injury to the leading edge.

Try it next time you find yourself landing in high winds.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Allegedly Flying!

Allegedly Flying!

Today we had a wonderful set of flights at Eagle in the Tri-Cities. - Doc, Curt and myself hucked into gentle lift to 4,000.

Curt and Doc reported cloud base climbs with a pair of bald eagles - What a treat!

I think there was some early hang action but it shut down right after I launched so I don't think the non-inflatables got much in the later afternoon.

When I arrived at 1:10 there were three hangs sitting on launch. Curt was chatting with the boys and as I launched Doc was already up and over the back on his second big flight. - Normally 4k is nowhere near high enough for XC but one might recall that when the ceiling is low the spacing between cores is correspondingly short - a direct correlation. So glide to next lift was short.

Doc made a bee-line for Temple View and had he not been out there floating at 2,300 over, I never would have left at 3,000. I caught a lifty line and when I got to him I was lucky to catch my next lifter - lift was light but solid as I watched my alter-ego land out at a local football field. - Sorry Ralph.

The rest of the flight was then a combination of down wind frizbees and light lift maxing at just over 4,000 ft. Cloud base was maybe 4,800 or so.

I knew I had airspace issues but I had violated one of my cardinal rules: I failed to replace the batteries in my 76S, which I normally do before every flight. Driving my wife's car rather than my truck left me two AA batteries short of ready. - As I floated down wind I needed to know where the class E extension at Pasco would become an issue. - It seems that my batteries died as I neared the air space so I have no way of knowing from the 76S if I violated or not.

This is both a reminder to keep your batteries fresh and to make sure you know your airspace whenever you fly.

Had I been able to post my flight from my 76S it might been worth over 40 points on Leonardo, a new "posted" site record linear distance of 25.4k, XC distance 27.1, duration of 1:07, max vario 2.8m/s, min vario -2.1m/s, max altitude 1242m, altitude gain 841m, max speed 55.5k/hr, mean speed 33.0k/hr with two major lift cycles and lots of convergence flying - but that is just a guess. It was a very, very cool flight for so early in the season.

But the post was not to be. I know I landed clear of airspace based on spot. But sad to say, I don't have a 76S record of a very cool, gift/surprising flight. - A similar thing happened to Doc flying DD2 last season as he neared Yakima's class E. - This is a good reminder for the up-coming XC league that we must stay clear of controlled airspace and it is an absolute reminder that ALL posted flights shall demonstrate no violations of the same.

To help us make sure we are clear of airspace while we are flying the tools are available:

I have used Dave Wheeler's map in my 76s for two years now and use it regularly to skirt the air space in and around Yakima, the firing range and Wenatchee - great map and it works great on the 76s - Highly recommend this Garmin map at the bottom of the following page:

XC League starts in April - Rules the same as last year - except I will do the admin work rather than Matt.

1. All details on the league will be posted on the league information site:
2. The league is open to all Pacific Northwest Pilots
3. The season starts May 1st and ends Sept 30 with winners announced in the Fall of 2011.

Best of luck for the 2011 season!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cliffside fun

At Cliffside by noon and the crew came over from the coast to fly again. - They are getting great air time. - We got off early and had a nice intro extended sledder. - Following the reload when nothing was going up and we decided to sled to the river giving enough time for a third flight.

We launched high on the 3rd flight, that is from the high launch. It gave us another 100 ft or so and that along with stronger winds kept us up for over an hour just ridging the lift. - Caitlin is going to make a great pilot. She has the natural lean and good enjoyment of both sky wind and even cold.

More tandems in Yakima tomorrow. -