Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Random Ramblings from the Red Rock Race

Flying at the Nationals here in Utah has been a mixed bag so far. – The “practice” day was split into a short afternoon shake out flight and an amazing glass off. Monroe is a wonderful site with big air. Thermals are quite strong and plentiful. I had sustained lift to 5 and 6 m/s which is 1,000 to 1200 feet per minute up. The thermals and edges were nice but the transition prior to entering the thermals were extremely sinky and often quite turbulent. In addition there were bullets mixed in so I got quite a ride when down low. (not a good idea)

The launch is also quite far back in the hills and if you don’t get up it is quite a long glide before you get out over the valley floor some 5-6000 feet below. I think it may be a good mile or two.

The place is just very BIG.

The past two days have been thunder storm days and the gust fronts yesterday were quite impressive. Big CUnims all over the joint with massive cloud structures sitting right on top of launch and over the hills in the region.

The first day of the comp was a nice flight but my head was only half in the game so I left the race before the start and headed back to HQ. – My mind was on my father who ended up in the hospital during the flight. – He is doing well now but at the time I couldn’t focus on the race. –

I was about 5,000 feet or more over HQ and figured I would give the Anti-G another run. My flight deck makes a perfect holding spot for the Anti-G. It fits well and extracts without a problem. A quick toss over my left shoulder and it is deployed. – This time I took two drives into deeper spirals and sustained 8 m/s or 1,500 ft/min down. – I could have held that indefinitely and will try to push it even deeper next time. – At 1,500 down the pressure on the drogue increases and it felt like I was pulling 2 or 2.5G’s (no way of knowing that one.)

With the increased pressure on the drogue the knot that attaches the apex retraction line to the “retraction handle” popped through the guide grommet. This was not a big deal but it made it so I couldn’t retract the apex and the drogue remained deployed. – Once on the ground it was easy to fix and were it to happen again I could easily fix it in the air now that I know what the pop was. My solution at the time was to just bring the drogue in and stow it in my jacket.

As part of the two day no fly we had longer pilot meetings where there was extended discussion regarding pilot safety and the dynamics that allow us or may cause us to be at greater risk. – The consensus has been that while 2liners may pose some problems in terms of their recovery characteristics they are by no means “THE” problem. We talked about task planning and the competition pilot mind set. Serial vs Comp wings and what might happen depending on various ruling body decisions. Nothing has been resolve but it was good conversation.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Big Flight off Tibbitts

Saturday was a call! - Tibbitts looked best for launch winds and it worked. - A slow start due to issue on the hill took an hour but that let the flats develop so it was likely a blessing in disguise.

Once again I have to thank Dr. David Wheeler for much of the flights success. - He is one of the site gurus and knew right where to go for the river crossing. -

I will post a longer recount of the flight but for now the high points were:

1. flying team with Dave for most the day.
2. Getting up and out from Tibbitts and making that call
3. a mega low save just short of Brewster on the flats
4. Big gift boomers over deep bandlands
5. gliding in and getting out of a locked encampment with Dogs.

I will fill in the details on these stories and more but just one for now.
The mega low save happened after I sent Dave on as I wasn't getting any and the day was late near the end of the flats. - I got up but then got drilled again and was comming in about 1 mile in from the rim in flat flat flat country. I was over a dirt plowed field and was hoping to make a green field just over some low power lines to the West of me. - On final death glide I noted a small dust devil forming to my 9 O'clock. Small it was but its dust was still higher than I was. Then another and another and a line of Dust devils set up perpendicular to my path but one field to my right.

Trying to explain why there were 4 mini Dust devils off to my right all in a line the line concept took over and I figured "convergence" (rim lift vs East Flow). If this was correct then it should continue over the field I was headed for only it was green so no dust. - Hang on this could be bad - flying low into this kind of lift, well anyway - very active flying and sure enough rather than turning on final I turned into a cranker that took me to 8,000ft msl. - And it was off to the races - transitioned over the river and into the high bad lands. - Then on glide with a 17 mph tail wind with nice lifters when needed. -
Amazing gifted flight.
Dave continued on but didn't get as fortunate in the badlands and landed half way to Omak or so. - Great flying with you Dave - And thanks

Forgot to mention: New Personal Best and Site Record 135.3k or 85 miles.

BTW we shared the air with at least 12 Sailplanes - 2 made close hauled fly bys.