Sunday, March 4, 2007

Flying my Aspen 2

© photo by Will Espada
© Will Espada
Today I flew with David S. Jack G. & Tom W. at Cuesta. I was flying my new Aspen 2. I'm trying to get some time on it prior to the coming season of XC & competitions. I've registered to fly in the Rat Race & U.S. Nats.

Conditions were very calm at launch, with an occasional gust from the East, just to bring out the cynic in each of us. Cloud cover was at three levels & still allowed a lot of sun to warm the hill. I decided, after getting an hour of rays, to suit up & fly.

I set up & stood there for 10 min. . .then a puff. I pulled up & turned, but the wing was not pressurized & there was insufficient breeze to get the wing pulling without a serious commitment - This was exactly the circumstance last year when I blew my launch at Valle de Bravo & walked away with 5 broken ribs. I did what any red-blooded thrill-sporter would have - I chickened out & stopped - let the wing come down on me in the restricted launch chute. . .

Dave decided it was his turn & while I sorted my gear, he took off & was working weak lift in front of the ridge when I pulled up & launched. We played tag in weak conditions trying to find that bubble that would allow us to break free of the ridge. Jack launched after 15 minutes and shortly after, Tom made it off.

We worked up & down the ridge getting 100-200' over but not able to get up so, after 20 minutes or so, I headed out front (Jack & Tom were having a little luck out there, but were lower) to see if I could snag a little thermal. Just as Jack & Tom were heading for the LZ, I found an area of lift that must have been a weak convergence. It was quite smooth with 50-100'/min. lift. It was great practice for me to work this weak lift. I was able to climb from 1600' to 1850' but ran out of luck and lift & was on the ground 15 min. later. Dave (who had driven to the top) had top-landed in good form to retrieve his car. Too bad - he would have enjoyed toying with the lift in the valley. He would have shown me how to stay in it for a while longer.

Thanks to Will Espada for the use of his photo above.


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