Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rat Race Day 4

Today I checked the weather & it looked like a fairly stable day. Our weather guru for the comp said his sources said it might turn out to be a good day. I'm pleased to say, he was right.

While conditions weren't easy, they were exciting and rewarding - I guess that sums up the two things I like to get out of a good XC flight. The task set for today was 43 miles with some late upwind legs that would require some good planning skills. I launched into a good cycle & climbed up to altitude with Dave close by. He & I have been trying all week to fly together without success, but today looked like it might be the day. We climbed up in front of launch & headed over to Rabies Peak for more lift so we could get a good start.

We found the lift we needed over Rabies & climbed to 8000' & proceeded to the start cylinder We were about 6 minutes late, but our altitude & position was impeccable. Dave & I glided back to the ridge low, in search of any lift. He began to circle & climb in light lift so I joined him, slightly below his alt. We climbed together for a bit & Dave decided to see what the other guys were circling in a few hundred yards away - At that point I was concentrating on maximizing my climb & lost track of Dave. When I looked for him, he was nowhere to be found. I assumed he had climbed well & proceeded on course so I pushed on. I ran into Larry N. over Burnt Ridge & we tagged the 3rd turnpoint together. He took a different line than I did to the next fix (I went directly to it & he went North to fly some Cumulus that were forming. I soon needed to tank upon some altitude & ran into Eric B. while thermaling. He & I climbed up high enough to tag the fourth fix & go downwind to the next. This was the beginning of my undoing - I had no business heading downwind low, when the next fix was another 5 miles upwind. I needed to get some altitude soon. I milked what I could from some weak lift & managed to hit Poormans fix but was unable to penetrate upwind. I climbed (drifting downwind all the while) and then lost the altitude while driving into the wind - gaining only .25 to .5 of a mile each time. Eventually I got low enough that I planned a nice landing next to Roger from LA. in a large field.

Today was the kind of day people get stuck places they don't want to get stuck & run out of options and ideas. . . Many pilots had scrapes or narrowly avoided scrapes while clinging to low ridges in swift turbulent winds. I avoided scaring myself today by avoiding such acts of desperation.

I completed 30 miles of the 43 and feel good about the day. I made some miscalculations, but I can feel the learning curve steepen a bit.

Dave, unfortunately, left the lift we had early to find better - only to find very strong turbulent sink. He landed soon after leaving the lift. Larry N. flew around 40 miles today - He's flown well every day.

My standing is now 53rd. Slowly working up the list. At this point I'm 10th in the serial class. I might even be in the top 5 on the "Senior" list. . .Ah it's great to be over 50 ;-)

The flight is HERE

Results for today are HERE
Cumulative results are HERE

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