Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fun Flying

Today was only my second flight since I flew at the SIV clinic in mid October. A couple of weeks ago I had a magical flight at Shell Beach, a beautiful sea-side flying spot that generally depends on on-shore breezes to provide a thin band of lift parallel to the bluffs above the beach. Tom M. launched early in spite of the general negative prognostications of the local experts and was able to stay up so I suited up. I was very lucky & had perfect timing since the wind was freshly blowing on-shore as I launched. Five minutes later it would have been impossible to launch due to the wind switching to a calm or offshore breeze.

What had happened was that a strong convergence line had formed between the on-shore and Santa Ana-like breeze that we experienced inland. As it moved across launch, I was able to just fly the convergence and Tom & I were treated to a beautiful flight that took us to heights unusual for this site. I carried no altimeter, but guess that I hit 1500 to 2000' above the sea. The view was great & a great first flight at the site.

Today we headed up to Cuesta - I had high hopes since my forecast indicated very light winds. Patrick, Eric, Jack, Dave & I all arrived at launch around noon. Eric & Pat launched first & didn't get high, but flew around launch altitude for 15 minutes. They were both able to top-land & wait for things to improve. I was ready to fly & decided it looked soarable, so I launched into a nice gentle cycle. A nice thermal was right off the launch & I went up about 50' right away.

Soon I was touring the ridge looking for any shard of lift I could work. Within 12 minutes I was down to 1200' MSL (about 200' above the pasture) & planning where I would land to minimize the hike-up the hill to launch. The I felt a great bubble of lift & it filled my wing from right to left. As I rolled into my turn, it filled out the whole wing & I climbed back up to launch - much more quickly and easily than if I were to have landed & hiked up. From then on, the day was ON. Lift was everywhere & generally, the down cycles were few & of short duration.

It's not uncommon to fly over the ridge & observe other sportsmen and yahoos in various activities. Today our entertainment was a truckload of mullets, beer, & shotguns, who parked up ridge& proceeded to make clay pigeons into dust. That wasn't the fun part - The fun began when the CHP arrived on scene & showed the proper protocol for approaching multiple guys who have guns. . . all the while I (and others) were lurking quietly above, watching the show ;-)

Anyway, it was a fun day with all of us having good flights. I flew for 2 hours & landed just because everyone else had. The top landing took a couple tries since there was a bullet of a thermal right in front of the spot - but it worked out fine.

Fly Safe.

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