This weekend was the second installment of the '08 BAPA Series. I missed last month at Potato Hill so this was my first. It was also my first opportunity to fly my Avax XC2 against other pilots. Results will be HERE soon.
I arrived on Friday after picking up Jack B. (from Anchorage) at the Fresno Air Terminal. We met Celia & Patrick from the Bay Area & all got in some flying. The weather was great and lift was good to about 2000 meters. We all did a nice circuit around the valley.
Saturday morning the pilots all met at Dunlap School. The turnout was impressive with pilots from all over the West. The talent was deep with 6-8 top-twenty US pilots and many other talented pilots in attendance.
A 99km task was called with the usual valley tour and then a 20k leg to Sandy Creek in the hills towards the San Joaquin valley and a long leg to Porterville. I launch early to get some more time on my wing (I only had 6 hours on it) and explored the normal lift producers prior to start. I had a great start and stayed with the leaders for a few turnpoints before losing contact and flying with the second gaggle. After tagging hill 49917, I headed across the Dunlap valley and towards Sandy Creek.
Tom (foreground) and me launching early
I saw Jug & Tom coming towards me at a lower altitude so I pushed on, hoping we could collaborate. Jug was lower & had to land. Tom and I worked some ragged, weak lift together for awhile but Tom moved North. I hung in the ragged lift until it consolidated into a nice 2-3m/s climb to 1900 meters. I pushed back to a ridge that ran towards Sandy Crk and found good lift along the way. The turnpoint was in the flat & I glided towards it when I got hammered by sink about 2k from the turn. I decided to overfly a small 300' 'bump' prior to the turnpoint hoping that I would get a bubble over it. No luck - so it looked like a death glide to the turnpoint. In addition to my concerns of impending landing, I was getting flaky readings from my GPS - it was getting spotty reception and actually said I crossed the turnpoint when I KNEW I was at least a kilometer from it. I pressed on until my back-up said 400 meters and made a desperation turn back to the 300' bump, which now was at my height. I was able to get a bump from the bump and soon was climbing to 1800meters.
I continued on until I was about 5 miles East of Orosi. I landed in a big cow pasture & shared a glass of iced tea with a nice couple in their 70's. I hiked about 4 miles towards Orosi before Patrick picked me up (Thanks!)
As it turns out, my GPS track from my primary was very fragmented so I used my backup tracklog. Unfortunately I had set the recording interval at 5 seconds so no trackpoint was inside the cylinder at Sandy creek. This was one of many technical problems encountered by pilots this weekend. It is good to get these problems out of the way before the main comps, later in the season. No one made goal today. Jack B., Josh, Eric, Dean, and Mike F. had the longest flights and I was right behind them.
Sunday was a carbon copy of Saturday. Lift was punchy and strong to 2000 meters. The course was similar to Saturday's with the last leg to the school rather than down valley. I launched early again and flew with Nick G. for 45 minutes before the start. I headed back to the start cylinder and found a bullet that put me at the top of the heap in great position for the run to Hill 49917. I stayed in contact with the leaders again until I found a hole coming back from Last Chance. I got stuck low on the main ridge and had to ridge soar until I was high enough to turn a circle in the thermals roaring up the side of the hill.
I made it as far as the airstrip and then ran out of ideas & lift. Landed in a meadow & got a nice reception from Juanita, who offered me some water & shade until my ride showed up. My flight is HERE
I made some mistakes this weekend. I found myself alone between gaggles too often. I need to really work at staying with the leaders, even if lower than them. The Avax XC2 has the performance to really hang in there & I am getting familiar with the techniques that are effective in controlling the wing.
This was also my maiden voyage with the pop-up camper. It was very comfortable for Jack & me. I will definitely be staying in it for the comps this summer.
Thanks to Chris Hilliard for the photo of my launch.
A great weekend.