Wednesday, September 17, 2008

U.S. Paragliding Nat'ls - Day 4 - Task 2

Today we drove to the Gunter launch on the White range. This launch is at 8300' (2524M) and provided a very nice open area,if a bit bushy, for us to lay out & launch. The weather cooperated well - light Southerly winds and good lapse rates & enough moisture to provide some nice clouds. Cloud base during the day was around 15,000'. Any threat of overdeveloping was soon dismissed.

The task was a run North along the Whites that required a dip to the edge of the valley at MVWHIN and the a straight 75K shot to MINA. Total distance, 110K (68miles)

I launched an hour before the start and climbed out slowly. I was fortunate to have good height at the start - many others were stuck on the terrain trying desperately to get up enough to get away. I headed North with the second gaggle. The lead gaggle was high & moving along the high ground quickly. The second gaggle seemed to disintegrate and I was soon flying alone from thermal to thermal. Sometimes I was the pimp & sometimes I was the pimpee, but I was able to move along quickly with at least half speed bar most of the time.

I seemed to be making good time and staying high until reaching Boundary Peak at North termination of the Whites. As I crossed over the Western spine of the peak I saw a paraglider under reserve drifting down onto the peak. He 'landed' just below the tree line at around 11,000'. HERE is his Google Earth landing spot. I announced the toss & tried to raise the pilot but was unable to. About this time, I encountered the trashy air that precipitated the toss & had my hands full. I took a GPS fix, in case the pilot needed extraction & then set about flying my wing. . . I was down to 10,000' by now & needed some lift. I had hooked into a nice 800'/min. thermal when I heard Chris K. on the radio, announcing he was OK. It was good to hear his call & I was able to concentrate on my flight to Mina again. I'm sure Chris has a interesting story to tell tomorrow.

This climb allowed me to kick the bar some more and I was soon surprised to see a gaggle of comp gliders ahead and below me. As I approached them, I realized this was the lead gaggle! I came in on top & soon was circling with them in weak scattered lift. It soon felt a lot like gaggle suck to me & I had the slowest wing in the gaggle so I made the decision to push things a bit & head out. I climbed for a while but left with 10.6:1 glide to goal (20 km away) knowing I would probably need a short climb to make goal. As I pointed at goal, I knew this decision would either put me in goal fast, or put me on the deck trying. To make matters a bit more dicey, 90% of the ground was in shadow from cloud so I was hoping for lift in an unlikely patch. . .

I watched the required glide ratio to goal and decided to take the next bit of lift I could find, until I indicated 8:1 required. I found a small 350'/min. thermal & stayed with it until I had goal made & headed the last 10 km on 1/2 bar. Quite a few guys passed me on the final glide, but hey - it's a thrill for me just to be in a position where I can see the winner cross the goal line! I finished 6th in the Serial Class & 16th overall for the day. There were 42 in goal and it was a great day of flying with lots of buddies in goal. I must be getting acclimated because I don't have the fatigue problem I had after the first task. Flying without O2 made me keep my climbs below 15,000' but wasn't really an issue today.

Tomorrow looks like similar conditions so we may go big again. So far, in three flights, I've flown 12:47 & 327KM (203 miles) and we still have three days to go!

I'm not sure of the results for today - Results will be HERE.

My flight is HERE.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tim is playing in the Show these days...very nice description and congratulations on such a great flight.