Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dunlap in March

Dave S. (at right)& I (below) headed up to Dunlap to fly on Friday the 9th. We had plans to meet up with flying friends from Springville, Sacramento, and the SFO Bay Area, on Saturday.

As I drove across the San Juaquin Valley, the sky was downright depressing - High Cirrus covered 90% of the sky & the air just "felt" stagnant & inverted. From the bottom, we could see that the launch was shrouded in a thin cloud layer.

We met at the school in Dunlap at 1:30pm & didn't think we'd be flying, but covered our bases & left one vehicle at the school. We grabbed some bad food at the mini-market & drove the 35 minute drive to launch. The road was clear of snow & in very good shape. When we got to the top the WX looked encouraging. We launched & flew in a rather narrow lift band of -200/+500 above launch for the better part of 90 minutes. I kept running into the Dunlap "HOODLEMS" - a group of 7 vultures that tour "their" valley together. They cover quite a bit of territory & are great lift signs. The boaty conditions allowed a bit of a valley tour & confirmed that the weather would be good flying Sat. if the high stuff cleared out.

We had a (relatively) good meal at memories in Dunlap & called it a day at the cabins.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Upcoming Competition Schedule

This Spring & Summer has a lot of upcoming flying dates. Each month I'll try to fly the BAPA weekend comps and then, in June, are the Rat Race & the US Nationals.

April 14th & 15th & June 9th & 10th. we'll be headed to Dunlap, CA. May is TBD. June 15th-30th I'll be in Oregon to fly the Rat Race in Ruch, OR. & The U.S. Nationals in Lakeview, OR.


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.