Sunday, August 26, 2007

Better a low save than no save -

Today Patrick had a bunch of us SLOSA guys meet him at Cuesta for a site clinic. Although I've many flights at the site, I knew that Pat's extensive palette of strategies exceeded mine & I would leave with some info that would be valuable. There were 10 of us at launch at 10:30 am. The wind was clocked at 12-18 mph so we did a walkabout to view the various launch options & top-landing spots. Patrick did a great job of talking about the site in a way that the newbies could use, while including info that more experienced pilots could use.

The wind was less stiff at the lower launch so Dave S. launched there. I walked back to the top launch & it felt like the wind was lulling enough to allow a launch there. I set up while Dave flew the ridge. Try #1 (which usually is sufficient) was just ugly - the wing came up & I didn't control it properly. It overshot while I turned & frontalled - flailing behind me. I gathered it up & reset only to bring the wing up with a healthy stick in the right side lines. I pulled the "C's" but lost one of them so only one side of the wing was killed. The flying side took me for a ride into the scrub to the left of the launch chute, landing me ingloriously on my ass. Keith assisted my reset & finally, after 20 minutes of ineptitude, I slipped the surly bounds.

Once in the air I was having fun. The air was a bit choppy and the wind on the ridge was 8-10mph, but lift was abundant to the inversion at 2600'. I worked the full extent of the ridge and then was able to repeatedly press out front & then climb in thermals drifting back to ridge.
Eventually I headed out to the LZ only to blunder across a nice weak thermal at about 400' over the bluffs near the LZ. I playfully worked the lift until I found a core & then climbed to around 2000' before exploring a bit farther West. Eventually I found the LZ & landed.

A rocky start but an hour of fun flying.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Makin' Circles

Usually, when a "WUFFO" approaches me in the LZ, one of the questions comes out something like,"So, waddayado, keep circling until you go up?"

Today, was that kind of day. When Dave & Pat & I got to launch at Cuesta the wind seemed a bit fresh for a PG flight. Patric was game though & it wasn't gusty so he hucked off & flew at launch alt. +/- 100' for 15 minutes. I decided I was in & got plucked right off launch & found some good lift to Launch + 300'. We toured the area & found that there was an area of lift that must have been a convergence line. We were able to climb to 2600' (400 over) while flying straight. I was able to get to 2800' later in a rogue thermal that had been able to bust through the inversion. Dave was last to try a launch & had no assistance on the hill. He worked it for a good 25 min. until deciding it was too windy for him that day. Patrick top-landed on a finger & I flew out to the LZ to get Dave's car. Flight time: 1:15 with lotsa fun.

Later Patrick & I hiked Cayucos & had short flights in weak choppy lift. A good day.

Thanks to Tom W. for the photo of Dave & me above.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

BAPA comp at Tollhouse

This weekend I headed to Tollhouse with fellow SLOSA members Dave S. & Jack G. We all were looking forward to a good weekend of XC because the local conditions have been weak. Dave is flying a new Boom Sport & this weekend will be the first real test. It's also my first high flight with my new Ram-Race harness.

Saturday looked good with light S-SW winds forecast. The inversion looked like it would be weakened by 1PM. The task was a leg to the NW to 4-lane-turn at the NW end of Sandy Ridge, then to KNOB (in front of launch), then past Black Mtn. to Humphry's Station, then to Piedra - down by Pine Flat Reservoir. The task total distance is 26 miles.

I started off strong with a quick start & made it over to Squaw's Tit with moderate altitude. Alex & I climbed a bit to the inversion (at about 4500') & decided to head out ahead of the normal lead gaggle, which had found a bit of a hole. . . we made it to the first TP at 4-lane-turn. At this point, we were joined by Josh & Eric R. I found myself climbing alone in my thermal while watching Alec & Josh & Eric climb in a thermal slightly upwind. Their climb put them about 1/2 a climb ahead of me & I was comfortable watching from about 1/4 mile behind.

After hitting the next turnpoint I watched as A, J, & E headed due West over the back of Black. This course was upwind of the courseline by 30 degrees. I watched them as I topped out my climb. They really weren't doing that well so I headed directly towards Humphry's. By cutting the corner I saved some time & distance, but now I was flying over low terrain & risking my longevity on a flat-land thermal. I found some weak lift & was able to bubble-surf along towards the TP at an uncomfortable but adequate altitude. As I hit Humphry's, I saw Alex come in under me & we moved south to the low-lying hills on the south side of the valley. I was maybe 900' over the field & just loitered in bubbles until I got hold of a thermal that allowed a climb along the terrain. Alex tried to hang, but eventually landed below. It seemed forever until I was able to make a 360, but once I did the core carried me up to contact Josh & Eric who had gotten skunked farther South. The three of us carried on for the next 15 miles together. I wasn't able to use my speed bar (due to some new harness set-up issues) but I still stayed with the guys & was able to watch & learn from the best. I also did a pretty good job of pimping ;-)

About 5miles from goal Josh & Eric went into race mode & I was content to just make goal. Eric finished ahead of Josh by 15 seconds and they beat me by 7 minutes. I was so thrilled to be in goal with that kind of talent that I was happy to buy the beer.

Results: Flt time - 3:12 Distance flown - 26.2 miles 3rd to Goal behind Eric & Josh.

Dave & Jack had good flights also. Thanks to them for making the long drive to goal for the retrieve.

My SAT flight is HERE
Results will be HERE soon.


Sunday's flight was flown in challenging conditions. Lots of sink & lots of violent area of thrash. I can't say I was having fun, but I was enjoying the challenge. I made a slow, laborious trek down to 4 lane turn again & had the lead gaggle (which included Dave) in sight, but things weren't 'clicking'.

I found myself flying alone & got a bit more aggressive than I should've. I made a glide for the turn-point at the high school & tagged it low. I was depending on a suspicion, backed by some success of those ahead of me, that I would snag some lift. None developed & I put in to a small field with a nice big oak tree to fold up under. As I stashed my gear I watched, the more patient Dave, fly over head & proceed on course. Dave made it over Black Mtn to Nichols. His accomplishment doesn't go without notice on me - today was a hard day. He placed 3rd or 4th for the day. Not bad for a second XC on his new Boom. Jack made it to the LZ & was a big help in the retrieve again.

Results: Flt. time - 1:12 Distance - 10.1 miles - About 10 miles short of Goal,

My Sunday flight is HERE

Monday, August 6, 2007

Cayucos today

I've flown two 6-day trips to Frankfurt in the last 15 days (at my job in the 747) but have only flown one, short sledder since returning from Lakeview. I was ready to fly.

Patrick called me at 11:30 and said Cayucos was ON. I was doing Coffee House business, so I told him I'd be there soon. I got to the bottom of the hill just before 1pm. By the time I'd hauled my butt to the top of the hill, it was almost 1:30pm but conditions were perfect. Jessie & Eric were at the top with Patrick & were taking a break. I set up &launched into nice smooth lift that took me 250' over launch.

Today wasn't the kind of day to get adventurous or go big - which suited me fine - I wasn't in the mood either. I was ready to boat around, looking at the glory of the coast. I saw the Rock with a different eye - I saw the beach & surf and marveled at its beauty. It was the kind of day I just hovered in 0 sink, parked deep in the brakes, enjoying the view & feeling like a hovering kildeer. I flew for 80 minutes until I got cold & made a nice landing on the beach.

I'm waiting for my new harness to arrive - I made the plunge & ordered an Airwave Ram Race harness. It should be here any day.

Fly safe,