Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cuesta with Dave, Patrick, and Mike

Today was a great day at Cuesta. I rode up with Mike & Dave. Patrick was already in the air when we got there. Mike went first & had a nice 30 min. flight to the LZ. Dave launched next & soon joined Patrick. I wasn't far behind & soon we were bouncing around at 1000' over launch. Lift was abundant but very rough on the edges.

We were able to move around today to areas that have been untraveled by me before. I found myself directly over the TV towers at 3300' (1200' over launch). An area of convergence lay right along the Cuesta Ridge & some of the thermals bumping through this area were very strong & sharp edged. The winds above 3000' were from the North and the winds below were from the SW. Patrick headed North but found this headwind to be a problem & landed at Cal Poly. He gets the prize for most adventurous for the day. Dave, on the other hand, gets a prize for most optimistic. Ask him ;-)

I flew for about 2 hours & finally landed due to bladder issues - I'm sure that it was working until after 5pm today.

My gear worked well, I had many chances to practice with my new speed-bar & my blue-tooth phone dongle worked while I was flying. Next weekend we are headed for the Owens Valley so I want everything in order. Last year I flew 115 miles in two flights - I can only hope for conditions like that this year.

A good day -


Friday, September 7, 2007

Why I fly

Today I headed to Cuesta & met Eric & Patrick at the top. Winds at launch were brisk but not too high between cycles. Patrick launched first & wasn't having much luck getting above launch for a while so I decided to work on some tweaks to my stirrup & new 3-step speed-bar. Eric launched after a while & the two guys were able to get up & move around the area.

I got into the air & found the air to be quite buoyant. Within 6 minutes I was bouncing around at the inversion at 2600' (500' over) I had fun exploring the area & noticed that today there were a lot of birds of prey & vultures soaring today. I was struck that many of the birds were just out enjoying themselves - flying for the same reason I was. One medium sized raptor was flying along just upwind of me as I flew a lift band - as he went by, he folded his wings & dove 100' only to 'zoomie' back up to my altitude and bank over the top of me. He looked at me with a "Try that" look.

I headed up towards the towers & got closer than previously. I didn't like the way the air felt up there so I came out front to avoid getting caught back on the shallow slope of the ridge.

The RamRace harness I'm flying is completely different than my last - it is a much more supine design and utilizes a stirrup. I have been getting some quite twitchy rides on it. I've been feeling like the signal to noise ratio was a bit low until today. Today I played with the chest strap quite a bit & got it dialed in. I was able to feel the core of the thermals as my wing cut into them - it felt, at times, like a strong bubble was moving laterally along the span of the wing. As I learn to interpret this information, my flying will improve & become more intuitive.

After an hour and a half of fun, I landed at the base of the ridge in some very active air. I packed up & hiked the hill to get back to my truck. On the 900' hike up the hill I stopped to rest a bit & was treated to a pair of adolescent vultures playing follow-me along the ridge. They explored lee-side & rotor areas in a kind of chicken game that I hadn't observed before today.

It was a good day.