Sunday, September 21, 2008

US Nat'ls - Bishop - Day 7 - Task - Canceled

Well, it's over. We had two great tasks and the Owens provided the beautiful scenery & excellent flying that it is renowned for. Unfortunately the winds were excessive at launch a few days and the winds aloft kept us on the ground on otherwise flyable days. The decisions to cancel that 5 days were well thought out and in the interest of safety. As Kevin Biernaki said, more than once, "we need to remember that this is only paragliding." I agree that we can't task 80 pilots to fly in obviously marginal conditions in the Owens.

The conditions, when favorable, were awesome this week. We flew 2 tasks, each over 100K, that were exciting and fun. The air was active but not scary and lift was often to a cloudbase over 17,000'. Congratulations to Dean Stratton who repeated his win of the US Nats.

1 Dean Stratton USA UP Edge XXL
2 Josh Cohn M USA UP Edge
3 Peter Schaefer USA Niviuk Peak 27
4 Eric Reed M USA Niviuk Icepeak XP
5 Jack Brown USA Gin Boomerang 5
6 Nate Scales USA Advance O7
7 Nicholas Greece USA Niviuk Icepeak XP
8 Alberto Brun MEX Niviuk Icepeak XP
9 Hayden Glatte USA Gin Boomerang 5
10 Honza RejmanekUSA Axis Mercury

I placed 22nd overall & 7th in the Serial class. I'm very happy with how this comp turned out.


Friday, September 19, 2008

US Nat'ls - Bishop - Day 6 - Task - Canceled

Today looked so bad, due to forecast high winds in all the models, that the day was canceled at the pilot meeting before going to launch. A few of us decided to go up to Baker Lake for some hiking. We drove to 10,500' (a three hour teeth-jarring ride in Roger's unstoppable Chevy) to Baker Meadow. Then we hiked into Baker Lake & did a bit more hiking around the lake before returning to the truck for the long ride back to civilization. It was a beautiful day and amazing scenery.

Tomorrow is the last day of the comp & we are desperate for another task to make this a 'valid' competition (one that provides points for the top pilots for their ranking towards the US World Team selection) Tomorrow is forecast to have lighter winds.

Here is a video of the Gunter launch shortly befor the first pilots were in the air & prior to canceling day 5.

As of today, I'm 21st overall & 6th in the Serial Class. The quality of this group is very high & deep, so I am very happy with this result, so far.

Hopefully more tomorrow -


Thursday, September 18, 2008

U.S. Nat'ls Day 5 - Task 3 - Canceled

We arrived at Gunter's at around 10:30. Calm at the airport and on the launch. Threw a few wind-techs into the air around 11:30. It soon became apparent that the winds aloft were stronger than forecast. A task was called & pilot meeting briefed, but shortly after the launch window opened, it was closed due rapidly changing wind conditions. A check at the airport again - 15 gusting to 20 kts. . . The meet director & safety cmty. agreed to call the day, based on observed winds and the forecast for an increase later in the day.

Results should be HERE soon. They may be delayed due to some pending protests and rule verifications.


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.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

US Nat'ls Bishop, CA - Day 3 - Task 2 - Canceled

The forecast for the day looked a bit windy but the conditions at launch were encouraging. The wind on the valley floor, at the Bishop airport, was calm & we had cumulus clouds forming nicely over the Sierras and the Whites. A task was called early that took us North from launch, along the White range, with a turnpoint in the flats at the Paiute LZ and Hammil then to Benton at the North end of the Whites. The task was short at 49.8km.(31 miles) but would have us on the deck before the wind picked up. . .

The start was a multi-gate start, every 20 minutes beginning with a 11:45 start and ending with a 1:05 start. The goal would close at 4pm.

Some of the wind techs were hanging on but not getting up at 11:45. I wanted to get in the air before the wind picked up so I got in line, only to step out when nearing the launch point. I waited 15 minutes and saw some weak climbs out front, so I launched into the fray. The lift was very weak but I was able to get to about 1500' over launch. The thermals seemed to break apart at this altitude so, for the next 40 minutes, I just boated around in disorganized lift and a 10-20 mph wind from the South. The clouds were beginning to overdevelop with virga visible so being in the air much longer wasn't going to be fun. The task was officially cancelled at 12:20 or so. A couple guys, with more hunger than I, were able to get away & they flew downwind along the Whites. I think most landed down in the Paiute LZ. I landed after the launch director reported strong winds at launch, around 12:46pm.

It's a bit disappointing because the day looked quite good for a while. The forecast for tomorrow still calls for some 10kts of South wind and cloud cover for much of the valley.

I must say that I am still impressed by the handling, performance, and safety of my Gradient Avax XC2. It has been solid in some very dynamic air. I'm really happy with it after flying 80+ hours & 1300km. in 4 major competitions and many more weekend events.


Monday, September 15, 2008

US Nat'ls Bishop, - CA Day 2 - No Task

Today looked good with a chance of winds increasing from the South again. Launch opened at 12:40 and closed 15 minutes later when the safety committee called the day due to gusty conditions at launch and reports of a wind front approaching from the South.

I'm disappointed, but secretly glad to have a day to recoup. I just hope we don't lose many days to the forecast wx that is expected to pass through the Bishop area in the next couple of days.

Here are a few more shots from the practice day flight from Walt's, along the East side of the Sierra Nevada range to Bishop. CTRL/Click the photos for a larger view.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

US Nats - Day 1 - Task 1

Today's forecast was similar to yesterday's except that the winds had a Southern component in the afternoon. The task was a 110k (68 mile) task from Flynn LZ to Hammil (in the valley) then to Big Ears and a 28k final glide to the Fish Hatchery. I launched early (as usual) and had an easy time to 13,500'. The conditions at launch changed dramatically after I launched. The wind came in strong from the South and gave many pilots a tough time on launch. Additionally, when the wind shifted it caused the lift cycle to end & some pilots went down in the LZ.

I waited around for the start (an EXIT of the 3k cylinder) and was off in good shape for the run North. I made a few climbs and hit the first turnpoint comfortably high & not far behind. When I returned to the foothill that had been so kind to me on the way out, there was no love for Tim . . . I groveled along the ridges for 30 minutes below 10,000' until I found a nice 500'/min. thermal that put me back in the game.

Three thermals later, I was gaining on the Big Ears Turnpoint, but only at between 10-15kts. groundspeed. The South wind had kicked in & being low was not a good idea. I did my best to stay high to avoid much of the headwind while going to Big Ears.

Finally I hit B. E. and was able to hook into a 300'/min. climb to almost 12,000. I left this thermal with a required L/D to goal of 8.6:1 and by the time I crossed the goal line, 14 miles later, the required L/D was below 4:1. My ground speed on final glide was over 65kph.

There were over 30 in goal and I was in the last 30% to finish the task at goal. Results will be HERE. I believe that the top 3 finishers were:

1st. Eric Reed
2nd. Dean Stratton
3rd. Josh Cohn

My flight is HERE.

All-in-all, today was a really fun day. Lots of work & some hard flying, but the conditions were generally well behaved. The 20 minute final glide was very relaxing after the long,and sometimes frustrating, flight.

Tomorrow is going to be another good one & I hope to successfully get to goal again. I must admit, though, that I'm really tired after flying two 65+mile flights at high altitudes without O2. . . It won't keep me from going big again tomorrow though ;-)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

2008 U.S. Nat's Day 0 - Practice Day (EPIC)

WOW - A great day of flying today. Jug, Tom, Jack, Nick, Gary & I all headed to Walt's today for a warm-up flight before the comp begins tomorrow. The forecast was for very light winds at all altitudes with an Easterly component. This combination made the choice of Walt's (on the Sierra side of the Owens Valley) one that made sense. It also had the added lure that none of us, except Tom, had launched from that side before. The plan was to head for Bishop, about 60 miles up-range from launch.
I launched second and found lift very quickly. I have no oxygen system for the week so my plan was to see how my body reacted to climbs to 13500-14500'. For the first 15-20 miles I climbed to 13,500' & left the lift to go on glide until I was 12,000' & then take climbs again to 13,500'. I basically pointed the glider North, climbed when it made sense, glided along the Eastern side of the sierras on one of the most enjoyable flights ever. The scenery was amazing. I've flown the Owens before, but never this side. Mt Whitney and the associated pinnacles were unbelievable. My photos don't do the views justice, but may give an idea of the scale of the landscape.An early gaggle launched an hour or so ahead of us & some of these guys flew 100 miles. Our group split up & most landed 15 miles S. of Bishop in Big Pine. I was able to make it to Bishop & landed next to 395 in a nice field. Roger Marsh was just driving into town (from San Diego) & stopped to give me a ride - Thanks Roger!

A great day with a 68 mile flight. I hope the conditions continue to be so conducive to long, enjoyable flights. My flight is HERE.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Heading to the Owens Valley


Tomorrow I'll be heading for Bishop to fly the US Nationals. Conditions look good with lift to over 17k & light winds (for the Owens) so I think it will be a good week.

Jeff Wishnie had a good warm-up flight on Tuesday & flew from Walt's 168K to the North end of the Whites.

If you would like to have a look at the waypoints used in the Owens so you know where we are flying, you can download a waypoint file that will open in Google Earth, HERE.

Check back for the blow-by-blow.


Monday, September 1, 2008

I've had enough

Ok, I know this has nothing to do with paragliding, but I'm fed up with all the hoopla about the Presidential candidates. I don't believe either of them to be the new messiah or the moral executive that I can respect. So sign me up for the "Noneoftheabove" party.

It may get in the way of some paragliding activities, but I've decided to run for President. My platform is one that promises "Free lifts to Launch" and "Beer at Goal."

Please visit my campaign website for further info:
Timo's Presidential Run

Thank you for your support.