Friday, June 26, 2009

2009 Rat Race Blogging -

The 2009 Rat Race begins June 28th and runs through the 4th of July. I am not able to fly the Rat Race this year, but here are the RESULTS and some links to good blog resources:

Brett's Blog

Alex Colby

Reaper's Blog

Jeff Farrel's Blog

I hope a safe and enjoyable event is had by all.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A couple more photos from Dunlap

Thanks to Alex for sending me these two images of our flight last weekend together. Sorry I wasn't able to reciprocate Alex.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Good Karma Weekend - BAPA Weekend in Dunlap

Imagine this: Your adventure today is to get dropped off somewhere, 20 miles away from home, and get back using your cunning, charms, and skill. . . or bribery – if necessary. This drop off point may be far from a main road; may even be in a pasture far from the farm house (which might be deserted). You won’t even know what the name of the road is, and cell service is doubtful. . . Sound like fun? That is how every cross country paraglider flight may turn out. Often, the real adventures are the events that occur after we land. Sometimes it is less than fun. Sometimes you see the best in people and really enjoy the process – it helps if you have good karma. That’s the way this weekend worked out for me.

This weekend had some of the SoCal crew joining the BAPA XC league regulars in Dunlap. The weather was stellar; great cumulus cloud streets to indicate likely lift sources and very light West winds. The only overdevelopment was East, over the high Sierra, so it was not a factor - perfect weather for XC.

The flying was fun and ‘active’ due to some very strong edges to the thermal cores. I saw my wing do things that I hadn’t seen before – occasionally accordioning and bending midspan in ways that were just ‘wrong.’ I told myself that if I didn’t look up – all was well. The views of the wing aside, nothing scary or uncomfortable occurred and the flying was a lot of fun. That said – My flying basically sucked. My decision making still put me in holes that I had to climb out of and slowed me down. I also landed well short of goal both days.

Saturday’s task was a lap around the Dunlap valley, then out 180 to the pizza joint, then South to Woodlake. I made it into Squaw Valley and decided to fly along a cloud-street that bordered on a stretch of remote country. I did my best but had to land in a field at the South East end of Drum Valley. I actually had landed in this field a couple years ago and hiked about 5 miles before a retrieve driver picked me up. No such retrieve drivers were coming on this trip though. Here’s where the first bout of good karma kicked in:

The ranch I landed at is a full eleven miles from the main road. There was one person within 11 miles of me, when I landed, and he offered a ride into Orosi. He was going to leave until he saw me land, so he waited 15 minutes until I hiked out of the field. His dog, an Aussie Sheppard, named Murphy, kept me company while I packed up. As it turns out, Mike owns the ranch but is working in Sacramento in the Schwartsnegger cabinet. He’s the head man in the state when it comes to State natural resources (parks, water, minerals, etc.) Mike gave me a ride all the way to Orosi. It was an interesting conversation during the ride into town. There I met up with Jay and Shad and we went looking for other pilots. Good karma to them.

The task on Sun. was a leg from Dunlap to Orosi, then up Hwy 63 to the 180 junction, back to launch, then to the ranger station. Josh C. was very patient on Sunday and waited for the gaggle to form before starting his transitions. He basically ran a clinic for a few of us by throttling back. I was with him until a few Km short of the Orosi turnpoint when I managed to find a sink-hole that put me on the deck East of Orosi – 20+ miles from my truck.

Five minutes after getting to the road, a pickup stopped and the driver asked me where I was going. “North,” I said. He asked where I wanted to end up. “My truck is at the Dunlap Community Center.” I responded. “Well, hell’s bells hop in!” he yells, “I’m going to Dunlap myself . . . But I’m drinkin’ beer, ya OK with that?” “SHEYA” I responded, not realizing how many had come before the one in his hand. We (his name was Dean) made a stop in Orange Cove for some kick-ass burritos and then he dropped me off at my truck 40 minutes later. Here’s hoping your back surgery goes well in July, Dean.

I must be living right because both of these retrieves could have been 4 hour fiascos. Instead they were efficient, quick, and enjoyable. If you are ever driving along, and you see a guy next to the road with a floppy hat, sunburned nose, big-bag, neoprene purse, and hard to read sign that says “GLIDER PILOT NEEDS RIDE”, stop and pick me up. Your adventure will be part of mine – hopefully you will enjoy your adventures as much as I do mine.

My flights are HERE

Saturday, June 6, 2009

WCPC Day 7 - Task 7

Click on photos for larger version
Today was the 4th scored task. We have flown every day, but 3 tasks were canceled for weather. The weather today looked as good as any of the days this week, so it was "Game-On" and the boys were ready to do some hard charging.

The task was two triangles - The first, from Woodrat Pk to Rabies Pk to Burnt then back to Woodrat Pk. From there we flew to Rabies then to Cemetery to Donato. I got suited up and got in line. From then on, for the next 40 minutes, it was a fiasco. The winds were very light and I blew my first launch because I just couldn't drive hard enough with my broken ankle. I set-up for try #2 and this time the wing got swirled by a gust and landed on top of me. I pulled out of the queue and sorted my gear. I took my time because I didn't want to compound the error. I was the last pilot off the hill - 13 minutes before the start time. I found a nice core, right off of launch, and soon was in a nice spot for the start. As I pushed my speed-bar to get into position for the start, the right brummel-hook (quick reslease for the speed system) let loos and the speed line was buried in the bottom of my harness. This meant I would have to fly the course handicapped, without my speed bar.

From then on things HAD to get better, and they did. I took my time and found the good climbs when I needed them and flew good lines - using the convergence to my advantage as we flew the early laps. Eventually I found myself on top of Burnt Ridge, on the way to Cemetery, and Nicole and I were not finding the screamer that we wanted. We were high enough to get over the back, but not high enough to get to the cemetery waypoint without a climb. The clouds looked good and we went for it. It seemed like the thing to do - but it didn't work out. We both landed about a mile from Cemetery. There were at least a dozen in goal today. I placed 20th for the day.

Eric Reed won the day with all the usual suspects in goal. I got picked up by the van on its way to the goal to pick up the guys in goal. . .I call it the VAN-RIDE-OF-SHAME - You are in this van filled with happy guys who made goal, and you didn't. But I did lurk and learn ;-) Watch your backs boys - I'm learning.

It's been a fun competition and Mike and Gail did another great job of making the comp fun and exciting.

Open Cumulative Scores

1 Mattew Beechinor 2399
2 Josh Cohn 2284
3 Matt Dadam 2227
4 Eric Reed 2180
5 Nate Scales 2148
6 Hayden Glatte III 2067
7 Paul Murdoch 1899
8 Andy Macrae 1709
9 Peter Warren 1643
10 Brad Gunnuscio 1457
11 Brett Hardin 1365
12 Michal Hammel 1357
13 Cliff Curry 1299
14 Tim O'Neill 1293
15 Nicholas Greece 1245

Serial Class Cumulative Scores

1 Peter Warren 1643
2 Brett Hardin 1365
3 Tim O'Neill 1293
4 David Wheeler 1216
5 Tom Moock 1203
6 Melanie Pfister 1157
7 Sam Mulder 1058
8 Nicole Mclearn 1056
9 Steve Young 1016
10 Meredyth Malocsay 878

Women's Class Cumulative Scores

1 Melanie Pfister 772
2 Nicole Mclearn 677
3 Meredyth Malocsay 584
4 Veronica Dubak 401

Results are here.


Friday, June 5, 2009

WCPC Day 6 - Task 6

Today we met at WCPC HQ under broken cloud layers similar to those of previous mornings. The forecast called for clearing with more North West winds than on previous days. We were joined by 15 kids from the local elementary school who rode to launch with a few of us. The kids were enjoying their first day of Summer vacation and chose to watch the paragliders.

A 40Km task was called from Woodrat to WelRG to Cemetery to Donato. Things looked good for a fun day of flying with many layers of clouds visible from launch. At one point a rather risque looking cloud formed right in front of launch. It was soon dubbed "cumuluscockenbalus" by those meteorologists in attendance.

I launched early and made a few ragged climbs to work around the peak to find the best climb. Soon I found myself getting low in a down-shaded cycle and frustratingly, unable to get high. I fought with 10-16kt wind-blown thermals for 49 minutes and eventually ended in the LZ at the base of the hill.

My vantage point in the LZ offered a good view of the race. Many of the guys were over Rabies and basically stuck in the wind - unable to penetrate into the first turnpoint without getting low in a place that was uncomfortable. Josh and Nick managed to get into the turnpoint and soon they were WAY out in front and flew over Burnt in good shape. About 20 minutes later I saw Hayden go by, also on his way to cemetery. As it turned out, only Hayden made goal and Josh and Nick made it within 6 Km of goal.

Today was my character builder. I've been fortunate until today to get up and into the race for the first couple tasks - that fortune ended today.

I just returned from the hamburger feed at HQ and I am amazed at how devalued this task was. Hayden, who flew the entire task to goal, only earned 175 points! This was a remarkable accomplishment that was devalued due to the small number of pilots making it along the courseline. All but 4 pilots landed within 8KM of the start. The results changed very little due to the low scores for the day. I'm still in 4th in the serial class and 12th overall.

Results will be found HERE.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

WCPC Day 5 - Task Canceled due to winds

Click on photos for larger version
We met at WCPC-HQ at 9AM while rain fell under overcast skies. Jeff Huey (Safety Director)talked a bit about safety and, I think we've coined a new moniker for his position - "Director of Danger" ;-)

We met Lucas, a local student from the Ruch area who was the recipient of a scholarship resulting from donations by pilots at last year's WCPC and Rat Race. He talked a bit about his aspirations and thanked the collective for our generosity. The Rogue Valley club is doing an amazing job of interfacing with local land-owners and residents. We actually feel welcome in the valley, which is very nice.

It was determined that the weather forecast showed potential for a late task this afternoon. We agreed to meet again at 1PM at the HQ.

We headed up the hill to launch only to be greeted by a rain shower on top. Soon it began to clear and a task was called.
A few pilots launched, but the wind at launch came up and I got popped when I tried. I killed the wing and decided to sit it out until the wind decreased. Launch closed for about 15 minutes and the task was canceled due to winds (at altitude - not launch) at 30 minutes before the start.

I launched to free-fly when the winds decreased and enjoyed a nice, short flight. I landed at the Longsword Winery with many other pilots. We were met by lovely Charlene who offered a glass of wine to those who landed in their LZ.
Tomorrow looks very weak, but flyable. Saturday looks great.
Below is a view of launch when a rain shower caused a rainbow over the LZ this evening.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

WCPC Day 4 - Task Canceled - Due to O.D. (again)

Click on photos for larger version

When we arrived at launch the skies looked good in three quadrants. The view to the South of launch indicated we were destined to have large dark clouds early in the day however.

The task was a 34Km flight from Woodrat Pk. to Grant's Pk. to Trovin (a nice LZ located adjacent to a winery that is pilot-friendly). It was very similar to the task we tried to run yesterday.

I launched with 30 minutes before the start and was scratching in front of the 'mid-launch' when the discussion among the weather pilots and Mike began. "It's a 2" - "The cell is starting to rumble already." - "It's not IF, but WHEN you are going to cancel the day." With about 15 minutes to the start time, the task was canceled. Many relieved pilots landed in the LZ below launch and we were sprinkled by rain as we packed up. The call, again, was the right call. This is the view from the LZ, looking at the launch hill, just before it began to sprinkle.
Ironically the clouds that had appeared so ominous, suddenly dispersed and the skies over the launch and LZ became very friendly looking. Some pilots headed on course to Grant's Pass, and I wouldn't doubt that they have great flights, but my experience with Thunderstorms (capitalized due to some major respect) is that they are best left alone. They are unpredictable and fast-moving. When I'm strapped to a paraglider, I am anything BUT fast-moving. If I'm going to avoid T-storms, I go for the head start, every time. Below is a very short video of what the weather looked like when we packed up.

So, with four days of flying behind us, we only have 2 tasks scored and they each were less than 700 and 800 point days respectively. The Friday and Saturday forecasts look good, so I'm expecting to have at least 4 days scored this week.

Scores can be found at


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

WCPC Day 3 - Task Canceled due to O.D.

Click on photos for larger version
Today looked very good when we arrived at launch but the forecast was calling for local Over Development, in the Ruch area, much earlier than on previous days. The cu's were popping in all quadrants with the closest (and biggest) to the South of launch.A 43Km task was called from Woodrat Peak (2K Exit) 27 Km. to Grants the a 11Km leg to Billys and back North West 5Km to Aplinn with goal at the winery.
Launch was a bit slow due to very light, shifty winds on the hill, but we all made it off with plenty of time to get in the air prior to the start. I found good lift to cloudbase. Base was ragged with lift often allowing climbs higher than base, in the clear air. I was right where I wanted to be for the start - about 2 minutes behind and high. This allowed me to view the sky and pick the most efficient line across to Rabies. A mild convergence was setting up and allowed me to get to Rabies high enough to go into a good search pattern. I was able to hang on the ridge for quite a while. During this time the skies over Woodrat blew up and began to look very ominous. I also was noticing that the cu's along the courseline were beginning to get very tall. I wasn't in any immediate peril, so I continued my (somewhat personal) battle with a particularly nasty, and one-sided thermal - trying in vain to extract a couple complete circles in lift.

I finally threw in the towel when I figured we had 45 minutes or so of safe flying before the wind was going to blow. I headed for the Longsword Winery and landed with a few other pilots relieved to be watching the weather from the ground.
Soon the overdevelopment was undeniable and the meet director called the day. The wind picked up and rain began to fall EXACTLY 46 minutes after I decided to can it.

Tonight we have a Mexican food dinner planned. The rest of the week's weather looks like a balancing act between flying in great unstable air and avoiding over development.


Monday, June 1, 2009

WCPC Day 2 - Task 2

The task today was another great task. I think this may have been the most 'FUN' task that I've ever flown here - and that's after flying many comps and making goal - which I didn't do today.

Only one pilot (Matt (Farmer) Beechinor) made goal, but there were many of us that were within 6k of goal when the East valley winds kicked in and the sun was blocked by an intimidating super-cell to the South West. But I'm getting ahead of myself -

The day looked bleak from the moment we got to launch. Clouds at many altitudes were visible. There were scuddy clouds below hilltop level and some imposing buildups to the North. Here's a view from launch around 11AM.
The task committee called a 42.5 Km task from Woodrat Pk (2K exit cylinder)- 20K to Bald Hill, - back to Rabies, then 9K to Jacksonville LZ. The day looked like it would be weak until it went off (assuming surface warming) and then just a matter of 'when' the clouds would OD.

I launched early again and soon was working with the gaggles to get and stay high. We were only able to get a bit above 5000' so the transition to Rabies (on the way to Bald Hill) would be another sketchy glide. Although starting a few minutes late yesterday worked in my favor, I found myself in a good position and high enough to head across 10 seconds after the start time. The reception at Rabies was about as 'homey' as yesterday. A few got nothin' and ended in the LZ after making valiant efforts to get up. In my case, I was down to 300-400 feet above the LZ when I dug into a thermal that took Andy, Brett, Paul and me back into the race. We got high enough to get into Rabies again and found some good lift that got us on course - a full 35 minutes after the start.We headed on course with an impressive view ahead. The photo below is of Josh, as we followed him on course. We didn't see any weather that was sinister looking until the last leg of the task. As we approached Rabies, prior to the turn East to Jacksonville, the development to the South was very scary looking. Because the course took us East, and because the weather wasn't moving rapidly, it allowed many to scoot along courseline to goal. The problem was the low-altitude winds had picked up and thwarted all but Farmer on the glide to goal.

I had my very own, personal roadblock - my brain quit working while on the way to goal. I had a field on my instrument programmed to give me (I thought) the glide ratio to goal required. . . I didn't do the math to check the indication so when I was approaching Rabies, the last turnpoint before the short leg to goal, I realized that I was too low to make goal and had to find a climb before going into the tiny valley between Ruch and Jacksonville. To make a long story short - I decided to end my flight with Tom in the Bishop LZ 10 minutes before the task was stopped due to the approaching weather. 30 minutes later we felt the gust front roll through the area with 20-30 kt gusts.

As I wrote earlier, only Matt Beechinor made goal with at least 12 others within 6Km of goal. Tom and I are probably in 12th-15th for the day.

This task was a lot of fun because it started with a very low save that took me from resigned defeat to running with the leaders for the next 30Km. I doubt that I'd have been able to make goal even if I hadn't brain-farted, but I would have been in the J-ville area rather than on the Ruch side of the hills.

Scores will be here:
I just got a look at the scores. Here are the Cumulative top five in each category:
Open Class:
1 Mattew Beechinor 655 758 1413
2 Matt Dadam 632 653 1285
3 Josh Cohn 618 616 1234
4 Paul Murdoch 500 653 1153
5 Nate Scales 621 514 1135

Serial Class:
1 Peter Warren 375 607 982
2 Brett Hardin 353 618 971
3 Steve Young 350 582 932
4 Tim O'Neill 341 514 855
5 Melanie Pfister 149 544 693

1 Melanie Pfister 149 544 693
2 Nicole Mclearn 149 468 617
3 Meredyth Malocsay 303 218 521
4 Veronica Dubak 149 192 341

I'm in 11th overall and 4th in the Serial class.
My flight is HERE.
The weather for the next few days looks doubtful . . . I hope we get to do more flying.