Wednesday, March 28, 2007

H2 special at IHOP

Well, my last flight, about a week ago, was ok, but...

it could have been better.

It didn't start until 5 PM, as the shuttle left at 4 and it took me a while to get to the top. By then, thermal activity was about kaput and I was left with off angle ridge lift... not much I can do with that in my Falcon with my skills.

Then, on approach, the winds were SW, so I did a standard pattern. I came in a little steeply, so when I first checked bar pressure, I popped up. I readjusted and got back down. By then, two things happpened. First, I didn't have much speed left. Second, I had neglected to see that the wind was now due W and I was at a 45 degree crosswind.... With my slow speed, that gave the upwind wing more lift and I started to worry about landing hard on my bad left knee.

A woman had just gotten her first flight in after a long time off from a knee injury. That and a bit of tenderness in my old Navy-injured knee led me to decide:

Time to land on the wheels.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the grass and dirt marks on my harness say otherwise.

So, I am going to take another landing lesson from my instructor. There's a pretty big difference between Dockweiler and Andy Jackson in terms of wind and land gradient. Dockweiler has a nice smooth beach for winds to come across, 90 degrees of angle to launch from, ensuring headwinds if you want them, and a slight downslope. AJ has a slightly upslope landing and a significant gradient due to the elevated, rectangular LZ. Also, there are some pretty sharp little rocks that had me worried more about my knee than my gear.

On the bright side, the Crestline Soaring Society has a new tractor, so the 85' hill is in good shape, and my instructor has a new John Deere cart to carry gliders up the hill... so I don't have to hump them myself.

I have to remind myself that I made a decision to choose physical safety over pride in landing on my belly on a busy day. Given that I know what it's like to have a life-changing injury, I can live with that.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Gotta love spring

I am beat. I woke up this morning and hit the gym, doing some upper body work that included lotsa reps of light weights in exercises to build up the ol' hang gliding muscles.

I was not planning to fly, so I thought I'd start getting in shape for the summer thermals and soar-a-thons.

Then, at a client site, the emails started rolling through... winds good, lapse rates good, driver available. My gear was at home, home is 67 miles from the hill. I usually have my gear in my van, but not today, so I went home and got it... and switched cars to the Z cuzza I was going to have to hurry. I made it... 15 minutes after the noon meeting time.

5 of us loaded up and launched Crestline, a few more to Marshall. Crestline was strong getting stronger. It was a warm day for Spring.

I figured the combination of ridge lift and thermals meant it was time to explore. I got as far North as I've ever been at the site. Any further and I mighta gotten sucked into the Cajon pass venturi effect. I was glad I had my bags in my harness.

I went back down the ridge as far South as I've ever been, or at least as far South that low. Gliding out of there on a Falcon is a tall order, especially in strong headwinds. The narrow ridge lift band saved my ass, cuz the wind was blowing out thermals.

The two hour mark approached and my arms were tired, so I started heading to the LZ, only to find a pleasant surprise. A thermal at Marshall popped me up to 7,700'. Though, the winds and sink at that altitude kept me from translating that into much distance. I got sucked down under the inversion layer. I tagged the flags at CSUSB and turned to try to try to do a mile long downwind leg...

Not even close, I hooked the strongest thermal of the day at 700 feet over and took it back up over cloud.

Finally, I wanged and slipped and spun my down to a passable landing.

There were a few very nice Moyes wings in the LZ... the Sylmar boys were flying over. I watched George Stebbins land and got in my Z and made it home in time for a 6:00 appointment (15 minutes late). I checked messages on the way home... pesky clients... I had forgot to turn off my phone before launching and my ring tones were driving me nuts.

I picked the right day to blow off work. I had a 1:1 drive to flight ratio. Not bad.

Here's the track: