Monday, March 17, 2008

Crazy weather week ends with a good flight

After a week of bungling weather forecasts, I was determined to get a flight in on Saturday. Looking at the Skew-T graphs, it looked like the clouds would be above Marshall but the wind would be growing in strength all day. My wiley scheme was to launch early, milk ridge lift, & enjoy the building energy in the air.

Dave, Mike Z and I left the LZ at 11:15 with Fez, a paraglider pilot. Marshall was honking when we got there, though lulls tempted Fez, he wisely waited for a more experienced paraglider pilot.

I recently wrote a letter to the editor of the national mag citing the CSS as an example of a club that's got the HG/PG thing right. (that letter was referenced in this month's mag) What I want to add to that is that HG pilots should love PG pilots... they drive your vehicle back down on blown out days. Thanks Fez!!!!

Dave launched and hooted and hollered. I had enough electronics on my glider to make an Intruder pilot shake his head, so I was holding up the show. Mike Z, the most altruistic man on earth since Ghandi died, was waiting to help me off. I was testing out a helmet cam (Fail)(Archos sucks). As I was hooking in, snow started to fall. Light, flakey, and quick to melt, it sped up the launch process. I didn't miss any safety items, but I did forget my second layer of jacket. Dohp.

There was some ridge lift, but the only strong lift I found was cloudsuck, which I circled out of and didn't find again. I scratched for 23 minutes (handicapped by a bit of extra bar pressure and terrain separation due to the wet wing) in the hopes of drying out my Falcon.

The windsocks were dead on downwind, boring on base, and doing a &^%$#@~! tango on Final. I remembered some of Rob's instruction on the 80' hill (I'd recommend those Gator runs for anyone, they're fun) and decided to run it out. No swing at the pitch (i.e. flaring). I was taking a base on balls.

I was tempted to go back up, but watching topless glider pilots kiss the ground upon safe arrival killed that notion.

Here's the video. Follow the link and click the high quality option.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring forward

This morning, I figured I'd play hooky for a sled ride and some R&D on some camera setups and another project at the LZ.

11:00, I barreled outta OC and made it to the LZ with 15 minutes to spare, and spent 10 of them mollifying a distressed client. phsaw.

Running into a rolling McBus, the cast of characters was light, with Mark Hoffman & Gene (& Liz as a return driver).

Rebardan was already up top with his ATOS (Dan have you landed yet?).... and Dusty ran the McBus off Marshall Road to beat us to the top (okay, we dropped Diane off at the last fork for a hike).

Typical late winter / early spring weekday, I thought. Not so much.

Rob was out having fun, shooting top landings, one of which I got on video (pesky pause button got another). Gene showed his love of Rotorville & buzzed launch like Maverick in a full pattern, time and again. Dusty flew off into the distance and scared the bejeebers outta the locals ("people! they be fallen from dah sky"). Firefighters who showed up at the LZ just to watch said there was a hook and ladder chasing a distressed ultralight through town. Or something.

On that note, if you see a fire engine in the LZ & the lights aren't on, they're just smokin' pork chops, no emergency. I saw it and kept an eye out for the X in the Circle, figuring a paraglider had gotten hammered by some cross winds.

What a fun and different day. I decided not to borrow a jacket from Rob and got high enough to get cold. I brought three cameras out, but forgot something for each, and it was a clear and high day. I didn't pack my bags in my harness and it would have been a great day to explore a little more than I could without them.

I took the Marshall house thermal to about 5,600 and started back toward Crestline. I chickened out, got back on the elevator, and tried again.

"Ruh roh," said Astro, I was pretty sure I was heading into North winds. That pipe-filled U-Turn in the road looked pretty close. I could read "ACME Pipes and Fittings" on the side of one of them. In for a penny, in for a pounding. I was thinking about that bailout LZ and how to store my glider without a strap of velcro while I walked back to the LZ (lesson there). I looked at the Crestline windsock and it was either torn or pointing the wrong way.

Boom! There were two thermal factories there, though, on the spines on each side of the launch. Rob sauntered by and zipped up and away, fun to see him in the air without a student.

At 6800 it was time to explore again. I did a half circle to the front of the Pine spine and fund lift to 7,800. I last saw Gene heading toward Arrowhead and wanted to go that way, but was down to 6200 by Crestline, so I punted back to Marshall for another lap back to Regionals, Billboard, and Pine, nice thermals at each.

Topping out at 8,500 at Pine, I decided to see if I could reach the 215. I got there a bit above 7K & went down it to the golf course. There, I hit the inversion layer and felt like Saddam Hussein falling through the floor and called it a day.

My landing must have been amusing to watch, I thought the ground was a foot or two higher than it was and ran in air for a while, mushed out, and skidded to a stop on my knees.

Didn't care, though.

Rasp/blipmaps look better for tomorrow, though the winds look a little more westerly.

PM me for a link to some quick & dirty video. No torrent crap, high def. With Kyle's help, I got a lot of Gene, some dan & mark, and even a paraglider (Doosty). I got a bit of Rob, but I wish I had gotten more. He's just so relaxed. It's like watching Perry Como fly.

Hope I can play hooky again. My first non-sledder in quite a while has fueled more than my loquaciousness. (ooh big word)

Here's a youtube video of the track (follow link for high quality option):