Monday, September 29, 2008

Flying with Condors.

Sunday I had the good fortune to fly with a few very rare Californian Condors. We launched in the San Benito Mountains just east of Pinnacles Nation Monument. The Ventana Wilderness Society (link) has a release program to re-introduce the species to the wild. This guy (313) is 4 years old, and not fully grown with its 7 foot wingspan, they can live to be 50 years! The oldest in the program is 11 years (which is how long the program has been running). They are equipped with radio tracking devices, and as the circle over head you can hear the flying surfaces carving through the air. As I thermalled up to around 7k with sun would eclipse every once in a while as the giant passed 5 feet over my wing. You could see the turbulence travelling through the wing like a ripple in a flying carpet. I was utterly beside myself when what had the look of a collision, had the huge beast elgantly soaring along side me 5 feet from my corner bracket. At 4 years old these birds are young teenagers and behave like it, according to my friend who works at the release centre.The San Benito range, San Carlos peak is under the larger cumulus, I think the valley in the centre is Cedar Flat? I went about 4 miles into the headwind, but better lift, hoping to get to Goat Mountain and turn back. Eventually I decided to be kind to my chase crew and head home north and see how far I could get.The better flying route would have been over to J1, on to Panoche, south to Idria and Coalinga, and see how that goes. That would be a heck of a reteive.Flying north out of the end of Hernendez valley. Looking NW, Salinas valley has the Marine air blowing along at 2000 feet from the NW @ 20mph. The wind over 5500msl was SW at 20mph. In between was a layor of west at 15mph. Pinnacles in the foreground. Two of the four inversions are clearly visible.I pressed north, dispite knowing the Marine influence would put me on the deck before too long. I had hopes of making the hang gliding school in Tres Pinos. I landed just short of Paicines.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Good times at Marina Beach

Susie our social secretary ordered up 7 hours of smooth west wind to go along with end of summer club party. Young Thomas Elliot knows he's in for a treat. Its great to have a beautiful sunny day and nice air.School is back in, Students are enjoying the park in the stages of it being opened up. Sometimes I call my silhouette "Jaws".Here is Stephen enjoying the air, on a formula that belonged to Jamie a few years back. A unique perspective. Later on that evening... Breakfast !?Good times had by all.The air was more reliable Sunday, a good opportunity to go Tandem. I think Thomas is having fun too, I believe he still has the grin. Sadie's turn next. A little protesting at why her brother got to go first when it was her idea soon disappeared when her feet left the ground. We saw a pod of about 30 dolphins surfing and playing in the waves, occasionally pealing out of the surf as it broke in a big flip. We flew right over the top of them in a big 360. (I resolve to get this on video soon). Sliding in a landing with Sadie. Dad's turn.A great weekend !

Monday, September 15, 2008


A little while ago this great insight into hang glider stability was published on You Tube. If you are a Hang Gliding nut then it is fascinating :
link : Gerolf on Sprogs

I have played with my own sprogs, with varying results, and never feeling very comfortable about doing the adjustments and following test fly. The video inspired me to go buy a $40 digital level and make some measurements.

First set the glider up VG full tight and get the base tube level. I think still air is probably necessary. I was surprised how big of a wedge was needed to compensate 1° of tilt.
Get the keel level.Take the measurements. For me the inside left and right were both 4.3° Outside left was 6.2° Outside right was 6.6°.
Note: results for litespeed RS3.5
I will get to measuring a couple more litespeed S4 models soon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Indian Valley

Saturday looked like one of those days that one might go up to launch and wait all day for an hour glass off, once the winds calmed down to 25mph. So most of us headed for Indian Falls.
It was hot and windy, the water was refreshing. So was the beer :)
There were some large Crawfish in the river too. I think this one is describing how he likes Spagetti Bolognaise.
Sunday was a fickle day. Most of us headed up to the burn launch early noon. We had a flat tyre on the way up. Without a lug wrench it was a challenge to get the wheel off and back on. Fortunately that didn't stop Brian with a spanner and a mallet. Thanks Brian! I believe he was rewarded with an epic flight. During the tyre change a small cold front was approaching, it didn't really look like a front until it passed. It was already cold, but it cooled dramatically as the clouds passed and base rose. A few launched before the clouds and struggled all the way to the Tweetens bailout in the poor lapse rate.
As the clouds passed, the sun came backout and the wind picked up. It was a weakand small front, but you can see the cloudbase much lower to the north east. Mike Soderstrom was enjoying the chilly cloudbase here at 13k. Blow looking North East towrds Susanville. It would have been an easy jump today - just follow the cloud street. Note : you can see the where the Moonlight fire burned last year.
Steve Rodrigues & Steve Inwards. flew into Genesse vallley for a tour. I went toward Mt Hough and back across to Round valley reservoir. The picture below looks back toward the burn launch. Mountain meadows reservoir is behind to the north.
I saw Paul Clayton cirling on Keddie ridge and flew back across to join him. We climbed back to 11k. I headed to Launch one more time, taking pictures along the way. While circling I notice with the sun low in the sky I could get my shodow on the wing. This shot was the best of 5 attempts.
Then I cruised out to Bobby's field for a nice landing.
Ryan got a really nice flight and was not alone. If your name was Steve you stood a very good chance of a nice flight.
With the passage of the cold front, Monday was really cold. The wind was strong catabatic all night and remained north all day. Mount Hough is flyable in this direction but not usually with winds 5+ mph. Steve Inwards showed us another launch site and Steve R. showed us how to launch there.
It was steep and intimidating, trees, a rotor and a bit of a glide out to the LZ in 20+ winds. However it did back off just as one truckload sacrificed themselves to a tourist day. Here is Ryan and Steve enjoying the smooth air.
The regular launch is behind the crater lake on the volcanic rim. It would be amazing to launch there. It is a vertical cliff, across an emerald lake, through a slit in the crater, then out into the valley at 3000 feet above the ground. Here Paul Clayton is flying over the lake.
As the day wore on the shadows got longer and the lift was better out in front.
I headed out across Taylorsville for Keddie point (to the right of this picture). You can see Lake Almanor with Mt Lassen above it and Greenville at the end of the valley.
I returned for a landing at the Mt Hough LZ. I wasn't sure I would make it with the sink I found at Keddie point.
It was a great day that I wouldn't have flown if Steve hadn't shown me how good it was. The scenery was spectacular. With the cold clear air, Mt Lassen and Shasta were clearly visible. I took about 280 photos in three days. Glad that I wasn't using film !