Monday, September 28, 2009

End of the last comp of the US season

What a great time, and a pleasure to share is with many of the great friends I fly with at home. A huge thanks to Wendy, Christina and Bill, that put up with our babblings on the radio and then came and reteived us from hot dusty fields. Kraig won many of the days in the meet and took first, Robin placed consistently and took second, Derreck flew great and took third.
It was 110'F in Palm Springs on the way home. Now 55'F at my house! Time to get to work.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Apparently I flew with a crack in my downtube today. Err Brazilian I beleive... The day seemed to be really booming and I raced to the first turnpoint and half way to the second. Then I went right of the dropzone for Eloy. It is an Skydiving airport - one of the busiest in country, on a saturday to boot. I went wide and sank into the soft farmland. I had almost given up. but held on for some weak climbs. I was 5kms from the turn point. One hour later I was still 5km from the turnpoint but now downwind in the desert and way off courseline. I was starting to lose hope. Yet I could not give up. Eventually I tagged the second waypoint and went on glide for a landing. Star of the Day Brian came in and landed right next to me. He is star of the day because Mother nature swatted him yesterday, and with some great WW help expoxied his glider back together and had a great flight.

Flying with Bruce

Flying with my old bobblehead team mate Bruce, we struggled our way along the course. Landing just short of goal. I think we both could have made it if I hadn't left that last thermal. It was still going up at 75 feet/min. We only needed another 1200 feet to make it in. I figured I would find something better in 16km, nope. It was a mistake that cost 300 points or so. Batten fixing for the last day. Last day today, fingers crossed.

Friday, September 25, 2009

First goal for Wayne

Task 3 yesterday was really fun. Its the first time, I've been able to almost keep up with the lead gaggle - although I didn't realize it was the lead gaggle at the time. It was a short task, so a good start was going to be critical. We were not in a good position for the first start and actually started to sink out, so I started to head back to the tow paddock. At the northern racetrack I ran into 400up and stuck with it to 7200ft. James joined me and we took the second start. It was a long glide to the first thermal and I even had to backtrack a bit, putting me at the bottom of the stack. The climbs improved with altitude, so I stayed a bit after Kraig and the top guys took of just to match their altitude. A gaggle formed up ahead ahead I joined at the bottom and found a better 1300ft/min climb a little upwind. This caught me up to them. From there we just needed one more climb to get to goal. It was quite a race. From the last thermal I waited for 8:1 as the ground is almost all 7 foot tall cactus on the way to goal. I raced off and caught Robin and Phil. A really fun fast glide.

A little later Wayne made it into goal, his first I think. The first goal smile lasts a while - it is a defining moment. Arizona has retired military jet everywhere - probably because the climate is good to them. Gila bend airfield was no exception.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Almost the hardest start ever

Task and Results I made a big mistake pinning off early yesterday, thinking I could climb out myself. I went down and had to re-light. The second attempt the air had softened significantly. Chris, Alex, Wayne, Scott and D.Dave all struggled like crazy getting out of the start circle. I got to 3300ft, actually back to what I pinned off at the second time, and decided to leave to get to a better air. I was down to 500feet just inside the start circle, when I felt the bumps. Taletell signs of a thermal over the quarry I was hoping would produce. I got up through the 3300ft inversion and went on my jolly way.Picacho peak below. The others caught me at the 2nd turnpoint, having climbed to 10k in a ripper somewhere. From there it was pretty straight forward to goal. Chris did exceptionally well getting out of the start circle. Here is a big solar power plant, rows of mirrors focused on water pipes. Steam to turbines.< Brian had a great flight too.
Pinal Air Park - where planes can take a nap. Came in to goal late, but no surprize since I was 1/2 hour after the last start clock. Good flight anyway.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Out classed by our retrieve crew

Yesterday was a fun first day. The conditions were a bit soft, and the day a little short. Here is the task at 111 km. The team members that performed best were Wendy and Christina, thanks guys :) Wendy found me before I'd had a chance to even get my phone out. She'd been keeping an eye on us from the ground. An almost impssible task. I made several misjudgments that slowed my up yesterday. Overshot the start cylinder a few hundred meters, had to go back to the first turnpoint, as I wasn't sure I got it the first time. Most importantly after the last turnpoint there was a choice of go wide around the dry area to goal, or go straight.
The pilots that made it went around to the south. I chose straight, and had a bouyant glide to this cow...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Santa Cruz Flats - It's a happening scene

Its the practice day here at santa cruz flats just south of Pheonix Arizona. Zippy here is taking his girlfriend for a fly around from the newly surface mini airstrip.
Teammate James stylishly takes to the sky for a practice run. Its as much a tow refresher as an orientation and equipment tuning check. I took the day as relaxation. It is great to see all my flying buddies again - Happy Days :) Here's Wayne coming in for a landing next to the hotel and Chris. We all cooled off in the pool and had some fun with my underwater camera.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Off to Casa Grande, Arizona

Its been a really busy few weeks - rushing around between work and organising for the up coming Santa Cruz Flats competition. Chris, Ryan Try and I flew McClure last weekend, a last minute decision of tempting flying weather pointed out by Chris. Good call on the weather, but the late nights and early mornings started to make that basetube look quite comfortable. I got into some sort of low level wave at 3500ft and rode it upto 5700ft smooth as the smoothest coastal air, a good opportunity for a power nap. Eventually the south wind broke down and the north prevailed, I fell out of the wave, with a rather uneligant flailing toward the LZ. There was still plenty and heat and energy in the air. Thermals started tracking up horseshoe mountain instead, and I did a couple more laps round the valley, before landing next to the cooler. Hmm that reminds me I owe Ryan a few beers :) And Chris for that matter.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day

A much more typical forecast today, we had a relaxed start to the day enjoying the new breakfast joint in town - Annie's. Headed up the hill and flew off early afternoon. I've always wanted to explore to the west. Yesterday was not really the day but I went as far as I dare. It's beautiful. That is Lake Almanor and Dyer Mountain in the foreground. Mt Lassen behind.There are some cool formations and a couple of lakes on the ridge. I cruised back passed launch to catch up with Wayne, Ryan, Joe, Bruce and John who were east of Keddie ridge. Quite a few gliders were getting ready to launch. We all landed just west of Taylorsville. A nice end to a nice weekend with good friends.

Lassen National Park

Not far from Indian Valley is Lassen National park. The weather for Sunday looked very similar to Saturday so we decided to check out a volcano that Ryan had recently explored. Cinder Cone is in the North East of the park. The ground is black volcanic sand, a bit of a work out to walk in. The area is diverse and beautiful.Not too far away, is Mt Lassen standing about 10,000ft ASL. It used to tower over california at around 21,000ft. Butte Lake in the background was split in two by the lava flow. The sands are beautiful too, redish yellow orange colors.The crater is quite impressive too. You can walk down into it, if you look closely you can see 3 or 4 people in there. Back in Indian Valley the winds were calming down and many pilots enjoyed an evening glass-off. The Monday weather forecast was looking much better though.

Monday, September 7, 2009

On the wrong side of nature.

It is rare that I regret launching... The forecast was for strong winds, never a good thing in the mountains, but Indian Valley's burn launch sits in quite a venturi and generally speaking it becomes unlaunchable before it blows out. (500ft above launch winds usually drop 10mph). Not Saturday it didn't. I launched about 11:30 in 25mph winds. It wasn't too gusty yet. I went straight up barely penitrating forward with the bar stuffed and 3/4 VG. I knew this was quite a bit more than I was bargining for... From there noting there was plenty of lift I decided to use what height I could get and move east down the ridge to land in the widest part of the valley. It was very bumpy and I was having trouble just keeping the glider pointed straight. There was no-way I could make it straight out to tweetens and no way I wanted to land there anyway. 30 mins into the flight I was looking down into the valley looking for a good spot to put it down. I could feel the large mountain rotors blowing through the valley causing 15mph gusts and 90 degree switches in wind direction. I was quite concerned about "landing". Too far east I was in terrible rotor from Mt Huff, further west and rotor was coming from Hunodim Peak. In fact there was a field of light dust freshly furrowed showing the rotor caused gust fronts coming different directions across the valley. I found a large soft looking field that didn't seem to have good retrieve possibilities and set up for it regardless. The wind stay nasty all the way to the ground, I got popped from the side on final took a few steps, with the glider out of whack I let go jumped over the base tube and splated upright against the sail. The marshy grass was kind to the glider, it was as good as I could have hoped for. It is a fun social fly-in up here, Stacey and Carm do a great job of entertaining, feeeding and getting pilots together.Bruce had made a life size jenga game that has been quit the hit.