Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Speed Gliding at Ed Levin

With a long enough gap in the weather - the 2010 Ed Levin Speed Gliding Race was ON !

Artwork by Eric Froehlich

Link to the Rules

The Course is set out below. I believe it is very similar to the course used to select the U.S. speed gliding team many years back 1999 perhaps?

The 7am pilots briefing was held at Mission Soaring. Thanks to Pat and Megan for getting up super early to help with the Official business.

Here is Chris, one of the 3 meet organizers. This style of race needs many volunteers and considerable co-ordination. Chris is not just a Hang Gliding mentor... He has been giving fashion advice to U2's guitarist "The Edge".
Brian another of the 3 meet organizers, gets ready. Brian abandoned the idea of fashion mentor after Jamiroquai took his advice too literally.
The course was a real eye opener! Going through the course entry gate, I quickly realized I was dealing with way more than I had prepared for. Picture by professional photographer "Spinneyman"
Struggling to keep the glider on course. I and many other realized on our first run that we needed a more head down harness attitude. The course was designed to factor in skill way more than glider performance. Getting down through the altitude gates was very challenging.
Here's a great picture at the 300' altitude gate by talented photographer, Frank Peel, you can see the rest of his pictures here
The early misty stable air was perfect for speed gliding.
Racing through the finish gate was quite a rush, 5 feet off the ground 60mph.

Final Competition Results

Rookie Class:
1. Jason French (picture by Eric Froehlich)

2. Mary Plavec
3. Mark Suttie

King Post Class:
1. Dirk Morris (picture by Eric Froehlich)

2. Brett D'Aquino
3. Walter Whiteside

Open Class:
1. Jason Boehm (with John Borton - meet director)
Check out those prizes ! (Made by Brian Horgan)

2. Ben Dunn
3. Chris Valley

A big THANK YOU to the organizers Chris, Brian and John, for pulling off a prestigous meet, and the to many volunteers without which the event would not have happened.

I truely enjoyed it, and I believe it will be recognized as a moment in Ed Levin Hang Gliding history and the Wings Of Rogallo hang gliding club.

Well Done !!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My own task

I had a fun day yesterday at Fort Funston. I got around to a flying project I've intended to do for 6 months or so. "Race to Goal" format Hang Gliding competition is much like sail boat racing around bouys. You have a timed start line, a few turn points and a finish line. The main differences are : using Waypoints as virtual bouys and of course it is 3 dimentional. Pretty easy stuff.

In this case I chose :
Start to be a 2km Entry cylinder (big red circle) around the "northend" waypoint at 14hrs (2pm)
Turnpoint 1 was also the "northend" waypoint but with a 50m radius.
Turnpoint 2, the "PG" waypoint 50m radius (this is close to the paraglider launch at the dumps)
Turnpoint 3, the "whiteroof" waypoint 50m radius.
Finish is the "flagpole"800m radius (smaller red circle). I chose these points and locations so that :
1. multiple pilots can fly the same course at the same time (the lift band is wide at Westlake)
2. Start and Finish are away from congested areas.
3. Whiteroof can be difficult to get to and so requires some strategy and not just flatout highspeed racing.
4. Start is outside the lift band, and so leaving the good lift area before the start requires some judgement. Leave early and timing will be easy, but you loose valuable height energy. Leave late and you have to fly too fast to get a good start also losing height.

So with all this crafted lets have a go!

8 mins 59 sec until race start, 1.67km to the start line. Exciting! even by myself, and just look at the views ! 300 meters about sea level and climbing.
The first race (against the clock) I had messed up the radius of the turnpoints, 50km instead of 50m, I carried on anyway (using the garmin) but missed the first turnpoint by 20m.

The second race I was messing with my instruments setting up the next race and didn't give myself enough time to get to the edge of the start cylinder, I carried on anyway (this is just an experiment after all). I hit all the turnpoints, but "whiteroof" took an extra turn to get high enough to tag it (it is set back behind the cliff).

The third race, I had a great start hit all the turnpoints without extra turns and had a good finish. When I later checked the times I was surprized to see the last race was not significantly faster. I think this is because the conditions had significantly weakened.

What did I learn ? Well first I had to program my instruments. Should be easy, there are only 4 waypoints... I entered them into MapSource, then into the 76CSx. I then pulled them off the 76CSx with GPSDump , saved the waypoint set as Funston.wpt and loaded the set into theFLYTEC 6030.

First thing I noticed was While the Garmin searches Waypoints on ID, GPSDump had taken the comment field and used it as "Name". So all my waypoints were called Pacific ocean, and after loading them in, I only had one waypoint, Pacific Ocean...
Then my Laptop battery died and I started again by hand entering the waypoints...

Note the 76CSx cannot have 2 proximities for one waypoint, so I created another waypoint in the same location with a 50m radius (Since the Start uses a 2km radius)
I was quite tired after all that. I think I went to the dumps and back 12 times in 2.5 hours !

The next step is to figure out a good way of scoring this, and to figure out how some of the other instruments work. It will be challenging to use the 76 CSx for this course because of the waypoint transition methods. I will also attempt to figure out how the AirCotec XC Trainer handles this.

Here's an animation of the 3 attempt compared to one another.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nice day at Mission

Early season at Mission yesterday, everything is so green. The birds were out enjoying it too, Hawks, Kites and Golden Eagles. I snuck up on this guy, I got closer, but he spotted me and dove before the next shot. It was awesome though, believe me.
Another highlight of the day was taking Vitoria up. A buddying Hang2 soon to be Hang3, great conditions for that level of the learning process. Ed Levin is the familiar site for many students,
seeing it from this angle is neat.
Unfortunately I forgot my vario, making it a little difficult once away from the hill, but Victoria flew great anyway.
This time of year Mission, gives valuable lessons in how to fly clouds. Couldn't quite make this one in the slow boat, but Charlie got there and flew forever.
The light got pretty at the end of the day. I tried making this Black and White, and a few other effects, but I prefer the natural shot. I think it was Michelle flying, I flew with him a bunch solo on the tandem wing, it was really fun gaggle flying with paragliders on a wing that has essentially the same performance, of course Michelle is also an excellent pilot.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Elephant Seals at Ano Neuvo

On Sunday, we were lucky enough to get to see a Colony of Elephant Seals in peak season. Female Elephant Seals pretty much get pregnant right after they give birth and spend all but 3 years of there existance in some stage of pregnacy. Males fight for the action, only 10% of them win 80% of the action. Keeping humans away from the colony, has been key to the impressive population. Monday was Jessica's last day, and a ride in wilder was the goal for the day. The weather was perfect.The ride does start with a fair bit of uphill, that proved not to be a problem.
Good views from the Wilder Ridge Lookout. Its really green up there at the moment. Plenty of water running through the creeks and canyons. Lots of cool things to see, Newts, Banana slugs, Fungi... A fun day on the single track and fire roads north of Santa Cruz. A good think to do on the last day.