Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Going south from Ed Levin

is not an obvious choice, since the first part is directly into a strong headwind. But I am not going to take credit for the "choice" since I was going to sink out while I was exploring. Cloudbase was pretty low (3200ft) and soon after launching I was running from the clouds with Chris. Here is the Ed Levin County Park Lz. I was under a very lifty cloud so I just tootled along into the 24km/h headwind. With that wind I could easily just glide back whenever I wanted. Or not... Here I am looking at a potential LZ. This is the church on Sierra Rd. Just a few weeks ago EricH took us on a tour of the north and south XC routes. I would never have attempted this flight without doing this. LZ's are few and far between. And Hazards are plenty. I did get back up, a couple of times. There were some flecks of rain here and there that had me nervous, I speed up to get out of the drizzel, which was localized in the convergence marching south down the valley. Interestingly back at Ed Levin the wind turned NE and flushed all the other pilots. Once out of the lift/rain band I was sinking again, I did not have the hieght I wanted to jump the Metcalf Hills. With the sink I was soon scoping out a nice conservative landing. Uphill into wind, short green grass, with butter cups, easy retrieve, very likely my cell phone would work, thats the way I like it. You have to remember every outlanding here is an "emergency" landing. Maybe like having a flat tire in a car, you shouldn't be stopped where you are, but you deal with it in that manner. This beautiful field was incident free.Piece of cake, thanks so much to Chris for coming and getting me, and to MarginalMark for the ride up the Hill. Here is the short 28km flight, I was in the air about 1hr25. Not bad for March.

On a complete tangent the more I see these movies, the more I think I am missing out on something. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dr Paul from Idaho

came to visit as part of his Spring '10 California tour. I took him and his brother on a couple of mountain bike tours.
We started off in Wilder Ranch, where spring is in full swing. I'm sure Wild Iris don't usually bloom until May ? Grass was all green, hardly surprizing with 2 weeks of warm sunshine after a month of rain. Wilder has a really nice selection of diverse terrain and eco-systems.
Santa Cruz has a diverse range of cultures... It was a warm day in March, with the easter holidays the beach was packed. Some folks were swiming in the ocean without wetsuits ! (They have to be mad !)Round 2 was Big Basin State Park. Waddle beach to Berry creek Falls. The falls were in full flow, very nice to see.The lighting in the canyon is different everytime I visit, I see something new everytime.
Paul & Peter were excited to see this little Salamander.
I think we spent 6.5 hours on the trail that day and it was over all to quickly. It was great to see Paul again, and return the tour guide favour :)

Dingo and his flying videos

Thursday last week was a nice day at Funston. Soaring window was from 10am till dusk. 10 hours. I think I probably only flew for 4 of those hours.
Dingo has been taking some incredible video footage recently, and making very entertaining videos. Just last week he and a couple of other hosted this event. He has gotten good at minimizing the risks of flying in close proximity to other aircraft. Toward the end of the day I ended up standing on his noseplate out infront of Westlake. I was flying my Falcon which made it easier and safer. John "Sidewire" Simpson also playing in the sky, doing loops for my Tandem student to see. A beautiful sunset was followed by a gust front and heavy rain. Here are a couple of the best movies from the festival.

NorCal FreeFlight Film Festival from Jose Pruneda

2009 Year in Review by Charley Kurlinkus

Ridge Soaring Mt Tamalpais

I have been doing quite a few Tandems for San Francisco Hang Gliding this year ( ) Here we are at Mt Tam "B" launch. You just never know what you are going to get at Mt Tam. Notice the low cloud off my right wing tip.Often the wind will blow over the back, often fog will form down below or at launch level, sometimes the tide or 12 foot swell will cover our landing zone.
But not today, the stars were aligned. Not only was a sled ride possible but it was in fact soarable! My 3rd tandem of the day was 55 mins, and we mostly flew about 600 feet over launch. My Vario said 31'F. I am very cold in this shot. Its fun landing on the beach with beautiful mountains behind.

Tandems at Marina

About a week ago Monday a good buddy of mine called and said "Hey Marina is going to be good today". I figured it might well be but my beach glider is in a sad state of repair (because it is a beach glider and it has probably 800 hours on it). "Got any friends who want to go fly today?" "I'll make some calls" said Trey. Well thats good enough for me, to justify the gas. The conditions were indeed, good.
Nice and smooth, easy to launch from the landing area. Noice !
One of Trey's buddys got to fly for a good 12 minutes and we were in the air for 50 or so minutes.

Trey put together this pretty fun video. As you can see Marina is a pretty tight place to fly

Trey's Blog Marina has just gotten much more constricted as the Snowy Plover fences are going up even earlier this year. I don't understand why the fences are put below the high tide line. Do the birds really lay their eggs in the tide zone? Do they survive?
Anyway be careful out there, the rusty galvenized steel posts are difficult to see against the sand, and not in the most logical places.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Calling the Devils bluff.

The clocks went forward last night and spring is here - Yay. The Ice plant is just coming into flower and Big Basin is lush and green. I've been wanted to fly with my camera mounted here for years, yesterday I finally had everything together for that to happen. You can see Ano Neuvo (an Elephant seal colony) in the background. In the background you can see the blackened trees from last years "Lockheed fire".
Thermalling at this site is always weird, inversions, horizontal and vertical wind shears are almost always here, gliders have been tumbled in the passed. Its important to keep your airspeed up or a good amount of bank. I have as tight a grip here on the control bar as the owens. Interestingly yesterday, lift was consistly cold air, and the horrible sink was warm. I postulate that the warm air was an east wind, and since I was pointed west into cold west lift, when I flew out of the lift I would have no air speed and all of a sudden and fall 80 feet or so. This is known as the "spanking".

Looking back toward Santa Cruz.
Just entering some "textured" air, ready and prepared for a good spanking, yesterday was actually not so bad.
Ryan coming into land. It was really fun flying with 3 high performance wings in close proximity and seeing the results of slightly different choices. As always the Devils bluff retains its reputation :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Towing at New Jerusalem

A couple of weeks ago we had an aerotow clinic, up in Northern California, Dallas came out to instruct there. Since he is a enthusiastic freestyle pilot, and involved in the admin of it, he rallied a freestyle judging clinic. I was encouraged to show what I could do along with a few others, so we could be judged. It was great fun and I am pleased that my first good spin was caught on film. Huge thanks to David Aldrich , RC Dave and Rod for making the trip up from Southern California for this event. It really made the weekend a social scene.

On a heavier note an ultralight pilot and friend to many of the pilots out that weekend was killed when his aircraft broke and chute failed to deploy. Kieth was definitely not afraid of living and it was a harsh reminder of our mortality.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring fly at Mission

Saturday it blew east, Sunday it blew hard west. Spring is here and California is green again. A few of us headed to Funston initially as it was overcast. But the sky was blue to the north and the west wind was already 20mph + at the coast. Mission was the call.
It was still light enough there, that paragliders were prettying up the sky. Cloudbase was lowish, but high enough to get most of the way to Ed Levin and back.

Cloudbase dropped slowly through the day, but the lift just got stonger and wider spread. It was soon possible to fly up the outside of the clouds.

I will never tire of seeing this.
It was a pretty day indeed, I think I flew for 3 hours or so. At the end of the day it was hard to get down. Happy pilots being goofy.