Friday, October 26, 2012

Buffalo Mountain, Oklahoma

Last weekend, my new local flying buddy and I went upto Mt Buffalo, Oklahoma, with what could have have been the last good flying forecast up there this season. Our local foot launch site is just 7 hours away.
Well the forecast didn't hold but we flew Saturday.
It was a little blowy, but workable ridge lift with thermals to 4k.
 Launch is around 2000ft MSL and the LZ is around 900ft MSL. There was a strong hint of fall in the air, with a few colors starting to show. Here's Andy on his Sport2.
It is a pretty area, reminds me of lookout mountain, Georgia.
A fantastic bonus was meeting up with Kit, whom I've not seen for ages. I haven't really flown around with him before. It was great fun.
Talihina is it's own special little local town, with the "Hateful Hussy" being center of the action, which is a diner.

The local club (Buffalo Mountain Flyers) do a fantastic job of keeping sites open. I'm keen to check out a few more of the sites. Next time I hope I do better with forecasting the weather ;)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Together again and back in Texas.

6 weeks didn't seem like it would be a long time at the end of our summer trip, to me anyway, at the time, but in reality from then to the end of the HG nationals seemed an eternity. Regardless of my complete misjudgement, happily I finally arrived back at Heidi's :)

Overjoyed !

As always there was far to much to do, before departing, I missed saying so long to a few folks, hopefully it won't be so long... The trip went fairly well considering how over loaded I was and how old my truck is. But as I got to my cursed mountain on I10 in Texas, I ran out of gas. Same place where I got a flat tire last year. There's a section where's it 70 miles between fuel stops. All of a sudden I was getting terrible gas mileage. I put it down to a headwind and a few hills, but a day after I arrived I found I had a bad ignition coil, so that was the likely cause.

Since then I've just been unpacking and rediscovering what I packed up 3 or 4 years ago. Quite fun, a little like Christmas!

And of course, I've been catching up on some exercise! Check out this critter we found on a trail run. A Snake eating another snake!

At first I thought it was a harmless King snake.


But actually it turns out it was a coral snake ! Yikes,one of the most potent venoms of North American.
At least it's mouth was full ;)

Another surprise here in Texas is how green it is.


It has been hot and humid, 95'F and 80%. Though it cooled off nicely this passed weekend. 


Perfect for checking out the Hancock trail, close to here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Santa Cruz Flats Hang Gliding Nationals 2012

was in the same spot as previous years, the Fransisco Grande resort 40 miles south of Phoenix Arizona. The meet staff did such a great job of reporting on it, on the event blog, I yielded instead to sleep. Life had been very busy the previous few weeks...
We flew 7 out of the 7 days at the comp, and as is common there the air was hot and surprisingly stable. I think we saw 104'F (40'C) on the hottest day, most other days were just a couple degrees cooler. Thank goodness for the ordered launch.
As has come to be known, knowing the winning strategy is a fickle challenge. Most often it is essential to stay with the main gaggle, just to remain in the air. But as the day progresses knowing when to speed up, or slow down is far more difficult. 
The conditions are most often unforgiving, one wrong move often puts pilots on the ground, scratching their head as to why. Day 2 was like that for me...  
A meteorological quirky trend of the Santa Cruz Flats is just after the peak heat of the day (say ~4pm) lift in the flats shuts down, whereas in the mountains; lift is pumping right through the inversion.



This led to some interesting tasks, where we would limp and grovel our way to the mountains, get crazy high, then glide back (hopefully), without hitting a single bump of lift.
After 27 hours of airtime, considerable luck and Kraig letting me demo this new Litespeed RX3.5, I managed 3rd place just stealing it from Matt Barker at the last moment.


Here is the glider that squeaked me into goal, days 6 & 7. 16km and 26km respectively, with not a bump along the way, making it by just 20 feet ! The improvement in handling is the biggest difference, and it helped immensely not only in the gaggle flying, but picking a line to glide.  What a great way to end a season. Final results here :  Congratulations to Jamie for a flawlessly run meet, and a huge thanks to the helpers and tug pilots. More pictures here.