Saturday, September 22, 2018

Santa Cruz Flats 2018

Back to Santa Cruz Flats after 8 years. A good turn out from the SF Bay Area. 6 flying tasks over 7 days. And just to show how times have changed, pilots are taxiing on segways and scoring is live on the internet.

it would be a hot week, with the exception of Wednesday, where I happily would have worn a sweater and some shoes.

Wednesday was monsoonal and fairly obviously unflyable, so Wayne and I took off to Biosphere 2. Something I remember learning about on Blue Peter when I was 13 years old. It is now open to the public (guided tours), and continues to run environmental experiments.

The two experiments that caught my attention were : seeing what happened when a rainforest ecosystem had much higher levels of CO2. The thinking was the trees and foliage would photo-synthesize the CO2 back to near normal levels, and while perhaps growing a bit taller. The latter happened, but the trees them selves did not convert any more CO2 than normal. A surprise to all. 

The other was the ocean reef tank which also had increased levels of CO2 and heat, the corals had bleached and algae taken over. The current state of the experiment is seeing if certain types of crabs and snails could consume the algae and return the reef to a healthy state once CO2 and temperatures return to normal.  

The architecture and engineering is worth a visit just by itself. Climate control is so much more on this scale. Light is controlled along with heat and cooling. But the water and humidity and even wind is a closed system. The experiments would be ruined with mold, insects, seeds etc from the local environment if exposed. It is all sealed (somewhat) and 2 giant lung buildings supply the air circulation.

While on our visit the monsoon was in full swing and returning to our hotel we found the very flat town flooded, especially in our parking lot !

Here is the task on the last day. Each day was quite different from any other in the week (from a weather perspective). The area confounds me - trying to read the weather by looking at the sky. How a place can be so hot and be void of thermals? and then seem the exact same the following day and be totally different. Patience and gaggle flying is key.

We had to keep an eye out for rattle snakes after the rains. Wouldn't want to launch with one of those diamondbacks hitching a ride. The last days flight is interesting to replay, in fact a few of them are. But this is the link to do just that, you can fast forward and replay up to 10x the speed

Great to see some friends I haven't seen in 8 years, and make some new ones too.

Ollie Chitty made some cool videos of the event also, check them out.

practice day day1 day2 day3 task4 task5 task6 Dave Aldrich also has a nice intro to the place too.