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@ Chelan during the 2008 XC Classic

Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:42 pm

[  Mood: Happy ]
[ Eating Currently: Eating  ]
Thursday - July 3rd
Left the house late, 3 1/2 hour drive to Chelan if you don't stop. We got there at about 2 in the afternon. I guess they called the day due to a bad forecast, and there'd been good flying the last several days, so most pilots were OK w/a rest day. Instead we found a nice winery and gorged on BBQ. My instructor called me right about 5 when we were sitting down to eat saying he was headed up, but I was starving, and passed on the opportunity. I also met Holger (saltoricco) camping at the airport. He was the one and only rigid wing pilot in the comp this year (guess who took 1st in that class?).

Friday - July 4th
High winds forecast had people doubtful about whether they'd get some air. We drove up, I had my glider off the truck, but didn't even bother setting up, it was just way too nasty up there. A couple of pilots got off, and to my surprise (and most everyone there...) a PG launched and just parked off launch. She had a collapse that scared everyone, but eventually managed to work her way down and landed on the side of the hill. No other PG's flew, and very few other HG's flew. Many that were set up decided to break down. My girlfriend and I found another little winery and just relaxed. So far not much flying for me, but I've found two neat little watering holes. We're both so lazy after the wine we don't bother checking out the fireworks in the next town.

Friday Night - Stormy weather
An INSANE storm that passed through.My girlfriend wakes me up after the first big flash or two. I start timing the flashes and thunder and the storm is about 1.5 miles away. I jump up and throw the rain-fly on the tent preparing for what I'm sure is coming. Sure enough, we start getting it. The storm passes within about a mile. We got some wind, and some rain, but easily missed the brunt of the storm. The flashes were brighter than I'd ever seen before. So bright I was blinded for several seconds each time. I had to just keep my eyes shut but it was still insanely bright.

Saturday - July 5th
Today is the day to get some air. Forecast isn't exactly great, but we head up. I launched Green Monster for the first time. Recorded the entire flight on video, but somehow managed to overtighten the bracket and when taking it off, it broke off in the camera. I'll have to find some way to get the bolt out of the camera. Worst case I can drill it out, but really don't want to damage it. The lift was very broken, I got over launch, but not many were staying up. As I'd never made the long glide to the soccer field before I left early and boxed the field about 5 times before coming in. I probably could've crossed the columbia river, but just barely to the other ridge and decided I was better just planning my approach for the new LZ. The wind was a bit switchy blowing down then across the field, so I split the difference and ended up with a nice no stepper landing. I did pop up a bit (8-10 ft), but paused then continued slowly with my flair and came down nice and easy. Flight was only about 17 minutes.. So I'm a bit bummed, we're planning on leaving first thing sunday morning.

Sunday - July 6th
Weather is looking much better... Good enough to delay the trip heading back home. I head up the hill early and though the sky is clear and the sun is shining, it appears to be fairly stable. We set up expecting to launch Lakeside. Nobody wants to launch first, as though we're getting some nice winds, they're all cold, and the trees below aren't shaking. I guess this means there's a larger thermal above/behind that's sucking the cold air up. Good for just a touch of lift and wind at the top of the hill, but no so good for getting up just after launch. I can't wait all day (already leaving late as-is), and neither can my instructor, so he decides it's worth launching even if he might not get up.

He launches, and managed to find a nice little something and in short order is up over launch. Another guy launches before me and I wait a bit to see what he's doing, then I launch. I head over to the same bump he's at, but it's close quarters, and at one point he's circling just outside of me (on a Talon?), and we're getting pretty close. I figure I'd get out of his way, as I'm just a noob, and I'm not expecting a great flight, so I figured I'd be nice and give him the best chance he could get.

I head out over a little ridge looking for the Junkyard LZ, litterally an LZ next to a junkyard. I'm having trouble seeing it from the air... but it's likely where I'll be landing. Heading around a burm I'm not finding much of any lift, just doing barely enough to stay up. So I find another little ridge that is within easy glide of the LZ and do my best. I arrive just below the ridge, but manage to sneak my way above the lowest part of the ridge and get just enough climb to start circling and searching along the ridge. BAM! I finally hit something and I'm up, and down, on both sides of the ridge. There isn't much wind, it's just the occasional thermal popping off. Finally I hook a good one and get juuuuust high enough to start scratching my way back up the ridge to the Butte. Damn... I really had to work for this one.

Once at the Butte, I find a really nice elevator and I'm trading king of the hill with the Talon. I notice I'm being much more aggressive in my thermals, getting better climbs, but with larger sink as well, whereas he's got a flatter approach and we're both averaging out about the same. I see my girlfriend leave (what I think is) the Junkyard LZ now that she realizes I'm up and she heads for the soccer field. I get up to just under 6500' and decide I'll head over the river. It's really sinky along the way, but I make it pretty high and am just floating around the ridge out there. No lift, no big sink either, just slowly gliding down. I'm not yet prepared to land out, and there's no good lift where I am unless I head further into the flats and commit to possibly landing out, so I head back towards the LZ and decide to play. Some fun dives and wingovers (probably mild by others standards, but a lot of fun for me!) and I'm enjoying burning this altitude.

Finally time to set up for landing... I've been up high for so long that my ability to judge altitude is a bit off, and I totally blow my approach. I realize I'm coming in high, so I stuff it big time. I float across most of the field in ground effect and realize if I don't make a correction there's some trees at the end with my name on them. I get in a small turn enough to avoid the trees but now I can't properly flair. I run it out and keep the glider from touching the ground, but it's no where near as pretty as my last one. I realize (yet again) that a good approach is the key to a good landing. I remind myself I'm lucky to be on a Falcon, and am making mental notes to not get into a bad habit.

Wow, great flight... Just over an hour, but could've stayed up much longer if I wasn't already late heading home.

Google Earth KML's created using Rick M's schmancy igc2kml converter.

Posted By: gerg    0 Comments    (Post your comment)
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First flight @ Stewart

Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:35 pm

[  Mood: Happy ]
[ Eating Currently: Eating  ]
I was determined to fly on Sunday, it'd been a couple weeks since I'd been up, and my last flights were barely extended sled-runs. I did get over launch at Blanchard last time I was there, but not for long.

Either way, I drove up to Blanchard to hopefully meet some pilots up there to fly with & help drive. I got there to find a PG Pilot(Hans) in the LZ, waiting for some of his buddies to show up, but no hangs in sight. Worst-case I could drive my Jetta w/the ladder rack up, fly down, and get a drive back up with some of the PG's to retrieve my car. Hans mentioned that most of the hangs he knew were headed to Stewart. I'd never flown there before, but from the sounds of things, conditions might be better there. After getting directions, I was off. Made my way out there and met up with some familiar faces in the LZ, and managed to hitch a ride to the top.

We watched another local pilot (Jimmy) launch as we were nearing the top, and after a quick orientation I was set up and ready to go. Jimmy was yelling down at us that we should wear gloves (it was cold), and it was punchy as hell up there. Jole launched and was floating over launch in short order. I stepped up and quickly made it over launch, but not for long. I followed Jimmy out along the ridge but couldn't keep it up. I floated around a large rock for a while as small broken thermals put me over, under, over, under. If you weren't climbing in a thermal you were stuck in sink. I went out further along the ridge (also towards the LZ..) and managed to find a little something more. Jimmy hooked something nice and was quickly back up over launch. I floundered in it and didn't make much of it, netting a small loss every couple of minutes I was there. There was just enough lift to sucker me into staying, and not too many other options between where I was and the long glide to the LZ.

I managed to find a nice bubble that took me back up to 2100', but didn't last long. I dropped back down to 1500 and decided I shouldn't push my luck at a new site, and headed for the LZ. I hit some sink, and a touch of lift on my way out, but I was already committed to landing, so just made a straight line at best glide. Set up a nice landing and put it down softly along-side a fence in the high-and-dry part of the LZ. I give my landing an 9 out of 10, only because it was a half-stepper, still not bad for getting bounced around a little and landing in knee-high grass. I was first to land, so I walked my glider back to the gate and started to break down. Another pilot (also in a falcon) landed shortly after, then we saw some of the hot-shots flying overhead. They were catching some big-wide-smooth thermals over the LZ. One got low (maybe 5-700') then hooked something and went right back up.

A while later more were coming in to land. Jimmy got a 2hr-15min flight out of it, complaining about all the lift that was up there, and having to find sink to land... Not sure I believe it, I managed to find all the sink rather easily... Another pilot didn't see the fence and managed to flair just over it, whacking on the other side.

As I get more airtime, I think I'll probably do a few things. 1, leave the main ridge a bit higher so I have some more time over the LZ. As it was, I got there w/500' and time to set up a nice landing, but it'd be nice to have some more time to play in any lift I might find on the way. 2, it's hard to tell if I was being too agressive or too conservative in the broken thermals. They were pretty small, and the one I managed to stay in a while I was banked up pretty well in, but more often than not I was loosing altitude trying to put it on a tip in the small ones, where a more conservative approach might've worked better. I'm also seeing the benefit of a higher-perf glider in areas like this. E.g. It sure would be nice to be able to play on the ridge a bit longer knowing I could make it to the LZ. As is, I left just the right amount of margin to make it there w/500' to set up an approach.. I love my falcon, but man.. sure would be nice to have a touch more.

All in all I got 26 minutes of airtime out of it. The track doesn't show it too well, but I landed on the side of the road towards the bottom of the pic (bottom of the white line). It's a "no-no" to land in the field on the other side of the road, as there's a less-than-friendly farmer there.

Added a picture from Jimmy. He's out over the LZ, looking back at the launch (brown spot to the right of center). That's Mt. Baker in the background.

Posted By: gerg    2 Comments    (Post your comment)
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Flight bLog

Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:51 pm

So, I've been pretty lax about tracking my progress and logging my flights, which is a real shame and wrong in many, many ways...

I've managed to do a write-up on this site for most of my flights as I've progressed last year, as well as having pictures/video from most of my flights, so now I'm working on piecing together my entire logbook, and doing a better job of keeping track. This will probably turn into a form of a Flight bLog. Probably just for my own personal ramblings, but if anyone else can learn from my experiences or reading what I write, GREAT!

Posted By: gerg    0 Comments    (Post your comment)
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Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:20 am
Mill Creek, WA (Near Seattle...)



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