Sunday, June 22, 2008

3 Amigos fly to 29 Palms

The week up to the flight already foretold the possibility of long flights over the back or possibly on the front range. It had been a week of record breaking heat with some San Fernando valley temperatures as high as 113. Thursday although blowing down at Kagel, showed the altitude possibilities for the weekend ahead.

I was busy with work all week and barely had time to do any weather googling but "felt" the heat would provide ample altitude for a safe departure over the back of the San Gabriel mountains to get into the Mohave desert. The calls started Friday night to setup a truck and get a crew assembled with the usual suspects (although one would be missing due to family obligations, sorry Phill). Sebastain Lutges (Sebas), Ron Wiener and myself were to gather in the LZ around 11 am, we figured there may be others that would certainly follow since the forecast looked pretty optimistic.

The heat in the LZ was pretty bad, already over 100 when we arrived at 11. I felt that this would not be a great place to land mid day and made a mental note of the switchy conditions in the LZ, but the wind at the time was moving from a WNW direction to a SSE direction at the time. Richard Seymore also wanted a ride up the hill and we had room so we loaded up and left the LZ around 11:45 or so.

The temps on launch were noticeably cooler but it was still pretty hot. On the way up we all noticed the big development of Pine mountain and my thoughts of the paragliding crew going to Ojai wondered how all of them would do under such strong conditions. We could see really strong conditions over the area close to Castaic with a cloud that was very flat on the bottom and shading an area over 5 miles long. Shortly after that we started to see small development on our front range but the clouds would never last too long. Some of the regulars started to strategize about the easiest way to make it over to the clouds some 15 miles away (or so).

One by one we moved towards launch to join each other in the sky. Ron and Lauren were marking a good one over towers with Ron reporting good altitude going through 7k. Andy was climbing at the 1500 and Jonesy was marking a good one right out front. Off I went into the climb over the volcano and enjoyed the cool breeze now moving over me. A lot of things were going right early, launch into a climb right away, I had a feeling that the day had just begun. As we climbed through 7k Jonsey (Greg Jones) and Sebastian got a stronger core and separated from me with about 500' or more and left for Big T. I followed and we all had an easy glide to Big T, or so I thought. As I arrived I could only see Sebas, but never spotted Jonesy. I went to the climb Sebas was marking and we both climbed towards the white canyon reaching 8k eventually. Jonsey apparently had not found the climb, Sebas said he was low over middle T but I never spotted him although I repeatedly kept looking in that direction.

Meanwhile Sebas and I were climbing and drifting with a NE track. We had good comms and could hear both Wiener and Rob Bugis gliding towards Magic Mountain after leaving the 22. Sebas and I were now around 9300 and decided to glide straight over to Mt Gleason from just NE of the white canyon. Of course going through both of our minds was Phill Bloom's tumble as we approached the area where he encountered the air that lead to that event. I purposely loosened the VG when the air got a little too bubbley. I tried the climb right before Gleason but couldn't get really comfortable with the roudiness so left on a glide towards the clounds on the N side of Gleason. By this time Wiener was working from down low (5k) right around Parker with Sebas in chase a little higher. Leaving Gleason with 8300, I went to rendevous with them at parker. Wiener had found a good climb and was going through 9k, as I approached Parker I found a good fatty going up over 800'/min and was quickly going through 10k. While climbing I spotted Sebas up very high and gliding towards Crystal Air glider port. Our chase was now on the way, good comms with both Janice, in Andy's truck and Paul made the decisions to press on all that much easier. I think by this time we were aware that Rob Burgis and possibly Jim Thompson had turned around. Andy was somewhere around with us with no comms.

About the time we're all just S of Palmdale / Little Rock, Andy Pryciak is on Sebas's tail and trying to tell him something. They spent so much time trying to get that communication down that both of them lost around 4k and now needed to climb in the shaded area S of Palmdale /Little Rock. I saw both of them for a while but lost sight of them as I moved towards Crysyal Air at over 10k. The cloud we were skirting was looking like it wanted to erode so I pressed on, now flying NE towards El Mirage dry lakebed. SE of El Mirage is an airfield (Grey Butte), we all started using this and the green crop circles as a reference point as all of us were not using the same waypoints. Thinking that the guys were E of the crop circles I pressed on and was getting a pretty pathetic glide, sometimes as bad as 7:1. Now E of the crop circles with another sailplane airport in glide distance I fouind a good climb (500'/min) just west of my potential landing site at about 4800'. As I took this climb skyward I realized that Sebas and Wiener were now behind me. They were still W of the Grey Butte airport (about 3 miles back) and high, but my climb would prove inviting enough that they raced over to meet up. We were about 45 miles from Kagel at this point and it was nice to have 2 other pilots around, good comms, good climbs and plenty o thermal markers (clouds) to help guide us. The drift was noticibly WNW but we still hadn't all agreed on a direction. The general thought was we would try and get to Barstow (15 and 40 merge) and beyond.

Not sure when we lost Andy as his radio was basically in a no transmit mode. I think he could hear us, but this likely put him at a disadvantage since we were not always within sight of each other. Sebas and I were pretty high and orbiting waiting for Wiener to get up out of the pinch he got. Most of the time we spent around 12k until we finally saw Ron get a really nice climb and moved to him. Now all of us were together just as a sailplane (ASW-27) came by to give us a look. Ron decided he would try a big cloud to the S of our position and pulled us all towards an eroding cloud. I was now the lowest (9k from previosly 12k) and turned E to stop the bleeding where I found another decent climb right before the 15 freeway. This would put me back over 11k. Still intending to go in a NE direction towards Barstow, I fly off in a NE direction chasing a good looking cloud line and some obvious thermal triggers on the NE side of Victorville. On the way there Ron spotted a red balloon, how he spotted it I'll never know, but the balloon seemed to be going faster than us, although when I went by I could see it wasn't the case. Now down to about 5.5k I found a decent climb about 300 up and stayed with it while until the climb improved to take me up over 12k. Ron was looking low from our (Sebas and I) position. So much so that we thought he may land at the Apple Valley airport, we notified Paul our driver that Ron was likely going down. But he really pulled it off the deck and finally got it and pulled it up to 12k. As Ron was working it up from down low our intentions to fly to Barstow began to seem questionable. Sebas still wanted to go, I voted no because of my last glide in that direction and the lack of civilization in that direction. Ron also voted no likely because of the drift and the long schlog crosswind. Somewhere along the line I think we all sort of agreed that Barstow was not going to happen. Sebas and I had been orbiting for a while to monitor his progress. At about 13.3k I had no desire to hang around as Ron was climbing well and the cold was getting to me. Not really waiting for the decision I moved easterly towards Lucerne Lake. Ron calls out "Chippy on glide eastbound", and so the decision was made.

Sebas's radio started to click and I knew instictively that his radio transmission days were coming to and end. Sebas was now communicating with clicks, but little did I know that he would now be over me for the remainder of the flight. As we left Ron the glide to the east was pretty bouyant and I was seeing ground tracks well over 100km/h (about 70mph) and glides improved to over 18:1. Stopping a few times to tank up on altitude and wait for Wiener, I was now calling 29 Palms airport as goal. Ron and I could still communicate so we had somewhat of an agreement to put it down at 140 miles out. We also needed to stay clear of the restricted airspace near 29 Palms Marine Corp base. With Ron now over 14k it be easy for him to cut the corner over the SW corner of the R-2501S. We spent a little time making sure he had visual landmarks that would be easy to recognize, keeping all of us from flying through the prohibited area. Check this graphic just how well we did. It helped somewhat seeing how I've been in this position and had studied the area extensively prior to this flight.

After calling goal, I went on glide towards the rock out croppings near "Giant Rock". Still no sign of Sebas after leaving the Lucerne Valley. Ron was now about 10 miles behind but we still had comms. Paul was motoring down the 247 with very little in the way of maps (I only had a few in the car and nothing all that good). Still he was doing pretty well and all of us seemed to be in good condition. I hadn't thought of calling Sebas but I guess he was still with me as I now approached Giant Rock after about a 13 mile long glide the air started to burbble again indicating a nearby thermal. It took a few minutes but eventually I found it a bit further downwind. It was now about 5:30 and the air was still going up.

The clouds further to the SE were showing better potential climbs just another glide away. So with about 8k of altitude I left and would come within .5 miles of the SW corner of R-2501S (Ron actually cuts the corner a bit over the SW corner of R-2501S, but plenty high). A road that turns S marks the area so I knew there was little to worry about. I found another thermal right before 6pm going up at 300'/min but it would soon turn on and take me to over 11k and into goal with much altitiude to spare. While thermalling up I spotted Sebas above me with about 1000' on me. Ron was pretty far back but at 15k and "enjoying" a 42 degree cooldown.

With goal assured, I stuffed the bar from 20 miles out and found a lot of lift along the way. It became clear that getting down would likely be more work than getting up. The glide into the 29 Palms airport was completely easy and in hind sight we may have had the Arizona border within 3 or 4 more thermals. The wind was now switching from a WNW direction to a due W direction and the really nice wind triangle at the airport showed that easily. Fighting to get down from over 7k proved to be challenging. Slowly I was able to get to an altitude that allowed me to make an approach and landed a bit further back from my intended landing "spot". As I walked to the tarmac, Sebas flew over my head to land on the edge of the tarmac. We quickly exchanged congrats and moved to the shade of the airport operations area. Shortly after we landed Ron Wiener was overhead and making his approach. It was really nice to share the LZ with 2 other pilots after flying so far.

Full Google Earth file

Distance: 140.4 miles
Duration: 4:35
Jeff Chipman personal best
Sebastain Lutges personal best
Sylmar Site Record

Setting a new site goal with two of your friends from the same truck, PRICELESS!

Our celebration would soon be cut short as I called my wife to notify her that we were on the ground, safe, in shade, had water, with friends, and chase on the way. While relaying the story she kept on trying to get my attention on a more important matter. While visiting the LZ there were emergency vehicles present (Police, Fire Department, Ambulence), she was told that Richard Seymour had died in a hang gliding accident while landing in the Sylmar LZ. She was pretty sad about the situation and I felt powerless, being so far away, to comfort her. The somber mood was now evident in our LZ, 140 miles away. It was a very wierd feeling knowing we had given Richard a ride up the hill and now we wouldn't see him again. Our condolences to his family.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Day 5

Another windy day, more windy than the day before. The pilots get restless and tired of the dust and wind start rallying the task and safety meeting to call the day for a rest day. Still we're already out there and dealing with the conditions but the loose dust makes it so easy to see every little gust. The rigids go out first and several pilots come back to a re-light. Eventually the rigids get out of here but low.

Everyone is still not enthusiastic about the day or the conditions and finally the task and safety committee call the day about 1:00pm.

Now the long schlog back walking the gliders to the hotel. With the dolly it's no problem but without a cart its miserable. I don't have a cart and by the time I get back I'm pretty winded.

After parking the glider, we all meet at the pool for a nice safe game of frisbee. At least this time it's with somebody that can throw (Chris Smith). The hotel had a BBQ buffet that has a lot of food and most everyone eats too much. I for one ate so much that no breakfast is required this morning.

Tomorrow is supposed to be better.

Day 4

Windy ... Probably the most since we've been here. At times the tow paddock looks more like a dust storm. I should have gotten in the air much sooner. I will fly the entire course on my own today, much like most of yesterday.

I get the tug with Rhett, his tug is a bit under powered but he tows very smoothly so I know it should be a good tow. Fiona from Canada is right in front of me and pops off the cart into a big wang and barely gets the glider under control to land. That kind of thing scares me a lot and I would normally take some time after witnessing something like what just happened. But here I am on the dolly and being wheeled into position with Rhett. On tow the dolly feels like its wheels are not rolling but skidding and with the power of Rhetts tug it feels like I will never get off this cart in one piece. The cart starts to skid off to the right towards the water truck. I'm fighting the skid but cannot correct it soon enough and left go of the cart. In my head I envision myelf pounding in and the glider takes a bit of a dip off the cart. I knew thnigs did not feel right especially when my knuckles hit the cart when I left it (that has never happened to me before). I let the bar out a bit and I'm now higher than Rhett but in a zone that feels manageable. Gradually we climb out and it's the kind of tow I come to expect with Rhett.

Rhett pulls me to a good climb and I pin off before he waves me off. It's a good one and I soon find myself climbing above 5k. But as I look for other gliders I find none. The 1400 start time is approaching so I decide to move to the edge of the start cylinder. On the way there I spot several dust devils and take the first one. The climb is doing well but I spot a better dust devil and run for it. I can tell right away that this ones going to take me high. Only problem is that the dift takes me past the start cylinder at 14:06. Being that I'm all alone I disregard the start time and take the thermal to 8k and go on glide.

As I glide towards the 1st TP I'm looking for obvious signs of lift (dust devils). The wind is generally from the SW and blowing about 15. Soon I find myself at 6k and hit a pretty good thermal parallel to the airport / drop zone at Eloy. This one turns on and has me holding on really tight as it takes me skyward. I decide to take this one to about 7k and spot a few other dusties further down the road and more on course line than I am so I leave it and the edge of the drop zone in a hurry. I'm still left of course line but staying high and taking thermals to top off so I dont drop below 5k. I've been averaging 4k glides and getting pretty good glides being that the course is slightly downwind. I take about 3 more thermals to get into the 1st TP. For the first time in a long time I see some glider in the air but they are low with one lone exception. Several other gliders are on the ground right after the turnpoint, a disappointment for sure, seeing how the day is getting stronger. Just as I tag the TP with 5.5k of altitude, I grab a good climb that will take me over 8.2k and on towards goal. Still left of course I saw tooth my way down course staying high as I can. 7 miles from the first TP I'm down to 3400' and looking for a climb that will boost me over the fields that are freshly mowed. It looks good and I can feel the air trying to pull me to the left away from the course line, so in need of altitude I go with it and find a thermal that will get me to just shy of 7k

Now back in the game with altitude and 14 miles from goal I'm thinking that I'm going to make it for sure. I'd been on course for just over 2 hrs so my time isn't blazing but I'm pretty respectable I think. With the gps / vario combination I have predidcting final glide isn't all that easy, But I'm thinking that at 10 miles out I can glide in from about 7k still I take it to 8k for extra insurance. But in retrospect that thinking is flawed because goal field is about 2400' giving me an effective altitude of only 5600'. From there I was going to need a 10:1 glide but I could tell that wasn't getting that (especially down at lower altitudes). Still I pressed on into some pretty unlandable terrain with positive thoughts. At some point it was just too apparent that I was coming up short about 4 miles short and now I needed an LZ that wasn't there. I finally see my very last opportunity and I'm going to have to make this one work. Bordered by powerlines on the south side and barbwire fences on all other sides with bushes and dead sticks that look like good sail poking material I take my glide into a parachuting type landing just past the barbwire into a clearing no bigger than a typical california front lawn. I'm very happy now that the wind velocity was 15 or so allowing me to land like that. Top it off I have a gate that is steps away and a good dirt road so I'm pretty sure I can be retieived with little effort.

Total time on task: 2.5hrs
Distance: 88.1k
Missed goal by: 6.3k

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Day 2

Lots of carnage today. Between weak link failures, tugs hitting gliders, and pilots pounding into the launch paddock, there was plenty of excitement to be seen. The wind was very switchy and was likely instrumental in causing some of the carnage.

The task was in the shape of a rhombus and around 82 miles or 111km or so. The day was supposed to be much like the first, but better climb rates and slightly higher. That turned out to pretty wrong and led to the day being over called.

The craziness in the launch sequence was enough to make me wait a little bit. Nobody was really high and several pilots landed for a relight. So I waited again like yesterday. Finally in the launch line I heard someone pound in behind me. It was Konrad, unlucky enough to get a switchy wind during approach and landed downwind and turtled the glider and broke a downtube. I got the trike (great), but it was actually a really nice tow and I was soon joining several other gliders in a decent climb.

Greg Kendall was above me about 2km down the road so moved to his position and got to around 7k. We both took a line somewhat north of course towards gliders marking a light climb. I was plenty high so I could use the gliders below me to steer to the best part of the thermal. That kept me high during the whole start sequence. I think Chris Zimmerman and I were together on top of the stack turning the correct way (today was a left turn day), but the entire gaggle below us was turning right. I think we both knew we would eventually end up turning right as the gaggle climbed up to us. I was in a great position to take the approaching 1415 start clock, on top of the stack and the edge of the start cylinder. Zimmerman, Degtoff and I all left about the same time joined by Greg in a minute or two. The glide to the first TP was pretty good stopping to top off twice. Climbs at this point were generally below 7k and about 200 - 300 up. At some point I left the gaggle below me and tagged the 1st TP. The next one was to the SE about 28km away. We had been down this way yesterday so I felt OK about finding lift and bypassed several pilots that were in slower climbs. I saw a gaggle marking lift E of the prison and positioned myself just to the N of the gaggle and was rewarded with a decent climb. I think I had caught the pilots that took the 1400 start time so it looked like I was making pretty good time. Not following and making my own decisions of when to leave and how far to glide before looking for lift.

The gaggle above had definitely slowed down and Greg and I (Greg joined the thermal low) climbed to the gaggle above pretty quick where we stayed wingtip to wingtip for some time. Taking that climb to the south towards the 10 interstate, we could see a really big dust devil right on the other side of the 10. As Greg and I approached we really got drilled and had to stop for lift right on the N side of the 10. Greg blew right past me and I decided to take my altitude and run for the decaying dust devil. On the windward side of the dust devil the lift was strong and ratty but not so much that I was white knuckling it. Greg, Larry Brunner (the guy who had his glider destroyed the the tug) and I climbed steadily going to 7k. Greg had peeled off before 5k and took a different line than Larry and I. When I got to 7k I left for the TP 9km away. With a good line I climbed on glide to 7.5k and stopped to tank up 3km from the second TP. I was with some of the pilots that had left much earlier when we were just getting the climb in the dust devil after the 10 interstate. The drift from the W seemed considerable so I pressed on and was rewarded with a steady climb 1km from the 2nd TP. I stayed with it until reaching 6k and drove into the TP turning after I saw the GPS count below 400m. Turning towards the next TP is was very apparent that the wind from the W had picked up considerably. I pressed on towards the 3 TP while watching a glider in front plummet into dinosaur country. To the left of course line and about 2km away I saw a group of 4 pilots climbing steadily, but questioned the line they had so I decided to stay on course as much as possible hoping to drive into a good thermal. The wind was getting to be too much (or so I thought and questioned my ability to make it over the power lines into the field directly in front of me. I had already seen a glider down in a field by a ranchers house off to my left with a good paved road next to it. I threw the towel in around 5:00pm and took the left towards the field and put it down safely next to Sunny (one of the owners of Highland Airsports in Maryland.

After hiking the glider to the fence I got David Glover on the phone and told him where we were and coordinated retrieval for Greg and I since I saw him making the glide into the field that I didn't think I could make it into. Sure enough that was where he was when we found him. Phill tried to go back through the pass we had come through but ran into a strong headwind as well. All in all, a decent showing for the Kagelites / Sylmartarians. Nobody would make goal today from the flex class. Later I learned that I had missed the 2nd TP by .08km so I was only scored distance to the 2nd TP (bummer). Currently in 21st

Monday, April 21, 2008

Day 1

We wake up to breezy (although somewhat less) conditions from the SW. Phill and I eat breakfast at the hotel buffet that will serve to be my main meal for the day until dinner. I found that to work well in Texas and decided to continue the same here. I think the only other health related thing on the agenda was to eat some aleve (pain re levers) right after the flight. After breakfast the wind hasn't shown any signs of slowing. Dustin (meet organizer) joined us for breakfast and was confident that the wind would cooperate but we may not be making it back here.

I went into town around 8:30 to pick up some AAA batteries and other provisions (beer). While shopping was made aware that alcohol sales aren't allowed before 10 am on Sunday, so we'll have to go without today. Since I was in town I decided that a little WAR driving would be appropriate since no Internet was available in the hotel room. The town is pretty quiet on Sunday morning so I could drive slowly down a few streets looking for a good WIFI signal. In short order I picked up a Netgear router that was unsecure and got connected. I did my posting and weather briefing quickly and signed off probably within 5 minutes.

On the way back from town I could see the wind had decreased significantly, so it looked like it might work out for a triangle task. At the pilots meeting they call for a 70 mile zig-zag task to the SE but not back to the hotel. The task would end up taking us about 57 miles away parallel with Tuson, AZ.

Since our gliders aren't setup we do not have to take the half a mile shlep to the runway (I think that's a bonus after seeing just how far it really was. During setup dust devils would roll through and one time picked up several unattended gliders. Like many times before I suited up late (probably spooked a little from seeing a lot of weak link breaks (Phill told me he got the rope up high, meaning the weak link broke on the tug side giving him the rope in his face). So I was one of the last guys in the long line to tow. Tom Lanning was helping on the launch, I asked him why he thought there were so many weak link breaks. He said most were popping out of the cart to get above the dust the tug created during power up. So when it was my turn I just made sure I picked up the cart and flew through the dust. It was like flying blind but I got a smooth one and was up really quick.

I got a powerful tug and he had me up top quick. I pinned off before being waved off and promptly started looking for friends (others marking thermals). No one was in the vicinity but there were a few pilots just east of the hotel marking what looked like good first climb. I pulled the VG on and ran for them. I got the climb right away but it started out about 250 up. Later we were about 6k and then moved towards the edge of the start cylinder. Interestingly even though the day was a right turn day others that joined the thermal above me started thermalling left, so much for the turn direction. Making the start cylinder was easy enough as we found a climb right at the edge of it. Myself and another pilot I think that was flying a T2C made way pretty well and stopped to top off midway to the first TP but the climb was weak compared to earlier climbs so we left it and climbed in the next thermal 3km from the 1st TP. I was on my own at this point and angled right of course line seeing how the wind was from the west. I also wanted to stay away from the swampy area on course line. I was watching one pilot get drilled and it looked like he would put it down in the pastures below. Too bad he didn't hang on because to the left of his track was a nice big fatty going up 600'/min. As I was climbing anyone else around that saw that climb came in and joined. Most were above me but I soon met them at about 8k. Most left angling right of course line. I took a more direct route but did not get as good of a line as others.

About this time I started to struggle to stay high and began to slow my pace. Other pilots kept on pressing on. Some didn't fair as well as others. I was maintaining and kept my patience and climbed in to the top of whatever I could find. As I made my way towards the 2 TP I was keeping and eye on the dust devils that kept popping off the backside of the mountain we would eventually fly over on the last leg into goal. I thought if I could get there it would be the ticket into goal. But back to the matter at hand, short of the 10 interstate I found a good strong climb that would take me back to 8k and plenty of altitude to make the 2nd TP and start the last leg into goal.

The next problem was the irrigated fields we had to cross, but they ended up not being a problem at all. I was flying mostly by myself since the 1st TP, so I was pretty surprised when a pilot closed on my position. We topped out (8k) in a thermal just shy of the irrigated fields. From there I thought the glide to the lee side of the mountains on course line would be a breeze, and in fact they were. But the dust devils that were there before no longer coming off. Matter of fact the wind had switched , and was now blowing from the NNW. Crossing the mountain nothing was working and I kept looking but not much activity was evident. Still at 4k I could see goal about 15km away. I started to hear gunfire, guess that was because I was over 2 shooting ranges. Just west of the shooting ranges I found a light thermal but it was climbing, and I hadn't had anything for almost 10km. I took it but it was drifting faster than it was climbing. At some point I decided to take my chances and move toward goal after reaching 4k. But it wasn't to be. I ended up landing 11k short but had made a good effort and was satisfied with my performance. I would end up 27th for the day in a field of about 60.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

We Arrive

Arriving wasn't without it's drama. Just south of Phoenix we run into traffic that costs us nearly an hour. Otherwise we were on track to get into Casa Grande within 5 1/2 hours. As soon as we arrive we see many gliders set up. It's really hard to believe anyone flew today since it was so windy. Later we find out that several did but the wind proved to be a factor to staying up.

Talk about wind, we had strong winds from the Arizona border to right before Phoenix where it just pretty much stopped. 25 miles south of Phoenix the wind returned. Probably 20mph from the SW.

Anyway as we arrived the pilots meeting was just getting started so we barely made it for that, but got the basic details and then got the waypoints for the comp. Saw many pilots that I've met in Texas, Oregon, and elsewhere. The resort grounds are really nice, the rooms aren't. Small is a bit of an under statement. The beds are pretty close and not all very big, but I guess we didn't come here for the accomodations either. No internet in the rooms so most of the updates will happen from the phone (no audio blog this year) during the day and flight updates the day after.

At the pilots meeting Davis said the wind is supposed to back off, but at 10pm it's still breezy. If I had to guess I would say we got another day of breezy conditions. Rumor has it that we're not flying back here tomorrow, but going long. How long will be the question, but with such an international crew we'll likely see something like 70 miles or longer. The furthest waypoint in the list is Blythe but with the wind from the SW I think we can count that one out. The number a layout of the available waypoints really works for triangles but not for downwind tasks.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

On our way

As we left this morning the skies of Sylmar were grey, overcast and the temp was at least 20 degrees cooler than the day before. Hope it doesn't follow us.

Greg was just opening the storage bins when I arrived in the LZ @ 9:45. We had things packed up pretty quick and went to pick up Phill.

Since we left Phills house we've made pretty good time (we left around 11:00 and drove 281 miles to the Arizona border in about 3.5 hours, roughly averaging 80 mph). Works for me! About 160 more miles to go and we'll be there.

The drive has been windy and since getting into Arizona the wind has been crossing from the right (southerly flow about 15 - 18). Makes for a slower trip now

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Testing from Treo

Now that I'm a day away from leaving for Arizona, wanted to ensure that mobile blogging is working.

Anyone that might be reading this, make sure you give Phill Bloom a hard time for changing our whole travel plans. Being the coach of your kids baseball team and a hang glider pilot is hard, eh Phill?

So we're not leaving for Arizona until 10:30 Saturday morning (kinda feels like Santa Barbara last week). Hopefully we can make some good time on the road and get a flight in (been a while since I last towed up).

As we leave gas prices are inching up to $4.00 / gallon. Really hope we do triangles as much as we can. Phill thinks because of so many people and international pilots that the comittee may want to go big. That's likely OK later in the comp, but early on I'd like to ease into it.

Looking at the weather the height looks around 10k - 12k for Sunday but winds are forecast to be 25 mph from the SW so returning a triangle that day might be difficult. Of course that's the NAM and it's still two days out so things might change. Today the BlipMaps showed that the day was light winds with altitudes in the 12k range (sounds perfect). Tomorrow looks like the winds begin to pick up. Guess well see in a few days.

New Blog Format

After a few changes, I've made the jump to a new format for the Sylmartarians Blog. Phil, Greg, and I are preparing to go to the Casa Grande comp in Arizona this Saturday. Lots of pilots from all over the world showing up so I hope I can stick with everyone. Look here for information on the how the comp is going.