Sat., Aug 19
I flew to Winnemucca on Saturday, 449 miles. I launched at 10 am and struggled mightily to stay afloat on the second ridge while watching cu cycle over Lewis. Eventually I got high enough to move under them, climbed directly to 12,500’ and headed on my way at 11 am.
My next lift was just past silver queen. Cache Creek was working as well though my first attempt to get on top of Hen- ry’s failed. I climbed back up in the same Cache Creek thermal and made a better go of it the second time around.
From Kelso valley I declared Weldon farm fields as my alternate. Thats further back in the Sierra than I have been be- fore, but there was a cu back there and none further east. The cu was dying before I got to it but the lift remained. The problem is picking your next alternate. You can’t make it back out to the desert from there so you have to tip-toe north, staying high enough to turn around and fly back to those farms if necessary. That slows you down. Cu or not the lift was probably just as good along the east crest and with numerous potential landing sites and lots of altitude above the desert floor you don’t have to tip-toe as much.
Whether the interior route was faster or not was not something I could readily decern. My airspeed indicator wasn’t working. It had been behaving laggardly all season. I would push the nose down or pull up and wait several seconds for it to catch up. But now it was giving a reverse indication initially. One time I pushed the stick forward particularly aggressively and watched it unwind to zero momentarily. I couldn’t tell when it had caught up and when it hadn’t. It was worse than inoperative; it was irritating. I know Dale is a fan of soaring with minimal instrumentation and I appreciate that philosophy (though I’m not actually an adherent), but the only good thing I can say about a bad airspeed indicator is that it promotes coordinated flight.
Just north of Boundary Peak the world turned dark. I turned east toward Tonopah to stay in the clear while taking advantage of opportunities to edge toward the north. I ended up on the south end of the mountain range that the city of Austin is on. Looking north I cold see a clear path along these mountains up to airport. I got high enough to make the glide and headed off. By the time I got to Austin the situation had changed dramatically. The sky had lightened up, the clouds had lifted and there were new cu’s forming underneath the gray. It was still only a little past 5 o’clock and the route toward Winnemucca looked particularly nice.
That’s the way Fran and I wanted to go anyway. We had a room booked in Boise on Sunday so we could watch the eclipse in totality from Weiser on Monday.
Since Sean’s glider is still at the glider hospital ( Cal City c/o Dr. Marty), I therefore sacrificed my self and took up Sean once again on crewing for me. The predictions looked fairly good, with only a few questionable spots, namely the possibility of OD which later proved to be true. Mike (CF) took off first.. true to his customary very early start ( think just before 10 am.) Karl (C3) and I launched around or a little after 11 a.m. many thanks again to Chris for his consideration.
I released near Lewis under some good looking clouds and climbed very quickly to cloud base, – just above 12K and left the mountains earlier than anticipated, about noon. Arrived near the Silver Queen, now down to 6K and joined by C3 in a week thermal. We managed to scratch around, gained a few thousand feet and headed toward Cache Peak where good looking clouds lay waiting. Once there, these cu’s were a disappointment, kind of rough, not very well formed and generally weaker than they looked. This turned out to be the case all the way up to Olancha – I found better lift in the blue at times than under the clouds. The winds were unusual too… sometimes out of the east, then north/east, finally turning southerly.
I arrived at Keeler, at the bottom of the Inyos very low, with very little margin left to Lone Pine. But once again the soaring gods were with up to the top of the Inyos. There was a healthy looking cloud street on top, extending all the way up to the Whites.
Once on top, I ran without stopping once under the clouds (a rare treat) all the way to the Whites. Unfortunately the predicted OD blocked both Karl’s and my plan either toward Gabbs or the Hawthorne direction. (Mike got through as he was about an hour ahead of us but as I understand his plans were cut short too due to weather).
Karl and I landed safely at Bishop.
Not much to add to Peter’s report. Actually I had some high hopes to make it to Fallon; per Blipmap the White’s were only to be 57% overcast. After about 4-5 years I filled up with water and liked it, nearly forgot to dump arriving at Bishop. Sitting at 16K close to Boundary looking around, pressing on did not make much sense. Remembering how a squadron member a few years back got spooked in a nasty down burst, lucky he was next to a dry lake, blowing his computer alternate way out the window, I decided to make a 180.
Glider in the box, we had a nice dinner at the airport restaurant, camped at Brown’s Town. Our Van got “fixed”, but made some nasty noise driving from the airport. (Thought I have to find a mechanic in town). Sunday morning I found that the fan touched the shroud that I was able to fix. After breakfast we drove sightseeing up to Sabrina Lake area, found a camp site we liked at 8900’ to relax having good food and drinks with us, no cell, comfortable temperature, camp fire, coool night.
A dark and stormy night…
Eclipse day, fresh coffee, breakfast, packing up, drive up to the South Lake, back to Bishop, Schat’s Bakery, pay tie down, chat with Ken Babione MGR, hook up trailer and drive to Crystal. (Rain short of Independence, Eclipse? We did not notice any less sunlight, no glasses, so we saw it on TV ). Got home past 15:00, Van ran good.
Somehow we failed to congratulate Olivier Dore, who got his glider license here a couple weeks ago – and now there may others soon… Stay tuned!
Meanwhile a warming trend is coming, that should peak on Sunday or Monday – with some cloud development to mark lift and hopefully provide some shade as well.
SEE YOU SOON!
Before noon I radioed PK, who was staging, “great lift over the first ridge”. Climbing nicely in a fat thermal through 9k the day was starting to prove the naysayers and forecasts wrong. South to the third ridge, where I expected to climb to an easy exit altitude on another Crystal Squadron straight out adventure.
Not so fast. A building 12-Kt South wind put me on the wrong side of the mountain. This would turn out be the theme of the day. I radioed changing conditions to those waiting to launch and hightailed it North. Choppy confused thermals over the desert had me struggle back up to 8k. Fought to 9k and turned Northwest, radioed my crew and shoved off. Encountered broken thermals over the treatment ponds. With increasing SW winds it became a challenge to climb and not drift into the Edwards 2515 Restricted area. Gained enough altitude and called Silver Queen as my alternate. Crabbing to Silver Queen, I had my runway picked, and my crew alerted that I’d be landing. Encountered another scrappy desert thermal to gain much needed height.
I made the mountains West of California City with enough altitude to take my time and find lift. Again, no lift in the mountains. Made my reserve altitude to IYK over the flats and radioed my crew to proceed. Arrived at Boomer expecting to climb onto the Sierras. Nothing, nada at Boomer.
The Stick forward, dash North over the Sierras will have wait. Landed IYK, came to a stop on the ramp with my crew just arriving. Derigged and headed South after an enjoyable and educational day soaring.
Saturday’s forecast was the carbon copy of the previous week, maybe a little stronger going toward Vegas and a little more windy and less desirable toward the Sierras. The OD potential was about the same around the class Bravo in Vegas as the previous week.
I opted to fly toward Vegas again as surface temperatures were not to the extreme. Unfortunately this flight was short lived due to a transponder failure. If I had opted in any other direction this would have been a non issue but I made an oath to myself to never again try navigating around or above class Bravo, even though it’s legal. I did that once with my old Libelle a very long time ago, and it reminded me what the battle of Britain must have looked like, no thanks just the same.
I launched right about noon, behind ES, thanks again Chris for the consideration. I heard ES not finding much in the mountains (this was sort of predicted), so I got off tow around 6k over the golf course. ES and I struggled around in choppy lift near the airport, finally leaving the area, calling Bikle’s and Adelanto, tiptoeing toward Apple Valley. The closer I got the better the conditions became as I encountered the shear line.
My transponder which was acting up the previous week failed me now completely. I called Sean that I will be landing in Apple Valley. I than ran into a very strong thermal over So. Cal. Logistics, taking me to almost 11K and easy glide to Barstow/Daggett, so what the heck, why don’t I just land there instead.
I managed to call Marty Eiler on the phone in flight 🙂 and asked him if he had time to look at my problem (bribed him with dinner actually) and he agreed to. My whole flight lasted 1:40 only, but I would rather give up a mediocre day for the peace of mind. Marty and I managed to sort through the problem, with an identical used unit purchased from him very reasonably, and now the old one will be going in for repairs and I should have as a spare. (Two antiques are better than one!)
Once again, the coming week will bring soaring conditions that are unremarkable for this great site, but plenty good compared to locales where most people fly. Compare what Dr. Jack offers for Saturday: in the northwest, 5-Kt thermals to 8000 ft; in the midwest and Florida, 4 Kts to 4000; and in jolly old New England, essentially no thermals at all. Meanwhile, we can expect 7-Kt thermals on Saturday, to (only) 12,000 . And all with lite winds and temps around ninety… Aw shucks!
And BTW, kudos to the Squadron guys for making a go of it last weekend despite not being guaranteed diamond distance. That’s why they call it a sport! (See Echo Sierra’s and Papa Kilo’s stories in SOARING IS LEARNING, below.