CRYSTAL SQUADRON RESULTS FOR AUGUST 13, 2020

Sean Eckstein:

My turn to fly again, Peter has been nursing a back problem for the last few weeks.

This Saturday looked good for a long flight, the weather blip maps showed there would be high altitudes all along the route, and also some weather to deal with.

I got air born at 11:15 thanks to Chis. I took a high tow because the mountains were mostly in shadow, and the light grayish clouds that were developing were looking like they would soon let loose with some virga. I climbed above 13k and headed toward the upwind leading edge of the clouds on course. As I was leaving the mountains the cloud above me let loose with some heavy rain but I was close enough to the edge I didn’t loose much altitude.

Gliding across the desert was very smooth, but I made good time with the tailwind. Arriving at Silver queen at 7k there still wasn’t a bump, not even a teaser bump. I could see all the clouds in the mountains straight ahead just out of reach, and only one wind turbine turning on the desert floor indicating lift. I flew toward it hoping there would be a thermal, and as I arrived it stopped. (Murphy’s law) Luckily there was still lift that allowed me to get into the mountains.

I climbed above 11k close to Cache peak and headed toward Kelso airstrip in the high ground. The hills SW of Kelso had virga and I ran into some heavy sink until I connected with a thermal east of Kelso, climbing above 13k.

From Kelso to Olanch peak was a blast, strong thermals, cloud streets with no turning required. The Sierras ahead had heavy virga and pilots were reporting some lighting. I left Olanch peak above 15k and angled across the valley towards the Inyos arriving just below 12k.

The Inyos were working great. I connected with a thermal, climbed above 15k and headed to Westgard pass. Now heading toward the Whites I could see some virga, easily avoidable by staying on the west side of the cloud street. Arriving at Boundary peak above 17k, I had to avoid some virga and pick my path toward Mina.

On course to Mina I kept looking toward the west, it was solid gray, and I couldn’t see any sunlight reaching the ground. To the NE was clear and sunny with more good weather. Arriving at Mina I had Gabbs made and headed head toward Pilot’s peak hoping I could connect with a cloud and take a straight line towards Austin. Well that didn’t work, and now I’m lower.

I decided rather than risk a sure thing, Gabbs, I better head towards a small line of decent looking clouds in the hills north on Luning dry lake. The virga to the west was not an issue yet and was moving very slow. I worked a thermal that took me from 12k to above 17k, I had Gabbs made and altitude to try to work my way past Gabbs.

With everything in shadow, gliding toward Gabbs was smooth as expected. Once I arrived at Gabbs I looked toward Fritzs dry lake which I had enough altitude to reach. Smiths and Fritz dry lake were in the sun, but the hills north of Fritz had a line of Virga, and I would need more altitude to make Austin. I didn’t want to land on Fritz with the chance of a gust front, so I pulled spoilers and landed at Gabbs at 5:27.

Temperatures during my flight were very comfortable, I kept my vents closed most of the flight because being at cloud base in shadow got cool. A big thank you to Peter (6PK) for driving during the heat wave, over 100° on the ground.

 

Richard Smolinski:

Day looked interesting from the beginning.

Thanks to Julie and Chris to get me in to air around 11:30 just ahead of the rain that start when I was taking off.

I got to Mt. Lewis and started my claim but was interrupted by thunderstorm coming from the east. I made mistake going west and it caused me to end up at 10K on Lewis again. Big loss of time.

I got up to 14.5K and start the desert hop. On the way not even a bump. Get to Silver Queen at 7K and after making another 1k, head up toward mountains with nice clouds on top.

Another little lift by Cross Mt. got me to 9k and keep moving north. At Smugglers, finally got to 12k and keep going toward Inyokern. North of Owens peak lift got me to 16K and overdevelopment start growing so I made my jump to Whites by Lone Pines. Conditions were excellent. I climb to 16k and start racing Whites toward north. Lots of Virga and other gliders on the way.

Past White mountain and seeing that weather deteriorate fast, I decide to go toward Mina before reaching Boundary Peak. There was Virga coming from the north and from the south so I sped up. Unfortunately I got pulled into the clouds and hit hard by hail and rain, and after10 minutes have to dive to the deck feeling ice start building up on the controls. I lost few thousand but made it to the sun part. Behind me a wall of clouds.. Got to Mina at 11k and kept racing Virga from the south east. Finally decided that with margin of 2K it was not worth the risk to push forward to Gabs.

I needed to wait out wall of dust storm on the ground, and my crew warn me about strong gusts on the ground, so I waited it out and finally landed.

HI ALL

This past week for us was all about the crazy weather, fires and fire fighting aircraft flying near our field. Hope you’re all staying cool out there!

We’re still scheduling through e-mail request. If you have a Schedule Pointe account please check availability first (for Fri/Sat/Sun) then e-mail us your reservation request. Include your cell number. Do not schedule reservations yourself, until further notice.

Please bring a mask and your own water with you to our field!

After a month of cloudless WX, last week debuted our usual late summer ‘monsoon’ period. Classic thunderstorm activity brought rapid changes in wind and temperature, hot calm spells feeding big buildups and cold gust fronts from sudden downdrafts.

The pattern has continued, and probably will through the coming week, monsoonish humidity (haze), and every afternoon the chance of a spectacular shower. Remember to say a prayer for fire season!

Stay safe and healthy and wishing you good spirits,
The Soaring Academy Crew

 

 

MORE CROSS-COUNTRY FLIGHTS

Karl Sommer:
Blipmap not as promising, late start needed to cross the Desert. Also a TFR reaching E close to Kelso.
High Noon take off, I left the Mtns 12:50 at 12k, low point over Silver Queen at 5.3. Sean invited me into his thermal, thanks. Got enough to venture to Cache Creek, up to 8.7k, then over to Cache Pk. and left with 10.3k. Bouncing along at 8k to Boomer, only got 10.8k. W of Cinder Cone, 11.9k.
Thermals were narrow, hard to center and easy to lose. Passed Olancha Pk at 9k heading for Lone Pine. Short of the Switchbacks up to 12.2k, crossing and getting on top of the Inyos at 12.9k. The Sierra had OD and clouds spread E partially shading the Inyo’s. My high was 13.8k short of Westguard pass, not a single thermal encountered cruising close to Shep Mt. Bishop reported Lightning in the Mtns to the W, another large OD, time 17:30. While circling over the town the few clouds over the White Mtn started to decay, and after landing they were gone.
It was hard work for about 6 hrs, new batteries and radio worked fine. So I am ready for a better flight.
Karl
Sean Eckstein:
 I got off the ground at 12:19 PM and released at the second ridge, it was unusually smooth as I glided my way back toward the west end of the second ridge. I was afraid I was headed for the desert floor trying to work my way back to the high ground. Luckily I caught a small narrow thermal that got me back to Mt. Lewis and on course at around 12k.
 It was a very smooth glide to Backus, and I headed toward the Silver Queen. I notice just a few of the wind turbines turning and others not. They can be great thermal locators in the right conditions.
 I worked my way to Kelso in the mountains watching for the moving wind turbines, and left on glide above 10.5k towards Boomer ridge by Inyokern. I encountered sink, so I had to alter my course towards Inyokern. Once again low, I caught a thermal at 5.5k and worked it back up to 9.5k which got me back into the high ground and back on course.
 The thermals were hard to work as I progressed toward Olancha Peak, and once again I found myself over the flats above Olancha landing strip. Working north towards Lone Pine, I caught a good thermal near the airport that took me up to 9.5k.
 I should have spent more time attempting to get on top of the Inyos, but the shadows from the OD in the Sierras were already casting shadows over the valley floor towards Inyokern and on the Inyos, as well as further north on the Whites. The only good indicator was at Boundary Peak with a few clouds around 17k, but most likely impossible to reach now.
 I decided to get as many miles as I could, and headed toward Independence. It was a smooth glide and a smooth landing.
Sean
Richard Smolinski:
I got off around 12:45 and it was quick, thanks to the ground crew organization. I got to second ridge and somehow made it to 12k pretty fast.
The run to Backus was smooth, and I arrived at Silver Queen at 6500. Did not find much there, so I kept pushing along 14 toward the mountain ridges.
I found some thermals above them that get me on course to Inyokern. On the way found lot of sink, and turned back to look for some thermals near Red Rock canyons.
Still no luck, and having Cantil in reach, I start moving toward Kelso. Finally found some thermals that took me to the Inyokern, and beyond Coso.
It was a hot and low glide above ridges. I decided to sharpen my skills in landing on the new place, and landed in Olancha.
That was fun. The glider dig in and stopped less than 100 yards after touchdown, and I had to get shovel to dig it out before I could move it. The surface sand was like sponge, interesting but landable with lot of attention.
I heard on radio that PV and 3C landed nearby in Independence and Bishop, so I decided to wait for them and have some dinner in new place there, called Olancha Cafe.
To my surprise, the extremely nice new owner of the place told us that they’re planning to pave the landing strip in future to make it fully landable for planes and gliders (wider too). Soon Peter and Sean joined us, and we had nice burgers and brew to close hot and sweaty day.

HI ALL,

Every week we say that we hope you’re doing well. But we really do hope this e-mail finds you doing well! We mean it!
We’re still scheduling through e-mail request. If you have a Schedule Pointe account please check availability first (for Fri/Sat/Sun) then e-mail us your reservation request. Include your cell number. Do not schedule reservations yourself, until further notice.
When we confirm with you, you’ll receive our mitigation procedures. We look forward to seeing you at the field!
Stay safe and healthy and wishing you good spirits,
The Soaring Academy Crew