Tuesday, May 20, 2008

NCSA Cross-Country/Bronze Badge Class May 18th 2008

Soaring Reports May 17th 2008

From Ramy Yanetz:

Great flight Buzz. You pulled out a truely incredible flight on Saturday and in challenging conditions. I did not quite make it back to Hollister on Sunday. I landed some 25 miles from Avenal (Lost Hills) and got a tow back from Avenal.

Here is my posting on hgcgroup on my safari trip from Hollister to Hemet:

My Hemet adventure (long):

About once a year, if the conditions look good enough to have a shot at a new mad dash record, I give it a try. In the past I used to do it with a crew (usually my wife) following, but recent years I started experimenting with other methods, and started going crewless (and some might say clueless). Last year I self retrieved by catching an airline back home from Ontario and taking the family for a trip the following weekend to retrieve the glider. This year the plan was to either land at a glider port or close enough to one to get an aerotow from there, so I set my eyes to Jacumba again, and figured that the $500 prize will more than cover for the aerotow to Warner Springs if I make it that far. I didn't have a good plan in case I'll land out in a field. It wasn't a pleasant thought so I didn't think much about it.

First attempt was on Friday, which failed spectacularly with a landing at Panoche. Saturday looked great, as well as Sunday, so I decided to go for it, and called an optional straight out task to Jacumba, which Eric and myself attempted. However one of the key things is an early start, which requires an early day. I launched at noon, but the conditions started late and slow, and were developing behind us, so it was rather a struggle up to California Valley. I still made New Cuyama in good time (3PM) exactly 3 hours from takeoff, something I could have accomplished in the past with my LS4 only in the strongest conditions. However 3PM in New Cuyama is marginal for a trip all the way to the border, and requires faster progress from that point, which wasn't possible, as it requires transitioning through 4 more shearlines: the Frazier Mountain shear line (behind Mt Pinos), the Crystal shear line, Big Bear, and last the San Jacinto to Jacumba line. There are 30-60 mile gaps between the shear lines, which requires slowing down to best glide, then long and occasionally slow climbs back. I am now convinced that a pure thermal flight to Jacumba (as opposed to catching a wave in Mojave) is only possible on very rare days which have great conditions all the way through, start early (no later than 11AM so New Cuyama can be made before 2PM) and last all the way to sunset. Saturday wasn't even close. By the time I got high enough over the shear line behind Frazer Mountain (south of Gorman) to 14K (my highest for the day) and committed for the Mojave desert it was already 4PM and there were only few cu's far in my direction. I realized that I may make Warner Springs (50 miles from the border) at best if I don't get low on the way. The transition to the Crystal shearline by Palmdale wasn't too difficult this time, but it was a slow going, and I didn't get quite as high as needed (at least 14K) to make the jump across the Cajun pass to Big Bear Mountain. By around this time Eric landed near Lancaster, so I was now completely on my own. I still tried to make it to Big Bear following the recommended route on the Great Western (Crystal) web site by climbing on the northern flanks, but hit tremendous sink and had to take a detour towards Apple Valley. Down to about 1500ft AGL I gave all hope, dumped my water and was heading to Apple Valley airport, where I landed in my previous attempt last year. This was disappointing, as I wanted to at least break my own record south. I finally got out of the Cajun pass sink and started climbing very slowly, at first it started looking like I may be able to make it back to Crystal so I started heading back, but continued climbing to 11K. It was after 6PM so I figured it is likely my last good climb, not enough and too late to attempt Big Bear again, but high enough to glide over the Cajun Pass to Hemet, where I can take a tow the next day. I could have easily glided to Palm Spring instead, but getting a tow there the next day would have been tough...

I landed at Hemet at 7:30PM, around 520km from Hollister (620km OLC). Not quite a new distance record, but the furthest I have ever gone from Hollister, so I am not complaining. I tied down the glider, got a ride to the nearby Motel 6, jumped in the pool and took a much needed rest.

The following day looked great, with high base cu's popping over the high mountains by 11AM. I took off at 11:30, but it was a long struggle to get out of the Hemet Valley and climb up the flanks of the San Jacinto Mountain overlooking Palm Springs. I eventually got to 14K and enjoyed the beautiful view of the mountain and Palm Springs below, then headed across the Banning pass, climbed up San Gorgonio and Big Bear where I topped at 16,500 feet, my highest for the day. I easily connected with the Shear over Crystal to Palmdale, where I had my last Cu at 13K. From there I had 3 options: cross to Tehchapi and go up the Sierras, however the cus were not high enough and west enough to give me a decent chance on crossing back the San Joaquin valley later. Besides it was a bit too late for that. There were few cus far over the Frazier/Gorman area, but it is all high terrain with very few landing options there and I figured I will arrive there too low for comfort, so elected to take a straight line towards the Kern Mountains and Taft, and hope for the best. It was a dead glide until I got below 6K, and from there it was a slow progress to Taft. I could not get over 6K and only found sink over the Taft ridge due to the NW flow. I was too low to cross the California Valley, and there were no indications of shear lines, it was blue and hot. I could hear the Avenal contest pilots announcing their distance from the finish gate, but had no idea where they flew and could not get any information from them, as they kept radio silence except announcing 4 miles out...

I did hear Kurt not very high somewhere near Henandez, but it was so late and slow progress against the wind with deteriorating conditions, I figured if I make Avenal I'll be lucky. I didn't quite make it, landed at Lost Hills some 25 miles from Avenal, but got hold of Loyal who came from Avenal to tow me. I released half way to Hollister somewhere near EL4 and landed just before sunset.
It was quite an adventure, and great to be back without needing a crew.
OLC traces:

Ramy Yanetz

From Buzz Graves:

http://www.onlineco ntest.org/ olc-2.0/gliding/ getScoring. html?scoringId= 1&year=2008&month=05&day=17

Saturday was great day to be in the air. Each weekend through the month of May the HGC host a contest and we are tasked to push the envelope. This is my longest flight in the Bay area, while Ramy was reaching for the Jacuba at the Mexico bounder. We flew together helping each other as far as New Cuyama near San Ynez where I decided to turn back north. We launched early and as you will see on the traces we struggled a bit in the beginning before the day kicked into gear. The ride back was one to remember, the convergence was marked by small clouds and haze domes and progress was quick and easy cruising along at 10-12k. Then things changed north of Coalinga. My last climb was at Central peak to 10.7k and from there it was a long 60 mile final glide to Hollister getting there just at pattern altitude. Several times I thought I was going to need to light the engine, but I was just able to hold on enough to make it back. I was ridge soaring small hills, enough to slow my descent be not enough to climb. What shut the area down was the intrusion of the marine layer, the same wind we get at Byron down 23 in the afternoon this time of year..

A small note, I flew off the end of my waypoint list on See You around Avenal, from there to the south was using a sectional the old fashion way. Wasn’t that hard as at that point I was mostly following the clouds.

The day ended with retrieving UV that landed out at Hernandez South, a great strip up in the mtns near San Benito just north and west of Coalinga. A long day and it was near 1:00am before I got home.

By the way Ramy made it to Hemet on Saturday and rumor has it he launched from there on Sunday to guess what, he flew back to Hollister…..I think??? His SPOT trace showed something like that with him landing around 8 pm.

Once understood the soaring conditions that exist to the south can rival those in Nevada a good day. The dynamics of the atmospheric motions between the Central Valley air mass and the Marine air mass is unique. For those of you that want to study this, use the RASP for the Sierras that Dimitri has made available to us.

http://www.norcalso aring.org/ BLIP/SIERRA/ index.html

Buzz Graves

From Yuliy Gerchikov:

Perhaps I should just be quiet given what the Hollister crowd (and a couple of our own NCSA members) have accomplished today... But I'll chirp anyway.

Since Pacheco Pass crossing looked iffy in today's forecast, and since it was not easy even yesterday with much stronger forecast, I decided to save a high launch and did an equivalent of a local tow. It quickly turned out that the only game in town was the "usual" Byron convergence building up in the early afternoon. But what a convergence it was! Later in the afternoon it drifted on over Clifton Forebay and revealed two things I haven't experienced before.

First of them I can only describe as dust devils on water. I was working a late (tm) quiet lazy thermal that started over Byron highway and drifted all the way across the Forebay. From the vantage point just east of the Forebay one could clearly see the wind on the water -- and what a sight it was!

Over the western -- closest to the airport -- shore the wind was blowing quite strongly from the west, dragging streaks and tossing occasional "crow's feet" across the water. This was consistent with Byron AWOS reporting 230@14G18.

At the same time over the northern shore the wind blew equally strongly from the north, also drawing its clear signature on the water.

And sure enough, in the middle of the Forebay they collided. Clearly visible on the water surface, the late afternoon sea breeze was fighting with itself -- the Altamont Pass arm was wrestling with the San Joaquin Delta arm along an amazingly sharp line right over water.

Where the two winds touched, the air had no way to go but up, and up it went -- with a flare. Clearly visible on the water there were several mini-tornadoes, small but vigorous swirls that were appearing, waltzing around the surface for a while and disappearing only to reappear next minute a short distance away. If it was over dry land I guess there would be a line of dust devils dancing across the ground -- but the two winds that created them would not be so amazingly palpably visible.

Anyway, the sight was so powerfully mesmerizing that I stayed in lift over it and watched... and watched. And that led to another interesting experience.

Now I think that it must have happened to me before, but I could not interpret it as clearly as with today's visual signs.

After a while I noticed that the air was not the typical convergence air anymore. It was no longer bumpy and lumpy -- it had no texture. The flow was completely laminar in that unreal and almost eerie way that is characteristic of mountain wave. Except, of course, there wasn't enough wind for wave, nor nearby triggers, and no typical wave crosswind bars. The air was just uniformly going up for miles and miles, both upwind and downwind -- I traced the line half way to Stockton before turning back, all while staying close to 4000 and not losing any altitude. I must have been above -- and clear of -- the collapsing late afternoon boundary layer, in smooth undisturbed flow that was only gently bulging up supported by the convergence line below.

I wanted to see how high this lift went, but it was getting late. So instead, to lose altitude, I checked how wide it was. It turned out to stretch from not quite up to Mountain House to not quite up to Discovery Bay.

And then I landed on 30 and bounced three times. At least when it's late no one is watching.
Yuliy ("L8")

P.S.: If you left before sunset you missed a small airshow put up by Elevator Two.

Monday, May 5, 2008

SS Landout Recovery

SS experienced a gear lockup Sunday, May 4th, and landed out on a newly mown field. Here is the derig and recovery sequence by trailer.