Friday, April 6, 2012

Epic Thursday

High over Napa Valley with Byron already in glide
As promised, Thursday was by far the best day this season, and one of the best days at Byron that I recall. The soaring conditions ended up even better than expected and everyone who flew had a blast. Bases were as high as 7500-8000 feet over Byron later in the afternoon, and up to 9500 feet further north! It was breezy with NW winds 10-20, similar to last Sunday, but as I wrote in my previous report, sometime the wind is a big factor, sometime not. While we had wind induced lines of  strong sink, the thermals were not shredded, they were strong and fat. Later in the afternoon there were large area of OD which needed to be dodged.
I launched early (11AM) when there were only few cu around with only 4-5K bases, and went first 25 miles SE to the end of the cloud street, then went north across the delta towards Williams. Crossing the delta was a bit challenging, getting down to below 2K near Rio Vista, but got much better by the time I got to Vacaville. Since there was OD near Williams, I continued NW to the north shore of Clear Lake 20 miles east of Ukiah, then back south to Crazy Creek, Mt St Hellena and Napa, and continued pass Byron to between Westely and Modesto, then back to Byron. On my final glide back to Byron, at around 3000 feet over Mt House, I hit very strong lift 10-15knots on the averager under a strong shelf of OD. Since I was coming down to land I sped up, but was still climbing fast even at speeds over 100 knots, so decided to slow down instead and kept climbing straight ahead until I needed to pill off to the side to avoid getting sucked into the cloud. In less then 3 minutes I was back above 6K over Byron, so decided to do a bonus run to fly over my home at San Ramon before landing back at Byron after 7.5 hours!
This was my longest flight out of Byron, and to the best of my knowledge the longest flight from Byron ever. It broke Yuliy's record of 620km set couple of years ago. If anyone knows of any longer flights from Byron/Hummingbird in the old days please let me know.
Many thanks to Paul for volunteering to tow mid week, and to Jerry for volunteering to help on the ground. Without those volunteering mid week, we would have missed most of the best days at Byron, since days like Thursday are very rare, and only happen on weekdays. It was great to see that 5 pilots managed to take advantage of the excellent soaring conditions. To those who regret they didn't fly, I can only say this: It is OK to move meetings around, or take the day off to take advantage of a great soaring day.  If you love to soar for hours and miles, the satisfaction you will get is priceless.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Terence Wilson soars into the lead

"  For the coveted 2012 Awards for Longest Distance Flight in a 1-26 as well as Longest Duration in a 1-26

see Terence's flight:;jsessionid=61F565C539BB9EDA2629D0B5A7EB9C8B?dsId=2248748

Way to go, Terrence!

But who's gonna step up and take over 1st place?????"

Buzz reminds the club that "We have a one of a kind Al cast 1-26 trophy in the club that to me has a unknown history. We engrave the winner of the best flight each year. Would be fun and encourage more use of that special plane."

Terence's 1-26 flight yesterday, Sunday April 1st, no fooling,

"When Ramy sends an email alert of good soaring, it's time to rearrange your schedule and get to the airport. I arrived at Byron a little later than usual and found myself second in line for 972 and SS. Charlie was first up in the 1-26 and soared for about 0.6. I'm pretty sure he cut his flight short to give me a shot. Thank you Charlie, you are a gentleman. The post-frontal winds were moderate out of the north west with blue skies and patches of Cu's over Brushy Peak and the Diablo Range. I had planned to release over Los Vaqueros, but Rick in 16Y recommended going straight to Brushy, which turned out to be a better plan. Thank you Rick. After releasing at about 5000MSL directly under the dark part of a big Cu I circled around looking for the lift core, however, the best I found was about 10-20 seconds @ 2kts. Pretty anemic. After meandering around in zero sink I decided to venture downwind where I was able to connect with stronger thermals over Altamont. Discretion being the better part of valor, I didn't let myself drift much further than 580; if I'd been flying SS I probably would have headed towards the Cu's in the direction of Tracy.

On a couple of occasions I was thermalling under the same cloud as FB. In this situation the difference in turn radius between the two ships is stark. And today my neck is sore from twisting and stretching to keep that other glider in sight. If you have good eyes you should be able to see FB in this short video I shot.

After developing a slight headache (dehydration?) I started a leisurely final glide back to Byron from 580. The 30 pattern was busy enough that I opted to take the 7 knot crosswind and land on runway 5. Why enter the fray when there's a perfectly good runway that nobody is using?

Thanks to everyone for helping out. Special thanks to the cadets for helping me get the glider back to the tie-down."