Sunday, December 5, 2010

2010 Soaring Summary

Just thought I should share my 2010 Soaring Summary. 25% of those flights originated from Byron.
The above traces are from 62 Cross Country flights I had in 2010, totaling 18,673 miles and 348 hours, averaging 300 miles per flight. The flights spanning 8 states (California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming).
Photos from these flights are available in the following links:
Raw unedited video clips are available at

Ramy Yanetz (TG)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

[norcalsoaring] Byron to Big Sur and back in a very rare EPIC Wave Day [12 Attachments]

What was learned on Saturday was instrumental in putting together a flight we have talked about for years, a x-c flight with a north wind to Big Sur from Byron and back the hard part.  There were flights out of Byron and Hollister on Saturday that helped mark some critical wave locations , starting with northwest of Wav1 down wind of Mtn Diablo, second was  near Mission peak over Milpitas and third was on the Santa Cruz range near Loma Prieta.  Connecting these dots was going to get you to Big Sur, missing was where to find the wave at Big Sur and how high would it go.  This type of x-c wave flying is  all about makingdown and up wind transitions and not cross wind runs where really high speed and long distance wave flights are accomplished parallel to the mtn, like Jim Payne and others have shown using the Sierras
  I launched just after 9:30 am and now wish I launched earlier, on wave days the lift is actually better at the beginning and end of the day, you don't want thermals to break up the laminar flow over the terrain.  What makes wave flying difficult at times is when there are no markers like rotor clouds and linticulars, you have to know the wind direction and imagine the wind flowing over the terrain, making your best guess where it might be found, when you are close you use your experience to move in the best zones, it always helps to fly with other and to do your homework using OLC to find other flights in similar conditions.  The lift is fixed to the terrain like ripple in a stream and therefore staying the lift in 40-50 knot winds can be tricky using S turns, crabbing and hovering with straight into the wind at minimum , GPS can help and so can looking for land marks and your drift.
So here is my blow by blow experience...
Leg1   Diablo to Mission Peak
Mtn Diablo to Mission Peak was a piece of cake, going directly down wind with a 40+ knot tail wind was giving me a average glide ratio in the hundreds.  Lift at Diablo was 1-3 knots nearly in the same place as the day before and similar reported by others including Mike V.  It was close to Wav1 if you fly with moving map PDA with something like MSeeYou to help with navigation.    Actually a  little more west and north with the winds out of the NNE down low shifting to more N as you got higher and even a little NNW at times.  At 14k I decided it was time to make the jump to the south.  With a indicated airspeed of 60 knots I was showing a ground speed around 110 with a glide ratio of 250:1 at times.  The joys of going down coming back is a different story.
Leg2   Mission Peak to Santa Cruz Loma Prieta
At Mission Peak I found the wave right where EP and TG had found it the day before.  It stronger than Diablo with 3-4 knots consistent starting at 12.5k, I stayed with this until I was over 16k.  The exact location was between the Peak and highway 880 over Milpitas.   This was a new place to be, looking down on San Jose intnl and getting a panoramic view of the entire Bay was amazing.  Next stop would be over the Santa Cruz mountains where the Hollister pilots ICH and TG found good lift the day before.   Down wind of Loma Prieta was were I found 2-3 knots to near 17.4k. The whole time climbing I was thinking about the next leg to Monterey. should I go?  would I find lift? what were my landing options if things didn't work out, etc.
Leg 3 Santa Cruz to Big Sur
From 17k  my glide computer saying I would get there at 11k, plenty high to search the area, I keyed the mike and made a radio announcement I was going for it....There was no doubt about getting there, but would I find lift where the RASP said it would be and could I get back. The ride was smooth and fast and found some down wind wavelets that gave zero sink, I was maybe 5-8 miles offshore at times and the experience of being over a open ocean is something you won't forget. Last place I had this experience was flying between islands in Hawaii a few years back when I lived there owning a ASW 17.   All went well with me arriving over Monterrey looking down on Pebble Beach at 13k, another first for me..  Moving further south to Big Sur I found weak 1-2 knot wave at 11k and proceeded searched for the best lift.    Anxious to get high and think about the glide back into a 40+ knot wind filling my thoughts.  I needed to get back to the Santa Cruz range with enough altitude to get back into the wave.  The climb was really slow and around 16k and Watsonville in glide at a estimated arrival altitude at 7k I headed back.   I actually got there at 6k.
Leg 4   Big Sur to Santa Cruz Loma Prieta
On the way north I met and passed TG headed south at the same altitude, it some where around 13k over The Monterey Airport.   Penetrating into a strong head wind is filled with anxious moments, your ground speed  really low like around 30 knots or so, your glide ratio is in the upper teens even in my 50:1 DG 800 and when you hit heavy sink it takes forever to get through it.  As Jim Payne summed it up what x-c wave flying is all about, the wave giveth and taketh very quickly.  Having a very good glider is really appreciated at a time like this and you wish you had your ballast tanks full to the brim.  I could hear two other gliders from Hollister ER and U2 working very weak wave around Watsonville as I flew north, not getting much over 6-7k...not good report as it would take 16-17k to get back to Byron from there in the strong head winds.  I got there just about the same altitude as they were,  we worked and worked the area exploring here and there looking for the elevator.  Here is where I made the biggest mistake of the day, not being satisfied in the 1 knot lift I continued to search till I lost and lost, now down to 2800 ft and being threshed around in a super turbulent rotor was not fun.  Meanwhile ER was  going through 8.5k with the lift was getting better.  TG then appeared from the south, he had gotten a 1k higher before leaving Big Sur and found another 1k feet on the way back  arriving at 8k he quickly joined the others for the slow climb back up.   Timing is everything and my time was running out as the sun was getting lower and lower with still a long glide back to Byron into that stiff head wind.  I climbed back up in some really gnarly rotor until I was back into wave at around 4k. Best I could find was 2-3 knots and about a good as the others found down low.  Looking at my watch, estimating my gnd speed at 40-60 knots best case to Byron that was 54 miles away the math was looking clear, sunset was at 4:56pm and time was running out.  By the time I climbed to 6.5k and knew it had run out, so I started the engine and headed back.  Oh well...still a great flight
Leg 5 Santa Cruz Loma Prieta to Byron
TG and I got back to Byron with in minutes of each other, me motoring up to over 13k over San Jose Airport and TG setting out from Loma Prieta at 17.5k.  We made it, we had done something new and different and was talked about for years, like big wave surfer finding a new unexplored place!!   I was disappointed to say the least, but wouldn't have missed the chance to share this level of adventure with others for anything.  Patience can be a virtue as we all know, even in a moment when we are feeling anxious about wanting things to happen, but need to realize what is actually happening so we can then do the right things.  I got back to Byron minutes before the sun set and feel good about how things came together. Worse that could have happen if the engine didn't do its job was to land at Watsonville and depend on some help to work through the logistics. I never felt alone and knew friends were near by to help.  That goes a long way to raise your level of confidence....a piece of cake....
Thanks to all who helped make this possible even the ground crew at Byron who stuck around until we were safely on the ground right a sunset..
Attached a ffew pictures, if the look similar to Ramy's, well they should:)

New NCSA member Jerry Robison is introduced to WAVE FLIGHT off DIABLO by Mike Voie

-My first Wave experience-
"Mike Voie described our flight last Sunday to the southwest side of Mt
Diablo to find and ride a Wave up to 15,800'. This was my first
experience with Wave Soaring and I really enjoyed it. We did a series
of figure eight turns west of Mt Diablo to stay in the wave and make the
most of it. We contacted NORCAL Control to advise them of our position
just outside the Class B airspace. The ride to Stockton and back to
Byron was also great with visibility CAVU the whole trip. Thanks to
Mike for the Wave instruction and Rick Robbins for the tow to the Wave.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Congratulations to Buzz for winning the 2010 PASCO Sawyer Award

Congratulation to Buzz Graves for winning the 2010 PASCO Sawyer award. Buzz flew this year to the true spirit of this award, milking out the soaring conditions to the max, whenever and wherever he could. He is usually the first to launch and the last to land, accumulating miles and hours. According to OLC, Buzz flew a total of 22,242 km in 2010, accumulating 15232 pts in Region 11.
All it takes to win this award is to fly far and often. As one of the Sawyer recipients said, the award should come with a discount coupon for marriage counseling ;-)
For more information about the Sawyer Award, see 
Ramy Yanetz
PASCO Awards Chairperson

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Terence Wilson flies KP Cross-Country with Mike Voie - 3.3hr -263km,13,000'

It all started on a Tuesday morning when I read an email from Ramy to the NorCalSoaring email list pointing to the very favorable soaring forecast for the coming days. Quickly navigating over to the blipmap forecast page I found the following plot, which helped explain Ramy’s excitement.

Rolf was available to tow (thanks Rolf!) and Ramy suggested that it would be a great opportunity for a student to experience cross-country soaring (assuming we could find a CFI-G). Luckily for me, Mike Voie kindly volunteered his services and promptly sent an email with some cross-country planning instructions. The night before our flight I drew circles of varying radii around Byron and Hollister, each was annotated with the altitude required to make a conservative glide to pattern altitude. The next morning I arrived at Byron to find a hive of activity, trailers were open and gliders were being assembled. I helped Yuliy, Peter and Morteza assemble and they returned the favor helping Mike and I get the wings on the club’s Grob 103 twin acro, N41KP. Soaring is a team sport!

After a couple of hours the gliders were lined up at the first intersection of rwy 30 and ready to go.

Ramy was first to depart, then Dick, followed by Yuliy, Morteza, Matt, Mike and I in KP, then Peter. The long tows to rel 1 meant that it took a couple of hours to get everyone airborne, but we all made it. Rel 1 is south of Byron over the Diablo range. The planned release altitude for KP was 7000, but we got off tow early after finding lift at 6000. We gained about 1K before moving slightly east and thermalling to 9000. After Mike found the lift, he turned over the controls to me and gave instruction on how to turn efficiently in the lift. I asked a few dumb questions like “How long do we stay here?” - the answer “until the lift runs out!”

We continued to move south under the long street of cumulus until we found a big thermal that lifted KP at a consistent 600-1000 fpm (even with yours truly at the controls). Close to an indicated altitude of 12K and within glide distance of Hollister we stopped turning in the thermal and pointed KP south towards Hollister. As we sped south at our best L/D KP continued to climb! With the base of the cumulus fast approaching, Mike pushed over to keep us VFR. Post flight GPS data indicated that our peak altitude was just over 13K.

After gliding within 10nm of Hollister we turned around and headed for home. Heading back to the north there was no lift to be found. As we descended through 6000 just south of Lick Observatory Mike identified possible land-out areas and explained the decision making process.

For benefit of those who don’t know, members of the glider community have compiled a GPS database of landing points in a format that can be loaded into a portable GPS unit. As we continued to look for lift, Mike periodically gave bearing and distance information to our best land-out location at South County.

As we sank through 5500 indicated (~2500 AGL) I started to think that a landing at South County was a real possibility. But then Mike found a whisper of lift and patiently worked it, methodically searching for the core. After a few minutes the vario started to show a 200 fpm climb, then 400, then 600, 800! Soon we were back in the game climbing to 10,000 feet before it petered out. Below us another glider (Peter I believe) worked the same thermal.

Byron was now within glide, but Mike thought it would be useful to head slightly east and fly over South County to identify the landing strip for future reference. After doing so, we continued north and entered our last thermal of the day to 10,500 feet. With plenty of altitude in the bank and Livermore in our sights we decided to overfly the summit of Mount Diablo and then head back to Byron. After checking in with NorCal on 125.35 we started to get traffic reports-

“Glider one kilo papa, Boeing 737 2’o’clock, 4 miles, 6000 descending”

And there it was, a Southwest 737 1000 feet *below* us passing right to left inbound to Oakland. I started to imagine the Boeing captain announcing our presence to the passengers.

We banked about 1000 foot over the summit of Mount Diablo for a quick photo opportunity, then headed to C83 for an uneventful pattern entry and landing.

We had been airborne for 3.3 hours, travelled 263km with a peak altitude of 13,000 feet. Although impressive (at least to me and my power pilot friends), it was the shortest flight of the day. Ramy made it all the way down the coast to Hearst Castle and several of the guys flew the Big Sur coastline. Yuliy and Ramy both travelled over 600km, which is pretty mind-boggling!

I’ll close by offering thanks to everyone who participated, particularly Mike Voie for introducing me to the arcane and exciting world of cross-country soaring and Rolf for sacrificing a great day of soaring to tow us all.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bill Levinson: Soaring Glacier Divide from Bishop, with Google Earth image of Bishop area glaciers

Soaring Glacier Divide from Bishop


Geologists first settled California.  They didn’t know they were geologists.  They called themselves prospectors and later we named them 49ers.  Nonetheless they discovered that gold always occurred with quartz underground.  More than a hundred years later college educated geologists explained the science behind the miner’s observations.  In the molted soup created by the friction of plate tectonics, the first rocks to crystalize at the highest temperatures where iron, aluminum, copper and other metal bearing silicates.


Unlike other metals, gold does not incorporate into the crystal lattice of silicon.  When the molten mixtures has cooled sufficiently, only gold and pure silicone dioxide (quartz) remain to solidify in the cracks of the existing granites forming veins of gold bearing quartz.


These early prospectors also discovered and mapped the diried-up, millions-of-years-old so called Eocene rivers of California.  They had enough data for many a dissertation.  But is wasn’t degrees they were after; it was the gold: placer gold just like in the modern rivers.


About 12 years after the discovery of gold, the California Legislature decided it needed to know the breath of California’s mineral wealth.  They hired college educated, Josiah Whitney, author of the acclaimed book, Mineral Wealth of the United States, as Director of the California Geological Survey.


When Whitney was doing his geology, John Muir was doing his natural history studies of the Sierra Nevada.  In 1869, the same year that saw the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, and the arrival of John Muir in California, Whitney published his travel guide to Yosemite Valley, The Yosemite Book and claimed that the Yosemite Valley was formed by the sinking of the valley floor.  John Muir contended that the valley was formed by the action of glaciers.


To discredit Muir, Whitney claimed that it was impossible for glaciers to have created the valley because the Sierra didn’t then and never did contain glaciers.  John Muir demonstrated the existence of Sierra glaciers by demonstrating the movement of permanent blocks of ice, completely undermining Whitney’s theory.  The public, to this day, accepts the theory that glaciers carved Yosemite Valley, even though there is scant evidence that glaciers can do the massive carving required to create such monumental features.


Soaring from Bishop, you can view the namesakes of these historic figures.  Josiah Whitney got the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states named after him, while Muir was honored with a hiking trail, a mountain pass, and a peak next to Whitney’s 479 feet lower.


About 20 miles south west of Bishop, Glacier Divide houses about six glaciers in a series of cirques -- huge steep-walled amphitheater-like features.  As you fly down the ridge,


you encounter several more glaciers – Goethe, Darwin, Palisade, Norman Clyde, until you reach the mountain peaks named for the opponent and champion of Sierra Glaciers.













Sunday, July 11, 2010


The weather was hot, near 100deg for Biff's FIRST SOLO. His take off and
landing were excellent and he had the longest and highest soaring flight
of the day - almost an hour, climbing to 4,200'. Fritz was ready with a
'surprise' cooling shower to initiate Biff into the 'post solo'
community. Maja was Field Manager and was waiting to Biff to land so she
could have the last flight of the day. Thanks to Tow Pilot Steve Yoder
and to all those who helped push gliders. We had 4 solo pilots who flew
yesterday. Both Biff and Maja will be participating in the WSPA soaring
week at Air Sailing next week.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mark Violet's 4 days of spectacular soaring at the NSA Bishop Encampment

I spent 4 days excellent days last week at Bishop, CA with the Nevada Soaring Association.  They bring down their tow plane to Bishop and invite members to come and fly at one of the world’s premier soaring sites.  I went with Bill Levinson, another club member, with whom I planned to share a glider, which meant I would fly 2 of the 4 days we would be there.  As you may know, Bishop (el  4100’) is located in the Owens Valley between the Sierra Nevada and White Mts.  The backside of the Sierras rises very dramatically up to 12-14k ft peaks.  It reminded a lot of the Grand Tetons.  The Whites are nearly as high, with White Mountain ~12k ft.  They slope up more gradually than the Sierras, but are still steep with deep canyons.


The first day Bill had the plane so I took a flight with an instructor, Rob Stone (Stoney), to get familiar with the area.  It was a great lesson.  The wind was coming from the south and was flowing over the White Mts.  Stoney explained how thermals don’t work very well in these conditions, and the best strategy is to fly figure eights close to the ridges and then move further up and into the range.  It’s quite a feeling to fly right at the ridge and feel the plane rise rapidly as the ridge passes below.  We made it up to the top of the Whites to about 14k and flew just below the face of White Mountain Peak, back to the south end of the Whites, across the valley to the Sierras, and then  back down to Bishop; total flight time ~ 2.5 hrs, most of it spent with me trying to climb up the ridge.


Second day was my turn with our sailplane (Grob  102, SS).  I released at nearly the same place as the previous day’s flight with Stoney.  So I just did all the same things I had done before and made to the top of the ridge & up to 16k ft.  That’s a personal best max altitude for me; total flight time ~2.5 hrs.


Third day, my next scheduled day off, I was invited by another pilot to fly with him in a DG-1000, a high performance 2 place glider.  Its glide ratio is about 46:1.  He did most of the flying, especially climbing the ridge, but he let me fly as well.  We went up the Whites to Boundary Peak, back to Bishop, across the valley over to the Sierras and down to Lone Pine.  At that point we turned into the Sierras toward Mt Whitney (14,505’).  At first we flew past Whitney, it doesn’t really stick up much higher than the surrounding mountains, but it is recognizable by the stone hut on the peak.  We flew back and found Mt Whitney and could see hikers on the peak by the stone hut.  We did a pass over Whitney and took pictures of the hikers while they took pictures of us as well.  From there we crossed the valley again to the Inyos and flew back to Bishop.  Total flight time ~5.5 hours.  Cool.


Fourth day was my turn in SS again, so decided to try for the Silver badge requirement of a 5 hour flight.  Again I released in the same area as my previous flights and managed to climb up the ridge to the top of the Whites.  I flew along the top of the ridge trying to stay where most of the lift is found.  After several runs up and down the crest I ran into sink and had to turn toward the valley and quickly descended.  I flew along below the ridge looking for lift without luck until I was down to about 8600’, less than 1000’ higher than my initial release.  Finally I found lift and climbed back up.  I flew along the ridge again and tried taking some video from the cockpit, which is not easy.  Mostly it consists of pointing the camera toward the window and pressing the record button for 30 seconds or so, and hoping it captures something good.  At the southern most end of the ridge I hit sink and again fell off the ridge to about 9600’.  I finally hit a strong thermal which I stayed in and climbed up to over 11,000’.  For the remainder of the flight I managed to stay over 10,000’.  Five hours came, but I wanted to make sure I had more than enough time, so I ended up flying for over 5.5 hours.   Another personal best for me….


See photos from Mt Whitney flight at:


See flight recorder trace graphs in attached jpg files.  The graph shows altitude vs time, with the dark mass below representing the ground altitude.


Great flying and hope to return next year.



Monday, July 5, 2010

CHANDLER LOUGEE writes of her passion to fly

The Place Above Me

            Freedom to explore. I want to explore and the best way I have found to do that is to fly. I want to see the world in any way I can and the experience I gained from flying a plane for my birthday has stayed with me for two years. The experience of seeing the world spread out below me and the feeling of myself being almost alone above a world with so many people in it is something I will never forget. By flying I feel like I am more than just an average girl looking at things at only one level, at only one height.

            I have always thought that the fact that a tin can with wings and heavy metal motor and seats can fly was fascinating. But unlike some, who fear to get into those metal cans, I always thought that looks so cool. I still do. I want to see the world in a way that not many others can. I want to fly so that I can feel like I have something special. When I am flying I feel like everything is quieter and simpler. I don’t have to worry about the problems on the ground when I’m up in the air. The feeling is peaceful and I feel slightly powerful when I see the world spread out below me. I want to explore, feel free, at peace, and calm.

            I also have an absolute fascination with space. My dream is to become an astronaut and I figure what is a better way to start a dream of space than with the sky. If I can get into the air, I can get into space. I want to be off the ground in any way possible and this is a great way to start. When I look up into the sky at night I see stars, the moon, and everything that is bigger than us, but makes up everything we have. When I look into the sky in the day, I see the gateway to getting there. I see everything beyond just the fluffy clouds and the birds. I see a place I want to be in.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

CONGRATS to all! Recent BADGE legs and other ACHIEVEMENTS!!!

Mike Voie wrote: "A well deserved solo. Maja worked very hard and earned
every bit of this solo. I'm very happy to have been the cfig to sign her
After three flawless landings in a row, I felt I had no choice but to
send her on her way. She was very nervous, but settled down and showed
us all what a landing is suppose to look like.
She was glowing when she left the airport."

SETH DUNHAM was also in THERMAL CAMP and reported "My thermal camp
flights worth sharing would be: my first contact with ATC, my first land
out on a dry lake, and my near miss with another glider"
'SILVER'DISTANCE (160 miles!)-landing at Tiger Field- and
Well done Taylor!
This completes requirements for SILVER BADGE for MARK !!! (
approval)by PAUL MCDONALD!!!, Paul reported:
"XC Camp was good. It took about a day to reacquire some competence in
thermalling technique. Although weak, I was introduced to wave (at
about 12,000' over the north Dogskin range). I exceeded my previous
personal best performance in all three areas: duration, distance, and
height gain (achieving 15,700' MSL (a 9,000' gain) on one flight, 5.5
hours off-tow on another, and over 63km (Pond Peak to Flanigan Dry Lake)
on a third. I think I satisfied the requirements for Silver duration
and distance. I previously earned Silver height gain, so maybe I'll get
the Silver badge. I found that I'm conservative, and not that
interested in landing out. I'll have to grow into this concept of
glider XC slowly. On Monday, I ended up at 5,800' MSL 20NM north of Air
Sailing (elev. 4300'). I had Flanigan Dry Lake in glide, but was
woefully below the 12,500' MSL or so minimum required to start back to
Air Sailing. It was by the end of this flight that I improved coring
skill ... enough to claw my way out of the weeds up to 13,000'+, and a
return to ASG. I guess that's called a "low-save".

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Seth reports on some of the highlights of his Air Sailing Thermal Camp experiences

My thermal camp flights worth sharing would be: my first contact with
ATC, my first land out on a dry lake, and my near miss with another

*Me:* Reno Approach Glider 132SS VFR Request. *Reno:* Glider 2SS
warble garble garble warble. *Me: *Unreadable. *Reno:* (sounding
angry) Say Request. *Me:* Reno Approach Glider 2SS 10,200' over
AirSailing, how 'bout a transponder check? *Reno:* Glider 2SS Ident.
*Me:* Glider 2SS Ident. ( I Press Ident ) Then about 5 minutes go by
with no response, and I really want to switch back to AirSailing.
*Me: *Reno Approach Glider 2SS switching back to 123.3 *Reno: *Glider
2SS is 10,200 your correct altitude. *Me: *Affirmative 10,200 *Reno:
*Have a nice flight.

The land out on Flanigan Dry Lake was a blast. I was a little
intimidated by the thought of leaving ASI and fighting a 10 to15 knot
headwind, and possible sink to the lake bed, but my eyes, sectional,
and gps all said I could make it. I left the Dog skins at 10,600' and
arrived over Flanigan at 8,000' (4,000' to spare). That feeling of
actually going somewhere in a glider is a real rush if your used to
just floating around over the airport (even if it was just a short 20

mile hop from ASI) I have photos on Face Book if anyone wants to

I have been trying to think of the best way to describe what almost
happened to another glider pilot and my self. We came about 50 feet
from a head on collision over Tule ridge. I was thermaling over Tule,
then headed north on the ridge (about 10,500 60 knots). As I scanned
for traffic on the ridge there was suddenly another glider blocking
my view, he was rapidly expanding in my field of view. The next thing
I knew I was doing about 100 knots with the stick full forward.
Everything that had been stowed in the side pockets was in my lap.
Later the other pilot told me he saw me push the stick forward.

We talked after landing. Both of us were looking out. We almost
didn't see each other in time. It happend so fast there was not even
time for adrenaline to be released.

I've been gliding 3 years and have had as many "to close for comfort"
calls with other aircraft. Each time it's been closer then the last.
The sky is not so big.

Keep the canopy clean. Talk on the radio (IF SOME PEOPLE DONT LIKE

Friday, June 18, 2010

THERMAL CAMP 2010 - TRISTAN and TERRY fly ridge,thermal,wave

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I arrived at Air Sailing, about 30 miles north of Reno, on Sunday evening to be greeted with a sky was full of lenticulars (I thought I thoght I was supposed to be at a thermal camp, not a wave camp!). However on Monday, after the morning lecture session, Tristan and I took the second tow of the day in the Grob 103 Acro and found plenty of thermals. I suppose it must have been a good day - we were in the air for 5.5 hours (I wish I had some foam for under my rear end!).

Tuesday didn't look too promising at first. The sky had a lot of high cirrus and no obvious thermal activity, but we took a tow and the tow pilot headed for an area where he thought lift would be (you can't beat local knowledge). We scratched around for a while, eventually found a thermal and headed up. We maintained a good altitude of about 8-9,000 MSL for a couple of hours, exploring the area, and eventually ended up soaring along a ridge at 9-10,000' MSL. We did this for about an hour, as there was a report of wave in the area and we could see the lennies forming in front and behind us.

This really paid off for us. All the other gliders had returned to the field and we set off upwind. We contacted the smooth wave lift and almost before we knew it we were contacting Reno Approach, since we were now approaching 18,000' MSL. We came down with full spoilers at 80kts to around 9,000' and said "what the heck, let's do it again". So up we went in 10kts+ to 18,000' again. This time we flew downwind (through the sink) until we contacted the next wave, which we worked for a while. We didn't get quite so high in this wave since we were getting pretty close to cloudbase.

Since we now had plenty of altitude and knew where the lift was, we did more exploring, burning off altitude for distance, Tristan taking some sightseeing photos on the way. Since we had only been in the air five hours, Tristan made the decision to go into the wave again. So, off we went rocketing up to 18,000'. This time we came down with full spoiler at 80kts again, and landed back at AIR sailing after a total of six hours in the air. Did I say I needed a foam cushion?

Thermals, ridge lift and wave, all in one six-hour flight. Magic! I suppose Tuesday wasn't a bad day, after all.

Today (Wednesday) looks like it might be another wave day.

Oh dear. Where's the foam?

Terence Lowe.

-photos by Tristan