Practice on the spine VOR 3/4/17

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Practice on the spine VOR 3/4/17

Postby gracecab » Sun Mar 05, 2017 1:00 pm

This will be a no photo description of my flight yesterday.

Location: VOR launch, Santa Barbara
Date: 3/4/17
Coditions: High light cloud cover, about 75% radiation coming through? But, very good lapse rate.
Launch time: 11:30am, Wind from SE, 6-8 MPH top to bottom
Duration: 1:10 min.
Everyone there to fly, about 12 people, 6 didn't launch due to windy launch conditions.

I had spent some time in visualization the night before, going through the setup, launch and flight sequences. All my gear was packed and charged as normal. I had a poor flight last week, and it caused me to go over the 'basics' mentally so I wouldn't get caught again without the proper decision making process. Got some feedback from Aaron, Tom about that flight. Sometimes you need to fail, to stir you up to put the correct amount of preparation and effort. Today I was ready, however was not thrilled with overcast dirty skys... Fortunately D.Bader helped me consider the possibilities.

I was second off after Dilan with a tandem. He marked that right around launch it was lifty, but being on a tandem, he choses to get away and go down the spine so the passenger doesn't get sick or whatever... so it was clear for launching. I was ready to go so setup with Hogan and he let me go next. Dave is getting super good recently and has great feedback so i enjoy listening to him talk flight, weather, etc...

I launched on a lull, but still lifty, but felt good power right away... had i been later i could have probably got stronger thermals right away, but as i got nothing kept slowly moving out.

One thing that was key which I didn't do last time was remember that when you want to stay up, but not go far, you tend toward minimum sink with deeper brakes. This means you can stay over a possible trigger area longer and increase your chances of being over a releasing thermal. This was a key principle today, as I needed to keep slow over the VOR spine, and catch the heat from the backish side of the spine, i'e releasing thermals.

I found that by also frequently 'turning back uphill' whenever i was able to turn a few times in lift, it 'reset' my flight, and I was able to 'maintain the high ground' longer for the bigger thermals. Again, key to maintaining free flight.

I had folks come through as I was working the middle-top area of the spine, but no one really stayed to work it, other than Chris Clontz, who was expertly turning and burning around uphill and easily gaining uphill. Having a great model to mimic, I would imitate and have another wing to watch how small he was turning and what angle the thermals were going. It's pretty easy to watch other things when we fly this slow moving air-elephant...

Anyway, lots of thermals were releasing, frequently, so I got the change to start deciding when to take the biggest ones by a combination of the feel of rising quickly and the quicker beeping of my vario. I don't look at the vario enough, but maybe in the future... my flight deck isn't working right yet, and the thing always turns out and forces me to twist it while in flight...very inconvenient.

Practiced a few things:
1. Tighter turning.
2. Choosing the biggest thermal
3. Going back uphill to 'reset' and stay in the game

There was plenty of lift, and time, for me to practice these things. Mistakes I made were not very costly, and I was able to regain anything i did and get back where i needed to be.

Eventually I was ready to fly out, and it was pretty thermic over the landing zone, and everywhere in between so I was able to take a couple more thermals before getting over the LZ at the T.

I really enjoy flat land thermals. I reminds me of the hours I spent at Montecito Union School field, tossing my DLG up and chasing thermals with my model sailplane. There was some wind, and I was probably over 1500 so was having fun with out worrying about being OVER a trigger, and just having them come to me...though I was mindful of where they might be triggering on the topography below... some fields, some bumps, some river looking gullys... where will it trigger... even went over the 154 freeway which roads often. Trigger.

Eventually landed and was able to enjoy successful flights with all the pilots... Mitch, Dilan, Dave, Kit, Dave H... everyone was in great spirits, and no wonder. We get to fly in paridise.

It was great to gain some confidence back, and make some mental notes for next time. Tighter turns, staying over thermal releases, note wind direction, etc...

Went with Daves suggestion of the Taco stand by the Batting Cage, never been there before but a really good quality place, will be visiting that again.
One spine show
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Chris Ballmer aka gracecab
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UP Kantega XC2 / Gin Verso
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Postby bb_secretary » Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:52 am

Chris, I adjusted the title of your article to reflect the activity date as March 4th, not March 5th.

I also re-posted your zip file as a KML. Prior to October 2016 our discussion board was configured (by default) not to accept KML, KMZ, or IGC files. On 10/26/2016 we finally (only took a dozen years) got around to adjusting the installation configuration to accept the above files so you can now post directly as a KML etc without needing to trick the program by hiding it inside a zip file.

IGC files are tiny text files. The don’t require much storage space. I recommend posting your IGC along with your KML because that is the raw data that can be used to create varied views including stuff like a Doarama View and KML variations. Some of the IGC data is usually stripped away when creating a KML depending on the converter and type of KML object is created. You can go from IGC to almost anything, but you can’t always reverse engineer from a KML. If some new viewing application comes along years later (like Doarama) you can simply create an additional view from the IGC file, but not necessarily from a KML file.

Also, if others want to mix tracks together in the same view, like Willy’s Doarama from a 2/11,then it is doable if they have the IGC file. Generally, If I want to “study” a flight, I like to have a KML, but Doarama has some advantages over KML including quick distribution that doesn’t require special software like Google Earth. You can send a Doarama link to almost anyone and they can view it, but many people won’t be able view a KML file on their phone.
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3100 MSL, Visualization, and Speed to Fly

Postby sd » Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:02 am

Chris, thanks for sharing. FYI, I prefer to have 3100 MSL at the VOR spine (out front) before heading eastbound across the canyon for No Name, but I have successfully connected lower. Looks like you were topping about 3K once you dropped below launch altitude. Aaron might laugh at both of us and simply scoot down to Carpinteria, passing underneath without bothering to stop while we are groveling for more cushion.

BTW, I concur with all of Aaron’s 3/2 SBSA Chat Box review of your 3/1 flight from Skyport to Westmont. His critique was well targeted at the decisions you are repeatedly making. I particularly like his “upside down visualization” analogy. You still seem uncertain of where to look for lift and how to weigh your options.

I also concur with Mitch’s Chat Box comments about speed to fly during your 3/4 VOR flight. I concur that you want to slow down and fish over the triggers, but you always want to be aware of your energy, and when in doubt, it is arguably better to troll a little on the front side of a gliders polar curve than the back side for number of reasons. There are scenarios were we deliberately slow down and fly on the back side of the polar in the “mush mode”, but usually associated with landing approaches into tight LZs and not trolling for lift. Unfortunately, we can no longer quiz James Victor about the hazards of flying too slow deep in the brakes.
Last edited by sd on Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Practice on the spine VOR 3/4/17

Postby gracecab » Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:36 pm

Here are some, non technical observations about me flying paragliders that I am making. They may not be true for anyone else, and they may change for me over time as well.

I have been very grateful to have local pilots with great experience and the ability to communicate it through the written word, using chat rooms and this BB. I don't take it lightly that you all feedback wherever I can find it... I would be much farther behind the curve I already am anyway, without the instant feedback of very recent flights from top experience in the local terrain.

I do have trouble discerning and then sticking to a step-by-step system for thermal hunting. I believe it has a lot to do with my lack of preparation, when I force myself to think about a day before I go, it puts it into my subconscious (Mitch calls it right - Visualization), and I seem to not make the basic mistakes I was making 3 years ago. However I'm not as logical, can tend to be mentally lazy, and more a free spirit pilot.

But alas, the physics of aeronautics are constant, and if I would only apply myself, and hold the basics closer, I would progress faster up the curve. Meteorology, current conditions, data collecting, all of it, is needed to make a good show of the day, and again, alas, too often here I have fallen short before my feet even leave the ground... Then, topographic knowledge is essential. Where was Shadow peak, what spine is the best early in the day, How high should I leave the Thermal factory to make it to Montecito peak when the wind is E, and on and on, a million-fold data points needing instantaneous access into my puny brain... and trasferrence to my hands and timing, to work the air correctly and stay in the UP as long as possible...

Honestly, sometimes when I'm flying, I'm totally distracted with the terrain before me. Houses, valleys, mansions, not to mention birds, trails with hikers. I'm amazed at the miracle of the paradise we fly in, and too often I didn't have the extra height to ponder the beauty... maybe when paragliding I would do better to look at some photos online first to get it out of my system. :lol:

Compared to my 25 years of surfing experience, I can say I'm a baby in the free flight world after almost 5 years now. Partly because there are many many more variables to consider in free flight requiring diligent study and practice than surfing. Also, because I don't have the time to commit to the multiple weekly/monthly flights needed to improve at any kind of satisfying rate.

But, alas, this is the cost of free flight, and well worth it. It's what makes me come after a 'good day' flying wanting to quit everything and live somewhere I can fly the most days possible. It's also what makes me want to sell my gear so I can't be heartbroken after a 20 minute flight botched, and a 4 hour drive and prep... or OTB and shut out day. :shock:

These are the things I observe. About myself. About myself flying.

So, Polar curves, speed management, turning radius, thermal tracking, variometer interface, visual cues, topographic mastery, understanding weather conditions lapse rates, etc. Bring it on. I'm trying. For some it seems much easier to pick up, at the same amount of time as I've had at it. But this is for me... not for anyone else. I'll keep doing it as long as it is fun, and it is still. Very. Very fun. Usually.
VOR spine practice IGC
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Chris Ballmer aka gracecab
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