First Weekend in March 2021

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First Weekend in March 2021

Postby sd » Fri Mar 05, 2021 3:25 pm

Saturday Morning Perception Update

My perception of the day has evolved since yesterday afternoon. Rather than a full discussion I’ll only highlight the changes and additions.

The frontal passage is a happening little later than I expected.
There is a little more north wind early than expected, but I still expect it to block and be launchable from the lower launches by later this morning and from the ridgeline launches by mid-day. The north wind was stiff this morning, gusting over 25 at La Cumbre Peak and almost 40 at Santa Cruz Island, but it has already backed down significantly. There was almost no morning inversion and the lapse rate from downtown to the Peak was a little positive at dawn. Expect it to block quickly.

Ojai is now looking better and is likely to be the sweet zone in the afternoon with a better lapse rate, less wind, and higher climbs (typical). Fillmore is also looking better, but the lapse rate fades some later in the afternoon as the airmass warms at altitude.

The west wind seems to be mostly at the lower altitudes, so an out and return might be possible if you can stay above the west flow on your westbound return leg, however, that might be problematic as the late afternoon lapse rate fades. I still think a flight to Fillmore looks easier than an out and return over Casitas Pass, but you can likely tag Santa Paula Ridge and still get back to Lake Casitas.

The max altitude in SB looks better mid-day. SB looks like it will still work later in the day, but with lower max altitudes.

Sunday (tomorrow) looks warmer up high and cooler down low with both stratus and high clouds. Today (Saturday) we are striving to stay high above the lower air but tomorrow (Sunday) the flying will be down at the lower altitudes in the marine layer. The clouds could be a problem, but if enough sun gets through it might be nice flying.

Monday and Tuesday continue to look dynamic with a robust lapse rate but also wind issues and cloud issues on Tuesday. Might be good for HGs?
Friday afternoon look at the coming weekend

Today (Friday) was calling for a respectable lapse rate but also significant wind from the SE at ridgeline. Based on a quick review of XCfind, it appears most pilots flew early, some taking extended sleders from the Skyport and others maybe doing a little better from EJ, with Dilan gliding out to East Beach and Logan crossing Hwy 154, but getting progressively lower? The lapse rate looked better in both Ojai and Fillmore. Perhaps the Nuthouse or maybe even Fillmore might have offered more potential?

Tomorrow (Saturday), looks quite different than today. Saturday appears to be the better day if you need to choose between Saturday or Sunday. The flow switches from today’s SE to West and the airmass temperature drops as a weak cold front passes to our north. The NAM Skew-T doesn’t look impressive, but a review of the temperature forecast seems more promising with the surface temp expected to reach about 70F and the 6K temperature in the lower 40s. Hopefully the colder airmass will enable good thermal activity. There isn’t much wind above and a strong capping inversion will hopefully protect the lower altitudes. There is a little north wind early associated with the cold front, and potential for a few scattered high clouds, but the day is forecasted to trend toward sunny and the light north wind is forecasted to back down and clock around to come from the west above ridgeline and from the WSW below ridgeline.

Ojai: For some reason both the Nam and the temperature forecast are calling for a weaker lapse rate in Ojai compared to SB on Saturday, but from my experience I’m doubtful as Ojai typically works better? The base wind in Ojai is forecasted to be light from the WSW but due to thermal draw there is often more wind than forecasted.

Fillmore’s lapse rate looks ok, but the Nam doesn’t show the lift going very high. Expect the wind to be upriver, light in the mountains and perhaps more in the valley?

With some west wind building from the west in the afternoon and less wind to the east and less wind inland away from the coast, it might be easier to keep going toward Fillmore if we can get past Castle Ridge, but with the forecasted weak lapse rate in Ojai not sure if the altitude will get better going over Casitas Pass?

Bates looks promising on Saturday. Expect more wind out near the beaches than in the mountains. The day starts out weak but builds in the afternoon with potential to jump the Freeway and fly to Ventura.

Don’t know that we will be able to launch early due to some early north wind at ridgeline. The day looks better by late morning and it might be preferable to get over Casitas Pass to avoid the building afternoon west wind or perhaps (if you don’t want to tangle with Casitas Pass) connect out to Bates or Rincon from Castle Ridge to take advantage of the coastal wind.

If it’s windy at Padaro, you might find better landing conditions further east toward Carpinteria or Bates.

Sunday is looking weaker with potential for high clouds. Continued light flow from the WSW down low. Bates might work mid-day, but it looks substantially weaker than Saturday.

Monday, the local lapse rate looks better trending toward robust, but the west wind also picks up. Bates will likely offer a window with the potential to get too strong for PGs in the afternoon.
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Saturday, 3/6/2021 / Links and Narrative

Postby sd » Sun Mar 07, 2021 8:11 pm

Link to an Ayvri Group Scene (Web Animation) for Sunday, 3/6/2010
Still missing some must see tracks, so hopefully those pilots will upload to Ayvri
Uncle Neal, Billy, Derek, Sangwon, Angela etc?

The forecasted wind on Saturday didn’t evolve as projected by the models, which were calling for west wind. It was blowing hard from the west mid-channel in the morning, and whitecaps were spotted approaching from the west, but the west wind never pushed through. It was mostly from the east on course and along the coast.

It was gusting to 25 OTB from the north along the ridgeline at dawn but blocked quickly and pilots (Marty) were launching from EJ before 11. It was cycling up solid at the Rock (our previous lowest launch at 1500 MSL) when we stopped to check about 10:10 am. No need to go higher, but the newish fence blocking launch is a problem.

The mid-day thermals were strong, but so was the sink, which made for mostly poor upwind glides into the lee where there were occasional hang on zephyrs letting loose. Up high there was some light drift from the north and most of the cloud tops were curling from north. The early and late day air was nice.

Sundowner’s narrative for Saturday
Launch Skyport at 10:49 PST (fist off?)
Westbound 5.3 miles to the VOR
Eastbound 37.0 miles to Boyd’s (a front point below the Topa Bluffs)
Westbound 20.1 miles back to Noon Peak
Southbound 6.0 mile out to land at Viola Fields at 4:08 PST
68.4 total SLOFD miles around 3 turnpoints.
5 hours-19 minutes airtime / 12.9 MPH average speed (slow due to persistent headwinds)

I’ve attached Google Earth files for myself and Jeff Longcor. My narrative makes more sense if you read on one device and follow along via google earth on another large monitor. If you are new to Casitas Pass you might also consider reviewing the Casitas Pass Overview images and info posted at:

SD KMZ for Saturday
(340.02 KiB) Downloaded 49 times

JL KMZ for Saturday
(341.72 KiB) Downloaded 48 times

Easy climb-out at the Skyport, but I had drift from the north on glide across to the RnR. I didn’t fight it and my thermal from the back of the saddle tracked uphill. Followed Jeff Longcor westbound from cloudbase at La Cumbre Peak with 5300+. No luck at the VOR so turned and bounced over No Name and West Bowl back to the La Cumbre Peak. Got back over 51 at the Brotherhood (the back ridge behind the RnR). Missed the thermal marked by a newly forming cloud over the back ridge behind the Factory and opted to angle out toward Montecito Peak because the altitude seemed like it was worth more out front.

Got to 47 at Noon Peak and opted to try the high route along the back ridge because there was a lot of sink on glides across canyons and we were still plugging upwind, however, the back ridge didn’t pay off so I came limping back out to the West Divide saddle where I climbed with a gaggle (Neal and Billy?) to 52+. Most everyone else left sooner and lower but I was skeptical of the upwind glide and wanted to top out.

Out front past the East Divide Spine (on glide toward the SW Bump below White Ledge), I gained 600 feet in only 3 turns but there was a lot of draw from the SE feeding East Divide so the upwind glide across the canyon to White Ledge was poor back. Hit a boomer in the lee of the SW Bump below White Ledge but didn’t feel comfortable giving ground and feel out the front. Had to reach around toward the front of White Ledge, keeping an eye on Uncle Neal, and found a draw that that I could follow up a small finger spine and picked a grand in 11 turns. The momentum from that thermal was from the SW and I seemed to be somewhat out of the SE flow on my glide to and across Hwy 33.

I was hopeful the forecasted west wind was finally pushing through. Opted not to max my climbs thinking I might be able to stay under the east wind, but the east wind got worse the further east I went. In post flight analysis, Jeff did better taking the high route up the spine behind Twin Peaks. Had some opportunities to climb at the next few points past Twin Peaks, but all the thermals were coming off the protected lee sides (west sides) and I kept pushing too far forward and falling out the front. Finally threw in my towel at Boyd’s after I fell out the front of a lee side thermal behind the west spine and was in heavy sink plowing upwind eastbound across the bowl toward the east spine.

Turned out toward the valley and found a scrap I could frisbee in back toward the East Repeater front point. Came in lowish, but no problem surfing up. It was nice to finally be going downwind. Got to 56 at Twin Peaks and almost 53 at Nordhoff but missed the thermals the Pyramid and Spine One. Downwind up to Hwy 33 but started picking up some west on the west side. Aborted my first attempt to reach upwind from Bump 1 to Bump 2. Seemed to be stuck and considered heading back toward the Nuthouse for a boost out to Nordhoff High School (I watched Derek come in low at the Nuthouse and connect), but opted to struggle for awhile. Finally got enough to another upwind run at Bump 2, which was perhaps a tad lower than my aborted attempt, As is typical, the initial glide was in sink but as I got close I picked up some lee side draw and was able to scoot around the corner.

Could only get into the low 4s at Bump 3. I like to get 45 or more, but I might have been between pulses? Was concerned I was running out of time. The back-ridge stuff had been working so I went with 38 and was able to work my way up the ridgeline toward the Back Step but opted to angle out on the last flute. Came in on the west face a little low and didn’t get lucky, so fished out the saddle to the point on the ridge south of the saddle (similar to Tunnel Tit and RnR). Found what I needed over the Tit and then benched back to the Back Step. Made a few fishing passes searching over the Back-Step ridge line but the best I could do was a hundred over. Felt like the day was getting late. Opted to continue uphill toward the High Step (which is higher than and behind White Ledge) and was able to wiggle up enough to sneak through gap behind White Ledge.

There were still some clouds over Casitas Pass up in the mid to high 5s, but the best I could do was a little over 5K along the back ridge route, not quite enough to go over East Divide in the back so I had to come out and around a little. Got back to 49 at East Divide and cut across to West Divide where I worked my last thermal to just under 5K at 3:45ish.

I wasn’t encountering west wind but was concerned I might encounter the forecasted west wind on my glide out, so I wanted to try to get to the Power Lines or Snowball’s Daddy. Opted to take the back ridge but didn’t fully commit. Didn’t find anything over the stub spine 2/3 of the way across so I angled for the Noon Trapezoid so I wouldn’t get trapped behind it. Was able to clear the saddle behind the Trapezoid and fished uphill toward the Peak, but nada. Gave the Trapezoid face a turn, but the day seemed done.

Angela was reporting light SE along the coast, but I seemed to have light drift from the WSW with a slight crab angle to the right on my glide out, which as good enough to easily reach Viola. My crab angle relaxed below 2K and I encountered light SSE crossing the beach. Spotted a HG trying to ridge soar the west end of Bates but they flushed to the beach.

Laura had checked in on the radio during my glide out. She came over with her daughter and son-in-law to watch the landing at Viola Fields and give me a ride home. Jeff came in for sweet landing about 7 minutes later. Kate drove over grab him, but Jeff’s car was still at the Skyport, so I boosted him back to Parma (in Laura’s car) where we met up with Uncle Neal and Derek. Jeff got a ride up with them. Chris G had made a retrieve run to Ojai to collect Billy and Lynsey who both had their first flights over Casitas Pass, so I chatted with them a bit before heading to the barn.

Hopefully some of the other pilots will share their adventure and perception of the day. Saturday had a big turnout and a bunch of pilots had great flights.
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Sunday, 3/7/2021

Postby bb_secretary » Sun Mar 07, 2021 8:19 pm

Posted on behalf of Chris Garcia by the SCPA BB Secretary
Originally posted to the SBSA Telegram Chat at 3:26 PM Sunday

Beautiful last day of the Eagle XC and Thermal Clinic. We were up on launch for 2 hours waiting in the cloud and we were rewarded with a 2 hour flight in very smooth, consistent and mellow conditions.
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