2nd Weekend in March 2021

Past, present, and future flights, meeting times & places, theory.

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2nd Weekend in March 2021

Postby sd » Thu Mar 11, 2021 9:44 pm

Friday Morning Update:
The evolution is progressing as expected. The light north at ridge line this morning might delay light off a bit, but not much. No morning inversion. Still cold at all altitudes. This morning’s Winds Aloft Forecast is calling for slightly less north than last night’s run, only upper single digits, which should block completely below cloudbase. Not sure if we can Uber up the hill due to snow and ice on the road? Looking for an early ride from Carpinteria or I’ll be on the 7:07 MTD #20 bus out of Carpinteria which is scheduled for East Beach at 7:45, but it might be running a few minutes late on the SB end due to rush hour traffic?
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Thursday night look at the coming weekend

Today (Thursday) might have been the best day of the next 4? Some moisture coupled with a ballistic lapse rate yielded towering development. The wind was light, and the mountains drew from the south. The development built out from the mountains toward the ocean, eventually ODed, relaxed some and then cloudbase lifted in the afternoon with less intense heating. There were times the lift lined up in long streets. Willy flew from Santa Barbara to Lake Casitas without turning along the leading edge of the development.

Friday (tomorrow) both the moisture and the lapse rate are just a little reduced from today, so expect another round of early overdevelopment. A significant difference is that today (Thursday) the low pressure was approaching Point Conception. We were on the front side of the cyclonic flow with very little wind and the mountains were mostly drawing from the south (there was some downslope flow from the north under the rain/snow/hail on north side of the feed line). Thursday's south draw resulted in a defined boundary between the expanding overdevelopment in the mountains and sunny thermal fuel just to the south of the feed line.

Tomorrow (Friday) the low moves to our east so we are on the back side of the cyclonic rotation, which should yield some north flow. Today the development bunched up and grew toward the south, but tomorrow the OD will likely drift out toward the south (due to north wind aloft) which could result in reduced heating near the coast? The OD might shade in enough to quench the feed with potential for iteration. Like today (Thursday) the lapse rate on Friday (tomorrow) is strong enough that it won’t take much heating to get the air moving, but there might be murkier heating and possibly more iteration compared to today, which only had one big OD cycle followed by a longer period of weaker feed and reduced heating on the 2nd round.

So, I think tomorrow (Friday) might have shorter windows but perhaps more iterations and multiple opportunities? I heard Bates worked for a short while today (Thursday) and will likely work better tomorrow (Friday) mid-afternoon.

If you are going to fly on Friday, I’d recommend an early start to get in a round before the OD. You might be able to scoot down the range and bridge out to Rincon before the first round of OD? Hopefully it will iterate and offer a 2nd and possibly even a 3rd round in the mountains, but if you wait for it to clear before you head up it will likely OD again by the time you are ready to launch.

If it is clear in the morning, which I think it will be, you want to get out the door early and be ready to launch by 9ish?

Saturday looks problematic form a wind perspective. The lapse rate on Saturday is not as good as Thursday and Friday, but still ok, however, with no capping inversion the day looks like it might have too much post frontal wind for PGs in the local mountains? Saturday is much drier. Bates might offer a window to jump the freeway. Ojai looks more protected from the wind so if you are up for a hike?

Sunday, the lapse rate trends toward inverted and high clouds could be a problem. There is some wind up higher, but the inversion should shield the lower altitudes. The mountains don’t look so good from a soaring perspective but might work down low. Elings will likely be ok but Bates looks kind of weak.

Monday looks like more rain?
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Friday, 3/12/2021

Postby sd » Mon Mar 15, 2021 8:07 pm

The Ayvri SB Group Scene for Friday 3/12/2012 is:
https://ayvri.com/scene/g0jg73pnjo/ckm9p26gt0000256iwm33hs9z

For students of the sport, the following narrative is more effective if you follow along with the Google Earth KMZ and or the Ayvri on another screen, but the real story of the day can’t be told on a map. The day was more about the sky. I used to fly with a camera and considered doing so on Friday. Didn’t but wish I did.
2021_03-12_tom_truax_skyport_to_pcw_to_solemint.kmz
SD KMZ for Friday 3/12/2021
(341.2 KiB) Downloaded 57 times

Skyport Westbound 6.8 miles past the Painted Cave Windmill (PCW)
Pained Cave Eastbound 77.5 miles to Solemint
84.3 miles around 1 turn point
Launch at 9:59 PST, Land at 2:53 PST
Start at 10:01:23, End at 2:52:06 ~ 4.845 hrs ~ 17.4 mph average over 84.3 miles

I was frustrated that I didn’t get airborne on Thursday for a number of reasons, one of which was being late up the hill, so I was ready to connect with the 7:07 #20 bus out of Carpinteria for East Beach. Turns out the day was slow to light off due to a little north wind that needed to block, so we were early.

My perception of the day was that it had stellar potential for some high quality aesthetically boutique flights, but I wasn’t focused on numbers or pre-defined goals. There would be evolving scenarios, so my plan was to adjust my objectives based on what the day presented. One of the reasons the day had so much potential is that it was really cold up high and mated with the humidity meant potential for rising air and towering development and with only limited heat fuel. I put on double gloves and a lot of layers but was still cold even before I got in the air.

Mitch launched first a little before 9:30 and demonstrated superb flying skills. He got off on his 2nd attempt into a 2 mph up cycle while it was light OTB up behind us on the road. His thermal appeared to have some twitch as it floated up the into the light flow from the north. It took him a turn or 2 to map the center then he stayed locked on the core till it toped out 4 or 5 hundred over (sorry, no data in his IGC file about his initial climbs).

The development was later than the day prior. The initial clouds would form and then dissipate as the light north flow pushed them out and down. As the day heated the clouds started to anchor better and the launch conditions became more consistent, however, the anchoring clouds also carried potential to block the sun at launch. The north flow blocked completely but the launch cycles remained weak in the shade.

Andrew Byron had been spreading canopies but he and others (including me) suited up as the cycles became consistently up and potential OD became a concern. We were also getting anxious as the early birds were on-course westbound passing overhead in the mid 4s to low 5s.

The Skyport (launch) shaded over with a half dozen pilots queued up and a couple more spread on launch wanting something more robust than zero to 2-ish, so I needed to use the “push” protocol again. Having learned my lesson from the previous occasion I was conscious to slow down and be more diplomatic. I debated about pushing for a minute to evaluate if I was willing to go without delay in whatever, which the protocol expects. Garcia graciously ran interference, spreading my canopy with a crown shape and the leading-edge tension I prefer for calm air pullups.

One of the pilots I asked to move a bit was Jorge, who launched immediately after me and had his personal best flight from Santa Barbara, going just past West Divide Spine down low and out front.

The air at launch was smooth and weak in the shade. I was able to climb about 150 over but opted to head out front toward the feed line. I considered left or right on the fly. The left side was proven by the early pilots and perhaps had a bit more sun than the Holly Hills, but it is easier to bench up from Tunnel Tit. On glide the drift seemed weak form the SE so I veered right for an easy transition.

As I climbed through bench up go altitude drifting slightly behind Tunnel Tit from the SW, I considered my route options. Cloudbase was around 5K westbound with clouds both along the back ridge and lower out front. La Cumbre Peak looked reachable, but I didn’t perceive a tactical advantage trying to hold a high line when the front points were working just as good and the altitude is worth more out front. My Tit thermal topped just under 38. Rather than benching back I cut across to Cathedral where I climbed to cloudbase just over 5K and went on a long 7+ mile dolphin glide westbound, still over 5K passing the VOR, going past the PCW turn point and back the VOR before I felt inclined to stop and tank up.

My initial thermals near launch drifted light from the SW, but Eric Stratton reported wind from the SE at the VOR, so my ground speed slowed substantially after I made my turn eastbound. There were clouds across Hwy 154, so with wind from the SE and much lower cloudbase east of launch toward Carpinteria, I considered continuing westbound toward Santa Ynez Peak as a possible turn point, however, I’m not a big fan of the flatness west of Hwy 154 (but others love it), and despite a potential tailwind from the SE, I was concerned that a window eastbound might be time limited, plus, enjoying the luxury of flying with other pilots this season it was a bit lonely going solo away from the main gaggle.

48 hundred at the VOR spine was good enough for a glide across the mid-points then out to the SE from The Factory to the Parkers saddle where I stopped for a 900-foot climb from 2750 to over 3650. Fortunately, the pesky SE flow into the San Marcos Gap relaxed once I got back to West Bowl and my Parkers thermal drifted from the west.

Cloudbase was much lower past Montecito. I don’t typically turn my radio on until I’m on course, so I didn’t pick up the action until I was east of launch. Cloudbase looked low but maybe rising slightly? Radio reports seemed to indicate the racers had made a play for Rincon. In my day-old perception posting I noted the Rincon coastal route might be an option. It had worked last year on March 8th for a 69-mile leg, but today's cloudbase out front looked lower and the ocean calmer. Time was a concern, but with cloudbase rising slowly the immediate challenge looked more like an obstacle course than a racecourse. I opted to tiptoe along the highest line I could hold then peek into the Pass.

I think the day might have gone through a mild iteration. As cloudbase lifted a precious few hundred feet, it also retreated offering new sun out front, which can leave a pilot stranded out front stuck in the shallow trajectory draw toward the feed line which has moved uphill. I was able to hold the traditional highish line until the rising terrain along Power Line Ridge forced me to angle away from the rocks,

Broke even across the Noon Peak Trapezoid but it’s top was in the clouds and I was near cloudbase crossing the face. I might have been a little too deep in the shade, so I searched out the Noon Spine and then across to Divide for the highest intercept I could muster, perhaps too high considering Willy was climbing on the spine a little further out front toward the sun line, but I wanted to maximize my troll path. By going deeper than needed I increased the risk of getting trapped behind the Gobernador hill. The deeper path was arguably less direct and slower, but I thought it increased my chances. I could now see valley sun on the other side of Casitas Pass. Pilots lower out front weren’t broadcasting encouraging reports, so I was motivated to stay on the mid-line and reached across for Chismahoo when I got back to cloudbase at 3700 drifting from the west in frisbee mode. I fizzled on a similar line with 500 more to work with back on 1/26, but the line looked more doable today for various reasons despite less altitude.

Chismahoo was only good for some dolphin extenders. Willy had gone straight east into Coyote Canyon but I don’t like the notion of hiking out Coyote Creek so I dolphined out the SE spine of Chismahoo then cut across toward the south side of foothills below White Ledge. I was getting a buoyant downwind glide and the fields around Lake Casitas were in Sun so I figured my odds were good at blundering into something along my line. Encountered a sweet climb from 2200 back to 39, drifting from the SW.

The foothills and clouds angled back to the north, so I angled back with them to Bump 1 then across to the Nuthouse, arriving about a hundred over launch. In all my years I’ve never flushed at the Nuthouse when coming downrange from Santa Barbara, but there have been times when it was pulsing with little to no ridge lift and I had to work for it. I often wonder if today will be the day I break my lucky streak. Today I had solid inbound sink all the way past launch itself, so I was relieved to see the bushes shaking and easily zig-zagged up to ridge line with figure 8s.

The climb at Spine One to 5K was sweet. The valley had been in the sun but was now shaded over. It was light out front and darker over the traditional trigger zones. Stayed a little out front on glide and skipped Twin Peaks because it was dark. Came into the West Repeater front point just above and behind Willy who needed to look a little further out front due to arriving lower. It was comforting to see I had a better thermal but also comforting to see Willy climbing down lower despite almost 100 percent overcast. Willy’s next thermal at East Repeater opened up better than mine but he was lower and out front of my scrap coming off the higher knob. I didn’t want to backtrack upwind, so I continued on toward Boyd’s despite it being dark.

Boyd’s was a fizzle. I lost sight of Willy (he moves around fast). Santa Paula Ridge was really dark. I figured I’d end at Saint Thomas College but was able to gain a few hundred on the east end of the Puckers front points (the south spine below the Topa Bluffs). There was a dark cloud bottom to the south, so I turned south and fished upwind away from the mountains for a short way hoping to get drawn in. Glide was ok, but I opted to break off and reach across eastbound with what I had left because if I utilized any more altitude fishing south and didn’t get lucky, I wouldn’t have a chance at the base of Santa Paula Ridge. At least the short southbound penetration put me on a good downwind line toward the base of SP Ridge without needing to crab against the south flow drawing up Santa Paula Creek until I got almost there.

Came in low, but I’ve arrived lower and still gotten up. I’ve also flushed arriving higher. It was a little up and down initially, but more up than down. After a couple ridge style passes, I was able to ID and focus on the spots working better and wiggle up. I tried a few 360s when I had enough clearance but continued to fall out the back, so I mostly stuck with figure 8s and hugged the terrain.

The air was mostly smoothish, likely due to the shade and even heating? Seemed like I was in a draw feeding darker clouds over the higher ridgeline uphill. My confidence was high that I could make the bus stop in Fillmore. There are a couple of rocky flutes a little short of a smoother fan zone near the top of the rising ridge. When scratching in tight I pay attention to my pendulum such that I want to be cocked to break away from the hill if needed. Perhaps I let my guard down a little do to the smoothish air? Clearing one of the rocky flutes I took a sizable collapse on the uphill (left side) and the glider seem kind of wiggly and unpressurized as I turned hard right away from the hill with marginal terrain clearance. The canopy rocked back a bit, sort of a mini stall, but it pointed away from the hill between bookend flutes, so I let it surge forward and it recovered nicely.

Had to stay south of the higher terrain because the higher ridgeline and Santa Paul Peak were in the clouds. Intercepted the SE spine below Santa Paula Peak and worked back up to cloudbase about 4900 along the south side of the development.

Initially was getting a good downwind glide angling toward town. The Santa Clara Valley had a lot of both sun and clouds, but around Fillmore there was plenty of sun and cloudbase looked higher than in the mountains. I like coming in over town and then drifting back toward the satellite dishes. There is a canyon between the front ridge running along the river and the south end of the Oat Mountain hill. The South end of Oat Mountain is more sheltered from the Santa Clara River and will often offer thermals drifting from the SW, but an upwind canyon crossing can be intimidating if you drift back on a shallow trajectory and need to cut across low. I’ve gotten up there in the past and other pilots have been taking the deeper route, so I angled slightly left, which I think was a mistake because once I got lower, I encountered river draw pulling up the Sespe.

Didn’t want to deal with the canyon crossing low in the SW wind so I didn’t commit to the Oat Hill and instead dolphined crosswind across the canyon mouth to the river side of the satellite dish hill. I was down to my lowest altitude of the day, 1463, about thousand feet over the river, and was rewarded with my best climb of the day, a 4300-foot gain to my max BCB (Below Cloud Base) altitude of the day, 5774 MSL.

It was early, 10 minutes before 2 PST. Sort of on-pace with Logan’s 3/18/2020 flight to San Dimas, but not really because this day was going to end early with massive overdevelopment. It was really dark and dumping over Magic Mountain, but Simi Valley had sun, so I pointed south but didn’t fight the cross wind upriver component of the WSW upriver flow. Did ok on glide but was down to just over 4K about ¾ miles short of the first ridgeline that runs E/W on the south side of the Santa Clara River. I had enough to clear the ridge but there is a valley and another ridgeline before you get back to civilization. Not sure about the valley retrievability. Some areas in the valley are flat-ish, but the line I was on was going to take me over a section of the valley with fluted terrain. I didn’t have enough altitude to make the 2nd ridge on glide, and I didn’t want to end up needing to land in the fluted terrain buffeted by the perceived wind. I could still continue upwind and hope to climb back up over the first ridgeline only ¾ miles ahead, but if that didn’t work I would need to fall back toward the river in the lee of the main ridge and cross fluted spines that run across the wind. If the day had more potential, I might have chosen a more adventurous option, but I didn’t see going past Simi Valley as everything beyond looked really dark. Falling off up the river while I still had altitude to avoid lower wind turbulence seemed like the easy option, so I turned left.

I was now a little past Piru. Logistics are always an issue. There are limited public or commercial ride options east of Fillmore and even less past Piru until you reach the higher population density approaching Interstate 5. My chances of reaching the interstate seemed good but it was still 12 miles away so about a 20 to 1 glide with 3000 AGL, so I wanted one more climb, which I blundered into and got back to 4300, leaving with an easy 16 to one downwinder. Did a few more turns along the way for insurance and was still at 4K with only 4.5 miles to go, only 8 to 1 downwind so I had it made.
I did those calculations post flight via Google Earth. In real time I simply relied on my intuition

My concern now was how to terminate the flight. I’ve previously been at the Castaic Junction in scary venturi river wind and had trouble getting down. There was some river wind on Friday but manageable. My bigger concern was dark clouds ahead dumping in 3 places. A large dump directly ahead over the Interstate and 2 smaller dumps on either side of the river. I was leery about the potential for gust fronts on the surface. I wanted to get to the interstate but continuing seemed like more hazard than the convenience was worth? My now excess altitude was also starting to become an issue as I still had 3800 (about 2800 AGL) with only 3 downwind miles to go, and I was starting to get hailed on, So… I turned around with the intention of flying westbound away from the dumping precipitation.

After turning I realized the wind was more than I had perceived, but even worse was a cloud behind me (to my west) was starting to dump which might increase the upriver surface wind even more. I like downwind more than upwind, so I turned eastbound again and opted to take on the older outflow, possibly flying through it to the other side, however, I encountered an additional issue, increasing lift.

There are times we might fudge a bit an get a little extra for a marginal connection, but this was not one of those scenarios for a bunch of reasons. There were lighter and darker areas ahead, but everything around me was 100 percent overcast with varying cloudbase. Plus, there is high density airplane traffic in that local. I suspected the dark stuff towered. If I got vacuumed up into a tower no telling how much ice I might accumulate and where I might pop out, and some of the local taller mountains were higher than cloudbase. If I drifted too far off course there could be rocks in the clouds.

I’ve been flying the Miru glider since September so have maybe a hundred plus hours on it, but I’ve never pulled big ears with it. The stabilo setup is different than what I had before on the IP6&7, so I wasn’t sure what might yield the best result. I tried pulling on the mini stabilo riser, but it didn’t want to tuck under. Then I tried to pull on just the leading-edge line but couldn’t reach high enough to grab it. I finally just reached as high as I could and pulled as much as I could on the whole stabilo riser and it finally tucked under. Stayed on bar while holding big ears.

I’d gotten a little off course fiddling with the big ear thing but got it turned toward a lighter gap trying to fly around the north side of the darker zones with heavier dumpage. I’d finally gotten the big ears engaged with about 4500 MSL about a thousand plus below cloudbase, but I was still going up at a good clip and the hail was getting heavy. My sunglasses iced over, so I couldn’t see very well. Had to lift my glasses, duck, and aimed for lighter sky. I did see well enough to notice a business jet at my altitude, 500 below cloudbase, passing the other way about 2 hundred yards off my left wing.

A couple minutes later I whited out climbing through maybe 56-ish. I let the big ears go but didn’t climb much higher. Used a little speed bar for stability, but not too much. This was problematic because the hail stings worse as you go faster (my airspeed was slow with big ears and bar). I was completely covered in snow and ice, probably looked like a snowman, but at that altitude it was all frozen with no liquid water, so it didn’t stick or soak and I stayed dry. I noted my compass heading prior to cloudbase which I steered on for a couple of minutes, but that heading was north and there are mountains to the north. I wanted to fly up the river over the low terrain, so I eventually turned east. As my climb transitioned into a decent I was hopefully nearing the back side of the cloud. I think I had gone under and skirted around most of the towering development. I popped out the east side a few minutes later, never cresting 6K, so I was only whited out by 3 or 400 feet for less than 5 minutes.

About 15 miles ahead there was more dark development and dumpage where Hwy 14 starts to climb into higher mountainous terrain. I wanted to extend my glide some but didn’t want to tangle with the next batch of dark sky so I didn’t stop for a patch of lift a few miles ahead. After exit I initially encountered a headwind from the east, drawing toward the development behind me, but as I got lower and further away the flow shifted to come from the SSW. Ran out of altitude where Hwy 14 crosses the Santa Clara River and turned back for an easy landing in light conditions in the dry river near Solemint.

Getting home is part of the game. There was a time where I would stress about it more, and I did make some choices on Friday with retrievability in mind, and we expect pilots to assist in their own logistics, but our community has evolved to incorporate a pride in the concept that we support each other so I was confident I wasn’t going to spend the night under my wing in a ditch on the side of the road (been there and done that more than once). Several teammates checked in to offer logistic support so thank you, and a special thanks to Geoff and his understanding wife for capping my stellar day with fabulous company on the ride home.

Overall, it was mostly an easy but tactically and strategically challenging day with a number of marginal connections. I did perhaps extend further than prudent and wandered into a scenario where I was scared about being vacuumed up, but it turned out to be not nearly as bad as my active imagination. There were miles left on the table but I’m happy with the vivid memories I’ve temporally collected.

2021_03-21_elings_by_angela.jpg
Elings by Angela
2021_03-21_skyport_by_dylan.jpg
View from Skyport by Dylan
2021_03-21_garcia_tandem.jpg
Eagle Tandem by Garcia
2021_03-21_willy_topa_bluffs.jpg
Willy at the Topa Bluffs
2021_03-21_willy_fillmore_lz.jpg
Willy's Fillmore LZ looking NW toward Santa Paula Peak (in the clouds behind the sycamore) and San Cayetano (behind the light post)

Cracka Comment Posted to the SBSA Telegram Chat
Amazing how a senior citizen with open harness, hand me down softy glider, and a flip phone smashes all of us on almost every single flight squeezing every last drop out. Thanks for the inspiration Tom, I’m gonna shop for some old ass gear. Your weather forecasts and community contributions are indispensable. Much gratitude and respect. Nicely done on a colorful day.
Last edited by sd on Tue Mar 16, 2021 9:55 am, edited 15 times in total.
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Saturday, 3/13/2021

Postby bb_secretary » Mon Mar 15, 2021 8:11 pm

Not sure if anyone flew the local mountains on Saturday due to wind, but there was a big turnout at Bates and some of our local pilots had impressive flights from Marshall. Perhaps they can add some notes?
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Sunday, 3/14/2021

Postby bb_secretary » Mon Mar 15, 2021 8:34 pm

The day had a thick marine layer and afternoon high clouds above that. The lapse rate was poor to inverted above the marine layer, but it worked down low:

Posted on behalf of Paul Armstrong
Copied from the SBSA Telegram Chat
A solitary flight, from skyport to elings

Posted on behalf of Timmaaayyy
copied from the SBSA Telegram Chat
Uh!!! I was biking with the family off of knapps when I saw those first few flights off of VOR. When I got there, nobody was flying and it was starting to get clouded over. I rushed to get off and made two mistakes.

1. I turned on my vario and in the rush I didn’t check the batteries. It turned off as soon as I was in the air. I was able to fix that my turning on Flyskyhigh.

2. I didn’t connect my pee tube as I thought I was in for a sledder. Derek and I had been commiserating the night before about the clouds and the next to nothing lapse that was predicted.

As soon as I launched, I got sucked into the development. When I came out, I was at 3400 and heading east. There was a 2ish mph south west wind. I never got over 34 again. Mostly I yo-yo-ed between 24 and 28. The climbs were slow but very consistent. By the time I got to romero I thought about continuing east but it was darker and lower on castle ridge. Also my wonderful wife was in retrieve for me, so I thought I’d make it easier and head east bound. The conditions persisted all the way back to west bowl where I finally found a 10mph headwind to the T. Still came in with plenty to spiral and wing over. I was in a rush to get down as I hadn’t hooked up that tube.

It was amazing and slightly eery to fly by myself in these bustling mountains. It hasn’t happened for a while. Mostly it was a fun 2 hour out and back.
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3/11 Rincon

Postby DJL » Mon Mar 15, 2021 10:15 pm

Others went to Skyport, it was really GTK. They got rained out. I kept an eye on Rincon, and tried to get others to go, but no one was available. There was rain in Carp, and the mountains behind Rincon, but I figured it would be easy to escape if I kept an eye on it. The clouds were breaking over the coast, but they were flowing from the NW. Had to keep an eye on them as well. I’ve never forecasted this place, but if you take a look and see clouds, it’s probably on. Launched solo, and was worried about getting a climb from this new low launch. My first 2 spots didn't pan out, but I ran into a good climb over a flat spot near the water tower. Got established and pushed East, to find the usual triggers near Gary's old property. Found some lift here, and then went to the antennas. Put my gloves on, thought about trying Ventura, but didn’t want a retrieve hassle. I was on the clock, WFH. So I got bored because I was stuck, and felt like top landing. I flew back to my car, but hit a climb. Then I thought a final glide would be fun. I went on full bar over to Logan's house, and dropped in on Gavin. Andrew picked me up a few minutes later, got my car down, and we flew Bates for two hours. Max climb was 3.3 M/s! Not bad.
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