Downrange in SB 1/20/06

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

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Downrange in SB 1/20/06

Postby Chris G » Fri Jan 27, 2006 6:22 pm

In all the discussion board upheaval this gem of a flight got lost in the shuffle but it's one worth posting.
A bunch of us, including Irene, Bo, Gary, Andy and I hit Skyport at 10:30. I took a shot early and decided to stick it in at the Bypass. Quick retrieve back to launch and got back around the time Ron F showed up. Ron launched quickly and headed for the R&R. We both hit 4k almost immediately and the race was on. I led the charge across to a spot just short of the powerlines with Ron right behind me. Altitudes didn't exceed 4k until the last thermal which bumped me to 4500. There was a clear north wind and extra nasty air down low so I decided to try running back to Parma to avoid a long retrieve. I watched as Ron passed underneath me 1,000 feet bellow. Not 10 minutes later I looked back and he was topping 5 and continuing to Ojai. I succumbed to peer pressure and did another about face. I never found lift again and flushed to the ridge just south of snowball. Back-hill landed, hopped over to the front and relaunched into carp. Retrieve was right there as soon as I landed. Meanwhile Ron was reporting 5700 near whiteledge. I shall let him continue the story....;P
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Through the Pass - 2006

Postby faoro » Sun Jan 29, 2006 2:50 pm

Some days end up working like magic - I suppose that's one of the major reasons we fly! - and the Friday before last was a special day. I was in at work for a few hours and finally decided to check the weather at 9:15 AM; I hadn't flown a lick for over five weeks. I could hardly believe my eyes: a 29 degree lapse rate with little wind after weeks of disappointing conditions. I called Chris Grantham and he told me he had a driver and the meet time was about 20 minutes away. I still had some loose ends to take care of, so I had to drive myself to launch after wrapping up in four layers of clothing in anticipation of a good day.

Chris was just getting ready to wind dummy when I arrived at Skyport. The cycles were weak, but building, and I launched a half hour later at 11:55 AM. I was able to get up in the house thermal and move over to the R&R. Topped out at a little over 4K; that was to be the ceiling for the next hour and a half. Thermal Factory worked, as did Shadow and Montecito Peak. Chris passed over me at Shadow and remained half a mile ahead and 500 feet higher the next hour. We hoped that others might join us; there were several hang gliders who launched in addition to the PG's, but for various reasons no one came out to Montecito Peak except the two of us. We had a nice 7-9 mph tailwind and it was a beautiful day to cruise downrange. Conditions were benevolent; it took a while to find the lift in places, but it always came through. Well-along Castle Ridge, Chris radioed that he thought the lift was getting trashy and he might want to do an out and return back to Parma. He asked me my intentions and I told him initially that the idea was OK, since it didn't look like we could get through the Pass with the 4K ceiling. But as he passed over me - going the opposite direction - he asked again what I was thinking. I stated the day was predicted to get a few degrees colder aloft in the afternoon and that I was going to poke along a bit further and see what happened. He turned around a quarter mile west and worked the ridge as I flew on toward Carpinteria. Not ten minutes later, I caught a thermal up to 4,800 feet! I'm not normally patient, but was rewarded with a little persistence on this day. There was still no clear indication if the Pass would be doable. So I circled above the powerlines thinking about the conditions and my willingness to hike this afternoon. Within fifteen minutes, I got to 5K and my intuition said, "Go!"

The day was indeed improving. Ojai looked sunny and inviting, not a bad day if one had to hike or camp. I came up to the ridgeline down from Noon Peak and had to make my first big decision. Turn right and be safe or turn left and commit to finding lift right below the peak. All day long the thermals had tugged me strongly to the back ridge, despite the prevailing North wind. So I went for the bold route and really focused on where the trigger might be. Lost about two hundred feet in the transition to the back ridge and had to wait until I was all the way in the back before the vario started moving in the right direction. But the right decision ended up being an easy-street, because I got a monster and soared all the way up above 5,000 feet again, my second highest point of the day. Now I relaxed and hopped over to West Divide without losing much. East Divide worked better than anything else - 5,700 feet and I knew that Ojai was a done deal.

But I lost a thousand before I hit the face of White Ledge and decided to take the safer front points this time. I worked back and forth on that East-West ridge out front for twenty minutes, never getting much above 4K with a low point of 3.5K. When I finally got a little thermal at the west end of the ridge, about halfway to the Taft property, I decided to take the boost and ride the ridge back to White Ledge and take the deeper route. Hit five thousand again and rode the bumps down to the Nuthouse. It was wonderfully quiet and pretty. I was sad to have lost Chris, who couldn't get back his prior altitude despite a long time trying, but flying solo through the Pass is also very peaceful and entertaining!

Chase contacted me as I crossed the 33. Came in below Nuthouse launch and found the bowl to the west and north of the ridge working strongly. Up and over to Pyramid, Nordhoff and Stooges about 4,500 feet. A bit trashy at Stooges. May have held out hope for the college, but it was after 3:30 and Topa Chase had Bocalli's in mind.

Landed at San Antonio School. 28 miles; three and one-half hours.
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