Wind: light and variable
Time Aloft: 4.5 - 6hrs
Max Lift: 13kts
Comment: Few pilots, great soaring weather, Big Sur and back.
Tow pilot: Friday July 3: Mike "Wrongway" Thometz. Saturday July 4th: Karl Kunz
A week or two prior, Julie, Martin and Pancho conspired for a couple of days of flying around the 3-day weekend for July 4th. Jim volunteered to BBQ lunch each day and it looked like we had a party planned.
Friday would include a BBQ dinner and movie night. Saturday would be more flying.
In the days leading up to the third, the weather forecast improved and we looked to have some well marked convergence with cloud base above 10k.
By Thursday, the only confirmed pilots were Morgan and Martin. Pancho was out, Julie was working, Karl was towing. In came Mike Thometz to the rescue granting Karl the opportunity to go soaring.
Friday July 3rdFriday morning was hot. Into the 90s by 10:00am. Rick Eason and Jim helped me rig the Duo. I had planned on taking up a new member, he ended up sick and unable to make it. Karl rigged GD and Jim was planning on flying the 1-26. I called Dennis Lyons for a backup to come out and fly with me in 5H. He headed out in his Cub.
By 11:00, there were cu on the San Benito mountains and a few starting to pop way to the south. Gliders rigged it was time for a burger and some hydration. Martin was rigging TN by then.
Following lunch, GD was first into the air. Dennis and I followed in 5H a few minutes later. There was a good amount of lift right at the airport and a long line of sink headed towards the mountains. Eventually we hit a good thermal, thanked Mike for the tow and started to climb before ratcheting our way into Black. At Black we joined up with GD and decided to head south towards CA valley. Leaving nice and high, it was a long smooth glide for 20+ miles before we found some lift south of Twisselman. With that climb back to 8k we could make the connection to the clouds in CA Valley.
Karl and I were within a few hundred yards most of the flight swapping leads occasionally and Karl finding several needed climbs just a few hundred feet off my wing. Team flying works!
After a climb in CA Valley it was our typical excellent convergence. No circling for the next 50 miles or so and climbing in cruise. Nearing Cuyama Peak we stopped to tank up for the glide across the Cuyama River valley east of Ventacopa. Karl found the strong core and we merged into a boomer that I saw 13kt averages on. That was good for 11k and let us run across towards Mt. Pinos, over and beyond Conover and down towards Pyramid lake into the blue.
|Mt Pinos on the left. Frasier center left in the distance.|
Karl worked the temblors successfully and stayed higher. I milked the blue convergence up past Orchard, just barely keeping Avenal in glide. Then the sink of the marine air along the Avenal Hill sent us running north. Right to the convergence in the middle of sunflower valley. A few turns and final glide was assured. We turned and ran at 80kts in the convergence climbing from 4k to 6k by Black. 90kts from there to near Coalinga and then back to Avenal. Karl did pretty much the same thing.
4.5hrs and just under 500km on the OLC for us both I think.
Jim writes: I took the 1-26 for a flight. After looking at the RASP I had mild hope of getting over to where the convergence was, even drew glide rings on a sectional I printed. Was not to be. Released at 2,800' MSL, and only made it as high as 3,100' MSL. The flight was basically a "slow motion sled ride," with a few small, short-lived climbs. I'm putting 0.4 in my logbook.
Actually Jim sent me a longer write up on his flight but couldn't get it published until today. Former club member George Powell had hip surgery and some critical issues. So here is Jim's first write up on his flight:
Back to Morgan writing: After securing the gliders we were treated to cold drinks, warm company and great food courtesy of Jim Rickey. Dennis had brought zucchini cake that his wife baked that morning. Delicious and vegetables! Following dinner we set up the new TV for the club on a picnic table and enjoyed a viewing of The Sunship Game. If you haven't watched it, be prepared for some land outs that will make you cringe.
Saturday July 4th.
Saturday morning Jim made eggs with sausage and peppers and Julie followed up with pancakes, all washed down with liberal amounts of coffee.
Rick was back, but time flew and he didn't get a chance to take any flights in the 2-33. He did however connect the trailer for 13F and haul off the wings for Big Bird. He's having them painted for us so that we get fresh wings and fuselage all at once.
We rigged JB for Alex to fly in order to be able to provide insights to people getting checked out in the glider.
Martin had recovered from some internal plumbing ailments the day before and we were all ready to fly.
Alex launched first and then Julie and I in the Duo. I got in the back for a change so that Julie could log some front seat time after letting me hog it our last few flights. Off tow we climbed pretty quickly and headed into the mountains. It took a little work to connect, but then it was game on. Cu were calling us from the San Benito and as we headed northwest, there were Cu cycling over Junipero Serra, the highest peak in the Santa Lucia range over near Big Sur.
We decided that if that cu cycled and looked consistent and we could get high enough, we would dive across and try to visit the coast. Worst case, we'd land King City and see if someone would fly over and give us an aero-retrieve after the Avenal launches were complete.
The line was over the San Benito range. Pretty far east for a typical Big Sur crossing. Nearing EL4 we took a climb to cloud base at a little over 11k and followed the farthest SW reaching finger of the cloud before diving into the blue. It was right around 40 miles glide that we committed to. Once away from the mountains, we found very still air and little wind. Our glide ratio typically showing very close to the published 45:1 of the Duo. Maybe that new paint is helping.
|Approaching Junipero Serra. Cu showing the way from the central valley to the sea.|
|Salina Valley looking NW from near King City. America's Salad Bowl.|
After 40 miles of dead air, we were coming in just about peak height at about 5700. Just a little below the peak actually. It took a few turns in bubbly lift to get a little comfort to press around to the south side of the mountain into the sun and wind. That was 8kts back up to 10k. We took that altitude and pushed the 12 miles out to the ocean and the Big Sur coastline where we turned.
|Looking SE towards Pacific Valley in the fog.|
|Eselan Institute down there. For thousands of dollars, they can help you change your attitude. Sometimes a few thousand feet of altitude can do the same.|
|Looking SE towards the San Benito range from over Highway 25.|
|After 30 miles of dead air, the ridge looks higher than it did and the clouds not as close as they seemed either. No troubles.|
We got reconnected with the convergence near EL2 and then followed a line to the East out towards the Panoche VOR in order to try to get an FAI triangle out of the flight for the OLC. From our NE turn point we headed back to the main line, took a few turns and then headed SE again under ripping clouds. We called Martin and suggested he try running NW because it was booming. He headed NW, we headed SE. Briefly near Coalinga our Flarms found each other. After some circling and looking, we spotted him and headed back NW to share a run under the clouds with him
|Martin in Turbo November running NW fast!|
After connecting up at about 8000, he was loaded up on energy and cruising at 70kts. We circled back and he was gone. I took over as we slowly caught up so that Julie could take some pictures and get some video. It took about 25 miles to catch him and make up the 300ft deficit we had. Martin and that Nugget have some legs at 70kts. I was impressed. We ran to the end of the cloud street, nearly to Panoche, then turned and headed for home.
On the way home, we passed Alex in JB at 10k northbound for another Yo-Yo. We'll just refer to Alex as "Duncan" now because he was the master of the Yo-yo on Saturday.
A 100-120kt final glide got us back to the heat of Avenal pretty quickly. Julie closed out our triangle and then it was gear down, full spoilers and look for sink time. Martin landed first, then Julie. Nice landing on her part. The first thing you notice on a really good landing is that you hear the tailwheel rolling just an instant before the main gear.
Alex flew for another hour while we washed gliders and broke down. Jim was still around to help with those chores. We then got JB back in the box after Alex's 6+ hour flight.
Jim writes: As Harold, Mike Paoli, and myself were standing on the ground we could see good strong dust devils. Harold in Orange Crush and Mike Paoli in the 1-26 were both climbing well, so when Harold parked the glider in the launch area, nobody was scheduled on it, he and offered to tow, I went for it.
While on tow, however, I began to feel like I had succumbed to the siren's call. Had descents, on tow. Crossed the Northeast corner of the prison at about 2,000' MSL, and by the time we got out to the powerlines, were all the way up to....2,100' MSL Heading back to the prison again we encountered some lift just to the east of the circle crop, and got up to 2,500'. By the time we reached the prison again we were up to 2,600 MSL. Upon feeling a good upbump, I released.
Pulled the trigger too soon, that good bump turned out to be pretty small. Headed back to the field on the east side of the circle crop and got some climb. Found the center about a quarter mile off the east-northeast side of the circle. As I went higher and higher, had to move to the southwest to keep the thermal, ending up about 3/8 of a mile to the south-southwest of the circle crop. The first time I was there I worked it up to about 4,900', then went searching for something better near the powerlines, where we had been watching dust devils earlier. Smooth as glass. Went searching for lift around that area. Nothing, so I headed back to the faithful field just east of the circle crop.
This time I stuck with it longer, and worked it a little higher. At two points in the circle there seemed to be more lift than in the rest of it, so I thought it may have been a line of lift, so I rolled out on a northwest heading. I was able to keep climbing for 2 or 3 miles. When I could no longer get anything out of it, I did a teardrop course reversal, and was able to ride it again for a couple of miles.
At my peak I got up to 5,800' MSL Thought about heading to Black to see what I could find. But even with the rear window open it was still warm, and I was just plain tired, so I headed home. Made a big circle and saw the sights on the way done. Landed and Mike Paoli helped me put it away.
Not as great of a day as the glass ships, but not a skunk. 1.7 hours in the 2-33, that was fine. Waited in the ClubHouse until the others came home. Thanks to Peter Sahlberg for working on the swamp cooler last week--it sure was appreciated this weekend.
Morgan writing again: After that, it was time for some taco's and then on the road for home to get out of the heat.
Another 480km day with pretty quick speeds over 100kph. Could easily have gone farther with more time in the convergence, but it's such a treat to do something different like going to the coast and flying over the ocean.
Even better to make it back to fly with your friends for a bit.
Update 7/9/2015 - DG100G - Flight Report from Alex.
I flew JB, ex Julie Butler's and now the CCSC's DG100. Since it is now a club glider, and pilots wishing to fly it need a cockpit checkout from one of the instructors, Morgan, Julie and myself agreed that I should fly it myself, so as to have some credibility as a checkout person. I tried to pay close attention during the rigging and assembly. There are always many little things about where all the necessary items are stored, such as wing pins, the tool for installing the horizontal tail, the battery and charger etc, etc. And there are always little gotchas that can result in trailer rash and other minor damage to the glider if it is not assembled carefully, to say nothing of the safety issues, should the wing pins, horizontal stabilizer and other controls not be properly connected and safetied! A weight and balance check revealed that I should have some ballast weight in the ballast compartment in the cockpit floor to the right of the instrument panel, which Morgan installed for me. Morgan has a weight and balance calculator for the ship along with the flight manual on-line for our convenience. For me, the cockpit is very comfortable and quite roomy. Even with a parachute, being short, I still needed a cushion underneath and two behind me in order to get my head up high enough to see just over the top of the instrument panel and to be able to get my feet fully on the rudder pedals and have comfortable control throws on the rudder with the pedals adjusted all the way aft. The instrumentation is simple, but quite effective with the Winter vario and 720 channel radio and boom mike. There is an electric vario , which I assume probably has audio, but I did not try to use it and found it quite pleasant to fly with the mechanical Winter and no audio, which I find can actually become a bit obnoxious sometimes.
I eventually got in the air at. The DG100 is delightful to fly. It tows easily and it trimmed out to neutral in pitch on tow, so there is no need for the heavy 2-33 forward stick pressure on tow! It has very good performance combined with delightful control harmony. In pitch, it has a parallelogram movement of the control stick instead of the more typical pivoting type stick movement. I like this, as the H301 Libelle I used to fly also had this feature. The DG100 is, of course, very maneuverable compared to my Nimbus 3. It is on a par in roll rate with the 1-26, but with much better performance. It makes it easy to maneuver into the core of small, narrow or rough thermals which should help one get better climbs in those conditions. The near 40:1 glide performance will make it possible to get into the convergence out of our Avenal gliderport much more often, and take advantage of the convergence for longer flights than would be possible with the 2-33s or the 1-26. More about that later.
The visibility from the cockpit is outstanding. I was not feeling like I was sitting extremely reclined. Some tall pilots may feel a little more that way, since they will not need cushions behind them and may end up somewhat more supine, using up more of the whole cockpit length.
At first, I did not think the weatherwas going to be that good near Avenal, although the RASP was indicating there might be some cumulus clouds in the convergence way up by Panoche. After a 2000 ft. AGL tow and release near "the barn", I got up to about 5000 ft. MSL fairly easily near Tar Canyon.
I had my cellphone along with XCSOAR running and had programmed in the DG100 glider polar and was anxious to try that out. Julie had installed a convenient USB plug in the instrument panel. I plugged my phone charger cord into it to keep the cellphone battery up. Good thing she had done that, as the flight turned out much longer than I initially had hoped. I don't think my cellphone battery would have lasted the whole flight while running XCSOAR.
I decided I would try to do an OLC "Classic" Yo-Yo style task where I would fly South as far as I could and turn around when XCSOAR told me I could make it back to Avenal with a 1000ft. safety margin with the MacCready setting of 1kt. Then, I would fly as far north of Avenal as I could until XCSOAR told me should again turn back. By repeating this as many times as possible in the allotted time you have to fly, I've found that you can get a pretty good OLC "classic" score, even though you never get out of gliding distance of the Avenal home airport.
Avenal has the advantage of being located in the center of the convergence in the N/S direction and you can often connect directly into it from a normal tow. A lower performance ship with a good handicap can spend the whole flight in the best part of the convergence, whereas a Nimbus 3 has to fly further away in order to not be penalized for exceeding the maximum OLC classic number of 5 turnponts, which risks getting into weaker conditions away from the strongest area of the convergence. Of course you'll never be able to do an FAI triangle with that strategy.
From 5000 ft. MSL I was able to fly down to Hewiston for my first turnpoint. When I got back to the Avenal area on the second leg it was getting better, and I got up to about 8000 ft. MSL. near the tin roof building at the SE end of the Castle Peak, Black Mt. ridge line. There were some cu's forming way up north near Panoche by this time, but they appeared hopelessly out of reach, at least not without risking and outlanding at New Coalinga Airport. I was able to use the 8000 ft to fly up even with the town of Coalinga before turning south again When I got back to the tin roof building on the third leg, I met up with Martin Caskey in his Nugget and we thermaled together. This time I got up to 8500 MSL and then kept going south, this time to about Orchard Peak between Hwy 41 and Hwy 46 before turning North once more.
Now there were some wispy short lived cu's forming over Black Mtn and between there and Center Peak just North of Coalinga, a clear indication that the convergence was working. I got to over 9000 ft. MSL again near Black Mtn on the way north this time. I got to near Center Peak at about 9000 ft. MSL. There were good looking Cu's over New Idria to the North but there was a pretty wide "blue gap" I would have to cross to get there, so I elected to turn south again and made another run to just South of Hwy 41 and then turned north once more.
On the next northward run, it was getting later, but the clouds along the convergence were getting better. Morgan and Julie had flown the DuoDiscus all the way to Big Sur and had made it back to Panoche after climbing to 11,000 MSL over the Santa Lucia range, and were now under the very good looking cloud street between Panoche and New Idria and were reporting that it was "ripping". They had talked Martin into flying north up to New Idria and beyond in the cloudstreet and had met up with him up that way. They were now both flying south together back towards Avenal. As I approached Coalinga, a beautiful cumulus cloud was forming in the convergence about 3 or 4 miles to the west of town, just as I caught site of Martin, with Morgan and Julie in trail about 2000ft below me going fast in the opposite direction. I climbed at 8kts to 10,600 MSL under the beautiful cumulus cloud. From there, it was much easier to reach the next good looking cloud street running Northwest along the San Benito range. I continued running north under that cloud street until I think just a little north of New Idria and short of Mercy Hot Springs. Then when about 30 nm. north of Avenal, I turned around and headed back home to Avenal.
When I arrived at Avenal, I still had 7500 MSL, and had been up 5.5 hrs. Thoughts of winning the coveted "Iron Butt" award started creeping into my head and I decided to see if I could stretch the flight time past 6 hours. I made a flat glide South to Dudley Ridge and then back to Avenal, finally landing after 6hrs 11 minutes in the air. The DG100 makes the Iron Butt a piece of cake. Since the improved cockpit ergonomics distribute the pressure on your nether regions, you will not have to suffer what in the medical trade are called "decubitus ulcers" and will be able to fly again the next week!
I submitted the flight to the OLC. I thought I had exceeded the maxium 5 turnpoints OLC allows in the classic division, but since my last leg out to Dudley Ridge was longer than the first turn I made at Hewiston at the beginning of the flight, it looks like OLC just ignored the shorter first leg and gave me points based on the last turnpoint near Dudley Ridge.