Forecast: Epic with a chance of awesome
Pilots: Andy (AV8), Morgan (5H), Richard (5H backseat), Harold (Orange Crush), Peter Mersino (Tow, Orange Crush), Erin P (Orange Crush possibly?)
Sorry, no pictures, I forgot my camera.
After Saturday's epic soaring along the convergence, I decided to come back out for round two. Near the end of the XC season it is hard to ignore a good day of soaring and do something productive like clean the garage.
Making the decision to fly fairly late, I was not at the airport early enough. Arriving a bit after 11am, I found Andy already staged to take off and a few wispy cu starting to mark the convergence which was much farther east than Saturday.
Andy launched just after 11am and wasn't seen back at the airport for 3+ hours. We saw him a few miles away at about 7k as we were climbing out, he was working his way back up to the 12k high he'd hit earlier.
I think Erin Parsons was out for an early morning flight. Harold and Peter had flown out in the 140 for the morning.
After Peter towed Andy aloft, Harold took rancher/farmer Doug up for a glider flight in Orange Crush. I think they took a 3k tow up over Doug's ranch on the east end of Avenal. Doug has been doing a ton of work at the airport these last few weeks. He's run a water line all the way along the fenceline on the SE end of the airport. In addition, he's put in a 1.5" line from the street all the way to the main runway and then along 600+ feet of runway. With this line, we are going to be able to setup sprinklers to water the main runway down and hopefully combat the dust situation.
I think Doug and Harold had a good time with Doug getting an aerial view of his property and the airport. His wife is going to come out for a glider ride as well, but couldn't make it on the 16th.
After his flight with Doug, Harold towed up Peter in Orange Crush and Peter had a nice flight in the early conditions of the day. I watched him climb out from the IP in a nice thermal. Meanwhile Harold was getting instruction on the use of the tractor and the 10ft box scraper. The runway is now in beautiful shape with tumbleweeds cleared and ground squirrel holes filled. As always, treat the 300ft west of the main runway as Emergency use. Despite it's excellent shape, the squirrels dig furiously and you never know when they may open up a hole that could damage a glider.
Due to south winds, Richard and I had to stage at the north end of the runway. This delayed our launch a bit, but thankfully it had a little bit of a crosswind component and the dust on takeoff wasn't quite as bad as Saturday.
With Southerly winds, we towed to Tar Peak and picked up a thermal out of the canyon on the backside of the peak. That got us up enough to work a little deeper towards Black. Andy was over 7k near Black and climbing under a cloud. We hooked up into a decent thermal at 4k and took that to over 10k.
Using that climb we connect up with Ramy (TG) and headed south trying to catch Darren (U2) on the line of popping CU. Heading south we only stopped to thermal 3 times. Once at the burn, once near Twisselman North and once at the solar plant in CA Valley. These were all strong thermals that made stopping seem worthwhile. TG and ER were ballasted up with water and running 15knots faster than we could in between thermals. We opted to fly a bit slower and thermal less.
The thermal at California Valley was comical. Richard was bombing along at 80knots or so and hit some lift. He slows a bit, it gets stronger. He slows a bit more it's pegging the vario. We weren't too high at that point relative to where we had been. 9k or so. After many seconds of 10 knots and him not turning into it I said "we should take this" and rolled the plane into a 45 left bank and reset the trim pretty much out of habit.
I just wanted him to take the thermal and didn't call out "My Plane" or anything. He must have decided that I wanted to fly and just relaxed.
So we bob around the thermal in a nicely coordinated turn about 2 circles. I was wishing he had a bit better speed control as we were oscillating between 45-60, but averaging 10 knots. After about 1500ft and 4+ turns he was really getting slow, maybe 40 knots at one point and I said something about trying to keep it about 50 knots all the way around.
From the back seat: "What? I thought you were flying?"
At which time I did say "My plane!" and we had a good yet embarrassing laugh.
Two morals to the story:
1) Positive exchange of controls
2) A well trimmed Duo will apparently thermal as well on its own as with someone at the controls.
After the Duo climbed out for us, we pressed on from 11k. We dolphin flew from CA Valley catching up to TG and ER at Caliente Peak. We continued without a turn all the way south of New Cuyama, east of Ojai and out to I5 in between Gorman and Pyramid Lake. We turned and flew all the way back to the south end of CA valley before stopping for a good climb. That was our last climb of the day. We flew 180 miles from there up to near Hernandez reservoir and back to Avenal without taking another circle.
During that long glide, we caught up about 25 of 30 miles on the Hollister crew. The lack of circles kept our average speed very high at around 100mph for that long run.
At the end of the day, we'd flown 572km at an average speed of almost 132kph. That's a little over 71knots. It was the fastest OLC flight in the world for 9/16. Not too bad for an unballasted glider out little ole Avenal.