Visibility: 10 + Miles
Wind: S 5 at the start, NE 10 at finish
Altitudes: 10 K
Time Aloft: 2.5 hours
Max Lift: 8 kt
Temperature: Didn't note
Comment: Glider - SGS 1-35
Tow pilot: Andrew Oullet
I spent the night of 26 July creating two tasks in the Magellan navigation system; one south to Orchard Peak, back to 41/33 then Avenal; the other north to Darcy, New Coalinga, Hale, then back to Avenal. I would decide which one to fly at the field.
I had always wanted to try the Orchard – 41/33 route so I turned on the Magellan and prepared for the tow. I checked the weather, packed food and water, took another look at the sky and I was ready to go.
All of this pre-planning was of little help during the first flight when I put the 1-35 in some pretty dead air off tow to the south of town and found myself back in line 24 minutes later!
Before the next launch I observed good air to the north of the field and heard Morgan Hall in GD calling altitude and climb rates. I still wanted to go to the south. Off tow at about 3,000 feet I was able to climb at a good rate. I had programmed the Magellan to wake up with the Orchard Peak – 41/33 – Avenal task loaded so I headed south. Morgan had stated that he was headed that way and I could always turn north if there was no lift. Half way to the first ridge I realized that the unit was taking me in a different direction so I quickly re-set the waypoint and kept heading to Orchard Peak.
The lift was strong when found and the sink was predictable on either side. I was able to climb using dolphin and circling techniques. I kept in touch with GD, noting that he was always 1,000 - 2,000 feet above me and much farther out! It was a beautiful day; it was easy to stay high and make good time.
After rounding Orchard Peak and 41/33, I decided to attach the north task to the day and headed toward Black Mountain, finding lift and seeing small clouds coming and going ahead. I was able cover some distance before circling in a couple of thermals. Looking to the north and west it was easy to see the clouds marking the convergence; they went in that direction as far as I could see.
I kept running north-west until I was near Center Mountain. At about 7,000 feet I found another thermal and took it to 10,200. I checked the Magellan and found the battery had given its all; the screen was blank. Still, 10,200 is 10,200, so I ran straight to New Coalinga, turned right and then straight to Avenal.
I arrived with altitude to spare so I practiced flying with gear and flaps until it was time to do it for real. The flight lasted about 2.5 hours.
To view the OLC link of the flight, click this.
In the end, I was able to enjoy some outstanding soaring conditions and see both landmarks slide under the nose in one flight. Lesson learned? – practice more with the Magellan on the ground and get a better power source!