Wind: light out of the north
Time Aloft: 6.5hrs
Max Lift: 9kts
Comment: Awesome midweek flying day
Tow pilot: Alex
Alex agreed to come out tow for us on this Wednesday. With high bases and nice weather predicted Aleks, Ethan, Ken, and myself (Wyll) came out to fly. Here is a bit about the day from my perspective.
This was probably one of my all-time favorite flights and my
best by far flying out of Avenal.
Launched around 11:30 with good cu already building over Black and a few wisps around the airport. Alex towed me about halfway out to Tar Peak and I got off in decent lift. It worked well with a decent climb rate but cut off around 3300ft. I made one attempt to reach the clouds over the hills but was met with lots of sink on the way and high tailed it back toward Avenal. I then climbed back up in the same spot but held on to the thermal a little higher and was able to connect with the clouds in the mountains and they were booming.
|Looking south towards Soda Lake
I then met up with TG and continued on towards the California Valley. Once on the correct line, the run south was again uneventful staying above 6000ft and only stopping for climbs around 5kts or better.Cloud base was about 6500ft when I got my first good climb and rose throughout the day to about 8000ft. I cruised under the well-marked convergence from Black around the horn to EL4. At EL4 with cloud base still, only about 6500ft I couldn’t go any further north without committing to New Idria as a landout so I turned around. This also worked out because about this time the Hollister guys were just getting their first climbs at EL1 and so I figured I would get a head start on all the modern glass that was going to be chasing me down in my 50-year-old Libelle.
|Looking North from Cholame
|Looking south from my turn around point
Just north of Caliente Mountain, the line turned from fully developed cu to wispies. TG reported they were working but I decided not to push my luck and turned around. The run back north was again uneventful and I spent a decent bit of it flying with HV and 1KS.
|Climbing with HV and 1KS
|Heading North over Parkfield
I continued north past Avenal with my goal of getting to EL4 again before turning around. As I got close to EL4 a few climbs didn’t work and I started to get worried.
|8kts on the averager
Getting towards the edge of glide to New Coalinga I started heading east. I realize now that I was probably too far east of the convergence line and flying under dead clouds. I kept getting lower and started going into survival soaring mode, taking anything that felt like a thermal just trying to make it back to Avenal. About this time my glider battery also took a dump (I had been flying for about 6 hours) so I turned everything off but the Vario and switched to a handheld radio. After two broken climbs in the hills that didn’t work out, I figured I was destined to land at New Coalinga, then about 2 miles from the edge of the town of Coalinga I hit my 2knot savior.
|This 2kt climb just got me home
I climbed as high as it would go which was about 50ft above a Macready 4 glide back to Avenal and set off. Not ideal but as long as I hit some good air I could make it and worst case I could turn around and go back to New Coalinga. Luckily I hit good air and was able to float my way back. I closed off my trace and headed into land touching down right around 6:05. Big thanks to Alex Caldwell for towing today and Ethan Ronat for helping me put WE away.
Here is a link to my OLC trace to see more