Sunday, April 25, 2021

Visibility:        25 miles into the San Joaquin Valley, 100 miles to south and west.
Wind:              SE 5-10 on ground, SW30 @ 9,000.
Time Aloft:
Max Lift:        8 knots.
Temperature:  Nice on the ground, freezing level about 9,000.'
Tow pilot:       Kyle Detke

I checked Bart's RASP Friday evening.  Looked good, better than I had expected with the incoming storm tracking so far inland.  Still looked good Saturday morning.  As Saturday morning progressed, though, I was pretty sure the cloud layer was going to suppress the low level thermal action.

While the low level lift was suppressed mid morning and early afternoon, by mid afternoon the sun was able to give enough energy that lift could be found.  In spots.


Figured the the overcast would NOT kill the boundary layer lift, as long as the winds stayed close to the predictions.  Happily, BL seemed to be working as advertised.


As an interest side note, there was wave action in the forecast, up high, but not down lower

Sure enough, there was a nice long "lennie" where the forecast shows, but it looked to be around 20,000'.  The forecasts at the lower altitudes were showing no help to get there though, and it just remained an unobtainable sight to behold.

Nevertheless, I did hear Ethan report that he was in that area, finding good lift.

*      *      *      *      *      *

Early in the afternoon, there were several flights where it almost seemed like the glider was in competition with the towplane to see which would land first.  But the sun continued to fight the overcast, and in spots the sun would dominate.  Very few spots!  On the ground we could see frequent dust devils, very close to where the RASP had forecast the boundary layer, but they were mostly short lived and rarely went more than a couple of hundred feet up.  At least there's hope!

On to my flight:

Martin had flown the 1-26 a bit earlier, and reported that it was a rough tow, and lift was very erratic and sparse.  Karl had already landed and was waiting at Coalinga for an aero-retrieve.  Made sure to get a Tost weak link into the towplane so that Kyle could head straight to Coalinga after I released.  Heard Zach report a good thermal north of the gliderport, which was right on the way to Coalinga, so that's where Kyle takes me.

Released when I thought I had found that good thermal that Zach reported. Didn't pay attention to the altitude--I was in good lift and not that far from the gliderport.  However, I wasn't able to do much more than just maintain altitude.  Would have had an easy glide back to the gliderport, even against the wind, so went searching for something better.  Zach and I worked a thermal for a bit--sure was nice to have a good working radio so that I could confirm he still had me in his his sight when he was 6 o-clock low!  Earned some altitude, then not much more...time to try somewhere else.  Found more sink, now its time to quit the search head back to the gliderport.  Headed for a long straight-in to runway 12, at one point thinking I may come up short.  About two miles still to go, stumbled into lift and worked it.  Got up high enough that I could go exploring, and found more lift.  Heard on the radio, "the tree with a hundred cows around it" was strong, so I headed to it.  About a half mile still to go I hear that it went bust, so let's look for something else.  Headed for the solar farm and the area to the south of it, and maybe even get to the prison, which had been generating the biggest dust devils of the day.

A couple of miles west of the Prison I found some lift and got up to about 4700.'  Julie had reported that north of Tar Peak was working pretty good, so as long as I would turn to the gliderport if I experienced prodigious sink, I should be good to give it a try.  Tar worked like she had said, and then I continued along the ridge to the west.  

The ridge didn't work that well, so turned towards the Avenal Valley, closer to the CUs.  The CUs seemed too close to the ridge line, still on the down-slope, to be wave, and definitely too far to be cap clouds.  Probably convergence.  No matter, they worked!  Got under the upwind side of one, and was able to climb to where a brick could almost make it back to the gliderport.  After I was feeling comfortable about having enough altitude to take care of any amount of sink I might find, I headed west towards 'awesomer' clouds.  

At one point, about 2000 feet below the clouds, I noticed that I was "crabbing" in relation to the clouds.  I've seen this plenty of times in relation to the ground, but this was the first time I had ever seen it in relation to clouds not too far above.  I was headed west, I knew the wind was out of the SSW, but my target cloud had to be sighted about 15° to my left?!  Opposite of what I had always seen in relation to crabbing over the ground.  Accepted it, but didn't process why until on the ground--the clouds were in faster moving wind than I was.

Worked the upwind edge of several clouds, where the bases were mostly around 8300.'  Worked my way to the west edge of the short cloud street, and was able to ride upwind of the cloud to 8600' at one point, then yanked the stick back just to have the satisfaction of gaining another 100', for my short-lived max of 8700' MSL.

Headed south away from the cloud, towards Black, and found some of that prodigious sink, losing 1000' in what seemed like a minute.  No worries, though, was still at 7500' and only 5-7 miles from the gliderport.  Having fun, had plenty of altitude, so went looking for more lift.  Went to the southwest face of Tar, and it was working good.  Got a call from Martin that he and Julie were headed to the Burrito Barn, so reluctantly decided to head down.  But lift was great.  At 70 MPH the 1-26 was still climbing.  Nosed it over briefly to 90 MPH and was only losing about 100 feet per minute.  This is hard to pass up...burrito can wait!

Finally work my way down to landing at 6:09 PM  Never got further than Black from the gliderport, but it was a fun flight!

I want to thank Martin for getting the radio in the 1-26 working great!  Likely would not have had as long of a flight without hearing from others what was working.  Later in the flight I was able to give back to others some good information, and it was good to see them take advantage of it.  Great work, Martin!

Here is evidence of wave just a few miles north of the airfield - Julie

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Beautiful Spring Day with Lots of Action at Avenal

Wind: Up to 15kts next to the convergence line
Altitudes:13,000 ZY and 5H North of Santa Paula
Time Aloft: 6 hours ZY
Max Lift: 8kts+
Temperature: 80F
Comment: Beautiful spring day with lots of action at Avenal
Tow pilot: Chris Banys, Logan Stevens, Kyle Hyde

View uploaded flights HERE 

Saturday's forecast delivered as promised, with marked lift, ripping convergence and great local thermals well into the afternoon. It was great to see so many members adding their names to the schedule throughout the week and we ended up with our most active day this season. ZY, CZ, 5H, XD, Z5,GD, and IB all were able to ride the convergence and cumulatively fly 2,391 km!

A HUGE thanks to all three who towed, Quinn who took on the task of a much needed clean up of our restrooms, Kyle H and Emmi who spent the morning reclaimed 12R from the Squirrels, and Jim, Peter, and Martin who worked on Casper and Big Bird this week to keep our fleet airborne. The club's health is strong moving into the 2021 season and much of that strength is attributed to individual members taking on necessary tasks and responsibilities to ensure sustainable operations at CCSA. 

Channel Islands visible from east of IZA

Looking South into Simi Valley

View of AG and Pismo

XC Flight traces from 4/17

Friday, April 16, 2021

Longest Out-and-Return to the North?

Visibility: 40 miles in haze   
Wind: Generally north/northwesterly flow less than 15kts at all altitudes
Altitudes: 6-8k typical.  9-10k in exceptional convergence areas
Time Aloft: 6hrs
Max Lift: 11kts
Temperature: Comfortable
Comment: Excellent spring convergence day
Tow pilot: Logan

Thanks to Logan for coming out and providing tows mid-week.  Apologies to all of our members that can't take a day off in the middle of the week when the forecast doesn't align with a weekend.

Unfortunately I didn't take too many pictures as conditions were very hazy and did not make for great photo opportunities..

There were five of us that could fly gliders, with Logan in the towplane.  Zach, Eric, Ethan, Philip Lee (Bay area pilot) and myself.  Zach launched first with a partial load of water.  Then Philip and I was third off at about 12:30pm in XD. For fun and challenge, as well as to get some experience using tasks in the LX9000, I declared a 530km out and return from Tar Peak to Mt. Diablo and back to Tar Peak.

Spotty cu were forming in the mountains by 11:30 and were more defined by 12 when Zach launched.  I think the three of us all took a tow to Tar, releasing right around 3000.  The lift was on the backside of Tar, so it was worth a few extra minutes on tow to get across the ridgeline and established in a climb.  

While Zach and Philip had reported 5kt climbs, I found 2-3 initially but stuck with that until about 4000 when I could push a little deeper comfortably and pick up a stronger climb.  Zach and Philip were well ahead of me by then.  Zach was already 20+ miles NW and Philip about 10-15 out from Avenal by the time I was getting up closer to the 5000ft cloudbase.

It was a classic convergence day.  The line was on top of the ridges and relatively well marked with cu every 4-5 miles.  In between the cu the line was energized with good air, netto positive much of the time and let me proceed without too much need to circle.  A few turns up by Pine Canyon in preparation for crossing over to the ridgline leading southeast from Center.  By now the clouds were well defined and the line was clear with cloudbase varying from 5000-7000ft with the eastern side of the line having the higher base cu.  

I caught up with Philip around EL4 where we had a nice climb to over 7000 before beginning our run up towards Panoche which was working well and only when nature threw a very strong climb at me on the south side of Panoche did I stop for a few circles.  

Nearing the southern shores of San Luis Reservoir there were two paths to the north.  One up the San Antonio valley that appeared to have relatively low bases over generally higher terrain with only one landout (hellish retrieve) option.  And similar bases to the north out closer to I5.  I chose the more conservative and indirect route.  That cost me some time as it wasn't as organized as it looked and it took some effort to get connected back up towards Mt. Oso.  But north of Mt. Oso the cloudbase rose to 9000 and a good looking line connected all the way to Diablo 40nm to the NW.  It seemed like a rare opportunity to bag Diablo so I pushed on, knowing that it would be very late when I turned.

Nearing Diablo the direct line had clouds, but they weren't well connected to the ground and the windmills and lakes showed strong surface winds.  A good line of cu was 5-10miles north of my line, but thankfully I found a few decent climbs that got me to my turnpoint at 3:45.   It took 3:15 from my launch to make it the 143nm to Diablo.  I felt it was possible to get to within final glide before the day shut off completely.  Would I be right?

The convergence was well marked still, but spotty.  Larger gaps required more climbs and less continuous runs, but deep in the San Antonio valley was a monster convergence zone with a strong climb to about 10500 and 3-4k above the cloudbase to the east.  That forced me to work may way around the western edge of that airmass, but gave me the altitude to cut across a completely washed out (as expected) Pacheco Pass.  I downshifted hard and just stretched my glide with a slight tailwind component.  I had Mercy Hot Springs made and a nice cloud line started near there if I could get there high enough.  

I was rewarded with a 6kt thermal which got me high enough to reach Harris Ranch if that became necessary.  The line went east to the Panoche Hills, then south across Idrea towards EL4.  A strong looking line, even at nearly 6pm started between EL5 and Coalinga and after an unsuccessful circle in 1kt lift I pushed farther east to find a 4kt climb which gave me final glide to finish the task back at Tar peak.

I finished the task at about 4500 and just followed the clouds for a bit down past highway 41, passing up a 10kt thermal after 6pm.  I suspect it was strong enough that I could have made it down to Wonderful and back before sunset, but I was cold, stiff and tired with the rest of the crew waiting for me on the ground, so I dove back to Avenal at 115kts landing on 08 and rolling out to my trailer at about 6:30pm