Alex and I were on the Island this weekend to attend a wedding, so no Lumby for us. But we brought the gliders in case the flying was good in Victoria. Met up with Bruce McGuigan who drove us to Malahat this morning.
Picked up the key to the gate and up the mountain we went. You park and then it's about a 15 minute walk to the launch. It is essentially east-facing so you want to be there early...today you also had to be there early since the LZ is a beach on Saanich Inlet that disappears with high tide (which was scheduled for 2:30pm). Launch is about 1800', and you have to call up the Victoria airport tower to open the airspace up (you are looking right at the Victoria Airport from across the Inlet and can see planes landing and taking off from launch.)
Launch itself is a hang gliding ramp on the edge of a cliff...paragliders lay out on the rocks behind the ramp and launch off the ramp, no mis-steps are allowed! Oh yeah, there's power lines behind the ramp too, leading up the radio tower at the peak (where the best lift is, incidentally).
It was blowing in quite nicely so we all got ready. Alex launched first and went straight up, then it was my turn. A few duffs while I got the kinks out (my first time flying since my shoulder injury) and then I was in the air too.
There's actually not a lot of places to go at Malahat, if you want to stay legal. Due to the proximity of the Victoria Airport, you aren't allowed more than 2500' ASL (even after opening up the airspace), and the mountain is rather isolated so you have to leave the obvious lift if you want to stray. After playing around the launch for a bit I got high enough to stray south, but didn't really find anything worth my while. So after a couple of hours I got to my highest of around 2500' and then headed out to land.
Bruce and Alex and some local hang gliders (Les Sainsbury et al) had already landed and the beach was getting smaller by the minute. About 1 hour after we landed the beach was totally gone under water.
Back to Victoria and to Dallas Road, where Jayson Biggins was there with a bunch of students kiting. The wind was just coming on so we timed it right! Down low it was a bit rough and windy, but the higher you got the smoother it got.
After a while of doing passes back and forth, got high enough to skip over Findlayson Park. This section has no LZ's at the bottom besides the ocean, so you only would want to be there if the wind is obviously strong and consistent. At the far end are some apartment buildings and a pond that mark the end of the mostly-usable lift at Holland Park, and that's where we were all turning around.
Back at launch, Bruce had landed to go get pizza for the rest of us; he was in downtown Victoria doing this and said he could see us flying from the downtown core (he's never seen that before, apparently).
Landed and Bruce was there with pizza to eat on the launch while watching the other pilots fly, land, goof around, etc etc. It was very cool to be flying over apartments and looking at the Parliament buildings from the air, looking down and overtaking cars on the roads, and watching the waves crash on the rocks below. It was pretty special, compared to the mountain flying I usually do.
When we left about 8pm, it was still flyable and Ian Mitchell had just shown up to fly. Must be nice to have a flying site so close to home!
Back to the mainland tomorrow morning and hopefully fly the Fraser Valley in the afternoon.