Monday, August 25, 2008

Grouse Mountain

Looked good in the city and was thinking it might be a bit too OD'd for the Fraser Valley so headed to Grouse. Hiked up, arrived around 3:45pm and watched the towering cu's over Vancouver Island, and inland too. It was very cool to watch the cells moving over Georgia Straight and disappear up Howe Sound, with virga coming out of them. Some tandems in the air and a solo glider too, so after watching the weather a bit I launched around 4:30pm.

A bit strong and slow to get away from the mountain initially, but there was gobs of lift way out front so no issues staying high. The forecast had said 2C at 6000', so I had brought my winter flying clothes out and was toasty warm while others were having to land since they were cold.

Cloudbase was somewhere around 1600m I guess, I only went to 1500m since the drift of all the thermals was quite severe and I didn't want to be pushed back into the mountains. Once over the city the wind was quite strong and I had 5-10km/h ground speeds at trim from due west (a bit weird, usually at Grouse it manifests as more a south wind due to the Capilano Valley). Was able to maintain 1500m all the way to the LZ and it was hard to get down, and the slower gliders looked like they were going backwards at times. Probably the windiest I've ever flown Grouse; I heard it was similar windy conditions in the Fraser Valley.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bridal Falls

When we arrived at launch there were already some students in the air, and some staying up. I was flying Alex's Addict2 for a change of pace and launched pretty much right away. Up and away to the clouds above, just below Archibald.

We had decided on a "task" for the day: fly to Ludwig, then to Elk, then top-land Upper Bridal. So after getting to cloudbase I headed east. Dennis, Robin, Martin, and Rob were right behind me.

Stopped a couple times to top up but flew to Ludwig without a lot of faffing around. There was a helicopter doing pickups between the huts below the Butterfly and the hydro plant at the base of the mountain, but low around 4-500m or so, so I didn't worry too much about him (Rob, on the other hand, said they were in his way!).

Back to the Lakes and now only Dennis and myself, the others were still at the Butterfly. Topped up at lower launch (saw a glider in the bushes next to the stump, either an aborted launch or a botched top-landing, not sure which) and straight-lined it to Gloria, where I had to sniff around a bit for a thermal to get me high enough for the crossing and back in case I didn't get lift over at Elk.

The clouds were dissipating and it was starting to stable out. It got so stable that on the way back from Elk, couldn't get high enough to top-land Upper launch, despite me trying for about 30 minutes at the Saddle. At this point it was around 6pm and I could only get 1350m or so, not quite enough. So headed out to land after watching the hoopla at launch with all the top-landers duking it out with the late-launchers. Make sure to clear your turns, people!

40 km OR, 3:36 airtime, max altitude 1572m (at the Lakes).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

King Eddy

Spent part of yesterday in Mansfield with Martin and Mia, as Mia was trying for the 100 km OR record. Then north to Vernon to test-fly a harness.

Very hot and stable...initially there were a few clouds but they dried up as the afternoon went on. Finally went up Baldy mountain (above King Eddy) for a late afternoon flight.

Glenn had a tandem so I launched first to test the air and see if it was stay-up-able. Very light thermals but not much. Stayed in the one I found to 2000m, and then headed towards Lumby for a little XC.

A couple of thermals later it was getting late, the sun was setting, so glided out towards Lumby and landed near Satellite hill. 21 km open distance. Certainly not Chelan distances, but nice to land in the middle of civilization for once and not be worried about eventually getting picked up.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Chelan

Well the comp is over, but about 40 pilots stayed around to free-fly today. Skies were looking epic again and the winds were light (from the north this time).

Up on launch it was actually leeside on Between the Rocks, but get-offable. Big dust-devils ripped through on a regular basis; I can't remember a day when we've had to jump on our gliders so many times when a big one came through. Across the flats were big ones too...I took a photo of a monster one that went up to cloudbase, just past the rim, and we could see this from the Butte. Not the kind of day when you want to be low!

While I was in the launch lineup a pilot threw her reserve at cloudbase after getting a cravatte that was beyond her skill level to fix. Cloudbase at the time was about 3000m, so she had a long ride down, enough time to completely disable her glider, ball it in her lap, and a bunch of people to run down to greet her as she came in on the slope between Ants and Between the Rocks. She was unhurt.

Launched after that hoopla was taken care of and beamed to cloudbase too. Prior to launching I had this grand plan to do some big XC task, but once in the air I realized I'd rather do a small one, not too strenuous, that got me back to the LZ, since I was still tired and sore from yesterday's flight. I think many other people had the same idea as I saw many stick around "locally" (a relative term when flying Chelan).

Crossed over to the rim and got my low save just past the powerlines (maybe 300') and then up to cloudbase. Stayed pretty much there as I few SE to half-way between Douglas and Farmer, turned north and then angled my way back to the rim under a nice cloudstreet. Chris Amonson was with me for most of the flight. Back to the rim and crossed back to the Butte where I got up again, then back over to the rim to do a leisurely fly around the canyons until finally landing in the LZ. 52 km flat triangle and practically no wind, so today was definitely a triangle day.

Tracklog is at http://www.xcontest.org/world/en/pilots/detail:nicolemclearn

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Chelan


The final day of the comp and the weather was looking epic: sunny, light winds, and cloudbase predicted around 10,000’. So the task committee came up with an ambitious route: a 121 km triangle from the Butte, to Farmer in the SE, North to Leahy, and back west to goal in the Chelan Falls Park LZ.

A nice cloud was already forming above the Butte and the wind dummies were all under it so I launched right away. However the start wasn’t for another hour or so, so we all had to wait for the 12:40pm entry start at the LZ, hanging out at cloudbase and getting cold. Of course the cloud fizzled before the start so we were all lower than possible when the start came. Not really an issue as we crossed over to the rim no problem and then started hunting for thermals past the powerlines.

Stayed in a small gaggle of 4-5 gliders for most of the flight, changing pilots as some dropped out, and others joined in. Once I got established under the clouds I vowed to stay there and avoid all the hassles of getting low. Cloudbase started at 2700m over the Butte, and by the end of the day had risen to 3400m (11,000’, higher than predicted).

I did get low a couple of times: just before tagging Leahy there was a blue hole over it, and I didn’t want to attempt the tagging without getting super-high first since the return to the safety of the clouds was going to be pushing upwind. Finally went for it, tagged it, and back to the clouds, where the convergence was setting up (the west wind off Lake Chelan meeting the south winds up the Columbia River). Here I got my highest climb to 3461m (11,400’) and flew under the convergence all the way to the edge of the Rim.

My glide calculator was saying I had goal on a 5:1 glide, but the instrument doesn’t take into account the fact that there is an obstacle in the way (the rim). Many pilots, seeing they had goal on glide, went for it, and ended up landing on the rim since they couldn’t get over the last piece of vertical elevation. I managed to squeak around the last corner at about 30’ off the ground at McNeil Canyon, and then was slaloming between trees on the other side, until I got around the corner fully and then had free air all around me to reach the LZ and goal after 6:30 hours of flying.

According to xContest it is a 104 km FAI triangle, and a possible world record(s) for the women’s class (since the current triangle distance record is 93 km, and there is no speed record set yet for the 100 km triangle). Will have to check into the rules about claiming it since it was during an FAI-sanctioned comp. (I think during a comp, the meet director can act as an FAI observer and sign off the paperwork.)

About 45 pilots made goal despite it being such a huge-distance task. There were also a couple of pilots who made goal, but hadn’t gotten a previous TP, so didn’t get credit for their flight. Lots of happy pilots in the LZ, personal bests, and stories to tell of low saves.

Martin and Mia were out towing that day, I’m sure Martin will post here about Mia’s epic flight. Another HG pilot flew to Reardon/Spokane area (160 km), and a PG wind dummy decided to fly open distance to Davenport after the comp’s start opened (135 km).

With this flight I managed to claw my way back to 3rd spot in the women’s category, enough for the podium. Awards were ipods! I should mention a big thank-you to Cherie Silvera, who had already won an ipod (for being 3rd in the serial class) and gave me her 2nd place ipod in the women’s class, since there was no award for 3rd place. Cherie, you’re awesome!

Final results can be found at http://www.chelanxcopen.com/
Pics are at http://mclearn.ca/gallery/
My tracklog is at http://www.xcontest.org/world/en/flights/daily-score-pg/?filter%5Bdate%5D=2008-08-02

Congrats to Keith for being the top Canadian pilot there, coming in 10th overall! I think we all had a great time flying here, and some of us are staying around to free fly, since the epic weather is predicted to continue for a couple days yet.