Friday, September 12, 2008

Owen's Valley

XC Skies for Thursday was calling for more north winds, but lighter than yesterday. More pilots had showed up by today, so we had enough trucks to take everyone to a higher launch. We went to Gunter on the White’s side of the range, which is going to be the main launch for the comp. This launch is at 2500m, but is smaller than Flynn’s size-wise, with only room for 2-3 gliders at a time on the nice part of launch (you can actually lay out and launch anywhere and not just the gravel part, but there is sage elsewhere, which is highly inconvenient for comp lines).

I was feeling much better today so was raring to fly (good thing we showed up early, to give time to acclimate to the altitudes here). Initially the cycles were cross from the north, but they eventually straightening out as the afternoon went on. Launched and flew out towards the spines, as it is a long glide out, and with the north winds it looked like the flats were working just as well as the mountains.

I eventually got to 3400m and found myself with Cherie out front. We ended up flying together for most of the flight, flying out front and avoiding the mountains behind us. Got low a few times, but always managed to climb back out and avoid landing in an inconvenient spot.

Finally at Black Mountain, at the north side of Westguard Pass, we parted ways, as I opted to get high on Black, while Cherie stayed low. Went on glide for Big Pine via the Radio Observatory and was gliding over the highway for the last part of the flight, finding plenty of lift to continue on if I wanted to. Radioed that I was going to land in Big Pine, and chose a ball diamond at the south end of town to land in since it was nice green grass. But getting closer I could see that it was enclosed by a 12’ high fence, with all the gates closed, and I didn’t want to land inside and discover the gates were all locked! So I opted to land just outside the diamond, next to the highway in a sage field. 40km flight.

Luckily a pilot was driving by (coming in from Santa Barbara) and stopped to give me a ride back to my car at the Gunter LZ. Alex landed a few km’s south of me and was back in Bishop by the time I was back with the car. Met up with Brett Hazlett who had just rolled into town, and back to the Hot Springs for another dip in the pools.

There are something like 40 pilots in town already, and 90 are signed up for the comp. Jim Orava and Ryan Letchford are slated to show up sometime today or tomorrow, so there will be something like 8 Canadians either free-flying or in the actual comp.

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