Saturday, July 31, 2010

Canadian Nationals Golden July 31

We were thinking it would be another OD day, but the numerous forest fires in the Chilcotin have finally made themselves known...smoke came in from the west and shut things down enough to keep the t-storms at bay.

It was so smoky that it wasn't very sunny...almost shady at times.  We could see cu's above the smoke though, so we were hoping to be able to fly above the smoke eventually.  So we set a task down south about 20km, back to Moberly, and then the Nicholson LZ.

But none of the wind techs were going up, and it seemed pretty stable, so we curbed the task a bit, getting rid of the Moberly leg and shortening the task by about 1/2.  When the wind techs seemed to be staying up we started launching.

I was able to get over to where some pilots were getting up, and eventually got high enough to get some nice climbs under the cu over Mt. 7.  The smoke was very think however...it was difficult to see the ground, and difficult to see around you.  It was almost IFR flying; I had to constantly use my instruments to double-check my heading.  And it didn't seem to be getting thinner the higher you went.  In fact I got to 3900m at one point and was still in the smoke.

Getting the south TP was pretty easy actually, so long as you stayed high.  Those that got low got flushed in the north wind and ended up landing pretty soon I think.  After tagging the TP I caught up with Will who was struggling down low, and together we were able to climb to cloudbase and start the slog back to Mt. 7.

More north winds on the final Pagliaro-Mt. 7 crossing, and I wasn't willing to dive into the washing machine that is Willi's knob in strong north winds.  I was pretty sure I didn't have the altitude to tag the last TP just across the valley past the LZ, and landed about 1km short of goal.  Had I stuck it out in the washing machine I probably could have climbed high enough in the rotor to make that extra 1km; Will and Xavier opted for this and got high enough for the crossing and tagging; oh well!

In the end there were 3 people in goal (Will, Robert, and Xavier); Brett, Chris, and myself just short of goal by about 1km.  Lots of people made only minimum distance so the day was only worth about 550 points for the winner.  Results can be found here (scroll to page 2).

The smoke is making it dark sooner; it's only after 10pm and already it's dark when in previous days it's been light until 11pm.  We'll see what this smoke does for tomorrow's final task.  Pics of the smoke are here.

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