King Mountain August 17

Quote of the day: "We flew the shit out of King today!"
-Nate Scales

King Mountain launch in the smoke.
Well as the title reads we went to King Mountain today.  Yesterday a brand new forest fire started up a couple ridges west of Baldy launch in Sun Valley, so the fire department asked us to voluntarily stay away from SV (they didn't want to bother with an official TFR) so they could concentrate on getting it out in time for the comp.  Farmer, Nate, and Nick rallied the troops and soon we had a posse of 25 pilots headed to King Mountain, just north of Arco, which is a big hang gliding comp site.

The smoke was just as bad there but no fires to worry about, and the lift was plentiful despite the smoke!  I opted to stay below 14,000' since I hadn't yet filled up my 02 tank and didn't want to become too hypoxic, but those flying with 02 went to 17,000'.  I found the lift rather punchy and disorganized, which may have been partly due to the smoke or partly due to the winds aloft (windy and NW up high but south in the valley).  Visibility was horrible and most of my flight I couldn't see the valley bottom or the road I knew was down there "somewhere".  Finding the correct places to climb out to cross the gaps was tough since you couldn't see more than a few km's in any direction, so you really couldn't plan your route ahead...the gaps can by "sucky" so it's important to cross in front of them, not directly overhead, or go deep.  With the low visibility it was easy to inadvertently find yourself in the wrong spot and have to re-orient yourself or try again.  IFR flying!

I flew north to Mackay and then started to experience an "in flight pee emergency" (forgot my diaper, duh!) which got harder and harder to ignore, so I eventually flew out to land and blessed relief :)  Most pilots turned around at Mt. Borah or just short and then back for the beers waiting in the retrieve van.  A really nice day, flying a new site, and a chance to catch up with friends before the comp starts.  Too bad the smoke cut the visibility down so much, otherwise the scenery would have been stunning and all my photos wouldn't be of smoke with faint mountains in the background :)

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