Sunday, October 11, 2015

Woodside October 11

The forecast was calling for a short window between systems so we took a chance and went out to Woodside, arriving on launch just before noon.  It was sunny with nice cu's, but we could see that the shade was going to hit within the hour (since we had just driven through it on the way from Vancouver) so we decided to fly right away.

Some of the desperadoes getting ready to launch into the last blue hole of the day.
It looks very black to the west!  
The air was very nice and "fat", with lots of bald eagles out enjoying the sun and light winds.  Cloudbase was around 1000m and some of the thermals were suprisingly strong for early October...2m/s in some places.  We were able to fly around for an hour before the shade hit, at which point things shut down quite quickly.

As I was landing in Riverside another wave of pilots was just arriving and I believe they got extended sled rides.  Later in the afternoon I went back up to drive a vehicle down, and the last wave of pilots was just getting ready to take advantage of a small blue hole that was approaching...behind it was a wall of black that we couldn't see beyond.  We weren't sure if it was rain or not, but the air was certainly "moist" and everything west of Sumas Mountain was obscured.

Final blue hole of the day before it shut down for good.
The window we had at noon seemed to be the best one of the day so we lucked out with the timing.  This time of year the flying is so hit-n-miss!






Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pemberton September 27

Well the days are getting shorter and the sun isn't getting as high in the sky anymore, winter is coming.  One of those rare crisp fall days where it's still thermic enough to fly for several hours, if you are patient enough!

After dropping the boys off on Miller Mountain for their hike up to the new hut and launch, I went to Upper MacKenzie for the afternoon flying.  Yesterday had been quite epic I was told by 5pm and the storms cleared, but today was decidedly stable despite the OK-looking clouds at around 2000m.  It was hard to stay up, let alone at upper launch height, and I spent most of my flight bobbing between lower and upper launches.  It was a good day for practicing my patient scratching technique!

Eventually around 3pm it "turned on" (as much as it does this time of year) and it became much easier to stay up, so more pilots launched.  I don't think anyone launched from lower and everyone had driven to the upper launch.  I don't think anybody got much above 1400m and it was not really XC-able, but you could stay up until the sun got low and it was time to land before the shade hit the LZ.

Nowadays the community centre is a no-go, so it's only the Wray's you can land at now.  Keep an eye out for standing water after all the recent rain (you can see it glinting through the grass) and land near the bridge for the driest land.  You can still pack up on the community property though!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Dad goes tandem at Woodside Aug 24

My Dad has always wanted to go paragliding so I got him a flight today!
Dad is excited to finally go paragliding!
Tandem pilot extraordinaire Al Thielmann took Dad while I did a solo flight alongside.  It was high pressure and prone to getting windy, so we made sure to do the flight while it was still thermic but not yet blown out and unpleasant to fly in.
Al and Dad got the launch perfect.
About 25 minutes and Dad had a fantastic time with Al.  We got above launch quite easily and over to the south knoll before heading out to land.  We landed just as it started to get bumpy as I believe the later tandems and students had to bail on flying.

Happy smiles all around!



Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mt. St. Benedict Aug 23

After yesterday's awesome flying we had even more pilots wanting to fly Benedict today :)  Unfortunately it was a bit more stable and high pressure, but I went out since Danny Virtue (the LZ owner) had invited Al and some of his friends to fly and land at his home during a stuntshow he was putting on for some children.

I didn't launch until quite late as I did some shuttle driving, and it was a bit strong on launch but still doable.  Lots of pilots were in the air and I shortly joined them.  I didn't fly for long since I had had a nice flight the day before, and Danny had asked us to land at his place by a certain time.  However the communications got a bit mixed up since by the time we landed at the appointed time, the kids had all gone home :)  But we were able to put on a show for the remaining stunt folks.

Mr. Virtue's property had lots of bears roaming around...we saw 3 while we were there.  It was fun to watch Danny's horses chase a bear after it wandered too close to them; the herd sent it back into the forest!

http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/1267280

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mt. St. Benedict on a smokey day

Possible new Mt. St. Benedict lower launch.
The forecasts were looking quite good for Mt. St. Benedict so a big group (14 or so) of pilots headed up to fly!

Possible new lower launch.
The road to the new cutblocks has been buffed right up and it's now 2-wheel driveable (high clearance, although 4-wheel drive would be better) to these cutblocks.  Two of them show promise as a lower Mt. St. Benedict launch, which would allow us to fly there sooner in the season (when the upper launch is still snowed-in) and also save on wear-n-tear on trucks driving up.  Some work needs to be done, but when we were there at noon it was already on and it's an easy glide to the Virtue LZ.

Once past the new cutblocks the road is rougher with cross-ditches, but easily driveable all the way to the upper launch.  New black carpet also covers launch to keep the bushes and twig out of your glider, and it's also possible for hang gliders to launch now (Pedro brought his HG up).

New carpet and our first (?) hang glider at upper launch!
We could see smoke from the US forest fires coming up from the south into the Fraser Valley, but we were still in the clear.  We heard reports from Bridal that Woodside looked smoked in, although other reports said Woodside was just fine in the smoke.

Looking north at Stave Lake, Roby Reid, and the Judge.
There was plenty of lift and busting airspace was once again an issue as the climbs were going well beyond 1981m.  Andrew, Peter, and Al went to Blinch Lake and back, while Gary flew to Dewdney and back.  I had an airport pickup later that evening so I didn't want to land out and have a long retrieve (which normally wouldn't be too bad due to the loads of quads etc that were cruising the backroads this weekend) so I stuck to the main valley.

Watching the forest fire smoke approach from the US and the Fraser Valley
The smoke was coming down the valley and shading things out at the Dewdney end so I crossed the valley to the Mission side to play around over there.  Not much lift (I actually wasn't expecting any, given the lack of clouds) but I was able to stay up for a bit and eventually landed at the school while most others landed at the Virtue LZ.

The smoke is starting to obscure the tops of the Sylvester peaks.
I think that was the biggest crowd of pilots we've ever had at Benedict, and possible the first hang glider flight off the upper launch (??).  Up until now the last part was hike-in only, but now that the road is opened up for all 4-wheel drive vehicles we may see some more flying there!


Still clear air to the north!




Saturday, August 15, 2015

Midnight Dome, Dawson City

I'm here in Dawson City to visit some family, and was told there was a flying site right over the town.  There sure is!

The Dome has a fantastic paved road up to the lookout/launch, and space to lay out multiple gliders on a rocky/gravel slope.  Similarly, there is a manicured grass LZ right by the river next to the main street and the tourist parking.  For the right person and the right season, it would be the ideal tandem operation!

The Midnight Dome with Dawson City at the foot.  LZ is the green strip of grass along the river.
Sadly the wind direction while I was there wasn't ideal for this launch...it was strong east wind while the launch takes SE-SW, with a separate NW launch about a 5-minute walk down the slope.  Nevertheless I was able to take off in a crosswind ESE cycle along with a few other pilots visiting from Whitehorse and enjoy the scrubbed thermals over the antennas.

It wasn't a long flight due to the east wind and the nearby OD but the surrounding area is quite beautiful with the convergence of the Yukon and Klondike rivers right at the edge of town.  XC is certainly possible from here and has been done quite a bit.  On the right day (I believe May 18 is the magic day, according to the locals) you can get past 14,000' and fly XC as far as you dare with the limited LZs.

If you are heading up to Dawson City make sure to take your glider!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bridal Falls August 9

Did the Elk-Ludwig run since I hadn't done that in a long time.  The wind was very light and coming from weird directions...at Elk it was east, while at Ludwig it was north!  In between it was light west or east, depending on which spur you were at and your altitude.

I considered top-landing at upper Bridal but it was too lifty and I had to land early for my ride back with Peter.

A rather average August day, not much XC in the FV this time of year, but nice to get out and enjoy the sun and the mountains!

http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/1267276

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Bridal Falls July 18

East wind today, which is always good for high altitude gains at Bridal Falls!

Hard to go XC on a strong east day in the FV, but Bridal works well if you just want to get high and enjoy the view.  Got over Cheam summit quite easily as we were getting to 2600-2700m, and Peter flew over to Lady Peak.  But he didn't make it back and ended up landing at Spoon Lake where he got a ride down with some hikers.  Meanwhile Simon and I were enjoying flying over the summit and waving at the crowd of people on the peak.

Went over to the Butterfly and found not much, but enough to let me get back to Cheam and where the only lift seemed to be.  But the really high lift had died by then and it was more standard flying as the east wind died and the west wind came in.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

More epic flying in Pemberton July 1

Looking west up the Ryan River Valley.
Another light north day and this time we had a gaggle to fly up to Mount Meager, about 60 km up the Pemberton valley.  Because of the north wind, we decided the Miller side was the better side, and flew up past Sugarloaf and the Ryan river valley, Camel's Hump, and further west to Mt. Morrison and Overseer Peak.  I had never been this far on the west side of the valley before, and we were getting to 3000+ m, so we had fantastic views of the Pemberton ice cap as we flew west.

Leaving Overseer Peak, looking down at Capricorn creek and the 2010 landslide.
The north wind was light-ish, and only really noticeable above 2800 m.  Below that it was the typical valley flow (SW) but also light, which meant we could fly in the lee of mountains and it was OK, although the air was spicy enough in general that everyone was staying on their toes.

Crossing to Mt. Meager.  Pebble creek fire in the distance.
When we got to the junction of the Meager and Lilloet rivers, at the 50 km mark and Overseer Mountain, we decided to jump the Meager complex.  Flew directly over Capricorn creek and the site of the 2010 landslide (the scars from where it splashed up the sides of the Capricorn valley are still pretty obvious) and soared up the west side of Meager proper.  There was a constant plume of dust from the slide area (at first I wondered it was leftover Mt. Meager volcanic action like steam!), and I saw a small landslide in progress at one point.  The entire mountain seems to be ready to fall down at any moment: the rock looks really rotten!
Approaching the landslide, looking at Mt. Meager and Plinth Peak.
Amazing views to the west and north, we could see the Lilloet Glacier ~20 km further north and snow-capped mountains as far as the eye could see to the west and the Pacific.  We also saw a new forest fire which had recently started up in Pebble Creek on the east flank of Mt. Athelstan; fire crews were already working on it with helicopters and spotter planes.

Passing over Mt. Meager and soaring the dust plumes from the constant rockslides.
After tagging Plinth peak I decided I wanted to return to Pemberton so jumped over to Spindrift and headed back SE.  Despite the entire east side being in the lee of the north wind, down low it was SW so as long as I stayed below 2800m I had a tailwind.  Every so often I would poke my head above 2800m to double-check the north wind (yep it was still there!), and cloudbase was getting higher and higher.  I pulled out of several climbs at the 3400 m point, just because there wasn't really a need to go any higher!

Looking NW to Lilloet Glacier.  Plinth peak lower right corner.
It was a fantastic flight with awesome views, over 7 hours in the air, and it was fun to have a group to fly with.  I actually had the skies to myself for the run home because everyone else in the group was talking about top-landing for an overnight bivy, so weren't in a rush to return by dark, and only at the last minute bailed on the idea and realized they had to still fly 65+ km to get back home :)

132 km out and return.







Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Solstice Epicness in Pemberton!

Longest day of the year and perfect paragliding weather for Pemberton.  Light winds (and I mean really light!) and high cloudbase, plus oodles of sun-hours, meant pilots went everywhere!  We had pilots up the Hurley FSR, Ryan River valley, Rutherford valley, to Whistler and back, and over Currie.  Lots of pilots opted to go really deep, km's from any usuable LZ's or roads, and it was all because the winds were so light it didn't really matter!

Sungod and Seven O'Clock  Mountains
It wasn't the smoothest air, but there was so much lift that even the "rough" stuff was plenty to get up in to keep going.  NE when we were above 3000m, SE below that, and down in the valley it was pretty much zero wind.  I had a fantastic time getting up on Currie.  Initially I was wondering if I was making a big mistake by flying to Currie way too early (it was only 2pm or so, we usually try Currie after 5 or 6) and also approaching it from the leeside.  But it worked and I managed to make it up over Currie, at which point I was flying the backside and seeing all sorts of views that we usually can't see from lower down.  I could see into the Caribou to the NE and it looked to be overdeveloping in the BC Interior as I could see lots of anvils 200 km away.

XC Find tracks for Sunday in Pemberton
I didn't have the largest flight but I did enjoy myself.  Alex finally did his triangle that he's been wanting to do for years, and several pilots flew to Whistler and back (which may be a first for PG pilots).  Also Guy and Stefan and Simon flew deep into the Ryan river valley and popped back out close to the Ipsoot Glacier, one of the few times (if ever) that that's been done.

It was an epic day, appropriate for Solstice, and we had lots of happy smiles in the LZ!

XCanada for June 21, 2015.





Sunday, June 14, 2015

Bridal June 13-14

My new glider showed up this weekend so it was time to take her out to Bridal to get acquainted!
Heading for Cheam peak from the Butterfly.  Mt. Baker in the background.
Got high both days (more so than normal for the FV this time of year), yesterday enough to overfly Cheam peak, and today we were in orbit at 3100 m.  Lots of wind both days: yesterday strong SW down low and light NE up high, and today it was strong outflow all over.
Getting high over Cheam.  Cloudbase varied between 3100 and 3300 m.
Outflow days are the days we get highest in the Fraser Valley; unfortunately on the really high days (like today), it's difficult to actually go XC anywhere since it's usually very windy and sinky once you leave the lift.  So today was a Butterfly->Gloria day for me, with a lot of stopping over Cheam to take photos of the spectacular view to the south.  There was quite the hiking crowd on the peak and it was fun to thermal up beside them before continuing on.
Lady, Baby Munday, Welch, and Foley peaks.  Chilliwack Lake in the right background.
There were a few valley crossings today...Kevin flew Woodside->Bridal and Peter did the reverse.  Apparently over on the Woodside side it was difficult to stay below the airspace limit of 1981 m; over at Bridal we're allowed to 3810 m so it was less of an issue!
Harrison Lake wasn't that windy despite the outflow winds.  It seemed to be more ESE vs. the usual NE.
It was *cold* up there today!

Looking back at Cheam/Lady from over the Fraser River.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Camrose May 15

No towing today as the skies were cloudy with rain showers in advance of the front approaching from the south.  Instead we went to Dried Meat Ridge, near Double Dam golf course, to play in the SE winds.

It was a bit too cross to fly the main ridge but there was a section that was doable.  So the guys hiked or kited their gliders over and played for a couple of hours.

Dried Meat Ridge on a cloudy day
At Miles in May, the hang glider pilots had staged at Daysland but the day was eventually cancelled due to the same weather conditions.

With the weather turning for the worse for the next day or so, and east winds forecast for the rest of our available days, we have decided to pull the plug on anymore XC towing on the Prairies and return home.  We had 6 days in a row of excellent XC conditions, and almost every day saw at least one pilot make at least 100 km.  We also had 4 pilots break 200 km, in addition to several personal bests.  All in all this was probably the most successful tow encampment we've had in years!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Camrose May 14

Similar day to yesterday but a bit more wind, so not much flying on our part.  I was the tow driver today so I knew I wasn't going to be flying anyways, but as the winds picked up most of the other pilots chose to stand down.

Andrew (left) and Al (right) tracks for today


Andrew and Al got away and flew north...Al stayed well east of Beaverhill Lake this time and landed north of Lavoy for ~150 km, while Andrew landed north of Daysland for ~80 km.

The hang gliders flying in Miles in May, meanwhile, set a task to the Chipman airport NE of Edmonton.  According to Wherearethepilots.com both Ross and Leif made it while a few more landed short.

The Miles in May folks have been having a fantastic week of competing with 4 tasks so far. Ross Hunter has a commanding lead with Doug Keller, Doug Hartley, and Tyler Borradaile competing for 2-4 places.  The final results will change a bit after the retrieve drivers get their average points for their volunteering days.

Preliminary results after 4 days of Miles in May



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Camrose May 13

We had scoped out a tow road even further east than the Galahad one, east of Alliance, in order to get some more distance before bumping up against Edmonton airspace and the Rocky mountain foothills.  Cu's were popping and it was very windy, so much so that I wasn't sure I wanted to fly in those conditions.  However there were workable lulls so I towed up, unfortunately I wasn't able to get away and landed a few fields away.  Had a bit of a scare as I landed and a giant moose exploded out of the bushes next to me before running into the adjacent field and another copse of bushes.

Back at the towfield it was windy again and I wasn't feeling particularly excited about towing up in such conditions so I decided to bag my glider for the day.  Peter was still wanting to tow up though and on his third time he finally got away and was chasing the other pilots.

Today's flights on XC Find
Brett and I were following our group on XC Find and chased them all day, finally catching up to Alex north of the North Saskatchewan River.  He landed at 227 km after 2 hours of fighting to stay alive and far enough east to avoid Edmonton airspace, followed by 2 hours of finally being able to go downwind and munch some kms.  A new Canadian PB for Alex!

Peter, despite his late tow, took a more easterly route and also made it to near Alex for a PB of 218 km!  Congratulations Peter!

Al got blown downwind and ended up flying west of Beaverhill Lake before landing at the north end, but managed to avoid the Edmonton airspace by 2 or 3 km's ;)

Over at Miles in May, the hang gliders had another 80 km task to Tofield.

Another stellar day with 2 x 200+ km flights!  We are getting close to getting the magic 250 km open distance flight!




Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Camrose May 12

Today's weather was pretty similar to yesterday's except for more wind, so we went back to the Galahad E-W tow road.  With 2 winches it's possible to actually have multiple pilots in the local air at the same time; I was scratching out when Andrew towed up next to me and Brett was just towing up when we started heading west.  Then cu's started popping overhead around 2pm and it was on!

The winds had a touch of south so I flew north of Buffalo Lake instead of south like yesterday.  The going was pretty easy after the first 10 km or so as the cu's started popping, and the further west I flew and the later it got, the more abundant the lift became.  At times it seemed like the thermals were lined up parallel to each other, so that you could fly huge lines of thermic lift and not have to stop and turn; it wasn't just lifty lines but rather huge areas of lift centred over treelines and river valleys.

Cloudbase was around 3100 m and big lift over the Ponoka airport (you can't really go any further north at this point or else you'll hit Edmonton airspace), and then it was across highway #2 and west to Gull Lake.  At this point the clouds dried up and it was back to blue flying.  It was getting a bit late, after 5pm, and I was coming up to a section of treed terrain that I wasn't getting high enough to cross over, so I landed at the north end of Gull Lake at the 144 km mark in windy and gusty 30 kph SE winds.

Andrew and Brett at 210 km...a personal best for both!
Several pilots flew farther and managed to avoid the foothills by flying more north and avoiding Edmonton airspace as the winds turned more SE: Peter flew to 177 km and Andrew and Brett flew to 210 km.  All 3 were personal bests!

Meanwhile at the Miles in May the task was from Strome to Tofield: about 80 km.  Ross reported that 5 pilots made goal in the very-crosswind task.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Camrose May 11

More east wind today so we decided to look for a tow site further east to get some more kms before hitting the mountains and airspace issues.  On a previous day during retrieve, Will had seen a possible E-W tow road near Galahad, so we went back there, and yes it was indeed possible to tow from there!

Some of the farm traffic to contend with!
Initially the skies were blue but a few cu's started popping around 11:30am.  I think Steven was the first away as he climbed to a cu forming right above the tow paddock.  Most people got away with their first tow, myself included, and we were soon flying east.

I found the whole flight quite enjoyable even though I found the lift a bit scattered down low, although as I flew east it got better and better.  Climbs were to around 2500m and the cu's had dried up so it was a blue day.  No cu's meant I spent my glides determining my next trigger points on the ground, and in most cases I was right (treelines, boundaries between dark and light fields, perpendicular-to-the-wind bodies of water, tractors, etc).

Size comparison between modern farm equipment and Al's truck!
With the almost-directly east wind we had to decide how to get around Buffalo Lake, which was smack in the flight path.  Everyone decided to detour to the south since there was a tiny bit of north to the east wind, although once past the lake I found the slight north tendency actually turned into a slight south tendency, so our paths were actually arcing a bit by the end.

I was going a bit slow (it wasn't windy at all by Prairie standards, maybe 15-20 kph of wind at 2000 m) and by the time 5pm came I was close to the Nova Chemicals plant, just outside Red Deer.  The lift was dying and I was trying to get to the high ground surrounding highway #2 but I was unable to get there and ended up landing at 107 km.  Peter was behind me and managed to get a bit further, landing just outside Red Deer as well for 123 km.
Landed just short of the Nova Chemicals plant outside Red Deer (in the distance).

Brett and Andrew had the best flights, getting 155 km and 179 km respectively, good going guys, nice job on an east day!

Meanwhile the hang glider pilots flying in Miles in May had set Ponoka airport as their goal.  Ross was the only one who made goal; Doug Keller landed 4 km short.  Leif landed (home?) in Wetaskiwin.

Tomorrow looks like more east wind, maybe some more south to it, and stronger, so we'll see if we try the same tow road again!







Sunday, May 10, 2015

Camrose May 10

East wind today!

Brett
East wind generally sucks, partly because it indicates dry cold air from the Canadian Interior, but mostly because it means we can't fly far downwind (ie west) before hitting some form of airspace around either Edmonton or Calgary.

Andrew and Alex
But we flew anyways.  I was the designated tow driver for the day (we have a rotation scheduled far in advance so it's fair to everyone) so I spent most of the day in the dirt or the truck, driving back and forth on dirt roads :)

Andrew and Al planning flying strategy.
Early tows weren't successful since it hadn't yet turned on yet, but a few pilots started getting away after 1pm.  Al made it about 20 km before landing and was back for more tries in an hour or so.  Will made it 26 km, and Brett made it 10 km.  Alex did the best with a 90+ km flight to west of highway 2.

Will
The other tow group didn't get much flying in since their winch motor broke down, and by the time they switched to our tow rig the conditions had deteriorated and it became quite sinky on the tow road.  We decided to pull the plug after 4pm after it became apparent towing wasn't going to happen and it was time to start chasing the flying boys anyways.

Al setting up
Meanwhile over at Strome the hang gliders (15 strong) participating in Miles in May had called a 150 km task to Rimbey (west of highway 2).  Alex reported seeing some hang gliders in the air near Double Dam golf course.  Ross landed 26 km short and most of the other hang glider pilots didn't get a chance to get away since all 5 their tow winches broke down too!  Fortunately Ross says they are back at 2 or 3 working in time for tomorrow's task.
Al getting ready to tow
Tomorrow is scheduled to be more east wind so we are thinking of trying some tow roads further east, to get us a head start of 50 km or so, and perhaps get us far-enough away so that we can veer around the Edmonton airspace and continue west to the north.  We'll see what tomorrow brings!
Al just off tow.


Doing some repairs on Steven's winch.









Camrose May 9


After a beautiful drive through Jasper National Park we arrived in Camrose for a week of flatland towing on the Prairies!  This year we have 2 PG tow teams in addition to the Miles in May HG group.
A cold morning in Valemount!

It took me 4 (!) tows to get away from the tow paddock, by which point it was almost 3pm and probably the strongest part of the day.  When I pinned off my GPS was saying 40 kph of wind and my downwind glides were surpassing 85 kph.

Obligatory pose at Mt. Robson
The going was really quick but unfortunately there was a line of clouds with snow-virga dropping out and not an easy way around it.  I saw a small gap between clouds and threaded my way between but after that it was a solid wall of snow-virga and I was forced to land at the 104 km mark.

Shut down by the snow-virga!
Meanwhile Alex had taken a more southerly route, hit the same schmoo, and landed around the 101 km mark.  Andrew and Peter had more straight easterly tracks and landed just outside Wainright AFB.

The Hang Gliders start their Miles in May tomorrow so they were practicing today with Doug getting 110 km and Ross 140 km, in roughly the same direction as us.  Tomorrow is looking like east wind which is not the best (because it pushes us towards Edmonton airspace), but we'll see if the forecast is wrong, and if not, we'll have some local flights back to Camrose.












Monday, May 4, 2015

May 2-3 weekend

So far the XC season has been pretty thin for us on the West Coast...mediocre weather for the most part.  But that all changed this weekend with both Saturday and Sunday looking quite good.  Saturday looked like the better of the days for clouds, but was forecast to be windy, whereas Sunday was forecasting less wind.  So it was Woodside on Saturday and Pemberton on Sunday!

Heading across to Sasquatch on a strong day.
Woodside on Saturday was working quite early; I launched just after noon and was soon at 1500m heading west.  The plan was to head to Benedict and return, and then do the Raymont triangle if time permitted.

Heading to Dewdney was a bit tougher than we originally anticipated; the west wind kicked in around Deroche and getting around the corners of Deroche, Big Nick, and Dewdney was a bit tricky.  Fortunately there were plenty of cu's to help us along; cloudbase rose throughout the day and by the time I was on my way back from Benedict, it was somewhere above 2000m and well above our airspace restriction of 1981m.  I kept pulling out of climbs at 1700m just to be sure not to bust, as some of the climbs were so strong that if you waited until too late, you'd find yourself too high and no way to escape in time!

Alex and Peter decided to do the Hammer triangle and return to Woodside via Kenyon Lake and the Chehalis route.  Kevin and Martin N turned around at Big Nick so they could return to Woodside quicker and do the Bridal part of the run sooner.  By the time I got back to Sasquatch I was quite tired (it was quite active air and took a lot of concentration to fly) and decided to land at Eagle Ranch.

Meanwhile over at Bridal Kevin was reporting very "spicy" conditions at Ludwig for those crossing over, and back at Woodside launch most people were standing down since it was just too strong to launch safely.  Peter and Alex made it back to Woodside: Peter by sneaking back to Sasquatch and doing the crossing the usual way, Alex by popping out at Harrison Hot springs and returning via Agassiz.

In the end it was quite the day with lots of strong climbs, windy mid-day, and one of the first  real "spring" days of the season.

Flight to Mt. St. Benedict and back.

Sunday was a bit of a different animal...no cu's and visually stable-looking with forecast high cirrus later in the day.  Off to Pemberton to escape the Fraser Valley stability!

Looking up Hurley Pass.  The road is still snowed in so little (if any) traffic is getting through yet.
Lots of pilots opted to launch from the upper launch but our group decided lower would be sufficient and yes, it was easy enough to climb out and join the rest of the pilots in the air.  As usual, I found the MacKenzie basin air to be a bit rough and rowdy, and as usual, the air got a lot nicer once past Owl and the gap to Barbour!  Climbs to 2500m under blue skies and I was feeling really good about flying out to Spindrift and back as the Lilloet River is still quite low and provides lot of LZ opportunities if you sink out past the Hurley Pass.

Met a few pilots returning from Spindrift/Athelstan area and I was getting to 2800m now.  However the high cirrus was moving in and it was getting late in the day since I still had to fly home!  So I decided to stop at the lee of Spindrift rather than fly around to the windward side for the even 100km, and started the trek home.

Crossing Hurley Pass on the way up to Spindrift.  High cirrus moving in!
There is a new logging operation just south of North Creek on the bench around 1200m so if you need to land out in that area, you may get a ride or communications help from the folks there.

With the west wind the return home was relatively quick; I got back to Pemberton in less than 2 hours.  Lots of smiling faces in the LZ as pilots were coming in from Athelstan and up the Ryan River valley.  We had a scare at the very end of the day when Guy, who had a small (10%) cravatte on his left wingtip and was successfully flying straight and level with it for 1-2 minutes (not sure what put it there in the first place), did some small turns, induced a spin on the cravatted side, tail-slid, and threw his reserve.  Now this all happened in final approach to the LZ, which put him directly over the road (and powerlines) at ~100'.  Fortunately, during the tail slide he flew backwards enough that when he threw his reserve (at tree-top height) he ended up back over the other side of the road and over a backyard.  As the reserve came to full extension he was below tree-top height and at first I thought the pendulum of him swinging under the now-extended lines would slam him into the ground.  But the swing-through happened just high enough to land on his feet, in a small space too small to land anything but a vertically-descending round parachute, right next to a tree, the road, and powerlines.  Guy was unhurt and very lucky!

Flight to Spindrift and back.













Saturday, April 25, 2015

Woodside April 25

Very active skies in the Fraser Valley today.
A very unstable day with lots of rain cells around.  The Bridal side was actually looking drier (all the cells were on the Woodside side of the valley) but it was also in shade, whereas Woodside was (mostly) in the sun.  All the cells were centred on Sasquatch and were bypassing Woodside for the most part as they moved east.

Raining over the peninsula.
It was quite late however by the time I got up to launch; Martin and Gary had already flown and landed at Harvest as it was raining over the peninsula.  Another cell was forming in the same spot but it was much less menacing than the earlier one so Kevin, Gary, and I launched into nice smooth air.
Rain over Mission.
Despite it being a weekend, Woodside was very quiet and we had the skies pretty much to ourselves except for the eagles who came out to play.