Friday, July 15, 2016

Chelan US PG Nats July 15

A monster task was set to take advantage of the WNW wind. 224km to Fairfield, just short of the Idaho border, via Odessa.

Mega task today!
I was very ambivalent about flying the task because the launch conditions were a bit dicey...it was strong from the Lakeside launch and usually that means rough and turbulent air next to the hill.  As well the climbs weren't great, which meant that going over the back to the Rim could be an exciting ride. But after watching other pilots fly around it looked pretty smooth out front, so I figured if I didn't get high enough to fly over the back and avoid the rotor, I could st least land at the Lone Tree LZ.

Alien art near Odessa!
In the air it was surprisingly smooth and despite the late start (I had to wait an extra 15 minutes to get high enough to go on course) I was able to cross to the Rim with a few gliders.

Crossing the highway on a perfect day!
The first bit of the flight was low and slow, as I didn't really get comfortably high enough until Jameson Coulee and cloudbase at 2800m.  Then I was able to leave behind some slow gliders and speed up, catching the next gaggle at Coulee City.  Cloudbase was going up to 3200m and it was getting faster (I saw 82 kph ground speed at one point, and others reported low 90's), and things were going great!

Final glide just past the Forest Preserve.
There were some big clouds just outside Odessa and a couple pilots called level 2 (although one call was due to a broken speed system ;).  I was feeling good about the flatland conditions and kept going, and only got low at the Forest Preserve about 30 km short of goal.

I had to slow down to get high enough to cross this area of no roads, and then another slow and patient climb on the other side, and I was home free!  I could see Fairfield and the goal field, and lots of pilots ahead of me and lots still behind me.

Goal margaritas!
Goal was a zoo with, in the end, something like 65 pilots in goal. Margaritas were being served, courtesy of Steve Forslund, and it was a goal party!  It was a personal best for me, distance-wise, and also average-speed-wise. It was also a world record for the longest completed task at a Paragliding competition!

I was impressed by the amount of organization that went into this task. There were lots of retrieve vehicles at goal, ready to take pilots back, and Owen was downloading tracks from our instruments right there (for those with limited or no data on our phones).

I'm glad I decided to fly today as the conditions were lovely once away from the Butte. We could have kept going; Matt Henzi decided to do just that and got over 300 km by dusk!  The scenery was amazing, watching the OD in the mountains to the north, and the palouse as we neared the Idaho border.  It was certainly a highlight of this comp for me!

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