Monday, August 31, 2020

Grouse Mountain August 22

A nice and mellow flight at Grouse Mountain before the shade came in and shut things down.  Alex, myself, and Brett Hazlett went up for a flight...Peter Graf was already in the air and Russ Fretenburg joined us later on.  Difficult to get to cloud base which was around 1600m, but the approaching shade made the landing conditions nice and mellow, unlike most times at Cleveland Park!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Savary Island August 19

Alex and I had heard about a flying site on Savary Island and with the winds blowing SE for the next few days, decided to make a trip up the Sunshine Coast.  Tom Gregg, who was on Cortes Island already, came over on his boat to fly with us for a few hours too.

The primary launch site on the south face of Savary Island.  This is private property so ask permission first!

Myself and Tom Gregg over Savary Island.  You can see how skinny the island is!  
Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont

Savary Island is not the easiest site to get to from Vancouver...2 ferries and then a water taxi to Savary, and then either a long hike (1 hour) or 15 minute taxi ride to the launch.  Fortunately the landowners were friends with a fellow pilot and offered to pick us up at the water taxi, awesome!

The alternate launch spot on the SW end of Savary Island.  Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.

The landowners are lovely people and were quite happy for us to hang out at their property, even feeding us lunch and allowing us to camp in their backyard!  The actual launch is also in their backyard and takes a S-SE.  SSE would probably be straight-in, but with the orientation of the island in the Straight, SE is probably the more common flying direction.

Make sure to check the tide status as high tide hides most of the beach.  Much of the south-facing part of the island is treed and only a few properties have open spots over the ocean.  This launch site is one of the few suitable for PG...there is also a spot near the SW side of the island near the sand dunes where you could launch from as well, but you definitely want some beach to land on, unless you want to commit to top landing at the takeoff site.  Normally toplanding would not be a problem, but the day we were flying it was spitting rain and with the slightly-wet gliders, we didn't want to risk stalling them on a top-landing approach and opted to land down near the sand dunes and walk back.

The following day it was howling SE wind (~40 kph) and clearly not flyable, and with the rain approaching, we decided to get back to the mainland!

Savary Island flying.



Saturday, August 15, 2020

Fly Hills August 15

 The forecast was looking pretty good for the Northern Okanagan Valley and the local chat group was talking about flying Fly Hills, near Salmon Arm, so Alex and I joined in since we'd never flown this site.

Entrance to Fly Hills trail to launch.  Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont

Fly Hills is a late-morning site facing mostly south.  The "main" LZ is not that great, full of bushes and surrounded by tall trees, and the alternate was currently in crop, but we were planning on going XC anyways :). The plan was to hopefully fly to Mara Lake and join up with the afternoon crew there.

It was looking a bit on the stable side with strong south wind aloft, and once in the air the thermals were a bit ratty and broken up, and it was quite difficult to get to 2000m.  Alex, myself, Dan, and Richard were able to get away and over the back to the antenna overlooking Tappen, and then it was a long glide across to Sunnybrae.

(Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont)

Until now, it had been blowing south up high, but at Sunnybrae it was actually blowing east-ish, so we were in the lee while trying to get up on the cliffs.  It was not working, so Richard backtracked towards Tappen to look for something more in the lee and away from the venturi coming around the corner.  It worked for him, so Alex and I joined and were able to get up to 2200m for the glide across to Canoe.

Gliding across to Sunnybrae cliffs.

Once again it was blowing south up high so the glide across Shuswap Lake was into wind, but as we dropped lower it became east and north again!  And the terrain we were approaching was quite low-angle and facing west...not a good combination for getting back up, especially as it was quite blue and stable over Canoe.  Richard and Dan were able to get a bit further but Alex and I ended up landing near South Canoe for a rockstar pickup by Robyn, Richard's wife.  Thanks Robyn!

Gliding across Shuswap Lake from Sunnybrae to Canoe.

After finding Dan and Richard it was onwards to Mara Lake for an afternoon session.  I chose not to fly and drove the truck down (it's a long retrieve otherwise!) while everyone else flew around for a bit before landing at the Mara LZ at Little Green Ranch (remember to sign in ahead of time!).  All in all a good day of flying at a new site with some XC!

Fly Hills XC to South Canoe.


Gliding across Shuswap Lake from Sunnybrae to Canoe.  Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Grouse Mountain August 12

 With Covid-19 affecting regular Grouse Mountain operations, we actually had a really pleasant experience!  No lineups at Guest Services to get our ticket, no lineup at the gondola, only 5 people on the gondola, and the staff turned on the Peak Chair for us to save the hike up the last part!

Heading out to land as my hands were getting cold!

It was pretty strong in the air and Capilano Lake had catspaws and gusts showing, so no landing for the next little while!  The cu's were big but slowly shrinking, while in the back, and in the Fraser Valley, it looked like it was overdeveloping, very dark, and possibly some rain in spots.  But cloudbase was around 1800m and it was easy to get high (and cold!) around Dam Mountain.  Alex and Greg went back to Crown Mountain but didn't stick around that long...it's a long glide back if you get low in the shade back there!

It was a pretty quiet day at Grouse with only 4 pilots (the day before was 10) so we were able to social distance quite easily in the LZ.  And as per usual,the LZ was active and with the trees getting taller each year (and we're not allowed to cut them!), the landing zone feels smaller and smaller each time, necessitating good spot landing skills whilst handling thermals, wind, and turbulence.

Grouse Mountain Aug 13 flight.