Lower Bridal March 31, 2021, test flight of Ozone Alpina 4 S

 My first Bridal flight of the season, and there is still a bit of snow on the launch.  Arriving on launch around 1:30pm, which is early, and the sun was still not yet on-face, with a little east wind about.

Even as we waited for the sun to come around it remained east on launch which made launching quite tough.  Even Alan (who normally launches very early and consistently) was having difficulties!

I was flying Alex's Alpina4, which we have since discovered has a tendency to "taco" (tips come up first, middle last) during light/no-wind forward launches (even with a perfect layout), and of course this is exactly what happened.  After a couple of tries I actually laid the glider out next to the picnic table near the top, pointing towards the lower part of the launch to the east, and took off that way towards the parking lot, doing a last-second diversion to dive off the edge and into clear air.

Lower launch is mostly snow free.

Once in the air it was light east, not as much as launch would have you think, but enough to be noticeable.  It was very stable and getting above launch was tough, so I spent most of my flight at- or below launch height, where you could stay indefinitely if you were so inclined.  Folks at Woodside were reporting similar stable conditions, and the Benny folks were having an easier time, so Mt. St. Benedict was probably the best site for today's conditions.

I was flying the Alpina4 near the upper end of the weight range (65-85kg), whereas I'm over on my usual glider (60-80kg).  So compared to the Lynx the A4 felt a bit floatier, and was softer in pretty much all respects (turning, brakes, agility, etc).  As a 5'1" pilot, I found the "bridge" between the B's and C's for rear-riser flying to be a bit too high to reach without stretching...taller pilots will probably not have this issue.

All-in-all, the A4 would be a nice C glider for the hike-n-fly pilot (although not for technical sites with a short and narrow runway and low or nil wind, where a perfect overhead inflation is required), or someone looking for a lightweight glider.  I've already ordered a Phi Allegro X Alps so the test-flight of the A4 was more for comparison's sake and because Alex has one!

Woodside March 13, 2021

 It was predicted to be a rather stable day, but Alex, Kevin, and Tom were going to be working on the lower trail section of the Woodside road, so I tagged along to hike up from their working spot.

Used the new upper trail section and it's pretty nice!  The main section is in the trees, nice and shady, and the last part is rather steep due to the fact it's pretty much a cliff face at that point, and it spits you out by the spot where the old hang gliding ramp used to be.  When walking up the final section, make sure to keep an eye out for launching pilots coming at you from above!

Met Martin and Mia who were flying their paragliders and it was lame-ish cycles so no rush to get ready.  Eventually they both launched and sunk out into Riverside as it was still quite still on launch and not even any birds coming by.

Eventually a group of more hike-n-flyers showed up and lobbed off in the heavy cirrus, myself included.  It was basically an extended sled ride at that point, although later on that afternoon it blued-up again with stronger sun and pilots were able to stay up for a hour +.  There were even 5 hang gliders on launch today.

Mt. St. Benedict March 8, 2021

 The snow is melting fast, and Al actually made it to launch with his truck, but the rest of us hiked up.  Once again the launch was snowy but melting away fast, exposing the black carpet!

It was only 4 of us on launch today and we took our time getting ready since it was blowing over the back for most of the day.  And in the air it was definitely north and east and pouring over the tops of the Miracle Valley mountains...it was a blue day and the predicted turnaround to inflow never really happened.  

A few cu's started to form around 3pm but they were very scrappy and leaned over the from the NE, although it started to get better for altitude gains (1600m or so).  But the Rasp did not really match up with the actual day.  And for those at Woodside, they had to wait until around 3pm before it stopped blowing over the back and became possible to take off.