Friday, December 06, 2013
Let's admit that Hawaii is not an ideal place to fly cross country: the clouds are lower than the mountains on most days, the wind is often strong, the jungle is vast and thick, our airspace is restricted by civil and military bases, and the islands are too small to register any world class distance. But we do have a few cross country advantages: ridge lift everywhere on some islands, numerous beach landings within reach on most islands, and some of the world's best scenery on all the islands. Somehow the advantages outweigh the deficiencies for most of us!
Best Hawaii XC Flights of All Time
Doug posted many of his greatest flights up there before he left, and our recent visitor Josh posted his latest record breaking flight up there as well. Notable flights missing from the database: Doug's over the back flight during his farewell party, and any flights at all by Jorge or Dave!
You can also sort the list by XC points or distance or duration. Here's the list sorted by XC points. And here it is sorted by straight distance. Click the column headers to change the sorting.
You can also compare multiple flights made at a particular site on a particular day, to see which pilots took which lines, or you can compare flights from any days at all to look at overall strategy.
Note that the above lists don't offer any way to filter out invalid logs. There are a few bogus flights logged in there. But with the league we are setting up we will have the ability to weed out invalid flights so the contest will be as fair and legitimate as we can make it.
The XC League: powered by Leonardo
Pacific Northwest, San Diego, Colorado, Alaska, and New England. It's a ranking of the cumulative points from the best six flights of each participating pilot during the course of the year. Flights are scored by a formula that is limited to five turn points, with bonus points for coming back to your start place (a flat triangle), and even more bonus points for coming back after making three legs of fairly equal distance (FAI triangle). The online system will automatically figure out the optimal method to score a given flight.
The league flights can also be viewed in order by criteria other than points: you can view the league scored by six best straight distance flights, as well as other factors. Also, please note that because the formula only allows five turn points, you won't be scored for more than two laps of any flight. That's a good way to keep marathon ridge soaring flights from skewing the score!
Every type of flying competition requires flights to meet the legal conditions of their region, whether it's the PWC or the X-Alps or a regional US competition. The same is true of online competitions. If your track log shows violations of airspace or nighttime flying it will not count. It's not hard to log great XC flights that stay clear of airspace and take place during daylight. Josh did it in his sleep!
Cloud clearance is not yet tracked by GPS, thank goodness, so we will leave that up to the honor system. Just as in other competitions, please play nice and don't cheat on your buddies by flying inside the clouds!
The one thing we're doing differently from other regional leagues: we are allowing anyone to post qualifying flights, locals and visitors alike, and we're not including flights that local pilots might have in places other than Hawaii. Let's see how that works. Essentially that makes the league more about Hawaii flying and less about what Hawaii pilots can do while they're traveling to more XC friendly destinations.
Easier than Ever
To upload your flights to the Leonardo flight database, you need to sign up for an account on paraglidingforum.com if you don't already have one. Once you are signed up you can submit a track log at this link. Your track log needs to be in IGC format, which is the format a typical pilot's GPS will record (or a paragliding app on a smartphone).
Once you've uploaded your track, it will automatically go into the queue for the Hawaii XC League if it takes place in Hawaii. You don't need to designate the league during your upload.
Very Useful Tools
Google Earth. The best tool ever invented for paraglider pilots to scout out launches and landings, examine flights and terrain and airspace, etc. If you don't already play with it you're probably not a paraglider pilot!
Airspace. It's a lot easier to stay legal if you know where the airspace actually is. There are 2D sectionals available online, but the best tool is the set of 3D polygons by Lloyd Bailey that you can view in Google Earth. Download the US file right now and keep it in your Google Earth saved places. You'll need to disable some of them to see things more clearly, like class E, and class X warnings.
XC Planner. This is the cleverest tool for XC pilots. It helps you plan out your record breaking flights. In the preferences, be sure and choose Leonardo as your scoring league, and then proceed to sketch out your ambitions by clicking between various turn points to see how a flight would be scored. You can while away a lot of rainy hours looking at this tool.
GPSDump or GPSBabel. Two great free programs to help you download and work with IGC files from your GPS.
Apps. I know of at least five great apps for various phones that will record track logs. I've used Butterfly Avionics FreeFlight, and ThermGeek, and FlySkyHy, all on the iPhone. I can recommend any of them. And on Android phones, people are using Gaggle and XCSoar with good results. If you use an app on your phone you should also get an external battery because the constant GPS use will drain your phone in no time.
Posted by Alex at 9:52 PM