Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Week of Thermal Research

Nanakuli is so different from our other sites. Maybe because it’s a mile inland. Maybe because of the dry climate and rocky terrain, and, well, just the heat. Or maybe because it’s the only site we fly when we’re expecting nothing but thermals to keep us up. (I can hear our mainland friends saying: welcome to our world!) A good day out there can teach us more about thermal flying than a year flying our other sites.

And it looks like we’re getting almost an entire week of west side weather right now. Light and variable with various degrees of southerly flow. Clouds have been on the low side, and I wonder if that doesn’t have something to do with the fact that the synoptic flow is onshore like we normally have when we fly our windward sites. But the clouds have been sparse enough to allow benching up quite high between and above them.

This week I only have short windows to fly between dropping the kids off at school and picking them back up. But I’m determined to make the most of those windows for my ongoing thermal research. On Monday I came out by myself and flew there alone for the first time ever. That was sort of a milestone! I guess I’m crazy now.

By the time I was landing Jayson and the BC Argonauts were hiking up, but their timing turned out to be unfortunate, as a fat squall came in from the ocean and gave them a soaking. Then after waiting on the hill a while they decided to hike back down, only to get another drenching from an even bigger squall. Nanakuli can be a fickle mistress!

On Tuesday conditions looked even better, and I was lucky to have Steve along for company, for his first time out there. We thermaled up to cloud base over and over, then flew out to the beach, then back for more, before finally landing at our cars. Drew joined Steve for the end of his flight. Both those guys did a great job flying out there for their first times.

Meanwhile Don and Jayson and the BC Argonauts decided to skip Nanakuli and try Makua instead. It turned out to be too southerly to bench up over the cave, so they just soared the little ridge there until sunset. Crazy to have a ridge soaring day on the west side while Steve and Drew and I were getting blasted up by thermals.

I’m hoping these next two days bring more people out to help with the thermal research. I’m sure we could all use the practice! And maybe I’ll have time for an XC, if the clouds are high enough.

1 comment:

sandy said...

Wow, been too busy at work to read this till now. Great to hear you have not forsaken your fickle mistress of the western shore. Sounds like she was her usual self, giving some to the faithful, yet claiming a few sacrifices. Looked like it could have been working yesterday (Saturday), although the clouds were hugging the tops of the main range.
We were booked for whale and dolphin watching with no PG gear.
Looks like its ODing today.
Hope the thermal research at HDH is going well!