Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tenebrous Flight Research

On the first day of the TFR, Obama gave to me: a heart ridge and an XC. Well, you know that ridge has my heart. And we actually scored several flights this afternoon, in a crazy variety of conditions out there, as the shadow of that huge ridge slowly crept out toward the shoreline. Who knew a southeast flow could work so well at a site that faces north!

After calling ATC and giving them my name and number, Drew and I hiked the knob to check out the westerly flow of the early afternoon. Jeff and Harvey opted to wait below for the results of our initial research. I've never launched that direction before, and it was pretty neat. Drew went first, and he kindly showed me that the lift wasn't working well against the hill. It turns out the lift was thermic and leeside, and after I launched I found the best thermals away from the hill, especially off the west face of the meadow. I worked it there for quite a while, but I guess I didn't fully commit because eventually I lost the plot just before cresting the ridge. It was fun just trying to figure out what was possible in those unusual conditions.

After we landed I called ATC to let them know we were done. Then we drank the only two beers I had brought. Thom showed up, certain that he had missed the only window of the day. Meanwhile Harvey and Jeff discussed the latest trends in safety. Then Drew noticed the sensor was showing strong northeast flow. What? We didn't feel a thing. Something must be wrong with that sensor. Anyway, Drew graciously volunteered to go get us more beer. After a few minutes he texted that the wind was blowing solid at the airfield. What? Oh wait - now we were starting to feel something too! Sure enough, it was filling in solid and northeast. Drew texted: don't wait, hike now and I'll catch up.

So Thom and I ran up and Drew was close behind. I called ATC and said we'd changed our mind - we weren't done after all! We had easy launches from the east side this time, and worked our way up in the super cross flow. We got up nicely above the ridge, and then we were able to drive upwind all the way to the ridge before Kealia, but we could never quite get through the swirling mass of turbulence at the corner. Then we zoomed the other way, downwind to the meadow, before turning around to realize the headwind was quite strong and not too lifty in these parts. Soon after that we landed, wrapping up an hour of flying just in time for the 5 PM closing of the TFR. We called ATC again to let them know we were really done this time.

Looking forward to more research out there. Tomorrow looks promising!

Roll call: Thom, Harvey, Jeff, me, Drew.

1 comment:

Thom said...

'Southeast flow work so well', I think JJJ is going to have to start editing for factual content since your vision is getting blurred. It was not well it was doable and yes glad I did it. Also 'ran up the hill' If you call a speedy trudge by a gimp legged, out of shape gimly.

I had a line through after dropping my risers through the lines. Drew got there in time to mellow my swearing out as the flow became more east and stronger on launch. I was determined not to limp down and yes we scored a flight and yes it was fun.

Thanks for leading the charge.