The cloud bases were about 5,000'. Launch is supposed to be around 5,800'. The plan yesterday was that we were all going up to launch to fly today.
Bruce was having trouble with his hotel reservation (they had no record of one). They did not have any rooms available. The hotel called another hotel in town, about a mile away, and found him a room. His room is very nice and even includes a bidet. It will be a harder logistically to have him in another hotel, but we figured out a way to make it easier.
After breakfast we decided to get up to launch as soon as possible because it looked like it would rain later in the day. The cloud bases have been rising all morning. The road to launch was narrow and winding (aren't all hang gliding roads). When we reached the top I was amazed. Amazed that they could have a major competition here. It looked like it would be difficult to set up 20 gliders. There is only enough parking spaces for 18 cars. It is about 1/4 the size of Chelan, WA and when the worlds were there in 2002 it seemed crowded. It will be very interesting to see how they can pull this off.
Ron and David decided not to fly. Bruce, Jim and I set up. We were all finding little problems with our gliders that was taking a long time it make right. The hang strap on the glider I was renting was 4" too long and I did not bring my own. Bruce had one that I was able to make an extra loop in, to make it short enough to fly. Jim launched first. By the time I was ready to launch it was blowing down. I thought maybe I had taken too long to get ready. Eventually the wind turned around. There were 8 paragliders waiting to take off. I walked between them and launched into a very light wind. They must have know better because I flew in 600 fpm down half way to the LZ. I hit some lift and started to climb. I looked back at launch and they were all launching and climbing up, right in front of launch.
It look a while but I was able to get to cloud base at 8,500 feet. It was about 32 degrees. I was freezing. Even with 3 sweaters, long underwear, jacket and two pairs of gloves I was still cold. My hands were in pain.. I flew for about an hour and a half like this. I really should have brought my bar mitts.
The area over launch was on the lee side. It was very turbulent. I was amazed that the paragliders were flying here like it was nothing. Jim later commented that he was uncomfortable with the rough air until he flew in the same thermal as a tandem paraglider. If they were still up, they must know something.
I flew along the east west ridge until the end of the valley, when it really got rough. It was like flying the Sierras on a lee side day. I crossed the valley to the north facing, windward side. The thermals on this side were about half as strong, but much smoother. I have heard that there are days in comps here, when the winner is the one who is willing to put up with the lee side.
The picture is me launching. You can see the east west running valley. It looks like lots of LZ's, but many of them contain tall crops and there are more power lines crossing the fields here than anywhere else I have flown. You have to be very careful in picking your LZ. The LZ next to the hotel has high tension power lines (the very large tower type) only 100 yards from the end of the LZ.
We all landed in the LZ next to the hotel. We did not realize it at the time, but they did not let us drive up to the LZ to load the gliders. We ended up hiking them a long way to the car. The next time we will land at a different field or land long and next to a road. We all had very nice landings. The LZ is very popular with spectators, many of them are other hang glider or paraglider pilots, so the pressure was on. It's nice to have a great landing in front of a crowd.
I will need to get a set of bar mitts and a shorter hang strap before the competition. This hotel does not have phones in the room so I will try to email and have some delivered.
Obviously, they now have the internet connection working at the hotel. You have to rent their wireless card. They are charging 10 cents a minute. The time starts the minute they hand you the card and ends when you hand it back to them. I bring my laptop down to the office to save card rental time.
Nancy found some nice cows on the drive back from launch. She says they were a pretty brownish/grey and they all wore collars. She doesn't often see this. This made her happy.