I must have pissed off the gods of technology as I keep
having trouble getting my glider set up to launch.
Kurt, Rich and I headed for Elk with Linda driving while several other pilots in our club headed for Hull. Our best hope was to fly over to the central valley, or at least get over to Hull.
My glider was almost set up when I could not find the bolt that holds the tail in place. The Atos VR was certified with the tail and I had no intentions of finding out if it would fly without one. Just last week I had commented to Rich that if we lost that bolt, we would be hosed. Now I was hosed.
By deduction we figured out that the bolt was 6mm with a 2 ¾” shank. Linda volunteered to drive back down and try and find one. I thought it was a useless endeavor but she insisted. What are the chances of finding such a bolt in Clear Lake on a Saturday? She headed down the hill and Kurt then Rich launched. The day did not look very promising with a haze layer from smoke, but they both quickly climbed to 7,000’ (3,000’ over launch) and headed for Horse.
Rich found a 900 fpm thermal over Horse and climbed straight back to 7,000’. This is just about the minimum altitude you need to fly toward Hull and cross the lake to make the LZ. Kurt missed Rich’s thermal, sunk out and had to head back to Elk. Rich was able to make it to Hull, climb over launch and see all the pilots at Hull still on the ground. When they saw him it was enough to get them motivated to launch.
In the mean time Linda had located a bolt and was on her way back. I still can’t believe she found one. She was back at launch at 2:00 pm after a two hour journey. I put the tail on my glider and was on launch at 2:10. As my luck would have it the cycles were now blowing down or cross. After three of these I noticed a pattern. The last 5 to 10 seconds of a cycle the wind would blow straight in. On the forth cycle I was ready and had an easy launch. I climbed strait out in front of launch to 7,000’.
I was surprised to be greeted by Kurt. He was back over Elk. He had been trying to get up at Horse for the last hour and a half. We headed back over to Horse together. I found a weak thermal to 6,600’, not quite enough to get to Hull. We sunk out and headed back to Elk, up to 7,000’ and back to Horse again. I searched more east this time and found a thermal to 6,900’. I figured this might be my last chance so I headed to Hull. Kurt missed my thermal and had to head back to Elk.
On the way to Hull, I stopped over Mike’s house and climbed back to 6,600’. This allowed me to come in over the ridge at Hull and make an easy climb over the top of hull. Now, if the gods of technology had not punished me enough, they chose this occasion to smote me again. I hit some nasty turbulence and suddenly noticed a Garmin 76S GPS floating right in front of my face. Time seemed to slow down. I thought to myself, this could not be my GPS because I have it locked into my vario pod, where could it have come from? It seemed like I had plenty of time to reach out and grab the vario, but since I knew it could not be mine, I didn’t bother. I watched it fall 2,000’ toward the ground. I looked over at my vario pod and realized, sh*t, it was my GPS. The barrier I had epoxied into my pod to hold in the GPS had broken loose. I should have had a lanyard as an extra backup (I have such a lanyard on my vario).
In the mean time, I had climbed up through several flex wings and was looking for something more for entertainment. I decided to fly a 25 mile triangle. I had been to Mike’s house, then over the top of Hull. If I could make it over to the fire tower on Sanhedrin, then back to Mike’s house it would close the triangle. Rich showed up as I was heading for Sanhedrin. We flew together across the gap and climbed back to 8,600’. He headed elsewhere to sightsee while I headed for Sanhedrin. I found no lift on the way to the fire tower. I turned back at 7,200 over the tower. Halfway to Mike’s I hit enough lift to get me to 6,600’. I was over Mike’s at 5,000’ and had an easy glide to the Hull LZ.
Over the LZ there was lots of lift and I had to work to get down. At the LZ, there is a circle of branches that some use for spot landings. The only problem is there is a creek bed 30 yards away on the approach side of the circle. In spring there is water in the creek, this time year it is dry. The problem is, many pilots are in ground effect when they cross the creek bed. It is about 4’ deep and 20’ across. As soon as they fly across it, the glider drops and they whack (or get wet when there is water in the creek). I did not want this to happen so I landed about 50 yards long. This time of year the LZ is almost a mile long. I had a nice one step landing. Many pilots whacked or flopped aver crossing the creek bed.
Kurt had caught his thermal at Horse and made it to Hull. In the LZ I found Gregg, Matt, Jon and Charlie from Sonoma Wings in addition to many other pilots. They all had great flights. Rich managed to Hit the spot ;-)
While in flight I hear Rich radio that he had hit his head on the base tube pretty hard. At the time I thought he must have meant the keel. After landing he said that he did indeed hit his head on the base tube. He had flown into some turbulence and the base tube was trying to rip out of his hands. He pulled down as hard as he could just when the base tube changed directions and hit him in the head. He had a red mark on his forehead from the impact, even though it had hit his helmet. Greg reported something similar. He flew into some very strong down air, his glider was going down faster than he could fall so it was trying to pull the base tube out of his hands. He said it was not like going over the falls as his glider stayed level. As more than one pilot has said “if we could see the air we were flying in, we would not be flying”.
Vince's IGC file.