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Lots of people have been asking for more pictures along with the descriptions of our flights. Rich takes lots of them and this weekend I was able to download them before I headed for home so I have been able to include links to them.

Here is my vario trace:

A satellite view of the flight:

Saturday, Rich, Kurt, Scot, Linda, myself and others joined up at the top of Elk.

A cold front had just passed and the winds were expected to be out of the northeast. Even though it was blowing up the south launch we headed down to the north launch. It was blowing very light on the north launch with no signs of cycles. It was about 11:30. We set up and got everything ready to fly. I changed Rich’s flap cord back to 3mm. By 1:15 it was starting to cycle in on launch and it looked like it was time to go. Rich was first, then Kurt, me and Scot. Paraglider pilots Celia and Andy launched after we were up.

The sounding showed climbs to 8,000’ with a trigger temperature of 70 degrees. It was only 64 degrees when we launched. Rich, Kurt and I climbed up to together to 6,300’ just south of launch. We knew right away that we were as high as we were going to get so we headed south on a route that would take us along highway 20.

Like the last several weekends, the thermals were broken and the air a little on the rough side. The three of us stayed together until just before Pinnacle where we were separated. Kurt was flying his new tandem VX. It is supposed to be the only tandem VX set up for foot launching in the USA. It is certainly trimmed for tandem instruction (though Kurt has no intention of giving lessons) because it trims out at 32 mph and has a lot of bar pressure at any speed much above or below trim. Most of the time he was flying at 32 mph between thermals while Rich and I were flying in the low 40’s. I joked that it was like flying with a paraglider. His glide at that speed was better than ours and he usually would arrive over us after we had found a thermal.

Just past Pinnacle we all hooked up together. Kurt and I were at the top of a thermal at 7,200’ when Rich hooked a 700+ thermal. It was obvious he had the best thermal of the day so we moved above him and caught a ride to 8,400’, the high for the day. After that we went on a glide to the east of Long Valley and toward Chalk Mountain. The picture shows Pinnacle peak in the center with Long Valley to the right of the red route line.

For the rest of the flight we did not get very good climbs. Most of the time we would only climb 500’ or so before having to leave and look for something better. Chalk mountain is the white spot on the left of the picture.

After chalk mountain the LZs get a lot more scarce. We headed for the Cache Creek Wilderness parking area since we were not high enough to cross the next 8 miles. About half way there Rich found a thermal and Kurt and I joined in. I worked my butt off and was able to climb back to 6,400’. Rich and Kurt missed the thermal drift and were a little lower. At least we were able to make it to the fire station at the intersection of hwy 20 and 16. A couple of miles before the intersection I found a decent thermal. Kurt joined me but Rich was too far away to come over. He headed for a nice LZ across from the fire station. My thermal stopped abruptly at 4,800’. The next LZ jump is about 9 miles and I like to have at least 6,000’ to commit to crossing. There is a mountain range that has to be crossed to get to the next LZ in Capay valley.

It was past 4:00 and the air felt like it was not giving up much more for the day. I headed over to the LZ and circled down to land.

I landed a few minutes after Rich. Kurt boated around for another half and hour to play with his new glider and landed in the same field. Rich took a picture of him with is new Cannon S3 camera. You can see in the picture that the control frame on his VX is aluminum and much bigger than the standard control frame. This is so he can use a side by side harness.

My flight time was 2 hours and 40 minutes and our distance was 36.4 miles. Not a very long flight but it was much more than we thought we would get this late in the season and the cold temperatures this day.

Linda picked us up and drove us home. We joined up with Andy and Celia at Rich’s house for dinner. I brought my laptop and we downloaded our flight into SeeYou and played them back several times, reliving the flight each time. My wife say hang glider pilots are the only group she knows of that can talk about a 20 minute flight for 4 hours.

It was another enjoyable day.