The flying from Elk this year has been much worse than years past.  This is due to the marine air that this year has managed to push in far enough to keep the thermals weak and the top of lift low.  In previous years the marine air would stop several miles west of Elk.  When I checked the weather on Sunday, it showed west winds at Elk, this meant that the marine air had already arrived.  Rich and I decided to fly Hull instead.  Hull is in a large basin that heats up enough to overcome most of the marine influence, though the lift will still be a couple thousand feet lower.  The downside of Hull is it is a fish bowl.  Unless you can get really high, you can’t leave the basin, though the basin is large enough that you can fly 15 mile triangles without much trouble.


Linda drove for us.  We stopped in the LZ and picked up Mike and Lyle and headed up to launch.  As is usually the case for us, we were the first at launch.  It seems most pilots like to launch Hull between 2 and 3 o’clock.  By 1:00 there were about 18 pilots setting up.  At 1:30 I could not stand it any longer.  The cycles coming up launch were looking good, so I carried my glider up and launched.  After launch I scratched around out in front for about 5 minutes, climbing slowly then the lift came together and I took off at 600 fpm up to 8,000’ (launch is 5,800’).  Rich launched right after me and scratched around for 20 minutes before he too climbed out. 


Hull timberline launch.



Lake Pillsbury from over launch.


As usual when the marine air hits hull, it was on the turbulent side, especially when leaving a thermal or flying around at the top of lift.  The sink between thermals was quite strong.  After climbing above 9,000’, I tried to head over to San Hedrin, but the sink was just too strong.  After returning, Rich and I climbed up to 9,800’ and I tried for San Hedrin a second time, with Rich.  The sink on this attempt was no quite as strong and we also found lift along the way, climbing above 9,000’.   I made it to Tule lake at 7,600’ and climbed about 200’ before loosing the lift so I decided to head back to Hull.  About Ό mile later I hit 500 up and climbed back to 8400’. 


Lake Pillsbury from San Hedrin.


With this extra altitude I thought it would be no problem gliding back to hull and come in over the top, Wrong!  I hit the second worse sink I have ever found, over 1,100 fpm.  With an 8 mph tail wind and flying a rigid wing, I looked down at my vario to see my glide angle at 5 to 1.  I made it back to Hull, but just barely above launch.  Rich was about 200’ higher.  I made one turn over launch and hit 600 up, but lost it because I was too close to the hill, drifting back and I did not feel comfortable making another 360.  Rich caught it and climbed right back to 9,000’.  It took me another 10 minutes before I caught a nice 700 fpm climb.  I had three climbs at close to 700 fpm, which is the best I have had all year.  Rich flew around taking pictures of the other gliders in the air.  He gave them a wide birth since he did not know the comfort level of the other pilots.


Gliders over Hull.


More gliders.


After most of 2 hours I had had plenty of fun and was a little tired of the turbulence so I headed out to land.  Mike K, had spent almost 2 hours below the ridge line when he finally climbed out.  By this time most of the gliders had headed out.  Rich flew over to fly with him and take some pictures.


Mike K over launch.


The LZ is huge this time of year and as is usually the case the wind was blowing about 10 mph making for great landings. 


You can see the gliders under the trees breaking down.  If you look close you can see the circle used for spot landings.


My IGC  file.