The hang gliding season has finally started for Rich and myself. The weather prediction for Elk did not look very good. Winds were supposed to be out of the northwest at 9 mph. This meant that there would be a marine influence with not much thermal activity. The weather did look much better 10 miles east with a predicted convergence and lift to 10,000'. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to get that far east from Elk without Elk having a booming day. We decided to fly anyway and see what we could get.
Mike Kunitani drove up and met us at Rich's house. The three of us headed to launch at 10:00. At the south launch the wind was light but straight in. We drove on down to the north launch to see what was happening there. The wind was very light at the north launch with some cycles coming up the south side and some up the north. I hiked back up to the south launch and watched for a couple of cycles. Each time a good cycle came through it was crossing 90° from the west. That pretty much sowed it up for a north launch.
The picture above must be of me describing how best to tree land while flying a paraglider (not actually, but the description fits).
Since this was the first time we set up this year, it took almost an hour to get our gliders set up and all the equipment checked out. Mike was much faster having already flown several times this year. By 1:00 it looked like it was as good as it was going to get. Rich launched first. I had to wait almost 10 minutes for another good cycle. The wind was blowing in at a constant 7 mph, but it was about 10' above the ground. Each time I picked up my glider it felt like I was holding it in still air. Finally a cycle came up the hill hugging the ground and it was an easy launch. Mike launched about 10 minutes after me.
The north launch with me on launch and Mike set up waiting so suit up.
The lift was very light, most ridge lift with some weak thermals breaking through, usually not much more than 100 fpm. The top of the thermals was about 5,000' (1000' over launch). The actual winds were 11 mph out of the northwest. What we found was the winds were being lifted by the thermals and we could climb another 1,000' in a sort of wave what was very smooth. This lift was very light, most of the time more like zero sink. Since it was so light and smooth, it was easy to see how different flight configuration could affect your drag. Rich could see the difference between his visor being up or down (down was better). I was able to see in decrease of 15 fpm of sink by pulling my elbows in about 2". We play around like this for another half an hour. Mike was never quite able to break into this upper lift.
Snow mountain is in the background. Rich bumped his focus setting and the rest of the 50 or so pictures he took did not turn out well.
Rich was starting to get cold and I was getting bored so we headed over toward his house for landing. Mike was not high enough to cross Mid Mountain so he headed over toward the thistle field to land in the creek bed. Rich and I landed in a field with 2' tall hay. We got a lot higher than we though we would and had a chance to get the dust off our equipment and get a little muscle soreness so the day turned out good after all.
Vince's track log
Rich's track log