I was hoping to get at least 2 days of hang gliding in over the labor day weekend.  After a good look at the weather forecast I had to settle for just one day, Saturday.  Sunday and Monday looked like it would be too windy for mountain flying.  Even Saturday looked iffy.  The NAM forecast was for lift to only 5,000' at Elk with north west winds.

I had Friday off so I headed up to Rich's house earlier than usual.  I wanted to do some work to my glider.  I had received a metal pulley to replace the fiber one in my VR tail assembly.  I spent an hour installing the new pulley only to have it shatter on the first pull of the flap rope.  I then spent another hour re-installing my old worn pulley.  In the next few weeks I should have my CNC lathe hooked up in my garage and I can make some really strong pulleys from scratch.  I already have 10 bearings for them.  After playing with the pulley, I installed a new 2mm flap rope and I re-installed my backup cleat.

Rich had to work on Friday.  When he came home we worked on his glider, replacing the two cables that attached to the down tubes.  Rich had found a broken wire in one of them last week.  To our surprise, we found that Felix had used 3/32" cable, not a metric cable.  I had about 100' of stainless steel 7x19 - 3/32" aircraft cable handy and the Nicopress sleeves and thimbles.  It took about an hour to make his new cables.  The hard part is that you have to install them on the glider before finishing the last thimble end.  When we were all done we took some measurements and found the control bar was only 1/8" off from dead center. 

Saturday morning dawned with the wind already blowing lightly out of the north west.  This meant the sea breeze was already here.  We took our time getting to launch.  Linda was again driving and Bill was back from Lakeview so he joined us.  The three of us were set up by 11:30 at the north launch.  The wind was already blowing in at 5 mph.  Some friends of Bill's from Tennessee came up to watch us fly.  We spent quite some time explaining what we did and why.

By 12:30 it was blowing in at 10 to 13 mph.  That was enough to stay up and ridge soar if we had to.  Bill launched first with Rich about 2 minutes later.  I had to wait another 5 minutes for it to straighten out to launch.

This is Bill in his partially repaired Atos VQ.  He still needs to get a new folding rib.  I repaired it twice, but it keeps breaking at the hinge.  Bill has it so it won't fold for now.  This means he has to install it every time he sets up his glider.

It was a nice blue day.  The barometric pressure was low, 29.70", the sun was bright, but the cool sea breeze was too much for the thermals to overcome. 

That's me up high and Bill a little lower.  When it doesn't matter I can usually stay above Rich and Bill.  When I really need to be high, Rich seems to be able to climb above me. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4SWkA22tGM

The link above is what it looked like for two of the three of us.  It is a playback in the program SeeYou.  We flew back and forth for almost an hour hoping for a thermal to come through and get us up.  The highest I ever got was 4,800', which is only 800' above launch.  After getting to 4,800', we had a flush cycle and I was back to just above launch.  I decided if I got back above 4,600' I would head out and try to make the field across the street from Rich's house.  It's only a 7 mile glide, but there is a ridge to cross along the way.  Finally, after getting above 4,600' I left.  Rich and Bill were still a little low so they hung around for another 10 minutes to get up.  I averaged a 20 to 1 glide across the ridge.  Just before the ridge I hit some bubbles that felt like there was lift in the area.  I did not want to risk turning in the wrong direction and hitting sink, so I kept going.  When Bill and Rich came through the same area they found the lift and were able to climb enough to cross the ridge comfortably.

This is Bachelor valley after crossing the ridge.  Our LZ is in the middle left of the road, just left of the highway.  How many landing hazards can you see in the picture above?  If you click on it you can see a larger version that I have marked.

Field 1 and 2 have tracks from animals so it is safe to assume that there is livestock in those fields.  Also, they are probably horses because the fields are small and horses are fed more hay and tend to graze less than cows.  Cows tend to trample down the field more completely.  The horses are probably under the trees.  They don't stand out in the middle of a field on a hot day as much as cows to.  Field 3 has livestock circled in black.  Since they are smaller they are probable sheep.  The owner of field 4 said we could land there but there is a power line across the field marked in red.  The power poles are hidden by the trees.  I have circled power poles in yellow, sheep in black and cows in white.  The red lines are power lines, the blue ones are fences.  The areas in green circles or squares are swamps.  This time of year they are mostly dry, but they have 6' tall cat tails in them you can't see from the air and should be avoided.  The row of trees in the purple square at the top of the picture were planted by a previous land owner who was hostile to hang gliders.  Rich landed in his field (which is now owned by farmer Bob, a very nice guy).  The owner said he could never land there so Rich started landing in the 50' wide right of way between the land owners property and the highway.  The guy was so pissed off he planted the trees on his property to make it dangerous to continue this practice.  The guy is long gone and now the owner (farmer Bob) lets us land there.

The two pictures above were taken in March of 1981.  You can see how much the area has changed and also how wet it gets in March.  The first pictures shows our LZ (in the left of the picture) before the trees were planted.

This is looking west from above the LZ.  The wind tends to come down this canyon and usually makes the LZ nice to land in.  Saturday, I found the wind switching from west to north to east, all within a minute and blowing 10 to 15 mph.  When I approached I headed north west since that looked to be the prominent direction.  As I crossed the power lines at 50' the direction changed to east so I turned that way.  I hit a gust that lifted me up another 50'.  I turned north toward the trees and into the wind when I saw that I was going to run out of LZ before reaching the trees to I turned east again.  I still was having trouble getting down and thought I would run out of LZ before getting to some power lines.  At 10' agl things settled down, but I could see I was now in a 8 mph ninety degree crosswind.  I did a nice no stepper flair.  I saw I was going to come down sideways to I let the control frame down and let the right down tube weak link take the hit.  It's the first bent weak link in 8 landings.  It was one of the scariest approaches I have made and was glad to sacrifice a weak link.  Everything was fine.  I had a weak link in my harness and had it changed in under 2 minutes.

Bill has just landed.  He is about 40 yards back from the trees to stay out of the rotor. 

This is farmer Bob.  He has just come from trying to wean his calves so he can sell them at market.  When he sees us overhead he will come out and unlock the gate.  Last week he brought me some cold water.  He is getting out of the cattle business.  He does not know what he will do with the property next year.  It might have crops on it which would shut it down for landings.  I hope he can keep hold of the property.  He said he would like to watch us launch so hopefully soon we can take him up to launch and show him what the other end of the flight looks like.

It was only a short 1 hour flight for me and an hour and a half for Bill and Rich.  Total XC was a whopping 7 miles.  The NAM forecast was right on (unfortunately).  You can't always have an epic flight and Saturday we were paying our dues.

Vince's IGC track log.

Rich's IGC track log.

Vince