All the launch and landing pictures were taken by our #1 driver and aspiring photographer Linda Sauer. All the in air pictures were taken by Rich Sauer. Click on the pictures for a larger version.
We were able to fly two weeks in a row, yeah! The weekend started a little hectic. Bill had broken his base tube at King. For him to fly this Saturday, I would need to fly up and fix it Friday night. We worked this out on Friday afternoon. I left work an hour early drove home and gathered all my hang gliding paraphernalia and all of my composite repair equipment and material I would need. I arrived at the Lakeport airport by 5:30. Bill picked me up and I started on his base tube by 6:00. By 8:30 it was done and his base tube was good to go. The structural epoxy I use, Aeropoxy, will cure in under and hour at 120 to 140°F.
I stayed at Bill's house and Saturday morning, Bill, Kathy (his wife), and me met up with Rich and Linda at a local dinner for breakfast. After breakfast we drove over to Rich's house to load up our gliders and head up to Elk. I was in such a hurry Friday that I did not have any time to check the weather forecast so we had no idea what we had in store. At the top of Elk, we found the wind already blowing over the back, so with much grumbling we drove over to the north launch and set up. At 12:00 some really nice thermals started coming up the north launch. By 12:15 I was chopping at the bit. I was concerned that with the northwest wind, the sea breeze would soon follow. Rich and Bill agreed and we all suited up and got ready to fly. We agreed to set a goal of the Williams Glider Port. We had not flow there this year and thought that would be a fun place to fly to.
Rich launched at 12:43. Here he is climbing away from launch.
Me and Bill on launch waiting for our cycle that will carry us skyward.
I launched at 12:46. As you can see, there is not much room to run on the north launch.
Bill launched at 12:48.
Rich and I climbed quickly with me about 300' higher than him. Bill was still working his way up. The wind was 13 mph out of the northwest. By the time we topped out at 5,700 we were over a mile from launch. Rich flew back over launch to wait for Bill and I followed and managed to go over the falls on my way back. My feet even hit the keel. By the time I was over launch, both Bill and Rich were now 300' above me and Rich said "lets go". I'm thinking "sure, now that I'm sucking hind teat". So off we went with me pimping from below.
Bill has the red tail and is in the right side of the picture. I am on the left. This is still over launch.
This is just before our first thermal after leaving Elk. It is also the last time I am caught up with Rich until Williams. At this thermal, Rich caught a better core and climbed 400' above me. From then on he usually topped out about 300 to 400' above me and stayed about 1/4 thermal ahead of me and Bill.
Our second thermal after leaving Elk was even better than the first. We topped out close to 7,500. Things were starting to look more exciting. The thermals were getting stronger and taking us higher. The picture shows the route we ended up taking. We were getting high enough that we decided to cut across the middle of Indian Valley Reservoir. At the first jog to the right in the picture, Rich got to 9,300'. Bill and I only climbed to 8,800.
This is looking at Clear Lake from 9,000'. We seldom get this high in this area. Rich headed off toward Rupert's ridge while Bill and I stopped for some more lift. I came in under Rich as he was thermaling 1,000' above and found nothing. Bill and I continued to glide down the east side of Long Valley. Bill was heading a little too west for our goal and Rich told him to turn right more, which Bill did. I was thinking Bill should turn left more but before I could say anything, Rich saw Bill turn and realized he told him the wrong direction and immediately apologized and said the meant the other right, left. Bill got back on track and headed down the ridge toward Indian Valley. I stayed more along Long Valley and caught a nice one that was 800 fpm. When I topped out I was able to glide over to where Rich was and come under him by 200'.
This is looking down the ridge that we took to Indian Valley Reservoir. We usually turn right and head more south to go around the reservoir, but we were getting so high we thought we could cut across it.
As I climbed under Rich, he took this picture of Bill. Bill was going up at 600 fpm while Rich and I were climbing at 300 fpm. Bill was still 1,000' below us. Rich headed over to Bill, but I stayed were I was not wanting to leave lift and not find it again over Bill. It was another mistake. Rich climbed out to 10,500' and headed out on glide for Williams. By the time I got over there I could only top out at 10,300' and Rich was 2 miles ahead. This was the highest I have ever been in this area. We were almost 8,500' AGL. Much higher AGL then I have ever been in the Owens Valley (at 17,500' msl).
The view looking east toward Williams at 10,500', you can almost see the curvature of the earth in the horizon ;-).
The view south.
The view west, back toward clear lake. You can see Bill and I below on the left and right side of the picture.
The view north toward Stonyford. East Park Reservoir is in the middle of the picture.
When we went on final glide toward Williams, we were still only 20 miles from Elk and 24 miles from Williams. The final glide would be 25 miles from 10,300' for Bill and I. Rich had thoughts of turning north and heading for St. John, but there was a TFR that was over St. John the night before and he did not know if it was still in effect. We did not see any smoke from the fire in that direction.
The town of Williams, in the upper right of the picture from 7,500' and 12 miles out.
As Bill and I were playing catch-up to Rich, I hit some lift. I started to turn in it but it was so rough I thought better of it and flew on. Bill who was a little behind me did not know what I was doing until he hit the same air. His nose dropped sharply and at the same time turned left. Now he knew what was going on and he flew on as well. We started the glide with a nice 10 mph tail wind, but it eventually turned into a quartering headwind. After looking at my flight on SeeYou, it indicated that my final glide was 25.8 miles and averaged 18.3 to 1. This actually beats my record of 24 miles for the furthest glide without any lift.
Just over the town on Williams I finally caught up to Rich. He was still 300' above me, but I managed a small thermal for 300' and ended up the same height as him.
Williams Glider Port is in the center of the picture. Bill came in under us and started climbing. Soon we were all at 2,700'. We could not all land at the same time so I volunteered to land first and check out the LZ.
The wind was out of the the east and the runway ran north south. When the wind is like this we land in the field across the street. They have planted rice in most of it and also added a canal. In the picture I am on short final. Linda is parked on the bridge across a second canal just in from of Bill's glider. The larger field to the south is going to be a college and was full of construction stakes and other obstacles even though it looks clear in the picture.
I managed to land about 30' from the truck. If you look real close at the truck you can see Linda holding a roll of paper towels for a streamer. It did not matter much as there was no wind when I landed.
I had a nice three step landing. My landings are much better ever since I fixed my harness. The backup mains were keeping the slider from moving fully forward.
Bill was next to land. All those nice green fields are rice and have 12" of water in them.
Bill landing. He always seem to get his hands nice and high on the down tubes. I whish I could do that.
Rich was last to land. He had a multiple step landing. The width of the field we landed in was about 50 yards. At least it was nice and soft. I prefer that over an asphalt runway any day. Linda had an easy drive for the retrieve. She only had to make a left then two rights to get to us, though it was over 80 miles of driving. She was rewarded with a trip to one of her favorite restaurants, Granzell's.
After we got home I tried to download Bill flight from his Flytec 6030. What I found was even though it has a USB cable, the instrument actually has a serial connection and requires an serial to USB software driver. I did not have the software so I was not able to get his track. I downloaded the driver today so next week I can download his instrument.
A satellite view of our track. My track is in red and Rich is in green.
A graph of our altitude. You can see how Rich's trace is just ahead of mine for most of the flight. All in all is was a great day, much better than any of us could have expected. It was Bill's first trip to the glider port. We were all smiles. My flight time was only 2 hours. It's little flights like this that make all the driving worth it.
Rich's IGC file.
Vince's IGC file.