Andy had called me and said he was interested in flying with Rich and me. We both said sure, the more the merrier. Earlier in the week the forecast was looking good for Elk. Unfortunately, as Saturday approached, our hopes started to fade. Oh well, we have to take what we can get. Once again Linda volunteered to drive for us. Thank you Linda! Since Rich’s little Honda does not have a rack yet, Andy offered to use his truck for the retrieve. This was quite a relief. I have my glider stored at Rich’s house and if I don’t need my truck for the retrieve, it allows me to fly my plane up to Lakeport. Andy even was so kind as to pick me up at the airport.
We stopped off at Judy’s for breakfast, and then drove up to Elk. We got there at 11:00, a little later than usual, but given the forecast and the inversion I saw when I flew in, we were in no hurry.
Andy getting his harness ready to fly. I have a similar piece of nylon cloth that I keep in my harness in case I and in a field full of foxtails and need a clean place to lay my harness.
Three rigids se up and ready to go.
I like to set up at least a half an hour before I intend to fly. This give me time to sit on launch and note the conditions. This day I spent almost an hour and a half sitting on launch. We had a nice breeze blowing in at the south launch, but nothing to indicate that thermals were present. Looking across Clear Lake, we could see that the inversion was still below Mt. Konocti, which is 4,000’ high, the same elevation as the Elk launch. After setting up I tried my radio and found it was not working properly. I could hear, but I could not transmit. Today I would have to stick close to Rich and Andy if I wanted to get picked up in a timely fashion. I do fly with a Spot satellite transmitter so if I did land away from the other guys, it would transmit my location to Linda’s cell phone via text message.
Finally at 1:30 we started to get good cycles indicating the thermals were starting. We all suited up and got in line, me in the front. After all that time the wind switched to the west, which is too cross to launch. After standing under my glider for half an hour, we decided to do the walk of shame and hike down to the north launch. My glider weighs 105 pounds and my harness with ˝ gallon of water weighs 42 pounds, so we try to avoid the hike as much as possible. But today, if we wanted to fly, we had to hike. What makes the hike even more arduous is the road is only 6’ wide in spots. We have to carry our gliders sideways down the road, at times tipping the tail up to keep it out of the bushes. The wind does not help as we have to keep our wings parallel to the road, regardless of the wind direction.
Once down to the North launch, we see that the wind is crossing from the right, meaning 180 degrees different from the south launch. I waited only 5 minutes for it to straighten out and a good cycle to come through and I was off. I immediately turned left and headed the 200 yards to the point and started climbing. Just like last week I climbed to over 5,000 and waited for Andy and Rich to launch. As I waited the lift started to abate and I started to sink. I had thoughts of last week when I had a good climb right after launch and then had to grovel down low for 45 minutes.
Andy then Rich launched and started a slow climb. I found little bits of lift and was able to stay up. I noticed that my hands off trim was still 44 mph and I had to push out the entire time. After landing I figured out what was going on. I had made a slight adjustment to my nose catch and had turned the turnbuckle the wrong direction. I will change that so I should have my sweet handling back next time I fly.
Rich and Andy flying together. They worked very well together today. I seemed disconnected the entire flight due to the handling of my glider. After bouncing off the top of the lift at the inversion for 10 minutes we decided to head south toward Pitney. I was lower and out in front.
This is me, with Rich and Andy in tow. Pitney is in front and to the right of me.
With the wind out of the west, I figured that the lift would be on the backside (east) of Pitney as long as I was above the ridgeline so I headed to that side. Sure enough I found some light lift that Rich and I started working. Andy stayed even more east and found an even better thermal, climbing to 6,000’. I was only able to get to 5,200’
Andy made a couple of very nice videos of the flight. Here is the first part:
We all headed to the south toward High Glade with me low and sucking hind teat. With my glider set up this way I am really having a hard time keeping up. At High Glade Andy found some lift and climbed back to 6,000’. I was low, just a few hundred feet above the trees scratching like crazy trying to get up to Rich and Andy. I finally found something and climbed up and through Rich, who like always, was focusing on taking pictures, not trying to out climb me. I then worked over to Andy was climbed above him by 100’. With my radio not working I felt I really needed to be above them to keep them in sight.
We were not getting very high and Rich and I did not see much point in trying to fly much further south along this ridge. He said we should fly over to his house and then try to make it to the Lampson airport, 15 miles south of his house. This sounded great to me since I was parked at the airport and I could be home by 7:30 if I made it.
Rich headed off toward his house with Andy and I trailing behind. South of the ridge that Mid Mountain is on Rich hit a thermal and Andy joined him. I stayed further north and found and even better thermal, my best of the day, 600 fpm most of the time. These next few picture were taken from this thermal.
Rich’s house is just right of the green field in the right hand side of the picture.
The airport is just past the furthest point of the lake on the left side of the picture.
A nice picture of Clear Lake.
Andy and Rich working together in tight formation.
At this point, I managed to climb 1,000’ above them and decided to keep it that way. Rich flew over to the Blue Lakes to get some pictures. I headed more toward White Rock, about a mile south west of his house. Andy split the difference. From this point on they never saw me again until landing. I never heard them again because the wiring problem in my radio setup caused the radio to turn off.
I found a very week thermal over White Rock. I could see Rich and Andy low over Farmer Bob’s field (the field we usually land in when we fly to Rich’s house). I was drifting toward the airport so I just stayed in this week thermal, only about 100 up. I put the airport into my vario as a waypoint and kept checking my arrival height display. I decided if it showed 1,000 or better I would head to the airport. It finally did, so off I went. I looked back and could not see Rich or Andy. I did not know if they landed or were trying for the airport.
On my glide toward the airport my arrival height kept getting smaller. When I was still 4 miles from the airport it showed zero. I could not remember if I had put an altitude buffer in the waypoint, but it looked like I could make it. I did hit several bubbles of lift along the way, but did not try to turn in them because if I did not find lift, the altitude lost from a single 360 looked like it could make the difference of arriving high enough or not.
I crossed over the airport with plenty of height to check the windsock and the landing field next to the airport. The wind was blowing at a nice 8 mph out of the northwest. I set up to land next to some trees along the airport road and had a nice no step landing. This time I got my hands high enough for a proper flair, though I did balloon more than I wanted to when trying to get my hands up the downtubes.
After landing I called Linda to tell her where I was and she said that Rich and Andy were on their way.
Rich low near White Rock, the airport is not in view due to the terrain.
A lot higher now. The airport is to the right of the rightmost part of Clear Lake in the picture
Rich and Andy found some lift where I had flow through it. The airport is near the center of the picture running diagonally. Andy said he did not think they would have made it without this lift. With this extra boost they made it to the airport with a couple of thousand feet to spare.
Another great video from Andy showing the second half of the flight.
A nice picture of the airport. My glider can be seen just to the left of the three trees along the right side of the airport, next to the big field. We usually land in this field because we can land in any direction. At the airport we are more limited to the direction of the runway, but the wind is usually crossing at the airport.
A satellite view of our flight.
Given the conditions, we had a great time. It's always nice to make your goal.
Andy, thanks for the great videos!
Vince's IGC file.
Andy's IGC file.