Friday, 3/15/02
Glider- Wills Wing Talon 160
Launch- Eliminator
Time- ~ 4 ½ hours
Distance- 101 miles

What a day!

It started on Thursday, March 14th.  I got back late Wednesday night from a business trip to Minnesota.  I came in to work Thursday around 10:00 and I heard rumors around the office that Tom Truax was planning on flying on Friday.  Tom was predicting it to be a good day.  I pulled the weather up on my computer and the 6000 ft temp was predicted to be 32 degrees on Friday and the 9000ft temp was about 20 degrees.  It did look good!  I have been working a lot lately and was at a good point to take a day off.  I asked my boss, Steve Smith (Rotor), if I could take Friday off (well maybe I didn’t quite ask him, I informed him!).

I have been dying to fly.  I got my Talon the week before and flew it once the Friday before.  I was horny to fly my new wing.  I talked to Tom and he said it was looking good for Ojai.  The wind was supposed to turn east Thursday night.  I worked late to make sure I had everything done to take Friday off.  I got up early and got a message from Tom at 7:00 am that the weather was looking better for Santa Barbara.  I agreed, the wind was still N/NW.  The 6000 ft temp was predicted to be down to 29 degrees with a high in SB to be around 61.  That is a awesome temperature spread!  I was a little worried about the north wind when I was first looked at the weather on the Internet.  Turns out I was looking at the page from the night before.  Tom called a meet time at Parma at 8:50.  Eddie was going to chase.

When I arrived Debbie was reporting that the north wind was backing off.  It was blowing about 10-15 mph.  We drove up the hill in Rob’s (SA) van. We got up to launch about 9:40am.  It was blowing down lightly at first (5mph).  I was the only HG.  All the PG’s went to the Sky Port.  Eddie watched me struggle and tried to help me put my wing tips on!  I don't have the technique down yet, and I was having a tough time.  After about an extra 30 minutes of setting up, I finally was ready to get off the hill.  It was looking great.  I really wanted to be off by 10:30, but with my set up problem, I launched at 11:00.  If I would have gotten off earlier,  I would of tried to run down to the VOR first, but I was late so I launched and focused on heading east. I tried to get up at launch, but it didn't work, so I headed to the thermal factory.  I got a good one right over the towers and took it up with a PG to 5700. Drifted to the back ridge and went to Montecito peak.

The back ridge didn’t seem to work very well.  There was a cloud a right over Montecito, so I headed a little out in front and caught it to 5700 again. Glided to Ramero and got back to 5700.  Never really got low, 4000 was about the lowest.  Glided down to the Power Lines, dolphin flying all the way down there. I was about 100 below at the Power Lines.  Ron (PG) was 1 ridge in front of me.  He was above the ridge and I was getting trashed.  I learned the first time I went down to the Power lines DO NOT to look right, you will fly out (NOTE: Plowshare is the opposite DO NOT look left)!!  I continued looking left and managed to get enough altitude to make it to the next ridge (Noon Peak?).  I got there and got a little bit over the ridge. I was feeling more comfortable. Cate's school looked like a long way out and the fields by Lake Casitas looked closer with the tail wind.

I was a few hundred below the ridge coming into West Divide and flew into a nice bowl.  I hit a nice thermal, I thought.  I was watching Ron in the PG 1 ridge to the west.  I was just about ready to tell him to come over because it was BOOMING, but then I hit some really bad turb and just hung on.  I didn't get on the radio and tell Ron to come over.  I am flying a 160, and with all that wing area, I really get thrown around.  The glider handles GREAT.  I am able to handle the glider, I just need to stay on top of it a little more.  I then went over to East Divide and managed to get trashed some more, but I was getting up.  I think that I got to 6000.  Went to White Ledge and got to 7000.  Started flying towards Nordhoff.  Got a few thermals on the way over to Nordhoff and a great one around bump 3.  Got a ton of sink going to Nordhoff crossing over the 33.

Came into the first ridge at Nordhoff about 3k.  My plan was to go down the ridges at Nordhoff and use bowling alley as a bail out.  Between the first and second bump I hit a BOOMER.  I took it to 8500 topping out right over Nordhoff launch.  I was stoked!  The air felt a lot warmer over Nordhoff at 8500 than 6 grand in SB.  I was high enough to cut the corner going to Santa Paula peak,  plus there was a nice cloud street out in front of the Topa Bluffs, over upper Ojai.  I headed straight from Nordhoff towards Santa Paula peak.

The cloud street was getting better the closer I got to it.  I hit a few thermals going into it, but I knew that the really good stuff wasn’t that far away.  I kept going and then I hit a nice smooth thermal at 4000 and took it to 7500.  I think that cloud base was 8500.  The clouds were set up behind Santa Paula Peak going to the canyon coming from Fillmore.  I glided east about ½ mile behind Santa Paula Peak and pulled the glide to Oat mountain ridge, getting up a couple of times behind Santa Paula Peak.  Once I hit Oat Mountain Ridge I started heading out towards Fillmore.  I was about 3000 and hit a light one on the ridge that was drifting really fast out of the SW.  I stayed with it because it was really solid, but still light. After a couple of minutes I could see some fields on the road that goes to lake Piru from the 126.  I felt good and kept climbing.  I topped out at 7500 about ½ mile to the SW of lake Piru’s boat ramp.

At this point I knew that I had I5 made.  I pulled the VG on and went on glide towards the intersection of I5 and the 126.  The wind was out of the SW and I was about 2 ½ miles to the north of the 126.  I got a thermal at about 3000 right over a dump.  I took that one to 6500 topping out a little to the NE of the I5 and 126 Intersection.  At this point it was weird, I was totally stoked to be in this position, but there were planes everywhere!  I wanted to move on and get out of their way.  I probably saw 5 planes in about 15 minutes, most of them flying below me.  There was a south wind, but a nice dark cloud street right down the center of the valley that the 14 heads east from I5. I headed SE. Not very many LZ, but I was stinking high (7500).  I figured that I had the 14 made and there was a river bottom to land in.  I flew about 5 miles and right over Bouquet road I got another thermal to 7000.  I was getting snowed on.  Then I noticed that my carbon fiber control bar wasn't that cold. My hands were cold but not frozen like they have been in the past.  Nice bonus for that carbon fiber bar!

I started heading more east.  I saw 2 South West Airlines 737 making their approach to land at Burbank, below me and about ½ mile to the east. I headed east watching for planes (like that is going to help).  I got another little thermal that I was able to drift with to the NE.  I had a little farm field as a bail out.  I think that I was over Sierra Hwy.  I got high enough to make the glide to Agua Dulce Airport.  I put the VG on and headed to the Airport.  I got there at about 3500, 500 over the airport.  There is a hill just to the south of the airport with a couple of bowls facing into the SW/W wind.  I ridge soared one and got high enough to make it to the upper ridge on the SE side of the airport.  I was stoked at this point, because I had a great place to land and in nice smooth ridge lift and I knew at this point I had a shot at Palmdale.  Then I hit a nice smooth thermal that was drifting really fast.  I made a few turns in it and realized that this was my ticket to Palmdale.

There was a few nice field to the NE of me up the next canyon.  The thermal was solid and I climbed out to a little over 9000 just to the west of the Hauser Microwave towers.  I was so stoked!  I had Palmdale on a glide at this point.  I was past all the clouds and the next clouds were about 30 miles to the east of Palmdale / Lancaster.  I was hoping for a couple of thermals to get me east of Palmdale.  Going north didn't look good, it was over developed.  I got a thermal little before the 14 at about 4000 and took it to 7500.  I topped out just about ¼ mile past the 14 and right over the 138, which is about 2 miles to the south of Palmdale AF Plant.  I tried to hold the 138, but was getting blown to the NE.  I saw another road, Ave O, that I could make that was more down wind. I headed for that road and hit one more little thermal.

I was at about 4000 before 90th street.  I was trying to hold Ave O and it seemed the lower I got the strong the wind got out of the SW.  The last 2 ½ miles I was flying sideways going down Ave O (heading east).  At this point I knew that I was close to the 100 mile mark, I just wanted to make it as far east as I could.  I flew till I had a nice clear spot to land.  I could of made it another ¼ mile, but it wasn't as clear (on a light wind day it would have been fine, but with all the wind I wanted a lot of room).  I turned into the wind and was parked.  I was coming straight down.  I dropped the last 20 feet to the ground.  My left wing got up and I thought that I was going over.  Some how the glider straightened out and I was on the ground.

I immediately jumped on the control bar and held the nose wires.  I stood there for about 20 minutes thinking about what I was going to do.  The wind came down a little bit for a minute and I managed to unhook.  I flew my glider over to the 1 cactus tree and tied the nose to the tree.  I waited till Tom and Eddie got there to break down.  I landed about 3:30-3:45.  Tom and Eddie arrived at about 5:30.

I said to myself, this glider will work!

Craig Warren

A BIG thanks to Eddie for driving!!!
and thanks to Wills Wing for build such a GREAT glider!!


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