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Wednesday, 3/18/2020 [Weather] and [Flight Articles] by [Logan] [Lorimer] & [Sundowner]
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Logan Walters
Wednesday, 3/18/2020

1st ever 100+ mile PG Flight from Santa Barbara & new SB Foot Launch Open Distance Record
Skyport to San Dimas
(beyond Pasadena & the Rose Bowl)
Launch at 11:43 and Land at 6:42 PDT
111.8 miles SLOFD (Straight Line Over-Flown Distance)
111.7 miles from launch to landing

Reference: [IGC Text Data File] and [Google Earth KMZ File] or [Ayvri Web Animation]

Click image below for full size and or see [more photos & video] from Wednesday

Article Submitted by Logan via email on 3/20/2020 (for flight on 3/18)

I was personally amazed by Wednesday’s flight!  By far my favorite flight to date.  I'll do my best to write about emotional decisions and thoughts rather than just my typical analytical flight analysis as this flight was so much of both.

Over the weekend prior to the Wednesday flight I was checking the weather and saw good potential for a Santa Barbara flight Eastbound.  The lapse rate looked good up to 5k in SB and above 6.5k from the Topa Mountains to Kagle.  Come Tuesday night it still looked like a line that might take us to Kagle and beyond, so I studied the line even more from Piru past Interstate 5.  Unfortunately, like so many days it looked like we might have the most difficulty leaving Santa Barbara.  Then there would be an obvious crux passing the 5.  I knew I would need my A game if I was going to try and keep up with Truax.

Wednesday morning I got up early and loaded my kit.  Took my car to pick up Truax, Pierson, Sarah, Lormier, and Brian Howell.  La Cumbre Peak was reporting wind gusting to 26 from the North so I was concerned about getting off the hill.  Around 9:30?  We drove by the rock and Truax noted light but solid cycles breathing up the spine despite down canyon drainage flow just around the corner.  We had too many pilots to get off from the Rock so we kept heading up.  The Bypass was blowing down and the Eliminator was blowing down hard.  Truax thought we had time to go up to evaluate the Brotherhood.

After al little cleanup, Truax decided to launch, and I was willing to follow depending on how he made it look.  That was a difficult decision as some of the cycles were feeling quite strong.  The Santa Barbara airport was reporting 8 mph North wind and La Cumbre Peak was at 15 gusting 22.  Truax only got 100 or 200 hundred above launch.  It felt like it was starting to block, so he top landed and we drove back down to Skyport.

The clouds were very “torn” apart from the north wind but with nice consistent cycles coming in I got ready quickly.  Truax launched first with a stick near the right wing tip that was not coming out.  Willy was off just after him on his HG, then I was off a couple min later.  On Skyport just before 11:30 Truax had said “we are too late to go 100 miles but we can still make Fillmore”.  Those words stuck with me for most of my flight.

After Launching I felt some South East but decided to get on course anyhow as I saw Willy below the Round House and Truax landing at Parma.  I think on any flight of this length in our area you will hit non-optimal winds at some point.  There were a number of times I was flying with crosswind or headwind but knew if I could keep moving, the bigger picture forecast compared to local micro meteorology would be in my favor.

It was “slow” going to West Divide and after seeing Willy low, Truax land, and a new goal of Fillmore, I knew I had time to fly my own pace and not race to the ground.  North up high and South West lower made for a lot of mixing air but nothing that I could not comprehend.  I don't mind a lot of turbulence as long as I have ground clearance and can comprehend what's happening, if I can't explain it I'll leave quickly.

On North days I like to take a little more time to get back to East Divide, it will often get you real high in those conditions and you can then skip White Ledge.  On Wednesday it worked just like that and I was able to ridge soar the leading edge of the clouds enjoying the vibrant views of snow at Pine!  I dolphined almost 9 miles all the way  to the ridge line above the Nuthouse which wasn’t drawing too much up the canyon and actually showed good South West as I floated over to Spine One.

I think on days you're racing, there are much faster ways through Ojai, mostly by sticking to the front points and then benching back to Puckers if you want more altitude to cross Santa Paula Canyon, but the Topa’s were beautiful so I detoured up Chiefs spine to look over the back and take a photo.

At Puckers Willy joined me and that was definitely a highlight of the flight!  We circled around each other enjoying the view before I headed towards Santa Paula Peak.  Willy passed under me hauling ass as I ate some food and checked winds.  It seemed pretty early.  Maybe we could make it to Magic Mountain but there was a big blue hole between Fillmore and Piru that we needed to navigate.

Willy flew over the Fillmore "F", didn’t find much, and landing shortly after.  I opted to slow down, having flown this a couple times before I knew I was entering a bit of a different air mass with more valley wind.  I grabbed what started as a slow climb and let it drift me down wind as it increased in strength.  I did a ton of extra 360’s all day just to spend more time in lift.  It wasn’t fast but I think it kept me in the air.  I was willing to turn in just about anything at times.

Crossed to the Santa Susana mountains with just enough to run up a nice ridge that I had flown over during a flight from the Nuthouse last year.  I was in a thermal that was kinda hard to stay in when I saw two birds flying down the ridge, so I decided to give chase.  Sure enough I got back in the game and did my best to top out but lost it as the north wind above capped another one of my climbs.

Heading down the range over new terrain I was trying to decide if I should fly the North or South side.  But the lift was in the middle and there were clouds just a couple more miles ahead   Those mountains are deeper than they look but the line is pretty obvious.  At the end of the Santa Susanas I finally got back to cloud base and the highest of my flight (7687 Ft MSL).  Just then a passenger airliner flew below me en route to Burbank.  It was beautiful and I had just beat my personal distance record from Santa Barbara, so why not keep going?

Flying over the Newhall Pass toward Kagle was interesting with wind from all directions.  I knew Whiteman Airport was southwest so I opted to fall to the south of the ridge, and started fighting a headwind again.  There were clouds but I could not seem to get to them and I had another blue hole in front of me.

The next portion of the flight was very interesting.  I found the terrain to be shallow compared to Santa Barbara with larger canyon crossing, and each crossing had significant inward draw.  In retrospect, the flying was windy, but in the moment I was only concerned with wind direction.  The velocity was less of an issue.  I knew not to go over a ridge low and to avoid putting myself in a venturi, but those instincts were subconscious thoughts.  My conscious brain was thinking about where to look for the next thermal and the height I needed to get there, clouds about 8 miles ahead, and shade so I wouldn’t want to get there low.  I was thinking about the line to glide as I thermalled up, and on glide I was constantly adjusting for the best glide to the most likely trigger, looking at the micro flow low and the meso flow once I got away from terrain.  I was definitely not thinking about landing zones as most of them were out of sight, I assumed around the next corner in a cul-de-sac or rocky catch basin?

Big Tujunga Canyon almost put me out of the game as I was moving too fast.  It reminded me of the Nuthouse so I started soaring up it and when I went to move on I was met with “collapsey” conditions and a lot of sink.  I doubled back to the better spine and started spinning up, gaining ground and altitude.  At this point my phone was going a little nuts from the telegram so I turned the notifications off.  There is no better way to leave the present moment than by distracting yourself with technology, and the only place I wanted my focus to be was right there.  I do appreciate all the kind words and good reminders :)

Now it was a “downwind stay in the air” mentality.  Gliding at trim speed going 55 kph ground speed was pretty nice.  I was a little confused why there was still so much sink though!  I thought it would glass off and give me amazing glides like Mitch always talks about.  Luckily about 20 min later it did and those glides got better and better.  I kept grabbing every climb I could and topping it out thinking it may be my last of the day.  I never felt like any distance past Fillmore was a sure thing.  I just kept moving.  I didn't think I would make Pasadena until I watched the Rose Bowl go by, I definitely did not expect to go 100 miles until I saw 159km from takeoff on the vario and thought “hey I can do another 1 km".  Having those lowered expectations and just flying the line made for very little stress or pressure.

I think people will fly farther, probably much farther from Santa Barbara and I don't think it will take another 18 years to break the site record with so many awesome pilots pushing themselves.  I think Banning is possible with all the right conditions!  It will always be my personal first 100 mile flight and it will always be the first ever 100 mile paraglider flight from Santa Barbara.  I am grateful for so many mentors sharing their insight.  I am grateful for the opportunity to paraglide so much, and it was nice to see my training, hard work, and dedication pay off.  It was an amazing day and I will always remember it for its beauty and solitude.






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