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Some flight data copied from: [www.xcontest.org/world/en/pilots/detail:mitchriley]
This flight data copied from XContest with IGC file: [https://www.xcontest.org/world/en/flights/detail:mitchriley/22.11.2019/17:51]
Note: some IGC and (and subsequent KMZ) files have been edited to trim the ends and reconcile landing and takeoff altitude with Google Earth.
See Also: http://www.mitchriley.com and Mitch's Vimeo Page at: [https://vimeo.com/mitchriley]
or track Mitch's flights on his Delorme inReach Map Page at: [https://share.delorme.com/MitchRiley]
Reference: Mitch's [IGC Text Data File] and [Google Earth KMZ File] or [Ayvri
See Also, [Brian Black's KMZ] and [Teaque's Holmes Crash Report]
Little Pine Mountain to Arroyo Grande / 56.5 miles SLOFD (Straight Line Over-Flight Distance)
Flight Report Submitted by Mitch Riley via email on 12/1/2019a
Flight Report for Friday, 22nd November 2019
Takeoff: Little Pine Mountain, hiked from upper Oso Campground
Landing: Arroyo Grande, East of Pismo Beach
It had been a busy couple of weeks working as an instructor for Eagle. I hadn’t had many days off so when I saw this one coming I knew I wanted to do something special. The GFS forecast 3 days out showed East wind, tops to 7,500ft and cumulus clouds. It also showed a N/S convergence on the high ground between Santa Ynez Valley and Cuyama Valley. That forecast would hold true when the NAM3 and ECMWF came into focus the day before and morning of the 22nd.
Little Pine Mountain is a big hike up, Andrew Byron and I hiked and flew it in Fall of 2016. (See “Hikes, bears, bushwhacking, and moonlight rotor." On http://www.mitchriley.com/stories > http://www.mitchriley.com/stories/2017/3/27/hikes-bears-bushwhacking-and-moonlight-rotor). I invited a number of pilots and two took me up on it, Teague Holmes from Colorado and Brian Black from BC. We hiked together but did not fly together.
We met up at 6am and I briefed the guys on what I saw in the forecast and possible routes. The models where agreeing about the east wind, convergence on the high ground, but they were disagreeing on the top of lift. Optimistically we might get to 7,500ft max. I explained to the guys that 7.5k was pretty low and committed for flying the high and deep line in the backcountry. I explained that we would probably be better off staying further out front, aiming to fly right over the launch at Happy Canyon. Id actually fly even further out from than that. This line would give us only brief moments of being a little deep, with plenty of landing options and trails/ranch roads to walk out on. Teague explained that Mike Pennington was in SLO and would be watching us and retrieving.
Hike & Launch:
The Santa Cruz trail was in pretty good shape with the usual loose sliding sidehills. It is a landscape that is rich with nutrition from a fire a few year ago and things are growing back nicely. When we arrived on launch (many options up there) 6-mph cycles were blowing in, with a base wind of 3-mph, and clouds were showing on the high line. As we set up the base wind increased to 8-10mph and cycles added a few mph. Clouds had been forming on the highest ground at 8:30 and just as I set up to launch a couple of wisps formed over us.
Flight (local time for reference):
Glider: Enzo 3 Small (105kg Top)
10:01: Drift of first real thermal shows almost straight east wind (just a little south). I remember the wind at the beginning of the flight being around 22-kmh. Toped it out at 4900 ft with a little wispy cloud. Clouds on the main ridge were well formed (Classic convergence with tops showing NE and bottoms showing SE), and little wisps were showing out front( on the line to Happy Canyon).
10:30: This thermal was very weak and drifting a lot. I thought to myself that I'm a little too far out front and I may risk landing to continue on this line, but my altitude and the altitude of the clouds was not high enough for me to feel I wanted the very deep line.
10:47: Got over 4500 ft again, thermals are starting to show SE more than straight E, mountains are drawing more… I was still being conservative and avoiding going super deep, preferring to stay in good laudable and likable terrain.
11:30. The cloud street split, with one going towards Plowshare, through deepness, and the other going towards Vandenberg Air Force Base. I thought that the Vandenberg street could be interesting. I figured that the onshore West wind would be coming in at some time and this cloud street could be that convergence.
12:01 The top of this thermal showed some drift from the SSW . I figured it was either the onshore flow or the Liebe Canyon drainage sucking hard.
12:36: All SE in this one, looks like it was the Liebe Canyon causing that West. Now I’m getting closer to airspace and with the East still significant I need a new plan, crossing the flats, again and going in the direction SLO seemed like the best bet.
13:38: The two small climbs here showed West wind (though I didn’t notice it at the time. Then I found a great thermal that wanted to feed me into the convergence. In hind site pushing towards Lopez Lake here would have connected me to the convergence and giving me 2-3 more hours of flying (100mile flight potential). There are some roads and ranches back there… next time I'll know. Also the hill I thermaled up over looks like a great launch, with a road going up, or an easy hike. I think we could use this on off shore/onshore switch days and fly back to Sage or SB.
13:46. Flew through some lift here with a cloud street above me, should have stopped, but I thought I had a convergence line that would last a little longer, very soon I descended into another level of air, that was cooler with a west wind. My flight was over.
I think I could have flown much further toward Lopez Lake and beyond had I studied up on the ranch roads etc along the route. I had told myself that altitudes were not right for going deep, but with a little studying I would have realized that it was not that deep. My course has been expanded on the West side, and I won’t make the same errors next time.
After landing I learned that Teague had hurt himself after landing, hiking and attempting a relaunch. I must have been out of radio sight, but Brian helped relay to rescue and Teague was in Cottage Hospital within 1.5 hours of his crash. Well done Brian!!
Mike Pennington came to pick me up 45 minutes after landing, thanks Mike!!
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