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Tom Pipkin

Wednesday, 3/18/05
Skyport to West Repeater
31 miles, 4.5 hours (~ 17 points for LFDS)

Dean and I had been watching the weather closely this week.  Wednesday was supposed to switch on shore.  I spent Tuesday night rearranging my work schedule for a day of hooky.

Unfortunately, Wednesday mornings forecast called for increasing high clouds and a weaker lapse than we had hoped for.  I began to feel guilty about missing work, but…. “I just couldn’t let my paragliding friends down, they were counting on me”. (At least that’s what I told myself as I was picking up Chris and Eddy).  The guilty feeling soon passed and we were on our way to Skyport with my Suburban loaded up with happy pilots.

First off launch at 10:40 and climbed to 3600’ over the Holy Hills then headed over to the Antenna Farm.  The AF wasn’t working so I press up hill to join Dean in front of the Thermal Factory.  Dean apparently wanted to trade spots and flew over to where I just left.  The AF didn’t work for him either as he was stuck there at 2500’ or less for the next 45 minutes.  I hooked a boomer at the TF and was east bound with 4400’.  Some days there’s just no denying an element of luck involved in a good flight.

When Chris also reported being stuck below 2500’ I made a conscious effort to stay as high as possible.  Every thermal source for the next 10 miles popped on schedule for an easy flight to the Powerline crossing.  Irene and Bo were just a mile or so behind and pulled off a super low save at Castle Ridge.

After crossing the power lines with 4k, a sink hole prevented the jump to Noon peak.  Down to 3500’ at the end of Powerline ridge (east of the power lines) I began thinking Dean and Chris were the lucky ones.  I was too low to jump the canyon towards Noon peak and too low to cross the powerlines to the west.  I spent the next 30 minutes trapped, ridge soaring in the ratty air contemplating my next move.  Finally a scrappy little cycle popped high enough to allow me to retreat west back over the lines.

Irene and Bo showed up just as I found a boomer about 1 mile west of the lines.  The 3 of us topped out at 5k+ and headed east back over the powerlines and on to Noon Peak.  We teamed up on West Divide benching back to the peak.  Topping out w/5300’ I pulled an easy glide to White Ledge.

Looking back from White ledge I spotted Irene very low heading out from Divide with Bo in tow.  She had a great flight to that point and I was starting to feel sick at the prospect of her not making it into Ojai.  She hung on and managed to turn the corner at White ledge landing at the Taft ranch.  Nice job Irene!  Bo threw out the anchor and landed with her.  They managed to catch a ride out to hwy 150.

All the usual spots in Ojai were working until I got to West Repeater.  The forecasted high clouds rolled in and shut it down.  OJ and Susan had been monitoring my progress and graciously picked me up at Boccalli’s.

Thanks for the lift John and Susan!

(For the LFSD challenge) Holy Hills to West Repeater 31 miles, 4.5 hours


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