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Liminator to Indian Dunes
4½ hours, 59 miles
My first HG flight in 3 years.
I'd gotten it out of the bag a couple of times at Bates, only to watch the wind die off. When I was instructing full time it was ok to miss a day now and then, but when I only get one day a week at best, I don't always want to punt.
The morning balloon was moving along and the forecast agreed, with 100 knots above 30 thousand. With 35 knots forecast for 12, and 6 grand in the low twenties, I was concerned the vertical action would pull some wind down. In hindsight, it did pull down eventually, but the thermal block won out most of the day.
Debbie had backed way down and was reporting 0-9 with an average of 3 @ 7:30, so I packed the bag. We (John Scott / South Side, Tony Deleo / Diablo, myself, and Carolyn) got the balloon data @ 8:30 and were mobile. Getting on the 101 north bound, I checked Debbie again and she was picking up, 3-15 with an average of 9. Tony offered to turn around and I traded gear.
By the time we got to launch, it was starting to block. We still had some pretty good drain cycles, but Debbie was backing down again, reporting 0-5. Nobody wanted to hike up to the Brother Hood, and we figured it would block in short order. By the time we were set up and ready, good cycles had been coming in for 10 minutes. Airborne at 10:35. Gotta love the Liminator, it's the sweetest launch anywhere, just let it fly and follow.
I felt a little disconnected and not sure of the timing. My Sensor 510E is a bit stiff and can lock out the wrong way if you push out too early. I wasn't willing to get within a wing span or two all day. After practicing a couple of turns in the vicinity of the house thermal, I humbly headed out, but too low to hit on the factory. I got on the spine in front of the twin towers with some room and found something to turn in. Stepped up to The Factory, topped in the low 4s.
Easy going with a little confidence. By the time I left Montecito Peak, I figured Fillmore was a sure thing as long as I didn't get too racy, so I took my time. Only getting into the low 4s early on, but I figured it would go higher once the day lit off. I got stuck at Noon. Diablo and South Side had spotted me a pretty good lead, but John was catching up. I got down into the low 3s a couple of times, but finally connected and left Noon with 48. 55 at West Divide and cloudbase about 6 over White Ledge.
The Nut House Ridge worked and we got over 4 on Spine One, so I thought we'd just blast through Ojai. I didn't find a good core at Nordhoff and kept going off the end with 4+. Just scraps at The Stooges and a low arrival below Twin Peaks. Easy climb to 45. John was only a few turns behind, but I got a better line over to East Repeater and he came in low on the plateau at Boyd's as I was climbing through 5. From Boyd's, I usually go straight to Santa Paula Ridge with more than 5, but cloud base was above The Bluffs so I went up the spine lookin for a cushion. Didn't find anything on the way up and came limping back low, and got stuck for an hour.
I was a hurtin unit. Like skiing, you use particular muscles hang gliding and none of mine were up to the task. My legs and arms were cramping and my back was burning. The wing would lock out and turn the wrong way if I pushed out too early in the week broken lift. I arrived at Boyd's around 12:30 and left about 2 o'clock.
Cloudbase at Puckers (6+) and again at Santa Paula Peak. Didn't find anything at Jack's place, so I moved out toward the F. Down below 2 and I hit the best thermal all day. Diablo came in under me and helped mark the leading edge. Topped about 55 and got a good glide in buoyant air. Tony left about 1/2 mile behind and 400 below. He passed me over Piru and found the next thermal at my altitude 1/2 mile in the lead.
John was breaking down in the field below with Carolyn standing by. I couldn't match Tony's climb and was wallowing around like a drunken sailor. The lift was sweet and smooth, but you had to push out and slow down. The roll rate deteriorates as you slow down and I just didn't have enough umph left. I picked up 6 or 7 hundred and figured I could make the glide to the interstate in the buoyant air so I pointed downwind. I hadn't been able to keep a heading all day and the buoyant air turned to sink in the lee of Martinez Peak. I needed a big field to land so I angled out for the road and turned back upwind past the Dump. Fortunately, the landing conditions were easy against the upriver breeze in the low teens. Touch down at 3:10.
Tony left higher but played for the relief and had to limp back out. He put down at the trailer park just short of the interstate. Carolyn put in a stellar performance, and was on the spot with a cold one.
It was good to fly the HG, but the flight would have been easier on a PG. The HG did have a glide advantage, and I may not have connected at Fillmore without it. I think the newer wings turn better, and most couch potatoes that take on a 5 mile run are hurtin the next day. I need a hot tub and massage.