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Sundowner Archived Flight Log
Copied from old hard copy hand written log book
The Billboard to the Calabasas Driving Range
The old driving range was on the south side of the 101 freeway in the SW corner of the San Fernando Valley
It was built over with auto dealerships years ago.
Flight on Tuesday, May 2nd, 1987 (transcribed on 3/16/12)
Duration: 1.7 hours
Distance: 20 Miles
Glider: HG, Seedwings Sensor B Model, Red and Gold
Climb to 1K over at the Billboard and bench back to Bony Ridge. Elsinore type convergence, getting to 45 on the inland side with lower cloudbase on the marine side.
Bill Kimball benched up also and glided out to land on the west side, but got a $100 ticket for landing within the park boundary.
I head downwind, getting higher, up to 5K, staying above 3. Shoulda, coulda, maybe stayed more into the mountains, but no radio on weak batteries so opted to go down the road for easy logistics. Land at the driving range in Calabasas (south west corner of the San Fernando Valley)
Reflecting back 25 years ago.
Opted to archive the flight above from my hand written log because I had just posted a brief article (below) about the Southern Sister and Round Mountain in response to a topic about access issues at the Grade.
We were game to explore just about anything that had a road to the top and were lured by the frequent cumulus clouds over Bony Ridge and the Santa Monica Mountains. The Billboard was a lot of fun with some memorable flights. It was an ESE facing launch on a lower ridge line into the valley behind Bony Ridge east of Yerba Buena Road. Access was via a short dirt road that serviced the Billboard. It worked in the morning sun before the sea breeze pulled in. The Billboard itself was a reflector screen to bounce communications signals out of the valley associated with three satellite dishes below that were locked onto geosynchronous communication satellites. The AT&T International Earth Station (Malibu) is nestled low in the valley shielded from noise by the surrounding mountains. I don't see the Billboard in today's Google Earth images, so it has likely been replaced by fiber optic cables. Launch was a little over 2200, about a 1000 vertical above the valley below. Sandstone Peak (Mt Allen) on Bony Ridge behind launch is a little over 3100 MSL.
We had a spurt of successful flights one season and didn't fly it much afterward. I seem to recollect a gate across the access road that was open one year and closed the next. Hiking to launch with a hang glider got old fast. We used a half dozen different landing areas including a clearing near the satellite dishes, the golf course, and top landing across the valley.
We did fly once from the SW side of Bony Ridge in Paragliders, but it was a couple hour hike up to launch from Yerba Buena Road. The State Park doesn't like us landing on their property and its a long glide out to clear their domain.
Reflections from The Southern Sister and Round Mountain posted in response to an article about The Grade.
Southern Sister and Round Mountain
Posted by Truax_Tom » Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:14 pm
I haven't flown the Southern Sister in years so I don't know the current status. I used it more often when I lived in Camarillo. We had 2 launches, one on each spine, with a trail up from Potrero Road to the south spine, and another up to the west spine/ridge from the parking lot. We did occasionally dodge some access harassment hiking up from the parking lot when the LZ lawns were controlled by the state hospital, but I don't know what the current status is with the Channel Islands University now in charge. It is hard to police the trail up from Potrero Road.
It is a long downwind jump from the Southern Sister to the Grade, but the connection has been made numerous times. I think I remember that you need to track a thermal OTB down the ridge as far as possible and then make a run for it. If it's a good enough day to get to the Grade, you can usually get up there and try to keep going, but I don't think there has been much success going downwind from the Grade.
We faded away from the Southern Sister because the Grade was easier, bigger, and closer, but the Southern Sister is also pretty consistent. Can't quite remember who championed the Grade, but Art Favela was involved early on.
Back in the HG days, prior to PGs, we used to fly Round Mountain out in front of the the state hospital. If we could thermal up about 500 over at Round, we could jump back to the Southern Sister.
Back then we could drive to the top of Round Mountain, but they have since put up a fence. It was a nasty 4 wheel drive road, but we could bounce up in my Battleactic (Pontiac Lemans) and then my Datsun B610 station wagon if we got a running start and kept the speed up. I had to repair a lot of gas tank leaks in my Pontiac. You can still see the road on Google earth. I don't know if it's used anymore, but I suspect you can still hike up. I think Round is a little over 500 feet MSL, or about 450 AGL. I flew students off Round Mountain because it was an easy launch and landing without many obstacles or hazards. A bit more than Elings, but much less intimidating than the Southern Sister or the Grade, however, all of the Camarillo launches can be blown out for PGs until late in the day during the summer.
It was a logical move to clear a couple of launches on the Southern Sister when PGs came along because we were always trying to get there from Round Mountain. Hiking was much less appealing with a Hang Glider.
I'm sure Art will miss the Grade, but on the right day you can get there from either Round Mountain or The Southern Sister.