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Sundowner Archived Flight Log
Copied from old hard copy hand written log book # 7

Alternator North Side to Point Magu Duck Ponds

Flight on March 28, 1985 (transcribed here from old notes on 2/15/12, about 27 years later)
This entry is mostly from recollection.  I only had a 2 line entry in my standard issue USHGA flight log that read
Strong N. to 35 on launch, to 40 on landing
good lapse, smooth thermals, super flight

Date: Thursday, March 28, 1985
Duration:  1:45 / Launch 12:15, Land at 2 PM
Distance: 43 miles
Launch Altitude: 3800 feet MSL
Landing Altitude: 50ish feet MSL
Max Altitude: 8200
Glider:  Comet II 165
Hang Glider Flight number 1073 / I'd been flying hang gliders since 6/30/81, 1367 days.  I tried to fly every day that I could, rain or shine, weak or strong, day or night.  A lot of flights after work (no kids yet) hugging the bowl at The Avenue, still airborne at sunset, hence the aka handle (The Sundowner).

Drove up solo on a weekday.  Blowing hard from the north at ridge line.  Measured gust to 35.  These were pre-Brotherhood days when our preferred north side launch was the Alternator off some rocks behind the fence.  It was steep enough that we didn't have to clear much brush.  We later cleared a shallower launch 50 yards to the west that worked better in lighter wind.

I didn't have crew or companions and was skeptical I could manage without assistance.  I was pondering my predicament when AC (Jim Graham) showed up and offered to help.  Setup behind some trees out of the wind and then flew the glider into position for launch.

The thermals were anchoring pretty good.  I think I was getting to 6 or 7K on the range.  Out of the thermals, the wind was strong from the north, so glides were max speed.  Down around Castle Ridge, I was down to about 500 over the ridge line.  I didn't want to get much lower because I was concerned about rotor going OTB.  I hit a rebound out near Snowball and went back to 8K.  Flew east across Rincon Peak and got up again at Red Mountain, then reached downwind for the Avenue because continuing on up Canada Larga Road looked sketchy.

Came in on the Ventura Avenue launch with a little to spare and boosted back into the upper 6s, drifting from the NW out over the Pier.  Was down low approaching Point Magu airbase.  Not enough altitude to go over.  Opted to pull up and land by some ponds just off the west end of runway 9 outside the airbase fence.  I don't think anyone saw me.

It was blowing about 40 on the deck, but with most of the gliders back then, you could pull the pin on the apex of the control bar and lay the glider flat for breakdown.  I was backing up at touchdown and got my cocoon harness boot caught under the control bar base tube.  It is a bit awkward and precarious. You have to lean into the control bar with modulating muscle to control the pitch.  Since the airspeed is more than trim, the washout is trying to push the nose up.  If you let the nose up, you'll go for a ride, and if you push the nose down too far, you'll break the glider.  Once I was able to wiggle my harness boot out and get unhooked, I could move up the keel toward the nose and have better control to pull the pin and lower the wing.

Don't remember how I got in touch with Janet because it was pre-cell phone era, but I recall she drove out to pick me up.  Perhaps I was able to talk to her on the radio as I passed by Ventura, or maybe someone stopped by and made a phone call for me.

I used to remember this flight vividly as one of my cherished memories, recalling more detail as recently as a few years ago, but as I now try to recollect, some of the connections are fuzzy, mixed together with other flights, not sure which pieces go with which flights.  The biggest uncertainty is how high I got where.  My log recorded the max altitude, which I think was in the rebound after going OTB.

I was inspired to look up my log entry and make some better notes because I had a short flight at Bates today before it blew out from the north.  There were 2 cloud streets along the range, one over the ridge, and the other further south, parallel to the range marking the rebound about half way to the ocean over Snowball.  Cloudbase was high, maybe 7K, and the big fat cumulus look smooth and organized, well anchored despite the strong wind.  It reminded me of the weather from the flight referenced above.