Personal Best from Pine SS, past Mojave
~ 76 miles / 4½ hours
[Weather Archive] [LZ] [Diablo's Log Entry]
Tom's Log Entry
Wasn't planning to fly, but Tony was offering logistics (again) and I hadn't had a summer XC flight this season. Got to bed late Friday night, about 1PM, but checked the weather before turning so I was motivated to give it a look in the morning. Slept in till almost 8, so I had to scramble to get my gear together and out the door. Met Diablo at Nordhoff just past 9, and we were on launch by 10:15 with Edward for Crew. A little slow setting up with extra water for a 10:44 takeoff. Super fun launch, climbing 100 over before turning around.
Got settled in with a pass to the left and then headed over to the main spine. Found a thermal right away and took it into the high 9s. It drifted back a bit to the NW of launch into a NW/SE convergence and went straight up. Headed over toward Rayes, staying slightly behind the ridge. Got to 10ish before Rayes, and pressed up wind to the front of the thermal field on NE side of the Mountain. Topped about 10½ with more drift from the SSE, so I angled over the back for the Chute.
Approaching Ranch Peak, I lost the south component, so I headed East along the ridge toward Deep Peak. Halfway across, I encountered convergence thermal activity drifting from the SE. Topped about 11 and bridged straight North, trying to stay on the seam. Got a good glide leaving, headed toward the 50/50. I started loosing the east a couple miles short of the 50/50 and lost the south a mile short. It was early and I wanted to hold the high ground, so I turned 110 degrees to the right and angled up the WNW spine toward Guillermo. Got a good glide, looking for a draw, but started encountering a little SE. I bit too low to reach for the South Side of the Peak, so I turned left on the NE ridge with a few hundred over. Finally found a thermal on the NE corner and climbed slow. Had to be patient, and finally got back up into the mid 8s and went fishing, topped about 10 with drift from the NW and headed east, trying to follow the NW/SW seam.
Found strong action over the flats just before the airport on the south side of the road. Climbed to 11ish and headed east for Frazier. Got some extenders and intercepted the west ridge a mile west of the towers. Dolphined over to the towers and climbed back to 11.5, drifting from the south. Headed to the north side of the east peak, but only found scraps. Dolphined upwind toward the SE, but started picking up SW near the SE end. Went left toward the VOR with 10.3.
I usually encounter SE wind at the lower altitudes, and prefer to leave higher to get over the Lockwood draw, but I got a good glide with a quartering SW tail wind. Perhaps Lockwood wasn't sucking too hard yet since it was early. Just past the VOR, I started picking up progressively more SE. Headed SE along the ridge toward Booster Junction. The SE kept getting worse, and I was finally parked out and needed as much speed bar as I dared to make progress. I wanted to peel left, hoping to get out of the east wind, but I needed to leave further south to stay out of the Oso Canyon Pass. I saw dust rising from near the electrical substation, so I kept pressing upwind, thinking I would bail to the West side if the headwind got too strong, but wanted to get a boost and turn left toward the Cement Plant. I expected the wind to get worse, but a mile behind the point, I started encountering rough air with small cores, and my penetration got better (thermal block?). Continued to penetrate upwind for a better core, and got back up to about 7ish. Went left for the Cement plant from a mile short of Booster Junction.
Up and down in the lower altitudes along the base of the Tehachapi Range, working anything to hold on. Topped from 6 to 7+ several times, and got down near 4 once (the ground is over 3). The drift varied. SSE near the Cement Plant, but I was getting some NW crossing the canyons. The spines seemed to be drawing toward the range, but with marginal altitude, I was hesitant to run in and get committed. Started picking up more west as I got further east, but the drift was slow and I had to hang on to anything that was working. It was hot on the deck, and I was trying to follow the seams. Each time I encounter drift from the north on glide, I'd angle further to the right and was finally off the foothills and over the edge of the flats. Finally got above 8 in a slow climb from 4+, drifting over the south side of the Military Installation.
Lost some on glide north east bound, but started getting higher with each climb, and finally connected to 11.5 over the south plant by the windmills at the entrance to Tehachapi. Diablo had taken the high route along the ridge line. There were some clouds starting along the Tehachapi Range before the Military installation, but he didn't connect to good altitude until he was near the pass into Tehachapi. He caught and passed me over the windmills. There were clouds within reach to the north of my line, with bases near 14K.
I went on glide, but with only 11½, I hedged my bet and stayed out front. We encountered variable drift and some spanky air. There was some drift from the north, but also intermittent headwind from the SE. Took a full stall and managed a couple of 500' climbs, but couldn't connect. Further east we started picking up more SSW wind. I thought I could run up 14 and skip along in the heat off the deck until I drifted into something going up. The wind was getting stronger so I angled more down wind on a line about a mile west of 14, half way between the road and the low range.
I was on a bad line, but thought I would be able to stay up in the heat off the deck. Tony reported the seam was over the edge of the foothills, but I was scared to run in at low altitude in the wind, which was parallel to the range. There would have been mechanical turbulence with the wind gusting to 25. In hindsight, I should have taken my 1,500 agl and run across the wind toward the road to get off the bad line, but it was drawing me a bit toward the convergence along the foothills, so I was hesitant to angle against the draw away from the convergence, but unless I was willing to go toward the convergence, I should have turned out because the line I was on was all down air. I still thought I would be able to skip along down low because it was so hot on the deck. The sink continued through 800 agl, and I realized my bad decision to hold the downwind line, but it was too late to turn out now. I held out some hope down to about 300 feet, but threw out the anchor to land next to a retrievable dirt road a mile in from the highway.
Did a penetration check, and was backing up some, so I got unclipped but held on and flew defensively so as not to take any big whacks that might result in falling out of the harness. The wind wasn't too bad, gusting from 5 to 25. and I touched down on the dirt road with zero ground speed. ~ 3:15
Edward drove right to me in Diablo's land cruiser. Didn't try to pack up in the wind and we were on chase in short order. Diablo had connected to big altitude and picked up the pace, we couldn't keep up. The land cruiser got hot going uphill through Red Rock, so we had to slow down and turn on the heater with the outside temp reading 108° in the shade. Tony made good time, but left the mountains around 9K and landed early (about 6:30) 3 miles north of the rest area, across from the first cinder cone, south of Big Pine (174 miles straight line, 200+ on the dogleg). He was 6 miles short of the Pine Open Distance Site Record, but logged the longest flight north bound, and probably the longest dogleg.
I also had my personal longest PG flight from Pine, but didn't think of it till the next day because it paled in comparison to Diablo's 139 mile PG site record.
Special Thanks to our expert crew. I wouldn't have gone down the base of the Tehachapi Range, miles away from the main road, unless we had Edward for support. Home at 12:30 (early!)