Tom Truax aka Sundowner / SD

Sunday, 9/5/04, Labor Day Weekend
Chiefs Peak to top land at Santa Ynez Peak ~ 42 miles ~ 3 hours
Back to Condor Point and out to Farren Road ~ 5 miles ~ hour
Tandem with Jessie

Looked like a real good day on paper.  Offered to give my neighbor's boyfriend, Jessie, a ride.  9:30 meet at NHS.  SD's & Brendan's Suburbans up the hill with 7 bodies each including Jenny and Edward for crew.  The wind check spot seemed to be sitting on a NE/SE convergence.  The consensus opted for Chiefs.  Quick pilots meeting, and airborne with a front pull up right away.  Good launch.  Got 500 over at the road cut drifting from the SW.

Started to fish uphill, but the drift changed and it was upwind uphill.  A bit leery about pressing into potential lee side stuff, but there seemed to be thermal lift on the convergence edge.  Once I got over the peak, I stepped on top and it got better, drifting from the ENE.  Topped about 84 and went west.

Passed just in front of the towers and the point of Spine One.  Continued across the gab.  Near the edge of the gap it was drawing into the gap from the SW, but half way up the ridge to Bump one it was from the SE.  Got to Bump One with 3K.  Seemed still, but since there was still a little east I continued off the end and over to Bump 2 with 29.  Didn't find enough ridge to stay up, so I looked out front, needing a thermal.  Found it and went back up to 8K, drifting from the SE.  Smooth organized lift.

Passed behind White Ledge with 6+ and kept going.  Got to the spine at East Divide and climbed back above 55, but the thermal was twisty and we lost the handle.  Took a full stall followed by parachutage, followed by a big surge, followed by a couple of big oscillations and some tip folds.  Jessie inquired "does that happen very often?"  Didn't like the thermal so continued on to Divide and got there a little above the top, but didn't get up.  Faded SW and then over to Noon

Came in at noon on the front spine and benched up to the trapezoid easily.  Got back above 5 and kept going.  The SE wind was lurking, but some spots seemed to anchor better than others.45ish above Montecito Peak, and 38 at the Thermal Factory.  Skipped on down to the VOR.  Jessie wanted on the ground to relieve his bladder so I considered top landing, but it was punchy and we hit some sort of strong smooth convergence thermal that tracked against the drift down lower.  Went to 6K and was back in the lighter east wind.

Crossed 154 and got low (1,900) on a point off the west end of the airport.  Wiggled back to 25, moved west and finally got into the mid 3s.  Came in on the low knob below Condor Point.  Thought if we could bench up to the middle point we might be able to land next to a slide that looked launchable.  Too buoyant.  Tried big ears, but the tandem drives like a truck.  Finally gave up and drifted back to connect in a convergence that went to 6K.  Dolphined over to Santa Ynez Peak for a top landing.

Arrived a little below the top, but climbed up the fire break in the SE ridge lift.  Got into the towers and tried to put it down on top, but overshot.  Went back and tried the firebreak again, but too much ridge lift.  Got further back on the next attempt.  Dropped out of the lift and thumped in uphill quartering downwind on the north edge of the firebreak. 2:15

The canopy blew back and went over the top edge of the bushes.  It was steep downhill on the backside.  Took over 2 hours to extract the canopy and lines.  On of the most difficult extractions I've had to do.  Finally got off again a little before 5 pm.  Edward checked the weather while we climbed above 47 over the spine in front of the Peak.

It was late and the wind was light from the SW.  I was hopeful that it may work for another hour so we went east.    It didn't shutdown and that was our last thermal.  Calm down low.  Landed in a field off the top of Farren Road.  Picked up a bunch more sticks.  About 5:30ish.

We broke down.  The landowner gave us a ride to the gate.  Edward and Jenny were right there.

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