Bates Wind Follies
Monday Afternoon, 3/21/05
Bonanza loaded heavy with full ballast
Working away at Calle Ocho, watching the wind build. Finally got the itch and headed for Bates, about an hour too late. A few pilots had flown earlier, but reported increasing penetration difficulty. They had been on the ground for 15 minutes. Blowing pretty stiff.
Pull up below the edge and get bounced about but finally end up airborne and pointed the right direction. Penetration was poor as I gave ground sliding down the ridge to the left. Frantically grasping for the speed bar on my newish harness, and pulled the reserve handle by mistake. Oops!! Fortunately, the reserve stayed in the harness container until it dislodged on touchdown. I didn't want to get jostled around too much. No way to re-pin it. Penetration was iffy, so I got on full bar to push out front and stayed low.
Down lower I was able to penetrate, so I worked upwind and was able to bench up and back into the SW corner of launch. Pulled the D risers as I was touching down, but that ballooned me back up, did a pendulum, came down again and was able to kill the canopy with assistance.
Got the reserve back in and pinned. Over the edge again for another try. Seemed to be blowing harder. Got bounced around again on the pull up, and didn't get away. Ended up about 25 yards off to the east.
Collected the gear and set up again. Another swift pull up and I was able to get away. Cautiously tested backing up into the upwind edge of the sweet spot, but once I started climbing I couldn't penetrate with full bar. Had to point out and fall off to get out front and back down into lower velocity air. Plowed back upwind down low and tested one more time with the same scary results, so I opted to give up and attempt another top landing.
Spent a half hour trying to line up an approach, but you can only go so far upwind before the cliff is too cross. I'd get as far upwind as I could and still be able to climb up the terraces, but when I got higher I'd be backing up to fast and have to give ground and dive back out. Finally threw in the towel and set up for landing on a clear stretch of beach.
Was able to pack up pretty clean, but I had a long hike to the ramp. On top at lower Bates it looked like the wind was backing off. Thought I might be able to fly back up to my truck rather than hike, so I got it out again. I'd dumped my ballast so I went to the showers to fill up. Hit the wrong button and took and unwanted bath. All suited up and ready to go again. The wind seemed to be picking back up. Put my glasses on and it looked windier. Gave it a go anyway.
Did ok on the pull up and got turned around, but had to give a lot of ground and was back from the edge. Got gusted and popped up about 15 feet and backed over the outhouse. Had trouble getting the speed bar again. Was surging fore and aft. Gave ground to the left to keep from backing up. Cleared the gazebo Finally got on the bar over by the goal post, but couldn't get back to the edge, and I couldn't give any more ground to the left. Stayed on the bar and touched down on the grass just west of the goal post. Reached up and grabbed the D risers to kill the canopy. Wrong move (slow learner?). As the canopy started coming down behind me, I was yanked 15 feet back into the air and blown back into the trees. The trees made for a good net and I was stabilized.
As I climbed the trees to extract the canopy I couldn't help thinking that tree climbing is almost a required skill set for PG pilots. Then it started to rain. Got the glider out ok, and packed my damp canopy on the grass. Sharon was on her way home from work, and offered to spare me the hike.
The wind stared to back off again. Maybe one more try? I was spared by the 6 o'clock shutdown. It was all over in 5 minutes. Dinner at the Palms.
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