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Friday, 4/4/2014
Flt 1 ~ Tandem  with Tess / Skyport to Parma
Flt 2 ~ Solo at Bates

Sundowner's Flight Report,

Wasn't planning to fly, but when I checked the weather earlier in the week, Friday looked promising.  Carpinteria schools were on spring break and I was trying to motivate Tess away from the electronic entertainment by running through a list of potential activities.  The paragliding option perked her interest which was all the motivation I needed.  I brief weather check confirmed the wind was manageable for a light load, and clouds were already popping on the range.  I had quick 10 am appointment, so 10:30 at Parma was the best we could manage.  The Eagle bus had gone up at 10, and I was out of phone sync with Cort.  No one was left at Parma when we arrived, so we headed up in the Toyota without waiting because I was concerned about the overdevelopment and lowering cloudbase.

Dave Turner had just launched in a Tandem as we approached Flores Flats.  Helped a couple of visiting pilots spread to speed up the que and we laid out to the left with a short runway.  By the time we hooked in the clouds had enveloped launch and the loss of sun had dampended the cycles.  Since the tandem is pretty big, and we were setup to the left, we only had about 10 feet to the lip, so I was a concerned about the short runway in weak cycles, but I figured we could give it a try and still have room to abort if the canopy didn't come up easily.  Cort gave out canopy layout a last dressing, Tess said no (she was uncomfortable with the lack of visibility), I said go and the canopy came up easily with a front pull-up for a clean launch.

Tess has a dozen flying days, but mostly coastal ridge soaring and the training hill.  On her only mountain flight last fall, the condition were weak high pressure, so the air was bumpy she got airsick pretty quick.  Friday was sporting a good lapse rate with low cloudbase, so we where hoping she would do better in the smooth thermals behind the sun line.

With no GPS, our dead reckoning isn't precise.  I was expecting to break into the clear right after launch but a couple minutes later we were still relying on the compass and a little startled to find rocks in the clouds dead ahead.  My radio was clipped next to my compass, so I lost confidence that I was really heading southish and angled right away from the rocks.  Moved the radio and played with the compass a bit to make sure it was reacting as expected.  I was carying 20 pounds of water ballast, but still loaded light so our sirspeed was slow.  The combination of light drift from the west, slow airspeed, and possible compass issues resulted in a track a little more to the left than expected.  We finally spotted the road as we cleared the SW spine of the Factory just behind the power lines, so we were in an optimal location afterall.

Cloudbase had lowered down into the mid 2s, but there was good sun out front.  Tess was comfortable and doing well with no signs of motion sickness.  We thermalled up to 37 over the Antenna Farm and headed south toward the beach.  We popped out a little east of Parma with 3K.  I considered continuing on to the beach, but Tess didn't want to land yet, so we turned back for the mountains.  Cloudbase was now down to about 22 hundred.  We heard Aaron was heading back west toward Parkers, and another pilot was pushing eastbound past Ramero Saddle.  We got to 25 and went east to join Aaron at Parkers.

There was more sun over at the Holy Hills, so we followed Aaron back to the Rock and over to the Holly Hills.  The air was smooth, but too many turns caught up with Tess and she indicated airsickness was becoming an issue.  We flew straight out toward to the Riveria and found some lift, but the air in the sun was bumpier, and after a turn or two it was obvious Tess didn't have enouugh turns left in her to get the altitude needed to to reach across town for the beach, and the schools were in session (Carpinteria school spring break dosn't coninside with the SB school district schedule).  Turned back for Parma and pulled big ears to get down quicker.

Our approach was good, but loaded light we don't have much momentum for rotation.  Dropping through a gradient the last 50 feet, our groundspeed increased, but our airspeed and rotational athority was low.  We still had considerable goundspeed left when we got to the grass, but Tess coudn't run in the one size fits all large harness and she was hanging lower, so I was still airborne behind her when she contacted the ground and stopped.  To put it mildly, the landing wasn't graceful.  Tess didn't like getting bowled over by the fat guy, but Aaron came over too help unbuckle and lighten the mood.

Packed up while keeping an eye open for logistics.  I announced that we were looking for ride up to our vehicle, but Robert Millington slipped away to launch without offering assistance, a move that would have been considered sinful in the early 90s, but expected behaviour after the later 90s.  Fortunatily, Dave Turner and the Eagle Van offered to give us boost.  It was good to spend a little one on one time chatting, but Tess was running the show and cut the social hour short with here insistance that it was past lunch time.  Picked up the gear at Parma and said high to the PG pilot (forgot his name?) who had flown to the Power Lines (just short of Casitas Pass) and back.

We fuled the 10 year old redhead at the Habit and motored back to Carpinteria.  Cloudbase had lifted and the wind was pushing through on the coast with nice caps on the water.  Dropped Tess had home and switched gear to go take a look at Bates.  Pilots were up, but only getting a hundred over launch.  The caps on the water looked solid and pulled in.  The direction was ok, a lilttle cross, but not bad.  Setup quick and pulled up on the flat for easy launch.

There was only one other pilot in the air.  We could get into the low 300 MSL range, and I hit 380 once, but sill more than a hundred shy of what we needed to bench over to the Rincon.  The ocean looked filled in and the direction was ok, but but the wind velocity on the cliff was less than expected.  Hoping it would build another 5 knots, but it went the other way and I finally flushed to the grass after 45 minutes of going back and forth.

A couple other pilots launched.  The first one stayed up for awhile in contitions too weak for me, but he finally flushed to the beach after a dozen passes.  It was too weak by the time the 2nd pilot launched.  They both showed reached the top of the path shortly after I was in the bag.  Turned out one of the pilots was Steve Morris (White Shark), who I hadn't seen in years.  He moved to northern California, but continues to come back for short trips.  The other pilot was a P2 from Ventura, also named Steve.  I offered to hike, they wanted to exercise so I watched the gear while they brought the vehicles down.

No wheather archive.  It was a good colorful day with a lot of potential, but I wasn't planning to fly and couldn't budget the time to log the weather afterward.  Numerous pilots had good flights.  it OD with low cloudbase early, but cloudbase lifted in the afternoon as the west wind pushed through.  The west was good for Bates, but not strong enough to jump to La Conchita.  Pilots flew to the west side of Casitas Pass, but it was early and cloudbase was low so they turned around and came back.  Fillmore was likely reachable a little later.



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