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Saturday, 2/11/2017 [Flight Article
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Bates to Ventura Avenue
Leg 1 Westbound ~ 0.85 miles
Leg 2 Eastbound ~ 13.6 miles
total distance around 1 turn point ~ 14 1/2 miles
~ 1 hour 32 minutes airtime, Launch at 3:22, Land at 4:54
Niviuk Icepeak 6 Paraglider
Wasn't planning to fly, but I needed to repair a headlight on my Toyota, which turned out to take longer than expected, and when I finished about 1 PM I was in the fix it mode so I opted to replace the 3 brake lines on my IP6 in the middle of the cascade that I broke on landing after my last flight. I also needed to drive my daughter to Montecito at 3 PM. The wind started to stir as I was working to untangle the line spaghetti in my driveway. Fortunately, I had some spare lines and a line chart. Had my brake handle tied back on at 2:30. Though I might run Tess up to Montecito early but she wasn't ready so I opted to run over to Viola Fields for a line check.
The wind was pretty stiff so I walked across the field to the upwind side. The lines looked ok and I got in some higher wind ground handling practice as I backed up across the field toward my car. Did multiple pull-ups in the blustery conditions.
It was about 3 PM as I stuffed the canopy into the back seat of my Toyota when I got a text message from Tess saying she didn't need a ride because she was going to get picked up. I felt more confident about my high wind pull-up up technique after a little practice, so I motored over to Bates for a look. A little stiff with moderate caps on the water, but it seemed like I'd be able to penetrate and there were plenty of assistants. Mike Harrington was airborne on his HG indicating a good direction. He had reported the wind up higher was about 25 earlier, but by the time I got there he seemed to be penetrating ok. Opted to give it a try. Took several pull-up attempts. The first one came up asymmetrical, the second I drove it too hard, then I couldn't get it come up at all because the direction was good so there was a wind hole rotor behind the lip. Finally backed up and found some cleaner air away from the edge and took the advice of my assistants who held up my leading edge, which worked and I a got away easy.
The wind had been stronger earlier, but in hindsight it was backing off. The direction was good and I could penetrate westbound in the low teens on full bar. Easy connection across the freeway leaving with about 580 feet MSL. Only consumed about 60 feet on the mile glide before I turned back into the wind for a climb. More wind toward the ocean. Penetration was easy and I could have flown back to launch but opted to turn at the point with about 800 to avoid having to connect twice.
Couldn't quite figure out if it was thermals or ridge lift. Sweet super smooth air out front, but it seemed like I needed to 360 and drift back with it, so I went to the back ridge for a look. There wasn't much back there other than small punchy thermals and not enough wind sustain in ridge lift, so I came back out front. A little concerned about the glide in heavy sink, but there didn't seem to be too much headwind and my GPS even indicated a slight tailwind in a few places down lower in the rotor going toward the ocean.
Willy and Mike Harrington had made the jump on their hang gliders. Willy worked the sweet stuff out front with thermalling technique and climbed all the way up to cloudbase at 3500. I left for Faria with 28, which is more than plenty, but didn't have much of a tailwind on glide and encountered sink on the way. Arrived with 13 and went around the corner with 15. Had to work some small thermal pops to get up at Solimar Peak. Mike flew by underneath and kept going toward Taylor Ranch. He was below any wind and eventually fizzled to the beach. Willy was at Taylor marking some lift along the edge of the wind out front. He spotted some seagulls and climbed from down low up to 1900. I did a few turns and went around the corner with 13, figuring I'd angle back in for the Avenue since the inland wind was a lot less than the harbor, which was reportedly blowing about 25ish.
Encountered a lot of sink in the lee behind Taylor Ranch so I was concerned that I might not make it across town, but the glide got better once I reached the river. Arrived at The Cross (the point) with about 500 and easily transition up the ridge to the normal 600 foot take-off, but couldn't get much over 800. Might have been working better out front where I got my best altitude, but had to come back into the hill when I lost the thermal. There wasn't much wind up the river so I opted to give the point another try since there was more wind there when I arrived. Perhaps too late in the day? Got low out past the point and had to contemplate landing options. Considered continuing upwind to a smallish field in town by the clock tower, which had a flag showing only moderate flow from the SW but also numerous objects that might tatter the flow and elevate my anxiety on a gusty approach. I'm getting older so I opted to turn downwind and go back to the strip along the base of the hill for less drama.
Smooth air and almost no wind on the deck. Mike and Willy also reported landing in zero wind on the beach.
Ron and Sharon Gruell live on Comstock, so I landed near their house and walked over to pack up in their driveway, but they weren't home. Uber back to the coast to meet up with Willy and Mike. Kevin showed up with 1 year old daughter to give us a ride back to Bates. Kevin also brought hot freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
Fun unexpected outing. Probably should have stayed home to do my chores?, but it feels good to know my lines are changed and my gear is ready for one of the many good days in the next couple of months.
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