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Sunday, 9/4/2022 [Weather] and [Flight Articles] or [Clinic Weekend Overview]
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Eagle Clinic / Day 3
Weather Archive and Summary
for Sunday, 9/4/2022
see also [Flight Articles]

Eagle Clinic / 2 rounds / one from Chiefs and a 2nd round from Pine SS

The various forecast including the (archived) NAM Skew-T graphs were calling for ESE wind increasing with altitude early but fading fast and then switching to come from the NW below cloudbase late in the day.  Pine's south launch amplifies a SE wind so we opted to do Round 1 from Chiefs and Round 2 from Pine.  The NAM Skew-T graphs for 5 PM (24Z) were also forecasting lowering cloudbase and towering development late in the day... and the forecast discussion was in agreement noting the potential for monsoon convection and thunderstorms.  During Round 1 from Chiefs there was an impressive cloudstreet up high back at the Pine Range that ran toward Plowshare (to the WNW).  The altitudes were good enough in Ojai (almost 10K) for seasoned pilots to venture OTB and connect?  SB looked windy from the SE early and stable later in the day with light but quenching low level onshore flow from the SW.

Eagle Clinic Day 3 Round 1 / Chiefs / begin launching at 11:20 AM

Randy brought Jimmy Bean along to drive (old time seasoned crew), so Louise was able to fly on round 1.  We had 11 pilots (12 bodies) headed to launch in the Eagle Van from Nordhoff High School.  Unlike Friday's haze, the air was clear in the valley.  Seemed like wind at launch early without much cycle variance, but the wind dummy reported good conditions so everyone scrambled off and up.  There was ESE wind up high (most pilots were getting over 8K) but down lower in the valley the filling flow was uphill onshore from the SW (as is typical and expected).  I was first off at 11:21 in easy launch conditions and last off at 12:37 in stronger blustery launch cycles.  Randy went east and got to 8K at the Topa Bluffs.  Chris Gulden went 20 miles west over Casitas Pass to Snowball's Daddy before turning back to land by his vehicle at Viola field.  Other pilots landed at various LZs around Ojai, including the Soule Park Golf Course and a field alongside San Antonio Creek.  Most pilots landed at Nordhoff High School after re-boosting over Nordhoff Ridge then arriving high over the High School and reporting difficulty "getting down"?

Eagle Clinic Day 3 Round 2 / Pine South Side / begin launching at 4:07 PDT

After round 1 Arthur, Kayoko, and Randy opted to call it a weekend after their awesome first round Sunday flights, so we debriefed in the shade and took a pulse.  We could do Chiefs again, which was a high probability option with perhaps less potential? or we could roll the dice and head up to Pine which was less certain but offered more potential.  Arya noted the weekend was advertised as a "Pine" Clinic.  His inclination received a 2nd and 3rd so we loaded and headed uphill.  I was off on the timing, thinking the stiff SE wind up higher would permit later launches from the South Side, but the forecast was calling for the NW to overpower the SE later in the day.  I didn't account for the reversal amplification from the towering development dump.  We were seeing rain over Lockwood Valley on our ride up the hill.  The wind along the ridgeline was still from the south, but it was light by the time we got to launch.  The dumping over-development OTB was pushing against the onshore draw and the feed line (sun/shade line) was advancing south, like a hungry grazer feeding forward.  We had sun on launch when we arrived, but by the time I got clipped in the shade was out front a short way.  We were in scramble mode.  Arya asked if the shade would affect the conditions and I replied with a simple "yes" because we didn't have time for ground school...

There was a weak up cycle wafting through as I hooked in.  I didn't burn time waiting for something better.  Did a front pull-up and ran hard for a clean liftoff.  Only got a hundred below launch as I initially angled SSW for the main spine to the west, but soon realized were lee-side in free air wind from the NW (above the boundary layer upslope convection) .  The air was strong and twisty.  I gained altitude flying through some powerful surges but didn't stop because I sensed it would be better a little further out front and to the east.  Stopped to do four 360's 3/4 of a mile out front, gaining 700 feet while drifting a half mile from the WNW but I didn't have it centered and fell out on the last turn.   I was now far enough out front that I was out of the north wind in flow from the west so I turned east, parallel to the ridge along the bounce line rather than perpendicular to it.  My anxiety level was low because with 8K I had plenty of terrain clearance.  A quarter mile ahead I latched on to a big fat strong core that was well anchored (drifting light from the SW) and I knew I was going to cloudbase.

Any pilots that followed would be encountering a progressively more challenging scenario as the sun line was marching south, so they would likely need to reach further out toward the river to tag the rebound.

Arya had been ready to go but had to wait in line behind me.  He launched about 4 minutes after I did at 4:11:51 PDT.  I spotted him on his glide out.  My emotions were conflicted.  I was elated that he got off and would likely have a stellar flight, but I was also concerned that he was a low airtime pilot with limited experience and had to fly an extended way though sinky washing machine air.  At least he had completed a SIV with Dilan.  He was plummeting but made the right play by not fighting against the west, reaching out and falling off to the left, away from the better LZs.  Sometimes the better call is to go all in and play for the win rather than anchoring in down air and certain defeat?  I only got a hundred below launch, but Arya burned through 800 feet before hitting the start of the rebound just a little further south than me, about 1-1/4 miles out from launch.  He started bobbing up but didn't stop for another 3/4 of a mile, running SE, gaining a thousand feet along his downwind surging dolphin glide.  When Arya did stop for a core he thought he could handle, he climbed from 8K to13,629 MSL in about 15 turns, gaining about 370 feet per turn.

I heard a radio report from Arya on glide as he was crossing the Sespe Gorge with 12.5K, but we were getting stepped on by some Ham Radio Geeks pushing a lot of power.  Once they realized we were on Frequency, they kept transmitting non-stop to purposely drown us out, so the radio was almost useless.  We could transmit to chase but couldn't receive.  Next time we need to have an alternate frequency and confirm that everyone can execute if needed?

I saw a 3rd pilot setting up on launch, but didn't spot them in the air because I reached cloudbase 9 minutes after liftoff.  I didn't know that Stef flew until after I landed at Viola and saw her Telegram Post that she was at the beach next to the Ventura Pier.  My account is from her KMZ file (posted under her flight index on Paraglide.net)

Stef did a front pull-up at 4:14 (7 minutes after my launch and 3 minutes after Arya).  Stef reports she had a good up cycle, but then encountered some of the scariest air she has experience.  She didn't take any collapses, but was actively managing the canopy to maintain attitude, angle of attack, and heading.  If you want better resolution of Stef's track in her KMZ file, tick open the "Segments" folder then right click on the "Takeoff to Max Alt" segment and select "Show Elevation Profile", you can then "scrub" and note various data like altitude.  Just a few short minutes made a huge difference.  Stef only had a 125 feet AGL ground clearance cresting the ledge out front.  She had to run 2-3/4 miles downwind toward the SE (away from any of our previously utilized LZs except the Sespe Gorge) to reach the rebound.  She was down to 4,984, about a thousand over the river and more than 2K below launch, when her fortune changed for the better.  Stef latched onto a core and climbed like a corkscrew, rolling out below cloudbase to get to the edge but continuing to climb to her max altitude just under 13K, an 8K gain in one thermal.  She did 22 360s gaining about 320 feet per turn over the 7K she climbed before rolling out to avoid the cloudsuck.

Pilots often ask "how much altitude do I need to be to reach Nordhoff".  It depends.  Our Sunday afternoon downwind glides (southbound from Pine) were much better than our Saturday mid-day upwind glides, but Stef still need a bit more to reach the beach on her line, which her karma provide with a bounce over Foster Park, gaining a critical thousand to 3800 in Frisbee mode, drifting a half mile from the north in a skip over the onshore flow.  She reached the ocean sand just east of the Pier with 800 MSL...

Having watched the conditions progressively deteriorate, the remaining pilots opted to pass and call it a weekend.

I strive to be effective in balancing conflicting objectives, but I miss-judged the timing (a few times over the weekend?).  Had we gotten to launch a half hour earlier Sunday afternoon, we might have gotten everyone off and up in easier air?  The weather is like a fingerprint.  No 2 days are the same.



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