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Skyport to Saint Thomas College
I was third off launch on Saturday. Ron F launched and quickly sunk out. Then Pipkin launched and lost a bunch of altitude right away, so naturally I launched too. As I was scratching my way down the Holy Hills, I wondered if the 20 or so pilots still at launch were questioning why I would launch immediately after the first two wind dummies showed that the day hadn’t turned on yet. Lemmings came to mind. Fortunately I found an isolated pocket of lift and hung on in the same spot for half an hour or so which avoided the second trip up the hill. Once I saw pilots getting good altitude over the antennas, I headed over to join them.
Being at the antennas, with close to 5K was a really fun part of the day. It was early still, and I had 6 or so buddies in the air with me all waiting for the starting gun to go off so we could head east to points far-far away. Then, for some unimaginable reason, Ron M radioed that he was going west, and I was down to 5 buddies.
Watching Dean climb to just under 5K at Shadow was all I needed to see (thanks Dean for taking the initiative). Sure it was upwind, but with those kind of altitudes we could always come back. It was 55 minutes after launching and I was just finally getting on course. (I think Ron M was kicking bushes over Robbins about that time.)
OJ pulled in behind me and a mystery wing flew with us for a while that turned out to be Nathan. I could see Ron F in the distance and I heard Pipkin on the radio batting clean up. Hoo Hoo! The game was on!
We were all passing through Carp when a faint Ron M got on the radio, having just managed to scratch his way back to Skyport, “uhhhh, hey guys, where’d everybody go?” We razzed him enough to get him going (east this time), and at one point he declared, “Okay, I’m going pass you all! Pipkin, I got you in sight and I’m taking you down first!” Tough talk indeed, and despite the wisecracks, we were all hoping he would join us, but the walk turned out to be tough as well, and a little later a dejected Ron quietly radioed that he was turning back from Montecito Peak.
I crossed the 33 into Ojai ahead of the pack, and with one thing on my mind; I had to PEE! The lift in Ojai was nuclear (I considered briefly Marty’s post about peeing in the “Superman” configuration. Gave me a good laugh as I struggled to keep the wing overhead). I connected with the Nut House ridge and flew straight over to Cheifs spine with barely a turn. Now well ahead of the pack I figured I could stop in for a quick pee at Chiefs launch, and then join back up with everyone for the rest of the flight. Conditions were pretty sporty at the launch, but I was focused on the reward of getting to pee and luckily I stuck the landing.
In the 10 minutes it took for me to pee and change the batteries in my GPS, Dean and Ron F passed me, and the sky completely clouded over. I relaunched under a boiling black mess of a cloud and climbed in cloudsuck all the way to the clear skies at Twin Peaks. The front points were in the clear, and there was abundant lift from the clouds, so I thought I would be able to work down range just playing out front. The lift, however, was not smooth. Eddie kept reporting downburst activity, the clouds were of the “storm” variety, and I was getting worked.
I skipped along from East Repeater to Boyd's, but as I was making the play for Santa Paula ridge I decided I was pretty much done. No lift at the college, so I landed there and called it a day.
A very, very fun day.
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