Saturday, June 30, 2007

US Nationals - Day 7

Last night as we were BBQ'ing and tapping our toes to the Moon Mountain Ramblers, the wind backed off and the high cloud started to clear - it looked as if the trough causing all the high wind was passing over us.

This morning the winds are light so far (10am) and I'd say we could have a task on the last day of the Nats. People are up on the hill already.

The weather is very similar to what it was for the last two tasks and it will be interesting to see if the task committee puts the difficult section of the course at the end instead of the beginning of the route. One thing we have seen here is that the forecasts are pretty good at predicting the wind strength, but not as accurate on the direction...

I would imagine they call a task that isn't too long so as to get people back before dark for the party.


25 pilots launched in very cross and strong winds. 5 minutes after the start of the race the task was stopped because of the strength of the wind on launch and aloft.

Final Results can be found here

stay tuned

Friday, June 29, 2007

US Nationals - Day 6

It's no surprise that no nylon was seen over Lakeview today - it's been super windy down here yesterday and today. The forecast says the wind will be less tomorrow, but it looks way stronger than I would be happy with.

I think Lakeview is a tough place to have a PG comp. The hang glide meet starts here in 3 weeks, maybe they can deal with the wind better....

The pic was taken just north of Adel looking at Hart Mountain.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

US Nationals - Day 5

It looks too windy to me, so I am going to start my day with some nutritious fried spam, with eggs, baked beans and hot sauce, of course.

So the task was called off today due to high winds.

Results can be found here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

US Nationals - Day 4

I made it up to launch today. The task was made of several waypoints to try to keep pilots near roads, with goal at the town of Frenchglen - making the task 145 km.

Getting away from launch was even harder than yesterday, the wind was strong cross from the south, and the lift wasn't very frequent. Only 24 pilots made the first turnpoint at cutoff (19.7km to get inside the 5k cylinder).

One of the pilots that relaunched was Josh Cohn, and he relaunched with 2 minutes to spare before launch closed, it will be interesting to see how far he goes...

I just got an update - 10 pilots made goal - making it the longest task in US competition history!

Results can be found here

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

US Nationals - Day 3

The race today was a 69.5k task with goal at Flagstaff Lake which is NE of the town of Plush. Getting to the first turnpoint was the hardest part of the race as it was a 22k run into a strong crosswind.

Some of the top pilots landed short of that first turnpoint - but the ones that made it had a relatively easy time getting to goal. Climbs over 12k were the norm. 19 made goal.

The forecast for the next several days look windy...

Results are here

Monday, June 25, 2007

US Nationals - Day 2

Light East or South was in the forecast, not really the best direction for Black Cap Launch, but they ran an 80k task today that went north towards Paisley and then back to Valley Falls. Conditions were benign and people got above 10k.

No one made goal. Results are here.

US Nationals - Day 1

Blown out. I heard it was cold and windy on the hill.

Rat Race, Day 7

Team Percocet Reports:

Saturday was the last day of the comp, and it was a left turn day - usually that is a good sign for me...

The task was 33k and designed to get us out of the windy Applegate valley and into the wider Medford valley. The task worked well for the conditions and also to get people back early for the awards ceremony.

As usual, Burnt Ridge was the place to tank up anytime the course line was nearby. There was enough lift between Burnt and the Jacksonville turnpoint to make it through that section.

A really nice core was filled with gliders over Poormans, and that climb was the strongest of the day for me. I got high enough that I had the Cemetery turnpoint and goal with one glide.

From Cemetery onward I was on full bar, I had goal made no problem, or so I thought. A few miles from goal I took a big frontal collapse. The wing opened quickly but with a large cravat. With with most of right wing pointing down and stuck in the lines, the left half of the wing was all that was flying and I tried to shift my weight over to that side, but the seat board was tilted down to the right so far that I'm not sure how effective I was.

The wing was turning to the right, and I figured a spiral was soon to follow, so I put on a little left brake, and reached out with my right hand to find the stabilo line, and things got weird as the risers twisted (maybe I stalled the left wing). Then the wing started spiralling fast, so I tossed the reserve before the G's got too big.

I had enough altitude that I could have tried a full stall, but the last full stall I did on purpose was years ago in a SIV clinic, and I just wasn't into it.

The reserve opened quickly and ripped the nipple off my camelback and water was sprinkling down all around me as I reeled in the crumpled wing.

For whatever reason, the reserve ride was not very stable, I was swinging from side to side and spinning around quite a bit. I looked up at the reserve, and the two bridles were twisted together for about 3 feet, which might have explained my alarming rate of descent.

Then I looked down and noticed that I was drifting toward a road with power lines next to it. I flew over the power lines with about 5 feet to spare. I was drifting quickly and spinning around - I had no way of doing a PLF, I was at the mercy of whatever was next.

I hit the asphalt hard and bounced landing on my back about a foot off the pavement. The only good thing about where I stopped was that I was under the shade of the only little bush growing next to the road. I didn't loose consciousness, but I figured I wasn't going to walk away from this landing either.

I could wiggle my toes, so I slowly took off my helmet, gloves and jacket, but when I wiggled my legs I felt a crunching feeling in my left hip - I was pretty sure I broke something. Someone that lived nearby saw me under reserve and called the meat wagon.

A big thanks to the pilots who stopped racing to circle above me, and to Mike, Kris, Pete, for helping me get comfortable and coordinating the ambulance and for gathering my gear up. Heike had goal easily too, but landed next to me to see if I was alright.

X-rays showed 3 fractures in my pelvis that will heal in 4-6 weeks. When I get back in the air, I will have a better reserve and I plan on a couple days in an SIV course learning about how to deal with big cravats. I bet I will use less speed bar for a while too...

I am pretty sure I could have improved a few things, and I plan on discussing the incident with some of the best pilots here in Lakeview right now. There are also things I could have done differently - one would have been to drop the wing and try to unwrap the bridle, but what if the wing would have caught in the power lines?

While I can't say I enjoyed every minute of the comp (my problem), I still really enjoy the challenge of competition flying but I also plan to make a few changes based on this experience.

Results are here

Rat Race, Day 6

Friday Task

Wow, what an interesting combination of wind, upwind waypoints early on the route, low inversion, and monster convergence just over the back of Burnt.

The upwind turnpoint was Rabies Ridge, and getting there was very tricky. Bill Hughes found the key to unlock the problem - a nice climb in an unusual place and many people used it to climb high enough to make the rabies turnpoint. After that Burnt was going off and the convergence was boombing and it was relatively easy according to people that escaped the "pit of despair".

I learned that there is no substitute for extreme patience and really keen observation of all the gliders all the time.

A tough day for many.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rat Race, Day 5

Today's race was stopped less than an hour after the race began due to strong valley winds, so we may get a few points today.

The inversion didn't break until much later in the day, so we were struggling to get enough altitude to go anywhere. Some people got the first turn point. The low spinning out of the Gulf of Alaska is sending moisture and wind at us, so the next couple of days could happen or not.

Results are here


Rat Race, Day 4

Yesterday's task was serious business. A 73k task was set in the hopes that someone would take longer than 17 minutes to fly it (See yesterday's post).

We had some nice clouds over Rabies and on the way to the most upwind turnpoint. The Poorman turnpoint claimed many wings.

102 pilots launched, 32 made goal. The fastest time was just over 2 hours, it was a 1000 point day. A few pilots got to 10k.

Results are here:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rat Race, Day 3

Yesterday was a weird day - we shoveled wind teks off in droves, for hours, only to watch them grovel and rarely get above launch. There wasn't anything in the weather forecast that let us believe the day would have such a late start.

The task was changed, the water ran out and we baked in the sun until finally a few gliders started climbing. At 3:30 we launch on a 21k task that started at Burnt, tagged cemetary, and goal at Donato's. The convergence was going off on the medford side of burnt, but we didn't know it because no wind teks got there.

The fastest time was 17 minutes, which is a little short of the 1.5 hour minimum task time, and because we didn't make nominal task distance either, the task was worth around 115 points. 74 people made goal.

But it was a 10 on the fun scale.

Today we watched video of Matt Dadam trading head butts with a Llama - the Llama wouldn't let him get his glider out of the field he landed in.

Results are here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rat Race, Day 2

Today's task was very similar to yesterday's, and despite being a little longer at 42k, the winning time was under an hour, still short of the minimum task time of 1.5 hours.... Jamie Messenger (GBR) had the winning time. 110 Pilots launched, 57 made goal.

Goal was the Mule LZ again which is toward the end of the applegate valley and seems to be the task commitees goal of choice when the forcast calls for moderate North winds. The valley has a fair amount of small but steep spines that run perpendicular to the valley floor, especially in the last couple kilometers before goal, and coming in low can be a bad idea...

On our way back to HQ from goal in the big orange school bus they rented for the comp, someone spotted not one, but 2 gliders in the trees back in one of the above mentioned canyons. Both pilots probably just got too low back in the lee side, and got flushed and couldn't glide to an LZ. Luckily there were no injuries.

Lots of people in goal today. Climbs were topping out at around 6k today under pure blue skies. The forecast looks a little better for the next 2 days, the climbs should be a little higher, and maybe some Cu on the way.

My race went pretty well, even though I made a couple of errors, just a moments break in your concentration can cost you when it comes to time critical decisions...

Another fine day of riding the skies...

Results are here.

stay tuned.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Rat Race Day One

Ola Amigos!

The Rat Race 2007 has begun. On Sunday, 108 pilots flew, 58 people made goal. The task was 36k and was a little short - the fastest time 1:03 (Dean Stratton) was 2/3 of the minimum time so the day wasn't worth 1000 points. It was a great task.

Results should be posted soon, I will link to it here. Two reserve throws, one from a midair over Woodrat and Josh Riggs threw just short of goal, no injuries.

Some very exciting low level tree kicking (and one tree collision) as pilots flew downwind into the goal. Sorry about my lack of pictures, I will get some soon.

stay tuned

Thursday, June 14, 2007

More Woodrat

The big guns are showing up, and we had another great practice day. It is drying out and getting hot, and no clouds in the sky. We were getting up above 7k. I am getting tired, but that is the goal, endurance training...

The pic is of Riss, Greg and Dave.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wood Rat Practice

Wood Rat is delivering some great flying. Today Hayden and I flew to Grants Pass and Back, today there were no clouds, yesterday there were small Cu's to show us the way.

At one point I got super low coming into a one of the peaks in the middle of the range, but it was in the sun and sure enough a thermal was kicking off and I climbed out.

Tomorrow looks good also. The Pic is of Greg Babush.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Quit the Job

Buy a new wing, quit your jobs, and go flying everyday it's good - that is my advice. I live on the wrong side of the cascades, at least with gas at $3.35 a gallon.

Several days ago the forecast for Eastern Oregon started looking really promising. I adjusted my schedule and based on the forecast, I picked Thursday as the day to sit behind the wheel. I called the most addicted East side locals and planted the seed - I said it had XC written all over it. Getting away from the mountain turned out to be the hardest challenge for the day.

Because the wind was light, we decided to go to the Observatory launch just to scope it. Beautiful Cu was forming really high over Newberry crater, well above 10k. A long and straight up cycle suckered us into setting up, and then it switched to over the back. We packed up and got back in the truck.

Once at the West launch, the strong cycles made Wade and I jump asap into a cycle that drifted us south and got us to almost 10K. We then headed towards Antelope hoping for a big core but found just light lift. Wade went lee side into the SE bowl and didn't find a climb - it didn't seem fair for such a good start. I had enough altitude to glide out over the electric spine and got to the end of it quite low - I was thinking what a shame to dirt when the day was obviously so good.

I hit some lift just south of the end of the spine and began to work the crappiest thermal of the day as it drifted hard to the south. It finally organized and I started climbing more than drifting, and many minutes later I finally had enough altitude to work with.

The wind was north down low and SW aloft so I decided to head for highway 20 - I had a pretty bad cold and didn't feel like enduring an epic retrieve.

Highway 20 runs right past Pine Mountain and continues SE towards Idaho. As Highway 20 disappears from view, there appears a large mountain on the horizon which is called Glass Butte. Glass Butte gets it's name because of the large quantities of gem quality obsidian that can be found there. Glass Butte is actually several Buttes, the tallest is just 100 feet lower than Pine Mountain. I have always wanted to fly to Glass Butte which is at about the 50 mile mark.

I was using the SW flow up high to assist my glide towards the highway. About halfway there I found a thermal that had nice CU above it and I wanted to see if I could get to base. At 14,500 I was at least 500 below base and the climb slowed to almost nothing so I decided to go on glide. I now had 10,000 ft between me and ground - this is as close to a full tank as a paraglider can get....

The tiny town of Brothers is 15 miles from Pine and I made it there with plenty of Alt in about 15 minutes. I think Brothers is a great trigger because I found a nice thermal just south of the buildings.

Three more thermals got me to the town of Hampton which is about 35 miles out - I was a bit lower during this section and made the mistake of getting low to the south of the highway so I wasted some Alt while using a lot of speed bar to push into the north wind to avoid a walk out if I landed.

To the north of Hampton is Hampton Butte, a long ridge of good sized hills that should be triggering nicely, so I used some Alt to fly over a prominent peak and was rewarded with a nice climb.

In the 30 mile stretch from about Hampton to past Glass Butte, I got below 10K only once. This is where the day really started to show it's colors... It was really nice to watch Glass Butte coming at me and to be looking way way down on it as I flew by.

Steve Roti was chasing me and said he was stopping in Hampton to buy me a beer. Then he radioed and said they ran out of beer and that I would have to fly another 40 miles to Riley if I really wanted one... Another seed got planted...

At about 6pm I passed the 60 mile mark, and I felt like I got the best of the day, so I set up to land. I flew through some lift and picked an LZ. About 2k over the ground I hit a big fat and friendly core that I couldn't pass up, and I rode it back up over 10k. I spent 16 minutes and over 30 turns in that last thermal (data from compgps). I went on glide for 13 miles and the tiny town of Riley appeared, at the junction of Highways 20 and 395.

Even though all around Riley is lush and green, and it's flat as a pancake, the air was going up everywhere, I did some spirals to get down, and landed right across from the general store. Steve walked up with a cold beer in his hand - it doesn't get much better than this. A huge thanks to Steve for the retrieve.

Thanks also to Tim for driving us up the mountain. I hope to fly XC with the East side locals once again, soon I hope. You can view the flight on Leonardo here.