Sunday, February 8, 2009

Classic Winter Cliffside

Dan, Dave and I drove through blue skies and high clouds from Portland anticipating a great day. A nasty surprise awaited us when we arrived at Cliffside - low clouds. Cloudbase was just at launch height.

After the sign in formalities, we headed up the hill. I launched first in a strong but very cross wind just as the clouds were breaking. It wasn't too cold, it was easy to stay up, views were improving. Early on, there were some useful thermals. There was plenty of lift, though it was hard to get high - the most I reached was 400ft over. Attempt to climb the slope to the North weren't successful - there seemed to be very little lift there.

Jim and Dan tried my wing while I flew their's. Maybe 12 pilots flew. It wasn't really possible to go anywhere or get high, so I made quite a few top-landings to make the day more interesting. The wind was pretty strong but very cross (a few of my top landing came up shorter than I expected). But the sun was shinning and spring is just around the corner...

CPC Post here ->

Photos here ->

Sunday, February 1, 2009

January Thermalling at Sollie!

A decent forecast for the weekend is always exciting in January! I drove through with Cleo (my dog) to meet Sam and Rob hoping to get a good flight at Sollie. Todd was there too and Melissa (Sam's wife) drove us up the hill. Unfortunately, there was no wind on launch; when there was puff, it was as likely to be over the back as coming up. Despite this and a low cloudbase, every now and again we could see birds soaring out front - so we knew if we could get off we had a chance of staying up.

Sam laid out first and forwarded off in essentially no wind. Everyone was impressed; Sollie is a pretty commiting launch for that sort of thing. He worked out front and there was lift, but not quite enough to stay up. Melissa headed down to pick up Sam; there were kayaks on the rigg...

No-one rushed to set up after Sam, so I slowly got my gear together. A few puffs over the back were interupted by sea breeze puffs (very cross from the right). After a few minutes I could see a half-decent cycle coming up the hill. I could even use a reverse launch and was in the air no problem.

Some lift off launch, but I was reluctant to stay in the bowl. As I moved out front, lift was available but nothing very organized. I slowly sunk as I tried to use it. Maybe 200 ft below launch I finally got something decent and from then, it was pretty easy. I must have got to near cloudbase 4 times (maybe 600 ft over launch) and had to stop climbing to avoid the white room. Each time I would head out away from the hill on bar; clear of the clouds I would slowly sink out; then come back to the hill around or just below the level of launch and find lift, which allowed me to repeat the process.

I could see other pilots setting up (Rob, Jim, Tom N, Shannon, Joe...) and launching when they got a chance. They were finding lift but no-one seemed to be getting much above launch. The sea breeze was picking up and slowly we all found our way over to Sugar. I had a half-hearted attempt to head S from Sugar but decided to come back rather than risk sinking out. After around an hour I landed because of frozen fingers. Everyone landed pretty much together, happy to get a soaring flight so early in the year.

I went for a walk on the beach afterwards with Cleo, others went back for another flight, though launching remained difficult. Late in the day some of the pilots had flights at CLO, with Joe and Jim managing to soar.

CPC Post here ->

Leanado here ->