Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bingen Hike and Fly

Flying has been predictably poor for the last few weeks. Most of the long-range forecasts have been showing a full set of rain symbols. Sometimes you notice that, in four days, there is only a 60% chance of rain and hope you can do some flying then. Then you can try to separate the rain days from the showers days, wondering if you can squeeze in a flight between the showers. Generally, of course, these hopes are all in vain.

As a result, I've been doing a lot of hiking and very little flying. Today, things were good enough to take my wing with me for the hike. I took my lightweight kit, parked my car at the Marina at Bingen and had a really nice hike up through the woods to launch. Lightweight kit makes all the difference in such hikes; the sun was out, I could see Mt Hood, everything felt good.

I arrived at the W launch in no wind, but I decided to go over to the S launch - I was worried there still was a slight E flow. There was no wind at launch, I knew I didn't have enough time for two flights, so I ate my lunch and relaxed before flying down to the river. A no-wind launch, a no-wind landing and my vario didn't beep once on the flight - but I still really enjoyed it!

Some pics at ->


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Playing Hooky

My employer (Autodesk) is very understanding; they let me organize my work around my flying. Today's forecast was reasonable, the next few days look dire, so when an afternoon meeting got cancelled I headed out on the long drive to Cliffside. There were around 8 other pilots there when I arrived.

It was a little too light and everyone was struggling to stay up. It is very easy to top-land at Cliffside (at least 90% of my top-landings have been there) so, when the lift starts failing, you try to top land before you get flushed. Surprisingly, conditions improved as the afternoon went on. You couldn't get very high (the most I managed was barely 200ft above launch) but staying up slowly became easy. Very smooth lift - hardly a bump. At the end of the day, Mark and I were left, flying at will. Lots of top landings, plenty of touch and goes and a whole bunch of fun.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fall Flying at Bingen

Saturday was pretty dismal but on Sunday a variety of contradictory forecasts encouraged me to head through to the Gorge. The clocks went back during the night and winter is definitely approaching. I feel a little bit like a bear eating as much as it can before hibernation - one more decent flight before the winter! There were around 12 pilots on the West launch, including Jim B. and Mark who I hadn't seen since the early summer. Conditions were very light but the weather and views were fantastic.

There didn't seem much point waiting; it didn't look as though conditions would improve quickly. The first few pilots to launch didn't find much lift so I wasn't surprised when I launched towards the middle of the group and struggled. There was some lift, just not quite enough to stay up. I scratched a little as pilots headed to the LZ; towards the end Mark and I were left by ourselves trying to resist gravity. I caught a little thermal, but it only delayed the inevitable. Fun but a little frustrating!

There was a lot of debate in the LZ. The wind seemed to be switching from the W to the E; should we head to Cliffside? The information we had was sketchy, I was reluctant to commit to an hour's drive when Bingen was working reasonably well. This view prevailed, so we went back up the hill.

Bingen has a S launch and a W launch, but it is in the gorge and that funnels any wind either W or E. In reality the S launch can only be used in very light winds. The S launch seemed fine, but I wanted to check the W launch first; after checking it with four others we came back to the S launch. By this time, others had launched and were low, in scratching mode.

I launched and found a nice thermal that got me 600 ft over launch, with wonderful views of Adams to the N. The wind at altitude was clearly from the East. I flew over launch a couple of times before heading East. I hoped to get a good thermal away from the hill and get high enough to have a mini-XC to the W, but no such luck. I ended up scratching and eventually landing in the LZ.

Everyone was pretty happy with their day; when the weather is nice, even a sled ride at Bingen is good! I headed home early, with the roof down in my car, pretending it was the summer.

Tracklogs -> http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/284836, http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/284835