Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Flights

I've been getting out and staying active, but mostly it has been hiking. Sometimes I've managed a hike and fly (e.g. but usually the wing has stayed in the car or at home.

Today I had a couple of soaring flights at Eagle Caves. For the first flight, I flew with Todd, Jason, Jim and CB in strong conditions on my normal wing; easy to stay up but just ridge soaring, carefully monitoring penetration - not really my thing.

Everyone headed home after that, but I went back up with my speedwing. The wind was a little stronger (I wouldn't have flown my normal wing). But things were much more satisfying with a faster wing; I didn't get as high (around 200 ft over instead of 500ft over) but I could zip around and concentrate on my flying rather than look at my GPS.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Flying a New Site in January

Eagle Caves is a little site just above the town of The Dalles. I must have driven past it 50 times on the way to Cliffside but I've never flown it.

Today's forecasts in the gorge were reasonable, but it wasn't clear if it was a hiking or a flying day. The west end of the gorge had decent hiking forecasts (somewhat clear but windy) and the east end seemed better for flying (gray, cold, damp but soarable). Forecast meet reality as I drove through the Gorge and the result was disappointing.

Even the west end of the gorge was gray and cloudy and the east end was even worse. Nowhere looked to be fun for hiking but Eagle Caves was out of the clouds and seemed to be soarable. So that's where I ended up with (thanks to cell phones) a handful of other pilots.

It was cold, damp, gray and grim. But it was easily soarable, and that's hard to turn down in January. You couldn't go anywhere except soar the ridge just above the town. Everything was a shade of gray - like watching television when I was young. After around an hour's soaring I stopped fighting my frozen fingers and headed out to land.

Not exactly classic flying, but it's always nice to fly a new site and to get some airtime in winter.

Some black and white photographs ->

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Stolen Coastal Flight

Today's forecasts weren't very encouraging but they weren't bad either - showery and strong, but with a decent direction and lapse rate. Things were a little complicated because several sites had encouraging forecasts and monster high tides were due for the coast around 1.15.

After some debate, Steve and I headed to Ecola - a beautiful coastal site, but where the beaches aren't usable at high tide (so top-landing is mandatory). Monster seas and threatening skies made the no-fly decision for me. Steve flew very briefly, but a shower curtailed his flight almost immediately.

Things got worse, so we headed South to Oceanside. There we had soaring flights of 20-30 minutes with a handful of pilots that had spent much of the afternoon waiting there. Conditions were more reasonable (less threatening weather, easy to land on the beach) but still not great. The wind was from the S, which allows you to stay aloft at Oceanside, but makes it hard to go anywhere. There were some threatening clouds out to sea that dissipated without causing problems. I flew my speedwing and kept my eyes on the weather, happy for some air-time.

Some pics at ->