Saturday, June 03, 2006

Longest flight so far!

Today the soaring forecast was dismal: 150 fpm, due to very warm air aloft and a 5000' thick inversion. But the forecast turned out to be wrong. The ground temperature cranked up to 106 degrees, and apparently that was enough to punch through the inversion, or it lifted, or something. Some of us were able to get up over 6000' MSL. I found 2-4 kt lift all over the Hemet valley!

I was able to complete the "cross-country practice triangle" that I've been working on. It's three legs of about 16-17 mile each, but centered on the HMT gliderport so you're never too far away. I found lift two or three times on each leg, so it pretty well simulated the requirements of a cross-country flight. I did it one and 2/3 times, for a total of about 80 linear miles. Her's the flight trace:

This was one of the few flights I've had where I got high right away and then was able to stay within a lift band, so I was rarely desperate for altitude. Thermals were plentiful enough that I could finally spend some time practicing different centering and searching techniques I've been studying... usually I'm scratching for any lift I can find.

I was almost done at about 1:45... so close to the two hours! But near the airport, with about 200' to go before having to enter the pattern, I found a decent thermal that took me back up to 4500' or so, taking me to the 2-hour mark. I used up all my water and was getting pretty hot and tired, so I brought it down for a 2:17 total. That's one of the two 2-hour flights I need for my Bronze badge!

I intentionally took the Grob so I could get current in it again. I will probably take some passengers up soon, and wanted to be safe in it. No problem - I really enjoy flying it, although it does take a LOT of rudder rolling into turns. I think the long wings make it easier to catch thermals than in the little PW5.

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