Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ups and downs

I launched in the PW5 a little before 3:00. There was some lift, and I almost let off at 2500' AGL, but didn't, and did not find more until 3500' AGL. I cruised around and eventually found lift over a rocky set of hills near a canyon. It was not terribly stong, but workable. Another fellow called over and joined me, at least a thousand feet lower. Two guys in one of our club Blaniks also came over, at nearly my altitude. So we circled together for quite a while, working our way back up to about 5000' MSL. At times we were closer than I have ever been when sharing a thermal, but we were on the radio and kept in touch. It was choppy lift, some up and down... sometimes the Blanik was higher than me and a few seconds later it would sink lower. Later J said he thought it was shear line lift, but I thought it was thermal.

We all took off in different directions from about 5000' MSL. I got right into some moderate turbulence and some serious sink! At times the vario was pegged at more than 10kt down (that's 1,000 fet per minute down). I don't think I've seen such sink in the Hemet area, although I've had it at Minden. It was everywhere! I tried to find lift again - found a little zero sink briefly - but it was really bad. There was sink and lift on my downwind leg. I ended up with just a 37 minute flight! The Blanik guys did not hit the same elevator I did, but they didn't find lift either, and landed right behind me. My landing was fine.

Driving home, analyzing my flight, I realized that although I get the wind direction from the wind sock (and occasionally AWOS), I'm forgetting to fully use it. I use it to plan for crosswind landing, lowering a wing if necessary and expecting drift. And I use it to confirm drift during the downwind leg. But I'm forgetting to use it to adjust my approach speed. I've pretty much just been using the standard approach speed (e.g. 51kt in the PW5) and not increasing it by 1/2 the headwind component. Something else to work on next time!

I just bought an oxygen tank for the PW5. The club provides one, but this way I don't have to worry about whether it is full or not. It cost $30 to fill the first time.

I also bought a kit to mount my PDA in the PW5. J had already mounted a base on the panel, so I got a compatible arm and a bracket for the PDA. But I'm having trouble with the battery and cover. When I got ready to fly, my PDA crashed. Not sure if it was due to heat or battery, but everything was lost from memory. So I was unable to use it today and need to restore it.

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