Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Two short flights

Saturday's forecast was for about 4kt lift up to 6-7,000' MSL, hot enough for thermals (about 87F, I think), but unfortunately with an inversion. Sure enough, I could see the inversion and watched it slowly lift through the early part of the day. We had some work to do (assembling a Blanik, other maintenance stuff), and I took off at 2:00 or so.

I adjusted my seat back position and trim setting to maybe compensate for the attitude/balance issues I noted last time (see last week's post). Takeoff and tow were normal, with maybe a bit more slack than usual to deal with. I did remember to use the trick of climbing immediately after release, converting excess speed to a little altitude. I figure if I can remember to do one additional thing every time, I'm gradually improving.

I let off near lift at about 4500' MSL. I never got higher than release altitude, though I did find some lift and zero sink. Not enough to keep me up very long... no soaring birds, no dust devils. I think it was generally stable, with occasional thermals popping off only the highest hills. I practiced steepening my turns and trying to center the weak lift with the help of SeeYou's thermal display tool. I ended up with a 28 minute flight.

When I came in to land, there was another glider right in the middle of the farthest part of the landing zone, and they were not moving. So to avoid them, I lined up early and to the right, nearer to the runway. I overdid it, and actually touched down to the right of the cone and then rolled back into the zone. Looking back, I should have just landed on the runway.

I wasn't done. That wasn't enough flying for the day. It seemed to me that there was lift to be found. And my first flight was free, thanks to a gift certificate from Daughter #1. So up I went again. This time I didn't find lift on tow, so I held out for about a 3500' AGL release. I did find some decent thermals and got up to a couple hundred feet above release altitude. It seemed I could see over the top of the dirty air, so I'm pretty sure I was at the top of the thermals, about 5200' MSL, and they were not punching through the inversion.

One of my strategies has been to try the hills to the south of the Hemet valley, as stepping stones to get to Mt. San Jacinto. So I headed across the valley to the Ramona Bowl. No lift in the valley... no lift over the hills... but I didn't lose much altitude getting there, either. One little bump on the way back to the airport. The flight was a whopping 31 minutes, with a fine crosswind landing.

One thing I should work on is remembering that there may be shear line (convergence) lift in the afternoons. Sometimes we can see it from the ground (regions of clean vs. dirty air), but in the air I don't think to fly back and forth looking for it; instead I usually assume all the lift is thermal.

No comments: