Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tehachapi Day 1

I've had some busy weeks with business trips and my daughter's wedding so I haven't flown or blogged for a while. This weekend our clup is on a trip to Tehachapi, one of our favorite soaring locations. They brought the Grob 103 and a Blanik L13, and we have about 13 or so club members (several with their own ships).

Today was nice, a bit windy, which caused some pilots some trouble on takeoffs. Some people got thermals to 11,000' right off tow. I went up in the Grob with a student pilot. I did all the flying, he shot some video. We let off tow at about 8,400' and soon found a thermal up to 9,350' over the foothills. We went back to the higher hills and could not connect with any more thermals. But we did get quite a bit of what I think was anabatic lift: layers of heated air coming off the sides of the mountains and converging off the tops of the ridges. Because of the direction of the wind, and where we found downdrafts, I'm pretty sure it was not the orographic kind that people usually call "ridge lift". Anabatic is only found right above the "spine" and peak of a slope, and it's not wide enough to circle in. When you're in it, it feels kind of magic: you're heading right toward the mountain, and the mountain is lifting you up as you go! The highest we got in this kind of lift was about 8,500'.

When that started to dwindle, we headed out over the valley but did not find much. We ended up with a 45 minute flight. Wind during the landing was pretty stiff, 15 to 20 knots, but straight up the runway.

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