Saturday, January 30, 2010

Good flight under cloudy skies

Midday today brought some good-sized cumulus clouds to the eastern edge of the Santa Ana Mountains. Another pilot "T" mentioned he had not yet had a chance to work lift under CU (fairly rare where we used to fly), so we went up together. He also wanted to get some experience in the back seat of the Blanik, so I flew from the front seat.

We had a little trouble with the airspeed indicators on both ships, probably due to some water in the static lines. Mine was showing about 40 knots on tow, which obviously was not correct. By the time we got to about 1,000' AGL mine was about right, although the back one was still a bit off. I think the water dried out or the dirt or whatever moved on. It was not a problem for me for the rest of the flight.

We let off tow at 4200' MSL in light lift that stayed good and got even better. We traded flying duties several times and were able to reach 5600' once and 5200' several times. We could not go any higher without getting into the clouds that seemed to be at about 6000' or so. The lift was commonly 200-400 feet per minute and occasionally up to 800. Not bad for a cool day in January! The NWS forecast was for 65F maximum, lift 350' to 5400', the inversion was forecast for about 4-5000, and my thermal forecast for 60F was to 5000'. I think the ground temp was in the high 60's so the forecast was about right... a little under what we actually got.

There were as many as four gliders in the air at the same time, and we thermalled with one or two at a time. It's good to fly with two pilots - you can share the work and keep a good lookout.

The lift was best on the sunny edge of the clouds. The sun was warming the top of the ridge, and the breeze was from the valley direction. so I think the heat and slight shear made the clouds work. If we got too far east under the darker parts of the clouds, we could feel the air get noticeably cooler, and then it would start to sink. Certain areas were just continually generating lift. We went further westward over the mountains than I have gone before, but still not very far - the ceiling was fairly low and we needed to make sure we had altitude to get back over the ridge. It was easy flying - the first good soaring day I've had since we moved to Lake Elsinore.

We flew across the valley to the Sedco Hills, as much to kill time as for anything. There was a little weak lift but not enough to sustain us. We could have gone back to work the "Old Faithful" lift some more, but we'd had enough. We ended up with an even hour and a half.


Michael Reid said...


I just wanted to let you know I really enjoy your blog. I have been racking my brain, but I can't seem to remember if we met this past summer flying out of Tehachapi. I would have been in a Libelle 201b "BK". Anyway, I would encourage you to check out my blog, I link back to yours so hopefully you will be getting more visitors.


Roger said...

Your profile pic doesn't look familiar, so I don't think we've met. I was only at MVA over Memorial Day and Independence Day this year.

Last week I added a link from my blog to the Soaring Lab. I noticed in my Google Analytics report that I got several visitors linking over from your blog, so I figured I'd return the favor.

There are very few of us in the world blogging consistently about soaring. Keep it up!

Michael Reid said...


Thanks for the link, it really helps! When you are out at MVA again please look me up, maybe we can fly together and I'll give you the 500km tour of the great basin!


MrsDHansen said...

Great way to kill 1.5 hours if you ask me. =-) I noticed your blog. As one of the champions of the sport of gliding and soaring, I thought you might want to share the intriguing line up of speakers that are coming to Wave Camp at SoaringNV in Minden, Nevada with those who read your blog. Please contact me at if you are interested in knowing more. I would have e-mailed you directly, but there isn't a contact link on your blog.