Sunday, August 01, 2010

Short flights under cloudy skies

Southern California has been having an unusually cool summer. We usually have "June Gloom" which means a thick layer of clouds extends inland from the coast and doesn't burn off until midday. This year it started in mid-May and continued off and on through most of July, with only one hot week so far. Saturday's forecast was for scattered cirrus, but over Elsinore there was a layer of cloud that was almost thick enough to be called stratus, at about 11,000 feet, which blocked a lot of the sunlight. The temperatures aloft and a forecast inversion indicated that lift would only go to about 5,000' at most even if got hot on the ground.

It was hot, in the mid-90's F, and humid for our area. I flew at 12:30 and got about 25 minutes. I let off at 4300' MSL and got lift up to about 4700'. The lift was probably partly thermal, but it was narrow enough that I began to suspect light ridge lift. The wind was from the southeast, which is unusual for that site, so I tried working the ridges that faced that wind. Didn't find much, but it was fun to try.

Another fellow flew at 13:30 and got about 35 minutes. The cloud layer retreated about 2:00-2:30 but none of us were motivated enough to try it again. I stayed for most of the afternoon helping to launch and retrieve the gliders, and talking with the student pilots and their parents.

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