Saturday, December 03, 2011

Winds of Change at Hemet-Ryan

The gliders have returned to Hemet! I've been too busy to blog lately, so I'll catch up now. Orange County Soaring and Cypress Soaring have begun joint operations. This was our third week of aerotowing, and my second week of flying. A couple weeks ago there was not much lift, and I only got a 23-minute flight in some convergence.

This week the weather was... interesting. The forecasts disagreed as to whether there would be thermal lift and how high it would go. We're experiencing a "cold Santa Ana" condition, in which high pressure in the deserts causes high winds in the basins and valleys. Such winds usually bypass the Hemet valley, but if they do hit it they can tear apart all the thermals, and usually don't cause much usable wave. (At least that's how it seemed to me... two years ago at Hemet I had no real wave experience, so maybe I just didn't know how to recognize and exploit it.) As the air comes through the Cajon pass it is compressed and warms up, but it was obvious that it was not dry as it often is. As I was driving to the airport, I could see the air downwind from the pass condensing into turbulent clouds, which got bigger and bigger as they went south. Most of the clouds hugged the Mt. San Jacinto area, though, and the Hemet valley was mostly clear. The clouds that did appear in the valley looked like rotor, so maybe the wave would work?

Some of the Cypress guys got to flying earlier than we did, and got to over 10,000 feet over the lake! They seemed to think it was thermal lift.

I took off in the PW5 about 1:00 and found some workable lift right away. It was turbulent but broad, big enough to circle in, but not terribly strong. The highest lift I saw on the ship's digital display was 3.2 knots, but the vario was not working right and I think it was quite a bit stronger. My clip-on electronic vario was often going crazy, so I think the lift may have been in the 6-8 knot range at times. But it didn't go very high: my max altitude was 5200' MSL.

T and M in the club's Grob 103 and I thermalled together for a while, and I took a few pictures. The Cypress PW6 also thermalled with me, but they were higher and I couldn't get any pictures.

The lift was never smooth, so I never encountered wave action. It seemed to be all thermal, which was surprising with the strong wind. But the temperature differential was substantial, so I guess it was strong enough to punch up through the wind. At one point I was about 3,000 to 3,500 MSL, and the outside air temp was 18 degrees lower than the AWOS was reporting at 1,500 MSL. I came back after an hour so G could have the glider. The lift was still working - I just sped up to create extra drag.


Larus Pacificus said...

Hi Roger:

Glad to hear of the club's success at Hemet - congratulations I'm pleased all your hard work paid off.

Also a thanks for writing this great blog - I've enjoyed reading it and actually returned to it many times as a resource during my training (I'm with Evergreen Soaring at Arlington, WA)

In fact I was referencing it just today. I soloed on the weekend - after braving sub-zero temps and having to de-ice (!) our blanik before flying - and so I came back to the blog to look at your post-solo training so that I can incorporate ideas into my own solo training curriculum.

Anyhow - good luck at Hemet, and I look forward to following your soaring experiences - and learning from them - as I have done so much over this year.


Roger Worden said...

Congratulations on your solo flight!! There's nothing quite like that feeling, is there? It gets even better now, as you mix solo flying with instruction. It's really great to be able to try things out without the instructors critiquing your every move, and then talk over the flights with them back on the ground.

Even down here in Southern California I've had to de-ice gliders occasionally. See my post from January 10, 2008 about ice hiding in the spoiler boxes.

I'm very glad you've found my blog helpful. I was thinking just this morning that I don't get many comments anymore (except spam), so your comment really made my day!