Sunday, June 22, 2014

End of an Era: Orange County Soaring Association merging into Cypress Soaring Inc.

As many of you know, Orange County Soaring Association declined significantly in membership and operations after the closure of Hemet to gliding and again after the grounding of the Blanik fleet. I have not written much about this decline in my blog, but frequent readers have probably figured it out by reading between the lines. OCSA has been operating two gliders off and on at Crystalaire for the last several years. In 2013, a decision was made to pursue merging OCSA with another club, in order to preserve the opportunity for OCSA's members and aircraft to fly in southern California. Today we are announcing that OCSA and Cypress Soaring Inc. have signed an agreement which will effectively merge OCSA into CSI, as of August 1, 2014. 

OCSA's Grob 103 and PW5 will transfer to CSI. For the foreseeable future, they will both remain at Crystalaire and will be available for flight by CSI members. Current and former OCSA members may transfer to Cypress. 

OCSA's one viable Blanik L13 and another Blanik fuselage, wings, parts, and trailers are for sale, listed on Wings and Wheels. Contact information is in the advertisements.

As you have probably heard, Krey Field, which had been Cypress' base of operations, has been closed. Cypress is currently operating gliders and conducting instruction at Lake Elsinore, plans to begin operations at Banning, and plans to operate a two-place glider at Crystalaire in addition to the Grob 103.

Information about Cypress Soaring Inc. is available on their web site at Contact information for Orange County Soaring Association officers is on their web site at

OCSA wishes to thank all who have belonged to, flown with, and supported Orange County Soaring Association during its 55 years of operation!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Climbing the Sky

It was about 90 degrees F at Crystal today. I launched the in PW5 about 1:30 and we encountered some strong lift on tow before reaching the Second Ridge. I don't often let off tow before getting over the ridge, but this was pretty strong, so I did at 6,300' MSL. I immediately regretted it as I lost 400 to 500 feet before finding any lift. But that thermal lift over the desert was pretty good, and before long I was up to 7,000'. That was enough to get onto the low end of the Second Ridge.

There was another glider flying the ridge lengthwise, and since the wind was from the north I figured that was a good plan - we should find ridge lift. There seemed to be a bumpy mixture of ridge lift and thermals, so eventually I made it to the upper (east) end of the Second Ridge and gained some more altitude, up to about 8,100'. That was enough to let me hop over to a little "third ridge" below Mt. Lewis. It was acting like either ridge lift or anabatic lift, so I was able to work it uphill.

I got over the top of Mt. Lewis and topped out at 9,800', then flew the ridge top and hopped over part of the "bowl" over to Mt. Williamson. Up on top, I seemed to find some lift that was not strictly north-facing ridge lift. The RASPtable map this morning had shown there should be wind from both the north and the south, converging somewhere over the tops of the mountains. Maybe that's what I was finding... it wasn't very strong up there.

Since I was approaching 10,000 feet, at which altitude I always start oxygen, I fumbled around and finally got my Oxymiser on... only to find out I had never turned the regulator on after testing it on the ground! I found that I was able to reach behind me and find the knob - I don't think I have ever done that in flight before. And then of course I never broke the 10,000' layer after all.

I came back down and worked the Second Ridge again. There were a couple of other gliders there, and we shared a thermal for a while - that's always fun. I was able to run the whole length of the ridge and stay at the same altitude, so there was definitely some ridge lift working.

My tailbone started getting a little sore after more than an hour, so I headed back toward the airport. Earlier I had realized I had not done any slips for a long time, so I practiced those a few times. Out over the desert, there was light lift everywhere, so it would have been possible to stay up all day. Another glider was a bit higher than me and wanted to land first, so I was able to just loaf around in lift and stay up while he landed.

Since winds were "light and variable" I had my choice of landing direction, so I chose runway 7 which would let me roll out close to my tiedown spot. Of course there was lift all the way down. By the time I turned onto my base leg, I realized I was pretty high. And I had been too close in on the downwind leg, so the base leg was not long enough to really let me lose much altitude. Full spoilers did the trick, but I was about 1/3 of the way down the mile-long runway before I got close to the ground. Um... would have been a good time to use a slip like I had just practiced - but I didn't think of it! Something to work on next time. One quirky thing about Crystal is that there's a hump just about in the middle of the runway, so just when I was about to touch down I had to hold off a bit. My landing was smooth and straight, and the wind helped me keep good directional control and level wings until I stopped just about 50 feet or so from my parking spot. A far cry from my last landing when the winds were all over the place on both takeoff and landing!

So... an hour and 41 minutes and 4,000' of altitude gain after a low release. That's one of the most satisfying aspects of local flying: really climbing the sky. This was one of the first times - if not THE first time - I have been able to climb all the way from the desert to the top of the mountains.