Saturday, September 04, 2010

Mountain and valley flight at Tehachapi

I took off at 1:37 in the club's PW5. I let off at 3900' AGL (8100 MSL) in what I thought was good lift. I had to go back and search for it a bit, but soon I was climbing. That first thermal took me up to over 10,000. There were 4 or 5 gliders over the mountains, and we all used each others as markers for usable lift. I flew with BT, KMA, and Blue J at various time.

I had put my Li-On backup battery pack into the PW5 because the club's gel cell battery seemed to be discharged. I found that mine ran the instruments OK but I could not transmit well on the radio, and switched to my portable. I guess I should get a gel cell as a better backup - they're not that expensive.

We found that there was not much thermal lift but instead there seemed to be a convergence line along the top of the mountains. It was bumpy but worked well. The highest I got was 10,900 MSL, which is just about what the RUC forecast and Dr. Jack predicted.

I was able to use my oxygen tank with the ship's EDS system, which I had not been able to do the last couple of times. I think Greg replaced the O-ring on the regulator, and now it doesn't leak anymore. It's very cool - comes on automatically at 10,000 MSL.

Eventually I headed out toward Bear Mt. and a tour around the valley. As expected, I found no more significant lift. There was a little over the recent burn area, but not enough to work. So I eventually came back in, finishing up at just under two hours. My landing was really good and I rolled right up to where our other glider was parked. Actually the wind gets partial credit. Once the PW5 slows down, its tiny rudder doesn't let you override the tendency to "weathervane" into the wind. But it was just what I needed to roll off the right side of the runway.

All in all, a nice flight, if not very ambitious. Had I gotten up to 11,000 consistently, I could have headed north, but it just wasn't that strong.

Tonight my trailer is full of things being recharged: main battery, backup battery, PDA, and handheld radio.

No comments: