Notice: Palomar Gate Codes change to the 2021 Combo This week & The Laguna Codes will change by the end of June.
For Palomar Palomar Main LZ gate, we have been asked to open and lock the gate behind us as we pass through the gate like we do at Launch for the next few months.
Our SDHGPA Laguna WX Station is down and we are working on trying to diagnose the problems and bring it back on line as soon as possible.
In talking with Holfuy, it looks like there might have been been a water ingress that has shorted out the electronics or lightning strike near by? The Station started to experience solar charging system started to have problems on March 26th and the system stopped transmitting packet data on April 11th.
Our Laguna Launch station has been recording some of the most extreme weather in San Diego and Sothern California as recently noted by NOAA reaching out to us asking about this station.
We will need to schedule a recon trip out to the station to retrieve the main unit to know what to fix or repair. Unfortunately, the Station may be down for several weeks due to logistics and depending on repairs needed.
We will post updates as we know more.
Great News! The Laguna Upper Launch in the Anza Borrego State Park is back open, with our Permit for launching and landing within the State Park being renewed for 2021!
The Laguna Site Guide and Permits pages have been updated with the latest protocols and Permit information. Please read through the complete site guide before heading out to Laguna, as things have changed in the past year. Also, be sure to print out the Permit and COVID-19 Safe Reopening Plan along with your Membership cards to have on hand for the rangers.
What we know as of today/ the above post date. . .
All SD Sites are back OPEN but roads up Horse & Big Black may closed before & after storms this time of year.
Flying Site Status with all of the COVID-19 and Fire Closures. We will try to update this list as we receive updates, but no guarantees and always check the referencing links.
If you have or know of any updates, please let us know and we will update this list.
Sites that we know are Closed :
Some Sites are listed as OPEN; However, the County stay-at-home and social distancing orders except for essential needs are still in effect. Also the status of these sites may change to to Fire Hazards. Keep an eye on Sky-vector for TFRs & the Cal Fire maps this time of year. Also, flying XC from many sites could put you over CNF closed access terrain.
Sites we know are open (if following City & County mandates):
Status of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the PCT:
Status of SD City Parks/ Flying & Kitting Locations: as of 4-20-2020
Be sure to check the PDF List at the Above link as some of this may change. Note that larger/ higher use areas and trails remain closed. The following areas are open or closed for Passive Use only (walking, jogging, or hiking). We have no formal interpretation if this included passive Free Flight)
Site: Sage Hill
Sage Hill is a non-maintained flying site in the Santa Ynes Valley, north of Santa Barbara. The takeoff sits on a spine that protrudes perpendicularly from the north side of the east-to-west running valley. The launch is therefore west facing into the westward valley wind. Local conditions were very protected from the influence of the prevalent Santa Anas that were battering SoCal at the time, and this was a primary factor in site choice. Conditions were considered typical, if a little on the strong side, per local guidance.
Like many incidents, mine followed a chain of flawed decisions/mistakes before the "primary one". I am embarrassed to admit that some of these were very rookie mistakes. There is an undeniable element of complacency and intermediate syndrome in this incident.
Dan Zaslavasky and Razi Alon witnessed the incident and were crucial contributors to a thorough and honest debrief. Their inputs and insights were indispensable in the writing of this report.
Going into the day, I was tired from the day before, somewhat dehydrated, and held a sense of skepticism about the site I had chosen to fly but committed to taking a look with no qualms about hiking back down. After assessment of conditions on launch (~30 minutes spent on launch before making a decision/unpacking), it seemed within the limits of my skill and relative comfort while recognizing an above-average risk factor and a lower risk-reward factor than I usually take. In retrospect, I also recognize a more distracted mental state than my baseline due to high stress in my non-paragliding life.
I set up on the slope of the spine, rather than the top of it. This made sense to me at the time because I wanted to avoid being in the compression on the top of the spine due to the strong conditions. I forgot to consider that on the slope, you can get plucked rather than dragged. On some launches, a gust can mean getting inadvertently plucked. On others, a gust can mean a dragging - on all launches, it is better to avoid both while considering the respective probability and consequence of each. In retrospect, this particular launch had a large grassy slope with a gentle gradient behind launch and presented low impact in case of being dragged. My decision to launch on the slope was therefore suboptimal from this standpoint. There is also less debris up top than on the slope.
Another mistake was to try and hook up and clear my lines in the takeoff area as opposed to doing this in a more sheltered place, which there was. I should not have been on takeoff unless I was one hundred percent ready to go. Being on launch, regardless of the type of launch, means EVERYTHING has to be ready to go.
I had originally set up for a cobra launch and asked fellow pilot Dan Zaslavasky to help me with getting the wingtip into the airstream it was later determined that I had not made it sufficiently clear what I wanted Dan to help with at this point. The cobra was not working for me, so I chose a traditional reverse launch instead and had a nice wall built up but saw a stick in my lines, which Dan helped me clear. There was a lot of potential for more debris to be captured upon inflation in the particular space I was occupying.
I inflated my wing from a reverse launch position during a relative lull in the base wind, and as far as my memory serves me, the wing came up completely clean: free of debris and with no cravats/line overs. The cycle felt weird, and I insisted on kiting my wing as I did not want to set it down and risk picking up debris again. In retrospect, I should have just put the wing down, and I think this was the key mistake. As I was turning, I took a sizeable deflation on the left side, which caused some adverse yaw/roll towards the left side of the wing. This was followed by a smaller deflation on the right, which popped right back open.
A gust came through right after this moment and picked me up as Dan was yelling that I had a cravat on my left side wingtip, likely from the aforementioned large deflation on the ground. I completely failed to identify it between the moment the deflation occurred and getting picked up by the gust. My flight was thus initiated with the cravat engaged on my left-side wingtip.
I immediately focused on steering my glider and keeping it open/flying. I had an acceptable glide to the main LZ (which was large, grassy, and open) but with compromised penetration into the wind and an increased sink rate. There were some power lines I would need to cross just before the LZ. I committed to trying the main LZ while keeping an eye on the power lines knowing I could effectively steer into the wind (i.e. towards my right) with the open right-hand side and therefore abort the crossing over the power lines if needed. Aborting would have meant a tree landing, but this seemed acceptable relative to my options.
I considered other options on my glide. There was a large field behind me, but it was in the lee of the takeoff spine, and setting up would have required a downwind turn toward the cravat side and then counter steering back into the wind with the open side or some other combination of inputs that could have caused a stall, a spin, or an auto-rotation. I could have also aimed for the narrow, winding, mostly dry riverbed below, but this would have also led to a likely tree landing. Trying the main LZ while being mindful of the power lines seemed like a better option. I generally avoided steering in the direction of the cravat because I wasn't convinced I could counter-steer using the open side without stalling/spinning the wing.
In-flight, my priority was to maintain my heading, but I did attempt to clear the cravat with my stabilo line, and the left side A's / B's. The cravat did not budge, and I decided against more aggressive inputs (like big break pumps, spin-touch, or tail slide) due to my low terrain clearance. At one point, I tried a big ear on the open side to balance the cravat, but this was a mistake. It highly increased my sink rate, killed my glide, and made my glider feel less stable. I had to lightly pump out the big ear wingtip on my right side, and soon after it opened, I took a small deflation on that same side. The wing reopened with a slight dive before I could reach for my reserve. I still had terrain clearance but considered throwing my reserve anyway as I felt that if I took another deflation, it might result in a ground impact. The wing felt stable over my head, and I still had a good heading as well as an acceptable glide to the LZ, so I pressed on but recognized that there was a huge element of luck at play. I could not afford any further flawed inputs.
I kept a close eye on the power lines. I had acceptable clearance, so I committed to crossing over them. It was not by a hair but still closer than ideal. Once over the main LZ all it took was a slight adjustment into the wind for my final, and I came down lightly and on my feet. Upon depowering the wing, the cravat came out.
Fellow pilot Razi Alon suggested two alternative possibilities for the cravat:
While these hypotheses are very much worth considering in the given context, I distinctly remember a clean wall and the whole wing being open and free of line-overs or cravats when I brought it up. Furthermore, I suspect a line over would have taken more effort to clear than just depowering the wing upon landing. As such, I do not suspect that this is what happened in this particular case, but it doesn't change that it very well could have happened that way in a similar situation. Regardless, these hypotheses add weight to the reminder that I am responsible for clearing my lines and that extra diligence is required in unmaintained launches with lots of debris.
This was all a considerable mistake that should not have happened, and there was a lot of luck in making it back on the ground safely. My skills only kept me barely outside the margin of a bad accident. This is not an acceptable margin. There is an ego component, a complacency component, a headspace component, a bad practice component, and a skills component in this story. It will be wise for me to pay heed to the lessons learned.
Lessons / Takeaways / Reminders:
This article has been a long time coming and is a collection of posts and input from multiple respected pilots in our area.
As pilots, we should not underestimate warnings about Santa Ana (devil/ satin) wind.
Santa Ana winds can be violently unpredictable. However, "mild" SA conditions can give sites like Elsinore lovely ridge lift in the late afternoon & evenings. But how does one know if it is a mild event?
Simply, Flying Elsinore 500' off the deck parked in even mellow gusty conditions is really not all that fun with a high pucker factor.
Another way to put it: If local hot pilot Chris Cote is not flying due to SA conditions, you should think twice about launching on an SA day. Chris routinely flies bronco air and still doesn't like SA conditions.
SoCal Santa Anas are similar to Bay area and Central Cal "Diablo" wind patterns caused by descending cold air in the Great Basin.
Southern California usually sits in a delicate climatic balance. On one side, the chilly waters of the Pacific, transported from Alaska via the California Current, stabilize air temperatures and provide a ready source of moisture. On the other, a palisade of mountains blocks the extremes of the desert from coastal communities.
The Santa Anas upset that balance, ushering in hot, dry, desert-like conditions. But while the Santa Anas are often called desert winds, the term is misleading; the winds are not simply blowing desert air over Southern California's coastal plain. Instead, Santa Anas result from a cool, dry air mass that hovers over the continental interior of the American West. When that air descends from the higher-elevation basins to sea level, it warms and becomes even drier.
KCET Lost LA episode
The Devil Wind: A Brief History of the Santa Anas
Also great Article along with the above show: https://www.kcet.org/shows/lost-la/a-brief-history-of-the-santa-ana-winds
Flying SA conditions is always rolling dice. If you like that sort of thing, go for it - but if you have kids, a spouse, a pet, anything that depends on your continued productivity, remember that you're rolling dice for them, too.
I consider Santa Ana as advanced pilot conditions. They can change in strength quickly which can move the convergence line quickly to the west.
Have a look at the site you are choosing to fly and imagine the wind flow reversed. Where's the rotor now? What landing options? Any new dangers?
It can be done and can work very well at times, but it's for advanced pilots, not new pilots hungry to fly.
A post from winter, 2018: For any visiting pilots, the NE winds we've been experiencing will continue today, but should ease a bit in the afternoon. This is not a typical Santa Ana where the air is warm, it's very cold. This allows it to gather speed as it descends towards the coast and push under the ocean air-mass.
The foothills is where it's the strongest.
On a typical hot SA day it's possible to get a flight on the convergence line(usually the ocean side). I've never personally flown this type of condition.
Today is probably a good day to do some site seeing as the viability is quite good.
Horse & Fuzz Site Guide on SA conditions: Sub Site Fuzz Launch: (Closed)
Fuzz was a rarely used historical launch on the southwest side of the valley (across from the primary Horse Canyon launch site).
Due to the conditions is works in (east winds), it is extremely dangerous and should be considered closed. Fuzz should not be flown in easterly Santa Ana wind conditions. Santa Ana winds and lift tend to be highly unpredictable and often violent.
On Convergence days, it is better to wait for the convergence winds to go to 0 or slightly blowing in on the Horse side of the canyon, then cross the valley with altitude if flying over Fuzz is desired.
Launch at Fuzz is 1/3 height of Horse altitude and ground clearance, as well as being small and unimproved which lead to additional problems.
Most advanced pilots find the risk to reward ratio not worth the effort to launch Fuzz.
Fuzz is closed and use is highly discouraged.
What makes the Santa Ana winds blow through Southern California?
Summary Recap of WX Article from the LA Times: (worth reading the fill LA Times Article)
Gusts become more and more unpredictably sporadic and turbulent as the winds get chopped up over and through each mountain leeside, pass and canyon.
Good Articles on Santa Ana weather conditions:
Proposal to change bylaws in order to un sync chapter elections with chapter renewal paperwork timing. USHPA Chapter Renewals are typicaly due Dec - Feb.
Figure out better onboard process for new board members
Need Volunteer Help:
Next weather station?
Phil Russman suggestion: on all site guides, Pilots should use flight tracker (Implemented: Not is on all Site Guides)
-suggestion to hear about their notable flights
-what type of shirt do we want to do for flight distance shirts?
-work party at Palomar and Horse?
-Wild Bill weather flow at Karnezis house
Kiwi SAR - As of 9/17/20
Kiwi was found the next day. The latest hypothesis is that he went unconscious during a spin, the wing ripped away from his harness and he hit the ground hard enough to render his GPS tracker inoperable.
Telegram evolution and management for a SAR.
Multiple threads, including Ground Search, Air Search, General, Satellite Imagery, Machine Learning, Logistics, Fundraising.
David Hunt & Nik Hawks flew up to assist in the air search on August 26/27th
Recommendations for all pilots:
Make sure your wing & reserve are super bright colors and will contrast with the ground.
You may not be able to activate any of your rescue tools. Make sure you can be found even if you're unconscious.
Radio and GPS tracker are mandatory but didn't function in this case because Kiwi was unable to deploy them in time.
PLB406 beacon, $400
Carry a strobe or light
Briefed satellite imagery and resolution. Keep in mind that satellite resolution is pretty low, on the order of a 1 meter grid
Shoutouts to Chris Galli for tremendous effort and to David Wheeler of XC Find
Don’t clog up the comms
If something looks funny, look into it. (Kiwi’s position stopped)
Set up Livetrack24 to ping off cell phone, not inReach
-active vs passive comms
-APRS, every 2 minutes it sends out GPS data, programmable
-radios (VHF) talking to buddies & other pilots, voice com
-bluetooth headset (handsfree)
-LoRa: open dev, open software, 4 km - 100 km depending on antenna/transmission power
-comms, distance & bearing to other nodes
-there is a national distress freq but it can also vary state to state
-keep your radio on until everyone is in the car
-don’t wait to start the search. Better to start and quickly call it off than to start late.
Lessons Learned G-doc
Use Livetrack24 & SDHGPA LIvetrack24 group
Connect & Feed both devices (GPS & cell) into Livetrack24
Wing Choice & Weather Calls - Elsinore
-flying Elsinore on a Santa Ana day. Santa Ana days are wild, and even the tamest SA day can kill you.
-There isn’t a good AND easy AND safe test to assess pilot skills; P3 can mean lots of things
-Ron Davis; the nice thing about waiting at Palomar is it usually gets better
-Steve R: The uncomfortable choice of the experienced pilots. Take new pilots under your wing or ignore them. When you’re new, ask to tag along on big days.
-when to learn (shoulder seasons, with your crew)
-Wing choice is NOT formulaic
-Phil volunteered to take someone through their next wing choice so we see the process
Club Business & Announcements
Site Status - Check for updates
All National Forests closed due to high fire hazard
-Marshall, Crestline, Elsinore
-Elsinore used to require an Adventure Pass
Horse (Cleveland National Forest)
Big Black (CNF)
Laguna (HG launch is open, BLM land, but upper launch is closed)
Laguna : ABSP has not renewed event/special event permit for us
Other PG clubs also have closed sites, check before you go to fly
Phil R points out that air authority rests in the FAA, when you touch the ground the law reverts to the landowner
Fines in the region of $150-250
Once it cools off, we need to schedule another work party to clean out the brush in the Palomar bailout as part of our use agreement with Pala
SDHGPA Agenda- Notes 6-18-20:
1. Planning for radio frequency switch due to 144.950 being a repeater band.
Jeff B is talking with TASMA to see if they could allocate a frequency
Please try 145.525 or 145.600 when you're out to see how busy they are. Reference links:
2. Blossom Ownership Change: Much Ado About Nothing.
Nik thought Blossom had been sold, but it turned out that only a small chunk of the property on the south side of Quail Canyon road had been sold.
3. Dusting off the idea of Adding in Waypoint buoy races for our sites:
Butch suggested we hold a "Rookie meet". Experienced pilots are paired with rookies, the mission is to get your rookie to a specific goal. This got lots of thumbs up!
4. Weather Forecasting
a. Bill’s forecasting and recent forecasting updates have been awesome, thanks Bill!
b. Some great videos on the subject added to the SDHGPA YouTube playlist
i. Lisa Verzella Explains XC Skies (NOAA Pilot) on Cloudbase Mayhem / Gavin's
ii. Top 10 Wind Forecast Models
iii. SD Weather Overview, V1
5. Site guide updates (SDHGPA Site Guides)
-syncing data with USHPA/RRRG data
-goal is to produce a template for any club to use
-site guide for Blossom will be the first one
-raw video has been shot and is being edited and worked on
Bill Helliwell recommends we submit that video for a “best USHPA video” award
6. Blossom Safety and Landowner relations at the Base of El Cap
a. landing north of the power lines on El Cap, where to navigate to and where to hit the road
7. July Meeting: Q&A with USHPA Executive Director Martin Palmaz July 16 2020
8. Nik's advice: Keep the banter a little friendlier. My personal guidance on this: aim for fun, joy, and building things up. Stay away from controversial non-flying issues. BUILD the community wherever we can.
Next club meeting suggested topics:
19:38:49 From Jeff Brown : http://www.tasma.org/repeaters/2m-repeaters/
19:38:56 From Jeff Brown : http://www.tasma.org/TASMA-2m-Band-Plan.pdf
19:42:17 From Jeff Brown : Maybe try 145.525 or 145.600
20:00:48 From tom zylak : Blossom sign-in book, with a space for USHPA#?
20:01:36 From Nik H : Interesting idea Tom.
20:06:18 From Nik H : Love the Rookie Meet idea.
20:07:32 From Scott Larson : as a rookie, that sounds very cool!
20:16:25 From Jason Virskus : There's a free app called Drone Deploy that you can use for creating 3D models also. Very cool
20:16:57 From Jason Virskus : https://www.dronedeploy.com/
Steve Prairie’s reserve toss on YouTube
“Potty mouth pilots flying to Borrego Springs”
STRUCTURE OF THE MEETING
Elsinore Site Guide, Bill Soderquist
-About a dozen locals fly it
-Been landing over by O’Hara’s (terrible place to land if it starts to blow down)
-Mostly top land in cleared areas (via chop and controlled burns)
-The bank may own it, caretaker usually is the only one to come out and interact.
Sites we know are open:
Time to Adjust those flight clocks Forward & adjust flight time of Day
Spring is Here! - Reminder:
Next Month's Proposed Topics:
Sailplane pilot present to us on their lines.
Reserve aging (when should you replace it?)
The San Diego Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association