This past Sunday (January 12th, 2020) we got the year off to a fine start with another Holfuy weather station installation, this time at Little Black. After about a year and half of working with the park rangers there (well done Jeff Brown!) we agreed on a spot, set up a date, and rallied the troops.
Sky flyers! What do you use to navigate the ocean of air? Are you a flying Luddite or a Techno-Tim?
At a recent club meeting a few of us shared what instruments we're flying with. The clear favorite was David Hatfield's, but it was interesting to see how both new and more experienced pilots set up their kit.
People of the sky, let’s talk about weather! More specifically, how do YOU look at the local flying forecast? What sites do you go to, what do you look for on them, and how often do you check?
You don't need to be a contest leader to join in on the fun. The Shirt Awards are for individual achievements and . . . it is never too late to join in!
An Intermediate Pilot's Journey
San Diego Free Flyers, we’ve got a bunch to catch up on!
I should probably start naming names: Bill Davis was the one who saw the opportunity to shove me into a thermal over at Little Black, and I’ll probably always remember his super simple and intensely shared advice over the radio: “Keep turning, ya knucklehead!”
As funny as it sounds, that’s really all you need to get started with thermalling, although that’s just the start of the invisible elevator game.
Chris Cote spent lots of time at Blossom with me going over what he looks for and how he understands the sky from the ground and from the riser-feel once he’s skyward. It’s always nice to get the perspective of someone who has put in a ton of time in a very short period (and who holds more than one of the local site records.)
Ivan Guajardo was also more patient than he needed to be when it came to talking through the first steps of Blossom and the crossing to El Capitan, and Mike Dowdall has been about the most generous and encouraging pilot I’ve met on launch.
Yes, Phil Russman was there barking his occasional gems of wisdom, Paton always drops the technical flying info-bombs, and before he got sucked into buying a house, Robert Michiels was a fairly constant wingman.
I got to enjoy the glory of a hike with Dave Metzgar and hear his gravelly version of what’s right and wrong in the world of paragliding, which is one of those experiences that just makes you want to hear more.
On a few car rides to club meetings or out to Horse with Josh Gelb I got an exceptional and interesting view into club history, including many lines that are rarely flown now and the genesis of the Palomar launch.
Why SDHGPA & Why it Maters
Finally, an exhortation to those of you who either haven’t renewed your membership yet OR who are new and wondering what a membership actually gets you.
One of the reasons San Diego is such an excellent and reliable place to fly is that we lean heavily on just a few people to do all the paperwork and admin “stuff” to keep our sites open.
Access to Horse, the permission to fly Palomar, the ability to put up weather stations, keeping sites maintained, the website itself, and keeping us an insured & recognized club in good standing with USPHA is frankly a huge PITA.
There are two ways to contribute, one is easy, one is hard.
The easy way is to take the money you’d spend on your sweetie for a cheap dinner once a year and pay your membership dues. That’s a one-time action that allows the 4 or 5 people who do 98% of the volunteer work that keeps San Diego such a great flying area to keep on slaving away on our behalf.
Oh, and if you find anything other than a cheap dinner in San Diego for under $40, let me know!
The hard way is to volunteer to actually do all that paperwork, and there is a TON!
While I’d encourage you to volunteer, it’s far easier and also pretty effective to just pay your dues. We’ve got about 100 pilots who haven’t renewed yet, which represents a good chunk of our yearly income as a club. If you fly any more than 3 times a year it’s basically a no-brainer to continue supporting.
Finally, if you’re new and thinking about joining SDHGPA, please do!
Most club members are happy to chat with you and share as much as we know, along with introducing you to potential flying buddies and mentors. You can eat $40 worth of tacos at any one of our fly-ins, so if you’re a hungry pilot, think of coming to multiple fly-ins as basically being paid to fly and eat.
At $40 per year for a full annual membership, this is about the most valuable spend you’ll make this year. Ping us with any questions, and see ya in the sky!
On multiple occasions with this past Sunday being the most recent, pilots flying into rotor and possible venturi locations have been observed. All should be reminded that Palomar is a complex mountain site and all should review the Soaring notes of the Palomar Site Guide and also Review the Flying Effective Faces article pulled from our XC clinic talks.
Palomar is a complex mountain site
Fly effective faces that are perpendicular to the prevailing wind conditions. Note that on light and variable wind pure thermal days, the effective faces can be constantly changing and influenced by thermal activity. i.e. If the prevailing winds are west, trying to ridge fly the big south face or into the canyons will not be productive and can be turbulent. See Article on Flying Effective Faces and scroll through Palomar examples for different wind directions. Also Note that winds and effective faces will shift to thermal activity and geographic location / topography influences.
Photo Cedit: Alex Turner
HG tips from a Jedi Master that cross over to the PG side.
Spring is here and ,maybe you are getting ready to fly after a bit of a layoff. Review your take off procedure. Do you like to have a wire crew? If you need a wire crew to stabilize your glider at take off you shouldn’t be at take off. You may want help getting to the spot where you start your run. This is especially true at the Laguna cliff launch where you have to get your glider up over a hump and get your wing tips past rocky bumps. It’s good to have some help, a little insurance, to keep the glider from getting away from you as you negotiate the obstacles. But once on launch you should be able to control the glider by yourself no matter what the wind does. Why? Well, when you say “CLEAR!”, you are the only one controlling your glider. What if at that instant, or during the first step or two of your run, the wind conditions where you need help, suddenly occur? You have to control the glider on your own.
You build a weather model in your head. At launch you study the wind conditions and see that there are times when the wind is too strong, or too cross, or too blustery. Then there are nice conditions. You decide that the nice conditions last long enough for a controlled take off. So you stand at launch with help controlling the glider during the not nice conditions and wait for a nice condition. It occurs and you say “CLEAR!”. What if you space-time weather model is wrong? What if the nice condition does not last as long as your model expects? What if the wind 20 feet down the ramp is not nice, that is the spatial aspect of your model is wrong? What are you willing to risk based on the weather model you have created in your head?
If you can’t control your glider during any conditions that could occur while you are standing at launch, you should not be standing at launch. This of course also involves a model. The model says that what you will experience at launch will be no worse than what you have observed over the past period of time.
Light wind conditions pose a different problem. Suppose you need a 10 mph wind on a shallow slope launch, and that is the maximum speed of the wind. Sometimes it is less. So you wait for a good cycle and off you go. If the wind holds, you are fine. If it gets lighter, then what? Again, you are basing your decision to take off on a model you have created in your head. If the wind is light you must be able to take off in no wind conditions.
Photo Credit: Hadi - Henry Golian
The San Diego Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association