Understanding USA Airspace for Paraglider, Hang Glider and Ultralight pilots
This is a great overview of how Airspace effects us as HG & PG pilots:
Understanding USA Airspace for Paraglider, Hang Glider and Ultralight pilots
A big thank you to Ty Gunnlaugsson out of Colorado for putting this together!
Elsinore convergence animation / slideshow hr by hr
From XC Skys on a classic day 9-27-18 starting at 9 am till 6 pm.
Watch how the day develops and progresses. The colors are showing top of usable lift and the scale is on the upper right. From blue to green then yellow are the higher altitudes.
Note that the Eastern side of the Santa Ana Mts / Santiago Saddleback coastal range (that block & hold back the westerly winds and also referred to the E's Back Range) typically develop 1st before the flats heat up to be workable. Many times, it becomes a patience & waiting game while trying to hold onto altitude before crossing over into the flats. A lot of times, it is beneficial to hold onto the Back Range until the West pushes through. Once the west pushes through, it is time to go with it and try to stay slightly ahead of it as a tail wind, as the cooler west diminishes the Back Range's productivity, and the Flats turn on.
Elsinore Air Space Notes:
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.
Radio Etiquette slide from last night's talk is a good reminder for XC and all pilots even when Site Flying:
XC & Site Flying 101 - The Basics -
Keep radio transitions short and useful to the point info:
Examples of good radio transitions:
Consensus from an SDHGPA discussion on the topic (1-15-14) & (4-16-15):
(Well, these are the things that came closest to consensus. Maybe that was too high a bar.)
1) Keep in mind that different aircraft and different configurations have different blind spots, and act accordingly
2) Fly in a consistent and predictable manner, such that other pilots can predict your position and flight vector (don’t randomly change direction, speed, or bank angle, especially in close proximity!).
3) Communicate with other pilots. Wave, make some noise, and use eye contact to confirm that nearby pilots are aware of you. If nearby pilots are not aware of you or cannot see you, act accordingly (give them the right of way). Continually spot and make eye contact with those you are thermaling with. (Do not fly around looking at your wing).
4) Fly into thermals from the edge / tangent, turning the same way as other pilots already in the thermal. If you are entering a thermal, yield right of way to pilots already in the thermal. If entering may cause issues, wait to enter until there is a gap.
5) If in a thermal with other pilots, attempt to match their direction and 360 rate/ angular velocity (don’t cut others off by increasing your bank and moving inside of them in the thermal).
6) Mixed wings and mixed wing classes / ratings with different air speeds can effectively fly and center up on the same thermal by keeping the same turn angular velocity. This is achieved by varying each gliders turn radius while visually spotting each other. Slower gliders will be in a smaller radius while faster gliders will be on the outside. If you feel like other gliders are flying faster and running up on you, try to turn tighter while centering up on the thermal. (Another possibility is that you are just flying too slowly.)
7) If in a thermal with other pilots and you feel pressed for space or wish to follow an irregular pattern in the thermal, turn out of the thermal (away from the core and the path of other pilots in the thermal, not through the thermal and the paths of others). If leaving a thermal, you must clear your turn and time your exit to not interfere with other possibly faster gliders in the thermal.
8) When ridge soaring or entering a thermal, yield right of way to those already established in the thermal (generally yield right of way to those making the tightest turns). Do not fly straight through the thermal. (The sound of loud expletives is a good indication that you are doing this without realizing it.)
9) If another pilot is coming up below you in a thermal (especially a pilot in a hang glider, who may not be able to see you above them), yield right of way and let them pass. Conversely, if you are rapidly approaching another pilot from below in a thermal (especially a pilot in a paraglider who may not be able to see you below them), yield right of way.
10) In general, if you are overtaking someone else, you must yield right of way and not force them towards obstacles, other gliders, etc. . . . i.e. If they can’t see you.
11) Watch where you are going. Clear your turns. Do not fly around looking at your wing. Watch shadows (handy way to tell if anyone is close to you, even in your blind spot). And listen – if you have the “jams” cranking in your headset, you won’t be able to hear other pilots warn you of impending collisions.
11) (A personal addition from Dave M) – Realize that tandem paragliders are especially subject to blind spots, as our passengers are directly blocking our forward view and all views below and to the front of us.
Understating of this topic will not only lead to a pilots ability to maximize the soaring lift potential of our sites, but also lead to safer flights.
We are continuing to see many pilots flying in inappropriate locations to prevailing conditions at our more complex non simple ridge sites like Little Black and Palomar to name a few. All Pilots need to constantly evaluate wind directions & shifts to perpendicular faces. Do not fly Mt sites by rote.
This material is re-posted from our Members Only section 2015 Thermal and XC Clinic Talks , but is so important to making better safer pilots; we are repeating it here in our open blog section.
Finding lift in all the right places: (Effective Ridge Lift & Thermal Flight)
Putting Therey in to practice
Effective Ridge Lift Faces will greatly vary depending on wind direction.
Palomar Example: Showing effective soaring faces and sensitivity to wind shifts.
This is an article post well worth reading by the much respected Chris Santacroce:
Thinking about starting to Fly XC or wanting to stretch out your XC miles? Do not miss the much anticipated next segment of the SDHGPA XC Clinic Series.
Mark your calendars: Next SDHGPA XC Clinic Part 5 & 6: Weather Tools and Site Calls - May 21st
6:30 Mixer & BBQ ($5 & BYOB)
7:30 Meeting & Topic:
1. Club Info & Updates:
2. Topic: SDHGPA XC Clinic
Location: 127 S. Rios Ave, Solana Beach CA 92075 (Greg's SDHGPA Club House, down side driveway)
Laguna Mountain Flying Report 3, May - Bill H
Shallow Convergence & Westerly Flow Cut-off Effects
Saturday turned out to be a great Laguna day. Andy, Anna, John, Mike and I were set up and ready to go by 11:30. We were all in the air by 12:15. It was probably blowing down by 1:00. The sky was clear blue, not a cloud in sight.
The convergence thermals were just behind launch and in a few minutes Mike and I were over 10,000'. I followed Mike to Granite, never getting lower than 9,400'. At Granite thermals were good, climbing to near 11,000', and the wind was light from the East. I headed West thinking that I would run into "the convergence" and find even better lift. The air was stable and I was slowly losing altitude.
A few miles West of Granite I was at 9,000' and still in a light East wind. It just didn't seem right somehow, so I headed back towards Granite then North to the Volcans. I arrived at the South end of the Volcans at 8,000'. Mike was a few hundred feet above me. Still in a light East wind, so continue along the Volcans, lift has to be here somewhere.
Then at 7,500' the wind was West at 12 mph. I told Mike I was going to head across San Felipe Valley to the San Felipe Hills. The air was flowing down, even with a 12 mph tail wind my glide over the ground was only 3.5 to 1. I arrived at the Fish & Game lz with just enough altitude to verify the West wind and land.
Mike had a little more altitude and was able to get to the San Felipe hills and work the weak lift. Andy reached 12,000' on Granite and headed to where Mike was. The lift was too weak and the drift to the East was too much for Andy and he came out and landed at Fish & Game. Mike stuck with the lift and finally made it to the convergence thermal over Ranchita. Anna and John were a few minutes behind Andy and found nothing at Granite. They headed East over Earthquake Valley.
Anna was down to 3,000', 500' agl, and getting ready to land. A few birds drifted by, not far away, and climbing. She followed them and soon was over 11,000'. Now that's a thermal. John also found the lift over Earthquake Valley and they headed Northerly toward Ranchita and then Coyote Peak.
Mike, John and Anna were now no longer in the convergence thermals. (That line probably went North from Ranchita toward Toro Peak. Driving through Borrego Springs mid afternoon we saw dust devils between Coyote Peak and Coyote Canyon.) They were able to get close to 9,000' on Coyote Peak, then again on the Santa Rosas. They went on glide North and landed just West of Thermal Airport for 52 miles or so.
Drawing of my interpretation of what was going on. I think the convergence surface was leaning very shallowly up and to the West. The convergence thermals were starting near the ground location of the convergence and going almost straight up. Sometimes the convergence surface is near vertical. That and clouds make flying the convergence a little easier.
Presentation slides from the SDHGPA XC Clinic Discussions Part 3 & 4 as presented on 4-16-14
This Presentation is not a substitute for a proper site introduction, but rather one of many flight preparations to build upon and reinforce existing knowledge and skills required to fly Laguna or Elsinore. It is also meant as an overview to stimulate further interest and learning in these topics.
WARNING: The descriptions of typical flying conditions listed in this Clinic presentation reflect the experience of the authors of the guide. The conditions that you encounter at the site may differ, sometimes substantially, from those encountered by the authors. The descriptions of their experiences may not be relevant to the likely experience of any other pilot, particularly one who is relatively inexperienced or new to the site. A decision to launch is always that of the individual pilot. When deciding whether or not to fly, a pilot may wish to take into account the descriptions in this site guide but must also consider numerous other factors including the pilot's training and experience, familiarity with the site, equipment, physical and mental condition and the specific conditions in existence at the time of the decision. Pilots of relatively little experience or who are new to the site are urged to consult with other pilots at the site in order to obtain their assessment of the conditions.
SDHGPA XC Clinic – Part 3 -
The San Diego Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association