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Thread: Thermal Alert: Sat June 29

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Fremont, CA

    Re: Thermal Alert: Sat June 29

    Now that more than 48 hours have passed, I can safely say without fear of jinxing it: Look who had the number one flight in the WORLD on OLC for 6/29/19!

    Congratulations, Kempton and Alex!


  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Palo Alto, CA

    Re: Thermal Alert: Sat June 29

    Congratulations Kemp. Pretty amazing. I liked how you kept your enthusiasm in check when describing the day last Monday... "oh looking pretty good". :-)
    Darryl Ramm - ASH-26E - 6DX

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Menlo Park, CA

    Re: Thermal Alert: Sat June 29

    Thank you all for "high fiving" our flight 8^). Sorry for the late post, too much going on!

    With the possibility for a 1000K triangle, we arrive Fri eve to prep for the flight. This is my 2nd flight with Alex, a longtime paraglider pilot, recently converted to sailplanes. He flies an ASW-20, and is well suited to long duration flights. On our last flight, we worked on his reading of the sky, and strong tendency to circle in every bit of lift, a practice from his PG days. I get that, having come from 1-26s myself.

    Skysight way undercalled the cu. It seems to be calibrated for the desert, or larger homogeneous areas. Wind was correct, a 5-10 kt S-SW wind over the area.

    We aimed for a 10:30a launch when we spot the 1st cu at 9:25a, followed by more cu popping towards the south rapidly. A last minute rush to get launched has us wheels up at 10:10a. We could have towed off at 9:30a, oh well. On tow:
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    There was good turbulence and lift on the ridges E of East Park reservoir on our way to Stonyford. Release S of Stonyford at 9K, then a diving start on Stonyford, and glide into St. John. I’m normally encouraged when there’s burbles half way up St. John but this time they started at the base, so excited for possibly strong lift on St. John. Sure enough, a few hundred yards before the peak, we curl into a solid 3kt climb giving us enough to go directly to a small cu W of Sheet Iron. A 4kt climb there and we can go directly to a larger cu at the “burn area” on the ridgeline. From there, we only do a couple circles along the spine to Black Butte, Anthony and into the Yolla wilderness. Gotta keep that forward speed up! This was a bit different than the more easterly lift line forecast, but of course, you go with the WX you have!

    Approaching the Yolla area from Anthony, FLARM and eyeballs spot a helicopter coming from the fire TFR on the w side of Yolla. It’s an unusual TFR in that the top is only 6500ft as it’s a low intensity fire (can’t see any smoke), covering only 440 acres in 10 days, so has only a small team on it.

    Passing W of Yolla before noon, doing great. View of T15 looking N, but look at that cirrus in the distance:
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    This was not to be an issue, but we were watching it. The 1p GOES image shows some cirrus in S & Central Oregon:
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    Looks not too thick, but it’s difficult to judge from a low angle a ways away.

    Into the Trinity Alps at ridge height, we thermal in our first strong climb, 6 kts to 10k. We’re optimistic, but not exuberant, yet.... Tracking the cloud street along the Marbles, it looks to be headed to TP #1, but as we get closer, we see we’ll need to jog to the west one ridge. Clouds are still around 10-10.5k, and more importantly, spaced only 1-2 miles apart, so it’s push to 80-90kt between lift, and then slow to 55-60 kts while weaving in the lift, and repeating.

    We get to TP #1 at 1:15, right on schedule, and head off to the NE to TP#2. Cloudbase is going up as we enter southern Oregon. Alex spots a towering dust devil 20 miles to the east going from ground visible to halfway to cloudbase (Alex pic):
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    We keep pushing and get to a low point of 6800ft (3000 AGL) about 10nm NE of Pinehurst State airport. It was one of those moments where there is glorious cu & streets all around, BUT we can’t see to center a climb, and there is only forest below. Alex asks “what's our safety airport?”, and I reply a bit flip, ”It doesn’t matter, we’ll get a climb!” I had Pinehurst in mind, but felt we’d get something shortly. However, that response was a reminder to myself that I was starting to get over-confident. It’s 2p.

    The cirrus is 10-20 miles to our west, not a factor, but we notice the growing tendency for spreadout from the towering cu. There is a solid set of cu streets going to the NNE, but dry out at our turn. We decide to abandon the turn and just keep going with the streets, which by now rise to 12k. Back at cloudbase, we cruise under cu over forest for the next hour. The way ahead looks excellent, except for the cirrus which is now about 30 miles ahead:
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    I had said we’d turn around no later than 3:30p, or perhaps 3:45p. The speed and lift made me more and more optimistic of when to turn around, when Alex was sounding a bit hesitant on my comment to go to “one more cloud”. I caught myself, and we turned at 3:24p. Later, we were to appreciate that we turned at just about the latest time reasonable.

    This was the furthest I’d ever been from WSC, about 246 nm out. We’d been checking our 6 (looking behind us) and the streets were still there, but now the 10kt tailwind was a headwind. You could barely make out Shasta, and there was no OD shadow ahead, but to our right, there was OD and spreadout along the Cascades, see the 4p sat pic:
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    View S towards Shasta 450p:
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    We commented there had been no birds, and few bugs, for which we were thankful. We decide to be tourist and round Shasta. In retrospect, this added 15 minutes to the flight, and I could tell I was more relaxed, which means not so much urgency. This extra time almost did us in tho, but we didn’t know it at the time.

    On the south side of Shasta at perhaps the 11k level, we see a camp of about 20 tents where they are tobogganing down a 500-600 ft long path. Looks like fun!:
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    It’s now 5:30p and while the clouds look good, the shadows are getting longer. A quick climb on Mt. Eddy, bounce clouds along a street E of Trinity Lake (view S to Buckhorn and Yolla way in the distance, 6:37p):
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    then cut the corner to T15. It’s now 6:50p and the clouds immediately in front of us are soft and we spend too much time checking out 4-5 of them with little result. I fall into this trap late in a flight where I feel I need to get every little bit in order to get to the big cloud on Yolla. It rarely ever works. The lesson is, if you can make the big cloud, just deviate slightly (no circling) in the same way you do during cruise in mid-day.

    Finally approach Yolla with a good size cloud on it, but where is the lift? I’d only been here twice before this late, so not much experieince to draw on. In those other two times, I came in 1-2k ft below the ridge. In this case, we're nearly even with Yolla peak, coming from the NW. We cross the E-W ridgeline slightly to the W, circling around Yolla, with no luck. It’s now 7:10p. On the north side, now a few hundred feet below the ridgeline, I head west as that’s where I’d had climbs before (why didn’t you go there first? I don’t know) hitting the lift about halfway between the two circles:
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    We circle in smooth 3-5 kts up to 10k for final glide to WSC. Sorry I don't have a pic of the Yolla cloud, we were too focused on working it, but it clearly was just about to poop out, and we wouldn't want to be there any later!

    Final glide was at 60-70kts until a few miles out just to be sure following the forecast shearline on the east slopes of the Mendos. Landed at 8:19 for a 10.3 hour flight. I didn’t feel nearly as tired as my 11.1 hour with Thomas, due to not having any stressful low saves on this flight. Anxious saves perhaps, but nothing super bad….

    1002km by OLC. Not the 1000K triangle, but getting closer! Thanks to Noelle, Ben, Nick, Danny, the WSC staff and the many supporters worldwide watching as we went. We have the best people at Williams!

    P.S. Just noticed Alex posted his writeup, next thread. We wrote these independently.....
    Last edited by Kempton; 07-08-2019 at 09:15 AM.
    ASH-25 (FNX)

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2018

    Re: Thermal Alert: Sat June 29

    This is great Kempton! So interesting to see how our different perspectives manifested themselves in our write ups! Let's do the 1000km south next time?

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    Re: Thermal Alert: Sat June 29

    Great write up and amazing flight. And giving that it would be nearly impossible to know the distance until after landing (due to the impact of the high tow and altitude penalty which none of the flight computers can predict well) it is remarkable you bagged the 1000km milestone by 2km. More often than not, it is the other way around.


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