Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Laundry Day 2 (From Zero to Hero)

Today was the second task of the Nats and I was anxious to recover from my bomb-out after the start in yesterdays task 1, and the shame of having to watch everyone (almost) skyout and flying far. Today looked nice and the task was a 65k trip over the back and out over the flats in fairly desolate high desert plateau. Everyone launched and Bob managed to climb away and get high while I was left unable to get up. So, after about 40 minutes or so of yoyoing around infront of launch, I bomb out on the edge of town and I figure I have 20 minutes to relunch before the official close of the start. I go and run for my car at the hotel and Alex comes to join me. We load up the car and rocket up to launch and get in the air again. Ray is also there,and the three of us relaunch. Into the strong cross conditions we go. Ray goes up, Alex goes down (sorry) and I end up somewhere in between. Eventually I find something to climb in and throw myself over the back into what I forsee as a butt kicking. The butt kicking never comes and I scratch and sink my way across the valley behind and approach the turnpoint. I look below and I find a hawk thermalling up, things are looking up, I park on top of the hawk and we fly for a bit to 11g's or so, then we head on our own separate ways.

I go on glide and i am still going up, I head for the next likely trigger and look over my shoulder to find Ray headed to me via a different route. I find us a nice thermal and we share a great climb back to 12g's hooting and hollering the whole way. We hit glide over a huge high plateau and right at the edge where the plateau drops i hook probably the best thermal of my life. i start climbing and look down at Ray who is still in search mode. Every once in a whike I glance down from my giddyness and possible hypoxia ( 16g) and see that Ray is still a speck on the landscape below. I actually write him off as landing near the turnpoint. See ray's story for more on his improbable adventure.

There are a line of distinct small clouds popping above and amazingly a glider is far above me underneath a beauty. I head out on glide and am amazingly still climbing, my hands are frozen and I look at my GPS for Goal and see that it is 16K in front of me. But at 16 grand, 16 kilometers is almost beheath me. I arrive at goal at a respectable 12 grand, and spend 15 minutes doing anything I can to burn off the substantial altitude ( it makes me wonder how far I could have gone with all that altitude and the convergence keeping me high. I land at goal with an unforseen 18th for the day, a cheap beer and a long van ride. We pick up ray on the long drive home. Nice.

Posted by Fireman Dave

Laundry day 2, the reserve revenge!

Task 2 at Lakeview: 69.4Km
It was looking good and almost everybody was climbing but me (Brazilian Ray), Cliff Curry, Alex and Fireman Dave. Me and Cliff found ourselves at the local bomb out LZ :( and took a ride back up, while Fireman landed close to his car and gave Alex a ride back up, even though Alex didn't really want to go up again. After the second launch (after some 3 pull ups in strong, cross conditions) we finally started to go up, and Cliff was the first to sky out and move on. I wasn't thinking about getting back into the task, but I just wanted to fly . . . until I found a great thermal and was above 10,000 ft ASL (6,000 over launch) and decided to go for the first turnpoint, so at least retrieve would be easy since it was following the main road. Then I found more thermals behind the valleys, staying above 9,000 ft for most of that leg. After tagging the second turnpoint I found a steady climb to my max altitude of the flight: 12,277 ft (that is twelve thousand, two hundred feet high!) But like every thing that goes up, it needs to come down, I was able to "find" sink places pushing me down at rates higher than 1,000 ft/min putting me at 8,000 ft in no time, which feels super low! Me and Dave were so far behind, we had no thermal marks but ourselves and it worked great! Dave was lower than me and when he hooked a good one I went to join him and we both climbed to 11,900 ft and kept pushing to the next point. It sounds easy, but the climb was gnarly and we would take turns being the higher guy. After that thing got bumpier and flying at speeds over 40 miles per hour I was sinking again :( In the bumpy air Dave found a good one and I saw him climb right above me, fast and bumpy, but he was going up. I tried going upwind of him and all over the place but it did not work . . . and he was just a spec now, go Dave! I thought I was gonna land and started getting close to the road when I realized I was flying over a butte, meaning I got "free" altitude, so kept going towards the next point . . . I am closer now . . . and then it really got bumpy :) look at my track log and you will see climbs over 1,000 ft/min after 15:00, but my vario registered climbs of 1,600 ft/min! If you zoom in you can see I was all over the place, but chasing that big one, looking at Dave as high as I'd like to be, thinking it would take me there and to goal, but it did not, instead, it threw me out of it and out of control. I was above 11,000 ft and had plenty time, so I stalled the glider a few times but couldn't recover very well and ended up spinning it, some 4 times. It was time to toss the laundry and check my silk. Once the bag was out and in my hand I looked for the clear spot and tossed there, just to see it coming back at me and hitting the lines. For my luck, the diaper bag got stuck in the lines and I didn't lose it. Before I could jerk the lines, it opened :) Thanks Skydive Chris for helping me in my last fold! I was still spinning so the next step was to grab a tip of the glider, not so easy with two gloves, but I manage to do so and used the glider as a long ribbon and could even steer with it like a rudder. On my way down I radioed the guys for my retrieve and waited a little more, trying to catch my breath again. I landed safely, about 1/4 mile away from the main road and some 13Km short of goal, making the retrieve a breeze. Back at the HQ, I had help repacking the reserve and untangling my lines, and I am ready to fly again ;) This was my best flight so far, and even though I landed with my reserve, it was a happy landing. Believe or not, I finish 21st today.

Happy landings and aloha!
Brazilian Ray