I awoke this morning to the sights of lighting and the sound of thunder. Apparently the alarm clock wasn't necessary. I showered and got ready to head down to Hollister. The plan was to do some flying in the Duo with Drew, starting around 9am. (The Duo time is to help transition into the Pegasus.)

The weather was pretty bad and I was worried that I wouldn't fly at all. But I headed to Hollister anyway and called for the weather on my way. The briefer had very encouraging things to say. Sure enough, the closer I got to Hollister, the better it got. I started to see blue around the clouds.

I arrived a bit early and went about getting the Duo ready to fly. I talked with Drew about my past Duo experience (just one day at Truckee) and we were off. We flew three "high" flights (roughly 2,800 feet given the low could bases) to work on takeoff, tow, slack line, general speed control, and landings. Then we took a break to eat while a bunch of other gliders launched.

Next we did five rope breaks. A couple at roughly 700 feet, then a couple at 300 feet, and finally one at 10 feet. The last one was a bit of hard landing, but it worked. As we were pushing the glider back toward the launch area, Drew asked if I wanted to take it up on my own. Of course I did. :-)

After a brief break, I launched and towed to cloud base (roughly 2800 again), spotted a could that should have had lift under it. But I lost a bit too much altitude getting there. I manged to stay around 2,400 for maybe 10 minutes and headed back to the airport. I landed on runway 31 just fine. I pulled the glider off for a bit and chatted with the folks who came over to see that I survived.

The sky had cleared up toward the west, so I launched again and headed that way. I got off tow at 5,200 feet and was at least 1,000 feet above the highest cloud bases. This gave me a bit of time to look at the clouds and think about what I wanted to do.

I found a nice looking set of clouds that I wanted to try in the direction of Fremont Peak, so I headed there. About half way there, I realized they were twice as far away as I had thought. I decided to take a 90 degree turn and try a cloud street closer to the airport.

It worked. I found decent lift and crossed over the airport. Cloud bases were just below 4,000 feet. As I got over near the foothills on the east side of the valley, I noticed a line of dark cloud bases heading off toward the southwest. I headed over and found abundant lift along a 6-8 mile stretch of clouds. The bases were lower, ranging from 3,500 down to 3,200, but the lift was good. I routinely saw 2 knots up. Several times, I ran the street with 4 to 6 knots up. The lift was so abundant that I make many passes at 80 knots while still gaining altitude.

When I got too low, I'd turn out of the lift, play around for a bit to get lower, and repeat the process. After a bit of time, I was joined by Lance and Darren in 9KS. They saw what I was doing and couldn't resist playing too!

We chased each other up and down the cloud street for a while until we parted ways to go off and play elsewhere. But we seemed to return to the same point a few more times. Eventually Mother Nature began calling my name, so I headed back toward the airport. The really good lift was getting too far from the airport anyway.

What a way to end the day. A 1.5+ hour flight in the Duo on a day that looked like crap. And most of the flight was spent racing under clouds at 80 knots.

Next week: The Pegasus checkout.

Posted by jzawodn at November 09, 2003 08:15 PM

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