I planned to fly in the informal Hollister League contest today. Since I flew the novice task two weekends ago with Jonathon, I figured it was time to do it on my own. At the morning pilot's meeting, Ramy called a task of Panoche (lookout towers) to Black Mountain and then back north to the Lick Observatory atop Mt. Hamilton.

Ramy had suggested that a local start (tow to Three Sisters, find lift, work down to Panoche) might work. I was intrigued by the idea and decided to give that a go. It's a good thing I did, because while I was taping the wings on my glider, I learned that everyone was towing to Three Sisters due to a shortage of tow planes. I launched 3rd to last (just after 2pm), ahead of Drew and a student in the Duo Discus and Steve in CA.

I felt several really good thermals on tow and got little cocky. I released at 3,800 feet about a mile and half from Three Sisters. As I flew toward Thee Sisters, I encountered nothing but sink! In fact, I arrived over Three Sisters at about 3,300 feet (only 300 feet above the altitude at which I'd normally head home) and began looking for lift. After a minute I was rewarded with a decent thermal that allowed me to climb to roughly 6,000 feet. I didn't know it then, but that was to be one of my best thermals of the day.

As time went on, I started to hear problems on the radio. The guys who were going south were struggling. Some were struggling a lot. Russell came really close to landing at Hernandez. A few guys turned back to Hollister at EL2. Ramy eventually shortened the southern task to Center Peak. I heard about four guys make it all the way to Center.

All that made me decide to stay local. I searched around the east hills a bit and could only find that one really good thermal and another one a couple miles away. Everything else was 4 knots down. The normal spots (microwave towers, tin roof) weren't working at all.

Steve eventually reported lift the Pacheco Pass, so I headed that way. I stopped along the way for one thermal but it was a weak one and not really worth the effort. As I got to the pass, I noticed that there was lift in a few spots. I spent the next hour or so playing around there. I'd get high, fly toward the peak and lose all my altitude and then return to the thermal to try again.

After about 3 hours, I decided to burn of my altitude and return to the airport. My landing was much better this time. Even though the plans didn't work out for the contest, I enjoyed my day of soaring.

Posted by jzawodn at April 24, 2004 09:16 PM

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