June 6th: Bruce goes 40 miles, Josh goes 20, Will and Kim bounce on the runway.
Looking east toward the dryline after the first climb out of the airport.
The Sixth looked better than any day we've had here yet; the dryline set up just to the east of us, winds were light on the ground for the first time in two weeks, and the day just generally looked much more like classic Hobbs flying. Josh launched first, with a running reverse in the nil winds to get his Mad Max flying. He caught a thermal fairly quickly and circled above the airport with no drift. Kim and I launched next on the tandem, but the rope broke about 200agl and we had to retow. On the re-tow we had a bad scare; the weak link snapped at about 40 feet agl, and the line pressure was a bit high so the canopy was cocked back behind us. This gave the glider very little airspeed with which to surge or flare before we were on the ground.We hit hard, about as hard as I've ever landed, but suffered only minor injuries. We were lucky that we were dressed in ski suits; Kim skinned her knee fairly badly through a two-inch layer of padding, and both my feet feel like someone took a sledgehammer to them but nothing seems broken. I'm also thankful that I had a good athlete as my passenger; anyone else might have been hurt much worse. Keep the tow tension low for the first few hundred feet. We were all rushing around trying to get in the air, but we all needed to slow down and make sure things were still happening safely. Towing, like flying or anything worthwhile, has inherent dangers.
Josh went east, Bruce went north, and Kim and I basically nursed our bruises for the rest of the afternoon, although we did take one quick flight just to get over our tow pounding.. Bruce managed about 40 miles, but the conditions were very light lift that only went to about 5,000 agl, low for around here. Bruce was in the air for three and a half hours, josh for a similar amount of time. We need at least a little wind!
Josh goes 100 miles!
The plains of West Texas and eastern New Mexico are finally starting to look almost dry instead of like Wisconsin or England. Moisture on the ground kills thermals; most of the sun's energy goes into evaporating the water rather than the air, with the result that the thermals that do get going tend to be small and weak, the runts of the thermal world. Today was the first day where I found a thermal climbing at better than 400fpm; last year we were routinely climbing at low rates in the morning, but afternoon climbs were usually 900-1200fpm.
Kim and I launched first, and had a nice climb above the airport with Tiki on her hang glider, which Josh came and joined shortly. We all drifted off north in the light wind, finding small cores that fell apart about 4000 agl. Eventually Tiki pulled the bar in and shot off into the distance, while Josh and I glided along. My Firebird Tandem doesn't quite go as well as his comp glider, but we were spotting the small thermals for each other and generally doing well. Kim and I had a low save just above where Tiki landed at about 10 miles out, then flew with Josh a bit more before we got to low and landed nicely. Josh bumped along out of sight maybe 300-600 agl before Dave, our driver, showed up. Kim and I were were aggravated with landing, but felt that we had flown well on the tandem given the light conditions. I'm learning more about working small cores in a tandem, it's definitely different than being on a solo glider.
Bruce landed fairly close by, and soon Dave was chasing Josh. There was some confusion over where Josh was exactly; Dave ended up in Brownfield, halfway to Lubbock, before Josh sorted him out...
Josh showed up at 10:30 last night, sunbunred and happy to have flown 102 miles despite circling endles in very light lift and minimal wind. Given the conditions, I think that ranks as one of the best flights I've seen. He was never able to climb more than 5,000 agl, and never reached base despite the hordes of cummies marching across the sky like someone had spilled a giant vat of popcorn. I think the ground is still relatively moist, leading to "weak" clouds with poorly defined bases rather than the flat-bottomed battleships with raucous thermals under them that I prefer. Josh landed near Portales after six plus hours in the air. Conditions are finally improving!
I've changed my plane ticket, with conditions improving e it's impossible to leave. I actually saw three dust devils yesterday, which is three more than I've seen all trip. Work will wait... I'm headed to the airport now, the sky is blue and the wind strong but managebale, hopefully we'll be flying far today!
JB and "Romey" (spelling?) are here with their Milleniums, more good energy in the Crossroads Hangar.
June 8: New US Tandem Record, Josh flies 102 miles again, thunderstorms.
Texas PG home