Monday, May 25, 2009

Flight from Walt's to Big Pine in Owens valley

This was my first flight from Walt's point in the Owens valley. There is a tradition that hang gliders meet there on Memorial Day weekend, so I was hoping to join them at least for one day. Forecast was bad and promise overdevelopment by 2:00 pm at Saturday and I did not had a lot of expectations, but still want to had a short flight. I left car near bailout LZ and some HGs give me a ride to launch (Thanks!). Launch was already full of HGs assembling their gliders at 9:00 am and I was able to reserve only a small space, just enough to lay down my PG. I launched second at 10:14, got up quickly and start my journey. Beautiful snow peaks, lakes, amazing terrain and, of course, I forgot camera at home. I try to stay high all the flight and monitor clouds development and wind velocity. At 12:00 clouds was OK on the west side of valley and OD on east and north of Bishop. Wind velocity began to increase significantly, flying on trim speed, my ground speed occasionally reach 70-75 km/h, which mean that it equals to my air speed. I headed toward highway 395 to land, but catch a thermal just a mile short of highway and decided to made a last leg to Big Pine for easier retrieve. Landing was spectacular, almost with zero ground speed going through thermal bubbles I miss my intended LZ, clear of bushes, by few meters and spend about 20 minutes retrieving my wing from bushes and cactuses on 30+ km/h gusty wind. Unforgettable experience. Another HGs give me a ride to my car (Thanks again!), but first we stopped at grocery store to get some food and visited thermal springs near Bishop. Rain started around 3 pm. Total flight distance 74 km (45 miles), duration 2:22.

GPS track on Leonardo:

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