Monday, September 7, 2009

Walt's to Nevada, 103 miles flight

May and September are probably the best time to fly in Owens valley, so I keep looking for weather forecast and actual wind last few weeks. There were a lot of pilots from Santa Barbara, Crestline, Sylmar and other places interested to fly here during Labor Day weekend (mostly HGs).
Forecast was for 10 knots SSE and base at 13K, not perfect, but still good. There was another 3 PGs: Roger, Steve and Ron. When we arrived to launch around 9:30 am wind was blowing from the back (not good), but at 10:00 it switch to up slope, however Roger and Steve opted not to fly because of this. Ron was first to launch and climb well with birds, then Jonathan and me. I headed downrange first, but Jonathan and then other HGs overtake me easily.
I try to stay below 3000 m to avoid turbulence caused by west wind. Worst place was Onion valley where west wind was so strong that it almost pushes me toward the valley. I made transition across this valley heading almost directly to the mountains and still ended quite far from next ridge. To avoid rotor I stay out of mountains for a while, but then near Big Pine headed back to get enough altitude to cross the valley.
I choose a good line and stop for lift over Big Pine. Next difficult part was after Back Mountain because of strong WNW wind. Speed dropped to 15 km/h almost on full bar. But after a climb to 4000+ I got pretty good south tail wind and try to stay between 3500-4500 m the rest of the flight.
Jonathan, Greg and Dusty already landed at this point and chase me. After Boundary Peak I probably could glide farther, but 7 hours in flight, lost communication with chase and doubtful terrain for landing help me to decide that this is enough for today.
103 miles total distance (personal best). Chase was on radio immediately after I landed and was there in a 5 minutes. Greg thanks a lot for retrieve. After dinner in Bishop we got back to Lone Pine at 10 pm and home 1:30 am. Thanks to Jonathan for driving.

GPS track: