Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pine to Antelope Valley, 52 miles

I flew with Jonathan and Tony Deleo. We arrived to launch around 10:30 and wait for thermal cycles block light north wind around noon. We all climbed to 11K or so and headed NE toward Lockwood valley, hang gliders choose fastest and most reliable route A (see following picture):

The problem with route A is that if you don't find lift its a long glide out through strong west wind, which is feeding convergence. I have tried this route before and it was not successful, so this time I decide to try more conservative route B. There are many LZs available in this direction, thermals usually are not well defined, but in my case there was two forming clouds. When I made it to Lockwood valley it was mostly covered by clouds, regardless I had a good glide toward Frazier:

After Frazier its quite tricky to make transition into Antelope valley. There are 3 different air masses mixing here. One is a stable air from Central valley, then breeze coming from Santa Barbara (via Pine) and last one hot and dry air from Mojave desert. General advice is to climb as high as possible over Frazier and then glide toward Quail lake. Well, I try to gain some altitude there, but left it at 9K without much hope. Got really low near Gorman and was ready to land when find a good thermal, which gave me another chance. Topped out at 9600 near I-5 and 138 intersection and headed toward Quail lake:

North wind changed to SW. After crossing the lake I got down to 5500, but once again manage to find very strong +7 m/s (1400 fpm) thermal and continue. At this point Tony and Jonathan landed and Jonathan reported surface winds 15 mph gusting to 30 from the SSW near the mountain, so I decide to land before it pick up even stronger. Another reason for landing was my unpreparedness for this flight in particular I forget to upload class D Lancaster, Palmdale and restricted R-2515 airspace to my GPS and had no idea where they are. But first I want to flew north, out from the mountain, so wind would be at least not turbulent, which I did. I landed backwards and here is illustration to wind profile near the ground:

Flight from Pine Mt., 52 miles from Alex Gagarin on Vimeo.

My GPS track:

Discussion on Santa Barbara forum:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ridge soaring at Torrey Pines

Actually flight was done in May, but it took me a while to edit and post. I try foot mount for camera, which is work pretty well and Torrey is a perfect place to experiment with camera mounts, speed bar, etc.

Paragliding at Torrey Pines from Alex Gagarin on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Walt's to Big Pine, 43 miles

There was 6 PG this year, looking to fly from Walt's on Memorial Day weekend. Number shrink to 3 on Friday (Me, Jonas and Arnie), but it was still 50% more then last year. There was north wind at Saturday and west at Monday, so we decide to fly only Sunday. Initial plan was to camp at Horseshoes Meadows at 10000 ft altitude to get some acclimatization, but -3C° at night convinced us to camp in valley. Lone Pine camp was good place to stay and we also did some rock climbing just before sunset:

Sunday 8:00 am we met Tony, Jeff (HGs) and our driver Mike and headed to launch. There was almost no space left at 9:30, but weather did not turn on until 12. After getting up in saddle I flew back to mountain behind launch and then continue north. Most of the flight we spend with Jonas and Arnie who took off 15 minutes after us manage to overtake us. There was a huge high cloud passing from north to south, which shut down thermals for probably 15 minutes. HG who launched just before it (including Tony and Jeff) had nothing, but sink and has to land. We climbed as high as possible and circled in zero sink waiting for cloud to pass by and then continue down range. Our "favorite" Onion's valley did not disappoint us again. Strong WSW wind turn on washing machine and I have to leave mountains earlier then I want to, but Arnie manage to flew further over high terrain, which allow him easy crossing to Whites and flew to Janie's (100 miles). Jonas try to stay in the mountains too, but not deep enough (40 miles):

There was also many sailplanes along the route, which is fun to watch from the distance, but could make you nervous when thermal close enough. Here is a video:

Flight from Walt's to Big Pine, 43 miles from Alex Gagarin on Vimeo.

GPS tracks: Alex, Jonas and Arnie

Discussion on HG forum: link

Arnie's photos: link