Friday, September 12, 2014

Marshall to Antelope Valley, 72 miles flight

East wind is always welcome in XC pilots’ community. You can do a lot of flights you normally can't because of SW sea breeze. One of the options is flight from Marshall over the back to Palmdale and beyond. We had a decent number of pilots for mid-week XC: Jonathan, Dmitry, Ziggy, Russ, Kia, Jai Pal, and Dusty with Steve and Wally driving retrieve.
Pilots on Marshall
Early forecast was showing east wind at Palmdale all day, but normally forecast derogate and it was the case this time as well, showing 5-7 mph SW at 5 pm. We met at 10 am. Even Ziggy was in time, which is unusual. I launched at 11:14 and conditions were still very light, but starting early was essential to get to Palmdale before SW sea breeze will kick in. I jumped to Cloud Peak then Billboard then Pine with just enough altitude. Pine was super turbulent, got a massive asymmetric collapse and left it right away crossing to Sugar Pine. Left Sugar Pine at 7200 ft and continue to Cajon Mt. Decision point: 12:10 pm, 7500 ft altitude and everyone else still over Pine. Very doubtful position for successful Cajon pass crossing, so I turn around and flew back to Sugar Pine to meet with Dmitry, Russ and Ziggy. Jonathan was still low at Pine mountain, Kia and Jai Pal landed in AJX LZ.

Ziggy had some altitude advantage and hurry to cross Cajon pass along, landing at highway 15 and 138 intersection. Unfortunately my radio did not work properly. It was fully charged, but I can only listen, when I try to hit PTT it just shut off. Looks like it’s time to replace battery. Next loss was Russ. He had slightly less altitude over Sugar Pine and decided not to follow me and Dmitry. He was not able to get enough altitude later and flew back to AJX. At this time first clouds start forming over highway 138 marking convergence line. Here is another note on the weather. If I plan to fly through Cajon pass I stop at highway 15 and 215 intersection in the morning. Expected wind is 5-7 mph from the north. This day at 9:30 am wind was already from the south at 3 mph, which means that by the time we were flying across the pass south was strong. Ziggy reported south at 15+ mph on his landing. That's why convergence line was deep. Instead of direct cross we all flew back north and climbed to 11K before crossing. Now we had 2 options: (1) follow convergence, which was even more north-west or (2) follow normal route along Lone Pine Canyon Rd. I chose number 2 because it was more direct route and with 11K we should not have any problems crossing.
On glide across highway 15
Dmitry over Cajon pass
After next few climbs Dmitry opted for deeper line in the mountains, which proved to be faster, I should just follow him. Instead, I was flying my route and by the time he got to highway 14 near Palmdale I was 12 km behind. Main convergence line was deep in San Gabriels and we both did not want to fly that deep, but after Palmdale it was perfectly on the route. I got relatively low to 7K near highway 14 and flew SW toward convergence, where I got back to 13K and basically follow it for a while.
Clouds marking convergence over highway 14
Jonathan and Dmitry landed at Elizabeth Lake and Bouquet Canyon Rd. That's exactly the same place where I landed last time. This time I still had 11K here and only concern was SW sea breeze, which could introduce serious safety issues for landing.
Palmdale from 13K
Liebre mountains
Clouds were dissolving, which is another sign of the breeze. I picked my LZ near Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve park, far enough from the mountains to avoid any rotor and landed at 5:11 pm. Wind was around 20 mph from SW, not too bad.
My LZ neat Poppy Reserve park
Steve did a great job on retrieve, picking everyone in no time and providing cold beverages. We were back at AJX around 8 pm. That’s what I call magic September days.

Tracks:
Alex: http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/1031579
Dmitry: http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/1031585
Jonathan: http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/1031578

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Amazing flying Alex!