Saturday, March 28, 2015

SoCal XC League: Marshall to Soboba, 34 miles

After flying from Marshall to Soboba and back last year I want to confirm that route works even without clouds and with moderate SW wind. Crossing I-10 between Redlands and Calimesa is far enough from Banning pass (with strong Venturi effect). Even if wind does pick up there is a plenty of space to land before the pass. After Redlands terrain is raising and line along this little ridge provides buoyant air, which is pushed from valley below by west wind.

Aaron was kind enough and agreed with the task, cloud base was good, but not epic, the best altitude I get was only 7K. It was great to see Len Szafaryn old time comp pilot decided to join us. We need PWC level pilots to learn from and I'm certainly missing flying with Eric, Josh, Dean and other top pilots. Flying his M6 Len was leading with Aaron and Peter close behind, then Mark, Me and Russ in the second gaggle. Our gaggle stop by at McKinley while lead gaggle skip it going directly to Harrison. While we was climbing Dmitry and Ziggy joined us as well and then both gaggles merged at Harrison.

Aaron decided to leave first, but flying more toward the Dam, not the route I want. Everyone else went directly toward Redlands airport and Brewery, climbing here and there, Aaron turn around and flew back to re-join the gaggle, but arrived much lower then everyone else. Lesson: don't get too far from the gaggle, especially when flying flats and route is not obvious. Len also could leave Harrison just by himself, with probably 10 minutes lead, but he choose to wait for a gaggle.

Our new lead gaggle was Len, Dmitry, Peter, me, Russ and Ziggy, but we split just before crossing I-10. I took more south line pushing upwind and Russ joined me, while everyone else opted for more direct line going south-east. Len and Dmitry did not get anything and pushed all the way to the ground landing near last way point (Fisherman's Retreat). Ziggy and Peter took a climb with strong drift toward the pass and become new lead gaggle of 2. We got separated with Russ and I took another climb, while he missed my thermal, pushed forward and landed too. Jeff, Tom and Paul took completely different line flying over Yucaipa.

There was interesting battle happening in front. Ziggy was now leading with Peter not far behind him, however Peter's line was better and Ziggy eventually stuck in the ugly looking canyon with power lines he could not cross and have to land. Peter made it first to Soboba with 2:42 time.

Crossing bad lands. Soboba visible ahead.
I spend too much time tanking up with altitude before crossing bad lands, so Peter was unreachable for me, I only hear him on radio reporting been on final glide to Soboba. I successfully crossed lad lands, but should probably take more direct line (faster and more buoyant based on Peter's track).
Banning pass, San Gorgonio (left), San Jacinto (right)
I had low save right over Gilman Springs Rd, climbing from 2500 ft to 5800 ft and then finishing second with 2:57 time. And two more pilots made goal. Jeff 3:06 and Tom 3:12, Ziggy was only 5 miles short and could easily win the day with one more thermal.
Peter, me, Jeff and Tom
Soboba Fly-in was in full action when we arrived. Cold beer was well deserved refreshment (Thanks Steve).

Results and Tracks:

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