Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 PG flights overview

It's been awhile since my last post, more than a year. Time flies fast, but I will try to recap at least an overview of what's happened in 2016. In short, my focus shifted a lot toward rock climbing. It's a great feeling to learn something new, improve your techniques, explore new territories, but let's get back to the flying.

Looking NW toward Whitney Portal in Owens Valley
I finally upgraded my Mantra 4 (350+ hours) to Mantra 6. I like it a lot, similar to M4, but more speed and better glide, more solid and very stable, no major collapses yet. Flying was a bit disappointing for me in the start of the year, when I bombed out few times from Marshall on a perfect days, but there was few good flights later in the year, including personal best. OK, here we go:

March 17. Tavis, Reavis and Gavin flew from Marshall right over San Gorgonio and was able to continue. Tavis took the best line 62 miles to just past Joshua Tree, Gavin same line, but less distance and Reavis tried more south line 53 miles (Coachella valley doesn't work very well because of Salton Sea stable air influence). There was more flights to San G. later in the year, but this was a first time PG flight to J-Tree.

April 03. Chris Cote flew 44 miles from Blossom Valley to Ocotillo (I-8), new site record.

April 18. Joe Rodriguez flew 45.5 miles from Elsinore to Whitewater (Banning pass), only 5.5 miles short of 51 miles open distance site records. On the same day Chris Cote set new open distance record for Palomar, flying 39 miles to past Blossom Valley.

May 05. Reavis beat my open distance record by 4 miles flying 76.8 miles from Marshall. Amazing low save over highway 138 and push upwind. This is not an easy direction to improve open distance, because you typically get stopped by west breeze anywhere after Palmdale. Ability to cross Cajon pass early and maintain fast speed is a key here.

May 21. Chris Cote flew 37 miles from Little Black to Ranchita, new site record.

I attended Chelan 2016 Paragliding Nationals in July with Aaron, Russ, Len and other SoCal pilots. We had a good time, flew 5 tasks with 1 of the tasks been 136 miles (220 km), my personal best (last one was 212 km from 9 Miles in Owens in 2012). The best flight of the year. My overall results was not impressive 68th (out of 114), which is not surprising, since I did not compete in 2014 & 2015.

August 13. I flew from Laguna 74 miles right over San Jacinto mountain, crossed Banning pass, but wasn't able to establish on the other side. Second best flight of the year. My main mistake was attempt to fly around San J. from the south, which did not workout because of SW breeze. I lost 1 hour and almost landed at our 'usual' LZ near lake Hemet, but was able to find lift and get to cloud base again. It's critical to stay on the east (dry) side of convergence when flying from Laguna. On the same day Chris Cote flew 92.4 miles and set new open distance record. Interesting deep line toward Big Bear, but than he got into north wind and decided to fly west, landed behind the dam and after re-launch landed at Hangar 24 brewery.

August 27. I flew classic 100 miler from Walts to Jeanice Ranch.

August 28. Chris Cote flew 45 miles from Elsinore to Chihuahua Valley (near Warner Springs). Another record attempt for Lake Elsinore, different direction, but pretty much the same result, 6 miles short. I don't think that problem is in the site, but most likely in number of contenders and attempts. In 10 years in SoCal I only flew Elsinore 6 times.

September 28, Mitch and Gavin improved Marshall open distance again, flying 99.69 miles via independent lines, but eventually landing almost at the same spot near Gorman I-5 stopped by strong thunderstorm. HGs flown this line much farther, noticeably RebarDan toward Bakersfield, Bruce Barmakian to New Cuyama valley and Tony Deleo 204 miles to Santa Maria (Tony & Bruce flew from Blackhawk). So, potential for PG is still there and hopefully we may see good flights in this direction in 2017.

October 09. Chris Cote flew 46 miles from Soboba to Hesperia, another open distance site record. Very impressive performance by Chris this year.