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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Soaring XC

Alright!  Today the lift was much improved here in Dalhart and 3Y and I set out cross country.  The declared task was Dalhart to Dumas, TX to Clayton, NM and back to Dalhart which was basically cross wind and about 150 miles.

We launched at 2 PM.  Seems late but it essentially solar noon and we are at the western edge of the central time zone.  I found some lift off tow and climbed up near the airport and then headed out.  The entire flight to Dumas was pretty standard.  I never got particularly low, it seemed like there was lots of lift.  I was optimistic for the flight back . It was rough though!  Winds were out of the south southwest at about 20 knots and the thermals were getting torn up a bit.  By the time I got to Dumas I was hot and uncomfortable and borderline nauseous.  Thankfully after making the turnpoint I found a good smooth thermal and got some altitude and cooled off.

Unfortunatel the air was not the same on the way back.  Instead of consistent thermals there was a long smooth glide to 4900 feet MSL.  Ground is about 4000 down here!  Amazingly I hooked a thermal and had it perfectly centered up to just over 9000 feet.  Feeling better now that I had altitude, did not have to land, and figured from this height I would be able to make the next thermal, I pressed on towards Clayton.  Well it was like Deja Vu all over again, another long smooth glide.  Again at 4900 feet I felt a little lift, turned into it and...couldn't get it centered.  I fought for quite a while near the Miller airport while scratching weak lift and drifting downwind until finally giving up and landing there.

The good news is I was only perhaps 5 or 8 miles from Dalhart!  I called back to the airport and the towpilot came over with the Pawnee to get me.  I had the crop-duster pilot at Miller hold my wing for me.  With the wind today a wing run wasn't really necessary.  We towed back over to Dalhart and I released near the airport.  My goal for the rest of the afternoon was to have an enjoyable local flight.  The rest of the guys were out flying XC and at least one had already landed out. I figured if any more reported in I could land and go retrieve.  Meanwhile the Ventus also landed at Miller so I sent the towpilot over to get him.

I caught a nice thermal over the airport and climbed to my best for the day, 10,200!  Nice!  After that I delayed the descent a few times but the day was starting to die.  I landed after 1:20 aloft the second time around.  The first flight was about 2:40.  not too shabby.

Here are the traces.

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