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Friday, July 6, 2012

300 km FAI Triangle!

Today I declared a 300km FAI Triangle from Sunflower to Anthony to Haviland and back to Sunflower. The forecast was looking good, we had a towpilot, so i took the day off work.  There were about 6 of us who flew today.

I took the first launch, shortly after the first few cu briefly appeared.  Steve was quick to point out that with the current temp/dewpoint those cu were up around 8000 feet so I pulled onto the runway and got ready.  I got a perfectly located climb to get me a good run through the start gate and another few climbs right away to get up and going. The first leg was directly into a 15 mph wind.

Like last Sunday, the run into the wind was not too tough as there were lots of thermals and 'mini' streets where I could run straight ahead while climbing.  I averaged about 34 mph to Anthony and had no major low points. I did have one great thermal just west of the dump at Harper, a well known lift generator.  Turning west from Anthony there was a fairly good sized blue hole to cross, the "Vee of Death" caused by the salt flats down in northern OK.  There was still lift in the blue though and a few cloud wisps led the way across. Lauren Rezac, YA, out on the same task for his Gold Distance and Diamond Goal, mentioned that that was a pretty big blue hole. I noted that it was a lot bigger for me than it was for him!

Back in cloud-land i lined up several clouds and was able to run for several miles while climbing straight ahead. i wasn't particularly high, 5-6000 feet but since I wasn't really going down I wasn't too worried. Finally after running along that I hit a thermal that was showing 8 knots for a while so I decided it would be worth it to stop and climb.  Bob Holliday in OO joined in under me and we both enjoyed a great climb.  It weakened to less than 5 knots at 10,000 feet and I cracked open the oxygen bottle for the first time this year.  Unfortunately that would end up being my high point for the flight as I was never able to find lift that stayed strong enough to go that high.  Usually the thermals were weakening around 8000 feet.

I got to Haviland without too much trouble and it was familiar skies back to Sunflower. I was making great time and there were still lots of clouds along the way, not totally blue like last weekend.  I got to the Pratt airport and carried on.  I had a slight tailwind which was helping and I was trying to avoid getting blown north of Sunflower and having to backtrack into the wind.  I did have my only real nervous low point, down about 2000 AGL about 25 miles from Sunflower, however I found a weak climb and got back to within 1000 feet of final glide.  I needed 25:1 to make Sunflower so I started to fly very carefully and between the lift and the tailwind was actually doing better than that.  I was down to a 23:1 glide at Anthony where I found a 4 knot thermal and took it until the computer was showing me 800 feet over a 500 foot arrival.  I bombed away and finished at 1500 AGL after running the last 15 miles at 80 mph. What fun!

The flight was awesome for me in many ways.  I have always wanted to do a Diamond Goal flight in the Cherokee just to prove that it can be done.  I had a lot of fun finishing another good closed course flight in the glider and it was great practice for the upcoming 13.5 meter contest.  The most amazing thing about the flight today was just how easy it was!  With such fantastic conditions I was able to fly nearly 200 miles without ever being too concerned about not making it back. Incredible!  I averaged 42 mph for the flight and my circling % on task was a mere 27%.  Statistically I think only my flight on the last day at Region 10 can beat this one and really for me the flights are in the same category.

Here is the flight:

Picture after landing:

Tomorrow is Kowbell, the 50th edition of this great free distance contest.  YYY is rigged and ready to go tomorrow, Leah and my sister Amy are crewing for me and from wherever I land we will head for Midlothian, TX and the 13.5 meter Super Regionals. I'll do my best to post daily updates from the contest, we're looking forward to it!

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