The Slow Season

We are in the middle of a typical Texas winter. Cool, gray, damp. Much needed as winter 2010-2011 was void of any rain with the exception of a February dusting of snow.

This was followed by a brutally windy and dry Spring and extremely dry Summer.

Texas finally got a good flushing and now a much needed soaking. Odd to see green stuff coming out of the ground.

Yesterday it was 44 F at 3pm. Just 4 months earlier, it was 114 F at 3 pm.

Texas Winter

Winter Sunset

I have enjoyed creating time lapses.
To learn more

Payout Paying Off

Mobile mountain. Flying 20 min from Austin.

Dan was kind enough to play driver for me. The weather was not the kind that would provide an epic or even decent XC but plenty of up to play. I had 4 tows. All were smooth.

Dan has it dialed in. The 1st tows got me to 900ft but after optimizing, 1300ft in the 5000ft road was easy. Take a look at one of the tows below.

I like launching this rig at 45 psi. Dan found the sweet spot by letting pressure creep up to 60psi and driving at 30mph. Nice climb to 1300ft. From there I managed a weak late day climb to 2800agl (gps).

Ready for some good weather and travel but the tow rig could use a new axle, tire, and possibly new line at some point.

A gratuitous shot of my mistress.

Llano Attemp 3 – 32 miles

“I don’t think you can ever do your best. Doing your best is a process of trying to do your best.”
-Townes Van Zandt

Short Version:

Fast drifting in the blue. 32 miles
Ratty light lift.

Landing north of Cherokee, Texas.

*edit*A giant thank you is in order. In accomplishing free flight goals, from the 1st sledder off Pack, to my last NM flight, or this flight, it has always been with the help of other people. For this flight, I could not have done it without Dave H. He not only drove me to the hill and then was kind enough to retrieve me, and he is better than I am at picking visual indicators in front of launch to ensure uneventful launches – with lift. I hope to return the favor.

Long version:

Scratch around the hill in very rowdy air for too long. Fly over the LZ and hit a climb. So does Dave even further out.

With heavy drift, 15-20mph? Climb to 2K over, start climbing towards 3K, drift, drift, climb to 4k. Hit a climb on glide to Llano airport, glide to Llano to tag it.

I am down to 900, on approach to Llano airport. Looking to land in the grass near gas station (no planes), I hit lift and turn, still drifting fast with the strong SSE wind. Stick with it but now I am drifting over 16, going further away from the highway but still very low, climbing in 150fpm but drifting fast. I punch down wind to a redtail in better lift. Take that up well over 5K. I have altitude to cut down/crosswind to Cherokee, TX.

Climb again drifting a few miles north of Cherokee, but the 16hwy goes through a few miles of cactus and brush. Continue to drift fast but bail back upwind to a green field with a irrigation pivot. Upwind is a bitch.

I arrive high, going over the cows giving a cow call.

“Landed” in friendly country. I was greeted by the landowner and other locals with the use of a good cell phone, some cold Shiner Beer, and good conversation. I love Texas.

One of the neighbors that came over was NFL linebacker for the AZ Cardinals, Brandon Sharpe Sharpe was a Texas Tech star player and the locals were Texas Tech fans. As a Texas Aggie, it was a good day to be a 2 percenter.

My biggest climb was to 5300ft above ground level (AGL). This climb started when I was on final to Llano airport. To give an idea of how much drift there was, in 24 minutes, I climbed 4400ft while drifting 7 miles. Quick math says drifting at 17.5mph with an avg climb rate of only 180fpm.

17 mph was just drifting. The few times I went on glide down wind, I was moving. Max speed 73mph.
“You’ve gotta move – or you’re just waitin’ around to die.”
-Townes Van Zandt

Time with my mistress – Llano Attempt 2


View the flight here

2 passes before climbing out to 4600 over and then gliding NW 8 miles….
Target: Llano

Result: Fail….. and a whole bunch of fun…. climb up… bomb out. 8 miles – 36 minutes.


A Look at Pack Thermals

My climb out – get up, get out

The last three XC attempts

One last gratuitous wing shot


2011 Pack XC continues

Who rocks?

Dan

On 3-18 he flew out of Pack on a very similar path as I did on 2-20. I decked it when failing to push west, Dan when he pushed further down wind for a bit over 15 miles.

A few images of his flight and mine on GE. Similarities are amazing. It appears we fly in formation even if on different days. That is how the Black Sheep Squadron rolls! 😉

You can see similarities in the pic below. I can’t help but to notice Dan seems to make more circles* 😉

* I poke fun, but keep in mind, not just 2 different pilots and wings, but 2 different days and conditions.

Dan landed in hostile territory…

Hostile LZ