Mr. Frank’s (and Ms. Ginny’s) Wild Ride
How we landed out and drove back from Bear Valley
Note, 3/16/16: looks like photos from this srory have disappeared. I’ll have to fix that. P K.
Coming North from a successful visit to (Berryessa) Ridge South, we arrived at Walker Ridge at about 2500′. The top of Walker is 3560′. I was not high above the ground, but still not within reach of the 1 mile-radius turnpoint circle I hoped to touch. I spent 20 minutes finding little more than zero sink, thinking about Pete’s admonishment, “Stay in the air, and something good will happen.” Despite encouraging signs that promised better lift somewhere, (locally east wind, strong sun on the south-facing ridge-lets), I couldn’t find a way higher. Had Bear Valley Ranch driveway landing site in easy reach. Didn’t seriously consider Antelope Valley this time (see more discussion of this below). JJ was in the neighborhood during this time, a little higher than I was, and he had the good sense to go east while he had the altitude.
View from Walker Ridge just west of Bear Valley Ranch, at ~2500 ft. (Courtesy Google Earth)
The red dot is about where we ended up stopping after landing on the ranch driveway (east to west):
Down to 2200 feet, in the insulting shadow of a building cumulus cloud on the top of Walker Ridge (no doubt marking convergence lift from my locally east wind and the prevailing west higher up), I landed safely on the driveway about 2:30 PM. Ginny called when I was on final saying that she might need to land behind me, so I pushed the plane back off the road and waited to see.
Ginny landed about 20 minutes later, and Kerri was soon there to take us home.
Not visible in this picture behind Kerri’s Pawnee are two fellows in hunting garb on ATV 4-wheelers, coming down the driveway to speak to us. After much polite discussion between us, them, their boss (the ranch manager, not the landowner) over the course of the next 45 minutes, we were told we could not air-tow out. Lawyers, expensive cows, and irritable landowners were mentioned. Kerri left without glider in tow; a caravan of 2 car-trailers was dispatched from Williams, selflessly staffed by Tom J, Danny, Bill K. and Eric.
Ginny and I enjoyed the flowers for a few hours: Owl’s clover, linanthus, cream cups, popcorn flower, bicolor lupine, purple sack clover, California plantain, many more.
Tom, Danny, Bill and Eric arrived, we packed up the planes expeditiously, drove home down beautiful country roads in lovely valleys (better seen from the air, thank you).
(Great images below are thanks to Tom J. Eric, Bill: sorry we didn’t get a photo of you guys).
Two weeks ago I was in a similar position on Walker Ridge, but a few hundred feet higher. In that case, I made the jump over to Antelope Valley (~6 miles from the foot of Walker Ridge west of the Bear Valley ranch driveway) losing 900 feet in the straight glide ( a little better than 30:1 glide ratio); the air was neither lift-y nor sink-y. According to Google, the ridge east of Bear Valley, which blocks the way to Antelope from the west, is ~1600-1700′ high. After that, the land drops ~1000 feet to the east. Antelope Valley is 500′ ASL.
My notes-to-self now include one that says 2500′ at the Bear Valley Ranch / Walker foothills gets me safely to Antelope Valley (with no headwind, no sink!).
Thanks to the many folks who helped us get home on this trip: Kerri, Williams base staff (Cora), Rex, Tom, Bill, Danny, Eric.