By Russ Pillard
I launched at about 1140PDT in “88”, a WSC ASW24, for Walker because I saw some small CUs forming right over it. I was tempted to go to TreFarm because there were more & better-looking CUs over Goat and the Tree Farm area. I normally wait until there are more and better formed CUs, but Kempton launches early all the time for those loooooong X-Cflights, so why not?
“A fool and his money are soon parted.” I found only a few wisps over Walker and glided back to WSC where I found a few weak thermals to about 3000MSL, but could not hold on and landed.
Here is a view to the west on my return to WSC. More CUs were forming over St. John, Snow and Goat.
I decided to take another tow to TreFarm this time, but Rex suggested a local tow then work my way to the mountains. Here is the gist of Rex’s comments to me after I landed. Not really a quote, but close…. “I would be much more impressed if you took a local tow then worked the thermals in the valley for a while then move to the mountains. Where is the challenge in taking a mountain tow and ride the elevator?”
You experienced pilots pull this off all time, I am sure, but this was a big challenge for me. I launched about 1400PDT on a local tow to 3000MSL over Williams and flopped around for and hour getting as high as 3400MSL before mostly sinking to 1200MSL a half mile south of WSC. With my hand on the gear lever I encountered a good shove in the butt from a nice thermal and worked it up to 5800MSL right over WSC!
I was thrilled! This was the most vertical climb in feet in a single thermal in my short career. And this was also the lowest save for me so far. With this altitude I was able to glide to the CUs toward Rumsey for more thermals. About this time I encountered a lone white pelican circling 100 yards away, so I joined it for two circles then it left, so I followed it wing tip to wing tip for about a mile before the pelican turned back toward Williams. The pelican was flying about the same speed as me 50KTs. How cool.
The following photograph was taken at 1534PDT on the way to the CUs.
The cloud in the following photograph, near Indian Ranch, in front of the wing tip had an 8-10K thermal in the dark center with the wispy bits. 20 min. before I had climbed in this thermal from about 6500MSL to cloud base about 8800 MSL.
My high point of the day was 9800MSL in a thermal over Stonyford. By 1630 I was near Trefarm at 8800MSL when I headed for WSC and landed about 1710PDT.
The following photograph near TreFarm looking NW towards Snow.
I have yet to fly out of gliding range of WSC, but this flight was a big step for me on the way to a X-C flight. Thanks to Rex for the challenge!