By Sergio – C2
I took advantage of my retired-person position to fly on a promising Friday. The first cloud I saw came out at about 11:30, far over Snow. I released at 6,300’ after midday over the spine WNW of Indian Reservoir. From Goat I crossed to Snow but the clouds there did not work and I continued slowly to Sheet Iron. Lower than the top and close to the slopes, I had to decide left or right. I turned right and after 100 yards I found a thermal. It got me to almost 9,000’ and I continued with the MacCready set at 3 to the mountains west of Eagle Peak where the NW wind increased to 15 knots.
From there to T16 where I reached 10,700’ in front of a cloud. Among several possibilities I chose to go toward Lake Shasta, and then go west so as to make a triangle. So I crossed the valley towards Whiskeytown. There were clouds everywhere but with large gaps, good lift to 6-7 knots, and clear sky above without the forecasted high clouds. Good lift on the windward edge of the clouds, extended sink in between. California was gloriously green this day. Coming back from the Shasta Dam I made the low point of the flight at 5,000’, then after climbing back lost much altitude trying to make it through heavy sink and 19 knots wind to the mountains on the west of Whiskeytown Lake. Passed through 7-8 knots sink and closing on the mountains, 9-10 knots sink. But I made it to the windward side of the mountain and from then on it was easy to coast by the natural progression of mountain ridges to the west.
Seeing Hayfork and Hyampom in the blue I decide to turn Ruth. At the Dukabella Mtn the natural ridge flattens up and although clouds abound the lift is no more that strong. Caution is needed given the limited altitude, the unlandability of the terrain, the strong wind and the unpredictable occasional strong sink. I reach 8,000’, move on the nearby valley where I get 8,000’ again and move slowly to the well-defined ridge to the east of Ruth with solid clouds above. Cannot go higher than 7,000’ and venture over Ruth with the MacCready at 0 since I will be going downwind from here on. Here is the most thoughtful moment of the flight, with no lift to be found under nice looking clouds, 16 knots wind, losing altitude and being blown away from the airport.
When I have 1200’ above glide (2200’ above Ruth) I choose to move toward the airport and this simple move produces for me a little thermal, that improves and takes me up again. At Anthony Peak, I have 8300’, continue to the beautiful clouds of the Black Butte, pass in front of the rock at the same altitude but do not get the hoped-for lift. After that and gotten a little higher I see that better clouds form a street, not on the Mendocino crest but east of it. Wind is now 8 knots. MacCready at 2.5. I reach the last cloud east of the Tree Farm getting 9,000’ and decide to make the Rumsey Gap. Now looking at the flight trace, one can see that the path stops before reaching the Gap, and directs to Williams. However at the ridge there is another change, the path goes to Rumsey Gap and then finally to Williams. Why is that? Because after looking at the altitude, I decided Rumsey Gap unreachable, however, at the ridge I found a 6 knots in-the-blue thermal that took me up again! So the sequence is: “Rumsey; no Williams; OK Rumsey”.
The weather was dominated by the wind that formed wave-like patterns, with large areas of heavy sink and mild lift punctuated by strong lift under the clouds. A 100 knots jet stream was just above the area. I stopped a couple of times looking for the wave and desisted since I could not find anything more than 2-2,5 knots, but I think one might have gone pretty high.
Pity that such a nice day was missed by most. Marianne Guerin left work at 2.00 PM and got a tow at 4.00 PM, so getting a nice 2-hours flight. Pete Alexander was busy with fixes on his glider so took a late start and had a good flight after that, a 3-hours flight to Alder Springs and Berryessa Lake.
Morale of the day: if in doubt to go flying or not, go flying.
The flight as shown in See You