Valley Day – May 4th

Rather than being on the weekend, it was a Friday – unfortunately – for those that had to work.

This is a report about my flight that day May 4, 2012.  For those that could fly – it was a rare treat.  As typically happens, some makes a comment on teh Forum and others soon pick up on it.

Ginny called attention to the day, and Sergio evaluated the fcst the night before by posting the following on the Williams Today – Forum…

I am going to fly tomorrow Friday. Postfrontal, instability, satellite picture with typical cloud scatter, clean air, no cirrus, cumulus in the valley…..not something to miss. Valley cus 5000 at 11 AM, 6000 at 2 PM, 7000 at 5 PM.

Luke quickly followed with his intention to fly, by posting…..

Me too…and hope to get an early start.

I  had commented about the weather, but didn’t commit to flying until Friday morning itself.  Planning to make a story out of it, I snapped a few photos on the flight, that I plan to share,  and, I captured a few weather charts prior to the flight that will help you compare fcst to actual.  I’ll include the flight track and talk about some of the photos and experiences and talk about the weather – it’s always a learning experience in the wx department.

After the flight, I posted the following on the Forum on Friday night, while I was dead tired….

Low clouds over Mendos.
I didn’t get above 6,000 very much
nice lines of lift.
bessa dam – red bluff – chico – bessa dam
500k, 7 hours.
still had lots of 6 kts lift at 6:30 pm

I looked at my flight for a minute in order to get the above stats and then posted it to OLC

This shows the flight track, while optimized in See you…

I turned my SPOT on when leaving Vacaville on the drive to the glider port

On Friday night here is the SPOT image as it was displayed…



A day or two later, Ginny posted her report of the day, saying …..

Nice flight PK. It was a valley day for me. Rex towed me to 1200 MSL to a cloud that was building fast (thanks Rex)- where I released and climbed to 4500 with Ed who was flying with a student in the 21. In the mean time a cloud street was forming that beckoned me to Sites, but it dead ended in a blue hole. Back to my thermal, up to 5,000 this time, then cruised under coluds to just NE of Willows, some sight seeing over the Sac river (very lush vegetation this year) and then west again to the line of convergence (very solid just east of Intersate 5) and cruised south to WSC.
The valley cloud streets were beautiful, seemingly endless, with places where the street would widen out and there sould be a round blue hole filled with wispy, forming cloudstuff, and LOTS of lift!!
All in all, a beautiful day.
At the end of the day I saw Rex and Todd flying in the new Duo Discus – maiden flight (I think). Although I was in a hurry to leave at that point, I didn’t miss the big smiles on their faces upon landing. I take it the Duo flew well! She looks like a beautiful ship – all new and shiny and sleek. Can’t wait to get a flight in her myself!

Note : You’ll have to check back as I build this page.  I’ll start now and then delete these notes after I am done with publishing this article.
Note: FYI to all members who are designated editors – (virtually every member of VSA is an editor) – my photos are all over 5MB.  the system allows 7 MB, but the web page will reduce the photos in order to display them, so I will reduce them each photo down to less than 1 MB each prior to upload – I think it saves time and causes the page to display more quickly.

I didn’t depart Vacaville at first light on Friday morning – like I should have, since I had other chores to take care of, but I did take the time to capture some of the weather charts.  I just knew it was going to be good.

Here, the BLIP Map tells us the Boundary Layer Top will be 7 and 8,000 ft high ( those would be the tops of the clouds)

BLIP of BL for 21Z

The RASP provided the surface wind


The convergence line is where the lift will be…

Also on the RASP page  – the sounding over Williams.  It really tells the story…

and the BLIP cloud base fcst confirms the same info about the clouds….

I was last to launch, taking a tow to 1,500 ft, to a point half way to three sisters.  The other three pilots all towed to about 3,000 ft, but I typically do a low tow, and then start the engine and let it warm up, then I push the power up to climb.  I do all that to save wear and tear on the engine, but at the same time, keep it in good shape. At 55 kts and 5500 RPM I drove in level flight to cu over three sisters.  As I approached it, I set the power to climb setting, entered the thermal and averaged over 8 kts to over 5,000 ft.  What a way to start the flight.  Othes were about 20 or 30 miles ahead of me down past Rumsey, heading for Bessa Dam.  As I approached Rumsey, I see the could along the eastern ridge if Capay Valley…


12:17 - Looking south at Capay Vly

Not looking far enough ahead, I choose the direct route – the west ridge…


12:18 Others went down the east side - I decided to go down the west side


As you can see in this image of my flight trace, I lost altitude as I approached Bessa Towers….

Southern part of flight recording

After passing Ridge South I lost time as I searched for lift.  After turning the Dam, I was heading north as I heard Ginny say she was off tow at 1200 feet.   Ten minutes later she was at Sites, so I felt good about heading up the west side of the valley, even though the other three pilots were heading directly toward Sutter Buttes.

When I arrived at Sites the lift was spotty, and I soon found myself in virga and was below 2,000 feet before I found the necessary lift to get me on my way again.  Ginny later reported in her debrief above that she hit a bad path up by Sites and headed south – I wish I had known that at the time – but discovery is part of the fun of gliding and traveling cross-country.

I experienced three occasions when  I was below 2,000 ft on this flight. Once near Sites, once trying to get south of Williams and once near Dunnigan.  Each was a fun experience.  Never very stressful, as the lift was nearly predictable..

Luke was approaching Orlan from the East as I was proceeding north from Sites and now passing the Orland area on the west side. I continued north to Red Bluff – which is well to the left of this photo, but as you can see, the lift was a bit more sparse up north.

Looking east at Corning, but I decide to head further north to Red Bluff

Here is an image of the northern part of my flight record…


Deer Park TP



Nice view of the Chico Runway

Nice view of the Chico Runway


now below 2,000 ft near Dunnigan, I spy a dust devil a mile or so the the NNE



pushing over to 80 kts I drive closer- now at 1,800 ft MSL



I continue - it is still twirling!!!!


Looking up, I see nothing strange above the dust devil - other than a couple of eagles high above me


I point the wing at the mini-mini tornado

A view of the panel on the ASH26 E in this next photo.  Empty shelf on the left of the panel – neither PCAS nor the FLARM were installed on this flight  but will be on the next flight. Continuing left to right, by row you can see… Fires light is not on, the CAI Nav Display has WSC (98  ft below glide for the pattern, bearing is 356, track is 188 true, distance is 41.6 miles), Compass reads 236 mag, Aux battery #1 is up, sinking on the Borgelt at 350, Main battery on Bat 2, and you can’t see anything in the rear view mirror (mounted on top right).  The Middle row: 15 amp engine master is open, engine ignition is off, but prop switch is in the extend position (I’m ready for a 20 second relight) , CAI 302 shows altitude of 5,786 ft, avg sink is -2.2, Mc is 1.0, IAS = 59 kts, Pressure altimeter reads 5786 ft at 30.11 Hg, bottom row: Tow rope release is hanging loose, radio tuned to 123.30, voltage is 12.5, transponder is squawking 1202 and mode C is reporting 5600 ft, PDA is out of view on the right, and all CB’s are in on the bottom row.


Heading south, I snap a photo of my panel.

Another for the moving map display….

It shows I’ll be 3915 ft above the 1,000 floor over the Bessa Dam, Mc = 1.0, 3.4 miles to go, wind is 106 degrees at 10 kts at teh moment.


Over 5,750 ft altitude - no worry about getting low before I turn Bessa Dam - now changing to 3.3 miles to go.



Looking north at Rumsey Gap, Sunset is still an hour away.


Pointing the right wind towards Sacramento the view is spectacular

Sun is getting lower - Mt St Helena on left, Walker Ridge to the right of center



The last photo of the day, as I glide for home. Lift is still everywhere!



Categories: 2012, Flight Report, Lesson, Photos, Report, Weather Days, X-C

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