The flight started out well – I released at Tree Farm, found great lift on Goat and then (try #2) made it over the top of Snow with lots of altitude (a first!), then over the top of St John (another first!), and feeling good, I headed out to Sheet Iron – woo hoo! my furthest NW. It was pretty. The problems started as I headed N to an E-W line of clouds – they were NOT working and I had lost too much altitude. I knew I was in some trouble and getting lower, so I headed S thinking I might find some lift on the western slopes of the valley – I knew the chances weren’t great so I kept land-out options handy.
My SeeYou traces (below) tell the flight story. I was hoping for Antelope Valley, or at the worst the Bear Valley turn point, but heading S into a southerly wind, I started losing altitude FAST. I made a radio call signalling a likely land out.
I chose a very large brownish-looking field at the N end of Bear Valley, with a dry ephemeral stream, and NO cattle. I made a radio call for imminent landout, then turned off my radio to concentrate (see article on land-outs at http://www.valleysoaring.net/?p=908) . Winds were light and the landing went well, and, although it was pretty bumpy I didn’t drop a wing. After a quick radio call to WSC, I powered down, turned on my SPOT (Wow – it was off!) covered the canopy and headed to a nearby house. What a field! It got really muddy (up to mid-calf at one point) and full of holes from cattle hooves. There was no cell phone reception – not surprising.
The owner of the house -Dave – was a dream come true. He gave me ice water as I called WSC – Cora’s voice is very comforting in times like this! Well, this spot is idyllic – lots of small birds, humming bees and a few well-cared for horses. It was a lovely afternoon. Dave took me into the field with his pickup – noting that probably only the top 2 inches were likely dry, and the wet muck underneath meant driving my Outback on the field was a no go – as a side note, he told me that the tire tracks injure the grass and it can take a couple of years to grow back.
Eric and Nick showed up quite a while later – and to make an already long story a bit shorter, it took us 2 hours and super-human effort to drag P1 off the field and into the trailer just before dark. Cora watched our pitiful progress on the SPOT (see 3rd figure below). Amazingly, there is a not a scratch on P1. Some screws holding the instrument panel onto the canopy came out during P1’s adventures being dragged across the field, but hopefully this will be simply fixed. Eric claimed this retrieve was among the hardest he’s ever helped with – I can assure you, we were not only tired, we were really hungry and thirsty. The guys fantasized about really greasy fried chicken all the way back to WSC. I thought about a nice, cold beer.
The red line line on the fourth figure is where Larry landed out (I think last year) my location is the blue-and-red star – he thinks his loction was better – well, as long as there hadn’t been cattle in the field recently, he might be right.
My last mistake – I forgot to close the gate into the field, and later heard ~150 cattle got out. Despite all that, Dave welcomed me back any time, and said he’d be looking for me in the air. I hope he and his family enjoy a nice luncheon at Granzella’s with the gift certificate I sent!