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Fluffy cu's, light winds, a triangle task

John Simon lost out betting on Tuesday and giving up Wednesday.
Turned out to be the best day of the new year. We saw the HRRR forecast on
XCSkies for light winds and good lift with a reasonable cloud base around

It looked good, right from the get go with the skies filling up with cumulus
clouds from 10 AM after the fog was burnt off around 9 AM. I was pushing for a 1
PM launch as long as the cu's looked substantial (black bottoms) at that time.

Jim Prahl pulled me up first at 13:14 and again (like the last time he pulled me
up) he took me right to the lift and I pinned off at 1,800' climbing at 170 fpm
on average to cloud base at 2,600'. There were nicely spaced thick dark large
cu's in every direction, including right over my head.

Mick was pulled up over me and when we got to cloud base we both headed west
northwest toward the next set of cu's. The day would be dominated by the cu's as
we flew from one to the next one in the general direction of the turnpoints.
There were few if any small cu's. We flew toward the biggest darkest cu's. There
was no searching for little forming cu's. There was no not going to the big cu's
thinking that they were about done. They weren't.

We found lift at 300 fpm on average, again back to cloud base which was rising
quickly. By the third thermal we were at 3,200' and just southeast of the Center
Hill turnpoint. We found a thermal south southeast of Center Hill but it was
only 130 fpm so I left at 3,000' and headed north with Mick taking one more

There was of course a nice fat cu ahead and I got to it at 1,700'. It averaged
for me almost 200 fpm, but the lift kept moving around. I don't know what the
story was but it was far from consistent. Mick came in lower and just didn't
connect very well with the lift searching all over for it. He stayed up but
wasn't climbing like I was. I left again with 3,000'.

I found 150 fpm just south of Center Hill, told Mick about it and he came over
low and I left at 3,200'. All this was under good looking cu's.

I tagged the turnpoint and headed northeast along the road toward the next set
of cu's. Down to 1,700' I veered off to the north a bit to get to the nearest cu
which looked like it was really working. It was and I climbed to 3,600' at 280
fpm on average. Mick was still struggling and we were communicating. I told him
right where I was getting up and he came in there at 1,100' and got up well
after I left.

I had a choice of cu's. A few directly to the east and a few to the northeast
toward the Turnpike and 33 intersection, our turnpoint. The ones in the
direction of our turnpoint looked way past it. I couldn't tell for sure. I was
eight kilometers away from the turnpoint.  The sun is low in the sky and
the shadows are way to the northeast of the actual clouds.

I chose the safe route and went east but it took a bunch of searching to find
the 340 fpm on average from 1,400'. Mick took the more direct route to the north
of the course line. I had to go 4 kilometers north to get the turnpoint. We
arrived there at about the same time.

I had flown north to get the turnpoint and then back south to the same field
that I got the last thermal before the turnpoint, to find the next lift under
the cu's that were now a bit further south with a light northeast flow. Down to
1,300' I drifted over lakes and islands with Mick, climbing to 3,500'.

In the direction of Wilotree Park (south southeast) there was extensive shading
so I suggested heading due south to the next set of cu's that were causing the
extensive shading, but through an area with only minor shading. It was a nine
kilometer glide to Mascotte to get on the sunny side of the long line of
east/west cu's, but when we got there we found strong lift.

We climbed in separate thermals to cloud base then pulled in hard to get back to
Wilotree Park going down at 600 - 700 fpm at 53 mph.

It was a two hour flight and we got back at 3:15 PM. There were good looking
cu's in the sky after 4 PM, so we could have had a longer flight. We just didn't
know given how it had been the first two days of this four day span.

Thursday looks soarable with light wind at the surface, but coming from the
northwest, not a perfect direction, often blue. The high temperature will again
be in the mid eighties, so it sure seems like it will be a good day to fly,
before the cold (60 degrees) comes through during the next few days.
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