The day started with bright sunshine and a blue sky with an east
wind that was forecasted to become south southeast. Larry and I got ready before
9 AM for a early start. We were looking at a noon launch, after launching at
1:05 the day before. A few weeks ago we were launching at 2 PM.
The cu's started at 10:40 am but we had also seen a few cirrus clouds blocking
out the blue sky and sunshine. The winds were 10 mph or more but with the
southern component showing up.
With the cu's gray and misty and quite thin (thus gray) I had Tim pull me up at
12:10 PM. There was little lift during the tow so I held on until 3,000' and
then flew over to the nearest cloud, a mere puff of water vapor, but the air was
rising a bit so I stuck with it waiting for Larry to get ready to go below me
and to the west.
Given how weak the lift was and with a cloud base of 3,400' I wanted to go
slowly north as I waited for Larry to get up and join me. Again his radio
wouldn't allow him to hear anything. I could hear him and use his comments to
help me stick with him.
Larry got towed to cloud base, found nothing and came in under me at the Mickey
Mouse lake a kilometer north of Wilotree Park. We just kept circling and
drifting in 13 mph south southeast winds and trying to get from 2,800' back to
3,400' at cloudbase. There was a mix of cirrus clouds shading the ground to our
The wind was 16 mph out of the south southeast as we drifted to the north
northwest in lift that averaged between 20 fpm and 60 fpm. West of the Grass
Roots airfield a sailplane with its motor out came in under us and then another
sailplane turning the wrong direction came in level with Larry. We finally found
some better lift and climbed at a little over 100 fpm to 3,500'. Cloud base was
not rising very much.
At 1:17 I found 440+ fpm on the 20 second averager that averaged out to a little
over 200 fpm through out the climb back to cloud base. The day was obviously
improving. The clouds were beginning to get a bit thicker. The distance between
cu's was quite short and had been all afternoon.
After going so slowly we quickly passed the Turnpike and headed up east of
Wildwood and west of the Villages touching the clouds at 3,600'. Larry was low
north of Wildwood and headed toward what he thought were better cu's to the west
of highway 301. I was reluctant to go in that direction as I saw better clouds
up the east side of the highway, but I wanted to stay with him given the radio
Larry pressed further over the shaded area to the north northwest, but I had had
enough of the weak lift and went east to get under a fat cu with some thickness
in the sunshine. Down to 1,100' I found lift at 500 fpm that averaged a little
over 200 fpm back to 3,600' Cloud base was still not rising more than a couple
of hundred feet.
The cirrus clouds kept shading the ground around us as they rapidly moved from
west to east. Looking ahead past Leeward there were just a few scattered cu's
and lots of cirrus. It looked like we might be stopped at Leeward.
I was hoping to wait out the shading and let the cu's form to our north. Heading
toward Leeward it looked very iffy in the neighborhood. Searching around at
2,000' I worked a little more than zero under a succession of cu's. Not
much was happening.
Cu's formed to my east as the sun came out again and I went to the upwind side
but nothing, then further upwind to under dark black cu's, but again nothing.
Larry had rejoined me thinking I was landing at leeward as he had mentioned
earlier. But no I was trying to stay up and wait. That didn't work out and
we both landed
The cirrus stayed to the north of us and we never did see much cumulus
development to our north as we packed up. We landed at 2:30 pm not much later
than we would have been taking off in January.