Let's go upwind
On Tuesday I launched the first time at 12:10 PM just like the day
before, but found cloud base 1,000' lower at 2,400' with lift so weak I didn't
stay up. The clouds were thick with black bottoms, but none of the ones Larry
and I went to produced anything.
We waited for a later launch and at 1:30 PM I launched after Larry. We saw him
and Tim, the tug pilot, going up fast and then Larry pinned off in 1,000 fpm
climb (while on tow) at 1,800'.
I pinned off at 2,000', didn't find much, went north to a nice looking cu and
climbed to 3,400'. Larry didn't get up and had to go take one more tow.
I went back upwind to join him, got low and had to take weak lift to get back up
while Larry waited at cloud base at 4,400'. Cloud base had risen 2,000' in an
hour and a half.
Finally we headed out after 2 PM gliding north northwest with a 12 mph south
southwest wind. We worked lift in the 100 fpm range to 3,000' before finding 300
fpm to get us over 4,000' and to cloud base just north of Grass Roots. We passed
Grass Roots airfield at about the same time as yesterday we were landing at
Leeward (2:30 PM).
With the wind slightly from the west we kept having to push to the north west to
get around the Villages. The sky was full of dark bottomed cu's but the lift was
pretty moderate. We found over 300 fpm (average through the thermal) just north
of the Turnpike that got us to 4,400' and high enough to make it past the south
end of the Villages and over to areas with open fields by Wildwood.
From there with climb rates averaging less than 200 fpm, we were able to make it
to the southeast of Leeward by the lakes with our goal of Keystone still in mind
although it was probably too late in a February day. Like on Monday we headed
northwest to the area around Leeward to see if we could get up and then decide
how to continue going north over a populated area that really calls for pilots
to get to 5,00' before attempting it.
Like on Monday the lift was very weak near Leeward and it looked like we would
be landing again. Then I found a thermal at 1,200' and Larry joined me as we
circled up drifting to the northeast. Looking at the cirrus clouds to the north
with the dampening of the cumulus development, just like on Monday, Larry
suggested heading south along the cloud streets against a 10-13 mph head wind.
I was game. We climbed to 4,700'.
It turned out to be a great call as it was thoroughly enjoyable flying into the
wind and finding weak lift. We had turned around at about 4:15 PM and the sun
was getting low. There were still lots of cu's (and they would last well after
sundown) so we just kept pushing up to the next area that looked like it had
lift and finding some. Of course we drifting backwards while thermaling, but we
were fine with that as long as we had fields that we could go to if needed.
At around 5 PM we were down to 2,000' working 36 fpm and seeing which field
looked best. The radios were working today so we had good communication. Larry
said that we should go to a field about 5 km south of us. It took me a while to
find it but it looked good if it wasn't exactly clear that we could make it
against the head wind.
I worked 40 fpm at 1,000' about 2 kilometers downwind of the field and then it
looked like we could make it. There were options before that field if things
turned out poorly. It was already after 5 PM.
The field had paved roads on all four sides, unlike all the other fields that I
had checked out, so that was a great draw. I came into the northeast corner at
500' AGL heading into a 9 mph southwest head wind. Upwind, then back downwind,
over the houses and building at the northeast corner at 200' AGL then into the
field. It was fantastic.
We landed right next to a Fresh Market grocery store, so I had to go in and
purchase some Sumos, so good. We were in the Villages. It was only a half hour
drive to back to Wilotree Park.