Carefully flying past Ocala
Today I was the one to screw up with the radio, so I couldn't talk
to Larry or hear from him, which turned out to be okay.
Larry went first as I fiddled with the connection to the radio from the helmet
and then damaged it. Tim pulled me up at 12:45 as we again saw plenty of dark
bottomed cu's, hopefully higher than on Tuesday.
I had Tim head toward the cu that Larry was near, but when there was no lift
there and Larry wasn't finding any I had him turn east to the next cloud street.
I pinned off at 2,500' in no lift, but figured that I could find some down wind
under the street.
Larry didn't get up and had to relanch. I found 100 fpm and circled to 2,700' in
an 18 mph tail wind slightly east of south. The area to the north is not great
for landing areas, but I could see a field that had a number of spot fires in it
with a good landing field nearby so I went toward the fires.
I knew with the strong winds that the lift, if there was any, would happen way
down wind of the fires. Well it didn't even seem to be there when I could smell
the smoke, which indicated the lift should be at my level. I had to glide almost
ten kilometers from the first thermal to find lift at 1,200' way north of the
fires, but over landable fields.
I did a tight spin at over 200 fpm to 3,460' approaching the Turnpike starting a
kilometer east of the Grass Roots airfield. We're usually on the west side of
it. After I got to cloudbase I headed parallel to the Turnpike to the northwest
to get in position to get through the Villages. Larry was back in the air but
near Wilotree Park.
I had to find lift again at 1,200' just southeast of the Okahumpka Service Plaza
back to 3,300' at a little over 200 fpm. With a 19 mph south wind I was willing
to try going straight through the heart of the Villages starting quite a bit
south of them at 3,300'. They have golf courses after all and a few open fields.
Down to 1,400' I was over an open field next to a commercial area working cross
wind on the upwind side of a cu when I found 250 fpm to 3,000'. The more open
fields were reachable off to my west. I was watching what was ahead as I would
soon be approaching Leeward. The strong winds were doing most of the work.
Southeast of Bellevue I climbed again at about 200 fpm to 3,600'. I was thinking
that I would be willing to risk the jump across west Ocala with this much wind
if I could get to 3,600' or 3,700' just south of the populated areas and there
were cu's ahead of me. I wanted to make sure that I would have a good chance to
get up around Leeward before I tried that particular stunt.
I climbed to 3,700' at Leeward and then to 3,900' just south of the area were
the landing areas became very sparse. With plenty of cumulus development ahead
for the next few kilometers I felt it was a good bet to keep going to the next
possible landing areas, but just at the northern edge of the housing
developments the cu's appeared ratty and sparse. I was concerned about being too
concerned about the landing areas and not paying enough attention to the
patterns of the cu's.
With the strong winds and the shifting directions, the winds were now coming
from 190 degrees, it was a bit difficult to figure out just where to go to find
the upwind side of the now poor looking cu's.
Topping out at 3,700' I headed north northwest into an unpromising looking area
with lots of open fields but very poor cumulus development. I found bits of lift
but nothing sustainable and at 2:50 PM landed in a huge field.
Larry meanwhile had been stuck at the Okahumpka Service Plaza on the Turnpike
for an hour not able to get over 2,200'. He finally ventured into the Villages,
but so low that he had to land.
We were back at Wilotree at 6:15 PM.
Still not making it to Keystone Airfield, 90 miles from Wilotree Park