Around the Swamp with all the Pilots
Wilotree Park was full of hang glider pilots on Sunday getting
ready to go around the Green Swamp. I send out an email each evening or morning
to those pilots asking about the soarcast and the task. Then word gets around to
those who haven't asked me how to get on the list.
We are practicing social distancing, and there was lots of distance.
This was the forecast for Sunday:
1 PM - 5,600' cloud base (51 F)
Updraft velocity - 620 fpm
B/S ratio - 10.0
TOL - 5,900'
Surface winds - N 2 mph
4000' winds - NE 1 mph
Cloud cover - 40% going to 20%
Patchy fog before 9am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 87. Calm wind
becoming northeast around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Launch at 1 pm.
Quest - 5 km
T98471 - 1km
T7598 - 7 km
Quest - 400 m
With winds that light it was time to go around the Green Swamp again. Lots of
pilots were ready to go.
Pedro was off first with me right behind him. The cats, er, pilots, were lined
up with only one tug. Most of the pilots could have been a lot earlier but no
they waited for the locals to get going first. It took a while to get Jim Prahl
out with another plane (we have a lot of them, planes and tug pilots).
Pedro and I got going together while Larry and Greg struggled back at the park.
We went from cu to cu agreeing on the next one each time hitting 200 to 300 fpm
average lift. Until we got south west of the Seminole Glider Port and Pedro
found 700 fpm to 4,600' with tight circles not moving given the 2 mph wind.
It was a ten kilometer glide across the trees to the southern edge of the swamp.
I stopped for 200 fpm at 2,200' and climbed to 4,000'. Pedro didn't come back to
join me and I lost track of him when he didn't respond on the radio.
I headed for a black cu on the south eastern edge of the swamp and climbed at
almost 500 fpm to 4,800' with a 5 mph east northeast tail wind. I didn't find
any more lift for the next nine kilometers going to the turnpoint and arrived
there at 3,200'.
The turnpoint is most often a sink hole and I was down to 2,300' scotching and
searching over sunlit areas with big black cu's all around. It more than half an
hour to get back up to 4,000'. I heard from Pedro. He was 9 kilometers short of
the turnpoint but he got back up to 5,000' so he was headed my way. By the time
I finally got up he was ahead of me.
I was under a cloud street that headed off to the west while the course line was
to the north. It didn't matter I needed to stay in lift so I stayed with the
cloud street and went west climbing to 5,100' northwest of Zephyr Hills. There
were a few sailplanes around, but they didn't provide any assistance.
Pedro was getting low heading for a cloud to the north west of Dade City. Larry
was about 10 to 15 kilometers behind with Gregg turning around and heading
back to Wilotree.
I headed north away from the street for a lone cu on the southwest side of Dade
City. I hadn't been this far west in years, if ever, but that is what the sky
was giving me. There is airspace there, but the bottom floor is 6,000' and I
knew I would not be getting that high.
The single cu worked at over 300 fpm and the sky was filling up now to the north
after what we saw was just a blue hole north from the turnpoint.
I headed to the next clouds to the north and came in under Pedro who did find
lift from low by Dade City and was no over 5,000' near the second turnpoint. I
was soon over 5,900' (north of the airspace) under a street with cu's off to the
east. Nicked the 7 kilometer cylinder and then headed east toward the Green
Swamp and Wilotree Park, 35 kilometers away.
There were a good number of cu's out over the swamp and I went for them. I
couldn't find Pedro but climbed to 5,300' just inside the western edge of the
The cu's ahead worked but I wasn't able to get over 4,800'. I'd like to see
something like 6,000' given the treed territory I was over. I headed for some
good looking cu's east of the north/south highway 471, but they were a bit
further away then what I wanted when I got near them at 4,100'. My options would
have been limited if I didn't get up under them, but there were landing areas. I
just didn't want to land or land there.
I turned north to get under closer cu's and closer to landable areas and found a
little over 100 fpm from 3,200'. Larry came in low under me. We then moved to a
better looking cu to the northeast but Larry missed the lift and had to come in
low under me on the south end of the clouds.
I climbed to 4,500' and told Larry that I would try the clouds and cloud street
to the east a short distance. I was high enough to feel comfortable doing it.
I got there and found 440 fpm to 5,800'. In addition there was an obvious grass
runway right under me which I had never noticed before. Larry came over as I
left and climbed to cloud base also.
I flew under the cloud street for about 3 kilometers, about half its length
before heading toward a lone cu that was right on line toward the goal. Larry
flew the length of the cloud street thinking that the cu I was referring to was
at the end of the cloud street. That cu didn't do anything for Larry and he
landed 7 kilometers short.
I took the weak lift to 4,500' with an 8:1 glide to goal required, eleven
kilometers out. I took a best glide approach into goal.
Pedro also landed out north of Larry when his clouds disappeared on him. No one
else was able to make it back. The screw up at launch meant late launches and
some pilots had a more difficult time getting around the Green Swamp. One pilot
landed just before 7 PM near the second turnpoint just before crossing back east
over the Green Swamp.