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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Vance Brand #654

Another short bumpy ride.
When I got to the field a little later than usual I thought it might get ratty and it did.  The conditions were consistent with what my friends the balloonists called last week.  It had been hot yesterday and stayed hot over night.  I have no doubt that if I had got out earlier the conditions would have been stable but because of the latent heat and the normal morning down slope of cool air the conditions degraded faster than normally.
The a assists worked better with a little more tension but it makes the inflation feel different and the wing comes up slower.  Also....  It might be a good idea to slack the assists after take off so that if I land into a good breeze I won't have to worry about getting the wing down.  Next time I'm going to try a conventional wall instead of the chevron.  It might be why the wing is slow to come overhead.

After the flight the dog and I went to Carter Lake and watched them raise Duane's Santana.  Very cool.... First divers went down to 140 feet, one with a rebreather and the other with nitrox.  They attached 4 lines to the boat and a crane barge brought her to the surface.  Once up they muscled her upright and pumped her out.  



We finished the day with a visit to the Spirit of flight Museum with Mike and Marsha.
Very cool .... I will return.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Beautiful night that turned out to be a pucker # 653 at Vance Brand

I labeled this post with bad launch and Hairy Flight but really it was not bad just challenging.

It was hot all day and 89 degrees when I got to the field at 6:45.  I took my time setting up to let the air mellow.  At 7:15 I had set up with my new A Assists and blew the first launch.  The keeper I had used to attach the ratchet to the Assist wasn't strong enough and it blew out.  I reattached them with heavy zip ties and tried again.  This time I wish I had someone with a video camera.  The wing hung back and so I reached up and gave the assists a little help.  I must have got a better push with the right arm because the wing shot up but was only flying on the right side.  I looked to the left and the whole left side was hanging down like a limp dick but the air was still and I had lots of room so I backed off the throttle and coaxed the wing back up with a few pulls on the brake.  It was the longest roll out and take off since the time in Meadow Lake with the 23 hp Briggs.

The air was OK until I got to 500 feet where there was a layer of rowdy air.  I powered through that and found good air at 1000 feet AGL.  I went South and West until I found my self at Boulder Reservoir I was at 6000 feet MSL and there wasn't a puff on the lake so I descended to about 200 feet AGL and cruised the shoreline.  When I got over the Marina area it started to get bumpy so I climbed out and started back.

About half way home I encountered a headwind and was flying at 10 to 15 mph.  The air temp dropped several degrees and I was feeling "puffs which is not normal.  I was able to pick up speed by crabbing but it still took a long time to get back to Vance Brand.  The wind had shifted from Northerly to Easterly and I was about 1 and a half miles west of the field when I encountered some really nasty air.  I was starting to get some minor tip collapses and being bounced up and down 50 to 100 feet at a time.  Earlier I'd flown through some patches of big lift and sink but that was at 6500 ft. It was a whole different story at 300 feet and it stayed that way all the way back to the field.

The landing was very steep and after touch down I pulled a couple of yards of the right brake to disable the wing.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

649...650...651 Vance Brand

OMG  !  It was MAGIC AIR all evening long. It had been overcast and blowing all day, but at 6:00 it mellowed and I enjoyed some of the best flying of my career.
Three good flights and a touch and go ... ran out of gas


Monday, June 24, 2013

Walsenburg Spanish Peak Airport ... 648


Not a soul except one unhappy old man.  Light breeze out of the SSW.  Launch was slightly rugged due to the portside brake toggle locking up. The forest fire had been knocked down from the high plumes of the day before.  Instead of the dramatic footage I was hoping for there was a faint smokey haze covering the horizon.  I changed plans and checked out the north end of Walsenburg.  Nice flight .... Calm air
Great airstrip

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Route 66 and the Wild Horse Canyon

Every 2 years Michelle Daniele Hosts 

Route 66 Flyers Fly-In 
at Paramotor City

This year I did a sprint. Drove down on Friday and drove home on Saturday.... 

It was too windy to fly Friday night (at least for me) but Jim King went for a quick spin in the sunset.  Sue had stopped by the tent announcing that the wind was coming down and that she was thinking of going up.  So..... While Jim and I  walked back to our trucks we debated the value of rigging up for such a short window of flyable air.  Jim was saying it was hardly worth the effort and I said yea , but it might be real good.  Jim looked at me and said , Ya know, You might be right.   Five minutes later Jim is setting up. AND...
It was spectacular!   Jim took off with a beautiful full moon behind him and rode toward the Sunset. After he had tasted the air,  he found it not so sweet, so... he turned back to land. and, "stuck it",  like a gymnast going for the gold.  Jim Doyle and I stood there in awe of Sky King, one of the unsung heroes of  PPG history.

.

A personal highlight was sleeping in the bed of my truck under the stars.
It brought me back to the summers when I "slept out" 6 days a week.  That night we were experiencing what is called the "Super Moon", the brightest moon in 75 years.  About 11:00 somebody foot launched and flew around the field for about 20 minutes.  Very cool.  His wing wasn't light enough to video but it did reflect the moonlight on the turns.  I'm going to have to try it someday.  Tonight was the perfect night and all I can say was good for him.  One of these days .... It's officially on my Bucket List.  Maybe at Lake Jean or Apex in Nevada.   But one of these days I'm going to do a moonlight flight.
Saturday morning I got up at 5:00 and launched with Jim Doyle who was leading the cross country to Wild Horse Canyon.  Great flight .... good air all the way.



After the flight we enjoyed the traditional omelets in a bag breakfast.  My jalape├▒o bacon was a huge hit, they ate all 5 pounds!
The Route 66 crowd is family and it was so great to see my friends.
Thanks Michelle for having us back.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

646 VB


Good morning.
There was absolutely no wind when I got to the field, so I set-up and while I was at the truck putting on my helmet the wind came.  I was on the South East corner and it was 3 mph from the South West.  DAMN.
I re-bagged the wing and motored over to the other end of the field where I had a perfectly nice launch.
There was one balloon high in the South so I held the throttle down and climbed to meet him.  At 600 feet I powered through a layer and continued to climb.  At 1500 feet I encountered another layer and after climbing for several minutes it only got worse so I bailed on the intercept and descended towards Boulder Reservoir.  The winds were increasing from the South and when I got to the beach I was barely penetrating. There was very little activity compared with yesterday and I saw the balloon was starting to descend so I turned back toward Vance Brand and was over the runway in no time flat.  I made a couple of passes at the ballon and landed.  Nice Day  Next stop is Rio Puerco.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

645 VB

This was fun.  I was going to hook up with Egil who was launching from a private airstrip closer to Boulder Res. but when I got to the LZ thee were 4 balloons.and ... well... there you go.




Tuesday, June 18, 2013

643 644 VB

Two great long flights out to Boulder Reservoir.  Lots of activity on the lake Video to follow.
Egil pulled in as I landed so we went up together and flew back to the Res so that his wife could take a few shots.  I chewed him out for flying over the lake.



Yesterday I had the extraordinary luck to witness a very serious micro burst while sailing  on Carter Lake.

The race was delayed for lack of wind and when we started I was cursing myself for not putting up lighter sails.  At the start we had maybe 3 mph which built to maybe 8 when we rounded the first mark.  Heading back to toward the starting line the wind continued to increase slowly and a medium sized 15mph gust came through.  This was  followed by some twitchy shifts that caused me to fall off the wind in order to keep the sails pressurized.
The micro burst touched down about 1000 yards ahead and turned the already dark water black. I could see  a tremendous amount of Virga that seemed suspended 500 to 700 ft ahead creating almost an hourglass shape of darkness.  It really helped to watch this from the water, it sharpened the edges so that it was possible to visualize what the air was doing.   I suspect that people on the West .... North .... East.... shores all felt the gust coming coming from the center of the lake.
We had maybe 30 seconds and when it hit I was surprised by the strength of the burst.  It seemed like 40 mph, and... it might have been stronger..  I spilled the main and ran a beam reach with the heavy Genoa pulling like a Clydesdale. Eventually I had both sales spilling wind and rode through the weather at close to hull speed.  The worst of it lasted maybe 2 minutes but if you ask anybody who was on a boat they will tell you is seemed much longer.
I know the puppy did.





I can remember few weather events that became so violent so quickly.  The dust devil in Reo Puerco two years ago and a once or twice on Dillon.  Even Chatfield had a few slam bamm microbursts.  I particularly remember one storm that couldnt't be called a micro burst it hit very quickly but also had sustained winds and rain with gusts above 50 mph.  It was one of those times that the waves and spume reminded me of blue water.





Yesterday was unique in that we lost one boat and turtled another.  All of the "casualties" were experienced and capable sailors that just found themselves in the wrong place at the worst time.    I think the boats north of us were closer to the center and more likely to be subject to dramatic wind shifts.  Just the kind of thing that turns the high side into a very low side in less than a heartbeat.   We saw more than one hull laying on its side and everybody was scrambling to maintain control.   

Paradiso isn't a particularly heavy boat but it better able to stay on her feet than a Santana or J boat in a surprise blow.    We tacked once between the first gust and the micro burst and during the worst of it,  Dawn and I were forward in the cockpit with me on the helm and her manning the Genoa and clutching the puppy.  He had been tethered to the lifeline but still in danger of being thrown overboard.  





If you know or have hear John McGinley ... He is one of the best meteorologists around.  Here was what he wrote up for Carter Lake Sailing Club

Yikes...quite a microburst at the lake today. The atmosphere was
primed for these things with high based thunderstorms, dry conditions
below the storm, and warm temperatures at the surface. The tip off was
lots of virga in the sky; that is, precipitation falling out of the
cloud but evaporating before it reaches the ground. The attendant cold
pool hits the ground at high speed creating 50-60mph winds. We were at
the Rockies game and witnessed a similar microburst with at least
60mph winds blowing hats off fans, moving dust and trash, and moving
the roller for the field tarp (a very heavy item). The size of this
disturbance couldn't have been more than 500-1000 ft across, very
small, and I would guess it lasted 2 minutes. Other damaging bursts
happened around the I25 corridor including Greeley. Quite impossible
to predict exactly where and when, so one can only scan the skies for
virga or precipitation streamers, and prepare to respond rapidly to
hazardous conditions. So much of this is being in the wrong place at
the wrong time. Best of luck Duane, in recovering Streaker. I am so
glad that no one was injured and all other boats are floating again.
John

Thursday, June 13, 2013

637 ... 638 ... 639 ... 640 & 41 & 42

This has been a week for flying.  I got out to the field 5 times and flew 6.  The air was a mix from buttery smooth to ratty as hell.  I flew with Balloons a couple of times and met Egil Wigert who got his 2nd and 3rd flights in this week.  I took a great cross country to the west and went over and past the first hogbacks behind Longmont.
More later








Sunday, June 9, 2013

633 ... 634 ... 635. Stapleton

Dan K and I met for sunset flights.   Twitchy winds 5 to 8 mph
3 quick flights always hoping it would settle down but it never did.
The good news was that this site is only 25 minutes away.  I'll be back! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

628 to 632 VB

June 4, 2013
No Drama
2 Dawn flights

June 5th 
No Drama
2 evening flights

June 6th
No Drama
one beautiful dawn flight with the balloons
video to come

Monday, June 3, 2013

627 Vance Brand

First Flight since the Endless Footdrag.  No Drama  55 minutes airtime.  Between the wind storms and the low pressure front.