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Practice and Day 1 at Logan, 2011

Here's the short version: the locals used up all the good weather in the week before the contest... Tongue out

What's happened is a big High pressure system is sitting over the middle of the USA right now (generating insane heat-waves in the Great Plains and Northern states).  There is also a Low pressure system off the coast of California that's spitting junk up the Western states.  And in-between (about where Logan is), the Jetr Stream is sitting overhead causing extreme southerly winds and bringing monsoon moisture and storms up from Airzona.

The practice day (Sunday) was OK, although I had to wait almost 3 hours to get launched... They would launch a few gliders, and most would fail to climb out and have to land.  Then 20 or 30 minutes later, they'd try again...  Getting off tow I had to struggle for awhile.  It took me a bit to re-adjust to the Logan style of flying, too - you *really* have to get down on the dirt & rocks here, to work the ridge lift when you're down low!  Flying just above tree-top height is not something you do unless you're super-focused and confident in your skills.  I sunk down about 700 feet and was about to turn and run for the airport when I finally caught something that I could stick in.  From there I was able to work my way up a canyon and onto the ridge.  As usual here in Logan, once you get on top of the ridge you can run along about 50 feet above it and maintain altitude for about 30 miles.  It was a great run, though not particularly fast since the southerly winds aren't the right angle to really make the ridge work.  I figured I'd try to fly up past Minke Creek and then find a thermal to climb in so that I could go out on the practice course.  No thermal appeared, so I kept cruising North on the ridge.  And I kept cruising.  And I kept cruising.  And up near the N end of the ridge it gets lower and lower... and so did I!  I took the ridge all the way to its Nothern Extent (Soda Springs, ID), and found myself down at 7800 feet waayyyy out there.  The ridge doesn't really work that well up north - its less of a ridge and more of a wide area of high ground.  So coming home was work! I was able to bump little bits of lift and find little things to work, never getting above 8100'.  As the ridge rose up in altitude at Sugar Creek, I couldn't climb with it and ended up having to duck out around the front (west) side of the ridge.  This is usually a sign that you'll be landing out.  My computer said I was 3000' BELOW minimum altitude to make it home - not a very comfy spot to be in! There are a ton of alfalfa fields that can be landed in; but landing out on the practice day was not what I wanted to achieve...  So I skimmed across the top of every little hump, finger, bowl, and rocky outcrop on the side of the mountains.  I flew as slow as I dared, and tried to pull up and climb in every little scrap of rising air I ran across.  As the miles ticked by, I bled the altitude off slowly enough that I was making up ground on the glide-slope to get home.  Roughly 30 miles later, I was able to turn out from the slopes and just scoot across the top of the airport at 800' AGL, to make a fairly normal landing.  Phew!  It was only a 2 hour flight, but it was a workout!

Sadly, Monday brought even worse weather, and rain showers kept developing and drifting over the airport and the ridge.  We sat out on the line for 2 hours, getting doused at regular intervals (luckily the rain was never hard and usually lasted last than 5 or 6 minutes).  But as soon as one system cleared, another would form down by the Salt Lake and drift up overhead.  Finally our CD called the day off and we all put our gliders away (most of us in the box, since Thunderstorms are expected some tonight and tomorrow night).

Now we just need Mother Nature to cooperate!  Most of the US is suffering right now; including us glider pilots...  So if the Jet Stream would just move to the North and the big pressure systems would shift a bit, we'd ALL be having a better time!  Unfortunately, the forecasters are saying that won't happen until Tuesday night - so we may be in for another no-fly day tomorrow!  Ugh...

On the bright side, 9 of us went out to an Italian restaurant tonight and had good food, good wine, and interesting discussions.  I've said it before; but soaring really does attract some really interesting people.  Its always fun to take turns listening to these unique people's amazing lives, careers, and achievements!  After that a few dozen of us got together in the airport hangar and listened to a presentation by the local experts, sharing their knowledge of the area and tips for how to fly well here.  Good stuff!  Let's hope we can put it to good use soon...

--Noel "Kilo Romeo"

Posted: 7/18/2011 By: Noel Wade

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