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2019 Region 11 FAI Class - Finally a decent day

While certainly not an epic day for Truckee, the weather prediction at last looked decently soarable. Heights under clouds were predicted as 15,500 at Mt Siegel, 13,500 at Freel Peak - both high enough to return to Truckee over Lake Tahoe - at 18,500 further south. There was also lift and cloud predicted on the Sierra crest and around both sided of Mono Lake. A two turn point TAT was called, with large circles on Tioga Pass and Hilton Ranch. This allowed speeds of between about 50 and 100 mph.

After launch, it looked as predicted, with clouds already forming on the Sierra, Carson, Pine Nut, and Patterson range. About 13,000 was achievable on Mt Rose at the start cylinder. Jon Fitch (L6) who has been flying first launch as "wind dummy" got tired of milling about just below the clouds and left a minute after the start gate opened, followed by Hal Woodruff (HW). A long glide all the way to Mineral Peak was rewarded with a decent thermal and a run along the Pine Nuts south. The clouds at the end of that ridge, while working, had a 13,500 base - not enough to get back to Truckee directly and the day began to look lower than predicted. From there we jumped to the Patterson range, then around Bridgeport to the west and the Sierra crest and south.

Others opted to fly down the Carson range, the ridge bounding Lake Tahoe to the east. This normally does not work, but the very light or even east winds created an unusual day. These gliders continued south over Alpine airport and the Marine Core base, direct to Tioga Pass.

At Tioga, a big decision: South deeper into the cylinder (there was good cloud all the way to Mammoth Lakes), or turn and take a direct route to the Hilton turn point cylinder.  The former would require running east around the south shore of Mono Lake in the Glass Mt vicinity. John Cochrane (BB) had left much later than L6 and HW, but caught up with them at Tioga Pass. At that speed he needed more distance and opted to go on south, HW followed. L6 thought it would be better to turn and go to the south edge of the Hilton circle where the clouds looked better formed. At around the same time, Noel Wade (98) - who had won 3 days in a row - found himself low on the Sierra at around Twin Lakes, and got flushed into the Bridgeport Valley. It took a long time to grind back up, and proved to be a costly mistake. 

L6 continued east until south of Hilton and the computer said it was time to go home, he was a bit worried about the approach back to Truckee with the low heights and thought a finish would be better than a landout. This proved to be correct! HW, BB, and 98 all went much deeper into the Hilton circle, towards Hawthorne and the blue. Coming back they found it hard to get good climbs. Returning to Mt Siegel, the cloud base was still no better than 14,000, a glide across Lake Tahoe is an extreme "character building" experience from that height. But the day was unusual, with good cloud up the Pine Nuts and one line running most of the way across the Carson Valley to Incline Village. L6 took that route in, arriving first and finishing at 10,000 ft. Most of the others followed the same route. HW had difficulty connecting with the the line of clouds and got low near Carson. After grinding for a long time, he gave up and started the jet, costing him 3rd and 4th place in the contest, a gift graciously accepted by L6 and Kerry Richards (P9). For the day it was John Cochrane (BB), Kerry Richards (P9), and Jon Fitch(L6). Cummulatively for the contest BB was first, 98 second, and L6 third. 

There were a few retrieves on the day as far away as Bridgeport, but everyone got back in time for the dinner in town. It was not the weather we would have hoped for, but got in 4 days of contest flying including one California Grand Prix task, and most of the participants will be back next year. Thanks to Tony Gaechter (1A) the CM, and Mike Mayo (E5) the CD, also the scorers John Steiner and Stuart Mayo who did a great job of getting the scoring done early in the evening. The Soar Truckee staff was efficient and helpful as they always are. 

- Jon Fitch (L6)

Posted: 7/20/2019


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