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Dancing with Devilish Electrons

So I Arrived at Montague late Friday night, and I've spent most of the weekend trying to wire up the new "PowerFLARM" collision-avoidance gear.  Its a bigger pain in the ass than you'd expect (and I even started before I left).  Everyone loves the device once its installed and working - and I expect I will, too... But that doesn't mean I have to like the rigmarole of getting the darned thing in and working!

After a day-and-a-half of fiddling, I finally got everything put back together and was able to get up in the air late this afternoon.  2.5 hours of cruising around the western side of the Siskyou valley was nice.  I basically covered the area from the Oregon border down slightly southwest of Weed, CA.  Interesting conditions with lots of ridge-induced lift (turbulent and hard to stay in), plus some weak thermals and occasionally nice convergence-like lift where cloubbase suddenly jumped and you could ride the line between lower clouds and higher clouds.  

The mountain heights and rough terrain around here are both deceptive and intimidating.  After worrying about getting low and my computer saying that I only had a small margin of height, I found myself screaming in to the airfield at 100 knots for the last 12 miles - and I STILL arrived almost 2000' above the runway. So obviously I'm going to need to get comfortable with flying a little lower and faster and being less-conservative, and adjust my computer estimations a bit.  Hopefully I'll make the jump to the proper level of risk and aggression over the next day or two.

Weather for tomorrow (the final practice day) is iffy - possible strong winds and/or Thunderstorms may keep us from flying.  The weather is looking really good for the first week of actual competition; but I don't want to go into the actual contest days with no idea of how to weigh risks and go for speed - so I'd really like one more practice day.  Here's hoping!


Posted: 6/25/2012 By: Noel Wade

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