Thursday, January 18, 2007

Friday December 15, 2006:
Based on the wave outlook, I drove to Cal City Thursday morning and assembled. Since this was a fast moving system with a sharp spread on the isobars behind the wave winds, I felt it would be at best, a good exercise flight. The task was an O&R to Reno, but I was skeptical on making it past Mono. Jim Staniforth joined me in his newly acquired 26E as we readied that evening on the ramp. Strangely, it was absolutely dead calm. When you are used to, nay expect, to be blasted, or at least be chilled by the pre-frontal winds, it was a bit unnerving to assemble dressed in a short sleeve shirt. But the evening sky warmed the mood as the lennies formed and the sunset became rich.

Ready at dawn (except for waiting for the ice to melt off the wings...), the sky was clear and the winds, well, there were none, at least on the ground. Marty pointed out that the cap clouds in Kelso Valley (about 12sm NW of Cal City) hinted at some wave there. To the north lennies were forming in the Owens Valley. A 9:40am launch took us to Kelso Valley, shutting the engine down at 8,000 ft (airport is 2400 ft). 2-3 knot wave pushed us slowly to 17K, then a run north along the east side of Kelso Valley until the wave quit, followed by a 100 knot jog over to the Sierras just west of Inyokern.

The lennies were still 30-40 miles to the north, so it's a greater act of faith (for me at least) to roar over to the "spot where it should be" with no indicators of any sort. No blowing dust, no lennie, no rotor cloud, etc. But the lift was there along with a 50 knot wind at 13K. Progress was slow but picked up so that by Olancha, we're at 17K and doing 100+ knots.
I never did see Jim except at the Kelso Valley wave, but were in touch by radio until we switched to Joshua ATC. It had been 18 months since I flew the Owens Valley in wave, so I was clearly out of practice, jogging rather acutely westward too many times when in excessively strong of lift. Just remember that 110 knot redline at this altitude....

Further north, beyond Mammoth Lakes, it was becoming apparent that there was not likely to be wave. By the time I passed over Mammoth Lakes airport (KMMH), the orographic clouds west and north of Mammoth Lakes town had some vertical build to them (so the unstable layer was deeper than the ridgeline) and north of Mono Lake, there was a jumbled mix of haze and clouds that said "no wave here!" This was consistent with the forecast too, so I turned at KMMH. Jim had turned a few minutes earlier at Tom's Place, a small town a few miles east of KMMH. On the southbound leg, the Owens Valley lennie was forming up nicely, but still not entirely smooth shaped either.

The south bound trip was much faster, with a straighter flight path, averaging about 110 knots from Mammoth to just north of Cal City, a distance of about 145nm. The scenery, as always, was just spectacular.

Coming up on Inyokern, I'm doing my instrument scan and was shocked to see the wind reading at 113 knots!. Now I know it says 27% certain, but if it is offbase, I've never seen it THIS far off. I was crabbing quite a bit, but.........I can't explain this one.
The landing back at Cal City was uneventful. Rotor was above the airport, but on the ground it was, again, calm. This was Jim's first cross country in his 26E, 500km+ in December! All in all, a great 5 hour practice run.



bumper said...

Nicely done, Kemp! The ability to include short video clips adds a lot to the experience. Good going!


Daniel Scopel said...

hi kemp,
nice stuff!!!
all vids links works fine....
except the sparrowhawk!

I get this error:
Not Found

The requested URL /SSA_Conv07/ was not found on this server.