Monday, May 25, 2015

Declared 750km Triangle

The end of the May Edmonton Soaring Club flying week benefitted from some very dry weather in Alberta.  Most of the week consisted of blue, sunny conditions.  Looking at XCSkies for the final weekend clouds were predicted and bases in excess of 12,000ft.  The weather pattern and dryness reminded me of Australia except the temperatures were about 20°C less.  Saturday, I was on the instructor schedule so I had to take a miss on long distance flying.  The conditions were spectacular and Bruce Friesen flew a 400km Canadian speed triangle record out of Chipman at 134km/h.  On a flight with one of my students I had a climb to 12,500ft at about 8 knots.
Sunday, Bruce and I both declared 750km triangles.  I usually like to get started by 11am but it felt very still at the airport until about 11:45am.  The conditions started very quickly, much like Saturday.  I got a launch just before 12:00pm and found a 5 knotter up to 8000ft.  I then crossed the start line over the field and found a 7.5 knot thermal up to 12,500ft.  Cloudbase was a little bit higher but we are restricted to 12,500ft by Class B airspace for about half the task area.  There was a long streak of cloud with virga dropping from it so I stayed just north of track on another developing cloudstreet.  I got a couple 10 knot thermals on the way and the run to the first turnpoint, Senlac, was pretty good at 112km/h.
After Senlac it got a bit more difficult.  Senlac was in the blue and the only clouds on route to my next turnpoint again had virga coming from it.  I decided to push underneath the virga.  The base was about 9000ft and I found a good path of weak lift that let me hold my altitude.  When I crossed the cloud I ended up under a very large dark cloud that looked to be building into a storm.  It was snowing and I soon felt small pellets of snow seep through the air vents.  As I got a bit lower it turned into rain.  I was getting a bit worried as I had not hit any lift for a while.  Not until I got to the very edge of the cloud I found a thermal.  At first I found 3 knots which I took to keep myself from getting too low then went a little more on course and found 5 knots.  After that it was similar to the first leg; back to strong lift up to 12,000ft.
Getting into my second turnpoint, Finnegan, took another deviation to get around some virga clouds.  Coming out of the turn the sky completely blued out on course.  I decided to head east to go around the hole and struggled a bit to find good lift.  It took a bit of scraping to get going but I eventually connected with some good cloud streets.  The good lift was becoming a bit harder to find compared to earlier in the flight.  It was 6pm by then and I still had 200km to go.  Bruce checked up on me over the radio to see how I was doing.  He had run into the virga clouds and abandoned task earlier.  I was optimistic but not 100% confident I could make it.  At the end of the cloudstreet, still over 100km away it completely blued out.  I was short of final glide by a couple thousand feet.  The air became very smooth so I slowed down quite a bit.  I saw one cloud in the distance almost on course that had some promise.  I was not sure if it would be there when I got to it though.  I then saw a couple little clouds form directly next to it.  When I arrived, I flew a course to test them all out.  The first couple did not work but the original one that I saw redeveloped and gave me 2 knots.  I took it to the top to ensure I had some buffer.  It was quite a relief to know I could make it home.  It was a long glide home and I called Chipman Ground to let them know I was coming.  After I crossed the finish line I started to head north to use up my extra height and lengthen my triangle a bit.  To my surprise after flying in still air for a while I found a weak thermal just north of the field.  I took a few turns in it.  I only went 8km past the field but it made the task just a little bit bigger. 
In OLC distance I flew 813km, the declared triangle was 750.2km and the free triangle was 777.1km.  All are personal bests for me.  Duration was 8 hours 8 minutes. I beat my Canadian free triangle distance records from last year and also beat the club 750km & 500km speed triangle records and declared triangle distance.  I had attempted a 750km task a number of times in Australia; the closest attempt being 725km on course.  Now I can set my sights on something else.  Perhaps an out & return or a long downwind dash.
OLC Link

1 comment:

Terry McElligott said...

Nicely done. The OLC trace looks epic.