An untypical few days of very cold weather were the prelude to this day of wonderful soaring. I launched at 1:31 into a powerful cycle and immediately climbed out. I topped out at 7700 over St. Helena and soon was over the back heading toward Lake Berryessa. The winds were WNW at 17. The temperature at this alt. was 15.4 deg.f. The clouds were big and had nice black bottoms so I knew it was a happenin day. I got across Pope Valley on the north end with no problems.
I stayed with the clouds, crossed the Blue Ridge and headed across Capay Valley for the Central Valley. Winds had switched to SSW at 9 at the Blue Ridge. I climbed to 7800 on the other side of the valley and headed out to the flats, crossing I 5 at Harrington on a NE track. I was soon down to 1600′ and hit the strong SE wind in the valley. As there were no more clouds in the valley to the East I decided to follow the lift to the N. This was easy to do as there were dust devils everywhere on this track with clouds over them.
I burbled along low for 15 miles and finally caught a good one near the Colusa airport back to 5600′. From there I flew over Colusa then up the East side of the Sacramento Rvr till Princeton where I decided the dust devils and clouds looked better on the west side. Winds are SSE at 20 in this area and I’m showing 45 to 50 mph ground speeds on my glides. Came in over Willows and from there followed I 5 north. Fewer dust devils in this area as the fields are different crops or pastures than farther south. The best lift appeared to be more to the west but the roads in that area are few and far apart, and I wasn’t having much trouble staying up anyway.
North of Orland I got low again, down to 1200′, but found a good one back to 6600′ at 5:50, 85 miles out. 22.6 deg f. here. I glided to 98 miles out but was down to 2200′. I could see Red Bluff airport but needed some more alt. to get there. I found it and came in over the airport at 1800′. I had intended to land here but the airport is a ways from town and I hit some more lift which gave me the ability to make it to another field which was closer to the freeway. This field is just north of the Hwy 36 / I5 intersection on the east side of the Sacramento River.
I landed in a nice 10 mph SE wind at 6.44pm, 108 miles out. 5hrs. 13mns of kissing the sky. Broke down, stashed my equipment with some nice folks across the street who saw me land, and then they gave me a ride the one mile to the local motel and restaurant strip.
In the morning, I got hold of Larry Roberts who was at Williams soaring center and he graciously came and got me. Not only that; he then took me for a sailplane ride in the 66ft. wingspan DG 505 40:1 tandem ship at Williams that afternoon. 40:1 is fantastic performance but the wind in my face and no cockpit sorrounding me is my style of flying, for now anyway. Thanks Larry!!
Yahoo! Spring is here!
GPS: 40 12′ 122 13′