Santa Cruz Flats 5.0 Day 3

posted in: Jeff O'Brien | 0

SCF 5.0 Day 3

I get up early, run then plunge and I’m having breakfast with coffee on the balcony by 8am. Do an hour of work then head up on the rooftop where Alex is flying his remote control airplane.

SCF3 (1)

One of the reasons I like Alex is because he’s focused on fun. We’ve started a water balloon dropping trend off the balconies at the tower. Nothing too malicious. He’s got the remote control airplane, remote control cars, a rubber bat (the winged kind with fangs), a shoe box of contraband, etc, etc. It was great fun watching him do “carrier landings” on top of the roof before the pilot’s meeting.

They call an out and return to the west, 60 miles with four turnpoints. Times are moved back 30 minutes from previous days. Cylinders and start clocks are all the same.

SCF3 (2)

Our desert oasis. Pool side toward the tower.

I’ve got priority at the front of the line, but I’m still keen to get out of the heat, so I’m the first flex wing off the ground behind the rigids. The day has already turned on, and I happily boat around above the paddock in the cool breeze. I hear Dustin on the radio. He gets the rope accidentally at 400ft. He drops it on the runway and works hard to low save from 200ft.

The launch gets mired, and I learn later people had a hard time getting up and out. Many weak link breaks, many re-lights, etc. It’s a bummer. I know the crew and tugs are working as hard as they can.

SCF3 (3)

We’re higher today, but there’s still significant traffic, so I stay mostly away from the congestion. No need to eek out a few hundred feet with a lot of time to waste. Dustin mentions he’s got a climb to the north alone, and I head for him.

I’m not sure if the decision is going to pay off, but patience yields a slow climb to over 8000ft. just as the first start time is about to tick over. Dustin, Davis, Mitch, Glen, and Alex McCulloch are all there. We’ve got a great group and excellent position. We take the first clock.

SCF3 (4)

T2C’s are running and looking HOT.

It’s a LONG glide toward the rigids who are climbing slowly. We hook a reasonable climb with Davis lower and work it. Alex presses a bit too hard and lands. Moving on, it’s disorganized light lift until we hit a solid one before the second turnpoint. This gets Dustin and I back in the game and puts space between us and the rest of the field. We’re chasing down the rigids out in front.

We keep up with the Steve in the Millennium for quite a while as we head out over the hills / mountains into the desert. It’s mostly disorganized lift again and Dustin heads for the far turnpoint before I do. As he rounds the turn, he’s 2 miles ahead, but quite a bit lower. I fly fast through sink thinking I’ll get something on the way back.

SCF3 (5)

G R I D L O C K… Little pink houses for you and me…

There’s nothing substantial to be found, so I slow up and get patience knowing Dustin is out ahead, lower, and not finding anything either. Pilots are still heading toward the far turnpoint and most are struggling to get high.

As I make my way toward Dustin when my climb evaporates, he sees Charlie north of course going up well. We happily take 600fpm to 8400ft. and a 14 to 1 to goal 30km away. We’ve got a light tailwind and we’re thinking our chances are good to make it in. Our glides are identical for 15km above the inversion. We shade north over the desert and avoid the green, agricultural ground. Still no lift.

SCF3 (6)

On our way up and over the range into the desert…

Dustin’s line degrades, and I point it for goal. I’ve got 13.5 to 1 with him a few hundred lower. It’s looking uncomfortably close. We need a bit to make it in with any cushion. We both hit a bubble 3km out. Dustin’s is better and it takes me 30 seconds or so to get to him. He rises a couple hundred feet and burbles in. I take an extra turn or two and burble in a minute behind.

SCF3 (7)

Beneath my belly looking east…

Glen scoots across the line 5 minutes behind the two of us and there’s a gap before a handful more make it before the evening wanes. Apparently conditions shut down for many.

I was appreciative to team fly with Dustin and had a lot of fun.

Airtime: 4:00. Flights: 1. Miles 60.