Take some Gin (Carrera), add some Apple, shake.

Tuesday, a peek in the inbox reveals, “Still interested in trading in your Delta 2?”.

Jim has a potential buyer looking for a preowned Ozone Delta 2 Large, I’m looking to downsize, and the demo model Gin Carrera M is up for sale.

We might just have the makings for a deal.

By end of day we certainly do as I am lighter a Delta 2 plus some cash and heavier one Gin Carrera in apple.

The weight loss that drove the downsizing had been root caused by the specialist the day prior (a genetic conspiracy it would appear) and meds prescribed to get it and a plethora of other symptoms under control (one of the more notable being nausea that would take hold in less than 20 mins from the time of launch).

Saturday morning. While the side effects of the meds are still a bit of a nuisance, I am starting to feel better than I have been in several months.

Only one way to celebrate this fortunate turn of events, pile the kit into the car and bee line for the hill.

Upon arrival, the LZ is virtual ghost town with Jim having taken the students to the training hill pending the establishment of the afternoon inflow. Knowing there might be an hour plus wait I wander the Ranch and chance upon a pair of pilots waiting for a ride, chatting them up in sequence to help kill the time.

The beep beep beep of a Nissan Atlas backing up heralds ‘go’ time and we all pile into the van for the first run of the day. The skinny on the Line group for the local club hinted that most folk would be up in Pemberton thus leaving us an uncrowded hill for what might be the last weekend of summer.

The crew is a mixture of first time and low air time pilots, plus moi. The nervous energy of the first timers, as they come to grips with the magnitude of what they are about to do and the sense of empowerment that will surely follow, leaves me with both a smile and sense of envy. How many of us on those first few rides up the mountain were not thinking at some point, “why am I doing this?”, only to have any and all doubt disappear within seconds of landing?

Left to my own thoughts – how is my stomach going to handle this? The wing is smaller than my last and despite the EN-B rating, it is much more talkative (reactive to turbulence). Much like the first timers, I need to cast doubt aside and simply trust that it is going to be fine.

At the top we find waiting for us (the other) Martin and a pair of ladies that typically fly Bridal Falls on the south side of the valley. With the sun inching lower on the horizon each day, north facing Bridal is finding itself more and more in shade thereby driving the regulars to south facing Woodside. But even with this trio added to our ranks, Woodside is far from becoming a beehive of activity today.

The femme fatale duo launch first, followed by myself. Getting settled into the swing of things takes longer than normal as I try to align how I would fly the Delta 2 with the handling of the Carrera. It doesn’t take long to realize that I need to let the wing do its thing and more or less just ‘shut up and listen’.

Allowing the wing to sniff out the sporadic collection of 0.1 and 0.2 m/s climbs, I again have Kelly’s advice playing in my head about mirroring the air but keeping energy in the carve. The wing turns in much quicker than the Delta2 and yet I find it more reluctant to dive if I am bit heavy handed on the initial turn in. Following what appear to be a trio of buzzards, I claw and scratch my way back up to launch height. By this point I am half an hour into the flight and my stomach is handling things remarkably well. Two more pilots have since launched and all have or are in the midst of landing.

Then the -2.4 m/s flush.

No matter where I go, the mountain is singing some Celine Dion track whilst I am being drilled to the oceans floor.

To the LZ it is. Nary a climb on the way out, but it matters not as I arrive with height to spare.

Thus ends what is easily my best flight since the last day in France at St.Vincent.

There is hope.

Not even packed up and the Atlas pulls up in the landing field. The query from the cab, ‘heading back up?’

That is an affirmative, Ghostrider.

Back on top of the mountain and every one is milling about, not a wing in the air.

Curious.

A gust comes through rustling the trees and … blowing downhill. Ah, so ka.

An hour later, having gotten my fill of jawboning with local and student alike I realize that we are starting to see marked lulls in the downhill flow of wind. There is going to be rotor at some point away from the hill, but the sound of the wind in the trees hints at peak speeds less than 20 kph. Definitely choppy, but manageable.

I recall a piece of advice from Chris over the summer regarding boundaries and a shrinking flight envelope. If we never test our comfort zone, the conditions within which we are willing to fly will continually shrink until even the tamest of conditions will be perceived to be beyond our ability. In other words, from time to time we have to be willing to go to where there be dragons.

Begin pre-launch montage.

And so the cycle begins of waiting for the elusive lull, hoping the mountain doesn’t go completely katabatic before I can get away.

I feel the slightest hint of uphill wind, the flag at the bottom showing wind coming in, the sock beside me limp. Its enough and I am off.

3…2…1… cue ‘Highway to the Rotor Zone’.

I drift rapidly to the left and turn quickly right 90 degrees to face into the wind coming over the ridge to the north. The aggregation of the wind being driven up and over that ridge line has me parked in its lee. I am not entirely sure how far this compression extends, so the thought of a straight downwind run leaves me iffy with the river in that line of flight. I feel my best chance is cross wind it and face west again. My active flying skills gets their first real test since France, with the wing rolling, yawing,  and pitching about in the turbulent churn. It is under these conditions I get a better sense of the pitch stability of the Carrera. On the Delta2 I would have my work cut out for me with the wing reacting to the gusts in a series of sharp pitching motions. The Carrera remained more or less overhead, freeing some mental effort from having to be hyper vigilant in trying to prevent a full frontal via an errant gust. The roll on the other hand demanded more attention, with one cross wind gust announcing itself with a rapid twacking of the fabric in the speed bag of the pod followed by my losing the left quarter or so of the wing.

A minute of riding the chop and I am in dead calm air. Jim had chimed in on the radio suggesting pushing further south towards the Riverside LZ as opposed to my drive west, pointing out that the wind would die off quickly as I move further downwind from the northern ridge. In retrospect, it would have provided an increased chance for success over my eventual route towards the Ranch LZ.

Lesson learned.

After the mountain tried its hand at shaking up a Gin/Apple martini I feel that one could sum the wing up as “feels like a ‘C’, recovers like a ‘B'”.

 

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