Greet the lads outside the pousada and shove the glider bag into the back of the truck.
Steve mentions a rather curious find by one of his clients that got sucked into a backyard party after a long XC the year previous. A rather phallic looking bottle opener that the hosts of the party sent him home with and has since been upgraded to the ‘Dick of the Day’ Award. Basically the ‘award’ is given by the current holder to a pilot who thought some course of action was a good idea at the time but ended up with a less than optimal outcome. Pretty good way to keep the lads in line in the air, if you ask me -> hazing and peer pressure can work wonders. Simon turns out to be the lucky recipient this morning because we have to start with someone.
Pile into the truck and off to the main LZ to meet up with one of the locals.
The drive up is uneventful and we arrive to again find the peak wrapped in cloud.
Base rises ever so slowly…
Dean gives a call of hurry up and get ready – gather he sees something he likes (or something coming he doesn’t).
Phil is first off and shortly after he launches someone starts keying their PTT on our channel (wind noise and a vario are all we hear). We suspect it to be Phil, but are not sure. Calls to get the senders attention go unheard (or unheeded) so we jump to the retrieve channel and hope Dean can launch quickly, catch up to Phil, and let him know to switch over.
In the meantime, Simon and I try setting up – working around a pair of Germans who are typically German in that they have laid out their kit to take up the main part of launch and are currently walking around enjoying the sights. There are pages of discussion on this very phenomena on PGForum – one is lead to wonder if it is a key part of the German flying identity.
We manage to make do and Simon is away first. My first launch is an abort, but the second is good. Everything thus far has been forwards – the winds still haven’t gotten to the strength I like for a reverse.
My headset is on the fritz and I can barely make out what Dean is saying. It sounds like Dean has gotten a hold of Phil and they are heading off on the original flight plan southwards. I figure I am high enough to slip past the Cauldron, hook around the west side of the mountain, catch the southern ridge line and climb up before chasing after them.
I arrive at the ridge with height to spare and begin hunting along it for lift. On the radio, I find out Dean and Phil went east along the ridge rather than over the back and south.
Diving in close, I try working every bubble I can find – hoping to climb out (or at least stay up).
On the ground, I ascend to the plateau and begin packing. People pass by asking if I need a lift, but Steve is already on his way. A gent pulls up and starts chatting me up about him having gotten his citizenship in the US via military service and about his return to Brazil. Everyone here loves to talk – especially with the foreigners. Even if neither of you speak the same language.
Shortly there after Steve arrives and tag teams into the conversation (freeing me up to finish packing).
“I assume you want a second go?”
Back at launch for Round 2.
The wind is coming up both sides – Steve recommends trying the south launch as it seems to be better.
I ask about being able to make it back around front.
Don’t worry, the reply. From this height you can make it all the way to the main LZ in town. In anycase, the house thermal is to your left (east), give it a look, if it doesn’t work – make your way west.
This is why one hires a guide – they know what can and can’t be done with the site and the nuances to get the best out of it.
Meanwhile one of the local tandem instructors comes over and pulls Steve aside for a quiet discussion.
I yell out, “Wasn’t me!”… just in case.
I find out afterwards that there have been a few GoPros that have gone missing from pilots gear recently and it appears they now have a very good idea who it is. Steve points the gent out to me. A reminder that despite 99% of the pilot community being honest, we will see bad apples pop up like any other part of society. Keep your electronics close kids – if it is not in your possession, it soon will be in someone else’s.
Laid out for yet another forward but this time on the southern launch. I feel the wind at my back but Steve (facing me) feels it on his. Not uncommon at this time of day as thermals climb both sides of the mountain. Normally one would be on the watch for dust devils – but with the high cloud and large amount of moisture still on/in the ground, it is unlikely we will see any.
I wait and watch the northern launch windsock – looking to see the signs that the southern wind flow is pushing far enough up launch. Two minutes pass and Steve chimes, “Feels good.”
Not quite yet. Another half minute and there – no wind on the back of the neck.
Southern launch is a committed one – it is relatively flat and ends in a sudden drop off.
To the house thermal we go.
Not much here, back to the cliff to where I know it was working when I launched.
Yep still working.
Wheh! Sigh of relief.
Above launch. Looks I won’t need to go westward and can instead slip over the top and back. Hear word on the radio everyone is going to meet at the Main LZ then head out for food.
On the north side.
-2.0 m/s of sink all the way out.
Time to skedaddle.
LZ options -> ‘Jurassic Park’ or the Main LZ across the river.
Just as I approach the river, Dean is on the radio asking if I am going for the Main LZ.
I reply with a ‘thinking about it’
‘Good’, the response.
Visiting pilots tend to get intimidated by landing in town – likely due to the absence of any form of bailout. Once you cross the river, there is no going back -> you have the river, buildings, and the height restriction to contend with. Even with a huge LZ, it tends to make newer pilots apprehensive.
A semi-rite of passage for GV, I guess. I recall Chris White once commenting that if we do not continually push the boundaries of our comfort zone flying wise – we will end with a tolerance so narrow, we will stop flying altogether. Deans singular response leads me to believe he feels the same.
Main LZ it is.
Bright idea. Swoop the packing area.
Lets just say the approach was a little hot and there was some baseball-esque sliding involved before popping it up back onto my feet. I suspect I might be a candidate for the ‘Dick of the Day’ award after that.
But for now, onto the local Sunday night pilots hangout – where the beer is cheap and the service questionable. But the beer is cheap.