21 May 2008

Snow, sun and fun

Today made a nice cross-country flight from the Hyvinkää airfield to Karkola. Around 1 PM a group of pilots had gathered at Hyvinkää to make the best of the promising skies. Like the previous days there were clear signs of over-development. This means that the thermals and humid unstable air cause rapid creation of largish clouds already early in the day, to the extend that those clouds grow together and block all sunshine. Unlike earlier in the week it didn't look like it was going to rain so we hoped that the sky would open up again.

Jony was first to be towed up and hit a thermal, but too early in the tow. I was second and had a bit more luck in that I managed to get back into a good thermal after my release. The sky was practically completely covered with clouds, but above 500 m the thermals were good. I had planned to fly to Selänpää, a good 110 km trip. That turned out to be vastly over-optimistic.
Once I managed to work my way out of the restricted airspace the weather started to change. As we had hoped the sky did break up, but this transformation was accompanied by snow showers high up. I could see that the virgae did not reach the ground, but I flew through snowfall several times; interestingly while in clear sunshine! The snow was not only cold but came with strong sink, up to 7 m/s. At one point I was less than 100 m above the ground but hit a good thermal above a hill. The hill was topped with a radio mast that I had to circle around a bit! Some 6 km and another snow shower later I was low again. After 2 hours I was really cold and tired now and did not have the energy to make the most of some lighter lift I found. So landed some 33 km from takeoff (see track). Nevertheless, a 2 hour flight in unstable conditions surely made my day. Tomorrow the weather is probably a bit better again, and we plan to get together earlier in the day....

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