16 September 2009

Distance in autumn

It's autumn in Finland but nevertheless we can get some nice flying. Saturday Skyriders organized their annual end-of-season party. With a turnout of some 40 pilots, coffee and cake to celebrate recent medalists, a break in the rains just when we had a fun spot-landing and ground-handling comp, a sauna and swim, and this all topped with excellent food and some drinks it was the best edition of this great event ever. To get a feel for the mood check out some of the pictures (by Janne).

Between many days of unstable and windy weather we had a couple of good ones. And as in our national cross-country (XC) league still several competitors have the glorious top spot within reach there is no lack of motivation to make use of those good days. The XC ranking based on flights anywhere in the world was recently shaken up when Ari, Mladen and Antti did many long flights during the XC Open competition in Piedrahita, Spain. Well done!
In the ranking based on flights made in Finland Mika P. has been leading since mid summer, with me not too far behind. Mika reported some nice thermal flying on Monday, but no distance; his brother though managed a short 10 km flight.

The general weather forecast for Tuesday looked a bit better, but the thermal forecast predicted no thermals at all, stable air. However, as said we're motivated and after a clear, cold night, a sunny clear day should result at least in some lift, somewhere.
So around mid-day I prepared the tow setup at Hyvinkää airfield, and was soon joined by Sakari, Jari and Juha. There were some little cumulus clouds forming so as soon as we we're ready I had myself towed up. Right into a good thermal, actually surprisingly strong at times 3 m/s. Cloud base was low though and the airspace ceiling at Hyvinkää is even lower (4000 ft MSL). I waited for a little while for company but nobody seemed to get up so then I set off in a northerly direction to work my way out of the restricted airspace.
There were quite many thermals, but usually rather weak, with occasional stronger bubbles coming through. I carefully took pretty much every bit of lift that I encountered to maintain as much altitude as possible as lower down thermals were obviously even weaker and less organized. So I was going slowly but making progress. Once I was in the next zone could go a bit higher, actually to cloudbase at some 1300 m. I made short glides from cloud to cloud, but many clouds disappeared before I got to them. Large areas with harvested fields seemed to work best so I jumped a bit around. It was difficult to decide upon the best direction to make distance. Early on going west seemed promising, but little later most clouds to the west disappeared. Meanwhile I'd noticed a bit of streeting along the very light south-southeast wind so I decided to continue northwards.
After 3 hours the city of Hämeenlinna came in sight. I couldn't get much beyond it as there were no more thermals, an airspace ceiling and too large forests and lakes to cross. Besides I was getting really tired, all the thermalling in weak lift required uttermost concentration and was exhausting. So landed after 3,5 hours at the edge of the city. The XC league result was 53 km/points, which is excellent for September in Finland. But 10 points short of overtaking Mika's lead...

1 comment:

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