Monday, July 6, 2009

Last man Standing,

Just got done cleaning out the little fridge in front of the guest house. (There are leftovers for days.) The clinic is over. Our woodstock nation of tents is gone. No one’s about. No more rustling of gliders having the sand poured out of them or the scattered conversations of the days flights and events. The dogs have a lot less to bark at. I slept ten hours last night and still feel like I could use another ten.

If I start with the first official day of the clinic, Sunday, we only had one down day where we didn’t fly. (Ok, some people got in early on Saturday and that day didn’t work.) After the last few years I was starting to wonder if the magic had worn off and Monterey would no long be the flawless flying site. After this trip however, I think I can write those other trips off as the fickleness that is always the weather’s purgative.

For those that haven’t been out yet, the beach here has an unbeatable set up for flying. The central valley of California gets very hot in the summer, that hot air rises and pulls the cooler air off the ocean to replace it. The greater the change in temperature the greater the effect. Under the bay there is a 9000 foot trench, which helps make that temperature difference even greater by circulating cold water up out of the depths. What happens then, is there is a cold, smooth wind that blows right into the dunes. This winds is deflected up over those dunes which make a band of lifting air that parallels all five miles of the dunes. If you stay in that band of air you can fly for miles and have flights hours long. That’s what we did. (The longest flight was six hours long.) The last thing that really helps make this place be so great is that the bay is very recessed. The depth of the bay helps to straighten any cross winds blowing along the shore. Those cross winds “fall” into the bay as the inland heating sucks air eastward.

Each morning the group would coleus from it’s various factions. There were the, sleep as long as you can, the go for a run, go find breakfast, groups. I set the leaving time at nine so that we would actually be under way by nine thirty. Next, we would drive out to the site. We are camped out in Carmel valley, the site is in the bay, between the two is the ridge that makes the Monterey peninsula. What ever weather you wake up in on one side has no barring on what is happening on the other. I never check weather reports here, I just go see. The first clue is from the top of the ridge, whether you can see down to the beach or whether the fog of the marine layer is obscuring everything. But the real “say so” of the weather is the flag of truth. The flag truth is right on the beach by the hotel. If it’s blowing it’s time to speed up and get your gear out to the beach, if not it’s down for a bagel in the shopping center.

On a typical day we parawait on the beach waiting for the winds to come up. Somewhere around eleven, if we’re lucky, or one if we are not the winds come up and we start to fly. Sometimes the first flight is too early and people sink out to the beach. Other times not, but once the first person is up then it’s a shark attack of pilots getting ready.

The training end of the dunes is maybe a half mile long. Everyone starts here. When they get a little altitude then people start crossing over the dune-less section of the beach to fly the other 4.5 miles of dunes. That leaves me with the newer pilots that are working on their beginner ridge soaring skills.

At some point the winds either, get too strong, cross, or too light and the day is over. Then it’s time to get as many as sixteen people all pointed in the same direction to get dinner.

This trip there were many adventures but to protect the guilty and the innocent, I can’t tell all. You can get the stories from you flying buddies.

There will be pictures going up on the yahoo group.
See you all for flying this weekend.