Monday, September 25, 2017

Flying Dunlap

People on our SIV course recommended flying at a mountain site near Dunlap, California so after Monterey we headed over there. A San Francisco instructor, Jeff Greenbaum, was going to be there with a group so we could get a briefing on the site.

We got in two flights a day, about 11am and 5pm, avoiding the hottest part of the day when the thermals can get too strong (for us). I was happy to average about an hour per flight, some longer, some shorter. The thermals weren't that strong but it was a little rough. The locals call it the "Dunlap slap". I had a good sized asymmetric (one side) collapse which unusually didn't come out right away and I had time to look up and watch it. Having just come from our SIV clinic it wasn't too scary. I just went hands up, flew straight, and waited for it to open.

After the Sunday morning flight the other pilots left for the drive back to San Francisco and Shelley and I stayed for a couple more flights on our own. Thankfully, Greg, who lives at the site, was there to drive us up to launch.

I had my best flight Monday morning. It wasn't the longest flight time, but I managed to get up high above launch (6500 ft) and go across the valley. I hoped for some thermals out in the valley, but I didn't get anything more than a few bumps and it was just a long glide. It was funny because every time I would put on my speed bar (to cross quicker), then I'd get some bumps and let it off. I thought even if I didn't get any thermals across the valley, for sure the mountain on the other side would have some. But I just kept sinking. I still think there must have been thermals somewhere on that mountain, but I didn't find them. One of the other pilots had pointed out a possible landing area nearby so I kept that in sight as I crossed the gap to the next mountain. (I didn't have enough height at this point to make it back to the main landing area.) Thankfully, just after I crossed the gap I picked up a thermal and managed to climb back up to where I could easily make it to the main LZ. I probably had enough to climb back up to the main launch ridge, but it was getting a bit strong so I just cruised back to land. I was happy with my mini "cross country" (XC) flight. Any kind of flying is great, but I especially like the adventure of going somewhere rather than just flying around one site.

As I came in to land I realized I was going to be very close to the spot landing target, but I was a few feet too high. I pulled my brakes to flare and I was close enough that I reached out a foot and touched the target. However, that put me off balance and you can see the resulting stumble in Shelley's video of me landing. You can also hear me laugh at my own antics. At least I stayed on my feet!

I happened to record this flight and I pulled out a few clips to give an idea of the flight and the scenery.


  1. Nice blog Andrew! Sweet flight.
    That mountain is somewhat infamous for being generally disappointing. The one to the North, Granny's is usually more cooperative.
    Great landing!
    Fly on!