Thanks for the suggestions, Red.
If there were flat LZ's about, I'd likely fly there. But then I'd not have learned what I have while flying at BWM.
Too bad there are NO sites around here that are flat. They all have hills and valleys and trees that can provide plenty of action. I merely keep my speed way up when I think it might be a little bumpy. Mostly it is active during the day. Sometimes it isn't (mostly evenings). On this flight, I made the mistake of not cutting the corner by the trees and shortening the distance to the landing hill. Otherwise, I would have landed higher up the hill with less turbulence from the surrounding features. If we launch in the afternoon, we better have a warm, fuzzy feeling that we'll be up until evening (I've done this once).
So far, landing pretty on a flat RLF is a walk in the park (again, most every LZ here is a RLF and/or well-rolling). When executed properly, landing at this LZ is very satisfying. I've never been thrown here, and if it is rough above the LZ, I can loiter at altitude until things settle down. Any possible surrounding outlandings are tight and hilly as well. We've done a bit of casual surveying to familiarize ourselves with outlanding options. Yes, it's a technical site, but gad darn, it is fun.
A few flights ago, a squall was moving towards my direction while I was at 2000 above launch. I didn't want to deal with it while in the air or hitting me while on the ground, so made the decision to immediately spiral all the way in to landing on the hill. A very bumpy, tense, less than four-minute rodeo-ride down from 2900' directly above the bubbling LZ to landing, all the while searching for sink. Directly from a steep spiral, I put her into a diving final straight into the uphill landing strip. Landed nicely, high on the hill, only to discover the squall had ceased. Seconds after the glider was bagged, though, we had some heavy gusting winds blow through.
Seems I land better on that hill when conditions are more active. Perhaps I'm more focused in those conditions. I don't allow myself to get low (unlike in this vid), and always initiate my final quite high and dive it in. I also like to mix my approaches, doing something slightly different each time for a varied practice. This was the first time I did two complete cc boxes, and approached from the west side of the LZ. Much of the time I do some figure-eights along the south road, then jam-in on final. If still too high, I have room to complete a quick S-turn or two.
Many pilots are intimidated by our LZ at BWM. Sadly, it keeps the traffic down. But when it's all ya got within two hour's drive for the wind direction, it ain't bad. Same with 'all' our other flying sites in VA and NC. Tight and/or hilly. Coming directly from LMFP's school as a brand-spanking new H2 with only 13 mountain flights, it was a major culture shock! The first few sled rides I was quite apprehensive before launch, and the flights were white-knuckle rides into the LZ, but they all turned out to be non-issues with good landings. That's where all my outstanding mentors came in to play.
Ya gotta have good mentors, you new pilots! Don't go it alone. Two mentors are way better than one. Three are even better. Yes, they all may have different ways of doing specific things, but then you have more tools to choose from. Do your darnedest to accrue brownie points with them all. Offer to drive for them (for free) when they do a XC (ya better have HG-sized padded roof racks good and ready on your 4x4 - if not, beg to use their vehicles). T'would be very beneficial to get your HAM license. Offer to take them out to lunch. Your treat. Chop up or purchase firewood and bring it to the site for the evening's festivities. They'll all love ya for it! Above all, be intelligent, friendly, and bring a can-do attitude. And don't be a launch potato! Study study study!
Last September I went to Blue Sky to practice some flat land stuff. What a pleasure! Wide open spaces, billiard-flat, nicely-grassed facility at 51' msl. Even with the 'chunky' conditions, Steve and his site made me look good.
The vario (6005) I have is set to the most sensitive settings. I can move it up or down less than one foot and it reacts almost immediately. I was reading the vario merely to spout off numbers for the vid. I probably should limit the workload to better work the lift.
The ridge lift was waning as the flight continued. I was trying to get every last drop of lift with my newbie-powers, and when the bubbles and thermals didn't present themselves, I was not getting much lift at all from the ridge. I've been told that ridge lift is ok to about 250' in those mild conditions. The GPS ground speeds indicate roughly a 6 - 8 mph WNW breeze while I was working the lift near launch in the later half of the vid. That isn't gonna give much ridge lift. Just after my landing, another good pilot, who had come for a wonder-wind flight and just arrived after a two-hour drive, tried to launch into the weakened conditions and didn't get anything but a sledder.
ok. I'll have to try Plan C.
Red, thank you for all your suggestions! The more the better, even if I may counter a bit.
I've learned much from your site as well.