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Santa Paula

  • 1121 views
By Ken
  • 17 of 22
Santa Paula

Arriving at Santa Paula - SZP 30 - 40 mph headwinds!

Comments

  • Ken

    Latest report in - XCtriker topped magic mountain at Valencia with a 11 mph ground speed, now up to 51 and headed for the splendid accommodations at Barstow Dagget.

  • Peter D.

    Good thing you have a large gas tank! Looks like you have about an hour to go just to reach Santa Paula!

    I have to talk with you about how to handle such strong winds. I fly out of Santa Paula and I stay on the ground with much lower winds than that.  I have to get more flying in, but always worry not about the winds aloft as much as what they will be like on the ground and that I will be in situations I cannot handle. hats off to you.

  • XC Triker

    Hey Peter,

    I like your statement (New Year's Resolution?! ;) to tell life to slow down and that you need to do more flying, especially with us.  Call me this weekend about the flying conditions.  I will say that all too often doing long XC, especially with others waiting for you (in this case Jim to be picked up at SZP, and the guys/gals at Havasu) has the risk of a certain amount of "get-there-itis."  A known killer.  If I did not have to pick up Jim, I would have, and probably should have skipped SZP.  I would not have re-taken off into those conditions had I not just experienced that although the winds were exceptionally high (30-40), I was able to maintain a level of control I was comfortable with.  Additionally, although I expected a HUGE gradient near the ground (had the bar all the way in and power moderately high in preparation- it was not really there).  Given what happened after take off, I would not do that again at SZP-  actually the take off was very smooth, especially with the extra weight of a passenger-  in fact, I messaged Ken (while Jim was on the controls) that everything was great, we were listening to Low Rider (ala Ken's latest / greatest movie).  However, it was about 3-7 miles later and ~ 3k' all the way up to 7500' that we wrestled with the winds and turbulence trying to climb above it as it rushed into / poured down into (ie sink) into the SZP valley.  After we took off, a pilot who was in the pattern (ie others were flying), mentioned that he had seen my earlier landing and came out to watch expecting it to "be interesting!" but that I had done a great job.

    Likewise, on returning, the winds were less at ~25, but surprisingly the turbulence was sharper.  Jim (ever the optimist) wasn't enthused about me dropping him off at Camarillo (a larger, wider, more open airport) to get a ride back to SZP  (get-there-itis again).  The landing went well again though.  As usual ground handling was the harder part-  I rechecked the weather as we refueled and the wind was scheduled to increase.  I debated hard about take-off again vs waiting till nearer to dusk for the 1 hour flight home.  Jim polished his motorcycle for a few horus in the hangar rather than riding in the winds.  However, again we had just flown for an hour all the way down the valley sampling the conditions and landing was still within the appropriate margins of control.  Furthermore at the coast (a few miles west) and all the way home winds were reported as L&V.  Therefore, I made the decision to take-off into it (rationalizing somewhat that take-off was less critical than landing-- but knowing that take-off was optional & a landing was then mandatory).  Anyway, I had Jim sit side saddle on the trike holding the d-bars for better ground control (especially in the rotor between the hangars).  I then tested my own ability to control the wing solo on the ground to line-up with the runway- and actually it was no problem.  I took off 4 without difficulty, considered turning L to go downwind rather than the R pattern nearer the hills, but turb was not too bad and indeed it abated quickly by the coast and was a nice smooth flight all the way home to nice conditions.

    Further, some airports are OK in windy conditions (like my home airport, wide, long, out in the flats, and some are nasty in winds, or from certain directions (Oceano, SZP, etc).  Typically when I go XC, I leave the ending points open-- this reduces get-there-itis-  we go where we can go easily & safely, and discover new places we may not have even expected to land.  In flight weather ability is critical to being able to do this as is an absolute solid knowledge of your fuel range in conditions.  Thanks for the additional post on weather tools in the cockpit by the way.

    There is also a certain level of comfort to be gained from experience-- both long distance trying to understand and deal with conditions/turb, as well as experience / practice in landing in less than perfect conditions.  Way too often conditions are not as predicted-- you have to plan that that will be the case- do not plan your XC based on the expectation of tail winds and great landing conditions for the whole flight-- even if (especially if?) predicted.  I also like to practice at Oceano as conditions increase to go up to an appropriate comfort level with difficult landings--  this obviously involves a certain amount of discomfort (perhaps 90% fun / challenging, 10% this is not so fun flying in these conditions-- it should be 0% dangerous though--  there's no reason to train in dangerous conditions.  Plenty of reason to train in uncomfortable conditions.)  You can do the same at SZP.  Make it only 1% not fun if you like, but I would say, certainly experience some discomfort-- as I'm sure you have.  It's all a personal thing- one persons percentage will differ from another's.

    So ...  in the end, there's lots going on, lots to think about and the over-riding thought should always be that THIS IS FOR FUN!!