Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003
From: Peter Lawrence
Subject: Walts Launch, was: Bad launch techniques

there is that knife edge ridge to your right, that you typically want
to fly over to to get the best first thermal off launch. The wind will be
cross from the left at launch when there is a thermal cycling up over the
ridge to your right (sucking the air from the left) - this is the time to

If it is straight in, then the thermal has traveled up the ridge and is
now behind you, if you launch now you will fall out the bottom of it and
not get up, despite trying right in front of launch or going over to the
right where the knife edge ridge is.

If it is angling from the right then there will probably be a rotor from
the knife edge ridge on your right. The big mistake people prefering to
go left to get up over the switchbacks is to launch when it is cross from
the right (when there is a rotor possibility). Actually they should launch
when it is cross from the left also, and then go ahead and turn left.

The other thing is, as I said before, to keep your wings level in spite of
the cross wind, and nose pointed straight away from the cliff and not
angled into the cross wind. You need to be standing right on the edge of
the cliff, and your run must be down the cliff with wings and nose level,
not starting behind the edge and running across the flat ground to the
edge. Even on a no-wind launch the cliff is so steep that you cannot get
in more than three or four steps before you are lifted off the ground.

Don't try to pick up your glider and hold it steady until the wind is just
right - your arms won't last. Wait until the wind is steady and slightly
cross from the left, pick the glider up and only hesitate for as long as
it takes to determine that the glider is neutral, and then go for it.
The longer you wait, the more chance that the wind will pick up one wing
or the other and you'll try to overcompensate and angle the glider to
hold it up against the wind and you'll wear out your arms.

That Thursday before July-4th a woman was trying to launch and her boyfriend
was telling her to hold the glider up until the wind was just perfect, in
particular he was telling her to wait until the wind held up her glider and
it was weightless. This might work on a training slope, or at an ocean
breeze launch sight, but will rarely work at Walts. If it is windy enough
to hold your glider up weightless you've got a whole other set of problems
to worry about (ie its not going to happen on a regular day there). She
finally listened to me (and her boy friend finally figured she was going to
wear out before the wind was that strong and that steady, and we could both
see that she was quickly losing her strength, patience, and most importantly
her attitude), I told her what to do very calmly, and she had a perfect
launch. Despite saying that the plan was to just fly off, see the valley
from altitude, and go land, I watched her thermal way way up that knife
edge ridge (not part of the original plan, looked too intimidating at first)
before I went off to put on my own harness and launch too.

-Pete Lawrence.

>From: "Dan Schroeder"

>>(its weird, you always want to launch in a cross wind - but with
>>your wings even with the cliff rather than pointing into the wind, and you
>>must start your run at the edge of the cliff not behind it)
>I've only had one flight off Walt's, but it was a good one. I wasn't told
>about that launch technique either. Which direction should it be crossing
>from and what wind velocity is best? That launch seemed damn scary to me. I
>wondered why there wasn't a ramp on it?
>Thanks for the info,