I had a great hang glider flight today. I launched from Crestline, 5,200 feet MSL and climbed a couple of thousand feet and headed to the west end of the ridge, 7 miles or so away. There I found a thermal that started out weak, about 150 FPM clmb rate, that solidifed and got stronger, eventually climbing at more than 800 FPM until I got to 11,200 feet MSL. I crossed Cajon Pass and I-15 to the east end of the San Gabriel Mountains, a little west of where I had gotten to last week. I found lots of sink, but poked around until I found another weak thermal that got good. I wanted to fly over Cucamonga Peak, ~8900 feet MSL, but wanted to be at 11,000 feet before making the last two mile jump. I only got to 10,500, and decided to head for the sharp ridge that comes off the peak to the northwest. When I got there I found massive lift, >1,000 FPM, and was soon at 12,000 feet, and getting cold. I looked at the peak of Mount Baldy a few miles away and deep in the craggy mountain complex, but decided I'd make my predetermined goal and head back home. Right over Cucamonga Peak there was strong lift, and I let myself climb to 13,700 (500 feet higher than my highest point last week) and the turbulence meant I was having lots of weightless moments. I headed back toward Glen Helen, home of Blockbuster Pavilion, and San Bernardino beyond. I decided to fly over my current residence to the southeast of Little Mountain before heading for the LZ. That was fun - I was about a mile AGL and could see my house and my brother's car and stuff. Landed at the LZ uneventfully after a two hour flight that covered at least 25 miles. It has been at least 10 years since I last did the Cuc-and-back run, and that was a day when staying at high altitudes required only being in a glider, unlike today, when it took being patient and working what lift could be found. It is really neat being two miles off the ground, seeing private planes way down below, and even looking down at the occasional jet airliner heading for Ontario or LAX. There were literally a couple of million people in my field of view, but only a handful of us were up in the wild blue yonder in direct touch with those awesome forces of nature (forgive me if I wax a bit poetic).

Before launching I went to my old place up near Crestline launch to see what was wrong with the weather station that uploads wind and weather data to the Crestline Soaring Society website every five minutes. It had been down since Friday morning, even though I phoned the neighbors Friday and they had gone in and rebooted the computer. My Ex is away on a trip. I had the neighbor go in with me. It seems the house sitter, who wasn't there, had accidentally unplugged the weather station when he plugged in a USB hard drive or something. I plugged the station back in and reset time, date, barometric pressure, etc. A few hundred hang glider and paraglider pilots in Southern California rely on the graph of the wind and weather data to tell whether Crestline is the place to fly on any given day. There's a webcam looking over the valley too. So I did my good deed for the day before flying, even though it is still very painful to visit my old home - I only moved out 5 weeks ago. The other neighbors, who bought the place since she couldn't make the house payment herself, have said that when she moves away, within the next six months, I'll be able to keep the weather station there in exchange for computer help. That seems like a more than fair deal. Our club will probably keep paying for the DSL connection in compensation, so everybody benefits.