732 Placida STORM CLOUDS ARE A RISING

Notice the budding storm cloud lit by the sunrise

I woke before the alarm and was on my way by 5:00am. Arrived at the field an hour ahead of the other guys. The mosquitoes were thick and it was 78 degrees and humid.  I had been watching the lighting off to the North since leaving the house and encountered a small rain showers just past Jobean bridge.  The guys arrived at 6:15 and we were ready to fly by 6:30.
There was a storm cloud NorthWest and Bob suggested that we fly around it to the South.  I thought the beach was closer than that and when he said that the cloud was between us and the beach, I pretty much decided that I wasn’t going to the beach.  

Mike and Bob launched about 5 minutes ahead of me into very light breezes from the Southwest and headed off directly at 300 feet or so to the south.  I launched and stayed near the patch climbing to to 1200 feet.  Instead of chasing after the guys I took in the sunrise and the beautiful clouds over Punta Gorda.
Rain clouds forming  6:45

Thunder head building (looking southwest). 7:00 am

10 minutes later!
About 10 minutes into the flight I saw lighting in the north and rain coming down hard.  I wasn’t sure but the storm was possibly heading toward the LZ and I didn’t want any part of it.  So,  I went to idle and descended to land.  The air was smooth with lots of lift..  My best descent was well under 300 feet / minute and The whole time I was watching the rain moving toward me. At 200 feet there was a layer of bumps but the landing was very smooth.  Thinking I was about to get soaked, I bagged the wing and prepared to stash it in the cab.  As it turned out the storm passed to the North and the wind never picked up.  I stood around and listened for the sound of two strokes between the thunder claps that were 5 seconds away,  thinking about the old adage, ” It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than, in the air wishing you were on the ground”.   Forty five minutes later Mike and Bob returned from a great beach flight.  DAMN!
I’m wondering how the  lack of elevation changes change the way I perceive distances?  Or is it just that these particulars storms were small and localized. Or both…. I should have been better able to predict the storm’s path.  It was flowing with the ocean breeze toward the Northeast.  
This is a great place with lots of open space and the streets are laid out beautifully for triking.  I’m going to return soon. 

Author: JoeO

Powered Paraglider pilot since 2005

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