Flight: Spain, Andorra: The Virtues of Stupidity / La Virtud de la Estupidez

Castellano abajo.

It wasn’t a day that I would have imagined I could fly. Thunderstorms roared up in a continuous formation off the Pyrenees, sinking slowly south as the afternoon progressed. In the period after the storms moved on, the sun surprisingly came out, though the air was humid and opaque, which meant that it wasn’t worth chasing photographs.

As the afternoon entered into evening, I got the fanciful notion to head into the edge of the Pyrenees, to view some of the puffy cumulus clouds hanging around on the ridge, a sort of idyllic sea of clouds and mountains, where I didn’t need to venture into them, merely looking at them from the edge.

Intuition said not to do it. Naivety said to hop in the plane.

So, as one would logically expect of an intelligent, experienced pilot, I took off.

Reaching 10,000 feet, the stationary cumulus clouds were giving off some odd characteristics, along with more turbulence than I was in the mood for. Yup, this probably was a bad idea. [continues to climb]. Reaching 10,500 feet, I proceeded a bit north, noting what was an overcast cloud deck parked against the ridge in Andorra. Oh, and there were the lenticularis clouds at 40,000 feet indicating mountain waves. Whatever… “those are over there, not here. Besides, the tow pilot said it was fine when he went up.”

As I approached 11,000 feet, I noticed what looked like cloud wisps forming off the ridgelines here and there. “Oh how pretty. I have seen this in America many times.” [Intuition: “this is really bad and I am probably screwed.”][keep flying] Then I noticed that my groundspeed was very, very slow, meaning there was a lot of wind. Zooming in on the “cloud” formation below me, I noticed with the zoom lens that it was blowing snow. Nice. Then I looked along the whole ridge, and all of it was blowing snow.

I then decided I had an opportunity. “It’s probably stupid to be up here, but I am here already, and at least the air is tranquil.” [look right: mountain waves, left: blowing snow, forward: clouds doing weird things, behind: clouds doing differently weird things] I took some photos, until I ran into some descending air, then decided to get the Sam hell out of dodge.  Yikes. There is only so much stupidity I can take in one dose.

The escape route was around a bunch of mysterious clouds doing weird things (read: rotors), over the valley away from the waves, and in the safe, loving arms of Cadí-Moixeró, a 1500’ wall of rock that acts as a windbreak. Then I descended down into the valley, only to find on landing that the weather had changed, the humidity had been blown away, and the wind was blowing strongly out of the north, a telltale sign to not go precisely where I just went. Figures.

For the record, none of this nonsense was on the forecast. Such is mountain flying.

No fue día normal que pensaría volar. Fueron tormentas en la tarde, formado de los Pirineos y se movieron al sur lentamente como progresó el día. Después que salieron las tormentas, el sol se presentó con excepción que el aire fue muy mojado y mal para fotos.

Cuando pasó la tarde al anochecer, tuve la idea pasar al lado de los Pirineos, mirando en la dirección de Andorra a una mezcla gran de nubes y cumbres, sin la necesidad actualmente volar adentro las montañas.

Intuición dijo “no.” La ingenuidad dijo volar.

Como alguien lógicamente concluiría de un piloto inteligente y experimentado, despegué.

Logrando a 10.000 pies, las nubes cúmulos tuvieron características extrañas, con más turbulencia que quise. Sí, esto es mal idea. [sigue subiendo]. Alcanzando a 10.500 pies, pasé al norte un poco, notando un techo de nubes en un lado de la cordillera, con lenticularis a 40.000 pies, lo que indican olas de montaña. “No importe, el piloto de remolque indicó que todo fue bien.”

Finalizando a 11.000 pies, di noticia que apareció que hay nubes formando en las cumbres en varios lugares. “He visto esto en los Estados Unidos tantas veces. ¡Qué bonito!” [intuición: “esto es muy mal y probablemente estoy puteado.”][sigue volando] Así entonces, fue evidente que mi velocidad actual fue muy lento, indicando la presencia de mucho viento. Con la cámara de enfocar, miré a los “nubes” abajo y lo que pensé fueron nubes actualmente fue nieve, moviendo en el viento como polvo. Qué bueno (estúpido?). Miré a la cordillera que es la frontera de Andorra y España, y todos tuvieron nieve que sopla.

En este momento, decidí que fui en posesión de una oportunidad. “Es obvio que es estúpido volar aquí ahora, pero ya estoy aquí, y al mínimo, el aire está tranquilo.” [mirando al derecho: olas, izquierda: nieve que sopla, adelante: techo de nubes, atrás: nubes moviendo extrañamente]. Tomé algunas fotos, y salí rápidamente. Hay una cantidad de estupidez que puedo aguantar y ya está.

La ruta de escape fue adentro las nubes extrañas (=rotores), sobre Bellver hasta lograr a los abrazos amables de Cadí-Moixeró, una pared de 500m vertical de rocas que sirve como bloqueador de viento. Descendí por La Cerdanya, aprendiendo durante aterrizaje que el tiempo había cambiado, ahora sin aire mojado y con viento fuerte al norte, que es señal famosa no volar precisamente en lugar que acabo de volar.

Esto es volar en La Cerdanya.

Puigpedrós 2.912m
Mountain Waves (1 of 11)

Are these clouds forming?
Mountain Waves (2 of 11)

Nope – that’s blowing snow.
Mountain Waves (3 of 11)

More blowing snow. It was granular, frozen stuff, not powdery, so that is not a good sign about the wind speed.
Mountain Waves (4 of 11)

A little bit of unwanted descent. The shadowed knoll in the center right is the convergence of the borders of Andorra, France, and Spain.
Mountain Waves (5 of 11)

It is inadvisable to go in there.
Mountain Waves (6 of 11)

Puigpedrós, with mountain waves. Time to get the hell of out Dodge.
Mountain Waves (7 of 11)

The way out is through these sneaky clouds doing weird things.
Mountain Waves (8 of 11)

Cadí-Moixeró with Pedraforca hiding behind, and the receding thunderstorms behind it.
Mountain Waves (9 of 11)

Cadí producing some clouds – even better.
Mountain Waves (10 of 11)

Snowshoe paths.
Mountain Waves (11 of 11)

Flight: Spain: Castellon de la Plana, Delta de l’Ebre

This is a real image. Story further down.

These are the images missing in my April blog post. I intended to fly to Morocco and the whole thing went to pot. As is customary, these are the images not on the AOPA post.

Estos son los imágenes que faltan en mi AOPA post de abril. Intenté volar a Marruecos y el plan entero se falló. Cómo normal, estos son los imágenes que no están en AOPA.

One way to deal with the inversion…..fly above it!
Castellon (1 of 49) Castellon (2 of 49) Castellon (3 of 49)

A bit hazy, but not too bad. Staying high up as terrain inclines in a few miles.
Castellon (4 of 49)

I have a better idea of how this road could have been laid out.
Castellon (5 of 49) Castellon (6 of 49)

Aqueduct under the highway.
Castellon (7 of 49) Castellon (8 of 49)

The weather went hazy, my new camera battery is empty and despite the fact that its the same size as my other camera’s batteries they are not compatible, and the headwind is absurdly strong. I am very pissy at this point.
Castellon (9 of 49)

Back to the old camera….
Castellon (10 of 49)

Evidence of the silly wind.
Castellon (11 of 49)

Diverting to Castellon de la Plana instead of Teruel as planned. Yup, this is going well.
Castellon (12 of 49) Castellon (13 of 49) Castellon (14 of 49)

By the coast. Haze is gone. Note Delta de l’Ebre on the horizon.
Castellon (15 of 49)

What the hell is this?
Castellon (16 of 49) Castellon (17 of 49) Castellon (18 of 49)

Penis. If this becomes all I am ever recognized for, I am fine with that.
Castellon (21 of 49)

Penis Cola? I prefer Pepsi…
Castellon (20 of 49)

Peñíscola. Note the Tilda and accent. That is the *proper* spelling, though someone decided to build a whole structure with it misspelled. Actual penis label lower center left.
Castellon (19 of 49)   Castellon (22 of 49) Castellon (23 of 49) Castellon (24 of 49) Castellon (25 of 49)

After seeing the penis sign, I am unsure what this is supposed to mean.
Castellon (26 of 49) Castellon (27 of 49)

The next morning….now on the way back. If someone tells you that they have a “villa in Spain” at a cocktail party, it probably looks like this. Don’t be impressed.
Castellon (28 of 49) Castellon (29 of 49)

Castellon (30 of 49)

Delta de l’Ebre
Castellon (31 of 49) Castellon (32 of 49)

Salt ponds. 
Castellon (33 of 49) Castellon (34 of 49)

Driving in circles…..
Castellon (35 of 49) Castellon (36 of 49) Castellon (37 of 49)

Ebre River entering the Mediterranean…
Castellon (38 of 49)

What is this? Cambodia?
Castellon (39 of 49)
Castellon (40 of 49)

Obviously not on the coast anymore.
Castellon (41 of 49) Castellon (42 of 49) Castellon (43 of 49) Castellon (44 of 49) Castellon (45 of 49) Castellon (46 of 49)

Castellon (47 of 49)

Panta de las Baells. There is supposed to be a left accent on the ending a in Panta. The cat sprayed on my keyboard, and Microsoft only sells this model in Spain with Spanish keys and I can’t find the damn left pointing accent mark! It must be a conspiracy by the Spaniards against Catalunya (left accents are only in Catalan). 
Castellon (48 of 49)

El Pedraforca – symbol of Catalunya. Since this is largely a penis-themed blog post, I haven’t decided if Pedraforca is the grand middle finger or grand erection of Catalunya…..
Castellon (49 of 49)

Flight: Spain: La Cerdanya & Cadí-Moixeró in Infrared

I can’t help it – infrared is too exciting to go back to my horribly dull and pedestrian visible spectrum images. This post is two flights on one day: a mid-day attempt at some imagery over the ridge, along Cadí-Moixeró and around Cerdanya. I am told that IR photography is best during the middle of the day, and after three flights, it is evident that is flatly incorrect, at least as far as my style is concerned. Late evening light is absolutely incredible. I threw a few visible spectrum images in for comparison. Neither flight would have been worth taking with a regular camera, as the haze level has been very high.

El infrarrojo es demasiado interesante. Por eso, espero con mostrar las imágenes visibles, y procedo con más de la aventura infrarroja durante el proceso disfrutable de aprender como tomar fotos con espectro que no puedo ver.

Over the ridge looking into the Pre-Pyrenees on a very hazy day.
IR2 (1 of 17)

And this is the visible image. Again, dealing with two cameras so the images are slightly off as I swap in flight and reline up. I also have come to notice that 18mm in both lenses (one is 18-55, the other 18-135) is quite different.
IR2 (2 of 17)

Cadí-Moixeró. Note the sepia tone both in sky and on some of the ground. After extensive deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that the sepia tone on the ground is soil as opposed to rock, of which happens to reflect the same wavelength in IR as the sky, and the camera is seeing it as sepia.
IR2 (3 of 17)

Cadí-Moixeró from above. These are the mid-day images, which are not so hot. One may wonder why the snow reflects sepia. In the Pyrenees, it does not. I suspect it has something to do with accumulated dust and soils mixed in the snow. 
IR2 (4 of 17) IR2 (5 of 17)

Evening flight – Prats, taken during takeoff.
IR2 (6 of 17) IR2 (7 of 17) IR2 (8 of 17)

Notice how the clouds reflect less than grassy fields.
IR2 (9 of 17) IR2 (10 of 17) IR2 (11 of 17) IR2 (12 of 17)

Visible spectrum – for good measure. I have to do quite a bit of work to post process the visual images, where I do very little work on the IR, if anything at all. One may note that the visible image really isn’t dynamite – I would not have gone up given the haze count, even in the evening after the thunderstorms blew through.
IR2 (13 of 17) IR2 (14 of 17)

Entering the traffic pattern…
IR2 (15 of 17)

Final approach – Riu Segre.
IR2 (16 of 17)

Oh for God’s sake put the damn camera away and fly! Sanavastre on the right.
IR2 (17 of 17)

Flight: Spain: La Cerdanya in Infrared / en Infrarrojo

Castellano abajo.

I am interrupting my crazed need to post images in the relative order taken to show off my latest toy: an infrared camera! It’s a process to get the existing camera converted, as some internal optics need to be replaced, focus calibrated, and white balance settings toyed with. That all done, along with paying fascist import fees and a bunch of other rigmarole, it came in yesterday and I tested it today in the airplane.

We can’t see infrared, that is obvious. The camera can, though it has to convert it to something visual for us to see. It usually comes off the sensor as some hideous tinted red, of which is overridden by the camera white balance settings to make it fairly close to white. In the end, my presumption is that I am getting a binary image. White = IR, black = no IR. The result is very Ansel Adamsesque.

It has the added effect of seeing through haze. For anyone paying attention, I rant about it rather frequently, so now I have a tool to photograph on days that otherwise would be labeled crappy. This I proved today, going up with tons of glare, haze, and bleached lighting. The IR perspective eviscerated the disagreeable parts.

White balance off the camera presents the sky a tinge sepia. Some images I keep it, some I don’t. I am still making up my mind.

You’ll observe many interesting facts about IR. Roads absorb as opposed to reflect. Deciduous grasses and trees reflect most of it. Pine trees and shrubs reflect only some. Tilled soil reflects a small amount. Rivers and Spanish roofs reflect almost none. Clouds reflect a decent amount, though not as much as foliage.

Estoy cambiando mi proceso de publicar fotos en el orden tomado para mostrar mi juguete nuevo: una cámara de infrarrojo. Es un proceso específico para convertir la cámara, exigiendo cambios de vidrios y otras cosas para llegar a una foto bueno de IR. Ayer llegó la caja de los EUA, y hoy día tuve la oportunidad probarlo en el avión.

Es obvio que no vemos infrarrojo. La cámara tiene que convertir lo que ve a algo que podemos ver. Normalmente, sin modificación, es una imagen terrible lleno de tinto rojo, lo que está corregido por balancear el blanco. Con esto, el resultado es más o menos blanco y negro, de estilo Ansel Adams.

Tiene el efecto de ver por la calina, un sujeto que siempre estoy gritando de una forma u otro. Ahora, días que normalmente estarían puteados pudieran tener buen éxito. Probé esto hoy, con resultado satisfecho.

Observarán algunos efectos de IR: calles absorban IR en vez de reflejar. Hojas caducas y hierbas reflejan casi todo, mientras pinas son en medio, y suelo fresco aún menos. Techos españoles (o és millor dir catalans?) y ríos absorban casi todo. Las nubes reflejan bien, pero no tanto como visual.
Riu Segre is black. Bellver in the distance.

A little bleaching, though it would make sense that the hill is uniformly reflecting high IR content. In color, its more varied.
IMG_8149 IMG_8158 IMG_8166 IMG_8175

Puigcerdà in the distance. République Français on the horizon.

Between Das and Urús. I am leaning toward keeping the sepia horizon – as it comes off the camera.

Bellver de la Cerdanya

Note upper right – a little bit of snow. At least that reflects nice and white. Looking forward to winter already. 4.5 months til first mountain snows!

Lower Cerdanya. In a visible image, road is bright, everything else is dark. IR is inverted.


Looking down the runway – center of image. / Mirando al aeródromo, al centro de la imágen.

Visible image from separate camera compared to IR. Post processed as best I could. Very hazy day.
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