Cloudless


Schedules and weather being what they are, I hadn’t been in the air for well over two months. There had been a few opportunities that I had passed up for various reasons, but Sunday came around looking reasonably favorable for a day of towing, and I wasn’t the only one who thought so. When I arrived at 11 AM there were already quite a few people setting up, and I didn’t waste a moment doing so myself. With reasonable care and diligence, as well as a little time to chat with other pilots, I was ready to go at 12:30 and put my wing in line at the SW end of the runway.

Flying had been going on since before I arrived, but not much in the way of soaring. It was the most solid blue sky I’ve ever seen, not a cloud in sight all day. It was quite warm, probably close to 90 F (at one point the thermometer in my car, parked in a grassy field in the sun, claimed 97 F), but it was hot all the way up, with the temperature at 6000 feet predicted to be nearly 60 F. As a result, it was very stable, with nothing going up or down.

We had a little bit of unwanted excitement when one of the pilots, flying a trike, came in for a landing and had a prop strike. Everybody looked up, and most went over to see if he needed help. He was fine, but not so much for his equipment. It turned out that the right rear axle had snapped on landing, with the wheel rolling away and the rest of the chassis dropping to the ground. We helped him roll the crippled ultralight back to the hangar area, where he broke down and assessed what repairs would be needed.


I believe we had 11 gliders waiting in line for a tow at one point, and Rhett was pulling them up as fast as possible. When I had moved up to second in line, there was a delay while he took the tug back to hangar for refueling and to deal with some other business. CT John B was waiting on the cart when Rhett was ready to go again. This was John’s third flight on his new Sport 2, and when Rhett came to hook him up, they discussed the conditions, which by that point (around 3 PM) had the potential to be a bit active. More of a concern, though, was the wind direction, which was tailing, and had been pretty consistently for a while. Rhett won’t tell you what to do, but he will drop hints, and he was kind of suggesting that it wouldn’t be ideal to take off with a tailwind, due to the unpleasantness of a downwind landing if there were a low weak-link break. The hint was taken, and John (and the rest of us) made the migration to the other end of the airfield. I had it easy since I was on deck, and my glider was therefore already on the other cart, so I pushed it down the taxiway and was the first to arrive.


Jon A and Mike A

We had agreed on a radio frequency, but since it didn’t really look like I’d be sharing the air with anyone else in these conditions, I didn’t bother to plug in my headset. My tow went quite smoothly in the easy conditions, feeling like I had better control of my position than usual. Perceptions from the air can be funny: at one point Rhett towed me very far to the west, so far that I could see that we were nearly at Quabbin Reservoir. Looking at my GPS track, I can see that it was nothing of the sort, we were less than a mile from the airfield, while the Quabbin is nearly six miles away. While on tow, I did see one very tiny, ratty-looking cloud, very far away.

I don’t know if John was still in the air when I got off tow, but I didn’t see him. My vario immediately started making unhappy noises as I started my inevitable sled ride. No thermals to be found, until I had lost at least 1500 feet of altitude, and I encountered some little bumps near the SW end of the airfield. I started working that “lift” as aggressively as I could, trying really hard to get centered in it and banking up tight to take advantage of the tiny bubbles. Circling for about ten minutes, I wasn’t going up at all, but at least I wasn’t going down. When even that zero sink softened up, I moved on and found another spot over the logged area near the NE end of the runway. This was lower down, and instead of just maintaining altitude, I was alternately climbing and sinking slightly, but still for no net gain. Still, better than just dropping.

Too busy wrestling with these subtle thermals to take any pictures, I finally lost enough that it was time to pack it in and land, which I did in a fairly unimpressive manner back down near where my car was. Flared late, but even tiny wheels help on mowed grass, so no harm done.


John B looks on as Pete J explainds something complicated to Ross L

flights: 1, airtime: 0:40

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Late sunset


In early July, sunset is still within a minute of two of the latest it gets all year. Although I had to work on the 5th, I left my wing on the roof of my car because I heard that Rhett would be towing. I left work an hour earlier than usual, and took a back-roads route to the airport. Most folks who had flown were already on the road home, but Lukas was still flying tandems, Matt C was on the cart waiting for a tow, and Pete J hadn’t left yet, so he came by to chat while I set up.

Matt was up and back down before I was even ready, and reported that he hadn’t really found any lift at all, though Rhett had towed him quite a ways looking for it. I didn’t mind, a flight is a flight and I just wanted some more towing practice, this time with no fin, so smooth air was A-OK, and I was ready to go a little after 6 PM. I had a little trouble right at the beginning when the cart wanted to veer left more strongly than I could correct it by bumping, so I came out a bit earlier than usual and was fine after that. I did have a couple of moments during the tow when I got off line and started oscillating, but I relaxed and let things settle down, and avoided getting locked out.


Rather than dragging me all over kingdom come in search of lift, Rhett took me just off the SW end of the runway and looked for the best spot. He pulled me up fairly high, and handed me some zero sink. I flew around gently for a little while, extending the sled ride and drifting toward the NE, then when it stopped helping I flew back toward the airport. Right about when I got there I found some light lift and cautiously circled. And circled. And circled. It turned on more when I reached the middle of the runway, and eventually got to be 300 fpm up. I patiently worked that climb for about 20 minutes, up to about 6000 feet, until the sun went behind a cloud bank and it shut down. I switched over to looking for other possible sources of lift, while flying fairly slowly to minimize my sink rate, and stretched it out as long as I could. Down at about 1000 feet, there was a shear layer and the smooth evening air got bumpier, but my landing was still sweet. Over an hour of airtime when I was anticipating a sledder, not too shabby.


Mt. Wachusett


Quabbin Reservoir

flights: 1, airtime: 1:03

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Purfuit of happiness


Plenty of places looked like they would work on Independence Day, but I had a hankering for foot-launched mountain flying, so since Ascutney was one of the candidates, I didn’t hesitate to head there. I arrived early enough that some of the rest of the crew were off checking out the LZ, so I scooted up the mountain, dropped off my glider and gear, and drove my car down to get a body ride back up.

Seven of us showed up, and only two, the beasts known as Jeff B and Mike H, carried everything out in one trip. Jake had a driver to help him, Ilya and Crystal did two trips sharing the load, I did two trips, and Kevin started with all of his gear, and then dropped the glider off and did two trips for the rest of the distance. I had expected a much bigger crowd, but the hike wasn’t such a popular idea on a warm day, so we had ample room for setting up (if the space at Ascutney can ever be considered ample). Jake was grumbling about the hike getting difficult (he has knee problems), and I was likewise thinking that it’s getting to be too hard to do solo, so I may look for somebody to share the carrying with next time.


The forecast had been for good lift and light winds, so we were a bit surprised when we got to launch and found it blowing pretty hard. Seemed to me that it might be the result of thermals (there were clouds forming over the summit), but it was pretty persistent. I had picked a spot near the back to set up, so I had some time on my hands, and I noticed that the windsock was there, but it was on the ground, not yet having been set up for the season. I asked Jake if I could provide some assistance in getting it up, and he accepted my offer though he cautioned me that it might be difficult. What’s required is to climb a spruce tree that has a pole lashed to it, then having the windsock on the upper part of the pole handed up, and lifting that upper pole (about eight feet tall) into position, and dropping it onto the lower pole. Sounds simple, right? But if the wind is blowing, you’ve got to fight with the fact that it wants to get blown back, while operating with very little leverage on the lower end, and holding onto the tree with just your legs. Kind of a solo Iwo Jima maneuver while doing a lumberjack pole dance. I managed to lean it forward, then wait for a lull, and let the wind stand the pole up for me while I quickly got the two pieces to match and dropped it into place. It worked on the second try. With all that, it looks small from launch, barely over the tree tops.

The cast of characters:

Jake


Jeff


Ilya


Crystal


Mike


Kevin

There were quite a few Fourth of July hikers out, hoping to see the crazy people fly. Jake went first, sort of hopping off of launch in deference to his knee issues. He didn’t climb as well as we were expecting, and when Jeff joined him, he wasn’t able to get a lot of altitude either. Next was Ilya, then Crystal stepped up as the wind turned pretty cross, so she had to wait a while for it to start behaving again. Mike was close to launch, but I was ready, so I went next, but by the time I got my wing up to the platform and straightened out my radio wires, Crystal was already in the LZ. Launch went well, and the next few moments were the highlight of the flight, as I seemed to have picked a good cycle and gained some altitude nicely. I headed up toward the ski area, where I had heard on the radio that the lift was ratty (though at least they were talking about lift up there). I flew through a few bumps on the way, nothing that felt like I could utilize. When that failed to pan out, I headed back hoping to get some lift over Rogers Rock, but I got there below the rock, so that was no good. I hit a nasty pocket of sink when I was fairly low over the trees, and I wasn’t in the mood for that sort of excitement, so I headed out over the fields.

Crystal had landed in Africa, which I knew would be tall weeds. The generally preferred LZ, Kansas, we had been warned was wet, and also was not yet mowed. But Jake had said that the hayfield across the road to the south was available as long as we could stay out of the way of the haying equipment. They had been working on the field through the day, and were largely done baling it, so I flew over there to see what the prospects were. There was, predictably, some lift coming off of it, so I did some circles, hoping to climb back up, but mostly wanting to not land in the field if it was still lifting off. Down to an appropriate altitude, I went on final, and found the air a bit bumpy down at ground level, until the bottom fell out before I was quite ready to flare. The result was a tolerable landing on my butt, and the wheels might have rolled instead of digging in if I’d had a chance to unlock them, but the nose didn’t go over. No harm done. For those of you who have never spent time around farms, a baling operation is a pretty cool thing. The tractor pulls the baling machine along the dried hay rows, it gets bundled up into a bale, which then pops up and out of the baler into the hay wagon, where the workers move it into position.

Mike landed in Kansas not long after, then Jake, and Jeff a while later. Kevin eventually joined Crystal in Africa, and Ilya was still in the air when Ryan arrived to drive us back around the mountain. Nobody got that high, and nobody was able to leave the mountain, though I think the longest flights were around three hours. But at Tanner-Hiller it was reportedly a terrific day, and likewise ten miles from where we were at Morningside, where Max towed up and went 50+ miles XC to Massachusetts.

flights: 1, airtime: 0:15

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Not the T-H swan song


Because we had finished the Greylock LZ work on Saturday, Sunday was available for flying. The simplest way to do that was to head to Tanner-Hiller for some towing. Word was that the airport had recently been sold, so it seemed possible that this might be the last chance to do so, although from what I hear the new buyers have in mind to keep operating it as an airport, perhaps with some increased activity that I’m hopeful won’t interfere much with hang gliding.

Noel was the only pilot there when I arrived, and he was fiddling with something on his glider, so I drove down to the SW end of the runway to set up. On the way, I picked up a fin from the hangar, because I hadn’t done any towing since last summer and I figured I should start out easy. By the time I was done setting up, the wind had shifted, so I got a cart and rolled my wing up to the NE end.

I went up first, as some other pilots (Pete J, Doug B, and Mark H, and a bit later John B) arrived and started setting up. I wasn’t too concerned about finding lift, and in fact I didn’t find much. Rhett dropped me off in some air that was barely rising, and I got less than 150 feet out of it before looking elsewhere, but there was nothing out there. When I was down to about 1000 feet AGL near the NE end of the runway, I started getting some beeping out of my vario, and started turning. I did about 20 turns, delaying the inevitable but not really climbing, until I had bled off enough altitude that it was time to land, which I managed to do nicely about 20 meters from where the tow had started, so I had a nice short walk back to the setup area.

After taking a break for about an hour, I went up for a second flight. This time I didn’t get much out of the climb that Rhett had brought me to, but I did find one nearby and was able to get up above tow height, and when that petered out, I got another that took me to about 650 feet above. I found zero sink up by the NE end of the runway again, and turned a few times, but not as much as before. This landing was even better (I got a compliment from Rhett), and it was directly across the runway from where I had started, 10 meters away (intentionally). Pretty close to a spot landing.

Mark landed great, too!

Two flights was enough for me, and I had enough time left to do some additional things in the evening after packing up.

flights: 2, airtime: 0:30, 0:45

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Installing an LZ


One of the most popular flying sites in these parts is Mt. Greylock, the tallest mountain in Massachusetts. Because the launch faces east, which is not the most common wind direction, there aren’t too many flyable days there, and when there is one, the place can be a zoo (because it’s about the only place that works in that wind direction). When I was first flying, the site was closed for a while (I think there was construction going on at the state reservation, and the whole place was shut down), and then last year, it closed again, because somebody bought the farm.

That’s not as bad as it sounds, because it’s not a euphemism. Somebody literally purchased the farm that included the field that was our bailout LZ, and the new owners were not amenable to our continuing to land there. Without it, it wasn’t practical to fly the site, because if you didn’t find lift, it would be very difficult to reach another field. Some local pilots worked with the state officials to find a new LZ, and they were successful, but it had one problem: it wasn’t a field. Oh, it had surely been one at some time in the past, but now it had a fine supply of large trees and other smaller vegetation

Now, pilots tend to be really fussy about this detail, we really like for the places where we land to be fields. For some reason we find it just too inconvenient to be busting our way through trees on final. So we did the obvious thing: we installed a field. With the appropriate permissions in place, a call went out for a work party to do some clearing. It had to be postponed due to rainy weather, but on the appointed day there was a remarkable turnout of pilots armed with gloves, loppers, chainsaws, bow saws, a tractor-pulled brush mower, and an excavator.

I don’t have any real “before” pictures, because you couldn’t see very far anyway, due to all the trees. Take my word for it, though, it looked like a pretty daunting task, and the two days of work that we had scheduled didn’t seem like they’d be enough. But as the morning went on, and more and more pilots kept arriving, the work kept happening faster and faster. We were charged with the task of cutting all trees over a certain diameter to chest height, and smaller ones and bushes flush with the ground. Small enough stuff could be left for the brush mower, and the larger stumps got pulled out by the excavator and buried. State regs didn’t allow for any wood to be removed from the site, so the larger tree trunks were cut into bite-sized pieces for burying. The state had bulldozed a road through the area (following an existing route) and we dragged anything that would fit to the edge of the road to feed into a chipper, with the resulting mulch dispersed across the field.



Those who weren’t in a position to do the physical labor found other ways to help out. Doughnuts arrived in the morning, and pizza later on. Eventually we reached a point where quite a few people were relaxing in the shade of the large willows at the edge of the field, because all that was left was chipping, and there were plenty of folks standing in line to feed wood into the chipper (we had to take breaks because the chipper was overheating). I left partway through the afternoon, because the mission had basically been accomplished, and there wasn’t enough left to do to warrant coming back the next day. (There was still a bunch of excavator work, but we had to leave Gary T to finish that up, because he only brought one excavator.)

I think it was the following day when a few PG pilots got to be the first ones to use the new LZ, and not too long after that, Gary did a solo flight with his tandem HG and was the first to land a hang glider there. It’s not the best LZ in the world (kind of oriented the wrong way and on the lumpy side), but it should be adequate, and anyone with the required rating to fly Greylock should be able to handle it. I’ll still be looking to get up and away and land at some more distant field, but having the new LZ there will make it work.

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Cape activities

There was chatter on the internet about the Sunday forecast looking good for Wellfleet, and when I mentioned that I might be going, Nancy said she’d be interested in coming along. Nancy has approximately zero interest in hang gliding, but the weekend had some potential to be appealing for her. She’s a big lighthouse fan, and there are a few she hasn’t seen yet. I was also planning to stay Saturday night with my friend George, which opened up the opportunity for her to sleep later than me, so that I could head up to get ready to fly by myself, and she and George could come to the beach later.

With an 11:20 AM high tide, the plan was to fly early. I woke up at 5, and was at White Crest by 5:45 and started setting up behind the building across the street using a headlamp when it was still fairly dark. When I was about ready, I went over to the beach side lot to chat with Jon A, Dave F, and Mark G, who had arrived a little later and were starting to set up. The wind was just about straight in, and there was plenty of it; at one point I measured 30 at the top of the bluff. There was some concern that it might be too much, and the forecast showed it continuing to build through the morning.

If conditions were really great, I was figuring that the more experienced pilots would help the newer ones launch, then we’d join them, having less need for ground crew. There had even been discussion of formation flying to the lighthouses. But with the concern that it might be too strong for some, Jon decided to go first. Since I was ready, I said I’d be right behind him, unless anybody else wanted to go and needed wire help. Jon opted to launch from a little way down the ramp, where the wind was a little lighter, and was soon on his way. Mark decided it was worth a try, and Scott B had arrived in the meantime, so we still had three pilots to assist Mark. Dave decided to wait and hope that conditions would get more civilized, and Scott wasn’t set up yet, so I went and got my wing.

We had additional assistance from a wuffo, who I put on my nose wires, and I went down to the same spot where Jon and Mark had launched from. I had a no-problem takeoff, and headed north. Having started a little low, it was a bit of work to get up, and I was at or slightly below the lip of the bluff for a while, where I found the air rather chunky, and I wasn’t having a lot of fun. Once I got up to Cahoon Hollow, I was able to get more altitude, and the air smoothed out. I had to fiddle with my cords for a while to get zipped (the ski gloves I was wearing didn’t make things easy), and I turned around just before reaching Doane’s Bog Pond.

Scott had asked for a signal to indicate how I felt about the air, and when I flew over launch, I gave a noncommittal gesture that kind of turned into a thumbs-down. But that was right around when I started to think that it wasn’t entirely the air that was the issue. I got a weird, slightly familiar sensation that I had experienced once before, as the glider decided to speed up on its own and go into kind of a dive. I had to push out on the control bar to keep it under control, which is not something that you usually do when flying at the beach. I glanced up to see if the nosecone was in place, and it was — more on that later.

It’s one thing to be dealing with an issue like this when you have a couple of thousand feet of altitude, but it’s a bit alarming when you have dozens of feet. I really didn’t want to be struggling with control like this somewhere that might result in a very long walk back, so instead of heading for a lighthouse, I made a quick decision to get it down immediately. Sometimes it’s difficult to lose altitude at the beach, but not in this case, the glider sank right through the lift band. Normally on final you pull in for a lot of speed, but I was actually pushing out to keep myself from cratering into the sand. I didn’t figure it was going to end well, and I did what I could to flare, but being mushed, it was hard to keep the wing level. I succeeded in protecting the pilot, and kept the glider out of the drink, so the loss of a downtube was a minor inconvenience.

Notice something in that picture: the nosecone is off. When I first landed, it was still attached at the bottom, but the velcro on the top surface had come loose and it was dangling. Because the previous time I experienced this problem was when the nosecone was missing entirely, I suspect that it had come loose, and despite the airflow that you might expect would keep it in place, it was letting enough air in to cause problems with the airfoil. Indeed, testing it out as I was breaking down the glider showed that the velcro was not sticking very well at all.  I’ll have to investigate whether it’s clogged with sand or fluff or something, or if it just needs to be replaced.

Dave carried my harness and helmet up, Scott helped me get the glider back to the parking lot (thanks, guys!), and George and Nancy arrived shortly after. No more flying for me with a broken downtube, so I packed up and we headed out. Dave and Scott did both fly later, as did John B, who arrived as we were leaving. At least one of the pilots made it to both lighthouses, so it was a great day. Since we had plenty of time left, Nancy and I made the most of the day, stopping by to visit some relatives on the way home.

And we did still see two lighthouses.

flights: 1, airtime: 0:10

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Late shift

The classic weather scenario for flying at Wellfleet is to get there when a nor’easter is approaching, and to take advantage of the winds before the precipitation starts. Chatter started late in the week about the prospects for Sunday, which was looking as good as you can hope for in January: ENE winds at about the right velocity, low tide in the afternoon, high tide not that high anyway (quarter moon), unseasonably warm, and it was a weekend, to boot. Okay, so the Patriots were also playing for the AFC Championship (home game, not too far away, in fact), and while that might have been a priority for some, I’d much rather participate in an activity than watch other people on TV.

I tend to not trust the forecast until it’s about time to go, but I did load up my glider the night before, so I was ready to head to the Cape in the morning. The way I was reading the forecast, I didn’t need to be in a big hurry to get there, because the wind was going to start out pretty cross and light, and I didn’t think we’d be flying until early afternoon, at least, so I rolled in at 10:30 AM. There were some pilots who had arrived as early as 7:15, I think, and even a while after that it was reportedly blowing from the SW. By the time I got there, it was pretty much N, and wasn’t even strong enough for the PG pilots to kite their wings. But it was pretty comfortable — I had seen 50F on the thermometer in my car shortly before reaching White Crest.

Often when I pull in, there are already wings in there air, but today, nobody was flying, and the picture below was all that was going on. I was haranguing the PG pilots, saying, “You’re doing it wrong! You have to point the wing that way, or none of us get to fly!”. (As if the wind responded to them, rather than the other way around.) There were already about 10 hang gliders set up, so I set about leisurely putting mine together as well. I thought about going for a trail run, but then I got a text from my old friend George saying he was on his way to watch the proceedings, so I stayed put so I could hang out with him.

The forecast said that the wind would clock around to the ENE, and right about the time that George got there, the direction abruptly changed, and a couple of PGs took to the air. When they managed to stick, all the rest of them made a stampede for the edge, and soon the sky was full of bagwings. Those of us with lawn darts had to wait around a bit longer, because there wasn’t yet enough velocity to keep us up. But as predicted, the wind speed built rapidly, and before too long a couple of PGs got blown back and landed in the bushes, and one almost got dragged across the parking lot. Perfect. There was really only about a 30 minute window when conditions were right for them.

A couple of the HG pilots were at Wellfleet for the first time, so we figured it was best to help them launch before it got too strong, and we queued them up while the PGs were still flying. (One of the more experienced pilots had gone out to launch a couple of times, but backed off because it seemed too light.) Launching at the beach isn’t really that hard, but it can be intimidating if you haven’t done it before, especially if you’ve watched a bunch of YouTube videos of people blowing it (because after all, those are the most interesting ones). Dave F was first, and after spending a while getting a feel for the ground handling and listening to advice from a half-dozen people (some of whom probably contradicted each other), he had a good launch, turned a little late… and sledded to the beach. We jogged down to give him a hand, and he asked what he had done wrong. Nothing, I told him, other than making it hard for himself to carry the glider back up the beach after landing by turning it away from the wind, and… WTF is that stench?! His other mistake was stopping right next to the rotting seal carcass (I took a picture, but I’ll spare you).

I think Mike A was next, and he got the same kibitzing treatment as Dave, but having had the opportunity to watch a launch, he was able to catch the lift band and soar, and he was followed by Dave on a second try, and he succeeded as well. I helped wire off a few other pilots, then went across the street to get my wing. By this point it was after 2 PM, and I decided to not bother with fussy details like hooking up my radio, I just suited up and had my friends assist me in getting back across the road. Straight in, wind felt good, I could control the glider easily, and people were soaring: no reason to futz around, I just took off immediately.

thanks for the awesome picture, Nancy!

Kind of a standard flight plan, I headed north as far as Newcomb Hollow, then flew back past launch and headed down to Nauset.

There were a few other wings ahead of me, and I was gaining on most of them, while maintaining more altitude, at least for a while. When we were approaching Marconi beach, I glanced away for a moment, and when I looked back, one of the gliders appeared to be on the ground, on top. Hmm, that’s unusual, but it looked like he was moving around. I saw that Jon was on his way back, so I continued on, figuring that he’d look to see if the pilot was okay, and when I was heading back from the lighthouse, I checked in on him as well. By that point he had started to break his glider down, and he gave me a thumbs up. I pointed toward Marconi Beach, in case he didn’t realize that that was the closest parking lot. He did in fact carry his gear over there, and hitchhiked back to launch.

The eastern shore of Cape Cod is constantly eroding, and has been for a very long time. Houses like this:

are in peril, and before long (a few years? a decade?) will be condemned and will fall off the cliff if they aren’t demolished first. That’s why this blew my mind:

It appears to be new construction, just a few yards from the crumbling sandy bluff. What is somebody thinking? They must be paying cash, because I can’t imagine any bank would lend money for a project like that. I can’t even understand how the town would issue them a building permit.

Anyway, shortly after that, I encountered a lesser disaster:

Another unplanned top landing, though this one resulted in some bent aluminum (but no injury). The beach can seem like a casual place to fly, but it does sometimes feel a need to show us who’s boss. I continued north to Newcomb Hollow again, when John B was hanging out really high up. I thought about trying to make the crossing, and in preparation got as much altitude as I could manage, about 370 feet, but not as high as John. Jon A showed up and went for it, and it looked like it was close, but he made it across. I made three tentative attempts at it, but the wind was getting pretty strong, and every time, it felt like I was really sinking fast. In my mind, I was getting about halfway before turning around, but the GPS track shows that I was really getting barely farther than the parking lot. I was also not really in the mood to land out and have to deal with getting back to my car. As it turned out, Ross and Stacy had been up to Highland Light and back, and Jon made it up there, but on the way back, he just fell out of the sky trying to cross Ballston Beach.

Stacy

I was flying the Ultrasport, because I had (correctly) anticipated strong winds, and I was glad to have the higher performance, although I never pulled the VG past 1/2, because it’s so hard to pull on that glider (compared to my U2). As I got the last of my airtime for the day, I spent some time just hovering in place, pointing straight out toward the water, and to move forward took quite a bit of bar pressure. When I’d had enough, I flew back to White Crest, used the low section of the bluff to escape from the lift, wrangled my way through the bumpy air down near the sand, and had a reasonably decent landing pretty close to the parking lot.

John B

Mark G

Usually there’s a dead spot at the base of the bluff, but the wind was picking up enough that Mark’s glider was sliding up the slope as he was breaking it down. I took my harness up first and brought my car over close to launch, then Kevin helped me carry my glider up the ramp. It was blowing so hard (somebody said 35 mph) that we had trouble putting it on my roof rack as we were getting mercilessly sandblasted. A good time to be done, as darkness was also approaching, and it started raining soon after I started homeward. I made it to Nancy’s house in time to catch most of the second half of the football game that I passed within about four miles of on the way (Patriots are heading for the Super Bowl). And so 2017 begins.

flights:1, airtime: 1:30

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