Sledders to the beach


The chatter on the NEPHC Flyline said that people were heading to Wellfleet, and the forecast looked pretty reasonable to me, so I called in to work and said I’d work on Saturday instead of Friday, and headed for the beach.

There were about 10 PG pilots there throughout the day, with a wide range of skill levels, from wizards who could cruise by, hover over a buddy, and tap him on the helmet with a foot, to one guy who spent well over an hour on launch without ever really inflating his wing (I think he was learning to build a wall or something). A bunch of PGs were in the air when I arrived, and they were generally staying up.

Not so good on the HG side, though. I was the only HG pilot who actually flew, though Phil A. also showed up and assembled his glider, but never took it out of the parking lot. The problem was that the wind was nice and constant at about 12 mph, and at least for someone with my skill level, that’s not quite enough to soar. Most of my glider’s airtime was as shown in the picture, with me holding onto the nose wires. I had seven sledders to the beach, two of which lasted long enough for me to make one turn. Six landings on my feet, and one on my belly after successfully following the two cardinal rules of flying at Wellfleet:
1) Do NOT, under any circumstances, land in the water.
b) Don’t run into the big stick thing.
I had gotten myself into an inadvisable spot where I was on the wet side of the big stick, and I managed to avoid it and not go in the drink, but once I got out of that situation I didn’t have it together enough to flare. No big deal, just felt a little stupid.
A day like this builds character! Umm, yeah! Seeing as how this was my first time flying at the beach, I had the opportunity to learn a bunch of things:

    The high-tide thing isn’t as much a problem as I had expected, because there’s virtually no wind at the base of the bluff, and you can land parallel to it.

    Hall wheels aren’t so great in sand, because they seize up, but they do keep the control bar off of the abrasive surface.

    The trick that Tom told me about kiting the glider up the slope works pretty well once you get about halfway up, and it helps to hold the glider up high so it will catch the breeze.

    Ground-handling a glider in 12 mph laminar air isn’t too bad. But it may be that if it’s easy to handle the glider and launch without help, then there isn’t enough wind to stay up.

The wind was predicted to pick up, but it never did, and eventually it started swinging to the south, so we packed up and headed home. Finally managed to fly (such as it was) in the state where I live, which gets me up to six sites in six different states.

flights: 7, airtime: 0:08

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About cleversky

Hang glider pilot in New England since 2004. Also an avid orienteer, and an embedded systems firmware engineer. And some other outdoor stuff.
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