Peter Pan

[ Amused Mood: Amused ]
I had agreed to help the mother of my 5th-grade friend Stephen (see Shoebox Diorama) with some yard work one morning this weekend, and the best day for her schedule was Saturday. That put a constraint on the early part of my day, because I couldn’t head out until about 11:30 AM. And on the other end of the day, I absolutely had to be back by 7 PM, because Stephen and his sisters were performing in a production of Peter Pan (he as a Lost Boy, the girls as Indians), and my elderly parents were also coming. Add in a couple of hours of driving each way, and that didn’t leave much time for flying. One thing I wanted to accomplish was picking up my Falcon from Morningside after having an annual done. So I drove up there and got it, but I also brought the Mark IV, because I figured that I should really get in more launches and landings with it to get used to the idiosyncracies of the wing.

The day didn’t start out too well, because first of all, I realized just after spreading the wings that my tie-down was in the car. I trotted over to get it, and by the time I got back, the glider (with big wheels on it) had started to blow away, but one of the instructors grabbed it. Then when I went to put on the nose cone, I got the tail too high, and the breeze flipped it right over onto the kingpost. It was a clean roll on the nose, and three other pilots rushed over to give me a hand, so no harm was done, but I felt like a dope.

The weather turned out better than a lot of people had figured, perfect cumulus sky, and blowing straight in at a reasonable speed. There were maybe eight gliders out (plus a couple of students who were just finishing up a lesson when I got there), and it was strong enough that the ATV drivers were hanging around at the top of the hill to wire the pilots off. As a result, things were moving kind of slowly. I drove for a couple of trips, and we started shuttling gliders up the hill faster, letting the arriving pilots serve as wire crew while the drivers went down for the next pickup. The wind backed off around that time, and next thing we knew everybody was up at the 450′ launch, including all of the instructors.

Most of the pilots were getting extended sled rides, though if anybody really good had been there, I think conditions were adequate that they could have climbed out. I was near the end of the line, and when I got out on launch, the wind just petered out. I didn’t have to wait too long, just a few minutes, and it picked up enough to get going. I didn’t want to wait for it to get really good, because I had set myself an absolute deadline of 4 PM to start breaking down, in order to be able to get to the theater on time, and it was getting close to 4. A simple sledder would suffice.

I launched well, ran all the way down the ramp, and felt a bit of lift as I headed away from the hill. Turning left, I started to climb — yeah! A couple of figure-8s and I was able to get above launch and flew back toward the ramp. I was very entertained to see all of the instructors looking up and wildly gesturing in circles over their heads, encouraging me to try and circle in the lift. I was still too close to the trees to do that comfortably, and when I did get a little higher, about 130 feet over, and tried it, I wound up going over the falls pointing toward the hill — yikes! I had enough altitude cushion, though, and was able to swoop out without clipping any foliage. I continued to milk it for a few more passes, and then came in for a pretty good landing, not right on the bullseye, but reasonably close, and with an acceptable flare. Just about six minutes in the air, which I’ve only exceeded at Morningside twice before. And my watch said 3:59, just in time to pack up and head out.

At that point, I had had the best flight of the day, though another pilot shortly afterward got 1000 feet over launch and stayed up for a while. In addition, as I was packing up there were two less pleasant events. One pilot got caught in a thermal cycle that switched the wind direction as he was setting up his landing, and whacked it in downwind, breaking a downtube. I ran over to him and determined that he was unhurt, and helped him get unclipped and carry the glider back. The other was a very experienced pilot who tried to do one more 360 than he really had room for, and disappeared behind the berm at the edge of the pond. He was in a steep bank, and it looked to me like he was going to catch a tip in the water and cartwheel across the field. He popped back up over the berm and landed okay, but sure enough, his left wingtip was all wet. Yikes! It would have made for an awesome piece of video if anyone had been filming, but it’s not the kind of thing I’m looking forward to seeing in real life again!

I hit the road and drove back with both gliders on my ladder rack. I had figured that this should work okay, but this was the first real test, and it was absolutely fine, you don’t even notice that there’s anything on the roof. And the car still gets about 30 mpg even doing 70-75 on the highway.

I made to the theater in plenty of time, and the show was quite fine. This is Peter Pan, a show which traditionally involves aerial special effects.

      I’m flying
      Look at me way up high,
      Suddenly here am I
      I’m flying
      I’m flying
      I can soar
      I can weave and what’s more
    I’m not even trying

Only enough time for one flight today, but I still got more airtime than the kid on the stage with the wire attached to his back. thumbsup

flights: 1, airtime: 0:06

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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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