Leaf peepers galore

This was not actually a very exciting flight for me (though I have no complaints), so I’ll mostly entertain you with photos.

Columbus Day weekend, and Morningside scheduled a big party and had Wills Wing coming with demo gliders. Then the weather turned perfect, and the New England fall foliage was at its peak right then. As a result, everybody and his brother showed up. And since the winds were moderate from the NW, with a good thermal index, most qualified pilots headed for Ascutney.

When I got there, I was 15th in line, and at least six more gliders showed up behind me. Tom L. had a post in his blog from this past May about a crowded day at Ascutney where 20 pilots signed in, and now we had at least 21. A lot of people complain about the hike in at Ascutney, but I think the biggest downside is the setup area. With three gliders there, it’s not very good, and with 21 it’s ridiculous.

(Part of the leading edge of my glider is barely visible in the middle of that last picture.)

I also had a problem in that I had time constraints that meant I had to be on the ground by 2:30. But the pilots in front were sensibly waiting for conditions to heat up enough to make it soarable. There were plenty of hikers around as well as pilots, and a lot of them wanted to see somebody fly, but many left disappointed since all of the wings were just sitting on the ground. Around the time that I had finished assembling and preflighting, Tom showed up (with no glider, just hanging out), and helped grease the situation for me. Next thing I knew, enough gliders had been nudged out of the way that mine was able to do a complicated “crowd surfing” trip from way back on the trail in the woods all the way out to launch.

[photo courtesy Mike Holmes]

I announced, “Did someone call for a wind dummy?” and got myself hooked in. Big audience, with 20 pilots, a number of significant others, and a crowd of leaf-peeping wuffos as well. I felt quite pampered as I went through my own checklist and heard numerous experienced people calling out OKs for things like my harness lines, luff lines, etc.

If I soared, fine. If I sledded, that was fine too. And I pretty much sledded. There were a few bumps now and then that I tried to exploit, but it was basically down, down, down the whole way. The views were great, though!

As I packed up, conditions steadily improved, and eventually a number of gliders were staying up, and at least one climbed out and headed over the back.

I would have taken pictures with more gliders in the air, but I hadn’t cleared the memory on my camera, and I ran out of space. No soaring for me at Ascutney yet, but there are plenty of days ahead for that, and with a good launch and landing, I have nothing to complain about.

flights: 1, airtime: 0:11


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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