A break in the rain

Since I last posted, we basically had a solid month of overcast and drizzle, with occasional heavier rain. What a wonderful June! (not.) During that time, I:
a) Got my roof rack pretty well dialed in and did a writeup on it, which you can see here.
b) Found out what color my reserve parachute is (red) by having a knowledgeable friend come over to help me repack it, including some simulated deployment practice in my garage.
c) Finally, after 30 days, took the glider out to a flying site.

I was determined to fly somewhere, somehow, over the Fourth of July weekend. There was a glimmer of hope for Saturday, but it turned out to be completely blown out. Sunday looked like it could be epic, though the winds up north still looked too strong. It came down to a choice between Brace and Ellenville. Jeff C. and I opted for Brace, and Tom L., Rodger F., and Nick C. headed for Ellenville. We encountered them on the Mass Pike, and I realized that we had a good way to measure the relative trip times. The wisdom I had heard was that although Brace is a shorter drive from where I live, the long hike in means that you don’t actually get to launch any sooner than if you went to Ellenville, where you can drive up. As it turns out, when we got to the top of Brace Mountain, I called Tom, who was just putting the finishing touches on his glider. So that means that you can actually get to launch at Ellenville faster than at Brace, though when you’re done at Brace, you’re an hour closer to home.

Nancy came with us to Brace, and she carried my harness from the second stream crossing up to launch, and John G. carried Jeff’s harness for that stretch. I took my glider and both harnesses on the cart from the parking to the second stream crossing, Jeff carried his glider that far, and he and I made two trips to get the gliders up the steep part, then each carried one to launch. From the parking lot to the top of the mountain took about 75 minutes (the trail was very wet, and that slowed us down some). I say “his glider”, but it was actually mine — Jeff is waiting for a part for his Falcon, so he borrowed mine for the day while I flew the Ultrasport.

Although the forecast was for W or WNW winds, when we got up there it was just mostly N. The clouds initially looked fantastic, but they dried up before too long. We ate lunch and set up, and watched John G. launch his PG, but he wasn’t able to find much lift after the first minute or two. I took advantage of the waiting time to climb some trees and put up more wind streamers.

Eventually another couple of PGs launched, and though they weren’t finding much either, I grabbed my glider and moved into position, with Nancy and Jeff on my wires. It was after 4 PM by this point.

I waited maybe five minutes until the wind straightened out enough, and took to the air for the first time in a month. The lift was quite choppy, just little thermal bubbles coming up the ridge that were too small to turn in, and though I was mostly staying higher than launch, I wasn’t getting much higher.

Not having too much success on the ridge, I took a chance that maybe I could find something over the valley. I gained a little on my way out, but when I reached the field where I hoped to get something bubbling up, I found nothing, and headed in for a 13 minute total. Jeff got ready around that time, but had to wait quite a while for a good cycle. He did a bit better than I did, hanging on for about half again as long as I did. Sweet landing!

Shortly after that, the rest of the PGs launched, and they pretty much rained down out of the sky in pretty short order. Despite what the forecast had indicated, there wasn’t much soaring to be had. Was it the right call, in terms of where to fly? Sure. We got some exercise, had great views hanging out on top of Brace Mountain, and we both had successful (although brief) flights. Ellenville might have resulted in more airtime — from what I hear, folks who went there had a mixture of success, though Tom, as usual, skyed out and flew for several hours.

The following day had outstanding looking skies, and Nancy and I went to the beach. And today, it’s cool, overcast, and threatening to rain again.

(Photos courtesy of CAJU, who doesn’t know that I nipped them from his site.)

flights: 1, airtime: 0:13

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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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