2009 retrospective

So, another year of flying has slipped by. Let’s see how things went:
Flying days: 13
Flights: 21 (13 sledders, 8 soaring)
Airtime: 15:36
Max altitude: 6971 feet
Longest flight (time): 3:02
Longest flight (outlanding distance): 1.87 miles
Longest flight (closed-course distance): 29.14 miles
Gliders flown: 4 (Vision Mark IV 17, Falcon 2 170, Ultrasport 147, Ultrasport 135)
Sites flown: 7 (Ellenville, Mohawk Trail, Wellfleet, Petersburg Pass, Ascutney NW, Morningside, Brace)
New sites flown: 1 (Petersburg Pass)
Days when I showed up but didn’t fly due to weather: 3
Reserve deployments: 1

Some of those numbers are down mostly because I haven’t flown much since the incident in July. The weather was pretty awful during the usual best part of the year (late spring), and June in particular was very rainy. Things really picked up in August, but that’s when I was grounded (largely due to scheduling problems, actually, though there were also factors like needing to get my chute inspected). That did cut into my potential airtime substantially, and delayed my progress toward H4.

In addition to the bad weather in New England, it was not a great year for hang gliding in other places in some regards, with several reported fatalities as well as some serious non-fatal accidents. I’m fortunate to still be in the position where nobody I know has died hang gliding, and I’ve never witnessed anything beyond a minor downtube-bending incident (other than the one I saw from the inside, of course).

There are a few things that notably did not happen this year. I did not do a 10-mile XC flight from Ascutney to Morningside, although I was in position do to it one day, but had to go land out front because I wouldn’t have had enough time to retrieve my car before I needed to hit the road. I never flew with Bob R., with whom I had shared the air many times in the previous few years. I never flew West Rutland (though I did show up for a work day there). And I almost missed flying with my mentor Tom L. or seeing his new T2C, though my last day this year was at Wellfleet with Tom.

But there were also some notable things that I did. First time to cloudbase, which was a lot of fun. I made a lighthouse to lighthouse run at Wellfleet on a day when I showed up at the wrong time because I misread the tide table, for my longest distance ever by a wide margin. I flew in February for the first time, leaving December as the only month I’ve never flown in. In fact, that February flight at Ellenville was my longest of the year, and my second-longest ever. I used VG for the first time. I also did my first aerobatic maneuvers, some wingovers (the last of which was not successful). And I got a (lucky) photograph picked for the USHPA Hang Gliding calendar.

What do we see ahead for 2010? I’m not interested in setting goals in terms of number of flying days, airtime, or XC flights. For those things, I’ll just take what opportunities present themselves. There are several sites that I would like to fly that I’m hoping to get chances for this year. I do have three gliders sitting in my living room, one of which is ready to fly, one of which needs reassembly after a cleaning, and the last of which I’m trying to find parts for. It’s a fine goal to have all three of those gliders up and running ASAP so that I’ll have my choice on any given day to pick the best one for the conditions.

I’m already scanning the forecasts for potential flying days. Here’s hoping for an early, long, and safe flying season in 2010.

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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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