A bunch of work, a little flying

Most people in these parts are not interested in flying this time of year, when the temperature is low and snow presents other difficulties. There are a few of us who are willing to put up with some inconveniences in order to get whatever airtime we can. ARt is one of those, and I’m another. As H3s, there are certain places we can’t fly without chaperones, and the fact that we live several hours apart also makes it difficult to get together, but conditions looked good enough that we decided to try Morningside on a Saturday.

On the drive up, it looked like the wind, despite the forecast, was blowing from the north (the hill at Morningside takes west). I called ARt and told him what he was seeing (he wasn’t in the Connecticut River valley yet), and we decided that if the wind direction was too awful, we could scrap the flying plans and just hike up the Ascutney road for exercise. As I pulled onto Morningside Lane, Jeff was leaving — we rolled down the windows, and chatted for a moment, and he said that it was blowing east and he was calling it a day. I drove to the park to wait for ARt.

I figured I might as well see what the condition of the road was, so I hiked up to the 450, and was somewhat surprised to see that it was blowing straight in. My phone rang, and ARt asked if I was going to just stand there all day admiring the view (he had just pulled into the parking lot). I jogged back down, and we decided that although the ATVs weren’t available, it was still worth a try, so I tossed all of the unnecessary stuff out of my harness bag (radio, vario, sneakers, bar mitts, etc.), we shouldered my glider, and headed up on foot to set up on top.

Still straight in, but when I got everything ready and finished my preflight, I realized that I was missing my helmet. Doh! I had taken it out of the harness bag when I was shedding excess weight, and it was still in the car. We went down again to grab it, taking my gliders bags down, and picked up ARt’s harness and glider while we were there, so that he could get started setting up. No change in conditions, so I launched without delay.

photo by ARt G.

The good news is that the Ultrasport handling was (as expected) much more reasonable with the backup hang strap situation remedied (I have a temporary extension in place, and if I decide to buy the glider, I’ll get proper straps of the correct lengths). The wind was about 10 mph, and although I was able to scratch for a few minutes, I only got higher than launch once (barely), and for the most part it was a gradual sled ride. Six successful minutes in the air.

photo by Dean S.

I tucked the glider behind the hangar, and went up on foot a fourth time, stopping briefly at the 150 to say hi to Dean who was sorting out his PG. When I got to the 450, ARt was nowhere to be found. Turned out he had decided that he didn’t have enough clothing with him, so he went down for a jacket. Dean also came up top as ARt put his (almost new) Sport 2 together.

Conditions were changing slightly, so by the time they were ready, lift was a bit more elusive, and the air was getting a little grumpy, prompting them to head for the LZ rather than wrestle with it. This makes 13 consecutive flying months for ARt, as we head into the part of the year when things will get easier — nice work!

Meanwhile, I’m about to acquire a bunch of additional furniture and cardboard boxes, as my house gets transformed into a temporary self-storage facility. Nancy’s house has finally sold, and until she buys a new one, she won’t have room for all of this stuff in her rental place. Therefore, in order to free up some floorspace in my living room (or “hangar”, as I prefer to call it), I put together this spiffy rack to store the gliders in a more convenient and attractive manner.

Only the top glider on that rack is in working order. I took the Falcon apart back in the fall to get the sand out of it, then ordered a couple of parts from Wills Wing to address some maintenance issues, and didn’t get it put back together before the snow fell. About a month ago, I managed to secure permission to work on it in the big meeting room on the second floor of Town Hall, which would require taking the glider up a rickety fire escape. When my friend Ken heard about this, he had a better idea. He’s a fireman, and offered to move one of the ladder trucks out of the fire station (officially known as the Public Safety Building) so that I could use that bay. Heated, out of the wind, no stairs, plenty of room to have my car in there as well — sounds great! I picked a mutually convenient day, and went over to the fire station to put the sail back onto the Falcon.

I was optimistically hoping that maybe I could do this in 60 – 90 minutes, and therefore brought the Mark IV along as well, hoping that I might have time to also install the replacement hinge that I got from Matt at LMFP. However, the Falcon operation took three hours, at which point I was exhausted. There are a lot of mistakes that it’s possible to make in this process, and I seem to have found most of them, a long two-steps-forward-one-step-back deal. Tubes would not be threaded into the right holes in the sail, wires would be routed the wrong way around parts, I’d get something together and realize that I’d left out a part, etc. The hardest part was pulling the sail tight enough to get the screws in at the nose — fortunately, there were people around, and one of the firemen put the screw in for me while I held the sail, an operation that really requires at least three hands. In the end, mission accomplished, the Falcon is ready for a test flight when the opportunity arises. Thanks, Ken!

flights: 1, airtime: 0:06


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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