October surprise

October’s schedule is pretty filled-up for me with orienteering races, which doesn’t leave a lot of weekend time available for flying. The common wisdom is that by this time of year, mountain flying isn’t going to be very productive, so there’s not much weekday action, either. Some diehards will head to the beach if the forecast is suitable, and I missed a chance for that last weekend (because I was orienteering). Columbus Day weekend didn’t have any particularly promising flying opportunities (although it did have the memorial party for Jeff Nicolay on Saturday night, which I had to miss because of a different schedule conflict). Monday, Columbus Day itself, promised NW winds at reasonable speeds, which meant that a number of sites were in play. After a bit of confusion regarding whether the state park had closed for the season yet, Randy B and I headed up to meet ARt G at Ascutney.

I had the first opportunity to use my full-blown rack to carry three gliders, as we stashed ARt’s car out front and took mine up the mountain. While we were setting up, Andy K also arrived, as did Roman (but he discovered a bent part on his glider and ended up not flying). Conditions seemed pretty good as we were setting up, which put us in the situation of not needing to wait for anything (an unusual feeling, because typically we have to). As expected, there were a bunch of hikers around, and instead of chatting with them as they asked questions like, “Are you going to jump soon?”, we instead looked at each other to see who should go first. Randy’s wing was the closest to the platform, so he was the obvious one to go, and he climbed over launch immediately.

Word came over the radio that the air was fine, the wind not overly strong, so I stepped up next and climbed as easily as Randy had. ARt went after me, and I made an attempt to steer my glider so as to keep him in the frame of the camera mounted on my control bar, resulting in this “Blair Witch”-style video.

(I owed him that much, since I realized when we were setting up that I didn’t have a memory card in my camera, and he graciously offered to lend me his.)

Andy launched last, and although there were four of us in the air, we had a lot of space to work with, both vertically and horizontally, so we were quite spread out and it was easy to lose track of where the others had gone. I stayed closest to the mountain, though I had good luck finding lift over the ski area. We had kind of been expecting just ridge lift, but instead we found nice fat thermals that got us plenty high, no scratching required.

Andy and ARt went much further out front for a while, and Randy was somewhere above me, but I lost track of him until about the time I snagged my best climb of the day. That’s when he radioed and said that he had just landed at Morningside. I replied that I was above 5000 feet over the mountain, but that it looked like ARt was heading his way. Turned out that ARt had lost sight of everybody (he didn’t think to look 1000 feet straight up) and figured we had all gone over the back.

I did think about it very briefly, but with the Falcon I would have wanted at least 6000 feet, particularly since Randy said that he found no lift at all on his way to Morningside. Instead, I just enjoyed the easy flying and waited until Andy was down, then flew over to join him, landing across the street from where we had left ARt’s car.

My timing was great, as I was able to break down, pick ARt up from the Red Barn field, and get a ride from him back up to fetch my car from the top. He headed back north, I picked Randy up at the park, and we were off for a nice dinner and then home. Two hours of pleasant airtime, and this was my highest flight of the year, by over 1000 feet. Mountain flying is over for the year by fall? I don’t think so!

flights: 1, airtime: 2:09


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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