The only month I’ve never flown in is December. I’ve been on vacation the week between Xmas and New Year’s, and I kept an eye on the forecast in case there was a potential flying day. Wednesday looked good for NW-facing sites, so I posted on the forums asking if anybody wanted to join me at Skinner (I had thought about Ellenville, but it was too long a drive for uncertain conditions). There were no pilots available, so I also emailed some friends of mine who live out that way, and one said that he’d be willing to help carry my glider up the mountain. Great! So I bundled my wing up in plastic to keep the road salt off of it, and headed for the mountain.
The hike up wasn’t bad at all. I carried my harness bag and a shovel so that I could clear away any snow on launch (4-6 inches had fallen a couple of days earlier), then call my friend if things looked good so that he could meet me at my car and we could bring the glider up. On the way up, though, I started getting an uneasy feeling as I could hear the breeze whistling through the treetops, and when I got to launch, I was able to put to use the spiffy new pocket anemometer that received as a Xmas present. Hmm, 15 mph gusting to 20. Not a good plan to be launching a Falcon in those conditions with just a single wuffo as wire crew, so I called my friend and told him never mind, I wouldn’t be flying today. But at least I found out that the shovel was unnecessary, as the wind does a fine enough job of clearing the snow off of launch.
So, no flying, but as I told my friend, going for a nice hike is better than dying. (I learned the next day that another pilot, who I’ve never met, showed up later in the day and was able to launch unassisted and have a great flight. Kudos to him!)
So, that does it for 2010. How did things end up this year?
Months flown: 10 (not Jan or Dec)
Flying days: 15
Days when I showed up but didn’t fly: 3
Sites flown: 7 (Morningside, Wellfleet, Mohawk Trail, Rutland, Greylock, Ascutney, Skinner)
New sites: 2 (Greylock, Skinner)
Gliders flown: 2 (Sean’s Ultrasport 135, my Falcon 2 170)
Longest flight (time): 3:33
Longest flight (XC distance): 4.01 miles
Total flight time: 20:55
Total XC distance: 18.57 miles (mostly in tiny bits)
Max altitude: 4074 feet
The year got off to a slow (and somewhat discouraging) start, as I didn’t manage to get anything more than one sled ride per month (other than one beach flight) until the end of July. Fortunately, things did pick up after that. The major downer of the year was the passing away of Jeff Nicolay, proprietor or Morningside, USHPA director for our region, and central luminary figure for hang gliding and paragliding in New England. He will be missed, but leaves a strong legacy. I wound up just two shy of the max flying days for a year, and got the most annual airtime I’ve ever had. I never made it to Brace or Ellenville all year, so all of my flying was in New England (other than one flight at Morningside in February, it was all in Massachusetts and Vermont). I’m feeling reasonably confident/comfortable with my flying skills and judgment, and my launches and landings of late have been pretty good. This leaves me looking forward to a good year in 2011. Happy New Year!