Breaking out of the slump

When I saw internet chatter about flying on Thursday, my first thought was that it was too soon for me because I flew on Tuesday, my second thought was that it looked pretty good and maybe I should go, and my third thought was that, oh, the winds aloft looked too strong. But I took another look when I woke up that morning, and since the updated forecast looked manageable, I hit the road.

I knew that Pete J would be there, and Dennis as well — he was just heading up the mountain when I got to the park entrance. We thought Greg H was coming, and when he arrived, the three of us went up in Pete’s car. We got word that Z was on his way, and then as we were setting up, John A and Jeff B joined us. That made seven wings all squeezed into the primary setup area at Ascutney, including two ATOSes. Quite an interesting 3-D jigsaw puzzle!

The predicted vigorous winds were not in evidence, and there was some shading from a few substantial cumulus clouds, as well as some cirrus, so we did the usual “wait around until it heats up” deal. John was a bit more ambitious than the rest of us to get into the air with his almost brand new T2, so he launched, but nobody else was overly eager as long as he was scratching 200 feet over launch.

It was right about 2 PM when John found a cloud that was working and specked out. The other six of us piled off in rapid succession at that point. Nice that we had two experienced drivers (Wimpy and Ryan) on hand for wire crew. I was the last one to go, and although I was at the same altitude as a few other pilots at first, they hooked into something that I missed. I did find a climb not too long after that and got to 4000 feet (launch is at 2850), but by then the gaggle was pretty far back and 1000+ feet above me. I got to a point where I was on the edge of my comfort level, so when I lost the thermal, instead of hunting around for it again, I made sure I could push to the front, and I let those guys go.

My flights lately have been 10-15 minute sledders, and this one was much better. Not epic by any means, but I stayed up for 90 minutes, until a weak cycle came through and I got flushed to the LZ out front. The drivers were downwind, so I packed up and ran back to get my car. I talked to my friend Tom later, and he says I should set a goal of flying to someplace that’s too far for me to get back from on foot.

flights: 1, airtime: 1:30

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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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