Intro to Burke


There are primarily two flying clubs in New England (excluding the Connecticut crowd, and the semi-mythical Massachusetts club): Vermont Hang Gliding Association and New England Paragliding and Hang Gliding Club. Each of them manages several sites, and although VHGA is primarily a HG club and NEPHC a PG club, many people belong to both. Burke Mountain is an anomalous site: it’s flown mostly by PG pilots, but it’s administered by VHGA. I had never flown there, because most of the pilots I fly with aren’t inclined to go there, it’s said to have challenging LZ options, and it seems like it’s a long haul to get there (less than 30 miles from the Canadian border).

There were various failed connections and scheduling problems through the weekend, such that I missed opportunities to fly during the record-setting heat on Friday and Saturday (and wound up missing the grand opening party at Morningside). Sunday morning, I finally managed to get through on a phone call that indicated people were going to Burke, and I hit the road. My timing was great, arriving just a couple of minutes after ARt, a Vermont HG pilot who has flown Burke a number of times. The drive really wasn’t too bad, roughly the same time as Rutland.

Fears that conditions would be too strong were allayed when we saw that a bunch of PG pilots were there and were not intimidated. I set up on the ski slope as they launched, and Randy arrived in the meantime, so we had three HGs (Russ showed up later, making four, and it seems there was at least one other HG on a car, but I don’t know if it got used). Winds being typically fickle, the PGs mostly climbed out, and then it got really light just as I was ready to launch. I sat there for a while, and gladly let Randy go ahead of me once he was set up. He just about sank out, then hooked into a climb that he was able to stick with, and I noted where he found it. Once I got a cycle that seemed to have some substance, I ran off and didn’t try to work the hill at all, but headed straight for… the parking lot. That seemed to be the prime source of upness, and I worked it as long as I could, doing about 20 circles and briefly getting higher than launch, but it wasn’t quite enough to keep me going, especially when a cloud came by and shaded it. I had to make a choice between three LZ options at that point, and decided to go for the one where the PGs usually land, which has the advantages of a windsock and proximity to the cars, but which also has a pretty substantial pitch to it, continuing downhill, which is not what you really want given the direction of the wind. The sock showed a cross breeze if anything, so I just went at it uphill, and landed without a problem.

ARt’s flight was similar to mine, Randy landed about 4 miles away, got a ride back, and went up again at the end of the day. Russ did two late-day flights. I think a few of the PGs went XC for 14 miles or so — nice. I hiked up to get my car (just because), and then helped out with shuttling some other cars down from launch before hitting the road home. Quite a pleasing outing (other than the gnats that bit my ankles and have me itching now), and I’ll be looking forward to my next trip to this fine site.

As a postscript, I couldn’t resist taking this picture — nice rack. (He didn’t drive very far with it like that.)

flights: 1, airtime: 0:17

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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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