Another year has rolled to a close. Here’s what 2011 held.
Months flown: 10 (not Jan or Feb)
Flying days: 18
Days when I showed up with my gear but didn’t fly: 4
Flights: 18 (10 soaring, 4 extended sledders, 4 sledders)
Sites flown: 8 (Wellfleet, Ellenville, Mohawk Trail, Ascutney, Rutland, Burke, Greylock, Utz SW)
New sites: 2 (Burke, Utz SW)
Gliders flown: 2 (Vision Mark IV 17, Ultrasport 147)
Longest flight (time): 3:28
Longest flight (XC distance): 3.85 miles
Total flight time: 22:34
Total XC distance: 30.65 miles (mostly in tiny bits)
Max altitude: 6085 feet
2011 is tied for second place in terms of number of flying days (I had 19 in 2007), and it was the first time I ever went a year without any days of more than one flight. Curiously, although I flew two wings last year and two this year, they were four different gliders. My successes came at unexpected times — after a couple of good beach days early on, and one good day at Ellenville when I picked up my new glider, I then had kind of a drought for a while when I couldn’t manage to stay up. Things got better in July, with seven hours of airtime spread irregularly over five days. My highest flight was in September, and the best lift was on a chilly day in December. Two new sites was a good thing, and both of them were fine experiences, and I plan to get back to those venues. I also scoped out three more places where I might well commit aviation in the near future (Race Mountain, Hinesburg, and Cannon).
I got a card this year with my name and “H4” on it. That doesn’t mean that I’m any better a pilot than I was the day before, but it means that there are some additional places where I am now allowed to fly. But despite having had the rating for six months, I really haven’t used it, in the sense that I haven’t done any flying that I wouldn’t have been allowed to with a H3 rating. Another new experience, that I don’t wish to repeat, was watching (from the air) as a friend of mine launched unhooked. He was very fortunate to get through it with only minor injuries and no glider damage. (Don’t ask for further details, as I won’t provide any — people who were there that day, and club officials, already know about the incident I’m referring to.)
And there’s this blog. This is the fourth year that I’ve been writing it, and there were 23 entries this year (not counting this one). There were 82 blog entries at hanggliding.org in 2011, and just over 2/3 of those were either mine, or Rotor’s accounts of his rehab therapy (33 brief posts for him). It’s a strange feeling writing a blog like this, not knowing exactly who is reading it. It looks like my posts have had an average of over 3400 views, with the most recent ones being the most often read. The one from Utz in November has had over 8400 views — who are you people? It could be that it’s just web-crawling software bots, but if that were that case, I’d expect most blog posts to have about the same number. There have been only 39 replies total; only nine of the entries garnered more than one. If you read the blog, feel free to say hi! I know there are some real people out there, because I’ve run into people at flying sites who mention that they read it. I’m planning to keep flying and to continue posting, so stay tuned!