I always find superlatives interesting, even ones that aren’t in the category of “best”.
I had commitments for Sunday, so if I was going to go flying, it had to be Saturday. The forecast for Saturday wasn’t that great, though, and nobody seemed interested. I had recently made contact with Andy F again — he had been a H2 when I started taking lessons, and has recently resumed flying after a hiatus. He has really wanted to fly Skinner, and I said that I’d get in touch with him if I was going there. Late in the afternoon I got a notion that conditions might be okay for an evening flight at Skinner, and Andy considered his schedule and decided it was worth a try. We met at a nearby shopping center and headed west. Andy liked the looks of the clouds, but I thought they looked somewhat too good, and likely to develop into something not to our liking. I called my old friend Peter, who lives out near Skinner and has expressed an interest in watching me fly. He said that it had just started raining at his house, and the weather radar showed thunderstorm cells approaching. I can’t really explain why Andy and I decided to keep driving and why Peter said he’d meet us at the mountain, though they were both interested in seeing what the setup and launch area looked like even if it wasn’t flyable.
While driving we got rained on a little, then the sky cleared and we were left with solid blue overhead and a nice breeze. After carrying the gliders out to launch, it still looked good. By the time we were set up, though, the wind had declined to almost nothing. Skinner is not a place where you want to be diving off for a sledder in zero wind, because the trees out front aren’t much lower than launch, and you can very easily get way up close and much too personal with them. So we waited, with hopes that the afternoon sun heating up the NW-facing slope would cause some kind of breeze to drift up our way.
And we kept on waiting.
A couple of the seasonal ranger staff came by, having seen Andy’s car with the ladder on the roof, and they hoped to finally get a chance to see a hang glider launch (the site isn’t used all that often). We had occasional puffs that almost seemed like they might work, so I suggested that Andy go ahead and do a hang check, then sit on launch for a while and see if a cycle might come through that he felt would work. He did, and sat there for about 15 minutes before deciding that it wasn’t to his liking. I figured that I might as well see what I thought, having come all this way, so suited up and perched myself on the brink. One of the tiny little breaths of wind was a little stronger than average, and I decided to take it. My launch went well, and I cleared the trees, albeit not by as much as I’d like. No lift was to be had at all, so I headed directly for the LZ.
So, a successful outing: Andy had an opportunity to see the site, Peter got to see me fly, the rangers got to see somebody launch a hang glider, and I set two personal records: latest launch (7:17 PM), and shortest mountain flight ever. As for all the other pilots who weren’t interested in flying: some of them wisely waited until Sunday, when outstanding conditions allowed for great XC flights and some personal records of a much more pleasing sort. Yeah!
flights: 1, airtime: 0:02:24