It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
In some regards 2012 was the best season in New England in years. If I’m not mistaken, it was the first time since 2007 that anyone made it from Ascutney to the beach (Randy B and Jeff B on separate days). There were also other admirable XC flights, including my modest first trip over the back from Ascutney when, despite some klutzy flying, I managed to make it to Morningside. In addition to my furthest landing from launch, I also bumped up the bar slightly on my longest duration flight ever. Most of my landings were pretty good. A substantial crop of new pilots has appeared, moving out from Morningside to West Rutland and beyond. Unlike last year, when there were almost no flyable days at Wellfleet, we’ve had several already this winter.
On the downside, I got a new job. Now, this is a good thing from the perspective of my finances, but I have a less flexible schedule now, which seriously hampers my ability to fly on weekdays. As a result, I went eight weeks in the summer without flying, missing most of July and all of August. The second half of the year was roughly one flight a month, and most of those sledders. Only half of my flights this year lasted more than an hour. All of my flying was in New England this year (well, okay, technically Brace is just over the border in New York, but you park in Connecticut); I didn’t even make to Ellenville. There weren’t many places where I managed to fly more than once (three flights at Skinner, two each at the Trail, Greylock, and Wellfleet, but each of those included a sledder).
And then there were the accidents. I was present for three crashes this year, of varying severity and with various outcomes. The first was a pilot flying too slowly, much too close to the terrain, who ended up crashing on a road and had to be taken from the scene in an ambulance, with his glider destroyed. I haven’t run into him since, but I’ve heard that he’s eager to get back in the air, although he’s having some lingering problems from his injuries (I don’t know if that’s accurate). The second was a blown launch, resulting in superficial injuries and minor glider damage. The pilots on hand were able to get him and the glider out of the tree without outside assistance, and I’ve seen him at a site since (he was flying his paraglider, and said his hang glider was being repaired). And the third was also a blown launch, no injury to the pilot, no damage to the wing, but we needed help from the fire department to get him down, and he immediately gave up flying and sold his gear (a friend said he has seen someone else flying that wing since).
So, the stats:
Months flown: 10 (not Jan or Aug)
Flying days: 15
Days when I showed up with my gear but didn’t fly: 2
Flights: 15 (8 soaring, 4 extended sledders, 3 sledders)
Sites flown: 9 (Skinner, Mohawk Trail, Hinesburg, Rutland, Greylock, Ascutney, Brace, Burke, Wellfleet)
New sites: 1 (Hinesburg)
Gliders flown: 3 (Falcon 170, Ultrasport 147, Vision Mark IV 17)
Longest flight (time): 4:28:06
Longest flight (XC distance): 15.27 km
Total flight time: 17:28
Total XC distance: 42 km (three 5+ km flights, the rest in tiny bits)
Total path length from GPS: 580 km
Max altitude: 5718 feet (May 20, Greylock)