Jeff C started a little project this year to make some measurements on all of the launches that we have in New England. The idea is to compile information about the length and slope of the launch run, and the distance and angle to obstacles out front, with the intent of getting an idea of what kind of acceleration you need in order to get enough airspeed for a clean launch in no-wind conditions. More on this in a bit.
Although we had to give up on Ascutney last time, we had another decent-looking day in the offing, so Jeff and I drove up together with plans to meet John M and Nick C at the mountain. When we arrived, we got them on the phone, and they were still a ways off, so we decided that our best move would be to quickly drive our gear to the top and then take the car back down, so that with just a body ride up, we’d have a car at the bottom for retrieve. And that’s what we did, and had enough time to scoot out to the south launch (which I’ve never flown, and Jeff had never even seen) with his rudimentary surveying gear to do his measurements. After we moved the car down, we started shuttling our gear out to the NW launch, but we found the weather less than ideal; although we were of course hoping to get to cloudbase, we really didn’t want that to happen before we set up! Not only were the clouds down at our level, but we were also getting occasional periods of rain. Sounds like a great time to give up, but since we were up there, we waited in the car for a while, and eventually got out to launch with our wings and set up.
Jeff and I did his measurements on the NW launch, and as we waited, we realized that they were going to be pretty relevant, because although the cloud cover had lifted a bit, there was no wind, and no sign of any thermals. The hike in at Ascutney is not pleasant, and carrying everything out would be even worse, so we kept hoping that things would improve at least a little. We’re all capable of launching with no wind at that site, but John finally shrugged and said that he didn’t mind carrying his glider back to the car, it’s just that the bag for his new harness was really uncomfortable. Nick offered to carry the harness in exchange for John driving around the mountain to pick us up, so the two of them went back to the parking lot, and soon Nick was back with us and ready to fly.
None of us were expecting any lift, and Nick said he was fine with going first if we were fine launching without his help. We all figured that the Kansas LZ was the place to go, and Nick took to the air, and went on his initial/final glide out that way. Strangely, he appeared to have changed his mind, because for some reason he landed in the old main LZ. I was next, and like Nick, gained exactly zero feet of altitude on my flight to Kansas, which had just been cut — the tractors were still working on the other end of the field. Jeff came not too long after
and joined me, although he managed to find a bubble of rising air and try to turn in it, besting my 7 minute flight by a minute or so. Nick and John showed up while we were packing up, and we heard Nick’s story. John had driven to Kansas, but the mountain isn’t visible from there (it’s behind a small hill), so he drove around to the other field in order to see what was going on. And since he was there, he decided to put up a small windsock to be helpful. Nick flew over, saw the sock, and figured that John was signaling to land there, so he did. The problem was that the field had not been cut, and the grass was about chest high! Nick landed okay, but it was a pain to carry his glider out of the field.
Not much of a flight, but it turned out to be the only one I got at Ascutney all year, so I can’t complain too much. And on the way back, we stopped for ice cream, and ran into Tom L and Amy, so that was great, too.
flights: 1, airtime: 0:07