I have at least one flying buddy who feels that this was a great year. For me, not so much. Oh, it certainly had some high points, including a fantastic flight at Ellenville in March, a great fall day at Wellfleet, and a very successful trip to Florida at the end of the year, but overall I didn’t really get much flying in. Before I went to Florida, I’d had only a dozen days, and only half of those featured soaring flights. I had no flights at all in April or September (or January or February, but those two are not surprising) and only sled rides in May and June. This was largely a matter of scheduling, with my having other obligations on some good flying days. I had the least airtime of any year since 2009 (when I had to take a break for a few months).
I managed to damage my Falcon (now repaired, but not yet reassembled), but I fared better than some people around me. I’m aware of three crashes in New England this year that resulted in destroyed gliders (and in at least two of those, pilots with more than superficial injuries), plus one tree landing, and I was on site for a freak landing problem that caused pretty serious injury to a pilot’s hand (I hear he’ll need some surgery).
No XC flights for me this year, nothing longer than a sled ride at Ascutney to the Kansas field. That was the only flight I got at Ascutney, in fact, and I had zero flights from the Mohawk Trail, Greylock, Brace, Burke or Skinner. It appears that there were not a lot of good XC days overall, with only one good Ascutney day that I heard about, one flight to the coast from a Morningside tow, and an excellent flight from Tanner-Hiller.
I don’t want this summary to sound like a drag, though. It seems that the local pilot community has some fresh blood, with a number of new pilots emerging from Morningside, and Rhett’s tow operation at Tanner-Hiller is going well (and I’m looking forward to flying there this year). In excellent news, there have been some changes that it appears means that HGs can now fly at Mt. Tom without issue, and I’m looking forward to that. I got to fly with Jeff C on his staggering ten-hour flight, and I substantially upped my PR for altitude. And things are looking pretty good for 2014. (Are they? Sure, why not!)
Months flown: 8
Flying days: 17
Days when I showed up with my gear but didn’t fly: 2
Flights: 31 (13 foot-launch, 6 tandem tows, 12 solo tows; 6 soaring, 2 extended sledders, 23 sledders)
Sites flown: 6 (Wellfleet, Elllenville, Rutland, Morningside, Ascutney, Quest)
New sites: 1 (Quest)
Gliders flown: 5 (Vision Mark IV 17, Ultrasport 147, Northwing T2 Tandem 215, Falcon 1 195, Liberty 148)
Longest flight (time): 4:08:24
Total flight time: 16:57
Max altitude: 8563 feet (March 30, Ellenville)