In late June, the sun stays up late. And on a Friday afternoon, it’s possible to skip out of the office a little early. Sometimes. I had heard from Jon A that he was planning on trying for an evening flight at Tanner-Hiller, so I went to work with my wing on my car, and unfortunately my boss called a meeting at the end of the day to discuss some interviews we had had. As a result, it was about 5:15 when I managed to leave work. Jon was already set up when I arrived, and Nick was waiting with a tandem passenger for the winds to abate. I set up quickly, moved my wing down to the SW end of the runway, and waited my turn.
As the shadows lengthened, Rhett towed the tandem up, and when he brought the Dragonfly down, he warned us about the mistake that Nick was making: the wind was still pretty strong 1000 feet up, so by flying back to the airport right away, he had locked himself into keeping the nose of the glider pointing directly upwind for the rest of the flight. The lesson was to stay NW of the airport, and for Pete’s sake don’t get SE of it unless you want to land someplace else.
Airport Manager Bob and Pilot Jon A
Jon was next in line, and after sorting out some issues with his release, Rhett towed him up, then came back for me. We didn’t dawdle, but I set a personal record that I will likely never outdo: latest launch for a hang glider flight (8:30 PM). Despite the wind blowing up higher, the tow was very smooth, even without the fin, I had only one very brief incident of oscillating, and I got it damped out pretty quickly. As we got up around what I thought was normal tow altitude, I glanced at my vario, and I couldn’t read it. I decided to release at that point simply because it was too dark. There was still a glow from the sunset over the Quabbin, but I wanted to make sure I still had enough light left to land.
I hadn’t been expecting any lift, and I didn’t get any, which was fine. I flew a bit further south than I probably should have, and had to be deliberate about getting back to the airport. There was some turbulence as I came through the wind shear over the treetops, but it was smooth on final, and not nearly as dark as I had feared.
Jon made a video of the evening’s flying: http://vimeo.com/98818231
flights: 1, airtime: 0:16