It was the day before Easter, and I had told people that if I got a chance for a third consecutive day of flying, that would be the title of this blog post.
The Green Swamp Klassic sport class competition was starting on Sunday, and many of the competitors arrived a day early to get in a practice day. The wind was out of the west, which is not a great direction at Quest, because downwind takes you over a lot of areas that are either wet or densely populated. I had never towed there with that wind direction, and it’s a little different because you start down by the pond and the first part of the tow is distinctly uphill. I asked for advice, and was told that there’s nothing special that needed to be done.
People were generally milling around and waiting for the day to heat up, but since I could see where things were going, I went ahead and wheeled my glider down to the east end of the field and parked it under a tree so that I’d be ready when the time came. The first bunch of flights were sledders, and since it was the weekend, there were a bunch of tandems mixed in as well. Some of the comp pilots were aiming for the assigned turnpoints up to the northwest, and when a few of them were able to head off that way, I took my place in line.
I got Russell for a tow pilot again, and had a rowdy trip up. I was satisfied with the fact that I was able to hang on this time despite the unpleasant air. Although I was able to find ways to stay up for a little while, I didn’t gain much altitude, and pretty quickly had to resign myself to landing. I wasn’t really happy about that prospect, because when I got down to an altitude where it was time to set up a pattern, I started encountering bumps that were almost strong enough to climb in. One of Tom’s rules of thumb is “Don’t land in any field that you can soar over”, and I wasn’t relishing the prospect of coming in though this invisible surf. Once I was low enough to commit, I pulled in hard and headed toward the center of the field. As I got low, I felt like I had a lot of airspeed, but not much ground speed. That sounded like a good formula to me, and I didn’t even really flare, I just eased the bar out and took a couple of walking steps then set the glider down. Glad to be back on the ground.
I considered going back up, but it was kind of windy, and the lift didn’t seem that great. The pilots who were going up were mostly just getting sledders, though some of the best were managing to exploit unexpected pockets of lift and stay up for a while. Tom had headed off to the north on the practice task, and I was fully expecting to get a text message from him asking if I could hop in his car and come fetch him. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I spotted him returning by air.
My read of the weather said that Sunday was not going to be a great day for flying, at least not at Quest. There was supposed to be a strong east wind, and a few pilots talked about grabbing a couple of old single-surface gliders and heading to the Atlantic coast to try man-towing up to ridge-soar some condos. I didn’t wait around to see if they were going to actually do it, I just packed up my tent and hit the road to spend Easter at the beach, going for a 10-mile run on the sand and hanging out in the surf.
Flights: 1, airtime: 0:28