Four for 4

Word on the internet was that Saturday was shaping up to be an excellent flying day at multiple sites. I wasn’t seeing it; the winds were supposed to be light, but everywhere I was looking, it seemed to be the wrong direction. For sites with a lot of vertical, that can still work out okay, because you can launch in a lull and look for thermals (and the lift forecast looked pretty good). Still, the most promising spot looked to me to be Tanner-Hiller, because if the wind is light, the direction is irrelevant for towing, and it’s all thermal flying anyway. And word was that Rhett would be out there towing.

I had some things to do in the morning, but brought my glider with me, and arrived at the airport at around 1 PM. Max was there, having made a 40 minute flight, Rhett was pulling somebody else up, and the other pilots who had set up at the SW end of the runway were moving up to the NE end, because the gentle breeze had shifted to that direction. I had brought my Falcon, for a couple of reasons. One was that I had towed only once in the preceding year, and was feeling out of practice, so I figured I should fly the most docile wing (and it wasn’t like I was planning on going XC, or worried about penetration). The other reason was that this was my fourth flying day of the year, each on a different glider: U2 at Morningside, Ultrasport one day at Wellfleet, Vision Mark IV the second day at Wellfleet, and now the Falcon at Tanner-Hiller. The downside was that although I had tried to remember to being everything, the vario mounting bracket was still on my U2, so I had to strap the vario to the downtube with a messy wad of ductape.

The day had actually petered out by the time I was ready to fly, so it was just sledding for me. On my first tow, I found one little puff of lift that I did a turn in without losing any altitude, but I didn’t hit anything actually going up until I was barely over treetop level, and I didn’t bother with that.

And the second tow went about the same,a little loitering around the spot where Rhett dropped me off, but basically all downhill.


One other interesting thing about the day was that it was my first time towing with my new helmet, a Kali Prana fiberglass BMX helmet. There is a school of thought that says that helmets designed for flying have aerodynamics and style as priorities, and they’re not actually very good at protecting your head. I decided to go with the recommendations from that camp, and got this ostensibly more crashworthy piece of headgear, which is only slightly heavier than my old Charly Insider, with a “different” visual aesthetic, and as it turns out, quite affordable. Due to the venting, it seems to be noisier (hard to hear the vario when moving fast, like when on tow), and the chinguard makes it a little more difficult to check the parachute pins during my preflight checks (but I can still find the parachute handle no problem). I haven’t installed a radio headset in it yet, and when I do, I may make some adjustments to reduce the wind noise, and at some point I’m planning to add a converted chainsaw face shield as a visor. (Personally, I’m not relying on my helmet to do much to protect my brain in case of a crash anyway, it’s just a place to mount the radio headset and it’s a requirement for most flying sites. My primary line of defense s making sure I don’t crash. But I do see its value for face protection, concussions are one thing, but protecting against knocked-out teeth of a broken nose is more feasible.)

flights: 2, airtime: 0:26, 0:21

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About cleversky

Hang glider pilot in New England since 2004. Also an avid orienteer, and an embedded systems firmware engineer. And some other outdoor stuff.
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