This is where I annually post my grouchy holiday message that it was a crummy flying year.
I didn’t do a whole lot of flying in 2016, in large part because I had a lot of other stuff going on. I had more airtime than in 2015, but that’s not saying much; prior to that, only 2007, my first year of mountain flying, had (barely) less airtime. 12 flying days is a tie with 2015 for the fewest for any year in that time, and 16 flights is more than only the 15 in 2012. The year ended on a low note, when I almost managed to finally fly Mt. Tom, but instead blew launch, did some minor damage to my Falcon, and ended up hiking everything back down the mountain.
But the year wasn’t actually bad, it had some nice highlights. After not having flown at the beach the past couple of years, I went to Wellfleet three times, and managed for only the second time to jump the northern gaps and make it up to Highland Light. A nice late evening flight in May at Tanner-Hiller took me to the second-highest altitude I’ve ever reached (7520 feet). My one flight at Ascutney this year had me looking like I knew what I was doing, launching early and staying up when almost everybody had sunk out. And in August, I had what was in some sense my first “real” XC flight, as I just headed out from the mountain (Burke) with no destination in mind or any idea of what lay ahead of me, just staying up as long as I had lift and then landing in a completely unfamiliar field.
This was the first time that I flew all four of my gliders in a single year, at least two flights on each of them. (Seriously, though, four wings is too many, and I don’t need two beach gliders — anybody want one?). Also on the plus side this year seemed to have been without the disaster rate of the previous year. I’m certainly not the only one around here who blew a launch, I was around for a couple of landings that took out downtubes, and a friend of mine on a flying trip elsewhere had a spectacular incident, but I’m not aware of any serious injuries in these parts. And my own landings were generally pretty good.
All things considered, 2016 wasn’t such a bad year as far as hang gliding was concerned, compared with a lot of the other crap that happened. For instance, a lot of people did die, but they tended to be musicians and other admired, famous folk.
By the numbers:
Months flown: 7 (Mar-Aug, Oct)
Flying days: 12
Days when I showed up with my gear but didn’t fly: 4
Flights: 16 (10 foot-launch, 6 aerotow; 10 soaring, 5 sledders, 1 early tow release)
Sites flown: 7 (Morningside, Wellfleet, Tanner-Hiller, West Rutland, Talcott, Ascutney, Burke)
New sites: none
Gliders flown: 4 (Vision MkIV 17, Ultrasport 147, Falcon 2 170, U2 145)
Longest flight (time): 2:27:48 (May 21, West Rutland)
Longest flight (XC distance): 6.6 km (August 27, Burke to East Lyndon)
Total flight time: 13:49
Max altitude: 7520 feet (May 20, Tanner-Hiller, from a tow to 4630 feet)
Damage: 1 bent downtube (Falcon), 1 bent control bar (Falcon), 2 abraded batten ends/strings (Ultrasport)
Injuries: stubbed toe