The hike to launch was as punishing as ever but at least it was cool. The wind was reasonably blowing in, which calmed our fears it might be blown out. The only other fly-in-the-oinment was the ragged edge of thick cirrus shearing off to the southeast but slowing creeping eastward as well. Speaking of flies, the dang black flies were feasting on us and made it especially easy to launch early.
Nate and Ryan helped Jon launch first in his ATOS, then Jake, then me, and then Jeff B. We easily climbed in a mix of ridge lift and generally weak mellow thermals.
After a brief pause, the rest of the pilots piled off and we spent about an hour bouncing between a broken shaded cloud base and the top of the mountain.
Breaks in the cirrus allowed the sun to cook up stronger thermals and we started leaving the mountain. John was the first to leave and was rewarded with a strong climb and an envious ride towards the dinosaur country to the southeast. I left with the next climb but put on the brakes over Claremont with Kip and Jeff C thinking I should let the ground heat up before venturing over areas with limited landing areas. It seemed like a reasonable plan, but instead of building, the existing clouds dissipated and I had to settle with a slow climb as I drifted towards John to the southeast.
I watched Jeff B glide through the blue to the north and then turn back to land below me near the Home Depot in Claremont. Since Jeff has been tearing up the sky this year; it wasn't a good sign! John flew back upwind and settled into a climb with PK just northeast of my climb. Jake, and then Jeff, flew into the area and also climbed back up.
Meanwhile Lee was reporting conditions from Morningside as JJ was making his first XC trip from Ascutney. Peter warned that the water in the pond was cold this time of year but JJ continued on anyway. (I'll explain that comment later).
I had drifted southeast of Kelleyville when I asked on the radio if anyone wanted to push on. Silence. Long awkward silence. Ok then. I decided to eventually land at Morningside so I could celebrate with JJ and check out the hanger renovations.
Jeff C, PK, and I played at cloud base east of Morningside before heading back. Jeff, in a Sport 2, didn't have the glide so he peeled off to land where Jeff B landed earlier. Jake took his altitude and pushed cross-upwind to the golf course across the river in Vermont, Jon went the furthest and landed in Hillsboro, Megan landed out front, and the rest landed at Morningside. I had a nice landing on the grass runway and walked across the road to break down. Finally a sweet "no drama" flight.
As tradition dictates, JJ was tossed into the pond to commemorate his first trip from Ascutney to Morningside. Congratulations JJ!
We got a picture of the pilots that flew in from Ascutney (in the background). (I must point out the sky did NOT look like that when we were flying.)
Doug, PK, John, Kip, Peter, me, JJ
Lee, Peter, and I stopped for dinner at the Strange Brew Tavern in Manchester on the way back.
Flights: 1, Duration: 2:27, Distance: 22 miles (3-point turn)