I got my fill of racing and shaved 15 minutes off the drive north. Luckily for me, Keith and the rest of the crew (Al, Amy, Bo, Dan, Jordan, PK, and Todd) waited on the tardy one. We were greeted by light soarable conditions on top. Bob was already rigged and proved it was soarable as we quickly setup our gliders. Bo launched next and was soon far overhead in his paraglider. Sweet.
Of course, as PK, Keith, and I suited up, Bob floated by launch and said it was getting marginal. Sigh. PK launched and found a little bullet thermal to the west. Keith waited for signs of life before launching. He must have chosen well since he was already above the ridge when I ran off after him. I cruised around in the bowl maintaining or slightly climbing until a real thermal blew through and quickly climbed out.
Bowl in front, Todd on launch at left end of ridge
I flew upwind into the valley and found a climb that eventually merged with a climb PK was in further out.
Thermals merge into one
PK and I climbed out as everyone else in the air was flushed to the ground. As they say in real estate "location is everything"!
Climbing downwind of launch
The clouds downwind to the east looked great and the wind was stronger than we expected. It would have been fun crossing the Green Mountains at 6500+ feet (2000m), but we were not sure how strong or reliable the lift was and crossing the Greens would make retrieve driving much more difficult for Jordan, our driver for the day.
Todd's daughter and driver, Jordan
Although the sky wasn't as promising and flying crosswind would be a chore, we decided to fly north along the western edge of the Greens. Our first glide lead to broken and weak climbs under a dying mass of clouds.
The surface winds were southwest, the bulk of the column westerly, and the top northwest. Press weak climbs (100-200 fpm, 0.5 - 1.0 m/s) through that grinder and you have challenging climbs. We floundered for a bit before drifting into the valley and eventually onto the Greens.
Of course I had to stop and take pictures!
I always want to pass Lake Dunmore to the west over open fields, but always end up flying over the trees downwind to the east. The same thing happened this time, even after using two glides and climbs so I could be upwind of the lake. Sigh. From now on, I'm just going to suck-it-up and head straight for the trees!
Looking north towards Lake Dunmore. Notice the wind lines on the water.
Looking southwest towards launch (upper center left)
PK and I shared a smooth climb over Lake Dunmore. We were flying at the same altitude for a relatively long time. He would occasionally ask on the radio if I was still there since he couldn't see me right behind him. At one point I positioned myself so I could fly directly over him as the sun was on our backs. As my shadow passed over his glider I gave him a good banshee scream. Didn't need the radio for that!
Looking east over the Greens
Looking southeast over the Greens
As it always happens the day started to wane. We left the mountains and flew to the valley fields into a noticeable headwind.
We flew along the west edge of the mountains east of the Middlebury airport.
Middlebury airport at the base of the ridge, Lake Champlain and the Adironacks in the background
Although it was breezy above, we landed in nearly calm wind south of Bristol. The neighbors were friendly and talked about someone landing there years ago during the July 4th holiday. Jordan arrived just as we finished packing. Thanks Jordan!
We later discovered the pilots that launched after us had short flights. Several went back up for another that were also short. Sorry guys. :-(
This flight was very enjoyable. We didn't go very far, get very high, or even explore new territory. However the air was pleasant, the views great, the pace relaxing, and the company good. It was definitely worth the effort (and miles) to make it happen.
Flights: 1, Duration: 3:07, Distance 31.7 miles