Saturday, July 11, 2015

Afternoon break

I'm slowly progressing towards my novice paragliding rating at Morningside Flight Park.  Mid-day is too turbulent for newbies like me so I setup my hang glider for an afternoon break after flying the paraglider on the hill in the morning.

Although I started rigging after everyone else, I was the first to get in line after the first signs of thermal activity broke the hot, humid, and stable morning.  The developing clouds slowly drifting from the northwest matched the trickling wind on the ground.  However once Eric and I were in place and ready to go, the wind turned to a solid southwest quartering tailwind.  Sigh.  Ilya signaled Eric to cut the engine and we waited.


Just as everyone was suggesting we turn around the wind faded away and I had Eric fire up the engine and go.  I should have waited a bit longer.  The roll-out was fine but we slammed into a strong rowdy thermal just as we flew past the trees along the road.  I was all over the place and very much did not want to lose the tow and have to land in that crap.  Very unusual for the field at Morningside.  Eric and I entertained the crowd on the ground as we both danced through the rough air.  Luckily it was sane on the other side and the rest of the tow was uneventful.

I found a good line of lift just south of Claremont.  I climbed to the southeast and would fly upwind to the northwest and snag another.

When I saw Eric drop Jon off south of the airport, I flew over to join him.  Jake was coming in from Ascutney at the same time.

Jon climbing lower left, Jake approaching from Ascutney

Jon gave up on the climb and decided to look for lift low behind Home Depot.  ;-)  Jake and I shared a climb but I certainly confused him when I returned to the valley instead of continuing on with him! A short while later I spotted Jeff B gliding over Green Mountain north of town.  (All three continued flying to the east.)

I decided to explore the area over Morningside and climbed out watching PG pilots kiting in the LZ below.

I pushed upwind after that climb and didn't really find anything.  Not sure what to do next, I noticed Peter J, who flew in from Ascutney, climbing near the LZ.

Peter (small white spot left)

I flew over to join him but instead knocked him out of the thermal even after "swinging wide" to allow him to climb above me before entering.  I flew into a strong surge on my first circle and didn't quite exactly match his circle.

Here is the video,

Sorry Peter.

I had a couple more climbs then it was time to land.

Apparently I wasn't done with my bone-headed moves for the day either.  I was so worried about the switching winds on the surface that I had a lazy landing with minimal round-out and too little speed.  The universe reminded me of my errors with a resounding whack.  That is twice in the last three flights.  Time to focus and not get too comfortable, and lazy, landing at familiar LZs.

I packed up my hang glider and then had eight sweet flights in the evening glass off on the paraglider.

Flights: 1, Duration: 1:28

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Quick Trip

Amy and I drove north to Mount Ascutney after spending part of the Independence Day holiday weekend around home.  Pilots were gathering at the base of the mountain when we arrived.  Since Amy could drive a vehicle back down, we loaded our car and headed up.  The hike out didn't get any shorter over the winter, but I arrived first and got my choice of setup spots.

We rigged, talked, explored the old southwest launch, and Jake held a short "introduction to the mountain" class for pilots with little or no experience flying Ascutney.

It made sense to wait until the thermals were robust and well formed.  However there was a counter push to launch early since the winds were forecasted to become westerly and a west wind is not desirable for launching.

Time to launch?

Nick moved to launch first but backed down after Jake convinced him he might end up with a sledder.  About an hour later Nick moved back to launch.  Jon followed and both got up.  I was next in line.  Although soaring, both had dipped their wings to the west on their way off launch.  Since this was my first foot launch of the year, I wanted a breeze that was mostly blowing in, not the strong cross being offered.  After 10 minutes I backed down.  Mike went up and launched a few minutes later.  Jake and Jeff quickly launched after him.  I moved back to launch, found good conditions and ran off into a climb with a good clean launch.  I was glad I waited.

I had one short climb over the mountain and followed Jeff and Jake to the west under a line of clouds.  We gave up after finding nothing and returned to the mountain.

I found a reasonable climb and was joined by Dave and Jon for awhile.  They returned to the front as I continued to climb to a newly forming wispy.  I thought about re-joining the gang out front, but when I saw them all banging around ridge height, I decided to leave and search elsewhere.

They hazy sky didn't look good and guess what?  It wasn't!  I found bits and pieces of lift but nothing that would entice me to head off for a long XC.  I quickly decided to head to Morningside and show the gang my new glider that included a Morningside logo.

I had a mostly smooth glide over and a sweet spot landing on the runway.

Photo by Amy Lanning

About an hour later Jake came cruising in, followed by Ilya, Jeff B, Jon A, Peter C, and probably a couple more.  The hero of the day was Dave P who had his first XC from Ascutney to Morningside.  Congratulations!

Ilya, Dave P, and Dave B

I wish the flight was much longer, both in distance and time, but it was still nice foot launching and flying at a green mountain again.

Here is a short video of the flight,

Max wrote about his flight on his blog.  Here is another perspective on the day,

Flights: 1, Duration: 0:35, Distance: 9.6 miles