I was nervous getting ready to fly today at Quest Air since I had not aero-towed or thermal-soared my hang glider since early last summer. It didn't help that the crystal clear blue skies meant the air would feature squirrelly high-pressure thermals and unpredictable landing winds. I loaded the task Davis designed for the day, although I was certain a drama-free day of safely flying and landing back at the field would be good enough. I had lots of help getting ready from pilots lingering around such as Michelle and Heather. Thanks!
The wind was light west (90 cross) when we started queueing up on the north end of the runway. Larry, Sara, and maybe a couple more launched before it became strong enough and then tailing enough to pause towing. Johnny said he would take one more advanced pilot if they wanted to "give it a go". I passed since a moderate tailing crosswind launch didn't fit my plans for a no-drama day! Davis, who was in line behind me, sized up the situation and said he would go and stepped into the launch box. Luck was on his side as the wind dropped to almost nothing by the time he was hooked up and Johnny was ready to go. Less than a minute later the wind returned and I accepted a cart tow from Zhenya to the east runway.
Although other gliders were already there, I was nominated to go first. Thanks. Spinner hooked the line to Joel into my tow bridal and I started moving uphill. I quickly discovered that I didn't have a good grip on the base-bar with my new gloves and I was very rusty! Joel tolerated the squid on the other end of the line as I slowly remembered what to do and settled down.
The air was a little punchy but not bad. I quickly found a climb and was with Davis and John later when they took off on course line to the south. I briefly considered joining them but decided to stick with my no-drama plan. I slowly became one with the glider again and was easily staying upwind of the field and climbing to the inversion around 5500 feet (1675 meters). There were several very large flocks of white birds migrating northward that were very picturesque to watch from above.
A little after two hours in the air, my flight computer starting beeping and said the battery levels were critically low. Seconds later, it quit being a flight computer, quickly saved the track log, and then shutdown. Great. I tried to restart it, but it was dead. (I charged the batteries before leaving home on Thursday so it should have lasted all day. I found out this evening that one of the rechargeable batteries failed. I hope a simple replacement fixes the problem.)
I soar at the beach and along mountain ridges without a variometer, but never before in the flats. I did ok when relatively low, but was nearly clueless when I got high since it is harder to detect angle changes as you get higher. It was a fun challenge and I thermal-soared for another two hours and reached the inversion layer a couple times before coming in for a much needed bathroom break. I wrapped up my no-drama flight plan with a nice landing close to where I left the ground earlier. Jeremy brought a cart out (thanks!) and kept me company as I walked back to the tie-downs.
It wasn't an epic day; no-drama was just fine with me.
I apologize for the lack of pictures. I turned the camera off as we switched launch positions and forgot to turn it back on once there.
Flights: 1, Duration: 3:58