Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December Soaring

I had my first December thermal soaring flight in New England on the 4th.  I almost didn't go.  Peter offered to pick me up on his way to the Mohawk Trail since I couldn't carry gliders on my car.  I was hesitant to blow off hunting new clients for yet another day of ridge soaring.  Although it was a longer drive, Peter was game for trying West Rutland since the computer models hinted we might have usable thermals.

We got a late start which can be a joy-kill in December with its limited amount of daylight.  We met Art, Jeff, and PK in the soggy, muddy, cold parking area out front.  Even though the doctor forbid him from flying until his shoulder mended, Bob came along to shuttle us up the mountain and help us launch.  Major thanks Bob!

Did I mention soggy?  The mountains are normally snowed in by December, but warm heavy rains kept the snow away.  Waterfalls were transparent liquid instead of solid glittering blue and the fields below were reflective lakes instead of expanses of dry white.

Where is the ice?

LZ is the island along the highway!

No place to land in the gap either.

Although the wind was light when we arrived on top, it slowly increased to soar-able velocities as we rigged.  That, the cold, and the quickly passing day encouraged us to rig quickly.




Art was the first to launch.  Although the velocity was nice, the wind was blowing across launch at times and caught Art.  His right wing almost touched the ramp as he tried to level the glider during his run.  Needless to say, the rest of us were extra cautious and had clean launches.

Art on launch.

Note the right wing.  What happened?

The air was unbelievably smooth and buoyant.  It felt coastal.  There was just enough wind to ridge soar and the 1 - 1.5 m/s (200-300 fpm) thermals were big and as soft as pillows.  I had climbs to 1100m (3600 feet); about 150m (500 feet) below cloud base.  I flew upwind reliably connecting with thermals below dark clouds and circled in thermals with VG settings from full loose to full tight.  PK and I shared a couple runs upwind, including one were we zipped along at 80 kph (50 mph).

I grabbed some pictures of the low-on-the-horizon sun lighting up spots on the barren hillsides.

I was excited for Art and Jeff when they got adventurous and made long glides upwind as well.

Although it was still "mid-afternoon" I could tell it was time to land unless I wanted to break down in the dark.  PK and I started a long upwind glide to burn off altitude before running back downwind to land.  I watched Peter land in the sloped field behind Bird's Eye and decided to land there as well.  I arrived over the field about the same time Art did, so I threw in some dirty spirals to quickly lose altitude.  The smooth air allowed me to do a fast and tight approach along the power lines, over the house, and deliciously close to the trees before dropping into the field.  Ah, a sweet way to end a season of flying.

Flights: 1, Duration: 1:34

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cape Cod

Randy was a man on a mission; snag another 5 hour flight soaring the dunes on Cape Cod.  I was pulled into the madness when I accepted his offer for a ride.  We had to leave at 4:30 AM so we could fly and land before high tide swallowed the LZ around mid-afternoon.  John B, Peter J, Rodger were up for flying, but not leaving that early!  JJ and Matt were also planning on early flights but would be heading off to work immediately afterwards.

Randy pointed out the next morning that we left at 4:32 AM; he would be bummed if he had to land at 4:58 minutes because we were late!  As expected JJ and Matt were already there when we arrived after 7 AM.  However, I was surprised to see Peter.  Apparently he couldn't sleep and decided to beat the morning rush hour traffic.  It was obviously soar-able so we rigged behind shifting sand dunes and commenced launching.  Matt went first, followed by Randy, Peter, then JJ.  Lucky for me, Rodger and John showed up as I was helping JJ launch.  I found a good spot to balance the wing, dropped to the base bar, and stepped into the air.

I immediately discovered it was mindlessly soar-able and that I was overdressed.  I thought about top landing to shed clothes, but instead unzipped and let the cool air whisk away the heat.

I played with the smooth marine air, but thought it was a bit too strong for aerobatics.  I saw Peter to the north, so I left in hot pursuit.  I dove through flocks of sea gulls launching from the beach, chased seals from high above, and laughed as I easily crossed gaps that are "nightmares" on less ideal days. We passed Matt coming back from Highland Light, which is about 8.5 miles out from launch.  I flew on to the lighthouse, turned around, and chased down Matt before heading back to launch.

John and Rodger were getting ready to launch as I played around with JJ and Randy.  Matt landed so he could go to work while Randy took off to the north.  I hung around waiting for John since it was his first flight there.  After wrestling with the crappy air in the setup area, he smoothly ran off launch and floated up.

Instead of waiting for Rodger to launch, I got impatient and decided to chase down Randy.  We flew together until Randy had to take a few minutes to gain altitude before crossing a gap.  Once I reached the Highland Light again, I took some pictures.  You can easily see the curve of the cape and the water on the other side.

Highland Light (notice the curve and bay on other side)

Randy wondered if I was trying to cook myself when I snapped pictures of the FAA radar dome and the funky little tower next to it.

Radar dome and little tower

We waved at John and Rodger heading north as we passed headed south.  By the time I arrived JJ was leaving for work and Peter was on the beach.  I was trying to top land when Allen announced he was getting ready to launch.  Cool.  (He read about our plans on Twitter and decided to show up at the last minute for his first flight at the beach.)  I moved away to the south and tried to touch down on a tiny dune.  It was nearly impossible; I just couldn't get the glider close to the ground!

Randy announced he was heading south to Nauset Light and I gave chase.  However, I turned around after passing through sprinkles and seeing heavier rain on the other side of the cape.  I turned around to land while Randy continued on.

I flew over the ocean to lose altitude, did a quick downwind dash to the beach, and then flew along the beach as I slowly settled in.  I started moonwalking with the glider until I stepped too strongly into the sand, caught my toe, and dropped the glider on the base bar next to Peter.  You could see my early light steps in the sand and then the "deep" footprint and "toe drag" that foiled the show.  :-(

Peter and the churning ocean

Breaking down in deep sand and blowing wind is an art, but no matter how good you are sand gets in everything.  I had already taken my glider up to the car and was walking along the beach to get my harness when Rodger came into land.  His approach seemed fine until I noticed he wasn't descending!  The beach was just about gone behind me as Rodger barely flew over my head.  I was afraid he would end up in the water, but to my (and his) surprise he continued soaring past the water and was unceremoniously dumped into the sand far beyond it.

Imprint of Rodger's nose and flying wires.  :-)

After a long walk back, we watched John and Randy land.  Randy mentioned that Allen landed to the north, so I took Allen's van north while everyone else broke down.

Allen and Rodger flew with video cameras.  Check them out.

Allen's video

Rodger's video

Oh, Randy did fly for more than 5 hours, so my 2 minute delay wasn't a disaster!  Randy also had his 100th hour of hang gliding airtime during the flight.  Very nice.

Flights: 1, Duration: 3:00, Distance: 34 miles

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Eating Crow

Since my new Subaru Outback isn't outfitted to carry gliders I have to rely on the kindness of other pilots if I want to go flying.  Although some pilots have tucked their gliders away for the winter, others noticed that Monday offered a cornucopia of flying alternatives.  Easterly winds meant that the coastal sites on Cape Cod, as well as the yet-to-be-snowbound mountain sites on Equinox and Greylock, might work.

I was checking the forecasts and email at 6:00 AM when I read that Randy left home at 3:20 AM to meet Matt for a sunrise flight on the Cape.  They setup under the full moon and greeted the sun in the air.  Freak'n awesome!  Why didn't he call me?  :-(

About an hour later I talked with Peter.  He wanted to fly Mount Greylock one more time before the road froze shut and didn't like the forecast for light showers later in the day at the Cape.  He also offered me a ride but wanted to leave as soon as possible to make the most of the morning solar heating on the east facing slope below launch.  I was fine with that, but pointed out that little solar heating happens around here in November.  I agreed to call Jeff while Peter tried to beat the morning rush-hour traffic.  Of course Jeff was interested but couldn't be at my place before Peter arrived.  I told him to hurry, but I would stall Peter.  Besides, I told him, getting to launch early wouldn't matter.  Meanwhile John called and wanted in on the fun.  Once again I explained that Peter was on a mission to get there early.

Peter was a good sport and waited for Jeff and John to arrive before we piled onto his truck and started our drive to the other side of the state.  We all laughed, including Peter, about his quest for thermals, especially since the most optimistic forecast only showed barely soar-able thermals.  On the way there we learned that Brooks, Gary, and PK would meet us at launch.  We also pretended it was early spring instead of late fall.  Our season wasn't ending, it's was just beginning.  The snow had melted, the trees would be budding soon, and high cloud-bases wouldn't be far behind.  I know it sounds silly, but it was our way of "reframing" a cold leafless dimly-lit November day.

We were pleasantly surprised to find real cumulus clouds overhead and a nice breeze blowing straight in when we arrived at launch.  We quickly rigged to get the most out of the limited daylight.  Randy sent a text message saying he had just landed after flying 5:20.  He challenged us to do as much.  Yeah, right!

Setup area

John getting ready for his first flight off Mount Greylock


Our rules state an intermediate pilot (H3) must be escorted by a sanctioned USHPA observer.  Since I was Jeff's observer for the day, we suited up together and I would ensure he launched OK before joining him in the air.


Jeff launched and flew back and forth in front of launch holding on to anything he found.  Gary and John graciously waited on my side wires until it trickled in and Jeff was clear.  I started climbing almost immediately.  I didn't see Jeff so I snapped a quick turn, squeezed the harness shut, and didn't stop turning until Jeff and I were almost at cloud base at 1500 m (5000 feet).

So much for the "no thermal theory".  Jeff and I drifted around a bit before I headed upwind to stay out of the clouds and to see if there were more usable thermals around.  The answer was yes!  Surprisingly the thermals were some of the strongest thermals I encountered all year in New England.  Climbs of 2.5 m/s (500 fpm) were common and I had several 4 m/s (800 fpm) climbs.

Launch is near the peak

I watched Jeff consume most of his altitude on a necessary glide through the blue.  He worked a few thermals but eventually settled into the LZ below launch.  Bummer.  Meanwhile, I was playing with a mass of clouds to the south.  Even at 80 k/h (50 mph) I couldn't stay out of the clouds so I had to keep running for blue spots to loose altitude before ducking back under to move on.  I seriously contemplated turning around and striking off for some XC flying but bagged the idea when I realized I would be heading in the opposite direction from home and I had failed to discuss the possibility of cross-country flying with the crew.  (I suspect a 80 km / 50 mile flight was possible.)

Stick-season (leaves are gone)

While I was zipping around the valley and working to stay out of the clouds, pilots back a launch were suffering (or landing) in the blue.  The sky was drying out but pronounced cloud lines still swept across the countryside.  I watched Peter head to Ragged Mountain low.  I'm sure he was worried but I was sure he would sky out once he reached the cloud line that intersected his path.  I looked over a while later and saw him zooming up.

Line of clouds to the north that Peter climbed under

I flew over Adams, Chesire, and the other side of the valley.  I did a lot of sightseeing, especially noticing the rocky ravines normally hidden by deciduous leaves.  I wandered back to launch and flew with John and a PG pilot before moving on to Ragged Mountain where I swirled around a few times with Peter before heading across the valley again.  Brooks and Peter followed me for a short time, but turned around when they didn't find the same lifting line I did.  I snapped some pictures of the deep quarry between launch and the mini-golf LZ at The Range.

Deep quarry

PK flew out to join me for a climb over Adams but returned to the mountain as I pushed on to the other side of the valley.

Last remnants of leaves in Adams

I wandered about before gliding across the blue to hook up with Peter as he headed to the mini-golf LZ.  We landed next to each other and talked as we walked to the roadside.  I was "eating crow" big time after such a good thermal flight!

Brooks, John, and PK also landed with us.  Jeff volunteered to ride up with some pilots to retrieve Peter's truck while we packed up in the fading daylight.  PK commented he was packing his glider very carefully since he might not be flying it again for 5 or 6 months.  He might be right, but I'm still pretending its spring and more good flying days are just around the corner.  ;-)

Flights: 1, Duration: 1:43

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fun Frigid Fall Foliage Flight

Peter had a new toy and wanted to go flying.  Given the forecasts, the best place to go was the Mohawk Trail in western Massachusetts.  One of the three forecast models we use predicted a wind direction that would be too cross and, if correct, would mean a wasted day of driving.  Also worrisome to me was the forecasted high temperature in the valley, on the ground, of 42F (5C).  Brr.

Peter stopped by my place, rechecked the forecasts, and then decided to roll.  We spent the entire 2 hour drive looking for signs that the wind was blowing the wrong direction and trying to snatch forecast updates whenever we had cellphone coverage.  I don't know why we played that silly game; we both knew we were committed to the full drive!

I temporarily forgot about the temperatures until I saw the glistening ice covered trees on the ridge top and the snow frosted Mount Greylock on the opposite side of the valley.  I complained a bit.  Peter then reminded me I was a New Englander and that I should suck-it-up and embrace the cold.  He was right.  Come next spring a day above freezing will seem like a summer day at the beach.  I put on every piece of clothing I brought, including two coats, and hiked to launch.


Mount Greylock and the green LZ at the base of Ragged Mountain

The wind was stronger than predicted, gusty, and a bit cross; strong and cross enough that we needed to pay attention but not scary.  We found a couple spots along the trail to rig our gliders sheltered from the wind.  I was comfortable, temperature-wise, once I started moving.  However, I knew I couldn't fly with everything I was wearing.  So I had to carefully consider the tradeoff between staying warm and breathing in my tight harness!  In the end I wore my standard fall/winter gear but doubled up with a spare windbreaker Peter brought along.

We were checking conditions prior to launching when we noticed a black SUV in the bail-out LZ below.  We thought it might be Keith, but neither of us had his phone number to let him know about the conditions on launch.  A short while later Keith showed up.

Peter was anxious to get going since the short day was passing by, the winds were lighter at the moment, and the small breaks of blue between the clouds were disappearing.  He suited up, hooked into his new stead, ambled to launch with Keith and me on his wires, and then took off.  He turned right, flew a short distance before "falling" into a hole several wing-spans deep and then immediately popping back up.  Yee-haw.  I watched for more signs that the air was turbulent, but Peter made it look smooth although strong.

Peter and his new Wills Wing Sport 2

I decided to wait so I could land later when the valley hopefully glassed over.  I watched Peter cruise back and forth overhead as I talked with Keith as he setup his glider and dual video cameras.  Once Keith was finished it was time to play.

I had trouble squeezing into my harness but managed to get everything zipped up with Keith's help.  He helped me walk to launch and then into the air.  (Thanks Keith).  I turned right and was treated to the same "joy ride" Peter experienced after his launch.  The lift was widespread as I easily climbed above launch and started turning in a thermal near the radio towers.  I struggled to "prone out" and close the zipper on my harness.  The combination of shoes with larger soles and more clothing over my shoulders made the harness too small.  I guess its time to loosen the shoulder straps for the winter flying season.

After I wiggled into my harness I enjoyed the colors below.  The hills were painted with yellows, oranges, and reds.

Lots of color

Launch is beyond the towers and above the road.

I flew near launch until Keith was safely in the air.  I relayed to Peter, who had landed at the mini-golf course because he was cold, that we were both airborne.  I flew south along the ridge, but far above it flying cloud to cloud.  At several points I turned and flew upwind almost across the valley following cloud lines or cloud streets.  I gained altitude on several of the crossings.  (I also noted that I was quite comfortable and not at all cold.)

The colors on this little hilltop were radiant.

I watched Keith fly south along the ridge and then cross the valley to land in a hayfield south of the mini-golf course.  I flew back to the north beyond launch and played with some migrating hawks.  The sun was simultaneously setting and fading behind thick cirrus.  Not only did that allow the clouds and thermals to wane, it became darker behind my tinted helmet visor.  The fading light and wind meant it was time to head south and land.

I mention the wind speed since I know things get interesting in the valley when its blowing at or above the current speed; especially at The Range, a mini-golf course which sits directly in the wind shadow of a ridge line.  Peter also told me that he encountered smooth 1000 fpm (5 m/s) down one the way to the LZ.  I positioned myself along the last line of wispy clouds and flew upwind across the valley arriving above the ridge line.  Peter reported light northeast winds in the LZ below although the winds at ridge height were strong west northwest.  I knew I would be flying directly into the rotor downwind of Ragged Mountain.  The glide down was smooth and easy until I was just slightly below the top of Ragged.  At that point I was pushed down and around.  I made sure I didn't get too far from the LZ.  Although the sink and wind direction changes were big, there wasn't any jarring turbulence.  I mistakenly thought the sink would cease at a couple hundred feet, but since it didn't I had to use an approach that should have left me on a light crosswind final.  I rounded out and kept skimming along the ground faster than I should have been going.  Dang.  Downwind.  I flared too late and/or too weakly and demonstrated how not to land a hang glider.  No damage to me or glider; aside from the ego.

Peter and Keith shared a cab back to launch to fetch trucks while I packed up in the fading light.  Everyone had enjoyable flights and I know Peter and I enjoyed the warm truck ride home.

Flights: 1, Duration: 1:16

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Columbus Day Weekend

Columbus Day is a major 3-day holiday in New England, not because New Englanders view Christopher Columbus differently than most Americans, but because the trees are at peak color and everyone goes outside before winter comes crashing in.

Morningside (and John's car) after the skies cleared.

Amy and I took a long slow drive to Morningside Flight Park Saturday soaking up the views along the way.  The rain stopped as we arrived and cold dry air started blowing in.  Luckily the large party tent came complete with heaters.  We enjoyed the company, barbecue dinner, live band, costumes, over-the-top fireworks, and the traditional after-party around the campfire.  (The fireworks were awesome as rockets launched from 3 locations on the hill.  You can see the full spread in the second half of this video Bill took.)

Since it was blown-out Sunday we found another indirect route home that included the Fall Foliage Festival in Warner and a stop in Henniker to check out their covered bridge from the ground.

We also stopped in Groton to pick apples and watch the hawks play in the wind.

The flying didn't look great on Monday either so we enjoyed the smells, colors, and sounds as leaves flittered around our bikes on the Nashua River Rail Trail.

On cue, snow fell on the Green and White Mountains overnight Monday signaling the beginning of the end of this flying season.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Team Challenge (Day 7)

Day 7 was also blown out so Ollie organized a "round-table" discussion where pilots could set the agenda by asking a panel of experienced pilots questions.

Mark B launched late in the afternoon and I helped several team members setup and fly as the day glassed off before sunset.  Otherwise, pilots starting packing or getting ready for the catered dinner, awards presentation, and party that evening.

The scores and more pictures are available online.  "XXX" placed first, "Knights in White Dacron" second, and the boogers of team "Aerosnauts" in third.  However, the Team Challenge really isn't about winning a competition, its about pilots learning from each other and learning to work as a team.  As corny as it sounds, almost everyone was a winner at this year's meet.

The trophies are a gorgeous creation of Eric Donaldson who was given a new helmet in appreciation for his work.  Ricker did a great job encouraging sponsors to go overboard with a bevy of non-trival prizes.

The team hoped to fly on Sunday, the day after the meet, but the forecast was totally wrong.  A sunny stable day turned out to be totally overcast and with scattered showers.  We tried to find a spot in Virginia to fly, but the winds were just too strong.  While Allen, Jim, and I continued our drives home on Monday, Dan and Doug joined Randy at Skinner State Park for an afternoon flight.

I missed way too many recent Team Challenges, but will do my best to return next year to help "pay forward" the help I received years ago.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Team Challenge (Day 6)

Day 6 was seriously rained out but we did get to see the sun by late afternoon.  We had a variety seminars in the morning and afternoon.  Buddy and James directed the Aerosnauts to the Cookie Jar Cafe where we had a nice lunch and great dessert.  Last evening we enjoyed barbecued chicken in the pavilion and a late night around the camp fire.

Team Challenge (Day 5)

We launched at Whitwell, which meant starting early since launch is atop an east-facing ridge.  Things were going well until the task committee started debating how to encourage "C" pilots to launch early and land in the LZ unless they were high.  After some lengthy debate, the committee decided to scrap the "re-flight" bonus, only count the first flight, and award "C" pilots in the LZ the same score as someone who landed 3 miles out.

Setting up at Whitwell

With the task settled, the Aerosnauts mounted up and heading down into the valley.  We filled the truck with fuel and junk food before traveling the back roads on the west side of the valley exploring potential landing areas.

We were relieved to see it blowing in a bit at times instead of totally cross.  However, I was worried about launching conditions since it was blowing mostly 90 degrees cross from the right and the clouds 1500 feet above were blowing over the back.  The Aerosnauts rigged quickly so we could launch early and snot be trapped on launch if it started to blow down.

Allen launched first, followed by me and then Dan.  Jim and Erin launched a bit later to spread our risk.  Allen turned left and maintained.  I launched and turned left to sample the ridge to the south.  I didn't find much aside from a butt-beating and returned below launch.   I told Erin and Jim to be ready for a "bar room fight" as the wind was blowing across the face of the ridge producing turbulence and broken lift.

Jim launched and stayed on top of the ridge but Erin got flushed to the church LZ.  Meanwhile Allen was working a thermal away from the ridge, Dan was impressing us all, and unfortunately I was looking up at my team.

I like a good fight and started clawing my way up.  Allen sank out and Dan kept pushing on.  I managed to snag a climb and joined Jim on our way to cloud base.  We waited for several other pilots (Bryan, Dennis, and Mike) to reach our altitude before moving on.  We spread out and easily glided over the first large gap and even cleared the second gap.  However, it got interesting as Jim didn't have enough altitude to keep moving on and I barely had enough.  I came into a climb just above ridge height and wrestled with the air as Jim landed at the airfield south of Dunlap and Dan landed a few miles further behind, just short of his goal which was the airfield.

Low ridge where I was just a few feet above the trees before climbing back out.

I once again fought my way up and hooked up with Mark B for a climb on the ridge and then over the quarry.  I glided across the valley towards my second waypoint at the Henson's LZ.  I flew over dry corn fields looking for lift when I noticed Mark turning behind me to the west.  I quickly ran over to him and joined the climb.  From there I got high enough to snag the Henson's LZ turn point and glide back upwind to my goal at the airfield assisted by lift lines over the small ridge in the middle of the valley.

My wing at goal

Jim was still breaking down as I flew overhead searching for air that wasn't going up.  Figures.  I spent 15 minutes looking for a way down!  The lift softened and I spiraled down and landed next to Jim.  Our driver Frances showed up with the rest of the team just as I was zipping the glider bag.

We won the day with me at goal, Dan almost at goal, and Jim 2/3 to 3/4 of the way to goal.  Snot bad.

Ollie handed out some shirts to the "C" pilots after we enjoyed a good meal in the pavilion.

I want to extend a big "thank you" to Rick who allowed us to park on his deck and steal his internet connection during the Team Challenge.

Flights: 1, Duration: 1:45

Friday, October 02, 2009

Team Challenge (Day 4)

We had a lot of launches and landings today, but not much soaring.  It was a blue day, with the exception of the tantalizing cumulus over the plateau on the other side of the valley and the occasional wisp over the back.  The launch window opened early and teams wanting to maximize points starting diving off the ramp to make use of the "re-flight" bonus.

Staging at Henson's Gap.  Notice the blue squares on the Aerosnaut gliders.  Soon everyone was copying our idea.

Wow, what team work!

The Aerosnauts decided to forgo the "re-flight" bonus and try to soar.  Mark B, Mike B, and Dave H managed to snag a climb while the stream of flights to the LZ continued.  Erin, Jim, and I dove into the blue hoping against hope to find a climb.  Erin settled to the LZ while Jim and I entertained the crowd on launch with our team flying in front and below launch.  Clark joined us for a turn or two with the tandem before heading out.  We did our best with the broken weak lift and even managed to get back to launch height before losing it.  Jim eventually sank out while I started working the mechanical turbulence to the right of launch.  I maintained for quite awhile before slowly climbing in a real thermal.  I met Dennis P at ridge height as we climbed to 500 - 600 feet above the ridge.

Mike B looking for signs of life.

I glided over launch and headed towards the "C" goal across the valley.  I noticed two gliders gliding below me and momentarily got excited when one started to turn.  However that excitement was squashed when I noticed the glider continue on with a loss of altitude.  I had to quickly decide between continuing on and probably landing out or running back to the LZ for a shot later in the day.  I decided to return the LZ and try flying with the team later.  I landed and quickly broke down so Erin, Jim, and I could drive back up for another chance.

Mark B teasing everyone by climbing above launch.

We quickly rigged and got ready to launch again.  The late afternoon wonder-wind never materialized so we should have "dove for distance" with our two "C" pilots Dan and Erin.  However that's not our style.  We once again tried to soar on a stable day and ended in the LZ.  We all had good launches and landings, but essentially zero-ed for the day.  Snot the way to win!

Flights: 2, Duration: 0:49

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Team Challenge (Day 3)

Although less than the day before, the wind was a bit too strong for the beginning competition pilots so the day was cancelled during the second safety committee meeting.  However, a dozen or so pilots flew later in the afternoon and had an enjoyable afternoon floating above the ridge.

The Aerosnauts drove to a diner in the valley for lunch.  We talked with the waiter Tyrell and ended up with a CD from his band "Camp Normal".  We listened to the CD on the way back and were jamming and quite impressed.  Snot bad.

Crowd enjoying the sun on Henson's "beach".

The cathedral under the ramp.

Buddy and I hooked into the harnesses attached to the ramp and helped about a dozen pilots "elevator" off launch.

Tip showing off for the crowd.

After all the pilots that wanted to fly were thrown off  the ramp, we joined an official party at a Mexican restaurant in Chattanooga for food, drink, and lots of karaoke.  Some performers rewrote lyrics to include hang gliding references.  Definitely a good time!

A "small" drink.