I tossed on with Allen S and Randy at Randy's place around 8am. John B and Jeff C left about an hour later. After signing waivers and buying ride coupons, saying hello to Dave, Ilya, Kevin, Pat, and others, we searched for a board to support our carbon base-bars on the carts we use to haul gliders to the 450 foot launch (137 m). All three of us rode up the hill looking for scrap lumber. It was such a nice day, I decided to walk back down.
250 foot (76 m) launch
I helped Pat relaunch as Randy landed after a short flight off tow. Um, not encouraging. I had an uneventful and unpromising tow behind Eric. I released and immediately headed west to a disturbance on the river presumably caused by a thermal lifting off. I found a very weak climb, hugged it tightly, and slowly climbed up and away.
The day's weather continued to intrigue me. Climbs below 3000 feet (900 m) were weak to non-existent. Climbs between 3000 and 5000 feet (1500 m) were wire-twanging turbulent. (My instrument pod pounded onto my helmet on one violent weightless snap). Above 7000 feet (2100 m) the air was frigid and the climbs ballistic. Large areas of cumulus would develop, shade the ground, dry out to blue, and then start over. It was important to keep moving around to avoid the localized overdevelopment and crushing sink that followed the collapses.
My afternoon was dominated by a rookie mistake of leaving winter gloves in the harness and wearing spring gloves with heat packs instead. I don't like cold and it was freezing; literally. Whenever high, I would loose feeling in my fingers and eventually the ability to move them. The line from my water bladder froze solid and didn't thaw until I landed. This meant I needed long glides into the blue so I could get below 5000 feet (1500 m) and into warmer air. Even so, I was having a great flight.
I shared a climb with Pat and then a climb with John A, who launched with Jake from Mount Ascutney. John headed west towards the Springfield airport while I headed towards Mount Ascutney. I had to turn around when a collapsing large cloud complex caught me. My vario was pegged in the sink. Yikes!
Connecticut River (looking south)
Connecticut River (looking north towards Mount Ascutney)
I was more careful the next time and flew directly over the launch that Jake and John used about an hour earlier. I then flew to the Springfield Airport and briefly considered flying to Ludlow before turning southeast to the town of Springfield and then back to Morningside for a 39 mile (63km) triangle.
I returned to Morningside and shared a climb with Randy and then Pat before heading west to complete another smaller 22 mile (35 km) triangle.
East of Morningside
The cold was finally winning out, so I started gliding in the blue to keep warm even as I passed John B climbing as I returned to Morningside the second time.
I spent the long time needed to glide off 9200 feet (2800 m) to enjoy the scenery, experiment with the glider, and warm up. I was glad I decided to call-it-a-day when I watched the wind mills in Lempster slow to a stop, turn 180 degrees, and slowly start turning again; a sure sign the shift to the strong easterly wind was getting near.
I was all set for a spot landing when Dave and I decided to use the LZ at the same time. The look on his face when he first saw me also turning onto final was precious! We both maneuvered to good safe landings, but neither close to the bulls eye.
Everyone, aside from Randy, landed back at Morningside. He flew east and then south as he overflew the convergence line and landed into an east wind about 30 miles (48 km) away at the airfield in Hillsboro. Allen and I packed up, drove to Hillsboro to pick up Randy, had some ice cream to hold us over until we had dinner in Peterborough.
If I had wore winter gloves I might have tried for a larger triangle, maybe across the Green Mountains to Rutland Vermont and back. Even so, I manage 61 miles of XC and 3+ hours on a unique flying day in New England.
Flights: 2, Duration: 3:17, Distance: 39 miles, 22 miles