A pleasant light easterly day on a Sunday ensured a crowd would amass at the top of Mount Greylock in western Massachusetts. Although a retreating cloud deck retarded thermal development, I encouraged Max to launch early to avoid the growing throng of pilots that would soon run from the ground into the sky. It was barely soarable, but any mistake or passing cloud put the early birds on the ground. Even so, it was better to take chances with the weak lift than wait for the hoard.
I queued behind Steve on launch and then waited as Steve and another pilot barely kept afloat in front. As Steve started climbing I ran into the air. A few other paraglider pilots quickly launched and we climbed about a 1000 feet (300m) over in smooth weak thermals.
I got lazy and found myself tangled again in the growing fur-ball in front of launch before climbing up and away again into the open sky.
The sky in front looked good so I glided a long way into the valley before turning back empty-handed with my tail between my legs. I arrived at the bottom of the pack and spent the rest of the flight dodging gliders.
I usually enjoy flying close to other pilots, but the density and lack of piloting experience was starting to get scarily dangerous at times. I was continually going from one avoidance maneuver to the next. I finally decided to leave the mountain even though I was low. As feared, I slowly sank out and headed to the LZ.
The smarter pilots waited for all the novice pilots to launch and crowd themselves out of the air before launching into stronger, and less chaotic, conditions. Those patient pilots enjoyed an afternoon at cloud base. Meanwhile I helped shuttle cars and spent the afternoon catching up with friends.
Here is some video footage from the flight,
JJ wrote about the day on his blog "Another Fine Day in the Clever Sky".