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

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Opening Day

Lee and Peter met Jeff and I at my place for the relatively short drive to Hang Glide New England in central Massachusetts.  Although I have been flying a lot, today was my first flight this year in New England.  Also, it was the first time several months that I wasn't racing XC.

Rhett dropped me off in a weak, but consistent, climb to the south and I stayed relatively high for the next couple hours.  I shared several climbs with Peter J and Max.  A mature bald eagle climbed with us; at times coming in real close.


Max and his new green machine

I played over the hills to the east until Lee mentioned he had a good climb just north of the field.

A bit later, Anna, rocking her new glider, joined the climb and I got to see what her glider looks like in the air.  Sweet.




Anna, Matt, and I shared a lazy climb to the south of the field before Anna left to prepare for tandem flights.


I slowly drifted downward towards a landing when I spotted Max at the same altitude preparing to land.  I quickly dove in to give him more room and ended up on final a bit too high with a tailwind and whacked onto the asphalt.  Ouch.  I ended up scuffing my knee and my once-shiney new glider.  Sigh.  Not the way I wanted to end my first flight back at home.

Max wrote about the day on his blog.

Flights: 1, Duration: 2:32

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Pull the Plug

Davis, Richard, and I originally planned to fly to Arcadia.  However, as the day progressed we changed the task to Fantasy of Flight and back.

I was the first off and Mark dropped me into a strong climb that I rode to base.  Malcolm, Richard, and Davis weren't so lucky and had to piece together several weaker climbs to get up.  I waited around so we could leave together.

We started south but Davis pointed out several large cells to the east that were dumping copious amounts of rain.  The cells were building to the west, but, as we found out later, were mostly moving to the south.  We had to make a quick call and decided to return to the field before things got potentially messy.

I had a good landing and had my glider mostly packed up before the gust front swept across the field.

(No pictures today since I am preparing for the upcoming competition.)

Flights: 1, Duration: 1:11

Monday, May 04, 2015

Too Good to Pass Up

Everyone at Wallaby Ranch was waiting for the cloud field to the east to move overhead.  We waited and waited.  The edge of the cloud field slowly built west.  We waited longer.  Occasionally a cloud would appear overhead quickly evaporate.  We waited longer.  Finally a few clouds briefly appeared overhead just as a couple pilots got tired of waiting and pushed out to launch.  The crowd, including me, followed.

Everyone else seemed to be doing well, but I kept topping out low while others seemed twice as high at cloud base.  I would climb while drifting downwind, plow upwind and arrive low to do the whole thing again.


Still blue to the west

Going back upwind with Jason

Wallaby Ranch


I heard Mike and Jim leave from base to the north only to hear them quickly struggling down low.  That didn't help my confidence in the day.  Although higher, Jason and Felipe, were on the same discouraging program as me.

I was thinking I was on my last upwind slog, when Jason found a strong rowdy climb low to the east of the field.  I dove in and we climbed back-to-back nearly to cloudbase.

It was then that I noticed that the cloud field was directly overhead and looking insanely good.  I couldn't let such a line of clouds go untapped.  Jason followed while Felipe stayed to spend time with family.

Once I cruised off the line, I noticed the wind was now quite brisk (18 mph / 29 k/h).  Jason and I worked some short climbs and decided to move on.

We talked with Jim on the ground along Route 33.  Mike, fighting the headwind along Deen Still was ready to pull the plug.  We decided to end our flight at QuestAir since the wind was getting strong and we didn't have a retrieve.  I found a strong climb that put me into a position where I could then push upwind to a cloud that could get me into QuestAir.  If it didn't pay off, I would land along Route 33 below.  The cloud was working and I easily made it in with plenty of altitude.

One last climb?

Mark greeted me

Jason climbed in the same thermal and also made it in.  Leigh drove my car over to bring us back.  (Thanks Leigh!)

Flights: 1, Duration: 2:17, Distance: 22 miles