Sunday, August 05, 2018


Hazy, hot, humid coupled with stable and light winds.  Not a great forecast for soaring ... or hiking.  However, it wasn't raining which is rare this summer.  Only a few pilots turned up with the less-than-stellar forecast.  John, Pete, and Tim were already hiking up Mount Tom when I meet Dennis and Mike at Pat's (LZ).  The three of us left a trail of sweat along the path up.

We ate lunch and slowly prepared our wings in the sweltering heat.  John had a tandem flight scheduled later in the afternoon so he stepped up to launch first.  We hide in the shade while John melted on launch.  After an hour of essentially no wind, John retreated to the shade to cool off.

Just as Ben arrived we noticed a light breeze wicking up the slope from the left.  A couple of us walked over to check out the "west launch" and discovered more wind there.  That report was enough for John and Tim to suit up and move to the other launch.  We helped John lay out his glider and stood back as a light breezed puffed in when I noticed Tim hadn't walked over yet.  I told everyone to be prepared for "that bastard" to come flying past us.  About 2 minutes later, we all cheered Tim as he came by at our height after taking off from the primary launch.  He made a quick pass and, as soon as he cleared the cliff, John launched.

They both got established above the ridge but Tim sank below as he ventured north.  However he found a weak thermal and was climbing when I went for my gear.  Gravity had prevailed by the next time I checked their status; Tim was on the ground in the LZ and John was maintaining in a weak thermal.  The combination of seeing Tim on the ground and calm wind on launch slowed and then smothered any effort to suit up.

Eventually John found a nice thermal, got relatively high, and flew out into the valley, and then to the LZ to meet his tandem passenger.

I have never launched at the smaller "west launch" and what little thermal activity we had seemed more robust over there, so I suited up and headed over with Dennis.  Locals Ben and Pete, helped me lay out the wing correctly and then Pete held a streamer up front for me.  Unlike before, the tiny thermal cycles seemed to be coming from the right (north) of launch.  That was a problem since we had the wing spread out facing to the left (south) of launch.  I tried to inflate the wing several times, but each time the wing was blown to the left unevenly.  I finally gave up and hiked back to the primary launch.

Mike was launching when I arrived, and since no one else was ready, I walked onto launch, spread out my wing, pulled up, and ran into the air.  Timing is everything!

Although sparse and weak, there were thermals lurking about.  I slowly climbed above the ridge and was joined by Ben and Dennis.

Lift was plentiful for a short time.

We danced above the ridge for a short time and then started to sink out.  While the others slide down to their LZs, I found a little thermal on the south end of the ridge that I shared with a vulture for almost 20 minutes.

Working my way up.

Can see the top again!

Once above the towers, I was able to start circling and climbed to the top with my feathered wingman.

Flying buddy

Once high it was relatively easy to stay up.  I played around the ridge and watched John finesse his tandem glider and passenger into the air.

By the time John got into the air, the day was shutting down.  I flew with them for a couple passes and clung on as long as possible.  Pete launched over me as I passed below him along the ridge.  It was soon time to go land.

I talked with John's tandem passenger before packing and then John, Pat, and I hung out in the shade catching up before I headed home.

Flights: 1, Duration: 1:12

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