I was a Live Exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum Dulles Annex, Udvar-Hazy Center,
March 25, 2006

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Sunday, May 23, 2004, Highland Aerosports, Ridgely MD

There has been way too much idle time between my flying days. Business travel, parental duties, weekend classes all conspired to give me a 6 week break in flying. Today the forecast we for SW winds 1-12, but with a chance of late day thunderstorms. I arrived at Ridgely early, to find Larry Huffman and Pete Lehmann presiding over their advanced cross country clinic. I spent the morning with the Highland staff, watching a few tandem lessons and waiting for signs of lift – like little cummie clouds forming in the distance. About 2:00 several pilots decided to give it a try. Jason played wind dummy, and reported very small thermals, but nothing he could work. John Middleton did better, finding enough to stretch out a 25 minute flight. I had my first launch at 2:30, but after a rather rowdy first 500 feet, popped the weak link at 640 feet. I returned to the main LZ, landing in some turbulence, and missing my flare to belly in on the wheels. Again. Darn. Again.
I got right back in line, and this time the tow was much smoother. Tug Pilot Windosr dropped me right in a working thermal, that I slowly rode from 2500’ to 3000’. Then I spent a while flying in and out of the lift, effectively maintaining atr 3K. Lost that one over the swampy woods, and was not able to find anything else. Landed with 15 minutes airtime with a very smooth no step right by the taxiway. Rather tired and hot, I took a break for a coke and snack, and found the hammock by the picnic tables quite inviting. The plan was a third late day flight, expecting a sled. However, shortly after 4:00 Sunny called in all the aircraft when they spotted a thunderstorm in the distance. I rushed to break down the glider, and was on the road about 5:00. It was not a super day as flying goes, but it was excellent to get back into the sky.

Sunday, April 10, 2004, Highland Aerosports, Ridgely MD

It was a light lift day at the tow park, but I made the best of it. On my first flight at 3:30 I pinned off at the standard 2500’, but found no lift until I had descended to 100’. I caught a good working thermal there and rode it back up to 1900’. That was the only one I found for the day, but it gave me a satisfying 25 minute flight. I was pleased to nail a clean no-step flare landing.
At 5:10 I gave it a late day try for number 2. This time the best I could do was milk areas of light sink, stretching my sled into a 13 minute flight. This time I finished off with a good 4-step run out landing.

Saturday, April 9, 2004, Woodstock, VA

The forecast was 10 - 15 NW, which attracted a crowd hopeful for spring time lift and cross-country potential. We all found abundant lift and opportunity for adventure. After observing David Bodner on his launch, I headed off the mountain about 3:50. My first 10 minutes were playing in messy ridge lift, looking fob the sweet spot on the ridge. I stumbled into the right spot, catching a thermal at 400’ over launch and riding it up to 3860’ over, 5700msl. I descended from that max and spent most of the flight about 1300’ above launch. Many other pilots ran the ridge for a lot of xc activity, including forays way out over the valley toward I-81. I played it very reserved and stayed in the sky near launch. Eventually I got a bit cold and queasy, so I headed out to land, pushing through the lift to land after 68 minutes. I made one more 360 turn before entering the base leg than I should have, so my turn to final was much too low. I pulled it off, but then was late to flare and bellied in on the wheels. Darn.