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

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Saturday November 5 at Taylor Farm Training Hill

Good time on the training hill Saturday. I had a specific mission this time, to practice light wind launches with my Ultrasport. A few weeks ago at Woodstock I set up but did not fly because the winds were so light. Brian flew his Falcon that day, and Carlos his Pulse. If I had had my Pulse, I would have, also, but was not sure of myself on very light wind run with the heavier US.
All last year, every time I went to the training hill, I had used my Pulse, because it is easier to carrry back up the hill.
This time I brought both gliders, but only set up the US. I got in three good launches, all in very light and slightly crossing winds. Lots of running... 2 or 3 steps more on the hill than I may have needed with the Pulse. The various Falcon and Eagle pilots in John's class were getting airborne sooner than I.
With three flights, even though the launches were good, I did get a bit tired on the carries back up. I was fatigued on the final flight, and did not handle the landing well. No damage, just embarrasing to slide it in.
John's students were looking good. Bob, who has had one WS flight with John on a Falcon is now ready to seek observers, comfortable with his new Eagle and Z5 harness. Chris Donahue looked very good on his launches and landings (better than me). Busy as a catcher at the trapeze school, he did not get to the mountains all summer, and is ready to get in some flying again.
Taking it easy Sunsday, and out of town next week, so gonna be a while before I get another flying day.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Saturday, October 29 - Wave at Woodstock

I launched at 3:15, after David Bodner had landed, into about 7 mph, immediately after Karen. She must have gotten high fast, because I never did spot her. I stayed on the ridge for ~30 minutes, mostly between the two fingers, and hit 6375 MSL (4520 over launch). At that point I was looking straight out in front at the side of the clouds. definitely cloudbase+. I was also being pushed down the ridge to the south, away from the LZ, and not of my own choosing, so I pulled on the string and stuffed the bar to go out into the valley. That got me down, but more down than I had planned, to 700 over launch but out front and just south of Woodstock. I had previously set a destination in my gps of Dan's Budget Motel field on 11. I landed there (4 mi XC) at 45 minutes, right at 4.
The lift out there was amazing. I was not totally convinced at the time it was wave, although Bruce's 3K over me is a good indicator of wave.. rare to get that high in anything other than wave.
My descent was interesting.. bar totally stuffed, glider flew straighte and smooth, no handling difficulty at all. But I was focused on the clouds, and did not realize how much I had descended becasue the ridge was behind me.
I was marking the ground to see that I was making forward progress. Also, when it is stuffed, I cannot see the instruments
After a sweet no step landing on the back side of the field, away from 11 (slight uphill shape, perfect for landing), I walked from my LZ to the launch road in WS.. 2.5 miles. It was beautiful day for a walk. Karen had my truck and met me there so we went to launch to get hers. That is when she heard Carlos on the radio sking for a pick up in back
oh.. on Dan's Budget field..
the back of it has a great uphill landing area like a shallower main lz
PLUS, at that end is a gate held only by a clipped chain
so you can walk the gilder right out to Hoover Rd, no fence climbing needed.
Super sweet day, with a flight that stretched me a bit, and a nice walk.

Cragin

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Sunday, May 1, 2005 - 1st Ridge Run

Although I have been flying in the mountains just shy of 8 years, I have been pretty conservative in most of my flights. You can count my cross-country flights on one hand. And all of them were over the flats, either over the back at the Pulpit or short sojourns out from Ridgely. I had never felt comfortable leaving the safety of glide-range to the main LZ on any of our ridges. I always worried that I would not find enough lift as I moved out, and would sink out to an ignominious unplanned landing out.
That status changed today, when I took advantage of a really rowdy west cross day at Woodstock. Mid-afternoon winds in the slot were relatively straight and 6-10 with gusts to 16. I launched at 2:30 and hit clean lift right out of the slot. Turned right, and at the first finger found a fat thermal (1000fpm) that quickly took me to 2100 feet over launch. I used that altitude to make my way north, hitting numerous bumps and troughs along the way. Reached the reservoir in less than 30 minutes at about 3100 msl, or 1000 over. Found big sink just south of the pond, and was down to 2500 quickly, but a yellow/green Talon that had preceded me (Dennis McReedy?) was in firm up right over the water. I rushed over to the same spot as he began his run back to the south.
With my altitude back up to about 3000 msl, I started my slow crawl back to the south. The west cross took it's toll. Within two fingers of the ridge I was down to 2300 msl, or only 200 over launch. I started planning my LZ in every section of the valley. I milked every bump or thermal I could fund. I spent a lot of time between 2400 and 2700. Then about a half mile down, I found another boomer. It took me from 2300 to 3100 in just a few minutes. However, the drift put me darn near back at the reservoir again!
This was going to be a slow trip down the ridge. With the VG pulled on and moderate speed, more than once I found myself watching the trees below go backwards, or stay in the same place but moving upward toward me rapidly. Each time I pulled in the bar more, and gave thanks I was flying the UltraSport and not my Pulse.
For almost the entire trip back to the south I was expecting to need to land out, and had two LZs picked at each finger. Virtually the entire trip was around 2400 msl, since my one attempt to gain big altitude also gave me big drift away from goal. Then, I reached the first finger north of launch. That same thermal was still working there, and in another 1000fpm up, I found myself back at 3700msl. Dang, and I was tired and sweaty and ready to land. The trip up to the reservoir had taken about half an hour. The trip back was a solid hour and a quarter. I decided I did not need to play in the sky for another 15 minutes just to cross a magic two hour mark. Even with that, I did some real speed flying out over the valley to get down to landing pattern height.
I made a standard left hand approach down the tree line, came in fast, and flared a tad late, flaring to my knees instead of my feet. But, it was a great flight, lots of work, and a new adventure out of the crib for me! Total time 1:53, max altitude 4200 msl, and my very first ridge run!.
Lots of agreement in the LZ that the day was rowdy, big lift, and alot of work. Pete Schumann collapsed onto the grass after unhooking, declaring himself exhausted. He and Tom McGowan reported 6000' over down to the south, but they both came back to land in the main LZ.
We ought to have a bunch of great flying stories from Woodstock today. I look forward to reading them all!

Cragin