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

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Saturday April 15, back to Woodstock

Saturday April 15, back to Woodstock
The forecast was for W to WNW winds at 10-15. Not a particularly promising forecast, but on the order of 30 hang glider and paraglider pilots showed up with high hopes. When I arrived at 1:00 about ten hang gliders were set up and waiting for wind. Not even early bird Bacil had launched. PG pilots were taking their turn in the just enough wind, with marginal success. Eventually, about 3:30 the winds started increasing and HG pilots scrambled to launch. As I was moving on deck, the winds were doing a lot of strong and cross. I discussed a possible pre-frontal situation with Karen and Steve K. There were launchable lulls, and neither Steve nor I saw the clouds out across the valley as threatening. Even so, I decided to be prepared to duck under any nasty weather that might come in.
I launched at 4:00, after several minutes of watching a 90 degree cross in the slot. The wind straightened out during the lull, and I grabbed the opportunity. Dave Bodner told me later my run looked a little slow. This matched with my perception that I was lifted in the air a step or so before I had intended - I must have had my nose a bit high; not good, but not terrible. Right away I was in moderate lift, and worked my way to the north finger in steady up, reaching 1200 over launch in just a few minutes. I saw four gliders about 800 to 1000 above me, but they eventually headed south. A light rain started hitting me, and I inspected the cloud that was generating it. Moderately dark, several thousand above me, and spread out along the valley. I was in rowdy air, but not so bad as to be scary. I was thinking it was just not a sky for new Hang 2's or single surface gliders.
I debated with myself just how long the storm clouds would remain, and whether they would build up. Since the winds had been increasing since 3:30, I decided to play it safe and head out to land. Penetration was no problem, although there was lift all the way out, and some bumps. I set up a good fast approach and hit a no-stepper half way up the slope in the LZ. I was much happier with my landing than with my take-off. I was on the ground at 4:15... a short 15 minute flight.
I spent the next three hours in the LZ, relaxing on the grass and mostly watching no one launch. Gary Smith eventually joined me there, and reported a most windy and rowdy hour in the sky. He also had heard from Joe Schad about a real rock n roll landing in the bridge field after a quite rowdy flight. Both Gary and Joe had launched after me. David Bodner gave me a telephone report about 6 that it was really cranking on launch, and no one wanted to launch in it. Driving out to Rout 11 a little after 7:15 I passed Nelson Lewis in a field along Moose Lodge Road; he had landed a few minutes before, after an hour flight. He had been the only launch between 4:30 and 7:30. He also reported a lot of very strong winds.
Over the next two days I read more flight reports of pilots who were in the air between 4:30 and 7:00, and most all of them spoke of high winds, un-fun rowdy conditions, and even being pushed over the back in high performance gliders. For my first one to two hours in the LZ, resting in the grass, I had wondered if I had wimped out by landing when I did. After compiling the available evidence I concluded that I had left the sky at just the right time. I am thankful for a safe launch and landing and some reasonable flying in between those two events.

Sunday, March 26 at Woodstock

The forecast was for NW 10-15 and overcast. Actual was more NNW, but still in the 10-15 range. I launched just after 3:00 with a clean run. The lift seemed light, and I worked it very slowly, eventually peaking at only 800' over launch. Lost that out front to about 50 below, but then worked slowly back up to 500' over. At about 55 minutes air time I headed out into the valley, flying just west of the LZ, where I found big thermal, played it a little, then set up a fast approach for a clean no-step landing. Total air time 61 minutes. Nothing special about the day, but a good launch, good landing, and reasonable day in light lift. It made me happy.