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

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pulpit, Saturday, November 18

Early start, to take advantage of the forecast partly cloudy and NW 5-10. Arrived at the Pulpit shortly before 11:00 to find Bacil's glider set up (such a surprise!). and Janni P's glider on the ground ready to set up. well, you know that partly cloudy part? So much for the partly; it was totally clouded over. Winds were on the light side and crossing a bit form the north. As I started setting up, other pilots arrived, including Mike Lee, Shawn Ray (sans glider, since his car broke en route and he borrowed his mom's to get to launch), Dave Proctor, Carlos Weill, and Mark Cavanaugh. Consensus was that it might be on the edge of soarable. Some of us assembled gliders, other equivocated. As Dave, Mark, Janni and I drove to the main LZ (all crops are down), we passed Pete Lehmann and John going up the hill. We dropped a few trucks and headed back to the top. We passed Pete and Jon as they departed, reportedly on their way back west to High Point. Pete seemed not to like the prospects.

Along in there a few PG pilots arrived, Charlie, Laszlo, Tom,
John, and Ellis. I think they each got in one or more flights to the secondary.

Back at the top, we readied for our flights. Bacil sledded to the secondary. Janni followed suit, but got to the primary. Dave worked a bubble or two out over the primary, but still I think it was pretty much an extendo. Carlos bailed for High Rock. Mike was off next, and joined Bacil at the top of Jugtown road. I launched at 1:06 with assist from Shawn, Mark, and John Anderson. Great run off the old ramp into light winds, a careful nursing of the ridge to get me down to the main, and a sweet no-step flare up where the corn had been, for a gentle sled. I joined Dave and Janni breaking down at 7th street.

Now, when he helped me launch, Mark had still been debating breaking down at top, maybe to run over to High Rock. But as I was folding my wing, we saw him launch, in the midst of two paragliders. Since he had driven us back to the top in his truck after the truck shuttle at 12:30, I figured I'd wait for him to take him back to the top. Janni left, saying he'd get Bacil and Mike at the secondary. Dave left to grab a bite in town. Mark was still working the ridge. Hmmm. Maybe my wait for Mark would be a bit longer. I finished putting gear away. Dave had offered to come back for Mark if I wanted to head home early. Naw.. that's ok, Mark will be right down. like the rest of us. I was just about to give up and leave, when Mark finally headed out to land. Even then, he milked every foot of the flight to the end. Finally, mark joined me on the ground, after a 70 minute flight... on a day 5 other pilots eked out sleds. Definitely flight of the day!

Back at the top, Mark and I talked to Ellis as she contemplated launching again about 3:30. However, the winds had picked up noticeably, honking higher than PG-friendly speeds, plus still a bit of north cross. As I headed home a bit before 4:00, Ellis was packing it up.

Thanks to Shawn for coming on out to help crew, even though he didn't fly.

I even got home in time to go out to a party with the wife, for one of her clubs.. I hope that got me a brownie point or three.

I hope Mark gives the details for us on his flight. He clearly worked hard and deserved his prize. For myself, very happy for strong launch, clean safe landing, and flying in between. Not a bad day.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Blue Sky, Friday, November 10, 2006

I left Alexandria heading south on I-95 about 9:30. Noticed that the HOV lanes were mighty empty - those lanes had been secured as reserved passage for the busses taking VIPs and other guests to the dedication of the Marine Museum at Quantico. At every entrance or utility entrance to the car pool lanes there were orange cones and either a big highway maintenance truck or a State Trooper, blocking access. LOTS of security all along there. Southbound traffic was running normal, but northbound I-95 was pretty packed because of this.

Arriving at Blue sky a bit before noon, I found one glider set up. It was a Pulse, belonging to Mike, one of the Kitty Hawk Kites instructors who had been up for the biannual reunion. He lives in Powhatan, only 45 minutes from Blue Sky. Tom, and Gene Towns, and John (?) each arrived, so we had a handful of pilots ready to truck tow. Tom led off about 1:00, and the rest of us added to the line. Winds were pretty light, and the few thermals were small and tricky to stay in, so the best any of us did were sleds and extendos. I flew 7 times between 1:00 and 3:45. Air was buoyant, so I did pretty well on the tows, reaching over 1K AGL on 6 of 7 flights. That felt good, because on some days I only get to about 900'. Only on #2 did I find lift sufficient to gain (all of 40 feet) above pin-off altitude.

#----Time (min)-----Tow height
2-------8-----------------1050 +40

As I was finishing my final flight, one of Steve's scooter tow students, Patrick, arrived with friend Kimberly. Patrick was ready for his first ever truck tow. Kimberly and I watched him make is first and second flights from the truck, Pretty good launch on the first, a bit nose high just off the truck, but still seemed to get to about 800'. For the second he did better with this angle of attack, and I think he made it to 1000'. He stuck both landings with excellent clean no-steppers. I am sure he was on a cloud the rest of the weekend.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Blue Sky Flight Park, Sunday, November 5, 2006

A day at the flight park was a fine finish to a most satisfying three flying day weekend. After an hour over the Virginia fall foliage at Woodstock on Friday, and a fun day at the Pulpit on Saturday with a short flight over Pennsylvania trees on Saturday, I headed down to Manquin for some towing over the farm field.
When I arrived shortly before noon, Steve Wendt was finishing up a scooter class with several enthusiastic students. Karma and Hank were there; Karma had been towing on Saturday, and Hank had been there all week, dialing in to his new T2. John Claytor and Steve Kinsley also joined the afternoon crowd. It was a light and switchy wind afternoon, with a clear blue sky a few wispy clouds. It was a truck towing day, with varying success on finding thermals. I ended up with six flights, but was able to work lift on only two of them for extendos. On one, I got a gain of about 250'; for the other, I just slowed my descent for 10 minutes of playing. The rest were pure sleds. Kinsley showed us how it's done, catching a thermal just off tow, and eventually getting well over 3K for the flight of the day. Claytor gave him a run for his money, joining Steve up high at one point.
Since my flying days have been few over the past 5 months, it was really nice to get in so many flights over a single weekend. Lots of smiles on the drive home. I needed that.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Pulpit, Saturday, November 4, 2006

With a forecast of 5-10 NW to W for Saturday, I was hoping for a 2d day of extended mountain flying. However, the forecast, and actual winds, went lighter and lighter. I arrived at Pulpit launch about 10:40 to find Bacil set up and ready (hardly a surprise.) The wind direction was good, but light. Bacil opined that it was not yet sufficient to sustain ridge lift. Danny Brotto arrived as I was setting up, and we both got our gliders ready. Mark Cavanaugh and Carols Weill arrived. And then we waited. Even Bacil, usually anxious to get into the sky early, was not jumping up to fly.
Other pilots arrived - mostly paragliders. They were all quite excited about the conditions, and prepared to bag-drag into the air. Laszlo, Stefan, Hugh McE, John Middleton, Karen Carra, and Matthew Graham all unfolded wings. Of course, they are all quite happy to land in the secondary - a field I prefer not to try with my UltraSport.
Yanni pulled in in his new truck with Glen and Grigor the Greek. Ah.. three more hang gliders.
Mark C finally decided to chance it, and showed that there was some lift out there. Glenn followed, and also found a bubble. Apparently it was possible to reach the primary. Grigor launched from the PG sloe between the ramps, and then at 3:13 I was off the old ramp. I never found those bubbles that Mark and Glenn had shown us, but I did make it down the ridge enough to beam out to the primary LZ for a comfortable 5 minute sled. Report was that my launch was pretty good. Thanks! My landing approach was very good, and then I was just slow enough on the flare to flare to a no-stepper to my knees instead of my feet. Oh, well.. a safe landing is a good landing.
No camera with me, so no photos, and no point in doing fancy GPS graphs for today.
Once more I have gone into the countryside, and done the stuff of dreams.. I have flown! Millions around the world would envy me, if only they knew.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Woodstock, Friday, 11/3/06

Friday, November 3, 2006 - Woodstock

With a forecast of 10-15 NW, I headed out for Woodstock, hoping for decent flying day on a hooky day. The overturned log truck at mile 22 on I-66 only delayed me about 20 minutes, so I got to the LZ close to 1:00. I watched a glider launch as I drove up to the LZ. Three others were in the sky. As I parked, three of the four were flushed. They turned out to be Kitty Hawk Kites instructors, up for the reunion weekend. Kelvin had the luck of launching right into the flush cycle, so he soon joined the crowd in the LZ.
Carlos showed up a few minutes later, and as we were about to head out, David Bodner arrived, so the three of us pooled to the top, where we found Steve K. and Tim.
As we were setting up, three paragliders launched, reinforcing the light winds evidence of the earlier flush cycle. But, heck, we were there, so we set up. David B. started the late launch cycle at about 3:00, and found lift right way. The rest of us got in line. I launched at 3:26. and soon worked up to 1050' over launch. Others were higher, and some ran up the ridge. I stayed around the two fingers, slowly sinking back to only 100' over, but then recovered another lift are and worked back up to 1000' over. It was satisfying to get back up like that.
As an hour in the sky approached, I decided it was chilly enough, so I worked my way into the valley to prepare to land. It figures - when I wanted to get down, I hit all kinds of lift. So I stuffed the bar and flew out over the Fishburn house for a high speed descent.
I finished up a bit low as I entered the pattern over the LZ, but cam e in ok. I was late on the flare, so bumped down to wheels, but it was a clean stop and safe landing. Total time of 62 minutes in the air, hitting 1K over twice.
The trees were in full fall glory, oranges and reds and yellows all across the mountain. Sadly, the helmet cam is off for repair, so I don't have video of them. In the late afternoon low angle sun, they were even more fascinating, especially when the nearly full moon rose over them. It was a gorgeous view. However, tech toys being fun, I have added both the vertical flight profile from the Map 76CS GPS, as well as the flight track overlaid on imagery from Google Earth. You can see that the track is pretty boring, but well worth a fun hour in the sky.