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

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Blue Sky Report, Saturday 6/16/07

With temps forecast to 82 on Saturday and 94 on Sunday, I declared Saturday my flying day for the weekend. South winds sent me down to Blue Sky for a bit of towing. On the way down I found myself in caravan with Chris Donahue, having merged together where the I-95 HOV lanes end. Besides Chris D., others at the park included Peter Kain, Chris Cioffi, Tom, Craig, Mike, Andrew, and even Jim Carrigan getting to fly for his own amusement. Joe is flying the tug this summer, giving Jim a bit more freedom in his days.
We had a lot of overcast, so not a lot of workable lift. Peter did scratch hard to get over a half hour off of an early afternoon AT. That was FOTD for the Park.
For my part, I started with a truck tow... in the sinky air only got to about 750 feet. That was a pleasant sled.
Later in the afternoon, Joe pulled me up behind the beautiful white BlueSky dragonfly. He looked hard for something nice to drop me in, but not much was available. There were a couple of bumps over the gold course, but nothing I could work successfully.
Pleasant flights, good clean landings, and a good friendly crowd - a successful flying day.
I avoided I-95 traffic no the way home, coming up 301 into MD. Very pleasant drive, with no where near the hassles of the Interstate, at least until the Capital Beltway. Once more, I noted that the least expensive gas was on the Virginia side of the river, near the Nice bridge on 301 - $3.79. As soon as I crossed into Maryland, the price jumped to $3.99. Dang!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Flying High Rock, June 9, 2007

My log book tells me I had not flown High Rock since the High Rock Fly-In on August 17, 2005. That is way too long to be away from such a great flying site. Weather, schedules, complications of life, Presidential TFRs around Camp David; many reasons had kept me away from the Rock. But the Rock, and Ms. Emma Jane and Harry had been in my thoughts, especially as we got word of Harry's medical problems the past couple of years.
After Emma Jane lost Harry last month, I was able to visit with her twice. That helped me, and I hope it helped her. Then, last week the forecast was looking like a doable, if not great, HR day coming up. Many of us wanted to fly there, even if conditions worked out only as marginal, to be able to support Emma. Janni P. urged us on to turn it into a full gathering. He had the right idea, and many of the local pilots not tied up with the ECC over at Ridgely met up to fly and socialize together and with Emma.
I arrived at launch after 1:00, just in time to watch Janni leap into the sky, joining 3 others already airborne. While I set up, he and two of them found a sink cycle, but Dennis S. just got higher. With Matthew's urging to show him where the lift was, I led the second charge at about 2:40. Sure enough, I quickly made it to 400 over at the rock pile, then moved to the north, chasing Dennis. I found my big one for the day, reaching 1400 feet over launch. Matthew, Bunkhouse Bob, and a couple of others followed me, but for about 15 minutes I had top of that stack (I'm still not counting Dennis). Then, somehow, I sank back to 500 over, and Matthew and another pilot caught the good one. For 10-15 minutes Bob and I vied for low man honors, but always between 300 and 500 over. We kept a good eye on each other, working pretty close together up and down the ridge.
Eventually Bob turned wisely and I turned unwisely; he went higher and I sunk below launch, having to turn out toward the LZ. At the tracks aI found a bubble worth two 360s, but no more. Then, at the silo field I stumbled into a nice strong thermal. I worked it hard, and with a 100 foot gain, saw Matthew zooming over to join me in it. I rode up another 100 feet, but did not like the drift so left the thermal to set up my approach. I watched Matthew continue to ride it higher, back over the trees. I cursed him, thinking he would take it back to the ridge.
My set up and approach went well, but I flared a few seconds late, so skidded in with a safe, but not pretty, clean landing. My time was just shy of 55 minutes. As I carried off, Matthew came in right behind me, logging almost the same flight time.
Since it was still early, we both packed back to the top for a second try. At a minimum, we each hoped to accumulate a full hour of flying tome for the day. Thanks to Kathy C for shuttling my truck down for me, so it was ready to cart Matthew and me back up. Sorry she was not able to fly her first HR day.
For my second flight after 6:00 I tried a running launch from 4 steps back on the rock. Apparently I stumbled on that last step (according to wire crew witnesses), because I departed the rock with almost no forward energy, the run notwithstanding. I pulled into the steepest dive-out I have ever performed, got my airspeed, and pushed out over the tree tops. Shawn told me it was one scary steep dive, but also that I had plenty of clearance over the trees.
Once in flight, I found zilch for lift, and headed straight out, sinking nicely. Karen C had sledded out before me. On the ground, we both commented on the gnarly bumpy air we both felt on our short flights. Not new H2 kinda day, even for sleds. Total time on #2 - just over four minutes. Hmmm... even together, I didn't quite make my goal of an hour. Oh, well.
Thanks to Steve K. for the body ride back to the top for my truck.
Back to the bottom, I spent a half hour on the front porch with Emma and Randy. They are making it, but it is really tough on Emma. We tried to get her down to the LZ pavilion, but she said she was not up for a big crowd. We each did go see her in small groups, though, and she really appreciated that. She is truly appreciative of the HG community support for paying the funeral bill.
I finished the evening with the beer and grill crowd. telling tales, some of them true, and educating the two newest to HR, Kathy and David the Amazing, on HR lore.
My day was rewarding on many levels, with flight, closeness with Emma, and with fellow pilots in the LZ.
I did capture a few minutes of flight time with my little video camera, so I have another YouTube entry for this post.