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

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Pulpit Flying, Sunday 9/7

Pulpit PA Flight Sunday 9/7 from Cragin S on Vimeo.

I got an early start driving north to the Pulpit. Travel was easy, and I even waved to the two Maryland cops on Route 58 stopped to visit with a few motorists. I arrived at launch about 11, to find Dave P. setting up his glider and a carload of birders up on the ramp. Other pilots began arriving while I set up the U2. When Bacil D. showed up I bragged on beating him there. He told me that he had had a nice visit with the cops on 58, who only gave him a warning ticket. They had sorta wanted to visit with me, too, it seems, but were busy with the several drivers already stopped. Hmmmm. I guess I may have used up my luck for the day.

Site condition from clean-up: We all owe a big Thank You, and maybe a beer or three, to Shawn R. He had cut all the lower level grass on Friday, and spent part of Sunday morning picking up trash. Meanwhile, Tony D and Charlie G broke out their gas weedwhackers and made the hillside all nice and purdy , too. Thanks, fellas!

The crowd grew, with Dan Tuck, Janni P. and Leonie, Carlos W, Bruce E, Gary s, Kristof, and Joe S also showing up.

While Shawn and I were walking the LZs with Tony and Dan, Dave launched. Apparently he caught the train outta town, because he was over the back by the time we returned to launch. I'm sure he will have a report.

The winds were distressingly light all afternoon. Launchable, but not particularly conducive for soaring (in spite of Dave's success). Joe made it down the ridge for a bit of soaring, and was able to land in the main by the road. Janni squeaked down to the upper main. And Bruce worked his rigid wing patiently slowly up, for along time only a few hundred over. Eventually he caught something by the towers to the north and went off into the valley behind.

Shawn and I co-observed Dan and Tony, and watched them each head off to the secondary. Afterward, Shawn took his sled like the man he is.

Others all landed in the secondary, some after short sleds (even Charlie under a bag). Only Bacil actually chose the secondary when he had the option of going to the main.

With so few flights on my U2, I did not want to land in the short secondary. The light wind and minimal thermal action convinced me to stay on the ground. Carlos gave it a shot in his, but the main was not in his future. By 4:30 we had launched all the pilots but two. My glider was set up and waiting. Gary S had not even set up, the winds were so light. I declared that I was not planning to fly, but would not break down until 5:30. Several of us watched the valley.

Then, surprisingly, the broken mostly blue sky clouded over about 5:00, and along with all the clouds came a steady, strong wind. The residual crowd encouraged me to suit up. I had to shift my mind into flight mode - I had already given up on a flight.
Gary, Janni and Carlos helped me launch, and I was lifted up into the air before even reaching the end of the ramp. I was in moderate lift right away, as I turned down the ridge. I slowly made my way up to abut 600' over launch, and played along Route 16 for about 20 minutes. then I began slowly sinking out - bands of lift not quite making up for the light pockets of sink. I had plenty of time to circle the field and wonder about wind direction. Finally I decided to use the hill, and landed toward the ridge, for a nice uphill landing. 35 minutes and 600' over - not as stupendous as Dave or Bruce, but a most satisfying flight.

At the very end of the day, after Carlos and Janni gave me a ride back to launch, John M showed up with 4 students who had just finished lessons at Kirchners. This was their first view of a mountain launch site. I think they were impressed.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory! Labor Day at Hyner View PA

Hang Gliding at Hyner View, Labor Day 2008 from Cragin S on Vimeo.
Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory! Labor Day at Hyner View PA.

After about ten years of urging from John M and others, I finally got my tail in gear and hit the road for a holiday weekend at Hyner View. Very glad I went; sorry I took so long to do it. Hyner View is indeed a free flight national treasure. Kudos for the Pennsy club for maintaining top relations with the state govies for launch access in the park and the local landowner for a HUGE LZ with the most spacious camping and landing accommodations you can wish for.
We had a quite reasonable contingent of Capital club faces on hand over the weekend. John M with Marnie, Rich C, Shawn R with Melina, David the Amazing with Victoria, Dan Tuck, Bacil D with Judy, myself, and, if the New Yorker will let us still claim him, Brian V-H. Overlapping Brian into the Maryland contingent, we add Bunkhouse Bob and Steve C.
PA locals included Shawn M, Tom G, Bob B, Dennis P, Bill U, Spoons, Joe & Karen G, and a supporting cast of dozens more pilots with innumerable spouses, kids, dogs, and camper trailers in tow.
I had thought my own weekend trip was the longest commute reported to reach Hyner. However, Brian V-H beat me with his 10:30 - midnight loop from NYC. I left the house at 6:45 a.m. and pulled into the LZ at 5:00 p.m. Ok, there was the interlude with the flat tire on the Beltway 15 minutes from home, followed by the purchase and installation of four new Bridgestone Duellers and a particularly troublesome 4-wheel alignment in Springfield. On the road again by 11:30, I pulled into the LZ at 5:00. I visited launch, but due to the extreme N to NE cross wind, did not set up.

On Sunday I flew twice, first with my Pulse about 4, and then with the U2 a bit after 6. Although there were several soaring flights, there were a lot of sleds. I was proud of eking out a dozen minutes on the Pulse, and padding a sled to 4 minutes with the U2.
I joined the cloud dive contingent Monday morning, for my first such experience. It was great, and I did, indeed, see my glory. The snapshot grabbed from my video shows the glider shadow over my left shoulder. The photo does not do justice to the rainbow halo that surrounded the shadow.

I will report that my launches were all good strong runs in light or no wind. On Sunday I landed in the upper field, visible to the picniccers at the swimming pool. For Monday's morning sled I brought it in right in front of the pilots' campfire.
In the evenings, I visited several campfires and enjoyed the many friendly folks. I will admit to bypassing the midnight to two shift up in Two-Town. Sunday night, I also stayed away from the kareoke up at the pool. Reportedly, not all the pilots refrained from it.
My return drive was greatly improved by map advice from Dennis P - I do learn much from him beyond his great flying and weather books. Only 5 hours to get home, and avoided all the I-70 holiday mess.
Thanks to all the great Hyner crowd, It was super fun, and I will get back there again.
For more great videos of the weekend events, see Dan Tuck's videos at