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

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Double Park Weekend - 11/7&8

The loving wife ran off to Texas for the weekend, to play RenFest with her brothers & sister-in-law (see KaysHappenings for a report), leaving me in charge of the house, dog, and vehicles. The weather looked clear, with moderate temps, but wind speed and direction were inauspicious for mountain flying. Clearly, the solution was flight parks and towing.

I declared Saturday to be macho day, first spending an hour at the NRA range working on my sight grouping. From there, on down to Blue Sky at Manquin.

I liked the 6-10 S forecast, perfect for the Blue Sky runway. Arrived about 12:30 and saw four glders set or setting up.

As I was in my initial conversation with Steve Wendt, a lovely and brightly smiling woman walked up. He introduced me to his wife. Tatyana and Steve were married in her home conutry of Moldova last January. Steve kept the news secret, even from his parents, as they worked on the immigration processes. The last hurdles for a spousal visa overcome, Tatyana arrived in the USA just four weeks ago. Steve said she is learning to sew, and she LOVES driving the little tractor to mow the grass at the park.

Clearly, Steve has a helpmate, in many ways. That is a very happy couple.

Winds were solid in direction, but stronger than expected; no soaring to be had. Several pilots had one flight each; I flew three times.

Good tows off the truck; I reached 1150 and 1250 on first two runs from the truck. Release popped early on the third at 600. Tow of the day was a newer pilot on a Falcon, last tow of the day, who reached close to 1800'.

I was very pleased with my three close in, no-step landings in the moderate wind

A huge and sincere congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Steve Wendt!

Sunday, for change of pace and balance, I headed over to Highland Aerosports at Ridgely.
I first walked Daisy around the block, then headed east over the bay, Ward was there before me, so I was the second glider set up for the day. A bright and light wind day, I wathced as the crowd grew. Pilots there eventually included Christian T, Joe G, John D, John M, John and Heather S, Carlos W, Tom McG, Steve K,HUgh & Sally McE, Luis, and a few others.

Lift was close to non-existent. Only Tom McG stayed up for any significant length of time, although Christian gave it a shot in his rigid. I flew tiwce, both gentle tows to the standard 2500, with slow sleds down to the field. My second flight included about a minute of added air time by playing in very light lift at around 600' over teh swamp adn trees. One good landing, one slightly late flare. The good part is that both were in dry spots on the field. LOTS of recent rain left many soggy pools across the LZ. Part of the day's entertainment was watching landings with a splash.

After a pumpkin beer with Joe and Christian and Sally, (thanks, Joe), I was on the road back to VIrginia.

Five flights in two days, both platform and aerotowing, and a good set of landings overall. Pretty nice weekend!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Back to the Pulpit, 10/25/09

Pulpit Sled 10/25/09 from Cragin S on Vimeo.







Left the house at 9:30 and arrived at Pulpit launch at 1130.
Was pretty much set up to fly before 1:00, but various distractions and assists delayed me entering the launch line. One of the distractions was the sight of Pete struggling like crazy to find lift in front of launch as Krys sledded down to the secondary. (We won't talk about Carlos playing happily at a grand over down by the towers as this was going on.)
There was a lot of buoyant air between 4 and 5. More on that in a moment. Having helped several other launches, we reached the point where the last two HGs set up were mine and Karen's. Some may be aware that Karen and I have a de facto tradition at the Pulpit: I launch mid to late afternoon and get 20-30 minutes, then Karen launches really late and gets 1 hour +. I decided to swap with her this time; we got her into the air at 5:00, then Bacil, Carlos, and Pete assisted me off the ramp about 5:10
Well, make note of the buoyancy window (4-5) and our two launch times. Karen had a reasonably leisurely glide out to the main LZ, and I joined her in the closest thing possible to a Pulpit sled that ends in the main - a nice fun 4 minute flight..
While breaking down by 7th Street, we decided to go back to our old launch order.

Thanks to Bacil, Carlos, and Pete for crewing for me.

Dinner afterwards was at Brewer's on Alley, Market St, Frederick.

Here I am with Alex and Carlos.


We had nearly a dozen at the exended table.

After dinner and beer in Frederick, I was home by 11:30. 14 hour day, 4 minute flight. Gotta love this sport!
And, I do!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pulpit Flying, Sunday, October 11, 2009.

The view from the ramp as I start my launch run:


My launch sequence, photographed by Mel Sessa:










View From the Bottom of the Stack from Cragin S on Vimeo.






The view of the main landing zone as I turn on to final approach:


Once more I return ot the club site the Pulpit to fly over McConnellsburg. An early start (for me) got ,me there about 11:15. Dan Tuck and Greg S were already there. Other pilots showed up over the next couple of hours. I had agreed ot be Observer for Greg S. This would be his second Pulpit flight. His dad, Mel, was there, camera in hand. Mel's photography club has a contest underway with the theme of flight. Bacil arrived a bit after 12, and after a quick set up was the first to launch. He used the new gravel slope and found lift right away. Greg was encouraged by the easy launch, and we talked about a flight plan. Dan Tuck was next pff teh gravel slope. Greg decided to go from the old ramp, since his previous Pulpit launch was from that ramp. Mel was more nervous than Greg. Ric H and Kelvin P assisted on the wires and Greg was off and up into the sky.
I helped Krystof launch, then finished suiting up while several other pilots launched, including Kelvin, Ric, Carlos, and Luis. Dan T, Tony D, and PG pilot crewed me off the old ramp at 1:50. My launch felt good - none of the nose pop I had done a couple of times recently.
The great lift of noon had diminished, so I only got about 200 over launch as I worked down the ridge. I looked up to see 5 or 6 gliders several hundred above me, bu t I never caught the bump to join them. After playign around just above the ridge, I slowly sank out, and headed out to join the two gliders already on the ground. I set up a clean approach and ran out my landing in the middle of thei main field. Total time, 20 minutes.
Others joined me on the ground over the next hour, and one car headed back to the top to launch Dan T. Last to launch, Dan caught the only train over the back and was the lone XC of the day, crossing I-81 just east of Greencastle.
Supper at Tony's Pizza on Rt 11 in Greencastle with Bacil, Dan Tuck, Carlos, and Luis, then off to the house. Good, fun day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

One More Pulpit Day - 9/13/09

The Sunday forecast was NNW to NW, 5-10. They got the north cross right, but were a bit shy on the wind strength. I arrived at launch a few minutes afternoon, finding five pilots there, and four gliders set up. Dan Tuck , Carlos, Tony D, and Dave P had gliders just about ready. Mark C was waiting to hear about High Rock. We helped Dave and then Dan and Tony get airborne. They got high quickly. They also were pushed down the ridge FAST by the NNW wind.
Carlos made three tries before accepting the conditions and running off the ramp.
That left Mark C and me without crew for a while. We hung out. Mark played guitar and I read (Hacker Crackdown by Bruce Sterling - neat book). We visited with birders and wuffos.
Dan T headed off to pick up Dan Tuck. Tony D left the LZ to fetch Dave P. Rich B came up for a while. Eventually we had enough crew to launch, so Mark C and I got our flights in, launching after 5:00.
I was in the aired by 5:25, and working hard to stay above the ridge. Still a lot of north in the wind. I eked out 25 minutes and landed in the main. Mark joined me ten minutes later. I was much happier with my launch this week.. flat and straight. Had a good approach in the big main LZ, but flared a little early, so popped up ot about 6 feet. That made for a safe no step but with a little nioise as I bumped down feet to knees to wheels.
Here is this week's sampler video of the flight:

Pulpit Flight Tidbits 9/13/09 from Cragin S on Vimeo.



8/30 at the Pulpit

The next Sunday I made a return appearance at our club-owned site. This time I launched from the old ramp, instead of the new gravel slope. Wasn't too happy with my launch; got turned to the left and had to work a bit to correct as I was leaving the ramp. Feedback from a wirecrew pilot later was that I had let my nose pop up and I was mushing. Gonna watch that.
Had a nice thermalling flight, reaching 1550 over launch. Played in the sky a long time, then landed on purpose after one hour, in order to head home early.
I was much happier with my landing than with my launch, taking a nice cross-wind landing in the upper field. It was a sweet two step landing.

Tony D and Dan Tuck both landed with me, and the three of us waited a long time before going back to launch, because a motorcycle had hit a big truck on Rt 30 and the road was closed. We had seen the thick black smoke from the truck fire while flying, and wondered what had happened.
Eventually, Tony took us all back to the top the long way round on Rt 16. We had to get past the police road block at the bottom of the hill to reach launch.

No video this week - both cameras failed to record, dang it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

8/23/09 at the Pulpit

Saturday was filled with rain, courtesy of Bill running up the coast. Sunday was forecast as light NW, enough to tempt several of us out to High Ro9ck and the Pulpit. After a morning of socializing over coffee, I headed out to the Pulpit at 11:15. I arrived at launch at 1:18 - just missed my two hour travel prediction. A fair crowd of both hang glider and paraglider pilots assembled. The winds were very light, encouraging the PGers and discouraging the HGers. Finally about 2:30 Mark C played wind dummy and was rewarded with about a ten minute extendo. He then spent along time in the LZ waiting for company. at 3:30 Peter A gave it a try in his Sport 2. His sled got him all the way to the secondary, where he awaited a couple og PG pilots to join him. The winds looked doable at 4:00 but I waited for better. Shortly before 5:00 Tony D gave it a try. Another extendo. I had to wait for more pilots to come back up for crew.

I launched at 5:30. There was s bit of excitement as the north cross turned me toward the trees and I took a moment to correct. Once I got around the tree, I headed down over Route 16. For a moment I was above launch. Then I spent ten minutes losing 40 and gaining 30 feet. I closed out my 12 minute extended flight with a very sweet approach and landing. With cameras on both the base tube and the keel, I got two views of the flight. Here are the launch and landing for you.



Meanwhile, Mark C gave it another try and was rewarded with over an hour of flight. Here is his approach and landing.



Mark C Landing a the Pulpit 8/23/09 from Cragin S on Vimeo.

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 4th Weekend at Hyner View

Saturday evening launches.

Hyner View Launches, July 4, 2009 from Cragin S on Vimeo.







Sunday morning cloud dive.



My Cloud Dive from Cragin S on Vimeo.



Seeing my glory in the clouds.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Highland's 10th Anniversary Weekend

My U2 all dressed up and ready to play.



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A few segments of my flight; rowdy tow, sweet landing.

Rowdy Tow at Highland, 6/28/09 from Cragin S on Vimeo.






I finally made it back into the sky after a way too long dry spell. I had not had a high flight since before Christmas. This weekend was the annual Highland Aerosports Fly-In and party. I missed the Saturday flying and celebration, due to a recalcitrant computer that filled my day. However, with the good wife pushing me out the door, I made an early Sunday trek across the Bay Bridge. There was no line at the toll booths, and I was at RIdgely by 8:30 a.m.

I had the U2 all set up before 10:00, but there was no hurry. The winds were a bit strong, and no one was flying. The tug drivers went for along breakfast. I heard that Saturday it had gotten blown out in the late afternoon, and earlier in the day things had been rowdy on tow.

I got to see a lot of friends there: Danny B, Mark C, Carlos W, Joe & Janet G with Mark along, Christie H and RIch, Judy McC, Bob B, John S, Janni P, JR, and met Jesse and TD, and, of course, the core Highland crowd, Sunny, Adam, Bruce, Barb, Jim, and Zack.

Actual flying finally began about noon. I watched several launches, decided they were not too scary, and got in line. Zack pulled me up a few minutes before 1:00. I knew it was windier than usual. However, i must say it was probably the rowdiest tow I have had to date. the short video gives good evidence of that experience. Was never scared, but I was working hard to stay in position behind the tug.

Zack tried to drop me in something good, but once on my own I did not find much that I could work. I headed across the airport, finally funding a light but workable thermal when I was down a bit below 1700'. I paid close attention to my vario, and crept up to 3100', drifting back away from the field. The thermal was easy to stay in for a while, but once I lost it, I headed back toward the field. lots of little thermals along the way, Some I could work, some I could not. I played around between 2400' and 2800' for about 15 minutes. then slowly succumbed to the sink.

Winds shifted on the ground, so I planned a new (for me) final leg, coming in behind the hangar. This brought me in over the access road, and I pulled of a most satisfying no-stepper about 10 yards from the wind sock.

34 minutes of flying, and a max of 3100', reached from under 1700'. It was only 1:30, but it looked like rain might be inbound, so I packed up and headed home, rather than try for another flight. Several other pilots made the same call.

Felt great to be in the air, again.
Happy 10th, Highland!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Winter Time Training Day

Taylor Farm 2/21/09 from Cragin S on Vimeo.





The above video has my second flight. John M also shot my first flight with his camera:


After a much too long period of being grounded, I had an opportunity to get a little time with my feet off the ground. John M called me Saturday morning encouraging me to join his students at Taylor Farm in King George. I arrived as John, Kirk, and Chris had just finished assembling their gliders, and saw John fly to the bottom of the hill. The forecast winds of south to southwest were crossing seriously from the southeast, so I waited a bit before setting up my Pulse. I ended up doing three flights.John videoed my second. I wish he had gotten the third; it was much more entertaining. As I started my run, one knee-hanger strap slipped from the top of my calf to my left ankle. My ability to run thus hobbled, my last two steps before becoming airborne were quick hops on my right foot only. That was, uh, interesting. The flight was fine, but then on landing I did have to work to get both feet under me.
It was a good day for shaking off cobwebs.