FormerFF's blog

November 9th - Sort of Soaring

Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:58 pm

[  Mood: Amused ][ Listening to Don Henley Currently: Listening to Don Henley ]

November 9th is my birthday, and the forecast for Lookout calls for northwesterly winds from 5 to 10 mph, which are ideal conditions for the ridge. This presents a dilemma, because I'd like to spend the day with my family, but it's been two weeks and the forecast is great, so I just gotta go fly.

When I get to the mountain launch, there are a bunch of gliders set up, but none in the air. There is a breeze on the ramp, probably around 8 to 10 mph, which is not quite enough for most of us to stay up. It's still before noon, and the forecast is for things to pick up, so no one's in a hurry to launch. I go ahead and set up, as I want to be ready in case things strengthen. Last time I waited too long, and conditions were more than I could handle, so I didn't get to fly.

I'm still a little leery of getting skunked, and so decide to launch in the marginal soaring conditions. Since this will be my first time going down the ridge, I figure it will be safer to go out in conditions that are a little too light. PilotGuy wires me off, I get a decent launch, but have trouble getting my feet in the harness boot. Rather than spend any more time trying to get my feet into the harness, I turn, as I'm already pretty far from the ridgeline. I've got one foot sort of in, so I just pull the second one up close, and fly like that. It's not really much of a problem, and I still get good control, so I concentrate on flying parallel to the ridge. As a beginning soaring pilot, I have certain landmarks to look for, and the rule is that if I'm not above the ridge by the time I reach them, that I should head for the LZ. As I'm going down the ridge, I'm not climbing, but I'm not sinking either, but am a little below it. So, once I reach my landmark I turn towards the landing zone. I do find some small thermals and try to core them, but they're too small for my technique, plus they are taking me towards the ridge again. I'm not high enough to get any closer, so I turn back towards the LZ. I find a couple more thermals on my way in, and arrive over the eastern edge of the LZ at about 600 feet. As I cross the LZ, I find sink, and once I'm to the western side, it's time to make a long downwind and turn final. I make an uneventful landing, and head over to the breakdown area, where I find all the pilots who launched before me. Total flight time was about 12 minutes.

So, that was a nice introduction to trying to soar. Conditions should improve, and at this time, I'm thinking I can get another flight. I eventually get a ride back up, and things are hopping. Conditions have really turned on, so I help wire crew for PilotGuy, Xerxes, and Sky_Walker, and a few more pilots as well. PilotGuy gets an extra smooth launch and immediately heads down the ridge. After one pass he's well above the trees, and keeps going up. At one point, he hooks into a thermal and just about specks out, all the way to cloudbase. Sky_Walker runs the ridge right on up, and stays for more than an hour. By this point, I'm really hungry, and since I'm not really ready to land in thermic midday conditions, I head down to get my glider and some lunch.

After lunch I head back to the LZ, where Xerxes has landed. I'm debating whether to fly again or go home to have dinner with my family, and dinner wins out. So, I have time to hang out in the LZ to see who else comes down. While there is plenty of lift, it is cold at altitude, so some pilots are landing. One makes his approach downwind, and whistles by us at an amazing groundspeed. He wisely chooses to land on his wheels. PilotGuy comes down to warm up, after his trip to cloudbase. Sky_Walker finally lands, after having been on the ridge for an hour and a half. They get bagged up, and Xerxes and I get them back up the hill.

While I did miss the opportunity to get a genuine soaring flight, I think it was the right decision to spend the evening with my family. There will be other days to fly, and I'm very satisfied with my first trip down the ridge. I hope to get back up once more this year, since once the holidays arrive I'll be too busy. But, if that doesn't work out, there will be flying days all winter. If anyone up north is itching to fly this winter, just look for the second day after a front passes through Chattanooga, and head on down.

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3 thumbs up

Joined: 03 Nov 2007
Posts: 792
Location: Trenton, Ga

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 3:33 am    Post subject:    

You made the right decision to spend the evening with the family! The mountain will be here when you come back don't worry. Sounds like you need to plan a trip to Chattanooga with entertainment for the whole family. If the whole gang comes up for a weekend you could get lots of flying time in and spend time with the family. There are lots of fun family type things to do in the area.

Ohh and thanks for the help with my glider thumbsup
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Joined: 23 Aug 2007
Posts: 2257
Location: Bay Area

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 6:52 am    Post subject:    

Happy Belated Birthday!!!

It is pretty cool to read about you guys moving on up with your flying!!

Scorpions rule!!

I just had my BD (11th)

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Joined: 20 Nov 2007
Posts: 5692
Location: Montana

PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 8:45 am    Post subject:    

Ya Mon! thumbsup
My B'Day is also the 9th. I knew this was an outstanding day for some of us.
I just reach the threshold of 59.
Family time is very important, good choice!
Happy belated B'Day to you! cheer and to Carm also.
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Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 2246
Location: Salida, Colorado

PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 9:34 pm    Post subject:    

Nice FF.... Good conditions on launch, 12 minutes of airtime, hang out in the LZ with friends, dinner with family.

Sounds like a good birthday to me. thumbsup
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