2021-07-22 and 2021-07-23 Tale of Two Soaring Cities
A couple days looked NW and good for Harris Hill on Thursday and Hyner on Friday so the idea hatched to do a small road trip. The word was put out to the Free Spirit Flyers and the Hyner Club.
JB got pretty excited to fly and came out on Thursday. Aron reached out to Rocco P. to get him to come up to Harris Hill Thursday to get a flavor of soaring at Harris, to see the launch, LZ, and see actual launches and landing approaches there since likely it would be a great first high flight site when he is ready soon.
At Harris Hilll Thursday the "locals" must have leaked the secret because the Tow Gliders were out in force flying around at the Soaring Capitol.
We called to get Elmira Tower clearance to fly.
JB launched first at about 2:20 PM, Aron launched about 2:30PM from Harris Hill.
The air was pretty bouncy and Aron flew about 14 minutes then got flushed lower and decided to go land. JB stayed up for an hour in his bamboo frame falcon…
After Aron got out the LZ it got interesting…lift out there and then some real sink on final. Decided to land on the wheels which was intended for safety but the end result was not good for the Liberty 158 glider…the 6 inch skinny plastic wheels dug in the soft ground and the glider skidded to a stop snapping the left DT…no other damage.
As usual JB comes in and does a picture perfect flare landing with Rocco and Aron observing how it is done.
After packing up the lame duck we had some time to consider what to do next.
Rocco set up his Flacon 170 glider and went over his equipment setup, harness, etc with JB. Rocco did some launch running practice with his glider and new Wills Wing pod harness as JB critiqued, then demonstrated.
Jim K came over to the LZ and said we would have more pilots arriving soon coming all the way from Philly to fly.
It got really interesting about 4:30PM when Tim M. and Judy rolled into the Harris LZ in a big Lincoln Town Car, then Lee M., Bill U. and Eric showed up in a motorhome with 3 gliders on the roof! Brought Eric along who is going to learn to HG.
So we went up to launch and everyone setup. Thanks to Jim K. for ferrying gliders and pilots up to launch!
JB critiqued launches with Rocco and then came down to the LZ headed for the lawn chairs to watch and critique the landing approaches.
About 5:30PM it was time for lemmings to jump. Lee was off first, Aron next, Bill next, Tim last. Launch conditions were challenging due to the north cross and a pilot needed to watch for a cycle that was less cross to launch in…but it was doable if you were patient to wait on the right cycle. Jim F. decided not to fly his PG to be safe because of the switchy cross launch conditions. Jim K said following the flight that the Wonder Wind had began making conditions better after most were already in the air. It did feel smoother after the first 10 minutes of Aron’s flight.
So we had 4 gliders in the air at once and it was great to be in the air with these legends of the sport! Lee was up longest with 1.5hours.
Everyone had nice landing approaches with safe landings (although Aron had a high flare over 4 foot corn into a water puddle because of slightly overshooting with the Sting 175 into the slot toward the pumpkin patch). (That corn landing taught me something really valuable…I was in save myself mode as I prepared for a high flare…I climbed higher on the DTs and arched my back and threw the control bar up and over the corn as hard as I could and it worked, I simply fell vertically a couple feet and splashed down into 4 inches deep mud puddle in the corn, actually the smoothest landing on my feet I’ve ever had…so now I need to translate that style flare to landings with no obstacle conditions…a great silver lining to an otherwise scary landing!)
From a phone call with Jim B. Aron learned that there was PG activity in the works at Hammondsport today as well.
Judy took some high quality photos of the flying with professional equipment so we can’t wait to see those still shots – thanks Judy!
After packing up we were ravenous so a stop at Tags was a great idea…a band was playing on the deck.
We had a good time at Tags on the outdoor deck with a good dinner and a few beers exchanging stories from the day and pilots reminiscing about the past.
Lee, Bill and Eric left Thursday night and went to Hyner in the motorhome, probably arriving in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Aron and Julie camped at Harris (what a great place to wake up and have coffee at launch) then made it to Hyner Friday just before 1:00PM (around 2:10 hour drive with a couple stops taking some main roads and back roads).
Julie had from a phone message that said Bill got an early morning sledder in at Hyner then the motorhome was enroute back to Philly so we never did catch up with them at Hyner.
Aron and Julie met up with Will P. at Hyner LZ and went uptop and decided to give it a try at 3PM timeframe. Will launched first and had a 17 minute flight and worked his tail off to get that…and Aron had a 6 minute extended sledder after making a few passes maintaining but no gains. It was good to be in the air at the same time with Will. The weather conditions were not that good for flying Hyner Friday. It was NW and fairly light and quite a bit of sink when we flew.
After landing we were packing up when Tim and Judy stopped in with the Lincoln Town Car with a glider rack! Tim (from the Poconos area) had flown Hyner many times in the past and wanted to come check it out at the new LZ.
Tim had to go get fuel for the Lincoln and check out the Hyner Run campground so the party broke up at that point.
There is a nice fellow named Rick who often comes to Hyner to watch the flying and he pointed Julie to go get a sub or Stromboli from the place next to Scoots gas station called Ziggy’s…a great sub was had! We’ll go back there when we have more time to wait on the Stromboli…Rick says that is really good.
Thanks to Will P. for being a mentor at Hyner and an all around ambassador for the sport!
Just wanted to say thanks to the Free Spirit Flyers club and the Hyner Club for the great times…lets keep this great sport going!
A big thanks to JB and others who took the time to talk with Rocco and give him more ideas about progressing with his flying adventures, hopefully he will be an H2 soon and be flying Harris and Hyner and all over the place with us.
So there you have it, or what we know of the events of Thursday and Friday. It was a soaring road trip for several pilots!
2021-02-25 Harris Hill, NY
While heading over to plant the wind flag in the lz, I got a charlie horse cramp from high stepping the deep snow along the access road...but out in the lz itself there was only 2-4 inches with little bare spots.
It turned into a winter expedition to get uptop. Bob came over and brought a shovel and sled. Julie was along also and we had a sled. The snow on the road up was much deeper say 10" and ice crusted...deeper in drifted areas . At first it was a fiasco trying to use a boat sled to carry the glider, but after a few attempts we figured out how to bungee it on there on top of a foam pad... and try to evenly pull it with a long rope...still it toppled over on its side a few times.
We made it uptop by 11:30, wind looked good, so setup and called the tower.
Bob shoveled the launch area.
The flight itself was quite fun...today flew the Sting 175. The air was textured with some good ridge lift and some punchy thermals and sink pockets. 47 min., about 500 over was about the best I could climb...did a few few single turn 360s and lots of dog bone ridge scratching.
The wind up higher was pretty strong so in a 360 I'd get blown back a bit then slowly penetrate back out front.
When everything is mostly white on the ground it is kind of odd and difficult to see the exact lz area from 700 ft. There were thermals out over the lz...so once I got out there I had to circle a while. Fortunately the landing was a non-event, no slips and falls.
Tower was called.
Big thanks to Bob and Julie for the help on the expedition. Without the help it probably would not been possible to get a flight in. No vehicle besides maybe a Bombi could have made it up there today.
The sled idea works, but it needs some definite refinements before the next attempt.
Oh, I forgot one gut wrenching part of the day, but now it is humorous looking back on it :).
Did you ever almost get setup and all ready to go...except part of the glider goes missing?
The tip batten was put down on the ground during glider setup and got on the ice crust...it skated away and wouldn't stop, it went from the setup area, escaped me as I ran after it, escaped Julie, escaped Bob on launch, and headed right down over the launch and down the hill...Julie with eagle eyes spotted it down there about 75ft down where it had came to a halt on some weeds!!!
That saved the day!
2021-01-02 Harris Hill, NY
On January 2nd 2021 we decided to attempt flying at Harris Hill. It was a tough decision to make the "let's go" cry considering the long drive times involved. In the morning that day the forecast was odd and unwelcoming, but the day showed a little hope when looking at the prog chart...if a front moved out and conditions calmed we may get to fly. It turned out well, the front moved out and conditions improved greatly!
Romano had the flight of the day, so as is the custom at the Free Spirt Flyers club he was tasked with the writing of the flight report...Romano's report:
Despite the dreary forecast of morning rain, strong winds, and gusts up to 26 mph at Harris Hill NY on the second day of the year 2021, Aron with his indefatigable optimism managed to rally a tiny contingent of pilots consisting of Ron Kurus and Romano, along with his lovely wife Julie to venture forth and scale the sky above Harris Hill. Selfless and generous FSF President Jim Kolynich volunteered to be the local pilot and observer for the day. On the LZ at 1 pm Aron planted a unique windsock that looked suspiciously like an orange safety vest that got skewered by a pole. They then boarded Ron's 6 wheeled monster of a truck and hauled 3 gliders up the treacherous slippery path to launch, where intermittent applications of ash and sand on the icy slushy trail became necessary to provide grip for the tires of the behemoth machine.
Finally, upon arrival at launch at around past 2 pm, the eerie silence of the quiet wind bespoke of disappointment and dismay, as the velocity appeared to be inadequate for a soaring flight (somewhere around 8 mph or less). Expecting nothing more than a sled ride, gliders were assembled in grim consternation. Aron hailed the tower, informing them of our intent to partake of their air. Thus informed the powers that be, Romano scrambled over to launch and leapt into the air, turning right towards the glider port. Slow be his ascent, but surprisingly got above launch on the turnaround. Ron and Aron followed suit, like lemmings running off the cliff. And everyone delightfully soared above launch, although not super high, as it was a cloudy day, and the ground was soaked wet, and all the lift that could be had came solely from the ridge. Aron made mention of hooking a thermal, enough to establish a rotation, but brief was the encounter.
After a 45 minute flight, Aron decided to land and be reunited safely on the ground with his splendid bride. Romano, prompted by a full bladder that threatened to burst into a golden shower of yellow snowflakes in the air, similarly descended. But in typical fashion, he PIO'ed his final approach, and failing to level his wings sufficiently, elected to abort a full flare, and subsequently french kissed the muddy ground with his nose cone. Oh well, there's a lifetime to learn to do things right in this sport.
Meanwhile, Ron clung to the sky, his unquenchable lust for airtime fueling his resolve to squeeze every ray of daylight left to prolong his flight. Alas, although his Jedi powers delayed some the sun's descent into the distant red horizon, the eye of Ra eventually succumbed to slumber and dark shadowy tendrils began to crawl their way into the valleys. Ron proceeded to disembark the heavens after a 1 hour 16 minute flight, and proceeded to perform a baby-soft foot landing of his ginormous tandem Falcon. Showered with congratulations, Ron was beaming as his wish for a winter soaring flight was finally granted by Ol' Saint Nick.
Aron ended the day by calling the tower, informing them of the cessation of all aerial activity.
2021-01-09 The Sac, PA
Here at The Sac! We had a great turnout of pilots and supporters....counted 15 people! January 9th...Danny, Joe & Karen, Bob & Cook, Pat & Amanda, Bacil, Thomas, Rocco, Allan, Chuck, Romano, Julie, and myself. Lots of smiles and good conversation going on :)
We had 3 gliders set up by noon and ready to go. It was pretty strong so we waited. Measured wind at 10-15 gusting as high as 28. Allan had the nose of his glider tied to a tree and it was trying to fly on its own.
By about 2:30 the wind calmed a little and gave us some glimmer of hope. I suited up and either Allan or I would go first in the next few minutes. I ended up being the wind dummy.
Getting up on the mound with the wire crew was interesting. Joe had me move forward to the slope break of the mound which seems to be key in getting the wing fully in the true airflow...
The wire launch crew kept good control of my Sting 175...so good that I was thinking I was ready to go when they still had pressure. At one instant everyone said "we're neutral" and the wing felt balanced so I went leaping forward off the dirt mound.
The launch went ok, then things out in the air took over the worry. It was pretty rowdy up there and hard to penetrate the wind. For a time I was climbing making 2 short passes, and during that got dumped a couple times...too close to the trees to have that kind of turbulence... the bayonet forest of dead ash trees below added to the pucker factor.
Started heading to the lz, I thought I might be able to penetrate out to the tree line by sunset :).
By the time I had the lz made I was too low for a DBF approach, but too high for a straight in approach, so I veered left and followed the contour past the little vinyard and landed safely remembering what Karen said about putting the pointy end uphill.
Julie retrieved me...packed up and going back up to try again, this time with the speedier Liberty 158. The gang uptop had seen it get even stronger and advised that we don't fly any more today, apparently... Allan had attempted launch after my flight, and backed off launch...good choice!
(After talking with my Father about the flight...he said "Good decisions come from experience but that comes from bad decisions")
Good times were had even in January!