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!