Sky Out Thursday
When my dad offered to babysit Scarlett so I could get some errands done, and maybe even fly… how could I say no?!
The forecast looked ok, not great… but ‘flyable’ to some degree for sure. I got up to launch and no one was there yet, it was pretty cross from the N or even NE, but with decent thermal cycles coming through. I flew my RC Zagi a bit to get a feel for the conditions and wait for others to arrive.
As more pilots rolled in, they began setting up their wings. I didn’t. I’ve been looking for just the right day to soar my paraglider at Ellenville… and this looked like it could be the day. The winds weren’t the best direction, especially for making it to the LZ on a slow and performance-challenged aircraft… but the winds were light and it’s not often we get thermic days without much wind around here. I decided to give it a shot, not so much worried about the conditions or my abilities, but worried about being able to soar since I’m not nearly as skilled in a paraglider.
The launch was uneventful, as was most of the flight. But on my way to the LZ I was fortunate to stumble into a thermal. It wasn’t very strong, but it was fairly well formed and big enough to turn in… so I did. I was able to take that single thermal up to about 3600 msl, for my first climb-out and soaring flight on the paraglider at E!
And from 3600 ft… I sunk out. I was climbing under a nice cloud but was slowly drifting farther and farther back, and I’m not that comfortable being far from the LZ in the paraglider, especially at a site like Ellenville where I know there can be widespread areas of sinking air. The thought of top-landing crossed my mind, but that seemed like asking for trouble so I let the feeling pass (maybe another time?).
I landed in a pretty active LZ, which required quite a bit of input to keep the wing overhead. One last thermal at 10 ft and the wing slowed behind me slightly… I knew the following surge would not be kind to me and I’d be looking at swinging onto my butt at best… so I waited for the wing to start it’s move forward and checked it with brake- leaving me almost nothing left to flare with. A few running steps and it was a safe albeit less than graceful landing. Will have to work on that!
Shortly after landing, the resident XC god Dave Hopkins launched in his ATOS and was able to get up, so a few of us rushed back up to launch for another flight. Having scratched the paraglider itch for the day, and with there being a little more wind now, I opted to fly the hang.
There was some ridge lift, but it was still mostly thermals. After a while of climbing near launch I spotted Hopkins headed up the ridge to the North so I followed. I “let him” race ahead since he had the performance advantage anyway (not like I had much choice in the matter), while I flew as efficiently as a good and watched for where he found lift and where there was sink to be avoided. We connected over the doctor’s house and began climbing in a pretty decent thermal for the day. He was higher than me when we got there, and he opened separation even more as we climbed. Damn good pilot on a damn fine wing, tough combination to beat!
We climbed to about 5k where the lift seemed to slow and I was able to catch up to him. There were these really sweet low clouds over the back (over my house!) so I took a few photos of the clouds, the scenery, and of Dave flying next to me. We hung out of there for a few, long enough that I got a little chilly, before Dave headed further North and I headed back to launch.
When I got to launch there were several gliders in the air, but not as high… which seemed like the perfect time to practice some aerobatics to get down and say hi to everyone. The lift was plentiful over launch, and I was able to do several sets of maneuvers, which was a lot of fun. It was especially fun flying with my blue-and-yellow brother-from-another-mother Justin (he’s got my pervious T2).
Hopkins and I ended up landing about the same time, around 6:30. The LZ was still pretty bubbly.
All in all it was a great day in the sky (twice!) and an excellent example of how fun the community and the flying is here at Ellenville. The site has never looked better, and the community is as active as ever (there were easily 15+ people there on a random Thursday, for example).
Thanks to everyone that made the day possible for me- Especially my dad for babysitting!