Lucas gets flight of the day!

Wednesday was such a beautiful day. Everything is just so alive; the trees are budding, the dogwoods are blooming and the sky is gorgeous. A bunch of folks flew, but Lucas definitely had the flight of the day. Below is Lucas’ flight report. And, the photo isn’t Lucas, it’s actually me. Kelli took it on her cell phone.

Jen What an unexpected great day it was and here is what I can recall of it: It was supposed to be Southwest all day, but once again you never know what the weather is going to do till you’re on launch! It started blowing straight in and I was one of several people that launched at about 1pm. I struggled and was low after launching and was almost ready to give up when I hit a little lift that I milked and drifted with all the way back up and towards Burkhalter Gap. I stayed there to reach a little barrier at 2300′ over, but managed to push through and get to 3,400′ over launch. Two other pilots followed me up but left the lift, I think when they reached that first barrier. I tried to push out to the drive-in movie theatre, and never hit any lift in the valley so I turned around at the interstate, before the drive-in to make it back to the same lift with plenty of altitude. I was still about 1,200′ over launch when I made it back. I climbed up once again and got the idea to try for Cloudland Canyon, which was up wind. It was a struggle and the conditions were pretty rough, but after using up several thousands of feet to push upwind I found some lift, but had to drift back with it. It was like taking two steps forward and one step back since I had to drift with the thermal back to where I had came from. I crossed the gap at Cloudland and thought I was going to have to land at the training hills, but two birds lower than me indicated there was some lift around. Once I found it, I was getting shot up at an average of 800′ per minute! I continued to push on past Rising Fawn and eventually reached Fox Mountain, which is the Alabama border, so I decided to turn around at that point (I had class at 5:30 in Chattanooga I needed to get back for). I had considered just following the interstate as far as I could go, but there didn’t seem to be an abundant amount of LZ’s like around Lookout, and this was the farthest I’ve gone in this direction, so I turned around. Flying back in the tailwind to Lookout was so much easier than working upwind! So on the return I enjoyed the sights of the Dogwood trees flowering in the understory like little cotton balls from 6,800 feet (above sea level where I maxed out). And I had my first chance to fly over the two beautiful waterfalls at Cloudland Canyon without worrying about sinking out. Once I made it back to Lookout, the lift wasn’t as good and after going negative, like I had several times in this flight, I decided I had enough of the rough stuff and came in to landed. To my surprise, I was able to pull off my landing despite my arms being so tired from the rough conditions and finished another great flight at Lookout Mountain! Lucas Ridley

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