Denny, a regular here at LMFP, came down from Pennsylvania a bit ago for his first flight of the spring. His trip, in his own words…
Wintry winds continued into spring but conditions mellowed, which is, of course, the seasonal cycle. Driving down from Pennsylvania was a leap of faith on my part but I realized had I stayed home, I had 100% of not flying whereas being back HOME in Lookout my percentages improved exponentially.
First stop; the hills. Though mentally we’re all where we were last fall, muscle memory tells a slightly different truth… we’re not! I spent two mornings on the Big Hill, not so much learning anything new, as much as re-learning a little bit of old. After that, I felt I was ready but the winds on top, though straight-in and sweet, were a tad too high for a first launch in several months. So I passed and enviously watched while others, more current, bounded along the ridge, some skying-out while my Sport 2 remained tethered to the rooftop, moldering comfortably at rest.
Two days later my time came and, with a wire assist, I was off and flying. My flight was what I would characterize as a modified sledder; some ridge some thermal but not too much of either. Nevertheless, absolutely glorious!
The next day right after setting-up, the wind shifted from straight-in to straight out. No way!!! I waited but it was still too shifty and iffy so I broke down and sulked back to our trailer in the Landing.
Landing Zone is actually a Latin phrase meaning “hopelessly optimistic” because the next next day portended to be ideal and lo, in this instance, it turned-out to be that exactly that. Straight-in at 12. I was set-up, off and along the ridge. The ridge was a little rowdy for my rusty skill-set so I nosed in cautiously on cat’s feet and at only very sharp angles; always turning away from the cliff. So many times the difference between a two hour flight and a 10 minute sledder pivots on one turn but that turn on the ridge, when executed, must be made with a critical and knowing eye, balancing all the factors of lift, turbulence and height above terrain with enough potential energy for an adequate escape. My flight this time was 30 minutes as I eventually fell away but my reactions, I felt, were not as sharp as they have been and I know could be with more frequency.
Back in the LZ among the warm camaraderie of fellow pilots sharing their flights along with an adult beverage and looking for a body ride made the whole trip worthwhile. With a boosted skill-set and rekindled enthusiasm I am anxiously looking forward to my next return to crackle away the remaining winter’s rust and begin flying anew.