2002: No. 2


The annual Tree Topper Memorial Day weekend celebration was just the

excuse needed for a whole bunch of pilots from all over the region

to make the pilgrimage to The Hang Gliding Capital of the East. This

year the timing was just right for James Tindall and Miami Hang Gliding

to make their annual field trip to the land of the foot launch. The

flying was actually better in the week preceding, but we still enjoyed

the company, even at lower altitudes. For the Miami students, sled

runs just meant more foot launch practice. Tree Toppers converged

on the Lewis Chapel Fire Hall for the community feast and participated

in some pretty peculiar contests. Our own Steve Jones won the cow

chip throwing contest. Does anybody know who won the pickle spit?

Bylaws Revision Referendum

The last issue of Branches included a referendum for revision of our

bylaws, but the response was so slim we decided to run it again in

this one. Ours is a democratic organization. Your $40.00 (so far)

annual dues entitle you to all the privileges and responsibilites

of membership. One of the latter is participation in the management

of your club. This revision represents the first dues schedule change

in the history of the TTT. Please review the proposed bylaws on p.

2 and submit a ballot.

Team Challenge

by Steve Bellerby

As prize pots proliferate and personal bests pile up, this year’s

Challenge promises more fun and learning than ever. Imagine the chance

to team up with local heroes and serious comp stars, in a weeklong

meet aimed at bettering the good and sharing the talents of the best.

Imagine offshore distilleries, onsite restaurants, great southern

breakfasts (fresh and free everyday with your meet fee) skills seminars

and mystery guests. Maybe even some Litespeeds to demo!

It’s always fun…often stellar flying…and folks always learn a whole


As one seven-time returning pilot from New Hampshire put it, "It’s

fun, relaxed…a school in a sense… no meet like it in the world!"

And with two Lookout teams and two teams of Dixie Roosters already

confirmed…it’ll be a southern style showdown!

In keeping with the Challenge's focus on learning, its unique scoring

format awards more points for distances achieved by less experienced

pilots, so B and C classified pilots can really help their teams along!

The required Tree Topper membership is just $40 (so far), which includes

a year of fantastic flying at all Sequatchie Valley sites, free camping,

showers, and a clubhouse at Henson's Gap, the South's premiere mountain

soaring site.

Get your entry in today. As always, ten teams fills the field, but

do keep in touch. Last-minute entries have almost always found a warm

welcome. For info and registrations, check out the Team Challenge

page on the TTT website at, email,

find the entry and membership apps in this issue of Branches, or call

Steve at 416-588-2396. October 5 kicks it off with the legendary

Tree Topper Octoberfest…see you there!

There's an extra financial incentive to sign up early this year.

If the Bylaws Referendum is passed by the membership, dues will be

$60 by the time you arrive for Team Challenge. Submission of your

Team Challenge form and fee, TTT Membership application, and ($40)

dues before September will save you $20 on the dues in addition to

your savings on the early entry fee! Ed.

The Prez's Perch

Hello friends,

Since my last perch report there have been some great flying days

and lots of members working had to keep our club running and looking

good. Mayhem weekend turned out to be a great time to be a Treetopper

in the valley. Pilots got to soar Henson's NW, Henson's SW, and Whitwell.

They also got to enjoy a great party Saturday night. We were lucky

to have Jeremy and Emily up from Wallaby Ranch for some great cooking

that turned Henson's camp ground into a four star hang gliding resort!!

I would like to urge all of the members who have an expired flight

pass to renew ASAP. It's easy to download from the web or e-mail

me at ... or call 423-554-3780 and I will mail

you a form. We need your support to run this club and if you want

to fly in the team challenge ... sign up now!!! If you wait until

the last minute you might not get a spot. Lastly, I would like to

thank all the members who have given their time to help the club:

Steve Lee (Henson's clean up, shower house repairs, roof estimate)

Kathy Lee (planting flowers)

Jeff Dodgen (newsletter work and new T-shirts)

Rob Ponder (website and member database)

Chris Field (mowing)

Mike Nash (Mr. Woerner PR work)

Matt Tabor (USHGA help)

Dennis Felts (donating fax machine)

John McGriff (pressure washing ramp)

Dan Shell (by laws expert advice to the President)

Hope to see you soon,


Tennessee Tree Toppers Bylaws

2002 Revision

Article 1: Name and Purpose

Section 1

The name of the organization is the Tennessee Tree Toppers, Inc. (TTT).

Section 2

The primary purposes of the TTT are to excel in the study and the

sport of hang gliding, to promote organization and camaraderie between

all members, to promote family fly-ins and competition for the flying

of hang gliders, to select pilots for national and international competition,

to own launch and landing sites, and to promote safe and mature flying

practices as outlined by USHGA Part 100 and FAR Part 103.

Article II: Membership

Section 1

The membership of the TTT consists of the individuals whose dues have

been collected and applications have been approved by the board of

directors (BOD). All privileges and benefits associated with full

membership proceed unrestricted unless otherwise specified by the

BOD as provided in Article II, Section 2 of these bylaws. Current

USHGA or HPAC membership is required for flight privileges.

Section 2

A membership may be suspended or revoked for violation of a rule of

the TTT or for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the TTT.

Such action will require a unanimous minus one vote of the members

of the BOD present at a scheduled meeting after notification of the

charges and the time and place for their review by the BOD has been

delivered to the member in question at least seven days prior.

Section 3

Membership classification (presently)


5 Year



3 day pass

30 day tandem

1 day tandem

1 flight/year

Members retain full membership privileges. "Family" members receive

one newsletter per household. Tandem members receive no newsletter

and have no voting privileges. Members will receive the newsletter

at no additional charge. All voting members will be rated USHGA Novice,

HPAC equivalent, or above.

Section 4

Twenty or more voting members in good standing may petition the BOD

in writing and call for a general membership referendum on any issue.

Article III: Board of Directors

Section 1

The affairs and business of the TTT will be governed by a board consisting

of fifteen directors, nominated in October and elected by the membership

before taking office at the first meeting in January. The term of

office is one year and the directors may be re-elected. Not more

than two employees of any one hang gliding related business will be

eligible for service on the BOD. The BOD may elect honorary directors

for the purpose of recognition and/or special expertise. The sole function of an honorary

director is consultation. Honorary directors have no voting privileges

on the BOD.

Section 2

The BOD will meet at least six times a year. The BOD may be convened

by the president with adequate notification of each director or by

the secretary at the written request of four directors.

Section 3

Nine directors, including at least two members of the executive board,

will consitute a quorum for the transaction of business at all meetings.

Section 4

The third consecutive absence of a BOD member from a BOD meeting will

be considered tantamount to submission of resignation from the BOD.

Any vacancy on the BOD will be filled by vote of the remaining directors

at the earliest possible scheduled meeting and the term of office

will be for the remainder of that year.

Section 5

Each member of the BOD will serve without compensation or reward,

except as provided in these bylaws.

Article IV: BOD Election of Executive Committee

Section 1

An executive committee elected by the BOD will be comprised of the

president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. The executive

committee will function for and have authority of the BOD between

meetings of the BOD.

Section 2

The president will preside at all meetings, appoint all committee

chairs and, with the approval of the BOD, sign and execute all contracts

in the name of the TTT.

Section 3

The vice president will be vested with all the powers of the president

and will perform the duties of the president in case of the absence

or disability of the president.

Section 4

The secretary will keep minutes for all meetings, notify BOD members

of meetings, maintain all TTT records, and perform such duties designated

by the BOD as incidental to the office.

Section 5

The treasurer will manage all receipts and deposits of all TTT monies,

make disbursements authorized in budgets approved by the BOD, prepare

monthly financial reports and operating expense statements, and perform

such duties as may be incidental to the office.

Article V: Committees

Section 1

Committees may be formed by the president as necessary.

Section 2

Any policies, procedures, or rules recommended by committees and approved

by the BOD will be published via the newsletter, posting on club bulletin

boards, and/or upon request.

Article VI: Removal from office

A director may be removed from office by unanimous vote of the remaining

directors at a regularly scheduled meeting. The candidate for removal

must receive advance notification of the vote for removal. Copies

of letters and petitions submitted to the BOD requesting removal of

a director will be forwarded to that director.

Article VII: Finance

Section 1

The fiscal year will be from January 1 to December 31.

Section 2

No TTT property with a value exceeding $1000.00 will be sold without

unanimous approval of the BOD or majority of the general membership.

Section 3

Half of the annual revenue remaining after the operational budget

is met will be allocated to the landing field fund.

Article VIII: Amendments

The bylaws may be amended by membership referendum only. Any bylaws

revision referendum will be published (posted) at least thirty days

before the deadline for submission of votes. Member presence will

not be required for voting on any bylaws revision referendum.

2002 Bylaws Committee:

Clark Harlow

Mike Nash

Kenny Sandifer

Dan Shell

BOD Minutes

March 8, 2002

BOD present

Alli Dodgen

Jeff Dodgen

Clark Harlow

Anne Horgan

Mark Poling

Susan Murdock

Steve Lee

Kathy Lee

Chris Field

Dennis Felts

Dan Shell

Tom Prouhet

BOD absent

Mike Nash

Kenny Sandifer

Mark Furst



Chuck Toth

Mark Dunn

Meeting called to order at 9:21

Susan read February minutes. Alli motioned to accept minutes as read.

Steve seconded the motion. All in favor. Motion passed.

Committee reports:

Site Maintenance- Steve has installed new locks on the bathroom doors.

Budget was requested at $1500 (not including the mowing of the lz).

The year 2002 property tax needs to be paid.

Membership- Robert Ponder is working on the database. Mark Poling

is working on a letter of thanks to be sent along with the new membership

sticker to new joiners and rejoinders within one week after receiving

their paperwork and fee.

Social- Alli requested Mark P to set a budget for the Mayhem Party

as was done in the past. Jeff D mentioned that previous Mayhem parties

would initially cost around $800. Most of that cost would be regained

due to donations at the party. Mark requested the budget be $1000.

Talk followed to raise this budget to $1500.

Newspaper- Dan has submissions and is working. Six months of meeting

minutes has accumulated. Dan requested a budget of $600. Discussion

followed that the budget would have to be raised because of the cost

of postage of a large newsletter. Dan noted that previously we have

recovered about 1/2 the cost of the newsletter by selling ads. The

budget was raised to $1000.

Dan has a new computer and no software currently to produce the newsletter.

Jeff D offered to put out the newsletter. Jeff requested all newsletter

information be given to him. He will get the mailing labels from

Rob P. Dan is working on getting the newspaper on the website.

Conservation- initial fees for the lawyer are approximately $2500.

Dan is looking for the document that says Tenn. Tree Toppers must

agree with Woerner to do the conservation. Mark Dunn remembers the

sales contract of TTT property only to state that we agree to try

to make an agreement about the conservation easement.

Safety- budget is requested at $1000 to include some safety courses.

This budget will not include windsocks. Dennis was willing to call

Bruce Hawk about getting more windsocks but during the meeting more

windsocks were found in the clubhouse stash.

Bylaws- no change

PR- Jeff D sent checks of donations to First Baptist Church in Whitwell

and to the local Rescue Squad.

Website- it was reported that Dean Funk was upset that his name was

removed as site webmaster. Robert Ponder has been updating the website,

however Dean is the webmaster.

Dan brought up the discussion about committee budgets. Each year

the budgets get set around $11K to $15K. This does not mean the entire

budget will be spent. This is the allowance for that committee.

The club takes in around $15K in dues and other misc. stuff.

Old Business:

Mark Furst has missed three meetings in a row. Due to the way the

bylaws are written this means he has automatically submitted his resignation

from the BOD. Clark made a motion not to accept this resignation.

Anne seconded the motion. A vote did not need to follow since the

bylaws here don't require a vote. Discussion followed anyhow that

we don't need members on the Board who won't do a good job for the


About the Phil Proctor situation (refer to previous minutes). Phil

is not concerned about being on the Board. His concern is that the

Board needs to follow the bylaws closely.

New Business:

Jeff D has been approached about locals wanting to hold a small wedding

party at our set-up area. The wedding is set for May 4. We need

to look into the liability issues for non-pilots at our site. They

are willing to make a donation to TTT. This could be a problem for

parking if it's a good flying day.

Shingles are coming off of the roof. Steve Lee will take care of

this problem.

Steve Bellerby may be in college during the Team Challenge this year.

He still has offered to organize the Team Challenge if there is someone

here to run the meet. Whoever runs the meet will need to get the

revised rules form SB. Alli requested to join the Competition Committee.

T-shirts. The screens are already made and we are in need of more.

We are going to get different colors since that seems to be the request.

Jeff L. Reported on Clinch Mountain. Bruce Hawk wants to sell his

LZ of 12 acres for $50K. The road to the launch needs work. Jeff

is working on getting permission in writing from the launch owners

to continue to use the launch. Clinch has been opened and closed

four times. Each time Clinch was opened for flying it was used commercially

and the owners decided against that use. Kathy has suggested a fundraiser

for Clinch. TTT can look into USHGA insurance if the site were owned

by TTT.

Chuck Toth came to the meeting prepared with a letter he received

from Woerner and wondered if anyone else has received this letter.

Chuck is trying to sell his land near the LZ and Woerner sent him

a letter saying that Woerner was going to put in a pig farm on the

other side of Graham Road across from our LZ. None else has received

a letter of this type. Mike Nash was to have lunch with Woerner and

none has seen him since. It was unanimously decided that Woerner

is just bluffing.

Alli wants the club to decide where to hold the Mayhem. Last year

dinner was at the community center to raise money for the Fire Hall.

The party afterwards was at the TTT site.

Meeting was over. Chris motioned to adjourn at 11:58. Clark seconded

the motion. All in favor and meeting was over.

BOD Minutes of the regularly scheduled meeting!

April 13, 2002

In the absence of the president, the meeting was called to order by

Dan Shell. In the absence of the secretary, the reading of the minutes

was declined with no objection. Dan Shell recorded attendance in

the absence of the secretary. Dan Shell was in attendance. All others

were absent.

Committee Reports

Newsletter Committee

Dan Shell reported that the first 2002 newsletter had been published

by Jeff Dodgen. He complemented Jeff on the excellent composition

of the newsletter. He also remarked on the quality of Mark Furst's

article on landing in the Henson's LZ. Furthermore, he recommended

that this article be exerpted and displayed permanently in the clubhouse.

Dan now has new DTP software and hopes to figure out how it works

well enough to publish the next newsletter in June, to include a Mayhem

report. Please submit photos and articles any time to

Bylaws Committee

Dan Shell reported that the bylaws revision referendum had been published

in the last newsletter. The bylaws require thirty days between publication

of the bylaws revision referendum and the deadline for votes, so the

new bylaws are not yet available for BOD approval. There was also

some question regarding publication of the referendum. This referendum

usually includes the bylaws (or other document for membership approval)

in its entirety, as the membership is asked to approve the entire

document. The content of the argument against this focused on the

narrow scope of the revision, as it only affected the dues schedule.

Nevertheless, the argument for publication of the total document

held that the present membership may take issue with another part

of the bylaws previously passed by the membership, therefore rejecting

the present revision and subsequently referring this new concern to

the BOD or bylaws committee for further revision. Discussion was

tabled in the absence of a quorum.

Competition Committee

In the absence of the committee chair, Dan Shell reported that he

had been personally contacted by Steve Bellerby assuring his availability

as Meet Head for the upcoming 2002 Team Challenge. Discussion regarding

hiring Steve as Meet Head for Team Challenge was tabled in the absence

of a quorum. Dan Shell's recommendation we inform Steve of the situation

so that he may be making some preparations pending a vote met unanimous


Site Committee

In the absence of the committee chair, Dan Shell revisited the need

for a new roof on the clubhouse. He reported that he and Mark Furst

had discussed installing a green metal roof in early June. He solicited

the board's opinion, but further discussion was tabled in the absence

of everybody.

All other committee reports were declined with no objection in the

absence of the committee chairs.

Old Business

Announcement of regularly scheduled meetings.

Dan Shell reported that, on last contact with the president, he was

assured that the regularly scheduled meeting would proceed at the

regular time. The president was quoted as saying "I will be there."

Dan further remarked that we have previously agreed, as a matter

of procedure, to simply remind the BOD of the regularly scheduled

meeting, not solicit their opinion on the need for a meeting or their

availability in order to decide whether to hold the regularly scheduled

meeting. Regularly scheduled meetings (second Saturday every month

except July and August, 9:00 AM CT) should proceed as scheduled and

attendance taken as it stands.

New Business

Dan Shell made a motion that Dan Shell be granted a life membership.

Dan Shell seconded. The motion entertained unanimous consent in

subsequent discussion, but was tabled in the absence of a quorum.

With no further business that anyone present could recall, Dan Shell

expressed his gratitude to all present for the unusual congeniality

of this meeting and presented a motion to adjourn. Dan Shell seconded.

Meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Dan Shell

BOD Minutes

April 20, 2002

BOD present

Alli Dodgen

Jeff Dodgen

Susan Murdock

Mark Poling

Clark Harlow

Mark Furst

Dan Shell

Chris Field

Kathy Lee

Dennis Felts

BOD absent

Mike Nash

Tom Prouhet

Kenny Sandifer

Steve Lee

Anne Horgan

Meeting was called to order at 10:50

Susan read minutes from March. Jeff D motioned to accept minutes

as read. Mark F seconded motion. All were in favor.

Mark Poling wished to give a Prez Perch statement of thanks to:

Steve Bellerby for putting up a new windsock at launch.

Matt Tabor for talking with USHGA on behalf of TTT and for his own

site. There are insurance issues that needed to be addressed. The

site membership must contain at least 70% USHGA membership to continue

to hold USHGA insurance. TTT has no problems.

Steve Lee for cleaning the showerhouse and the storage rooms.

Jeff Dodgen for publishing the newsletter with help from Anne, Mark

Furst, Chris Starbuck, Clark Harlow and himself for the stamping and

folding and mailing.

Jeff Dodgen in return thanked Mark Poling for his help with the newsletter.

During this time Mark was out of his home for hours because of a

flood around his home.

Treasury Report- TTT has $6,338.57 in our checking was reported by


Committee Reports:

Maintenance- Steve Lee recommends a new metal roof for the clubhouse

and the showerhouse to come out of the club checking account. Steve

presents his research into the costs between thick tin and thin tin.

Mark Poling suggests doing some fundraising. Mark Furst suggests

doing the front side of the clubhouse this year and the doing the

backside and the showerhouse this year. Steve wants to do the whole

thing now. Steve makes a motion to fix the clubhouse roof using thick

tin. Jeff D seconds the motion. Voting follows at 6 for and 3 against.

The motion passes and the clubhouse will get a new roof for a cost

of approximately $1,6200. Steve makes a motion to fix the showerhouse

roof using thick tin. Jeff D seconds the motion. The vote was all

in favor to fix the showerhouse roof for a cost of approximately $300.

Steve Jones has his friend hold off on digging the hole for the outhouse.

Dennis is going to donate a brush for cleaning the clubhouse chimney.

Clark offers to replace the windsock in the LZ in May.

Membership - Rob Ponder is still at work on the database. Our membership

list is not yet current. Mark P will call Rob to get a progress report.

Jeff D would like to get a set date for having the database correct. Mark P is going

to send out some letters to try to get more memberships.

Discussion follows about the best way to set up membership renewals.

Chris Field says what works best in his RC club is everyone renews

at the same time. Curly says this was tried in the past for TTT.

It works great for local pilots who know they will use the site during

the year. It presents a problem for non-local pilots. Most non-local

pilots don't know in advance if they will come here to fly so they

won't want to pay in January if they think they won't get a year worth

of dues. So TTT lost paying members when it was tried that way.

Jeff D states that members decide when to join the club, not the club

decides when members should join. Clark suggests sending out renewal

forms about a month before a member expires.

Social- Mark P asks if TTT should have the party at the site or at

the community center. Alli suggests we do our own cooking at the

site. Clark reminds us that the new roof will have us hurting for

money to spend at the community center so we should keep the party

at the site.

PR- Mark P will send a club donation of $100 to the Sequatchie County

Fair in the fall. He is not sure yet if TTT will have a booth at

the fair. Mark adds that having the Mayhem party at the community

center is good PR for the TTT and the community. Alli says that having

the party at the site is good PR with the membership because of the

non-local pilots. It is a hang gliding party after all.

Website- Jeff D says the newsletter is now on the website.

Newsletter- there was a problem in the mailing labels. Jeff D reports

that the 5 states listed after Wyoming did not receive their newsletters.

We had no income from the ads. We didn't charge for the ads. Jeff

offers to do the next one if Dan doesn't have the software. Dennis

suggests to save money instead of sending a newsletter to single-day

members we just send them a calendar of events.

Bylaws- Dan says the bylaws are on the website. Any change in bylaws

requires a membership vote, which can be done online. TTT is receiving

online votes about the dues raising.

Safety- Jeff has looked into professionals having a mountain rescue

course at the site. The normal price for this course is $100 a person

for this 6 to 8 hour course, however they have offered to give us

the course for 1/2 that price. Kathy Lee knows that most of the members

won't be willing to pay and wants to find someone who will offer training for free. Jeff mentions that this course is professional.

Mark Furst wants the club to possibly split the cost with the members

who are interested. Alli mentions that since the club is getting

new roofs we should see what kind of interest we can get from members

who can pay for the training. The training could be very helpful

to the club. Mark F spoke to the cave rescue people who declined

to teach us rescue training due to liability issues. Jeff D can teach

repelling knots even though he is not a professional.

New Business:

Clark would like to be reimbursed $105.40 for the computer software

he needs for the treasurer position. Clark makes a motion to reimburse

himself for the software. Alli seconds the motion. Vote is 9 yes

1 no. Motion passes and Clark reimburses himself.

Anne needs a to take a copy of the minutes to the bank to be on the

signature card should Clark need a back up.

A friend to TTT whose check bounced in the first quarter was found

to not be the fault of the friend. The check bounced because the

friend moved and the checking account was closed out before the check

cleared the bank. Sorry.

Dan Shell has been in contact with Jayne DePanfilis at USHGA regarding

something she read in an email. She had read that TTT asked USHGA

for advise on a new waiver and that USHGA turned us down. Jayne says

that USHGA didn't turn us down for help. Jayne had put a lawyer in

touch with Mark Furst. Mark Furst says the lawyer has not contacted

him yet. USHGA advises against having a lot of blanks to be initialed

in a waiver. The waiver should include someone reading the waiver

to the signer and making sure the signer understands the waiver.

Mark Poling will bring into the next meeting that we need a waiver

committee. Clark will bring a copy of the Southern Air-Time waiver

being used at the sailplane airport for the next meeting.

The BOD has not voted on budgets yet.

Site Maintenance $1500 (not to include roof)

Social $1500

Newsletter $1000 (last newsletter cost $576)

Safety $1000

T-shirts $500

Alli motions to accept the budgets as set. Clark seconds the motion.

All in favor Since mowing is not included in the Site maintenance

budget Chris made a motion to add $750 for mowing. Alli seconds the

motion. All in favor.

Old Business:

It was mentioned in last year minutes that TTT made no money on the

Mayhem party due to the cost of the vegetarian food made by Judy Hildebrand.

Mark P inquirers whether we should have Judy cook this year. The

consensus is that other members do the cooking.

TTT is waiting for an update on the conservation from Katie. Jeff

D spoke with Woerner's son and found out that they are almost ready

with their easement.

The locals that want to have the wedding at TTT have not decided between

May or in the fall. They will be a small party and will clean up

after themselves.

Clark made a motion to end the meeting. Alli seconded the motion.

All were in favor. Meeting ended at 11:40.

Sequatchie Skies

March 27-April 1. The prima vera had begun its annual march up the

mountains and hang glider pilots from colder climes were beginning

their migrations to The Hang Gliding Capital of the East. Late winter

and early spring had been very wet so far. The ground was still saturated

and the valley shimmered with standing water. Nevertheless, even

as the streams began to return to their banks, pilots were finding

something to bear them aloft.

On Wednesday and Thursday, 3/27-28, Kathy Lee and Clark Harlow reported

respectable gains respectively. Then, after a soggy Easter weekend,

the gathering gaggle at launch were encouraged by northerly winds

under a beautiful sunny sky. But as we set up our gliders, enthusiasm

declined with the wind as velocities dropped to nothing.

This situation called for a well known and widely performed hang glider

pilot ritual. I suppose we call it potatoing because it resembles

a popular couchbound activity and the pilot actually seems to take

root on the launch ramp. He/She will gaze across the valley intently,

as if seeking "a sign." At this time those assembled in a line behind

the pilot on the ramp will commence a verbal harangue and harrassment

inclined toward dislodging the pilot from the ramp so the next in

line may take his/her turn at the abuse. Of course, in the interest

of good judgement and safety, the pilot is permitted to decline launch

and back off, usually accompanied by a momentary intensification of

abuse. In fact, the ramp pilot is required to back off in the event

of a disagreement over the interpretation of "the signs." A pilot

in line may call "PUSHING!", which requires all pilots in front of

him/her to launch or get out of the way. This is rarely done as it

is in the interest of those in line to have more gliders, and potential

"signs", in the air when it is their turn. "Pushing" is the prerogative

of the impatient.

It is rarely the wisest choice, as the pushing pilot will be first

in line and must launch NOW. Furthermore, I knew my flight would

be "the sign" for those behind me, so they'd have the advantage of

information I didn't get, but I was tired of waiting. Although not

a direct flight to the LZ, I was there soon enough, with only a few

detours to mark lift for my buddies behind me. Steve Jones and Michael

Fletcher were already in the field. Steve Bellerby (after moving

out of the way) and Dennis Felts launched behind me and successfully

negotiated the light stuff to climb out and play for a half hour

or more. Steve Bellerby was still specked over the Southwest Site

when we loaded the van and headed back up, with another ride arranged

of course. Nice flight, Steve!

April 5-25. We're usually the beneficiaries of some pilots passing

through on their way to and from the still frozen north and springtime

comps in Florida. This year was no exception.

Mark Bolt from Michigan could probably claim flights of the first

week of April with excellent altitude gains at both of the Tree Topper

sites on consecutive days. He reported a max altitude gain of 5500

over at Henson's on Friday the 5th while everybody else was getting

about 2500. He climbed past the locals by about two grand again the

next day at Whitwell, topping out at 4000 over. Steve Bellerby finally

had to return to Toronto, but not before logging 18 hours of airtime

in about a week. He even took a day off!

Jeff Dodgen, Alli Dodgen, and Steve Jones set up at Henson's for tailwind

launches on Monday, 4/15. After carefully choosing a launchable cycle,

Alli got a sled run. Jeff was following her to the LZ but managed

a low save and eventually climbed to 3500 over. Steve enjoyed a long

flight on his new wing, climbing to 2700 over and touring the valley

in the vicinity.

He had another great flight last Thursday (4/18), flying up the valley

with John Haywood to land at Pikeville for a twenty mile XC. This

was John's first cross-country hang glider flight. He reported marginally

overdeveloped cover all day, but generous lift under the numerous

clouds. Steve said they made it in three thermals with max altitude

gains around 5000 over.

The weekend coincided with soarable conditions Saturday (4/20) to

bring pilots out of the wood work. According to Curly Dunn, "everybody

was flying" and many were getting to cloudbase at around 4000 over. He reported a

max altitude gain around 4500 over "in the holes."

We usually do well to get one frontal passage, and thus one postfrontal

northerly part of the cycle, about once a week. Snagging a good weekend

is a fairly tricky proposition. With three frontal passages and at

least as many soarable days in a week, it's no wonder our valley becomes

especially popular among pilots at this time of year. We even had

a soarable weekend!

Thursday 4/25 brought clear blue skies and a pretty hard north cross.

On my way up the mountain, I found Michael Fletcher with a few others

in the LZ after being flushed in a light cycle. He reported marginally

soarable ridge lift with no embedded thermals to offer the insurance

of altitude and regular flush cycles to thin the population of the

narrow lift band. He also suggested conditions seemed to be improving

with apparently higher altitudes on the ridge while he'd been observing

from the ground.

When I reached the top, I found Steve Jones and John Haywood soaring

between 200 and 500 over effortlessly. High pressure was still squelching

thermals, but the velocity had increased to offer easily sustainable

ridge lift. Finding myself without a wire crew after assisting all

available pilots off the ramp, I called Curly Dunn and he came runnin'.

Ned Stelzel also appeared fortuitously and together they flung me

into some of the sweetest air I've had recently. It was a classic

wonder wind and several of us were making long upwind zero sink legs

into the middle of the valley before turning and running downwind

back to the ridge, losing very little to nothing. Visibility under

the high pressure was beautiful. It was a three nuke plant day, with

Watts Bar, Sequoyah, and Bellefonte all within clear view.

Dave Hopkins from Mulebridge, Maine was not content to play around

launch, though. Taking a max altitude gain of 2300 over, he jumped

the first gap then dashed down the ridge to land at T&L Chick Farm

just short of Inman Point for an approximate 20 mile XC. George Blackford

from Stewart, Florida also reported a max altitude gain above 2000

over. Rick Abercrombie was soar sore after 3 1/2 hours. He got no


May 20-June 2. The Tree Toppers traditional Mayem flying celebration

was, as usual, Memorial Day weekend. Back in the day when this kicked

off a world class competition we could reasonably anticipate a pilgrimage of pilots

from all over the eastern United States and Canada. Now, even without

the meet, the expected excellent conditions of May and early June

along with the famous pilot party still attract a respectable swarm.

We even still see some of the comp pilots, perhaps seeking a more

leisurely patch of blue.

Claire Vassort, regular member of the U.S. Women's World Team, was in

town for several days around Mayhem and reportedly did very well on

more than one occasion. She even made an XC from Whitwell to the

Henson's LZ on a challenging south day. James Tindall brings his

Miami Hang Gliding staff and students to the world famous Henson's

Gap radial ramp regularly for foot launch experience. With the lack

of topography in south Florida, their experience is limited to tow

launch. Other pilots were visiting from Orlando, Ohio, Ontario, and


The great conditions just couldn't wait for the invasion and the week

before began with a bang. Tom Prouhet cruised down the ridge Monday,

5/20 and caught a thermal at Suck Creek that took him to cloudbase

at 5600 over. From there he made the downwind glide to Marion County

Airport. He topped out another thermal there and crossed Sand Mountain

on final glide to land at Wildwood. It was hazy and he couldn't see

the Lookout ridge well, and had trouble navigating towards the Lookout

LZ. He thought that with a GPS and a better line on final glide he

might have made it with what he gained at Marion County. The next

day he didn't bother leaving the valley and flew all the way to Stephenson,

Alabama in about two hours.

By the time Memorial Day weekend arrived winds were light out of the

southwest, which suited the students from Miami fine. James set up

a station under a tent in the LZ and the Miami staff on top began

launching their radio controlled parade of pilots toward the field.

Several of the Miami students were already in the field when Emily

from Orlando apparently flared a little early, climbed out, but then

relaxed the flare and pounded hard. She reported hearing her upper

arm break like a broomstick. Fortunately, two of the Miami students

in the LZ were physicians, and quickly got her ready for the short

ride to North Valley. This was to be the first stop for her in a

summer long hang gliding odyssey, but now it appears she'll extend

her itinerary in The Hang Gliding Capital of the East while on the

mend. I hope this doesn't interfere with her artwork. She paints

murals of such quality you'd think you could step right into the picture,

a nice solution for a boring interior wall.

With continuing southerly winds early in the week, the place was deserted

by Wednesday, 5/29. I set up alone at Henson's with a light breeze

over the back cycling between calm and about 5 mph. With birds climbing

out front and Steve Jones passing through to hang check and see me

off, I launched about 2:30. I was down to 400 feet off the deck when

I found the house thermal over the foothill. It took me to 800 over

in a very slow climb. Drifting downwind (N) past East Valley Road,

I found another core which took me to 1300 over. I think Mt. Airy

was within a glide, and with a little more lift even the opposite

ridge and perhaps an XC up the valley. However, my bike was in the

field, there was a pot-luck picnic at the pastor's, and Steve had

promised a ride back up from there. To avoid disordering my ducks,

I landed after a very sweet hour.

There were good reports from this past weekend, but neither day was

a gimme. Steve Lee and Jeff Dodgen went to the field Saturday while

Rick Jacob and Ally Dodgen made low saves to soar. Lift apparently

improved as the day progressed and many had exceptional flights.

Sunday was similar, but this time Steve set the hook and did what

we're accustomed to seeing him do. He and Greg Wojnowski cruised

all over the sky around Dunlap at comfortable altitude.

June 8-17. On Saturday, June 8 everybody cruised to Whitwell after

the TTT meeting and an excellent breakfast by Jeremy. Ally Dodgen

rattled her cage with a rough landing in the church LZ trying to avoid

the hay bails. A lot of others selected the safer option of an unknown

field at the end of an XC flight. Kathy Lee won flight of the day

landing at Pikeville, Greg Wojnowski made it all the way back to the

Henson's LZ, and Jeff Dodgen landed just short of the LZ at the Sequatchie

River Bridge (formerly Humpback) on Cherry Street. Max altitude gains

were reported between 3000 and 4000 over.

This past Saturday, June 15 followed a frontal passage on Friday.

Skies dawned clear, but beautiful and benign XC type cumulus began

developing early. Wind direction was right out of the northwest and

velocity was easily ridge soarable while unintimidating all day.

The passage had been forecast all week, so pilots had plenty of advance

notice that Saturday would be great.

Before launch, Steve declared an initial goal of Marion County Airport

with intentions to continue over the back if he could find anything

at the end of the valley. He, Greg Wojnowski, Tom Prouhet, and Jeff

Dodgen ultimately landed at Lookout Mountain Flight Park near Trenton, Georgia.

Congratulations to Jeff on his first flight to

Lookout from Henson's. He reported his max altitude gain to almost

5000 over while crossing Nickajack Lake on his way to Sand Mountain.

To that point lift had been so abundant he hadn't bothered topping

it out, but welcomed the extra altitude while making the river crossing.

Arriving at Lookout about 500 feet over the field, he slid back over

Burkhalter Gap Road, found a thermal, and specked out over Lookout

to fly another 45 minutes before landing. According to Dean Funk,

"about a dozen pilots made the flight from Henson's to Lookout. Most

were first timers." Alli Dodgen, driving for the Tree Topper Team,

took her glider over, launched at Lookout, and soared over there for

awhile too. Kathy Lee landed at Marion County Airport. Steve Jones

struggled between strong lift and strong sink before leaving Inman

Point (end of the ridge) for the airport with only 400 over. He landed

short of the airport with several others. Jeremy from Florida crossed

the valley to land at Whitwell. Tip Rogers flew to the end of the

valley and back. As would be expected of a good XC day, hang gliders

were strewn all up and down the valley.

By Monday (6/17) winds were still northerly with promising cumulus

development. Jeff Dodgen launched first in the light breeze, turned

the corner for the north face, and scratched one up near Charlie Yowell's

place to about 4000 over. I launched behind him and got up at the

same place, but eventually lost it, floundered, and headed out. Finding

one over the escarpment, I worked up to about 2700 over while watching

Bill Colvin outclimb me under a dark cloud behind launch. He specked

and flew all over the valley around Dunlap before landing in the LZ.

Jeff announced crossing the first gap at Centerpoint while I ran

crosswind to a building cloud in the middle of the valley. Jeremy

scratched on the ridge and sank out. Jeff continued south just past

Art Matthews sailplane port, then turned around and worked his way

back. As it happened, the wind shifted during this time and much

of his flight was downwind both ways. The cloud I'd pursued offered

nothing, so I was on the ground at Centerpoint when he flew over coming

back the other way. He eventually landed in the same field as the

week before near the Sequatchie River Bridge on Cherry Street.

June 22. We're just past the summer solstice now so the days are

already getting shorter. Summer conditions are often tricky. Sometimes

they even seem devious. What appear to be developing thunderstorms

which are cause to decline flight may dissipate into clear skies in

an hour, while the headwind of a few minutes ago may turn tail and

dump before we finish preflighting our wings.

Such was the scene Saturday, as Chris Field, Steve Jones, Kathy Lee,

and John McGriff began setting up at Henson's for what appeared to

be ridge soarable conditions. By the time they were suited up on the ramp, however, they were waiting for a launchable

cycle in the prevailing tailwind. John launched first and was pretty

low before hooking one over the LZ and working it back over launch

height in the valley. He pursued that bubble farther into the valley

before losing it and landing in the big field just south of Cherry

Street near the Sequatchie River bridge (old Humpback). Chris Field

struggled with some lift but ended up in the LZ.

Steve Jones and Kathy Lee were working to above launch height and

drifting to the west over the middle of the valley when I launched,

attempted pursuit, and encountered nothing but strong sink until reaching

the power lines along the edge of the LZ. There was a thermal breaking

off near the highest tower there, but I didn't even have enough altitude

to drift with it to the next field along its path, across East Valley

Road. With the wind indicators indicating a switchy and rowdy LZ,

it didn't appear the best time to land. Sometimes with gliders we

have precious little choice.

Averaging the indicators seemed to suggest a tendency toward an easterly

wind on the ground, so I set up final diagonally across the big flat

bottom. I believe landing across this slight slope put my right wing

in slower air, involuntarily initiating two right turns in excess

of 20 degrees below 30 feet. When I leveled out of the last one my

basetube was clicking the grasstops, leaving just enough room to swing

upright quickly and flare. Next time I'm faced with the same landing

conditions, I'll try lining up final farther away from the slope and

closer to Henson Gap Road, hopefully avoiding this gradient problem.

Steve Jones and Kathy Lee crossed the valley and continued down the

opposite ridge to land at Stevenson, Alabama. Steve reported a max

altitude gain of about 3500 over near Whitwell. Kathy was ahead of

him to the Alabama line, where they were both struggling on the ridge.

They eventually got high again, climbing to about 3000 over before

gliding into Stevenson. These were great flights on a challenging

day. Congratulations Steve and Kathy!

It's been pretty dry around here for a while, so there are likely

many more promising possibilities for the summer. Such spectacular

flights during this relatively leisurely season are not uncommon.

The Hang Gliding Capital of the East is a favorite pilot destination

for the 4th of July. Join us and we'll...

See you in the sky!


TRX 160. Floro yellow & pink sail. TRX is ALL carbon with extra

downtubes, and wing tip bubbles. $1500 OBO.

or call Jeff at (423)949-3384

"Pilot Needs Ride" T-shirts. Fund raiser for First Baptist Church

of Dunlap Youth Department summer missions program. Silhouette of

hang glider in flight with large lettering. $15 onsite or $18 mail

order. Call Steve Jones at (423)949-8678 or (423)949-2441.

Rudy's Ridge Team Challenge Warm-Up Fly-In. Sept.28-29th. Rudy's

Ridge in Gurley, AL (near Huntsville). Prizes for top duration of

the day, top XC for the day, and top 3 spots of the day. Fly during

the day and then enjoy Huntsville's Big Spring Jam in the evening.

Food/party Saturday night and t-shirt included with registration

fee. $25.00 before Sept.1. $30.00 after. Aerotowing will also be

available at extra cost. Come a day early and practice. For more

information and directions, email Ray at or call


Fly By Night Bed & Breakfast. Located next to the Tennessee Tree

Toppers at Henson Gap. For details call Aldonna Johnson at (423)949-6695

Check out our website at!