Calendar of Events
Sept 29 BOD Meeting
October 6 Octoberfest
October 6-13 Team Challenge
Nov 10 BOD Meeting
Dec 8 BOD Meeting
TTT Founding Member Passes
TTT is sad to report the passing of one of our founders and a hang gliding pioneer in the Chattanooga area. Don Guess, 64, recently died from a stroke. Don enjoyed his retirement sail the Caribbean on his 40’ sailboat. He will be missed.
Welcome To New Members and Renewals
We’d like to welcome the following members. Please forgive us if we missed you.
Caroline DeCastro, Paul Moncure, Eric and Sarah, Jerry Braswell (Zoardog), Bud Brown, Dennis Cornet, Francois Dussault, Francis Gilbert, John Hays, Steve Johnson, Marc Laferriere, Marco Lavasseur, Robert Neumayer, Ron Pasch, Serge Prevost, Chris Smith, Chris Starbuck, Larry Wright, Greg Williams, William Finn, Daniel Fortin, William Gardiner, Tip Rogers, Gary Newt, Mike Spisok
Congratulations to Steve Lee!
Steve Lee recently broke the Tree Topper site record by flying 95 miles from Henson’s Gap to Gadsden Alabama.
Steve Lee launches on a big XC day
Cross Country Etiquette
Curly Dunn, Mark Furst, Steve Jones, and Kathy Lee prepare to launch
2001 Team Challenge
by Steve Bellerby
October 6-13 Tennessee is the place to be!
Sharpen your skills and learn a lot at the eleventh fun-filled team flying event atop Henson’s Gap.
A weeklong event that pairs those brand new to competition with some of the most seasoned aviators around, the Team Challenge is one serious school of soaring.
Each day, a different task committee weighs the conditions and makes a plan. Then, they take the task back to their teams, and gang up for a friendly rivalry that leans on newer pilots to carry the day.
Never competed before?
Little XC experience?
Then you’re a C and your efforts are amply rewarded. C’s can earn almost twice as many points.
Perhaps the bulk of the field, B’s are guys who’ve gone head to head before, and have considerable cross country experience. Sharing strategy around the campfire till the wee hours, these are the advancing pilots that still have a lot to learn. B’s are always a-buzz, to guide their C’s to goal.
"A"- level pilots are the star performers…nationally ranked competition pilots with a vast wealth of knowledge and flying skills. And they do
more than take time to encourage and enlighten. On the
difficult days, they’re an inspiration to us all. Whether it’s Barber getting up and out on an impossible day, Gibbo gliding to goal at 10,000 over, Gary and Greg guiding their teammates to goal, or Dennis and Claire sharing the sky, these folks are shining examples of how to soar.
Whatever level you’re at, you know you’re welcome.
Bring a team or join one.
Bring a skill or learn one.
But be prepared for some serious southern hospitality. From the daily pilots breakfasts, to the prize packed morning recap and strategy session that decides the day’s goals, every day is different. And everything, including the t-shirt, is included. A warm welcome bonfire and Octoberfest, daily sponsor giveaways, hot showers, and some of the most scenic camping in the South. And for the top placing teams, thousands of dollars of prizes and cash.
Sign up early and it’s just $95, with your current TTT membership.
Or, wait and see…the late rate (postmarked after Sept. 1) is $120, plus membership.
Don’t wait too long…after a capacity crowd last year, the field will be limited to 50 pilots.
For more info, please email Steve Bellerby @ Sbellerby@aol.com or Mark Furstmmk1st@compuserve.com Or call Steve at 416-588-2396
By Dan Shell
The Tennessee Tree Toppers are hosting the annual "Mayhem" flying celebration this weekend, so welcome to all the pilots from all over making their seasonal pilgrimage to The Hang Gliding Capital of the East and best wishes for prime air. It's been a decent Spring so far, and with a month until the solstice, here's a recap of the flying since the equinox.
From the logbook of Jeff Dodgen: Sunday, March 25 was NW 10-15 with no clouds and strong thermals at Hensons. Jeff flew a TRX 160 to Powells Crossroads with max altitude gains around 3000 over. Steve and Kathy Lee flew to Marion County airport. Chris Field flew past Powells Crossroads. Tom Prouhet landed short of Marion County airport. Judy Hilderbrand landed a few miles short of Powells Crossroad. Jeff flew later getting 1000 over in a wonderwind while Mark Furst did an evening tandem.
Wednesday, April 18 was NW 10-15 with gusts over 20, no clouds, and strong thermals at Hensons. Curly Dunn and Jeff Dodgen flew north to Buck's Knob and back. Curly had a nice low save and specked while Jeff barely made it back to Henson's. Jeff reported a max altitude gain of around 3500 over during a 3 1/2-hour flight.
Friday, April 27 was WNW 5-10, with some cumulus and strong thermals at Hensons. Jeff Dodgen was first to launch, flying north to Ravens Cliff where he climbed to 5000 over. Continuing north, he talked Steve Jones through his first XC. Steve eventually landed a couple of miles short of Pikeville while Jeff got to the end of the valley, reporting a max altitude gain of about 5900 over.
Saturday, April 28 was NNE 10+ mph with cumulonimbus and scattered rain at Hensons. Jeff launched first into a nice thermal and Steve Lee joined him once he worked it to launch level. He took it up behind launch to 1000' over while Jeff started a dive for the LZ in front of a dark cloud. At about 300 below launch he found a nice thermal, took it to 1000' over, and headed south. Rain from the storm they were outrunning eventually grounded everybody at launch. Jeff met Steve near Dale McCartney's at New Hope and both were stuck a few hundred below on a north facing corner. After 10 minutes or so of up and down struggling, Jeff gave up and headed out to land in Dr. Dale's field. Five minutes later Steve Lee was 1000' over and heading south! Here's his angle on the story from there:
"I got real lucky and escaped while Jeff landed at Dale's place. I found the house thermal at Marion County Airport and climbed out toward Cloudland Canyon, then detoured back toward the Lookout Mountain LZ. Good lift over the Lookout LZ turned into cloud suck so I raced south to Rising Fawn, lost little altitude, continued down I-59 to Fort Payne, flew over the airport there, and then on to Collinsville. Working light lift over Collinsville, I then headed toward downtown Gadsden. I could see a big storm with hard rain and lightning in Gadsden which looked unavoidable. I landed at the first Gadsden exit for a wonderful 95 mile flight. Jeff Dodgen and Steve Jones were there to get me before I could pull out the first batten. That's always the icing on the cake. Thanks guys!"
April 29 was SSE at 5 with high cirrus, some cumulus, and sparse thermals at Whitwell. Jeff Dodgen launched after Greg Heckman, Steve Lee, and Tom Prouhet, then headed north following Steve and Kathy who already crossed the first gap. Tom slowly came from behind but never could get much altitude in his Exxtacy for the thermals were very small. Jeff made it to George Galloway's strip south of Dunlap. Kathy and Tom landed a few miles short of that and Steve went to the chicken processing plant a couple miles short of Pikeville. Many others soared that day including John Lawton and Matt Wagner who landed somewhere near Kathy.
Tom Prouhet brings us the news of great flying in the early days of May: Dave Hopkins from Maine launched at Whitwell on Thursday, May 3, flew to Pikeville then back to the Hensons Gap LZ to land. On Friday the 4th Tom launched at Hensons and thermalled right in front of the ramp to cloudbase at about 6000 over while Scott Leonard watched from the ramp. Tom based out over Cordell's then glided north back to the ramp only to find Scott still on the ramp. Scott and Dave Hopkins launched at Hensons about the time Tom reached Pikeville. They both eventually made it that far too, while Tom landed close to the end of the valley. Steve Jones launched with his tennis racquet and a declared goal of the Bryan College tennis courts in Dayton, but he had to settle for the "grass courts" at the foot of the mountain. He was a good sport though, and drove for those that got away. Thanks for the report, Tom!
Saturday, May 5 was light and variable, with thermal drift changing direction with altitude. I spotted some buzzards out front and launched into their thermal, hoping to catch Curly Dunn and Steve Lee who'd launched and climbed out one thermal earlier. Steve had mentioned going to Dale's, so I turned my back on the LZ pretty early. Lift was very light and snaky. When I lost it at about 2000 over I glided out over Centerpoint to try the valley. Another slight and slow climb there put me on a glide over the restricted fields to a nice freshly mown field just short of New Hope. Just as I was flying over the field and the tractor cutting hay, I caught a whiff of hay and manure. Deducing that those smells came from the ground, (clouds smell even sweeter than hay) I began a circle just as my vario began to indicate lift. I'm convinced that Ross Condra, who I later learned was driving the tractor, triggered that thermal just in time to give me the altitude necessary to make Dale's place. I landed there only to find the place deserted. At the altitudes I was flying the drift was always south, but Dave Hopkins apparently found something else up higher, because he made it to north of I-40 in Crossville on the same day. Curly and Steve had continued south to land around Powell's Crossroads. Thanks to Mrs. Condra, Ross's Mom, and Mrs. Shirley Barker for giving me a ride.
It's been a nice spring, but it ends this week with the summer solstice. We've had some more rain than in recent years, which will inhibit convection, but the energy of the associated regular frontal passages has helped maintain the frequency of soarable days. Steve Lee's leading the pack in a good XC season. He's been out of the valley twice in two weeks and to the end of it between those.
On Wednesday, June 6 he took a vacation day for promising conditions. Describing the flight as a "cakewalk in the clouds," he also reported starting the river crossing at Nickajack with only a couple of grand over. He was low on the ridge by the time he reached Big Daddy's, and scratched there for a while before climbing out and over into the Lookout Valley, ultimately landing at the Lookout Mountain Flight Park LZ near Trenton, Georgia.
He launched first on Friday, June 8, followed closely by Tom Prouhet. By the time I launched, Steve was already at the Centerpoint Gap and Tom was at Cordell's. I found good lift immediately off launch and worked to about 1000 over while drifting toward Cordell's. Tom went by low and running upwind for the field while Steve reported making Dale's at New Hope. Tom eventually found lift on his way to the field, blazed back down the ridge, and passed me somewhere around the Suck Creek water tower. He was already scratching around Inman Point, the last bump on the ridge before the river, when I caught a boomer on the ridge north of there and climbed out to arrive high. He continued to search for better lift on that short ridge while I took what I had and ran for Marion County Airport. Steve was already there and watching me start out on this long glide, insisting it was possible with this drift. Thankfully, there was a thermal along the way that yielded a hundred feet or so, giving me just enough to make the airport with sufficient altitude for a turn into the wind before landing. Tom finally found something he liked at the point and came in right behind me. Kathy Lee launched extremely late and raced down the ridge to get stuck at Inman Point right behind Tom, but couldn't get out from there and landed in her favorite LZ just short of the airport.
Saturday, June 16 was the beginning of one of those optimistic hang gliding weekends when the front passes on Friday. Pilots, who naturally migrate to high places in postfrontal conditions, look forward to the possibility of a whole weekend of favorable weather. Cumulus development looked promising early and velocity built steadily through midday. Steve, Kathy, and Tom launched around 2:00 and immediately started down the valley. The direction was extremely cross with good velocity, so drift was excellent but thermals tended to blow apart low. Jeff Laughrey found some sink early and went down just south of Centerpoint. Tom and Kathy continued to Marion County Airport. Steve got out and over onto Lookout, cruising the ridge from there to land at Collinsville, Alabama. Several others waited through the afternoon at launch as velocity continued to build and the clouds dissipated. It settled down later and we flew, but it was occasionally rowdy until very late.
The next day was clear with a light north wind, although with a good suggestion of east in it. Launch was a potato field as everybody tried to read the signs and pick their cycle. Steve launched, caught one, and rode it to Dale McCartney's at New Hope while others rode the flush cycle to the field. It wondered later so nobody was left skunked and expectations were fulfilled for another great weekend of flying in The Hang Gliding Capital of the East.
I've discovered a great summer fitness program. In the morning I leave my bicycle in the LZ, drive up top, fly down, and ride my bicycle across the valley home. I'm back in the AC before noon and the midday heat, but the glider's left in the LZ and Scratch and the Injun Engine are left on the mountain. Paul Donahue and Debbie Uttenreiter (from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) offered to pick me up on their town run after flying a couple of days June 19 and 20.
On Wednesday, June 20 as we were headed back up the mountain, Paul told me that Curt Warren had landed in the Henson's LZ after a flight an aero tow from Lookout.
Saturday, June 23. The day started strong with nice cumulus and velocity increased into early afternoon. Tom Prouhet, Steve Lee, Kathy Lee, Jeff Dodgen, and Steve Jones got off before it peaked but didn't get very high right away. The crosswind was significant, so even with regular cycles altitudes were relatively low. The rest of the field stayed on the ground waiting for lighter cycles, higher altitudes, and/or smoother air, but the early pack eventually worked up and got away.
Steve Jones and Kathy Lee made it to Dale McCartney's at New Hope while Tom Prouhet was able to continue as far as Marion County Airport. Jeff Dodgen crossed the river and escaped the valley to land on top of Sand Mountain around New Home. Steve Lee persevered in the less than ideal wind direction right into the Lookout LZ. If he was experiencing anything like what we were seeing at Henson's, there was already some east in the wind, making it an upwind final glide to Lookout. Congratulations, Steve!
These were all great flights on a less than optimal day. The rest of us hung out until it got lighter and bucked the late afternoon turbulence. It never really glassed off, but eventually got fun enough. Clark Harlow and Mark Furst did five tandems each. That's a workout!
See you in the sky!
Local rigid wing pilot Tom Prouhet
TTT 2001 Board of Directors Meeting
BOD in Attendance:
Mark Poling (phone in)
10:45am Jeff Dodgen called the meeting to order and read the minutes. Anne Horgan motioned to accept the minutes, Steve seconded.
Jeff D. brought up that at a previous meeting we agreed to have the TreeTopper of the year award and flight of the year award. We need to add Steve Lee, Mark Furst, Dan Shell to the TreeTopper of the Year trophy.
Status of Ramp Repair – Mark Furst told Jeff Dodgen that the ramp was not nearly as bad as previously thought – we will need to address when Mark F. is at next meeting.
Steve Bellerby replaced two boards on the Ramp. Steve Jones primed and repainted the gate. John Lawton volunteered to aerate the setup area. Jeff and Alli will re-seed.
Main LZ WindSok was "hit by lightning" . It needs to be repair and reinstalled. Kenny and Steve think we should give to Clark Harlow to resow. Mark Poling motioned to have Clark repair. Kathy Lee seconded.
Greg Williams accident report: Jeff Dodgen recapped what he understood to have happed—Greg Williams was thermalling low back in the gap and could not make it out to the LZ. Instead of attempting a tree landing he proceeded to try and make the LZ. Greg felt that his full-face helmet saved his life. Steve Jones visited him at the hospital. He is now at home recuperating. Jeff and Alli will follow up with him to make sure he submits an accident report to USHGA.
Mark Poling and Mark Furst had a discussion and Mark Poling will help take over as Committee head and help with distribution of membership stickers. Jeff D. made a motion to take over as Membership Committee head. Alli seconded, motion passed.
Alli made a proposal to have a budget available to put together a basket of fruit, etc. for landowners who get upset when pilots land in their field. We would let landowner know that we will mark their field as a "DNL" (Do Not Land) field on clubhouse map.
Discussion: Dan Shell suggested marking with a GPS. Kathy Lee said that revisiting the farmer’s field would only make them more upset. Alli D. suggested taking an aerial photo of land to be given as a gift. Kathy said that this would further invade their privacy. Alli said as more pilots start going XC in Sequatchie Valley and the valley population grows we should be proactive and start to protect our LZ interests now. Anne H. motioned to budget $30.00 for such a basket to use at Alli’s discretion. Steve Lee said that we have 99% friendly farmers and that we are creating an issue that is really not a problem and the only problem is that not enough pilots are going XC. Lots more discussion tabled for next meeting. Jeff and Alli will put XC etiquette into next newsletter.
Treasurer Report: no report.
LZ Mowing: Anne to mow field on Monday. (4/17/01)
Kathy Lee said that Katie asked her to bring up the following: Mowing Lower part of field…Katie and Susan landed on the lower part of the field on a NE day and she would like to put a small bridge so we can pull cars in to access the middle of the field – put in gravel access. Jeff D. suggested we would need to discuss due to Woerner. Dan Shell says there already exists a gap in the fence line near the Graham mailbox and can ride down the fence line into the field, but we may need to gate it if we put down a gravel road. Jeff Dodgen stated that 1) we need to determine the cost of gravel, 2) Woerner use for hay,3) cost of cutting. JD made a motion to look at where we place LZ circle, cost of gravel ( Anne to look at before next meeting), windsocks, and try to report at next meeting. Steve Lee thought the cost of gravel would be around $500.00. Dan and Jeff to go and look at area.
Bill Colvin:Bruce Short would like to fly at the Tree Topper sites, but does not want to join USHGA. Bill thinks it is good to have medical personnel flying at our sites.
Steve Lee said that if he does have insurance and can pay $300.00 to cover insurance and purchase of waiver, then he should be able to fly. Dan Shell stated that the TTT bylaws require USHGA membership or Canadian membership. Jeff Dodgen made a motion to invite Bruce Short to come to a meeting and explain his views and why he is not a USHGA member. Motion dies.
Mayhem:Kenny Sandifer made a request to have the Mayhem dinner at the firehall. The Firehall is having a pickle spit and cow chip contest with barbeque. $5.00 all you can eat to raise money for the volunteer fire dept. We can come back to the TTT for beer and party. Alli made a motion to have the dinner at the Community center, Anne Horgan seconded. Motion passed.
Jeff Dodgen ajourned the meeting at 12:30.
TTT 2001 Board of Directors Meeting
BOD in Attendance:
10:45am Jeff Dodgen called the meeting to order. Alli Dodgen read the minutes
Mark Polling felt that we would benefit from having Bruce Short as a member. He proposed we make a waiver to allow him to become a member. Dan Shell reiterated that our legal ramification w/ USHGA require membership in USHGA and we would violate our own by-laws. Jeff Dodgen stated that it is his choice to not join USHGA. Maybe we could work on his issue w/ USHGA and try to resolve them. We could ask Matt Taber as a regional director to discuss it with him. Mark Dunn volunteered to call Matt Taber and ask him to go to Bruce and try to resolve his dispute. Mark had this discussion with David Glover a year ago with no action and Matt Taber should act as negotiator.
Steve Lee will order gravel to be delivered before Mayhem. JD will weedwack campsites. Volunteers will clean clubhouse and bathhouse this week and set up tarps and lights for Mayhem weekend.
Safety Report: No report
Mark Poling was a Whitwell and got 3 pilots to sign up before they launched. He has signed up 6 new members in last three weeks
PR Report:No report
Beer and food for Mayhem will be about $250 - $300.00. Since we are going to Community Center for the dinner, we have no way to recoup the costs. Maybe we can charge for the beer.
Katie had a prepared Treasury report handed out.
LZ Mowing:Discussion – Make lower LZ more accessible for landing. BOD agrees we need to have more field available. We need to evaluate costs of what we need – pull off spot vs. road. We will need to notify Woerner we are going to begin using lower field. Clark stated that we should mow an area larger at the bottom than on top. First cut it and go down and drive into field w/o changing it. Dan Shell felt that it really doesn’t need to be cut because it really doesn’t grow that much. Jeff proposed to evaluate and get a cost from Anne on cutting price. Before Anne starts cutting, we need to determine exactly where we need to cut away from road and trees and rotors in middle of field or closer to or by the road. Determine by having the electric zaggy or other pilot’s land there on a windy day.
Awards Committee: Dan Shell to look into TTT f the year and Flight of the Year awards.
Jeff Dodgen adjourned the meeting at 12:30.
TTT 2001 Board of Directors Meeting
BOD in Attendance:
10:30am Jeff Dodgen called the meeting to order. Alli Dodgen read the minutes
Windsocks:Dennis Felt reported to Alli Dodgen that he has the Club’s second large windsock and will bring it the next time he comes to Henson’s. Clark wants to put the next sock in the tree next to the landing field. Will discuss further in committee.
Bruce Short follow-up: Mark Dunn will contact Matt Taber.
T-shirts:Alli Dodgen to work on the T-shirts. Dan suggests 5-color separation and he has a template, but we also need to get the template back from the SportsPlace.
Katie made a motion for $1500.00 for T-shirts, Kathy seconded, motion passed.
Trophies:Katie to take trophy down to have engraved: 1997: Dan Shell, 1998: Mark Furst, and 1999: Steve Lee.
New trophy to be made for 2001 TTT of the Year and Flight of the Year. Jacket design – Pilot pays for the jacket and TTT pays for embroidery.
Land Conservation Easement:
Katie needs to send letter to McAllen, which basically indicates, that we wish to proceed.
Maintenance Report:Steve Lee thanks volunteers for helping to get the grounds looking great! Tom Prouhet for repairing the mower and Greg Wojnowski and Chris Field for mowing. Tom Prouhet, Jeff and Alli Dodgen, and Dave Hampton for raking, John Lawton for aerating and Jeff and Alli for reseeding, Kathy Lee for planting the flower beds and Steve, Kenny, Clark and Mark Dunn for replacing boards on the ramp. Tom Prouhet and Mark Dunn for taking all the garbage to the dump. Jeff D and Katie cleaned the clubhouse and Alli D cleaned the bathhouse. $800.00 worth of gravel was delivered to the driveway.
Need to do: The showers drain into the storage room and Steve will address real soon. Kathy requested autoflushes on the toilets.
Safety Report: Noreport
197 current members and 35 letters were recently sent out to expired members. Katie created new database in Access HTML file – Jeff D. will post on Web. Mark Polling handed out 11 applications at Lookout Memorial Day weekend. Katie is mailing out stickers with applications and signed waivers. She is concerned because some applications are not including their USHGA # on the form as required. Dan Shell stated that it is clearly indicated on the application form that the USHGA # is required.
Sequatchie County Fair would like a simulator set-up in September. Request for TTT contribution for ribbons for $150.00 Alli D. motioned to donate the money and Mark Furst seconded.
Katie reports good and bad comments on having the dinner with the Community Center to raise money for the Volunteer Fire Dept. TTT spent $100.00 in veggie food and $250.00 on beer. TTT can also use the leftover beer for the Octoberfest. Katie also suggests that we have a 4th of July cookout Pot luck and $1.00 beer on 7/6.
Katie had a prepared Treasury report handed out. It shows we actually spent $213.00 and have $7439.55 in checking and have in CD’s $26,944.58.
Jeff Laughery launching
Clark Harlow launching with a passenger
Newsletter and BOD list now posted and Jeff D. will add current membership listing.
Website: Clark Harlow would like to have a link to his website from the TTT website. All approved.
Camping: Clark was contacted to take a group of 3-4 people tandem and they would like to camp. How do we handle the camping fee since Clark pays a tandem fee to the club and they are not members. Suggestion: One person becomes a member and all others can camp as their guests.
BOD:Jeff Dodgen brought up the question of BOD members that have missed 3 meetings in a row. According to the TTT By-laws, 3 missed meetings are a submission of resignation and the Board then votes on that resignation. This affects Phil Proctor, Dennis Felts and Anne Horgan. The Board voted to keep Phil, Dennis and Anne on the board. Jeff Dodgen adjourned the meeting at 12:10.
TTT Website Update
The Tennessee Tree Topper Website has been updated with the TTT Newsletter, 2001 Board of Directors and a current membership list. Check it out atwww.treetoppers.org
The Prez’s Perch
The second quarter flying here at Henson’s Gap, Tree Topper’s headquarters, has been great! From April through early July I have flown for 34 hours and about 134.5 XC miles in 36 flights, two of which were tandems. My point is not to toot my own horn, since other pilots have flown further in a two or three flights, but to illustrate that Henson Gap and Whitwell are great flying sites with great conditions for all skill levels keeping in mind that Whitwell is a Hang III site.
I have also completed my USHGA Basic Instructor rating this quarter. I do plan to pursue a career as a hang gliding instructor either through private lessons or working at nearby LMFP where I was certified. I think the experience will enable me to lend knowledge to our Tree Topper Hang II pilots as well as newcomers to our sites.
BOD member Mark Furst recently received his Observer and Tandem Instructor ratings, which gives the TTT two local Tandem Instructors. Clark Harlow is the other local maintaining his Tandem Instructor rating. Having two local Tandem Instructors allows a fist hand introduction to hang gliding at Henson Gap. I plan to get mine soon having received my Tandem One rating over a year ago.
The Mayhem fly-in was a big success. Although the flying wasn’t that great, the party was fun and Miami Hang Gliding and other visiting pilots enjoyed many, many, flights.
Finally, I’d like to recognize those pilots that recently enjoyed spectacular soaring flights, even if they weren’t the highest, longest, or farthest. Too often recognition is only given to the competitors, record breakers, XC pilots, and flights of the day. While these flights aspire us all to achieve loftier goals, the mystical magic of free flight can be found in all hang gliding flights.
Jeff Dodgen 423-949-3384Jeff@soft-knowldege.com
A FEW MORE FLIGHTS
We always hear and read about the really spectacular flights pilots have going XC or setting world records in USHGA or even in our newsletter. Here are a few flights and achievements that TTT members had over the last few months that we thought were pretty special too…
If you have had any special flights, please e-mail us @email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or write to
R2 Box 75 Dunlap, TN 37327
Aspen Flight by Mark Furst
A critical aspect of our sport involves good decision making, both on the ground and in the air. I am going to recount one of my most memorable flights that, a year later, still pops up in my memory and prompts me to think about those pivotal moments that can make your day go from wow to ouw in a matter of seconds.
The flight in question took place in the mountains above Aspen Colorado, a spectacularly beautiful site that I had been trying to fly for most of the week I had been there. There are not a lot of local pilots and hooking up with those that are around and not working and able to come out and play proved to be difficult. Eventually I met up with Pete Welch (currently doing very well in the speed gliding out there) and another local whose name I think was Bob. We rode up to launch in Pete's trusty jeep, with the two of them grilling me about my mountain launching and flying experience."You're a hang 4, right?" I kept assuring them that I would be OK and not to worry about me. The site is quite a sensitive one seeing as they launch on ski resort property and skirt the edge of the controlled airspace for one of the country's most notoriously difficult (read - TURBULENT) airports, so I can understand their concern. Pilots are even required to call the tower at the airport before launching and then after landing to let them be aware of potential traffic.
Launch is at 10,000msl - much higher than I am used to of course, but I felt very good while setting up my glider, with no feelings of short breath or light-headedness. Wind was straight in about 8 to 10 mph and Pete showed me where the best spot was to start my run and off I went, straight into a light bubble out in front which didn't carry me up much but allowed me to hang out in front for a bit to feel out the conditions and watch as Pete got suited up and launch with no incident. He headed out under me and over to a point out in front that they had told me "if you end up looking up at that, it's time to head out to the LZ". He hit a good one there, as Bob had earlier, so I tried it too and it paid off, with a nice one of about 400fpm or so taking me to about 14K.
The air seemed smooth, suspiciously smooth. I had heard how it can turn from mild to wild in a matter of minutes, so I flew with that in mind, keeping one eye on the awesome view but the other on the clouds for any sign of high winds. The launch is located on a spine of the mountain some way down from the summit, so even though I was climbing I was still not very high over the ground. I could see hikers out on the trails above launch and diners out on the patio of the amazingly huge ski lodge at the head of the gondola. At about 16k I headed out from the spine out over the valley in front, probably 8 grand over the trickle of a river I could see at the bottom of the valley. There were the huge, hardly used homes of the likes of Arnold Schwartzenegger and Alec Baldwin dotting the hillsides. Now I was specked! I flew to the other side of the canyon just so I could peek over into the next valley. More of the same - excellent. I had been in the air for about an hour or so and I noticed that the other two were much lower than me at that point and seemed to be heading out towards the LZ but I guessed that this was a pretty light and mellow day for this site so they were probably not jazzed like I was.
Back to the spine above launch. I ended up coming in right over the gondola by about 1000ft watching the tourists milling about when I caught my strongest thermal of the day. This one I took back and up to 17,500 - the highest I have been in my 16 years of flying. Just the thought of being higher than some of the highest peaks in the country filled me with excitement before coming here and now here I was looking down on them! During the whole flight I had made a conscious effort to watch for signs of hypoxia and to remain relaxed and calm and to just let the glider to do what it wanted to in turbulence rather than try to fight it and end up in a cycle of my heart beating faster from the effort and then needing more oxygen and not getting it and then that making my heart beat faster and then needing more - well you get the picture. So it was with this in mind that I rode out the falls of this thermal and decided that this would be it and I would head out. Right then things became interesting.
The sink surrounding the thermal was about 1000fpm down and did not diminish as I flew away from it. I lost 3000ft heading towards the very distant and out of sight LZ. In fact I had not even reached the Gondola area and knew that if I kept this up I would not reach even that. I had three options: 1) fly to the left side of the spine and into the canyon in front of launch where I would have to get up again to reach the LZ, 2) Land on the top of the spine way back in no-mans-land, which was easily doable but then what? or 3) go to the right of the spine (over the back) and land in the canyon above Aspen. It was an interesting convergence of time and opportunity. As one possibility ran out another became more possible and I knew, as the horizon loomed larger, I had to do something so I was forced into choosing. Option number 3 became the one, so into the unknown canyon I went. I had already noticed a couple of possible LZ's from my high perch earlier so that made me feel a bit better but still, this was an unplanned XC excursion ending in a high altitude landing, so I was on my toes. As I flew out over the sunny side of the narrow canyon, I bumped into a light thermal and managed to gain a few hundred feet which was great for checking out the two fields that looked good to get into. Now that I knew that I was landing here for sure, I was able to relax a bit and look around checking out some more awesome homes and also the road winding up the canyon side towards Independence Pass. Some boaters were in a raft in the creek at the edge of the field I chose to land in and they hollered and waved as I passed over them on my final I smiled and pulled in for extra speed and went on to an uneventful uphill landing. Whew!
I broke my glider down quickly and stashed it in a ditch and set off walking towards town. As it turned out I ended up only about a mile from the condos I was staying at so I went there and dropped off my harness, called the airport tower to tell them I had landed and got on my bike and headed to the LZ at the lower end of town to pick up my truck. It was a fun ride through town as it was all downhill and also because I was so stoked from the whole flight. When I pulled into the LZ, Pete was just finishing breaking down his glider and the look on his face said it all. He had seen me high and far back and had no idea where I had gone after he had headed out. Had I crashed or what? He had effectively been my sponsor at the site so he felt responsible. "Dude, you should have flown more conservatively," he said.
This phrase sticks in my mind to this day. From his point of view I had flown into a dangerous situation but I really thought that I had flown conservatively all along. Each thermal I caught I took up and back cautiously coming back out front each time to find another, being very aware of my position in relation to the LZ and also to the effects of high altitude on my decisions. The moment I felt things going wrong, I switched to a different mode of conservative flying. At least it felt that way at the time. I didn't feel as though I was in a dangerous or compromised position until I hit that large area of sink. Based on the evidence of the earlier part of the flight I did not expect to hit such an area of sink. How can one know such a thing? Without pushing the envelope a bit each time, none of us can expect to improve and expand our flying horizons. I'm just glad that I only had a short amount of anxiety while analyzing the situation and then once the decision had been made, experience kicked in and the rest is as they say ... History!
Fly high, go far
So much has been written about how to land a hang glider in books and in Hang Gliding magazine that we should all be experts, right? Well here is a simple tip that may help those pilots that use wheels. Decide to land on feet or wheels long before you set up your landing approach. Great landings can be made on either wheels, if the field is cut short enough, or as a stand-up on the feet. I recently witnessed a landing that was all too familiar because I have been guilty of the same. The pilot is fatigued after a long flight, turbulent air, or just a great soaring flight. Maybe the wind is a little cross or strong. At the last minute it looks like it will be difficult to pull off a perfect stand-up landing so the pilot decides "I’ve got wheels, I’ll just land on them". And five feet off the ground a stall occurs and the pilot and glider slam into the ground hard.
The time to decide to land on wheels or land standing up with a flare is LONG before you set up your approach. The two landing styles require different maneuvers. When you are in ground effect and planning to flare it is too late to suddenly prefer to land on wheels.
Two Tandems: Clark Harlow and nephew + Jeff and Alli Dodgen
Chris Field launches
TTT T-shirts available!
Tennessee Tree Topper T-shirts will be available August 1st with exciting new colors and updated design. If you’d like more info E-mail Jeff or Alli Dodgen or contact Susan Murdock at 423-949-6855
Aeros Stealth Comp
$2650 OBO Excellent condition. Manufactured in June of 2000. Only 45 hours! Full competition version: Mylar sail, autolowering sprogs, carbon fiber basetube (round metal basetube included also), carbon fiber tip fairings, and spring-battens.
Beautiful blue sail with bold white "Aeros" and "Stealth" sewn into undersurface. If you're interested, I've got lots of pictures I can e-mail. I can also provide several references you can speak to about the condition of this glider. Contact David Giles at email@example.com or 205-755-3369, or 205-755-1705.
Moyes GTR 148. New leading edges on sail, nose cone and new flying wires. $500 or consider trade.
Ram Air 146. Excellent condition. Flies great! $1000 or consider trade.
Rotor Harnesses, Brauniger varios, Quantum and Lara Chutes at discount prices. 423-596-3065.
Tandems - Sail Repair - Mtn. Top Landwww.hangglidetennessee.com
or call Clark 423-949-3396
Aeros Stealth 151
Low hours, very good condition
Pay less get more - $1750.00
Call Mark at 423 949 4999 / email:firstname.lastname@example.org
13 M Topless Laminar
Green/Orange sail $2000
call Kathy 423-949-2176
Gliders for Sale
Both in excellent condition
Airwave K4+: rainbow sail $1500 OBO
TRX 160: floro yellow + pink sail $1750 OBO
TRX is ALL carbon with extra leading edges, downtubes , and wing tip bubbles
Call Jeff 423-949-3384
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