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February 26, 1996
The weatherman's promises of fair skies and favorable conditions for the weekend were bound to bring hang-glider pilots out of the woodwork. While the conditions turned out to be disappointing for several of us, a few fortunate and/or exceptionally skilled pilots were able to work the light lift for sustained flights and even a modest cross country or two. At any rate, the sunny skies and warm temperatures provided a great opportunity for reunion and relief of cabin fever.
On Saturday winds were forecasted from the NW. Reality, even by mid-morning, was closer to East. Thermal drift was fast and to the SW down the valley, somewhat difficult to work as it moved lift quickly away from the L.Z. (landing zone). Nevertheless, Henry from Ontario launched early enough to work some light ridge lift and thermals for a flight of impressive duration and altitude. Several others got up but quite a few didn't and everybody reported plentiful strong SINK. Five minutes of 500 to a 1000 feet per minute down will have you wondering if you set the glider up right! A patient few were rewarded with a light wonder right before sunset.
Sunday was forecast S @ 10, but even on the way to Whitwell we could tell it was really mostly SW. Greg Heckman launched early with Steve and Kathy Lee and climbed out to around 2000 over launch. Terry Presley eventually joined up with the Lees and the three of them turned downwind for a cross country almost to Dunlap. They landed about even with the trucking company south of town. Kathy said the air was rowdy the whole trip. When Terry selected a field with which she'd had previous turbulent experience, she passed it up for the next one. Steve said when it came time for him to choose a field he thought "Friend in one field, wife in another. Hmmm, better land with the wife."
Phil Proctor and Matt Wagner were the launch heroes, staying behind to help everybody get off until it looked like the day was shutting down. They got off late but were rewarded with a flight in what Phil described as a wonder wind that didn't quite make it.
It felt like spring flying. Tip Rogers said it was the official beginning of the spring flying season when you broke down in shorts and T-shirts. We may be blessed with more warm weekends before the equinox, but as of Monday's deadline the NWS was saying this wouldn't be one of them. The almanac's saying snow Wednesday, but NOAA says more like Saturday. Anyway, we can expect the wind to turn NW after the frontal passage. See you at Henson's... if it's not TOO COLD.