Tennessee Tree Toppers

Sequatchie Skies
by Dan Shell
May 28 - June 3, 1996

We've had some relief from the heat and incessant SW wind this week. The final passage of a stalled system that hung around for a while was followed by an entire TWO days of soarability. Hang-glider pilots and The Weather Channel meteorologists alike have been comparing this setup with the summer of '93, which drenched the upper Mississippi valley and left us relatively dry. A long soarable summer would be nice compensation for skipping spring.

Wednesday was WNW and ridge soarable. Jamie Alexander, former local pilot visiting from Salt Lake City, UT, enjoyed the easy airtime along with Mark Furst, John Lawton, Kathy Lee, and me. I ventured south toward Centerpoint to try the west facing ridge beyond the powerlines, found nothing, had to return low through the nesting hawk's territory near Cordell's, and got chased half way back to launch. Jamie also solicited some screaches by thermalling to low in her (his?) yard. She and Kathy boated across the gap only to get low around the corner from the Southwest Site. Demonstrating a technique she learned at Point of the Mountain near Salt Lake, Jamie made a nice low save benching up from the lower escarpment (secondary ridge).

Thursday was N swinging to NE through the afternoon. Curly Dunn, Dale McCartney, and Phil Proctor got the best of the air early with Dale reporting maximum altitude gains around 5000 feet. By the time Rick Jacob and Nick Berry launched it was no longer ridge soarable so they went to the field. After watching them, John and I were better able to select a cycle and get off in something that went up. By this time thermals were ragged and turbulent in the cross wind close to the ridge. John showed us smoother lift out over the escarpment and my altimeter showed about 1000' over at max, but Curly was at the top of the stack.

Friday was forecast SE so Jem Moore, Phil Proctor, and Matt Wagner went to Whitwell. As the wind turned S Jem flew to the church and landed. Phil and Matt went around the corner to the S face and maintained out of sight. We couldn't see them, but figured there was a whole lot o' scratchin' goin' on.

The forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms associated with frontal passage late Monday. Partly cloudy, W, and soarable Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday. Scattered thunderstorms Thursday. NW and soarable Friday. See you in the sky!