Tennessee Tree Toppers

Sequatchie Skies
by Dan Shell
July 9-15, 1996

Hang-glider pilots generally appreciate dry weather. Thermals are more active as solar energy not occupied with evaporating moisture stirs the atmosphere instead. Nevertheless, we appreciate the rain too, as successful agriculture and resulting plentiful large landing fields are an important part of the fantastic flying to be found in the beautiful Sequatchie Valley.

Scattered thunderstorms associated with a frontal passage early last week probably didn't bring all the wet we need, but skies cleared to a soarable N wind Tuesday. Bill Colvin, Kathy Lee, Steve Lee, and Phil Proctor climbed out and headed down the valley. Bill reported flying something of a zig-zag course, searching for lift on a westerly heading toward the valley and working it with a southerly drift. He landed at Powell's Crossroads and Kathy got low there, but found enough lift to make Marion County Airport. Steve and Phil crossed the river to land in a field on the east bank of Nickajack just south of I-24 near "Big Daddy's". Top of the lift was reported between 3000 and 4000 over.

Wednesday looked NE when we set up, but was clearly veering to E by launch time. Phil made valiant attempts to work the rotor but went to the field anyway. I followed close behind, too concerned with just reaching the field in the strong sink to work much of anything. Dale McCartney and Bill Colvin waited for their cycle and worked hard to get to somewhere between 4000 and 5000 over. Dale was able to avoid widespread strong sink and get across the valley for an attempt at working the opposite ridge. Finding nothing, he landed at the North Valley Medical Plaza.

The forecast calls for strong NW winds behind Monday's frontal passage, which brought more welcome rain. Backing to W early Tuesday under increasing influence of a Bermuda high. Veering through NE and light Wednesday as high pressure builds in. Light E Thursday. Southerly by Friday. Chance of thunderstorms returns by Saturday with SW winds. Hold on. The pattern's shifting.