Tennessee Tree Toppers

Sequatchie Skies
by Dan Shell
October 3-6, 1996

The nights have been longer than the days for a couple of weeks. The cooler and denser air is less tolerant of humidity, offering clear views of the valley adorning itself in autumnal splendor. XC ambitions rise as goals long hidden behind the haze of summer are revealed.

Goals within sight aren't necessarily within reach, however. Persistent high clouds the last few days have obscured the sun sufficiently to suppress convection. Thursday was postfrontal and relatively clear, but a strong right cross made for rowdy air at Henson's. The wind continued to veer through NE Friday to E by Saturday morning sending all hopefuls to Whitwell.

John Lawton, Phil Proctor, and Matt Wagner launched early to maintain in light lift just north of launch. A sailplane was working closer to Star Gap, but accomplishing no better climb. John eventually lost the light stuff, but Kathy Lee launched a little later to join Matt staying just a few hundred over. She turned upwind toward Henson's in the light stuff with Matt following until he saw her going down at the north end of the big field in front of Star Gap and turned back for the church LZ.

Sunday was about the same with high clouds, almost enough consistent velocity for ridge soaring, and a left cross at Whitwell. Steve Lee stayed close to the ridge moving north until he encountered something workable about even with the church. Phil Proctor and Matt Wagner showed true grit, refusing to land until the ground came up to meet them. Mike Barber got to the top of the stack in the new PacAir Concept and stayed there 'til the day really shut down, long after everybody else had found a field.

Rain from Josephine may miss us altogether, but will likely stall the front that's headed our way. Wednesday should be W to SW with the formerly tropical low to our east and the stalled front to the west. Reorganization and passage through Thursday will bring light northerly winds and clear skies with good convection by Friday. N to NE Saturday. E to SE Sunday. Don't land at the church 'til services are over. See you in the sky!