Tennessee Tree Toppers

Sequatchie Skies
by Dan Shell
October 14-20, 1996

Fall is in full swing and so are a whole lot of pilots as they take to the sky challenging the autumnal turbulence. It's often most rowdy right behind a frontal passage, but visiting pilots who'd been sitting through several stable southerly days were too anxious to wait. They could be seen from Dunlap, swarming over Henson's Gap, before the homecoming game Friday night.

Rain ended Friday morning as it was chased to the east by strong winds. In the valley the SCHS band worked hard through the mid-day parade to prevent the flight of equipment never intended for aviation. On top it was honkin' sufficiently to discourage the construction of anything resembling a wing until late afternoon. The patient were rewarded though, as velocity dropped with the sun and allowed some air time.

Saturday was still strong but allowed for enough convection for Randy Cohick from Pennsylvania, Curly Dunn, Paul Mays, and Phil Proctor to get to Marion County Airport. Dozens of pilots from all over the country enjoyed the abundant lift and the beauty of Sequatchie Valley in its Fall finery. Top of the lift was reported around 2000 over. It glassed off to a wonder at day's end, leaving pilots that couldn't resist a few more minutes in the sweet air breaking down in the dark.

Meanwhile on top, Kathy Lee was preparing the annual feast that is OktoberFest. Hungry pilots enjoyed plenty of turkey and trimmin's while telling and retelling the day's adventures. Kathy wanted to publicly thank everyone who brought dishes, Charlie Yowell and Jim and Barbara Lee for carving turkeys, Kenny Sandifer for building the bonfire and hanging lights, the Dunlap Restaurant for baking pies and cakes, and everyone else who helped.

Sunday was stable with cirrus in the morning and clearing sky by afternoon. The first round of the Tennessee Tree Toppers 1996 Team Challenge opened with an ambitious tasked called to Marion County Airport. Many pilots launching early aborted their dive for distance to land at the LZ and relaunch. This paid off for some as a slight wonder late in the day allowed several to make the minimum scoring distance of three miles. Larry Huffman had the best distance landing 7.35 miles down the valley from Henson's. Katie Dunn and Terry Presley weren't far behind at 6.8 miles, landing in the vicinity of Blevins Road. Greg Dinaeur and Wayne Sayer were practically in the next field with 6.5 miles each. Team standings as of Sunday's round with point scores based on average team distances are as follows.

         1.  Dunn Deal              89.63

         2.  New England Airheads   77.03

         3.  Nimbomaniacs           64.44

         4.  Wankers                64.15

         5.  Tail Draggers          63.47

         6.  Daedelus               57.41

         7.  Climb Idiots           55.14

         8.  Medi-morphs            54.75

         9.  WWB                    54.46

         10. Right Wing Extremists  52.62

         11. Cahunas                51.36

         12. Cloud Hop Coop         24.71

The forecast calls for rain beginning Tuesday and continuing into Wednesday. Blown out or at least very strong if it clears before dark Wednesday. NW and lighter Thursday. Lingering clouds through Friday will hold the temp differential to 20 degrees and likely suppress convection. Light W to SW. Prefrontal SW to S by Saturday. Rain Sunday. Soarable by late Monday. Best of luck, fun, and safe journeys to competitors and all visiting pilots. See you in the sky!