Tennessee Tree Toppers

Sequatchie Skies
by Dan Shell
November 16-24, 1996

After a week of dreariness, the sky cleared Saturday 11/16 about mid-day sufficiently to send the usual gaggle to Whitwell. We arrived to find a smooth breeze blowing more or less straight in with the occasional left cross. In the time it took to set up gliders, however, things changed. Velocity increased and the air took on a noticeable raggedy feeling on launch.

Paul Ohlson, Steve Lee, Jeff Laughrey, and Kathy Lee got off in time to work what was obviously a right cross. They didn't seem to be battling much turbulence, but spent most of their time parked and pointed south. Steve reported maximum altitude gains at aro. He spent his usual 20 seconds evaluating conditions before executing a flawless launch.

As velocity dropped Bob Simmons, Brooks Coleman, Gary Venning, and Judy Hildebrand launched and struggled to maintain altitude in the light cross. Strengthening velocity over the next few minutes made it easier to stay up, but the severity of the cross wind, now becoming pronounced, contributed to the turbulence and significantly detracted from the fun. Within several more minutes everybody was heading for the church and good ol' terra firma. Turbulence was strong enough and low enough to send most of us to a larger alternate field just north of the church. Breaking down in the LZ, we all congratulated each other on our survival.

Friday 11/22 brought NW winds following Thursday's frontal passage and a handful of unidentified pilots could be seen from town a little after mid-day taking advantage of the ridge lift. Quickly clocking around, a southerly breeze brought warmer temperatures Saturday. John Lawton and Kenny Sandifer took advantage of the pretty day to fly La Follette with Tip Rogers. John recommends it as a great site for those tolerable temperature south days in the dead of winter.

Sunday 11/24 was warmer with a south wind that nevertheless left skies pretty clear until early evening. I arrived at Whitwell just in time to launch Sean and Nan from Lookout and strand myself on top with Frances Clark and no wire crew. Barbara Wiedemann, Nan, and Tom Pruett returned to launch after their sweet flights in the smooth ridge lift to get us off about an hour before dark. The cross was again from the right this week, but much smoother than last. We had the sky to ourselves for a beautiful sunset flight.

The forecast calls for COLD north wind behind Monday and Tuesday's frontal passage. Slight chance of snow. NW Wednesday. NE by Thursday. If the pattern holds we can expect southerly winds returning as early as Friday. Another front may gain definition west of the plains and pass by early in the weekend. If so expect rain Friday or Saturday followed by cold but soarable weather by Sunday. Happy Thanksgiving!