Tennessee Tree Toppers

Sequatchie Skies
by Dan Shell
March 10-16, 1997

The redbud blooms have started their ascension of the mountains, signaling the return of spring. Friday's the vernal equinox, which will make it official. Nevertheless, this week has seen passage of the coldest front we've had in over a month.

Just ahead of the most recent front and behind the one that opened the door for the arctic air mass, the wind came unstuck from SW Monday long enough to call pilots to Henson's. Most launched by midafternoon and were able to work lift to a couple of grand over. It appeared to be all over by the time Fred Pearson launched a couple of hours before sundown. After he went pretty directly to the LZ, however, a slight breeze began to build. It was all that was necessary. With the colder, denser air (lower density altitude) I found the low velocity soarable (even with the winter weight gain) and enjoyed the smooth wonder wind on a lonely ridge 'til sunset.

Saturday's forecast for a high in the 30's was overlooked by a few hearty souls concentrating on the part that said NW 10-15. It was blowing hard, sinky, turbulent, and cold, but Jeff Laughrey reported a max altitude gain of 2600 over. He said Kathy Lee was higher, but she didn't have an altimeter. New novice pilot Debbie Uttenreither tried her hand at thermaling and worked a good one from about 800 over the LZ to even with launch.

Sunday was warmer and lighter, but still soarable. Steve Lee reported a max altitude gain of 3400 feet. Ned Stelzel successfully negotiated the sink cycles to stay specked 'til late afternoon. Phil Proctor launched after most folks were flushed, but managed to find one back in the gap. He worked it to around 2000 over the SW site before boating out across the valley.

The forecast calls for SW winds with precip Tuesday and Wednesday. Low in the mid 30s and NW 10-15 with high cirrus Thursday. Lighter and warmer but still northerly veering to NE Friday. Southerly by Saturday. SW Sunday. See you in the sky!