The heavens have been busy the last couple of weeks. Celestial events including a comet and an eclipse of the moon announced Easter in the evening sky. Daytime atmospheric apparitions included quite a few hang-glider pilots enjoying the real gift of soarable weather coinciding with holidays, if you believe in coincidence. Ned Stelzel and Greg Dinauer have both gotten more than a dozen hours in less than a week.
Last Monday (3/24) was great at Whitwell. That was obvious with a look out the window while racing the Tribune's deadline like I do every week. Greg Dinauer and Paul Voight made it to Nine Mile. Ned Stelzel got to within a mile of Pikeville. Curly Dunn flew to just past Hwy 111/8 north of Dunlap, reporting a maximum altitude gain of 3000 over.
Wednesday (3/26) returned everybody to Henson's with NW winds and the modest altitude gains around 2000 over. Ned said people were all over the valley, but it was apparently a big out and return day with relatively light velocity.
Paul Voight had the flight of the day Friday and the best reported altitude gain of the week around 4000 over. He launched at Henson's and scratched toward and over the southwest face, staying specked while everybody else sunk out.
Saturday was windy and gnarly according to Curly but he flew to the Suck Creek water tank anyway. Dale McCartney reported getting higher than Curly on Sunday for about a half hour. He said he turned right off launch and caught the lucky thermal to 2000 over while watching others scratch all the way to the field.
The forecast calls for good comet viewing in the evening through Friday, April 4, so the Tennessee Tree Toppers are extending an invitation to the community to enjoy the view from the ramp. It's in the northwestern sky so it appears straight ahead off the ramp directly across the valley. The gate to launch will stay open 'til 10:00 Friday night. In the weather expect sunny skies with temperature differentials approaching 40 degrees through midweek. Convection should be crackin', if not completely suppressed by high pressure, with lows in the upper 20s and lower 30s and highs in the mid 60s. E to SE Wednesday. Increasing cloudiness and southerly winds through Thursday and Friday with the next approaching front. Temp differentials hover around 25 degrees but high pressure loses influence. Frontal passage Saturday or Sunday and, of course, strong NW winds behind it. See you in the sky!