Tennessee Tree Toppers

Sequatchie Skies
by Dan Shell
May 10-16, 1997

The strong season continues but we've managed to get through the last couple of weeks with no more blown launches. The rash of rough rides to the rocks and the critical review of launch technique which followed gave Katie Dunn a brainstorm, so with the help of TTT Safety Committee Chair Mark Furst we'll be conducting a video launch clinic in conjunction with Mayhem this weekend. Get your picture taken before you speck out then help us pick everybody's launch technique apart during the party that evening.

Strong conditions have also continued to allow some notable flights in and out of the valley, and both. On Saturday, May 10 several pilots flying in ridge lift at Henson's went out to land when it got too rowdy. Mike Barber, however, already on course down the valley, left the ridge going the other way over the back with 2500 over at Powell's Crossroads. Getting as low as 200 below ridge in the river gorge, he soared then hopped one windward ridge after another until finding a thermal near the Raccoon Mountain pumped storage facility which gave him Lookout Valley and ultimately the Lookout Mountain Flight Park LZ near Trenton, Georgia.

The Miami gang was in town for the weekend and took advantage of every available opportunity to get their feet off the ground. Chik Shank very possibly set a site record at Henson's with eight sled runs Sunday. Mike Barber got the flight of the day again Tuesday, May 13, as he was the only one to break the horizon. Wednesday and Thursday were strong SW.

Friday was NW and soarable so several pilots, among them Pat Brooks from Pennsylvania and local Chris Smith, flew but didn't get very high. Katie Dunn reported max gain at around 1500 over. Saturday was light SW but pretty enough to entice pilots off the ground. Steve was the only one to get up, and only briefly at that.

In significant news outside the valley, Pete Lehmann set a new East Coast record with a 187 mile flight from Templeton near Pittsburgh to just short of Baltimore. Apparently, his sister lives there so he headed that way in hopes of lurking a ride. Pete placed third in the recent East Coast Challenge here on his new topless Wills Wing Fusion and was under the same wing for his record flight. This is obviously a significant step in the evolution of glider design. In the hands of seasoned performers like Mike and Pete, well, the sky's the limit!

The forecast calls for frontal passage Tuesday with strong NW winds through sunset. Wednesday looks like the day with a temp differential around 25 degrees and continued northerly winds. It could be a Whitwell day Thursday with lighter winds from E to S and the possibility of respectable convection. SW and prefrontal Friday with rain in the forecast for Saturday. It's been Mudhem before, so you know a little precip won't shut down the annual TTT spring pilot bash and who knows, they could be wrong. Load your glider zipper down, hope for sun, and maybe we'll... See you in the sky!