Tennessee Tree Toppers

Sequatchie Skies
by Dan Shell
September 8, 1997

As the sunsets approach the midpoint of their southern retreat along the horizon, cold air from the north makes early advances against the opposing warmth in the lengthening night. At midday, however, the sun is still sufficiently high to heat the air to sweet instability. The resulting convection can give a pilot a highway in the sky or a quick trip to the ground. Open another prime XC season in the Sequatchie Valley!

Curly Dunn reported ridge soarable conditions and max altitude gains around 4000 over on Friday, 8/29. On Saturday, 8/30 Steve Lee flew across the valley before it overdeveloped. Overdevelopment again on Sunday, 8/31, but Steve made it to Yellow Cliffs.

Labor Day winds sent the winged to Whitwell. Anne Horgan, John Lawton, and Tom Prouhet appreciated the able wire crew assistance of Dan Bracken. Steve Lee and Mark Furst flew from the Whitwell launch to the Henson's Gap LZ. Mark reported a max altitude gain around 2000 over. Phillip Proctor landed near the Armory south of Dunlap. Eric Kaye landed at Star Gap and reported a max altitude gain around 4000 over. Kathy Lee was back at Whitwell for the following Friday, 9/5 and struck out alone to fly to the highway 8/111 and 28 intersection north of Dunlap.

A flight from Henson's to Lookout is remarkable. Oh sure, it's done with some regularity now, but the challenge presented makes it a very special flight in a lightweight unpowered craft. On Saturday, 9/6 Mike Barber made the trip the other way. Launching at Lookout, he crossed the valley to Sand Mountain, worked across the plateau to the Sequatchie side, then eventually returned to the middle of the plateau to work better lift there all the way to Henson's. Kenny Sandifer, Steve and Kathy Lee, and Greg Wojnowski were in the air at Henson's when he arrived. Congratulations Mike!

He was trying it again on Sunday, 9/7. I could hear him talking it over with Terry Presley somewhere over Sand Mountain, but conditions weren't as good so we never saw them. James Anderson got up. Buddy Cutts got a flight. John and Kenny reported working good lift above 1000 over between Hwy. 111 and Cordell's before it shut down around 3:30. Chris Smith reported a max altitude gain around 4500 over.

The forecast calls for southerly winds and increasing chance of rain ahead of the next front until midweek. Frontal passage late Tuesday should bring clearing skies and NW winds Wednesday. N to NE, lighter, and warmer Thursday. Temperature differential in the low 20s with lows in the 60s and highs in the 80s. Expect a stronger frontal passage later in the week, perhaps just in time to set up another big XC weekend. See you in the sky!