Tennessee Tree Toppers

Sequatchie Skies
by Dan Shell
February 23, 1998

Late February often brings a hint of Spring. We can only hope that Saturday's weather was prophetic. The forecast for highs in the 50s with light northwest winds on the weekend brought pilots from over the hills and out of the woods to take advantage of what might be the second good day in the space of a week, rare frequency for the season.

Nick Berry, Katie Dunn, Dennis Felts, David Giles, Bruce Hawk, Anne Horgan, Jeff Laughrey, Steve Lee, Kathy Lee, Fred Pearson, Tip Rogers, Kenny Sandifer, Ned Stelzel, Greg Wojnowski and I assembled at launch to assemble gliders under promising skies. There was plenty of sun and some diminutive cumulus tracking out of the west across the valley. Winds were periodically straight in to slightly left cross on launch, but by the time we were ready velocity had decreased and the clouds appeared to be shrinking. Tip Rogers launched first to show us that conditions weren't as great as anticipated, shortly arriving in the field. Those that followed took longer to select their window.

By the time I made it to the ramp there were a couple of gliders in the field and one on approach. Bruce Hawk, Jeff Laughrey, and Katie Dunn were working lift in the gap drifting toward the mountain. As they came within reach I departed earth and joined them in their thermal for a climb to a couple of thousand over. Steve Lee crossed the gap and flew up the ridge to Buck's Knob before turning back to hang around the neighborhood. Several of us kept returning to the southwest face expecting lift there with good sun exposure on a west day, but the best air seemed to be farther back in the gap. Greg Wojnowski took one out of there to cloudbase at almost five grand over the Southwest Site. Steve Lee reported cloudbase at 4800 over. My best altitude gain was to around 4200 over. From there I could see Katie, Kathy, and Jeff a few hundred above and almost within the wispies. A great time was had by many, but it wasn't a gimme. There was a lot of sink around and it was easier to find than lift. Anne Horgan reported a pretty straight ride to the LZ without encountering anything workable. Tip Rogers relaunched late and got to soar the slightest breath of a wonder.

The forecast calls for a short dry spell with sunny skies and a high approaching 70 degrees Wednesday. Temps drop steadily from there with a possibility of rain returning Thursday associated with the next approaching front. Southerly winds with a low in the mid 40s, high in the mid 60s. Continued rain Friday with winds veering toward NW. High in the upper 50s, low in the upper 30s. Cooler under clearing skies with northerly winds Saturday. See you in the sky!