Tennessee Tree Toppers

Sequatchie Skies
by Dan Shell
August 4, 1998

The almanac forecasts the end of the dog days around August 11, but we seem to be getting an early respite. We had a couple of relatively cool days early this week with absolutely clear skies until early afternoon and good cumulus development then. The humidity will probably return by the end of the week, but it's nice to get a midsummer spell of spring 'til then.

Kathy Lee alone took advantage of those conditions Monday. She found launch deserted with a smooth breeze blowing straight in at about 10. While launching alone is a nerve wracking experience, the addition of any wind compounds the concern. Nevertheless, she did a good preflight, performed her own hang check, and walked smoothly off the mountain into the sky.

Turning right along the north face, she climbed immediately to about 100 over but was flushed in the next cycle and headed to the field. While setting up her landing she encountered a boomer which took her back to cloudbase above launch. In fact, she climbed a little too close to the center of the cloud and didn't realize it until she was in the cloud suck. Running for the edge, she whited out before breaking clear but reported a max altitude gain of 4800 over there.

With that kind of altitude the decision to go XC was made. As she proceeded down the valley she spent most of the time at around 4000 over and never got lower than 2000 over, which would have made a pretty comfortable ride if she'd dressed warmer. She was sure she had Lookout made when birds showed her a nice fat thermal in the vicinity of Big Daddy's (I-24 Haletown exit) at the end of the valley, but it wasn't enough to get her over Sand Mountain. She eventually landed on the beautiful Westmoreland Farm there along the river. Mrs. Westmoreland exhibited the kind of hospitality we find regularly around the Sequatchie Valley, bringing Kathy a tall glass of homemade iced tea and allowing her to use their phone to call me for retrieval. Great flight Kathy! Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Westmoreland.

The forecast calls for lows in the mid to upper 60s and highs in the mid to upper 80s all week. A day or two may approach 90, but clouds will return by Thursday with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms Thursday and Friday. Winds S to W Thurday and Friday, W to N Saturday. See you in the sky!