Spring wasn't two days old before we got a day to prove it. The front passed with the equinox last Saturday, so by Monday it was sunny and soarable. This was the warmest good day in a good while, so some pilots were unfolding wings that haven't glimpsed the sky since Thanksgiving.
Curly Dunn found enough of the warm air moving in the right direction to allow him to bobble about the valley, as is his habit. Kathy Lee reported max altitude gains around 1500 over while new TTT member Michael Fletcher of Soddy Daisy was all grins after flying the wonder wind into the late afternoon. Fred Pearson and I also enjoyed the smooth ridge lift.
This Saturday was the first dry one in a long stretch. Under such circumstances, a tolerably temperate northerly day in early Spring is bound to make Henson's Gap a busy place. Pilots were rewarded with smooth generous lift and climb rates approaching 2000 feet per minute. Many reported max altitude gains around 6000 over. I had no trouble getting to 3500 over as late as 4:30. Steve Lee and Greg Wojnowski cruised down the valley and landed off Inman Point just north of Marion County Airport. Kathy Lee continued across the river and made the jump at Big Daddy's. Finding only light lift on the plateau, she zig zagged across the top working sporadic lift from fires. She stretched her final glide toward the Lookout Mountain Flight Park LZ near Trenton, GA and landed less than a mile short just west of the hills in New England.
Sunday dawned clear, promising to repeat Saturday's convection with lighter drift. High clouds moved in by midday, however, lowering ambitions with the temperature. Virginia pilot Maggie Palmieri didn't mind the reduction in velocity as she was returning to cliff launching after a long hiatus from mountain flying and welcomed an uncomplicated launch. She was in her element once airborne though, and even worked some lift sans instruments as her husband Jim cheered her on from the ramp. A recently arrived French Canadian contingent comprised of Francois Dussault, Daniel Fortin, and Marc LaFerriere was just thankful to get off the road and into the air. They made a respectable showing, tenaciously working the light lift. Daniel hung on the longest, surviving through several flush cycles before succumbing to the calm. Several others followed to dance with the elusive shady thermals on their way to the field, but only Kathy Lee managed to climb out and stay aloft long enough to make anybody wait in the LZ.
The forecast calls for rain starting Wednesday continuing through Friday. Cloudy skies and southerly winds with lows in the mid 50s, highs in the mid 70s. Wind veering to NW with good velocity and clearing skies by late Saturday. Lighter, warmer, still northerly, and beautiful Easter Sunday. See you in the sky!