Linda Salamone's Blog

Monday, July 31, 2006

I don't know which to start with, the flight or Scott. I guess I'll start with the flight for 2 reasons: #1. even Scott would say flying comes first, and #2. you can all stop reading after the flight if you don't want to hear stuff about someone you didn't know.
So Mark and I were among the first group of pilots to set up atop Ellenville. There was a new pilot that launched earlier and got his first soaring flight- he was breaking down at like 11am so it must have been soarable EARLY! There was a severe t-storm warning for the area according to Accuweather, but I figured I wasn't ready to leave the people that shared my sorrow so we stayed nearby to fly there.
I was so nervous on the way up- checking in with Tony Covelli and seeing familiar faces of pilots who's names I forget.... I know some of them would know me (easy to remember the girls who are so few and far between) and I felt pressure to fly well and not make an ass out of myself by sledding out or something. I know my local population of pilots has seen me bonehead out a number of times but somehow this was different.
Harry S was setting up a Fledgling(?) that looked like it sat in someone's garage for like 25 years. Oh yeah, it DID sit in someone's garage for 25 years, and he proceeded to launch it and scare the shit out of us all when he turned back around towards the hill barely clearing the windsock. But he stayed up as did an Atos and a PG pilot. I was behind a kingposted glider for a while on launch and I launched after he barely had it cleared because I was anxious to get into the air. It was a while before I felt like this flight might actually be good. We weren't getting very high and it felt like any moment it could be over. I finally got a decent climb to 2500' over and everyone else was still tight on the ridge below. When Jamie launched it was back to being a little scratchy again and I went over to fly with him some. What a pain he is to fly near!!!! He and I went out into the valley and got our butts kicked some, he went south, I went north and then I saw that Mark had launched so I went over to see what he was up to. Mark's and Jamie's gliders are great to see in the air. Above them, you can tell who they are by the clear top sail. Very cool. I flew with them a while and when Mark started to really climb out, I tried to stay with him. Over 3K and I started getting cold. I got to base around 4100' over and just for long enough to say I cracked 4K, then I searched for sink to get to a warmer altitude. I had shorts and a tank top on and I was way unprepared for cloudbase! I followed Mark and Jamie a while, over Ellenville and way out across the valley. It was bulletproof now and I could go wherever I wanted and stay at 2500' over where it was comfortable. The air was getting so smooth and easy, nothing like the wire-twangers from earlier in the flight. Mark was plastered to the bottoms of the clouds and finally I saw him lose altitude and I waited until I saw him set up his landing before I even thought about landing myself. I was getting close to 3.5 hours and I had to pee. There were so many gliders still in the air- mostly on the ridge. Then I saw Jamie and I thought it would be good to wait til he was safely on the ground.... Mark's landing looked not-so-good but I was still at 2K over him so it was hard to tell. His glider moved out of the LZ fast so I knew he was in one piece. Jamie was doing wingovers like right over the trees by my estimate, then he landed. I came in and set up a big approach, and carefully came in on final, just to whack really hard. Oh well. I was beat. My old harness and glider combo is definitely not as comfy as the new set up. But the Litespeed 3 still flies really well, even though Al Ahl had to loan me some tape for a hole I wore in the sail. Ryan landed later after doing his first-ever loop. It scared the crap out of me when he got slow over the top. But he did awesome and it was a fitting tribute to Scott....
Which leads me to my friend Scott Jewell.
All week I have been reading things about him since Paul Voight's first e-mail to a group of us. I couldn't comment, it would sound hollow and somehow make it a reality that he was gone. At his service, no one could comment, really. Like, where do you start? And where do you end? He left his mark on everyone he came in contact with. Scott Jewell was one of my favorite people on this earth. He was tough for me to deal with in person sometimes, but we shared so much in our e-mails over the years and he was the one person who I could tell anything to. He was instrumental in my life both from a flying perspective and a personal perspective. I sought him out originally to get my H3 rating, and although I didn't remember him from the Ellenville Fun Meet, he helped me out since he remembered me. While we were working the rating out, we found we had a ton in common and that's where I really got to know him. It was through e-mail conversations with him that I was able to remove myself from a very bad relationship back in 2001, and he was the one who urged me years later to get over my fears, follow my heart, and give my relationship with Mark a go. I didn't meet him in person until long after we knew the most intimate details of each other's lives. Like I said, I could bounce anything off of him, and over the years I did. When I heard about the FAX machine incident, I caught up with him when he was somewhat recovered from it. He made that scene into the funniest damn thing I had ever heard. The only way it seemed to effect him was by giving him more material for his humor. The last year or so he has come to the Flight Park a few times and really impressed himself on my kids, and they are saddened too by his death. Emily laments the trips to Wegmans and the sushi pig-outs they will never have again. He was my H4 rating official and I carry his name on my USHGA card wherever I go. His master rating, if I remember correctly, he got on my birthday the year I started flying. I'll remember forever the Chinese Buffet in Ellenville with my kids, Jamie, Jack and Scott, and how we almost got kicked out when other people started leaving because of their raucous behavior. The last time I talked to him was just before July 4th weekend. He was as animated and crazy as ever and I will miss him so very much. He was a sort of measuring stick for my life- we would check in periodically and he would make sure I was living my life fully and not selling myself short and not taking myself too seriously and keeping my flying safe and just brighten everything with his enthusiasm. Oh like I said- where do you start and where do you end? He gave us that awesome flying day yesterday. I can say I truly felt like he was there and doing loops among us all and poking fun at us getting so morose. He will never grow old and he will stay in my heart just like he was last week, last month, last year. My biggest regret is that I never had a chance to tell him how much he meant to me, so I vow to do just that- tell the people I care about that I have reserved space in my heart. I saw other people doing that as well this weekend. I wish he didn't have to do something so drastic as dying to get us all to do that. I ramble on, I know, but, where do you end when it comes to someone like Scott Jewell?


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