Linda Salamone's Blog

Monday, August 14, 2006

I was planning to chase the wind in some remote location this past weekend with Mark, but he had prior commitments at the flight park so I took Dave Koehn up on his invite to pilots to fly Utsayantha in Stamford, NY. They were having the first annual "Music on the Mountain" I went to school at Delhi, around 20 miles away, so I know the area well and I have friends there that I love to visit. Emily and I set out on Friday night and got to the dairy farm where I had lived for a semester at around 11pm. We were beat from the drive but stayed up later still to catch up with Candace and her husband Paul. In the morning Emily got to see the workings of a 45 head dairy farm and chase kittens around the barn. I was trying not to get a glimpse of the young pigs whose fate I can't face. Ah well, so we headed to Utz and got there around noon. There was a shuttle going up the mountain and parking below, but with the gliders I got special consideration and drove to launch. There was the makings of a big party going on- vendors and food and crafts, henna tattoos and a sound stage. Lots of people and kids and dogs just getting started. I dropped off the gliders and headed to the LZ where I was supposed to meet Dave. When he and Jenny arrived he gave me the particulars of the site. I haven't flown the NW side, but I have had great flights off the NE side. When we went up top, I got my first good look at the NW launch. Scary. And it was blowing pretty hard and crossing from the north. Not good. So we blew a lot of time and then at around 4 o'clock Dave and I started setting up. By now there were a couple hundred people milling about and we were quite a spectacle. The band that had been playing was giving way to the next on the list, so we had a lot of attention. The mayor of Stamford came over and welcomed me and thanked me for coming. Okay so this was weird! But I was determined to focus on the launch and not let this crowd pressure me into doing something stupid. I chose to fly the Sting since the Litespeed had been giving me launch angst lately. So I tried to watch Dave launch, but the crowd was thick. It appeared to me that he went straight up, and the shallow stretch out to clear ridge was not an issue. He was climbing out fast above and behind us now and I had to yell for people to move so I could get into the slot. It was hard to handle the glider in that much wind, and I launched quickly, hoping to not miss Dave's thermal. I did run out of running room but got clear of the hill and the hit a WALL and felt like a fish on a hook. I had just been gazing at the weeds, not all I could see was sky! How interesting!!! Two seconds later I knew I had made a mistake with the Sting. This was Litespeed air! Oops. Well, I fought with it for a while, got 400' over at times but it was gnarly. Dave was sinking to the mountain again and it did get smoother for a while but I gave him and the mountain wide berth. I had a couple of twangers (mechanical disturbance I think) and the extra space was to spare all the onlookers from any spectacular impacts into the hill. I finally gave up after half an hour and went to check out the LZ. Penetration issues for sure. When I did get out there, to add some more spice to this flight, the N cross to the wind was setting a rotor up right along the LZ and the sock was doing 360s and such. Okay so now I am happy for the Sting because I just aim it at the ground and push up at the last second. The landowner was running out a few minutes later, so excited to see a girl in her field- a first for her. And they were all so nice and Dave landed soon after (he got over 3K) and his girlfriend picked us all up. Bob Murphy joined us then and when he got up top he understood why I said the air was rough. He passed on a flight when he saw how strong it still was. So Emily and I set about enjoying the party that was going on and we danced til past midnight. I had an old friend in one of the bands and caught up with him after he was done playing. It was freezing cold out- huge difference from last week, and the bonfire or dancing was the only way to stay warm. So we headed back to Candace's and slept a few hours and tried to figure out the weather for the next day. We decided on Harris even though Ellenville was close and definitely the best choice. But I have a hard time driving so much on my own so Harris would have to be it. When we got there and I went to take the Litespeed off the car, I noticed a long clean slice in the bag of my Sting. Further investigation revealed that the damage went clear through 3 layers of leading edge and two wraps. It was obviously deliberate. I was crushed to think that someone would do something like that and I hope it was random. Being one of the only vehicle on top of the mountain where there was a lot of beer drinking and pot smoking... well maybe I was just a target. The damage is not really fixable, and a new sail isn't really worthwhile. But the glider is still flyable. I had to fly that after finding way bigger problems with my Litespeed frame. But those problems I knew about, it just suddenly became too late to fix them. So anyhow, by the time I got done screwing around with everything, I got a 20 minute flight to 770' over in some really sweet air and the glider flew GREAT. Mukrim, Ron, Doug, Jim, Ed, Louis... 2 other PGs.... it was fun and Ron and Ed and Doug really took a lot of time trying to solve my many many many problems.... Emily watched 3 movies in that span of time and we drove home with a renewed respect for each other. So even though it wasn't the weekend that I had planned, I got to see old friends, fly a new site, reconnect with my wayward daughter, and dance like a white girl.


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