Linda Salamone's Blog

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ho volato ieri!!!!!
Saturday was forecasted to be awesome enough for me to get out in some 30 degree weather. But upon arrival at Hammondsport (BATH, NY), it was obvious that there had been some mistake made with each and every weather forecasting service we have available.... Ryan, Michelle and the baby were down, Mukrim, Matt and Doug.... We set up our hang gliders, but Mark and I were the only ones not to take our sledders. The paragliders all had short flights with interesting launches. Knowing Mukrim would be there all night and we'd give it a go on Sunday, we tied the gliders down behind the cabin.
Sunday we piled into the tiny Subaru (Ryan is a big guy) and left Michelle at my house to stay warm and watch my kids complain all day.... Doug called from H-port and said it was blowing hard but that Mukrim was flying (of course). It was still too strong for me when we got there but it was sunny and mellowing out. Colder than the day before, I don't think it ever got above freezing but with the sun shining for a change... Not having to set up a glider, I tried to kite the PG on the knob while Mark, Ryan and Mukrim flew, but it was too switchy and gusty to be a good learning experience. When I saw that Doug was getting ready (he likes the same conditions as me), I put on my harness and got in the slot. I haven't used the lower west launch in years but the upper launch had a scary drift that made it look like the launch extended twice as far off the cliff as it really does....
So my launch was okay but of course the air was rowdy. I stayed well clear of the ridge and luckily found that most of the coherent lift was in the valley. I got a thermal and high enough to be comfortable and started looking around. I had two heat pads in each mitten (it was working pretty well but tough to launch with mittens) and I got most of the way zipped up. The sink between the lift was huge, and once I thought I might not make it back out to the ridge, but the thermals were strong and it was really pretty easy to get and stay up, especially with lots of PGs marking where to go (and where NOT to go....) It was getting nicer and nicer but I was getting colder and colder. My toes were numb and I began to think about landing. Behind the church is rarely an option for me, and with the wind pretty westerly, I crossed it off my list. Top landing sucks midday, so I went over to check out the airport. I saw that there were a couple of vehicles parked right on the road that bisects the runway. I thought maybe there were people in the vehicles because you wouldn't really just leave one there and I figured it was time to find out just how pissed off they get if hang gliders land there. I set up an approach after trying to find some sinking air, and landed just in the short scrub along the mowed runway. Three people watched me as I walked my glider to those vehicles (a truck and an ATV) and I pulled off my helmet quick so they could see I was a girl and not a terrorist. Three generations of the family that owns the strip, the cow pasture across the street, and the ridge to the north of ours, greeted me kindly. First thing they said was, why didn't I use the mowed strip? and I didn't bother to explain that I had intended to, I just had a shitty approach and got hit with a bit of unexpected air.... But they said no problem landing there, not too much air traffic comes in anymore, yada yada, yada. But they did say that some time ago they were pissed when someone announced to them that the local hang gliding club was going to start using their field (not asking) and then proceded to cut a slot in their ridge (the one with the tower on it) for a new launch. I looked up at the ridge and it's obvious there was some clearing that had happened long ago up there. But I think everything is okay for landing there as long as you use common sense. I know it is definitely my LZ of choice especially when the air is still active.
Mark picked Katrin and I up and then went up for another flight in his hang glider. Since Ryan was flying again too, I figured I'd just thaw out a while and drive for people, but then Matt asks if I want to go tandem PG. Mukrim is test flying his glider and he happens to have another....
So we go running off into a wonderwind and maybe 20 minutes later Matt tells me I'm his second tandem and his first was on the training hill!!! Pretty funny... So we go cruising around for more than an hour, and I am so damn cold because I am blocking his wind but I don't want to say anything because I am having too much fun as co-pilot. We got stupid high and flew all over with Ryan and Mukrin and Doug. We passed Mark really close once and spanked Ryan's butt a little.... On landing, on top, just before I get ready to hit the ground running, I can't get out of the harness, so that part wasn't very graceful, but what a great time. Thanks so much Matt for asking- it was really awesome.
So.... Flights: 2
HG flight : 45 minutes dont know how high because I didnt set my vario- couple grand over launch anyhow
PG flight: 1:11, 1700' OL
What a great freaking February day!!!!!


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