01-14-13 Fun Winter Soaring 1-26 Record Flight

This year, I finally resolved to go for a bunch of 1-26 records and January 14th gave me the first opportunity to do so. While driving over the Verrazano Bridge, the day looked terrible. The fog was so dense, I couldn’t even see the next tower! However, once I arrived at the airport, the crud started to clear out and the Northwest wind finally picked up. I declared a 150km Out and Return, and once the towplane pulled out, Bob Cook and I pulled the glider out over the very muddy field and away I went! The ridge was solid and I cruised happily to my start at the Millbrook powerlines. However, after making an uneventful crossing across the Delaware Water Gap, the day started getting interesting.

After being unable to contact any decent thermals near Wind Gap I ended up going through that transition lower than ever before. It went smoothly, but I wasn’t used to such a flat glide in the 1-26! From there, it was a quick ridge run up to Snyders, but then it was like I hit a brick wall and couldn’t get a climb. In this section, it is generally advisable to climb up between 3-4000ft to then get through a pretty flat section of ridge after it. I was stuck on the ridge at 1700ft and trying all possible tricks to contact a thermal. After about 45 minutes go by, here came Ron Schwartz all fat and happy 150ft higher and he contacted a small thermal and pushed his way across. I was hoping he’d turn around and we would go back together! Mildly flustered, I finally contacted a thermal and climbed to 2500ft, but now I was a good 2.5 miles from where the flat area begins.

After making it around the little hump, I had only about 400ft above the “ridge” to go 4 miles to the next workable section. In this section, we depend on the high ground to create “good air” and just float across, but that’s with usually a lot more wind than this day! I started to sink down a bit, but luckily I hit a thermal which gave me 150ft which allowed me to finally made it across. I had finally made it to Hawk Mountain and there was Schwartz! Hurrah! Then Ron and I searched a bit for wave, but it was completely overcast and we couldn’t climb higher than about 2100ft. Finally, we both started heading toward Snyders again. Again unbearably low, I figured it would be a good idea to follow Schwartz. He hit a small bubble and decided to do a full turn in it, but man it didn’t feel comfortable to do a full turn so close to the ridge! I tried to do figure 8s, but we both quickly lost it.

We scurried back towards Hawk, but then split. Guess I’ll have to figure this one out on my own! After climbing to a measly 2000ft, I went for the transition low as heck, but made it just fine. A bit more wave hunting later, and a no thermal jump again through Wind Gap, here I am approaching the Delaware Water Gap for the final major transition of the day. I climbed up to 2800ft, which seemed comfortable, but man the sink pummeled me straight down. After making it around the bend, I was never lower in this area and the ridge barely put out for a while. This really scared me and I thought I’d end up in the golf course below! Finally, abeam of the bailout point for the airport, I had to make a decision whether to keep going to the finish point, or go home. The ridge was still putting out, albeit more softly, but it seemed it would still hold for a quick run to the powerlines and back. I went for the finish and after being never lower at the powerlines, I made it back to the local ridge and comfortably went for the airport. Although the flight had its hard moments, I never got particularly stressed by them, which made the flight challenging, but still very fun. I look forward to such ridge flights in the future!

This flight should earn me the following Region 2 1-26 Records:

Junior 150km Speed Out and Return

Junior Out and Return Distance

Junior Free Distance

Open/Junior Free Distance up to Three Turnpoints

Open/Junior Free Out and Return Distance

Find the flight track here.