09-15-15 Ridge + Thermal Flying Blairstown

Was a fun day! Launched at 12:30 to a solid ridge. Wind was around 305 at 23 knots. The run down to Lehigh Gap was pretty good. Running along at 80 knots, at times up to 100. Floated up after the Rock outcropping very nicely, pulling up in nice bits of lift. Was up to 3000ft by the time at Snyders, feeling around if I could find a blue street to take me to Sharp. Couldn’t really, so kept floating. Floated at 2800ft closer to Hawk and tried to make a run for Sharp, seeing if I could find something in between to help me across…. none to be found. Air was pretty crappy in the bigger transitions.

Fell back to Hawk and grinded up to 3600ft. Saw Bill trying to make the jump like I did, but lower. First and last time I saw a glider all day. Jumped over to Second at about 1900ft, turned left and waited for my little street to hop onto Sharp. Waited… waited and bam! There she was! Turned right, gave a nice pull up up to 2200ft and darted onto Sharp. Man I love that little line. Would’ve sucked to have gotten stuck on Second…

Sharp was solid. 70 knots at 1600-1700ft. Got a little soft in the Pottsville section as it always does, but nothing to get the blood pressure up. The parking lot was emptier than usual…

After the gap, resolved to climb up in the first good thermal. It seems like that section, whenever I get in there, I climb up in something up to 2500ft, craps out and then I move further, looking for something else and end up back where I started and finally climbing up high enough to make the jump. Well what do you know, climb up to 2300ft and the thermal craps out and I move on… This time I did find a thermal closer to Bear, pretty decent one at that. I was a little concerned when at 2500ft, the wind shifted to 260 degrees… Anyway, climbed up to 3500ft and made a dash for Bear. Hit atrocious sink on the way and I started cursing at the air. Figured that 2200ft was my decision altitude. Once I made 2200ft, I saw that I could make it and made a dash across the interstate. Crossed at about 300ft above it I’d say, going quite fast. About the lowest I’d ever want to be there.

Bear worked, but I could tell the wind was quite cross to the ridge. Made it most of the way to the tip and hit a nice thermal. As I was climbing off the ridge, the wind was 280 degrees. That ridge there favors around 340-350 degrees. How the ridge works with that sort of wind, I do not know…. But anyway, climbed up in 6 knots up to 5000ft and figured I wasn’t in the mood to try to make it to the Tuscarora. Since the front went through early (it was working the day before), I figured that at the end of the day it was going to get weak and westerly. So let’s thermal now and try to make a triangle out of this flight.

I headed NNE across the ridges. There were Cu, but they were raggedy and dishonest. The lift was to be found generally over the ridges as the ground was wet. Lift was few and far between and not very strong. I’d say about 2.5 knots up to 4500-5000ft mostly, sometimes higher. Made it up beyond Sutliff airport to the edge of the big plateau West of Scranton, 55 miles from where I started at Bear. Turned around at 3:45pm. The run back home was interesting and quite fun. The tailwind was quite nice at this point, but I had to cross the Poconos to get home. I got a bit low in the SWern end of the Wyoming Valley, but climbed up to 4500ft. This was high enough to get me in glide of several airports, one of which is Rosenzweig. This got me high enough to get across the valley and connect with a thermal marked by four broad wing hawks. Lift was weak, 2 knots, but with the tailwind you can’t complain. This and other bits of lift got me up to 5800ft, which was enough to make the ridge, but not high enough to make it home. It was exciting to fly over the Poconos at 4500ft. Tiger country out there, lot’s of trees, trees and trees. But the whole time I had airports made with quite a bit of margin. Nice to have performance for those sorts of moments.

Figuring that the Poconos would have the only lift in town late in the day, I tried to climb up and head NE along them. Wasn’t very successful, but it was quite scenic, flying near the Racetrack and Camelbak. Made it up to the Walpack and made a final glide to the Upper Reservoir. Ridge was working, so decided to do another lap. Made it up to Lehigh Gap, floating along at 60-70 knots at 1700ft. Passed a Bald Eagle on the way! Started to get a little soft out there, so decided to come back. Made it home around 6:30pm, for a six hour flight.

Find the flight log here.