10-13-17 Bears and Bald Eagles SE Ridge

This weekend, I took a short flight in my club’s new Pilatus B-4. Leisurely flight, on the SE ridge, only 2.5 hours and local. The wind was quite weak, perhaps 8 knots at ridge top, but with reasonably good direction. Totally overcast, almost totally smooth! That said, this flight was definitely one of my most memorable ones. Down at “Cliffhouse”, I found a Bald Eagle migrating SW bound. I decided to fly with him… and I ended up flying with him for 16 miles, 35 minutes. I flew the Pilatus absolutely as slowly as I could, which was 31 knots and right at the edge of stall. This was still a couple knots too fast for him, but then I would S-Turn to stay in formation. We floated 300-400ft above the ridge and anytime he would take a couple turns, I would turn with him.

He occasionally glanced over at me, not particularly minding my presence. He probably wondered what the heck this big stupid bird was doing, wallowing around and flying somewhat erratically. Likewise, I was disappointed to watch him thermal in a couple bubbles, drifting further downwind to then beat back upwind to come back at the same altitude he started. But man, what a beautiful and majestic bird! Most of the time, we were within 200 yards of each other, sometimes less than 30.

I flew with him across the Delaware Water Gap, until it got a bit soft and I decided to go back. I saluted him, peeled off and headed back. Ridge worked fine and I summoned the courage to go a bit farther SW. I saw some more local fauna near Kirk Ridge, a couple hanggliders and paragliders enjoying the ridge lift. After going down to Wind Gap, I flew back near home, as the lift getting weaker. On the local ridge, I saw two black bears at a clearing on top of the ridge. I could see their heads craning as they watched me! I had never seen bears in my 12 years of going to Blairstown and now I saw them from a glider! I did a couple short laps, watching them lumber along the forest. It’s not always the big flights that make this sport wonderful.

Find the flight log here.

I flew with him across the Delaware Water Gap, until it got a bit soft and I decided to go back. I saluted him, peeled off and headed back. Ridge worked fine and I summoned the courage to go a bit farther SW. I saw some more local fauna near Kirk Ridge, a couple hanggliders and paragliders enjoying the ridge lift. After going down to Wind Gap, I flew back near home, as the lift getting weaker. On the local ridge, I saw two black bears at a clearing on top of the ridge. I could see their heads craning as they watched me! I had never seen bears in my 12 years of going to Blairstown and now I saw them from a glider! I did a couple short laps, watching them lumber along the forest. It’s not always the big flights that make this sport wonderful.