The Junior Worlds are a little over a month away. Noah and I dedicated the Standard Class Nationals toward team training. We were going to get the rust off our team-flying techniques and do some racing as practice. But then at 9am Thursday morning, when I was five minutes away from Blairstown airport to pick up the club LS4 and hit the road, I received a call from Hank Nixon that the Standards are cancelled! This threw our plans for a spin.
Noah and I quickly reassessed our options. The soaring weather looked good in the northeast, so perhaps we could simply use the same time flying on our own. Ridge Soaring gliderport looked particularly inviting for Friday since it promised a pretty nice ridge day. The following two days are forecast to bring great thermal conditions. We quickly got the ball rolling with our respective clubs, Aero Club Albatross and Harris Hill Soaring Corporation. Both clubs supported our change of plan and we were on our way.
I had a very relaxing day as my drive got cut down from 9 hours down to less than three. But poor Noah already had his glider up at CCSC and had to make the whole drive to Ohio and back. He made it to Julian, PA a little past midnight.
The ridge day worked out as advertised. Late start due to lots of moisture (thanks to the two inches of rain during the night). But the wind was solid and the cool airmass cooked off nice thermals. We took the flight more leisurely, trying to keep good margin on the transitions. We decided to head SW along the back ridges, as this was where the better thermals were going to be.
No real trouble except a lowish jump over to Shade. After climbing off of Jacks, the thermal crapped out and we had to beeline to the ridge about a third of the way below ridge top. Otherwise all the jumps were low stress. We made it down to Wardensville on Great Northern Mountain (aka: Blairstown Wall) without too many challenges. Subsequently we got back up to Lockhaven and down to Altoona and back home to Julian.
It was really really fun flying together again. Noah makes the Discus sing and it was a blast to share a ridge day together. We were generally less than 100 yards apart and hardly ever farther than a quarter mile. I don’t think I had ever flown for six hours in such synchrony with another aircraft.
The thermalling worked out beautifully and we had a couple really gorgeous runs up streets. One especially great run was off of Jacks Mountain. A shower rolled through the area and we caught a seven knotter to cloudbase and then a street all the way to Tussey.
Another interesting moment was coming back from Lockhaven to Julian, PA. A shower was about ready to dump near Milesburg Gap, bad news. We didn’t want to drive in there low. So we gingerly climbed up in weak lift, both getting higher and letting some time go by so that the shower would finally pass. Noah correctly assessed the development of the shower and I did a good job of finding and centering the smooth two knotter near Howard Dam.
It was a blast flying with Noah again and I can’t wait till tomorrow. Tomorrow we’ll be flying to Blairstown and maybe Harris Hill… we’ll see. But the conditions look even more promising than today, with thermals going up to 7000ft MSL. This should work out very well.
Thanks a million to Aero Club Albatross and Harris Hill Soaring Corporation for supporting our training with their respective club ships!