Once you get off of tow, you should take stock of your situation. There are several things that can happen in the next several minutes:
- Find a thermal and get higher.
- Settle down to 2,400ft abeam one of the ridge exit points. Leave back to Blairstown Airport.
- Commit to the field at the base of the ridge. Get below 2,400ft and the ridge works!
- Settle down on the ridge. The ridge does not work and you land in the field at the base of the local ridge.
There are two ridge exit points. One is the Doc’s Thumb route, which goes over the Lower Reservoir, through a gully and lines you up with a right base for 25. The other route is abeam the Upper Reservoir, and is my preferred path. This lines you up with a left base for 7 and positions you directly with the Dairy Queen field along the way.
When you’re at 3,400ft, you should find the airport and the landmarks around it (Dairy Queen Field, Lake Susquehanna, Ball Fields) and scope out your return back home. When you get lower, it will be harder to spot these landmarks.
We also pointed out a number of important landmarks along the ridge.
- Corn Field- Large field at the base of the ridge which is your alternate landing option.
- Upper Reservoir- The middle of the local ridge and an excellent landmark. Also a good wind indicator; keep an eye on the waves. If there are white caps, that indicates the wind is nice and strong. Pay attention to the streaks to get a sense of the wind direction.
- Sunfish Pond
- Tock’s Island Golf Course- An emergency landing option
- Delaware Water Gap- Southwest limit of the local ridge
- Catfish Pond
- Millbrook Powerlines- Northeast limit of the local ridge.
Note that you don’t want to fly the “high ridge” all the way to Catfish pond. Instead, you would transition to the lower “Catfish Ridge” if you were heading up to the Millbrook powerline. Beginners would normally stay on the “strict” local ridge, which goes from Sunfish Pond to the “saddle” before the upwind jump to the Catfish Ridge. We will demonstrate this in future videos.