Thursday, July 5, 2007

Weekend Report June 29 - July 4

A six-day weekend. Probably a record for us.

Nancy drove the 304 to Franconia. Thanks, Nancy!

The work crew consisted of Gregg, Tony, Creighton, Skip, Nancy, and Kevin. We put two gliders and a golf cart on trailers and collected all of our stuff from the garage. Creighton drove the golf cart to Franconia (on its trailer, that is). Kevin and Gregg get extra volunteer credit for providing labor and childcare simultaneously.

Nancy and Skip showed up early to fly gliders from Post Mills to Franconia. Tony, Gregg, and Rick constituted the crackerjack crew. Despite the good forecast, conditions were tricky, with widely spaced thermals that were difficult to work down low. Both of our intrepid pilots took two tows, and both were unable to get away from Post Mills.

After officially calling it off, Nancy's crew Tony gave it a shot, taking off in the Blanik at around 3pm. Tony made it halfway, landing at Dean Memorial. All three pilots used excellent judgment in their respective attempts.

Saturday was the worst day of the season for Evan and Paul. They showed up on Sunday, having missed the best soaring day I have seen in several years. The ridge was working all day, and thermals were strong before 10am. Andy aerotowed the Blanik the rest of the way to Franconia, and when he arrived, he learned that Champ the dog was missing back home. Judy alerted the neighbors before heading to Franconia with all the fixin's for a major cookout. Back at Franconia, Steve knocked off his Silver Duration (5 hours), landing a little after 3pm. We probably could have done two back-to-back 5 hour flights on this unbelievable day. Our towplane made 20 tows (thanks, Bob!). In what has become an annual Fourth of July tradition, the Franconia towplane broke down, and we towed a few of their gliders while they were fixing it. We had to force ourselves to stop flying at around 6:30pm in order to attend two (count 'em, two) cookouts.

With only a couple of days notice, we found out that we were invited by the Franconia Soaring Association to an after-flying cookout on the field. Of course, this conflicted with our annual party at the Westwind Cottages. With zeal I haven't seen since my fraternity days, a few partygoers were able to race back and forth between the two events. We have noted that we will make a better effort toward coordinating social activities with FSA next year.

Our annual feast at Arethusa was better than ever (Bravo, Judy!). We kept business to a minimum, and the only low point was when Andy made a tasteless announcement regarding the defacement of a noble airplane. He gave the distinct impression that he condoned the behavior of a grafitti artist, who was never named. The only fireworks we saw this year were the sparklers wielded by Jane, Ella, and Andrew. We had done so much flying and partying that we didn't feel the need for a trip to the Mount Washington Hotel this time around.

The best part of Sunday was the news that Champ the dog was found. He had followed some hikers on the Appalachian Trail and wound up at a lodge on Mount Moosilauke. The hikers kept him overnight and then escorted him back to civilization. Judy and the kids went to fetch him, and he spent the rest of the encampment with us at Franconia. Our weather was mostly yucky, with low ceilings, occasional rain, and partly obscured ridge tops. We managed three flights, but most of us (including Champ the dog) took it easy. Much shopping was accomplished this day.

This was a work day for many of us, and our numbers were noticeably reduced. The Lumruss contingent went home, remembering to take Champ the dog with them, but forgetting to take Nanook the stuffed dog (who has since been retrieved from Westwind management). We had two periods of good weather, with rain showers and naps in between. We were visited by Sugarbush friends Dave and Barbara Ellis during the interlude. Dave did not have a good excuse for not bringing a glider. During the second half of the day, Skip made his best flight so far in the 1-23. Gregg served as instructor of the day. Gregg also managed to get a good flight in the 1-26, proving that you can indeed instruct and have fun on the same day (just kidding). Paul (LS-4) and Creighton (1-23) both landed out on local flights. Herb Weiss, who is not even a member of our club, went on BOTH retrieves (Thanks Herb!). Paul's crew went out to dinner on the way home. It was uncharacteristically quiet around the cottages Monday evening.

Very good weather, but not as spectacular as Saturday. We made 15 flights. Gregg instructed again, but didn't quite leave enough time to fly his 1-26 (Thanks, Gregg!). Pete got his Franconia field check and flew the 1-23 a couple of times. Creighton and Paul both landed out again. At least this time Paul was on a cross-country flight. He flew to Twin Mountain, Morrisville, Post Mills, and wound up landing at Dean Memorial. One more thermal and he would have made it back. Creighton, on the other hand, was on a local flight - this time in the Blanik. After whatever it was went wrong, he made a picture perfect landing in a beautiful field in Lisbon, New Hampshire. The retrieve was straightforward after the crew was fortified by an all-expense-paid raid on the Brick Store in Bath (Thanks, Creighton!). Paul came home in style, with an aero-retrieve (Thanks, Nancy!) A bunch of tired, happy, brain-dead glider pilots celebrated their accomplishments with a late night impromptu dinner at Erebus (Thanks, Mary and Marsha!).

This was the last scheduled flying day of the encampment. In view of our previous successes and the forecast (overcast, south wind), we decided to pack up a few hours ahead of schedule. Actually, it was a plot on my part to get rid of everybody so I could go flying in the Silent. As of this writing (Wednesday evening), only the L-19, Blanik (on its trailer), and Silent are left at Franconia.

This year's Franconia encampment was probably the best ever. We made 55 tows (including retrieves and ferry flights). I wish I knew how many hours we flew. Paul had 8, Steve 7, and Evan had about 12 in PM. We kindled some new enthusiasm for mountain flying (Tom, Pat, Pete), cross-country flying (Nancy, Skip, Tony), and crewing (all of us). We were also delighted to see the reactivation of Paul and Petey as flying members, and it was especially great to see Sonny flying and not working so hard helping others to fly.

I can't think of much to complain about with regard to this year's Franconia adventure. If you weren't able to make it, my condolences!