Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Franconia Encampment July 1 - 6

This year's 4th of July Franconia encampment was as hectic as ever. We had a great time, despite some wet weather.

I counted 42 participants, including spouses, parents, kids, and dogs. We brought eight gliders, ten trailers, six bicycles and one towplane to the Franconia airport. The expedition actually began on the previous Sunday when Andy and his crew put 3J on the trailer after flying at Post Mills.

In the early part of the week Rick, Mary, and Charlie transported PM, S2, the golf cart and the fuel tank.

We cancelled our original plan to aerotow the Blanik on Thursday, due to the uncertain forecast. Instead, Kevin and Matt wrestled the glider onto its trailer on Wednesday and Andy and Andrew delivered the L-19 that afternoon. Rick towed the trailer to Franconia and brought Andy and Andrew home.

Tim showed up with the 1-23 and we assembled it and the Blanik. A few of us checked into the Westwind and met the new owners. They have a new approach to keeping the bears out of the dumpster.

The Ludemans arrived at the Horse and Hound. I don't actually remember if anybody flew on Thursday. We don't have a logsheet for that day, so if you did fly, please let Sonny know. Judy and Andy organized a takeout Thai dinner, the first of three consecutive fine dining experiences at Arethusa.

The weather on Friday was pretty good, right up until the end of the day. The wind was southerly, so the ridge wasn't much help. The thermals were reliable in the sunny areas, but we were overrun by cloud shadows several times throughout the day. Andy towed and instructed, and several members got their introduction to mountain flying. There was only one landout. In the late afternoon the sky to the west turned very dark, and we rushed to get everything put away before the rains came. We were not very successful, and Paul got the wettest. We dried ourselves out and reconvened for a spaghetti dinner at the Lumruss compound. It rained for much of the night.

Saturday, the actual 4th of July, dawned drizzly and foggy, so we didn't rush out to the airport. A few of us, having failed to get into Polly's Pancake Parlor, had a leisurely breakfast at Wendle's Café in downtown Franconia. At the first sign of blue sky, we dashed to the airport and stood around, waiting for the ceiling to go up a bit.

Finally, Jason, Christopher, and Rick took off but were quickly flushed out of the sky by another rain shower. We stood down for a few hours until the sky cleared again. During the break, Skip, Sonny, Mike, Sue, Mary, Diane, Tony, Carol, Paul D, Ellie, and Maia all showed up to visit.

At the end of the day, we were able to squeeze in a couple of more flights before getting rained out again. Andy and Tim got on the ground just before the downpour:

After the landing, Andy decided to stay dry by remaining in the cockpit while the glider was towed back to its tiedown. I guess you can do that if you're the club President.

Fortunately, the rain stopped in time for the annual Saturday cookout. As usual, it was quite a feast, and this year it was almost entirely the work of one person, Judy. This was at her request, and her reasons are completely beyond this reporter.

This was the day we deserved. It started a bit late, but once the sky cleared, we were able to enjoy ridge, thermal, and wave conditions until late in the afternoon. It was the first day of the encampment that we didn't get wet. We made 17 flights, with Bob and Andy sharing the towing. Thomas (ZP), having recently received the Babs Nutt Award for the highest flight of 2008, put in his claim for this year's award by soaring to 10000 feet in a thermal wave. Paul (S1) and Evan (T8) racked up a bunch of miles on "local cross-country" flights that featured some nice cloudstreet runs. Christopher, Tim, Pete, and Jason chased each other on both the Cannon and Lafayette ridges, missing a bunch of great photo opportunities. We'll bring more cameras next year.

Paul, Skip, and Thomas trailered home Sunday evening, and Charlie fetched the golf cart back to Post Mills. Most of the rest also went home, despite the promising forecast for Monday. A few stragglers remained.

The stragglers were rewarded with some good thermal soaring on Monday, a day on which the ridge was dead again. Tony had the best flight, with 3.5 hours in PM. After landing, Tony hopped in the Blanik for an aerotow back to Post Mills, hitched a ride in a Champ back to Franconia to pick up his car and the 304, delivered the glider back here, and made it home in time for dinner. Charlie made yet another round trip to pick up the fuel tank.

On Tuesday, Tim and Rick retrieved the last two trailers, and that was it. Another Franconia adventure in the PMSC record books. Thanks to everyone for all the volunteer labor.

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