Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Franconia Report July 3 - 8

Sometimes it's fun to review our history. I'll explain why it's fun in a moment.

Every year, the Post Mills Soaring Club pulls up stakes on the 4th of July weekend and heads to another gliderport for a visit.  It's nice to get out of town for a change, and it is always nice to go fly in the mountains. These encampments have been going on since before Andy started this blog.

For the first few years, we went to Stowe, but starting about 10 years ago, we seem to have settled on Franconia, and beginning in 2007, we wrote stories about our experiences.  We had fun-filled weekends at Franconia in 2008, 2009, 2010, but not in 2011. And for some reason, I failed to write the 2012 report. All we got last year was a brief story about a young punk in a Blanik.

So why is it fun to review all this?  It's fun because last weekend, Lane told me that he enjoys reading this blog, and that he always clicks on all the links. Have at it, Lane. That was fun.

In 2013, it went like this:

As usual, we faced the logistical challenge of getting all the gliders and trailers to Franconia in time for the first  scheduled flying opportunity, which was Thursday morning. After work on Wednesday, Andy and Andrew drove PM to Franconia, parked it at the airport, and checked in at the Gale River Motel. Paul and Marsha also checked in and wondered what was behind that closet door (petri dishes, perhaps?). Sonny and Pete dropped off the golf cart and returned home.

For the first time in several years, we did not have a Blanik at our disposal on the 4th of July.  The Franconia Soaring Association was kind enough to allow us to use PI (the one we flew last year) for our advanced training, but we decided to cover our bases and bring our 2-33 as well.  Tim and Rick dodged the low clouds Thursday morning and delivered the glider to Franconia.

It turned out that, other than a couple of guest rides, most of the Thursday flying was solo.  Most notably, Dan had his first flight in Papa Mike.  Congratulations, Dan!

I'd rather be flying EA
The ridge wasn't working, and Tim had the best flight of the day, about an hour and a half in PM.  A few of us celebrated our arrival by going out to dinner at the local downtown restaurant.  Don't go there if you're in a hurry.

Despite the low clouds and lack of obvious ridge winds, we assembled ourselves and our gliders by noon.  We stood around for a while and eventually made 13 flights, all but one of which were solo.  Dan and Tim shared PM, and, thanks to Andy Gelston (who wasn't able to join us), Tom was able to make a nice rollout in TH following a brief local flight. Skip (JS) also flew locally.  The best flight was turned in by Greg (JD) who traversed the Lafayette ridge twice and wandered down to Mount Moosilauke twice.  Both visits to Moosilauke were disappointing, altitudewise, and he made his final glide in light rain.

The rest of us did a poor job of flight recording.  Pete, Sam, and Bob flew 3J without taking any data, and likewise for Dennis, who made his first solo flight at Franconia.  Paul (S1) probably recorded his flight, but he never turned anything in.

We had dinner at a Mexican joint in Littleton, where the food and music were both excellent (your opinion may vary).

Saturday started out with a solid overcast, drizzle, and widespread pessimism. While we were still drinking our morning coffee, one of the FSA pilots damaged the left wing of PI by rolling out into a Christmas tree following a normal landing.  It was sad to see such a valuable glider taken out of service in what appears to be a really avoidable accident.  We were planning to use it this day, and we were lucky we had brought our 2-33.

At about noon the weather started to improve, and it never looked back.  We had gangbuster thermal, ridge and wave conditions till sunset.  Tom, Dan, Tim, Skip, Greg, and Andy (Lawrence) posted some extended flights.  Greg visited the usual peaks: Lafayette, Garfield, and Moosilauke, rarely getting very far above the ground.

 And he took some nice pictures:

As did Skip:

Pete taped a video camera to the nose of the 1-23 and recorded a 40-minute movie that turned out to be really boring.  Here's the first frame of the movie.  Note the liberal use of duct tape.

The flying part of the day ended with Dennis's first flight in 3J (without the duct tape).  Congratulations, Dennis!

I'd rather be flying DC
After flying, we adjourned to the motel for our annual extravagant barbecue and club summer meeting (if you didn't know that we had an annual summer meeting, well, we used to have one.  We're trying to bring it back).  The turnout was 30+ hungry party-goers, and I can't believe we don't have any pictures from the party, other than this crooked one that Skip took with his cell phone before most of the aviators arrived.  If you're holding back any party pictures, c'mon, let's have them!

The party was a big success, which is no surprise, since Judy and Marsha were in charge of it.  They shopped and prepared all afternoon while the rest of us were out enjoying ourselves.  Someone should make a point of thanking them.  And while you're at it, make sure Judy gets your $10 contribution, if you haven't done that already.

After the party we had a lively meeting in which we approved the improved Bylaws, and in which Paul gave us the update on our efforts to buy a glider.  There should be more news about this soon.

The last day of the encampment was pure denouement.  We flew a little, congratulated ourselves a lot, packed up, went home, and dozed off in our own beds.

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