This story sent by Gary Smith to the CHGPA listserv on 07/03/2000

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First Flight At High Rock

Exchanged four "go/no-go" phone calls with Christy on Friday afternoon about flying High Rock. It was an iffy day in Harpers Ferry and Berryville with light and variable winds and slightly overcast skies. Reports from Larry Huffman indicated that conditions were much better in the northern "latts" so we decided to go for it. Left Berryville at 4:45 PM and made it to Emma Jane's after one wrong turn at about 6:00 PM. It was a pleasure to meet Emma Jane after hearing so much about her on the list server. Christy was waiting patiently for me in the LZ after riding up from Harpers Ferry on two wheels. It would have been great to see her with glider in tow but she just wanted to enjoy the ride. I also met Allen Sparks in the LZ. Pleasure to finally meet Allen after sharing many e-mails with him about flying in Las Vegas and Arizona. Cragin Shelton was breaking down his glider and gave me some words of encouragement.

Christy walked the LZ with me and went over all of the details as far as approaches to the field, wind direction and alternate LZs. Christy reminded me not to rely entirely on the wind vane for wind direction as it only works in gale force winds. She said to focus on the tell tale streamer on the end of the wind vane in light conditions. Good advice with the light winds that were blowing.

Piled in my beater Taurus wagon with Christy and Cragin for a trip to the top of the hill. The "old ho" as I call her barely made it to the top, she was spitting and sputtering and over heating as we pulled in to the launch/ set up area. Time for a new HG vehicle. I was so worried about the car that I did not feel good about flying, but after letting the beast cool down and adding some water to the radiator it seemed to run ok. Christy and Cragin also insisted that this was a good test for me and that I needed to "forget the car problems and focus on the flying".

Headed up to launch to watch Marc Finc launch which took longer than expected due to a drunk or stoned (or both) spectator who refused to remove himself from the top of the Launch for a long while until Allen Sparks and Cragin threatened to kick his butt. We would have all been happy to help out. This guy was a real jerk. After the drunk staggered off of launch, Marc launched into light winds that were blowing straight in for an extended sled.

I set up in the parking lot with Christy's help. The drunk got in his car and drove over a huge rock and ended up stuck on the rock. I promptly moved my glider when I saw four guys pushing the drunk's car off of the rock. They should have left him there because he was in no shape to drive. After being pushed off of the rock, the drunk backed up fast and smashed into a tree before he drove off down the hill out of site as a worried laugh and sigh of relief was released by the crowd standing on launch. Never thought I'd ever have this much fun hang gliding and I wasn't even in the air yet.

Time to think about getting in the air though, because it was getting late and the wind was calming down considerably. All I kept hearing in my head was Christy's comments about how you could really drop like a rock in calm winds at HR.

I did a pre-flight and hang check and thorough walk through of my flight plan, with Christy's help and corrected a possible "ground snag" problem with Cragin's sharp eye; (a long zipper line from my pod was dragging the ground). I kept my glider's nose down and ran it off for a comfortable launch. I did not hesitate in heading out to the LZ because I wanted the extra altitude cushion to set up a good landing. Came over the LZ from the North end with plenty of air and started my approach with good speed on downwind, base and final. Had some trouble getting my second foot out of my pod which leads me to the conclusion that I need to do this much earlier in my setup for landing. Had a three stepper for a landing and felt good about the flight.

Thank you Christy for driving out from Harpers Ferry to throw me off and to Sparky & Cragin for booting the drunk off of launch.