These stories from two Hang-II students of John M. were sent to the CHGPA listserv on 3/9/2004, after they both had their first high flights (brief soaring flights at that!) at Woodstock on 3/8/2004.
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Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2004 10:20:30 -0500
Subject: [chga] My First Mountain Flight
To: "CHGA Discussion List"
From: "Ken Swingle"
John Middleton was nice enough to take the day off yesterday to push Wesley and I off of Woodstock. We met at and walked the LZ at around 4 P.M. then put my glider on his truck and headed up the mountain.
Upon arriving at the top, we found Joe setting up and Hank watching the wind which was somewhere between 8 and 14 and NW. While we were setting up Joe launched and began climbing. Once I was set up, I moved out to launch with help from John and Hank. I was a little nervous because of the weather and because I wasn't used to my harness being fully packed with my parachute and glider bag. Despite that, once I deceided to run, all of my nervousness left me and I had a nice launch.
Once clear of the trees, I turned right and began to regain some of the altitude I had lost. After going down the ridge for a bit John told me to come back so I turned around and headed back towards launch. I wasn't losing much altitude, but, I wasn't gaining much either. I think if I'd flown closer to the mountain and a little slower I could've gone up to join Joe who was now probably a few hundred feet over, but, since it was my first mountain flight I was giving the mountain a little room. I managed to get back up to launch height, but, no higher.
After two or three passes John told me to head out to the LZ so I headed out and did two or three circles of the LZ prior to starting my approach. On landing, I underestimated the lack of wind and the slope of the hill so I ended up taking two steps then letting the nose come over in slow motion. Not my best landing, but, not my worst either. Total flight time, about 7 minutes. Wesley also had a good flight, but, I'll let him tell his own story. Overall, all of those training hill days were worth it and I can't wait til my next mountain flight.
I'd like to thank John for all of his training and patience and Hank, Joe and Wesley for moral support. I'd also like to give the observers a heads up that I'll be calling them sometime soon.
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2004 13:15:25 -0500
Subject: [chga] WS Mon -- First Mountain Flight
To: "CHGA Discussion List"
From: "Wesley S. Comerer"
I launched after Ken and turned left into the lift band. On an overpass, Joe had shouted down to expect light chop off of launch. I was bounced a bit and my first few turns were sloppy, but I think that it had smoothed since Joe's pass. I turned right and, staying in front and level with launch, made three LZ-centered passes before John instructed me to land. My last few turns were smooth.
I was very nervous until I picked up to launch, and I calmed even more after a few minutes in the air. My turns smoothed out after I relaxed in the harness (Thank you, Dan T., for the loaner) and relaxed my grip. This flight more than doubled my total flying time, and I think that the air-time left me headed for the LZ in a calmer state than had I sledded. [I promise that I'll be out to execute launches and landings.]
I arrived with altitude for one circuit. The downwind leg felt predictably awkward--I had never flown downwind--but I turned to base in good shape. Knowing that I had clearance but never having turned final from altitude, I stuffed hard and lined up, easily breaking my personal speed record. I was fully prepared to run out of field and fly down on to the wheels. I ended up less than one-half of the way in--so far down the flaccid-socked hill that in the breakdown area, Ken and Joe couldn't see my roundout or landing--a two-stepper with the right wing low but not dragging. It was an easy walk. Thank you Joe and Hank for your help at launch and to all of the Saturday huddlers under Bacil's expensive umbrella for the site advice.
John was already in the air and we could hear him cursing (from a mile away) about how his students had burned all the daylight. Sorry about that, John, and thank you.