This story sent by Mike Buckley to the CHGPA listserv on 1/19/98.

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Today was an awesome day for me at High Rock. It started out looking crappy; I never thought that I'd be able to surpass last week's flight when I soared for 35 minutes and got 250' over launch at sunset. When I arrived at HR, the clouds were breaking up a bit and the winds were looking good. I watched many of the advanced pilots launch and get up quickly. My observer, Mike C., and I agreed that it looked good for me to launch. I had a good one. In very little time, I was 500' over launch.

Then, I got to experience the excitement of flying thermals for the first time. I actually got inside and stayed inside some! What a rush! I know some people don't like novices to use varios, but it was invaluable to my education of the sensations of lifting and sinking air. Without my vario, I would have had a tough time figuring out those feelings. I'm learning to feel what lifting and sinking air feels like. I must say I strongly prefer the feel of lifting air ; )

Anyway, I made it to cloudbase (2000' over) and got nervous, so I dove down about 500' and explored the air texture some more. Then, I found myself at cloudbase again! By this time, I was cold and wanted to find some sun. You know what they say, "Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it." I found the blue sky along with LOTS of sink. I lost about 1500' and soared the ridge for a while before heading out to land. There was lots more sink on the way to the LZ. I had a good approach and nailed my landing.

Today was an experience that I'll never be able to express in words, yet I'm sure all of you other pilots know exactly how it feels. My feet may be on the ground now, but my spirit is still in the sky. I hope to see you all up there soon.

Mike Buckley
1 hour 40 minutes
2000 feet over and still climbing...