This story sent by Dan Tomlinson to the CHGPA listserv on 11/02/98.

Back To First-Flight Tales

I bumped into Kevin Madden while setting up at Woodstock on Saturday. He once again invited me to join him on a cross country foray. I had planned to go north to Strasburg and attempt a jump off of the end to the Front Royal Airport. But Kevin said he wanted to try a southern route, and declared that he had already made arrangements for a driver. This was too good to pass up.

I launched about 2:20 and scratched around the south side in light ridge lift and ratty thermals for forty minutes or so while waiting for Kevin. The best of the thermals took me to 1350 over launch. Kevin had launched minutes before and I proudly announced my "1350 over and climbing," status to him. Naturally the wind gods took offense to such brazen braggado and immediately knocked me down to a more modest 300' over. I began to think that I was doomed.

However the gods were merciful and permitted me to head toward the gap while maintaining a safe elevation. I hooked up with Kevin above the river bend south of the chicken coops. We boated around for a while, then I declared that I was going out to land in this humongous brown field that he pointed out to me. (This sucker is big enough to land a C-130 in with one hand tied behind your back, blindfolded with no instruments, just ask Joe.) I was coming up on two hours and getting tired.

I flew out over the field, and low and behold, had not lost any altitude at all, conditions had turned magic. Kevin was trying to vector his driver in and since I was over the field with plenty of elevation, I decided to fly toward I 81 to give the driver (John ?) an easy target. Once John confirmed that he saw me I turned back and landed. Minutes later Kevin landed virtually right on target.

While we were breaking down Kevin excitedly pointed out two bald eagles soaring below ridge line.

Total air time 1:50, 1350 over, 3.1 miles, split a sixer of Heineken amongst the three of us on the way out. Great day.

Dan T.