Dave Hopkins soars 169 miles on 5-17-08:
Another great day at
Ellenville flight park.
This place has
produced more huge flights this spring then any other Site in the
country. I'm approaching 2000 miles of XC this spring. Thanks to
a great driver and a great site. Thank you, Tony.
Yeah, Sat was the day. We had watched the forecast for days and
had to make our best guess because the picture didn't look good until
the morning forecast. Even then there were some negatives. My gut
feeling ( from the real answer place) was that it was going to be good
if we could stay ahead of the OD. The Skew T's going east showed no
high clouds to shut us down and a reasonably high base. The wind
direction was a rare push due east toward Hartford and beyond. To me
this meant only mild cross winds instead of usual 45 degrees. The
strong winds aloft and the rain the day before would be a factor. As
MB says it's always better than it looks so I figured it could be a
I launched before noon. Twisted it up to 6k and was out of here. I
sent Sharon on to 84 in my van as I climbed out . I thought Deane was
high and gone but I saw him scraping launch as I topped out. Stan
was in the air as I went past Sam's Point. The thermal at launch was
900 fpm+ and rough at times. I wasn't hanging around for more of
I cross winded it over to Gardiner watching the jump plane
takeoff as I went by. I crossed route 87, was down low at the Rt 44 ,55
gap. Found the thermal on the north side of the gap and drifted
toward the river and I too was at 7+ crossing the river with clouds
forming below me I ran for the blue toward Sky Acres airport. Found a
weak thermal in the usual place and drifted toward Dover Plains. Came
in low over the hills and worked bubbles for no gain.
I drifted across the valley sinking ,zig zagging looking for lift.
Flying to an LZ and harness unzipped for the up coming land (I've
landed there several times). As I approached the ridge I made one
last pass over a farm complex behind some hills looking for a lee
side twister. I hit a Blaster which always catches you by surprise!
you're in and out of it so quick you're not sure what to do. You're so low
if you fall out you may not make the LZ or could hit the trees behind
Seems for every long flight The air tests us to see if we are
worthy. This was my test. At 200' I tried to stand it on a tip
getting spit out after half a 360, but came back for more. Around and
around and I did the dance. My world becomes the scream of the vario,
the rush of air and a very crooked world of g-forces as I try to keep
my 42' of wing at banked 60 degrees in the twisting column of lift.
Don't look at your instruments and do glance the hill behind you, but
don't let your mind slip off your position in the core.
Lady Lift takes me up, giving me the occasional wire slap or
would jog away downwind as if she was shy. At 3k I look to see my
climb rate which is 600 fpm. We danced over the hills toward Kent and
up to 5500'. I bid her good bye and headed toward New Preston.
Base was 7.5 and the wind was strong up there, maybe 35 at times.
The thermals would be smooth up to 4+ but you could feel them mixing
with the wind. You had to hold on tight because the ride got wild at
times. The trick was to find the smoothest core, bank up and turn
tighter at the slightest hint of the turbulent edge. Often you found
yourself banked and falling out or being hit by the wind-blown surge
with the nose going up no matter how hard you pulled in on the bar
while trying to get a bank going. Get the bank and drift right and
the climbs were 7 to 8 fpm. Fly up under the big cloud at 7k with the
bar pulled in doing 70 mph Ground Speed. with vario beeping. Leave the cloud
at 7.5k and try to relax your hard worked body and mind as you made
your next move. What a great game!
I was bit low at Collinsville running to a cloud. After the big
sink the thermal was big and smooth. From there it was a cruise to
Hartford. The NW push was doing its thing and I had to fight to stay
north. I found a lift line going up 84 toward the city and cross
winded it to Brainard AP at 5500. My course line was to the N of the
city and I flew cross wind to a cloud on 84 east of Hartford getting
down to 3500'. A risk, but it worked and I went up to thank my cloud.
The course was out 384 to 44 and on to N of Providence and White
Horse Beach ,Mass. A tough line to follow as the wind always pushes
us south. More Cross winding put me Low( 2600' MSL) again and running
to LZ's on 44. I was lucky I spun it back to base and found the small
towns and valleys down 44 were the thermal sources and they lead me
to Providence, RI. I stuck to the track like glue even getting north
of the line for a cushion against the NW push. I was hitting 7500
along the way. This was higher than the skew Ts predicted. It's cool
looking down at all the LZ'S you've landed in over the years playing
the game. Sharon was hot on my trail and coming out 44 Making this all
Providence is where I screwed up. There was a big cloud to the
North as I approached. It drifted over the city and I stayed on track
to the north. I should have flown over the city in the clouds because
I was high enough to go over their air space, which is only 4k.
I chased light stuff but nothing turned on. I was in the sink
between thermal waves. I ran over RI into Mass. getting lower and
being impressed by the strong wind down low. The big clouds were to
the south and I had a few small ones out in front of me. I worked
light stuff but It wouldn't turn on and I had to land in Dighton,
Mass. For 169 miles I think. I haven't measured it, but the GPS said I
had 31 miles to the 200 mile goal, so that's close enough, who cares
if you don't make goal LOL.
I landed in a big long field with power towers at the far end.
Going 56 mph GS down wind I turned in to the wind, tad of
flaps ,sucked it in trying to keep it level. The rye grass in the
field was waving in the wind but the air smoothed out for a nice soft
landing. About 5:30 PM.
Dammed cell pH battery was dead ( some dummy forgot to charge it) so
I had to climb to the top of a big maple tree (Twice) to get radio
reception. Good thing it's flat out there. Sharon was close by on 44.
We got back about 2:30 this morning.
It's morning, Coffee and Pancakes and where is the blue sky and
clouds? I need to repair the mistakes of yesterday while they are
fresh in my mind.
It was a great day. I wish Stan and Deane had made it out there. It
would be great to have all of us landing on the beach after a 200
mile flight, but it seems the odds are always against all of us going
long. It's great to team fly, but those wild rough thermals don't make
sharing safe or fun. Miss one, or get behind the wave, or caught in OD
and you're separated, so it's a lot of just you and the sky.
Dave's Report. Maybe a track log if anyone would like.