Lucky Friday the 13th, 7/07


    Friday the 13th 7/13/2007. Should I fly today? My Girl friend Sharon and I <she drove, had flown 100 miles the day before to Middletown, CT.  We were back at Ellenville at one AM and were both feeling beat, but the forecast looked good so I dragged us up the hill. Lots of stuff going wrong, Friday the 13th, but the cloud streets looked sweet so I cam the ribs on my Atos and am off the hill at 1:00, two hrs late. Thanks Sharon for helping with all my gear and radio fixes.

     As soon as Iím in the air Iím feeling good. The wind is WSW and it takes me half an hr to get up. Finally Iím climbing over the back ridge in 400 up. I head for the next cloud a couple of miles away in the next valley, hit the core and climb to 6k. I fly up the leeside toward Mohonk and find a broken climb back to 5500í. Head NE of New Paltz toward Hyde Park across the Hudson. Not getting much lift but it seems like a good line. I cross the river at 4400 and find the Hyde Park thermal. 

    There is a mass of OD back in the Hudson valley and Poughkeepsie is turning black. I running toward good looking clouds to the NE. Seems I Ďm always doing that out here, But today I have the wind to my back, usually it is a cross from the north. I get low over the Taconic parkway, drift up a valley and a butt kicking thermal gets me back to 5500í. I jumped over the hills to Pine Plains, hit the thermal there, and climbed back to 5000í.

   By now the OD to the south was a black mass as far as I could see. There was also cirrus mass to the south east. The clouds In front and to the north looked great, but were showing potential to OD.  I flew over Brace Mt launch.  Didnít get high but drifted over the back, got another light climb on the ridge behind brace. I was low going into the valley at Great Barrington.  Iím down to 2k floating up the valley. I sit on the ridge on the other side working bubbles being blown by the wind. The good looking clouds were all at the north end of the valley. I was looking at LZ's and whining about the rough air; finally I caught a good climb and started drifting toward the Mass Turnpike.  

   Sharon and I were having radio problems. I could hear Stan back at the launch but Sharon couldnít hear me and I couldnít hear her.  I did manage to get her on to the mass pike. The clouds I was headed for started to OD, but I didnít care I just wanted to get high and stay high. I flew under the cloud mass found a smooth climb to 5500 and THEN it turned to cloud SUCK.

   Here I had made a decision to get on the upwind edge and ride the lift in front of this developing mass, but I had to fly under this cloud to get there. My vario double pegged, I stuffed the bar and headed for the front of the cloud. There were moments of regret because even with the bar stuffed on my Atos B the Flytec was still pegging. I went up to 6800 and the clouds still seemed several hundred ft above, yes I was scared for awhile. Finally I get 0 sink and still stuffing the bar I watched the miles zoom pass.

   It was raining ahead and to the NE. I had been watching this closely plus the blue sky to the south and east. Also I could see blue sky on the North West side of this thing, so I knew it was not a huge storm. Iíve had a lot of experience dealing with these O.D. cloud fronts this year. Please donít think you can just fly toward this stuff and live. I usually run away.

   My plan was to stay just close enough to the developing storm to stay high and ran the lift line. This was working well. I would get down to 5k and slide in closer and climb back up to 6k.  All this was a bit nerve racking because this was a very dynamic air mass. I flew over the Quabbin river res, a huge lake in the middle of Mass.  Now the fun was starting. I had flown along side of this thing for 30 miles and I starting to get in front of it. I was always flying to the leading cu at the front of the storm. I noticed the rain was starting to get closer even with the bar half down.  I started pulling in harder and managed to stay even with the rain. My nerves were wearing thin and I decided to put some distance from this line of rain. I also had seen a couple of flashes of lightning.  It was a lot of work to put the rain behind me, but I was getting ahead and getting down. I looked ahead and saw an airport 10 miles ahead. I  Thought I should go around it, so I turned a bit east, but that allowed the storm to catch up so I turned back down wind and put the hammer down.

    Now I was looking at potential LZ's. I passed the airport at 3k and worked my way down to 2k. I was well ahead of the storm, but there was another storm in front of me so I made up my mind to land. It seemed like I could have stayed at 2k. The Miles and LZ's floated pass and I was watching an old airport ahead. I hit one last thermal did a few 360s. The airport turned out to be Moore air force base so I turned E to a large field By the Intersection of Rt. 2 and RT. 495 in Fort Devens, Mass for 156.1 miles. I had run with the storm for almost 75 miles. It was a real spacey experience. My eyes were drying out from all the speed flying and it was hard to see LZ's far ahead.

    I called Sharon. She had been stuck in traffic on the mass pike and was about an Hr away. I learned that the Atos makes a nice tent when left on the bar with the flaps and sail hanging down. Just crawl in, lie on your harness and let it rain.  I messed up the retrieve direction and a loose CV joint needed to be tightened and it was 3 am when we arrived back in Ellenville.  Sharon drove the whole trip.

     What a great flight. I owe Sharon a great big thank you for her great driving and putting up with me. I would like to thank Tony Coveli owner-operator of Ellenville Flight Park for providing a great flying site.

      This flight was my personal best and a site and state record. Records are made to be broke. Two weeks before Stan Roberts flew 136 almost to Atlantic City NJ.


Email: Dave Hopkins

This is how he does it.  He's always at it no matter what.

  Dave and Sharon's photo was taken on Monday 7-16-07. 


Click button for the Garmin Data Base file of the 156 mile flight: 

 156.1 Mile Flight

Here are Photos taken Same day Dave H. did this record flight by Stan Roberts. 

Stan did not join Dave Hopkins because he had to work this night 7-13-07.

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