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Region2 North - Day 2 at Wurtsboro

Woke up to mist and overcast.  On my morning run around the airport grounds, I couldn't see the ridgeline less than a mile away from the airport.  I passed Greg Leslie (GL) going the other way on his run and he disappeared into the fog at the other end of the airport.

By meeting time, the fog had lifted and there was some sun on the ground - a good sign.  Weatherman Bill Thar (G8) told us that the soaring conditions were extremely sensitive to temperature (and boy, was he right!), with cloudbases anywhere from 2000' to 5000'msl, with some bands of high clouds possible just to add some spice to the day.  Winds out of the WNW at about 10kt at ridgetop, so the local ridges might work or at least kick off thermals.  CD Jackie called for a 2Hr MAT task and a grid time of 12:00

By grid time the sun was shining brightly and there were some very good looking clouds to the north.  However the south areas were under a pretty thick band of mid-level clouds, and what cu's were visible looked a bit ragged.  The original MAT task had a single assigned turnpoint at Middletown to the east (downwind), but Hank (UH) and the CD decided to change it to Ellenville (about 10 miles to the north, along the ridge).  The launch started around 1pm with the Sports class guys going first.  By the time the FAI class got launched, the Sports guys were already out on task, enjoying some good soaring under great looking clouds in all quadrants.  Unfortunately, the high cloud cover started coming back in, and those nice looking clouds started going away.  By the time the start gate opened for FAI class, we were all pretty much doomed to running the ridge from Ellenville in the north to Otisville Prison in the south.  I was the last one to leave (at 1457) because I couldn't find a climb and didn't want to leave the start cylinder on the ridge top at 2000'msl.  I finally started at about 4000' (1000' below max height), and spent the next 2 hours in a combination of pleasure and terror.  The north section of the ridge here climbs from about 1500'msl at Wurtsboro to about 2000' at Ellenville, and it is pretty well formed as it goes.  Consequently, the run north was kinda fun, as you climb with the ridge, going past a hang-glider launch site with multiple hang-gliders in the air with you.  However, the ridge section to the south stays at about 1500'msl and is flat and ragged on top - and that's the GOOD news!  The bad news is that the terrain at the foot of the ridge is all swamp - and I do mean SWAMP!  There is absolutely no place to land for miles and miles except to do the Admiral Nixon thing and put it into the swamp, with basically no possibility of retrieve (or even rescue, for that matter!).  Needless to say, the run from Wurtsboro to Otisville Prison was a slow-motion nightmare each time.

At the end of the day, Ryszard Krolikowski won his second straight day in Sports class with 64.84mph raw/61.01mph handicapped, 6mph faster than second place Hank Nixon (of stuck-mic fame) in the ASK-21.  In FAI class, local boy Gregg Leslie showed us how it is done on the ridge with 61.01mph raw/53.69mph handicapped, moving him into 1st place overall.

There were two landouts today, both with interesting stories.  Mike Smith (CY) landed at Bear Mountain State Park, well to the southeast of Wurtsboro, and was immediately surrounded by NY State Park Police cruisers and unmarked cars.  Apparently the first officer on the scene was a bit of a curmudgeon, as he demanded Mike's driver's and pilot's licenses and informed him that he was "under arrest".  Fortunately for Mike, a plain-clothes detective Lieutenant showed up a short time later and after a conversation with Wurtsboro Airport manager Dan Depew, got things going in a more pilot-friendly direction.  Mike still wound up with a citation for "creating a hazardous situation" with a fine of between $0 and $100 (we're hoping for $0).

Rob Dunning (V3) got low on the way back to Wurtsboro from Kobelt (about 15 miles downwind) and saw that he might not be able to make it back over the ridge. So, being a cautious and conservative pilot, he elected to divert to a private strip near the small town of New Platz.  He got to the airport with plenty of altitude in hand to examine the strip, circle for a while looking for a save, and plan his approach.  Then, as he was turning from base to final he sees a car race out onto the strip and stop, completely blocking the runway!  Fortunately for Rob, he was able to to do a last-minute diversion into an uncut hayfield with no damage.  Turns out the wealthy but-not-too-bright lady who owns the property deliberately blocked the runway because "I don't want anyone to land on my private runway".  Can you imagine her explaining this to Rob's lawyers if he or his glider had been injured? Can you say "I want everything you have, including your house, car, and private airstrip"?  The moral of this story is "if you have to land at the New Platz airstrip, DON'T CIRCLE - LAND STRAIGHT IN! ;-).

Tomorrow's popular weather forecast is " Sunny, with a high near 87. Northwest wind between 3 and 6 mph."  Sounds pretty good to me, so stay tuned!


Posted: 7/4/2011


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