Summer XC Bonanza!

August 2019 was awesome for flying XC! We had a really dry summer so instead of the typical stable, humid days, we got more late Spring-like air that really turned on the big flights.

It’s been a dream of mine to launch from Edith’s Gap in Luray, VA and cross over the Shenandoah Mountains which are visible in front of launch across the Paige Valley. We fly this site when the wind is SE which means we typically fly over the back NW towards West Virginia or along the ridge to the North, so a flight to the Southeast over the Shenandoah Mountains shouldn’t really be possible from Edith’s Gap. But August 11th was light and variable SE wind and NW winds aloft and it was the magic recipe to make this dream flight happen. Thermals were strong and wide and topped with cumulus clouds. Once above 5000 feet msl I could feel the NW flow and so I let it drift me downwind. Thermals kept getting stronger and topped out around 7500 feet msl that day (~2300 meters)! From that height I knew I would be able to cross the Shenandoah, but before crossing at Route 33 I had lost my altitude and needed another climb to get over. I picked out a sunny peak and made sure I had a bailout option and it worked. I flew directly over Daniel’s Mountain launch! On the other side the clouds were lower and flying became more difficult as it got blue and hard to find the thermals and decide which was the wind was drifting. I landed near Ruckersburg in one of the worst head-high weeds and thorns I’ve ever been in. But even that couldn’t kill the joy of being sky high and completing the flight of my dreams!

Flight stats: 61km, 4:30 hours, 7500 msl!, max lift 4 m/s