Got a call from JJ early afternoon, he was thinking of flying at the Holyoke Range. So we consulted a bit about the weather forecast, scattered thunderstorms, which seemed to make the prospect of hang gliding even stupider than it is under the best of conditions. But he was heading our way anyway.
Pretty soon it was pouring, but off I went, and by the time we met up the sky was clearing. He had a friend, Andy, some experience but not as much as JJ.
The launch site is west of the summit house, probably not quite a half a mile from the parking. Helped JJ carry his glider out, then went back to help Andy the last half, then hung out for a long, long time.
It was a glorious late afternoon. The sky had cleared, just a few thin clouds for off to the northwest. Greylock could be seen, also the southern Green Mountains. Just perfect. Except almost no wind. And the launch site seemed to be a bit dicey -- you didn't have that much room to clear the trees and there wasn't much room for a running start. So a good breeze coming right up the slope was desired.
I'd guess we got out to the site around 5:30. It took them a while to assemble their gliders. And then we waited. And kept looking for wind. And measuring what little wind there was. And wanting a good bit more.
At some point a couple of park rangers showed up, they'd seen Andy's vehicle with the roof rack. Totally friendly, talked with them a bunch about both hang gliding and orienteering, totally supportive of both activities.
By now it was getting close to 7. The wind was picking up a little. The plan was Andy would go first, as the less experienced one, with JJ able to advise on the best moment to launch. So Andy got in his harness and was in position to launch. And waited for sufficient wind.
The wind was getting stronger, but it was variable, and really pretty marginal. And after about 15 minutes, Andy climbed out of his harness. Not this time.
So JJ got set. And the wind got a little better. And he thought about it a couple of times but didn't pull the trigger, and then there was a little more wind, and then in the course of about 5 seconds he went from suddenly looking serious to launch. A couple of quick steps and a jump and he was off, dropping quite fast and then swooping out, not clearing the trees by much, but definitely clearing them.
And then, because such a mellow late afternoon also meant no thermals, he took an immediate left and headed for the landing area where he touched down about 2 minutes later. One of his shortest flights ever. I think. But I was very impressed.
And then Andy packed up his gear and we hauled it back to the car and drove down to pick up JJ.
Would I ever go hang gliding? The short answer is, "No way." The long answer is, "No fucking way." But I am envious of the people who do.