2002: No. 2
The annual Tree Topper Memorial Day weekend celebration was just the
excuse needed for a whole bunch of pilots from all over the region
to make the pilgrimage to The Hang Gliding Capital of the East. This
year the timing was just right for James Tindall and Miami Hang Gliding
to make their annual field trip to the land of the foot launch. The
flying was actually better in the week preceding, but we still enjoyed
the company, even at lower altitudes. For the Miami students, sled
runs just meant more foot launch practice. Tree Toppers converged
on the Lewis Chapel Fire Hall for the community feast and participated
in some pretty peculiar contests. Our own Steve Jones won the cow
chip throwing contest. Does anybody know who won the pickle spit?
Bylaws Revision Referendum
The last issue of Branches included a referendum for revision of our
bylaws, but the response was so slim we decided to run it again in
this one. Ours is a democratic organization. Your $40.00 (so far)
annual dues entitle you to all the privileges and responsibilites
of membership. One of the latter is participation in the management
of your club. This revision represents the first dues schedule change
in the history of the TTT. Please review the proposed bylaws on p.
2 and submit a ballot.
by Steve Bellerby
As prize pots proliferate and personal bests pile up, this year’s
Challenge promises more fun and learning than ever. Imagine the chance
to team up with local heroes and serious comp stars, in a weeklong
meet aimed at bettering the good and sharing the talents of the best.
Imagine offshore distilleries, onsite restaurants, great southern
breakfasts (fresh and free everyday with your meet fee) skills seminars
and mystery guests. Maybe even some Litespeeds to demo!
It’s always fun…often stellar flying…and folks always learn a whole
As one seven-time returning pilot from New Hampshire put it, "It’s
fun, relaxed…a school in a sense… no meet like it in the world!"
And with two Lookout teams and two teams of Dixie Roosters already
confirmed…it’ll be a southern style showdown!
In keeping with the Challenge's focus on learning, its unique scoring
format awards more points for distances achieved by less experienced
pilots, so B and C classified pilots can really help their teams along!
The required Tree Topper membership is just $40 (so far), which includes
a year of fantastic flying at all Sequatchie Valley sites, free camping,
showers, and a clubhouse at Henson's Gap, the South's premiere mountain
Get your entry in today. As always, ten teams fills the field, but
do keep in touch. Last-minute entries have almost always found a warm
welcome. For info and registrations, check out the Team Challenge
page on the TTT website at http://www.treetoppers.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org,
find the entry and membership apps in this issue of Branches, or call
Steve at 416-588-2396. October 5 kicks it off with the legendary
Tree Topper Octoberfest…see you there!
There's an extra financial incentive to sign up early this year.
If the Bylaws Referendum is passed by the membership, dues will be
$60 by the time you arrive for Team Challenge. Submission of your
Team Challenge form and fee, TTT Membership application, and ($40)
dues before September will save you $20 on the dues in addition to
your savings on the early entry fee! Ed.
The Prez's Perch
Since my last perch report there have been some great flying days
and lots of members working had to keep our club running and looking
good. Mayhem weekend turned out to be a great time to be a Treetopper
in the valley. Pilots got to soar Henson's NW, Henson's SW, and Whitwell.
They also got to enjoy a great party Saturday night. We were lucky
to have Jeremy and Emily up from Wallaby Ranch for some great cooking
that turned Henson's camp ground into a four star hang gliding resort!!
I would like to urge all of the members who have an expired flight
pass to renew ASAP. It's easy to download from the web or e-mail
me at POLINGELRIO@AOL.com ... or call 423-554-3780 and I will mail
you a form. We need your support to run this club and if you want
to fly in the team challenge ... sign up now!!! If you wait until
the last minute you might not get a spot. Lastly, I would like to
thank all the members who have given their time to help the club:
Steve Lee (Henson's clean up, shower house repairs, roof estimate)
Kathy Lee (planting flowers)
Jeff Dodgen (newsletter work and new T-shirts)
Rob Ponder (website and member database)
Chris Field (mowing)
Mike Nash (Mr. Woerner PR work)
Matt Tabor (USHGA help)
Dennis Felts (donating fax machine)
John McGriff (pressure washing ramp)
Dan Shell (by laws expert advice to the President)
Hope to see you soon,
Tennessee Tree Toppers Bylaws
Article 1: Name and Purpose
The name of the organization is the Tennessee Tree Toppers, Inc. (TTT).
The primary purposes of the TTT are to excel in the study and the
sport of hang gliding, to promote organization and camaraderie between
all members, to promote family fly-ins and competition for the flying
of hang gliders, to select pilots for national and international competition,
to own launch and landing sites, and to promote safe and mature flying
practices as outlined by USHGA Part 100 and FAR Part 103.
Article II: Membership
The membership of the TTT consists of the individuals whose dues have
been collected and applications have been approved by the board of
directors (BOD). All privileges and benefits associated with full
membership proceed unrestricted unless otherwise specified by the
BOD as provided in Article II, Section 2 of these bylaws. Current
USHGA or HPAC membership is required for flight privileges.
A membership may be suspended or revoked for violation of a rule of
the TTT or for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the TTT.
Such action will require a unanimous minus one vote of the members
of the BOD present at a scheduled meeting after notification of the
charges and the time and place for their review by the BOD has been
delivered to the member in question at least seven days prior.
Membership classification (presently)
3 day pass
30 day tandem
1 day tandem
Members retain full membership privileges. "Family" members receive
one newsletter per household. Tandem members receive no newsletter
and have no voting privileges. Members will receive the newsletter
at no additional charge. All voting members will be rated USHGA Novice,
HPAC equivalent, or above.
Twenty or more voting members in good standing may petition the BOD
in writing and call for a general membership referendum on any issue.
Article III: Board of Directors
The affairs and business of the TTT will be governed by a board consisting
of fifteen directors, nominated in October and elected by the membership
before taking office at the first meeting in January. The term of
office is one year and the directors may be re-elected. Not more
than two employees of any one hang gliding related business will be
eligible for service on the BOD. The BOD may elect honorary directors
for the purpose of recognition and/or special expertise. The sole function of an honorary
director is consultation. Honorary directors have no voting privileges
on the BOD.
The BOD will meet at least six times a year. The BOD may be convened
by the president with adequate notification of each director or by
the secretary at the written request of four directors.
Nine directors, including at least two members of the executive board,
will consitute a quorum for the transaction of business at all meetings.
The third consecutive absence of a BOD member from a BOD meeting will
be considered tantamount to submission of resignation from the BOD.
Any vacancy on the BOD will be filled by vote of the remaining directors
at the earliest possible scheduled meeting and the term of office
will be for the remainder of that year.
Each member of the BOD will serve without compensation or reward,
except as provided in these bylaws.
Article IV: BOD Election of Executive Committee
An executive committee elected by the BOD will be comprised of the
president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. The executive
committee will function for and have authority of the BOD between
meetings of the BOD.
The president will preside at all meetings, appoint all committee
chairs and, with the approval of the BOD, sign and execute all contracts
in the name of the TTT.
The vice president will be vested with all the powers of the president
and will perform the duties of the president in case of the absence
or disability of the president.
The secretary will keep minutes for all meetings, notify BOD members
of meetings, maintain all TTT records, and perform such duties designated
by the BOD as incidental to the office.
The treasurer will manage all receipts and deposits of all TTT monies,
make disbursements authorized in budgets approved by the BOD, prepare
monthly financial reports and operating expense statements, and perform
such duties as may be incidental to the office.
Article V: Committees
Committees may be formed by the president as necessary.
Any policies, procedures, or rules recommended by committees and approved
by the BOD will be published via the newsletter, posting on club bulletin
boards, and/or upon request.
Article VI: Removal from office
A director may be removed from office by unanimous vote of the remaining
directors at a regularly scheduled meeting. The candidate for removal
must receive advance notification of the vote for removal. Copies
of letters and petitions submitted to the BOD requesting removal of
a director will be forwarded to that director.
Article VII: Finance
The fiscal year will be from January 1 to December 31.
No TTT property with a value exceeding $1000.00 will be sold without
unanimous approval of the BOD or majority of the general membership.
Half of the annual revenue remaining after the operational budget
is met will be allocated to the landing field fund.
Article VIII: Amendments
The bylaws may be amended by membership referendum only. Any bylaws
revision referendum will be published (posted) at least thirty days
before the deadline for submission of votes. Member presence will
not be required for voting on any bylaws revision referendum.
2002 Bylaws Committee:
March 8, 2002
Meeting called to order at 9:21
Susan read February minutes. Alli motioned to accept minutes as read.
Steve seconded the motion. All in favor. Motion passed.
Site Maintenance- Steve has installed new locks on the bathroom doors.
Budget was requested at $1500 (not including the mowing of the lz).
The year 2002 property tax needs to be paid.
Membership- Robert Ponder is working on the database. Mark Poling
is working on a letter of thanks to be sent along with the new membership
sticker to new joiners and rejoinders within one week after receiving
their paperwork and fee.
Social- Alli requested Mark P to set a budget for the Mayhem Party
as was done in the past. Jeff D mentioned that previous Mayhem parties
would initially cost around $800. Most of that cost would be regained
due to donations at the party. Mark requested the budget be $1000.
Talk followed to raise this budget to $1500.
Newspaper- Dan has submissions and is working. Six months of meeting
minutes has accumulated. Dan requested a budget of $600. Discussion
followed that the budget would have to be raised because of the cost
of postage of a large newsletter. Dan noted that previously we have
recovered about 1/2 the cost of the newsletter by selling ads. The
budget was raised to $1000.
Dan has a new computer and no software currently to produce the newsletter.
Jeff D offered to put out the newsletter. Jeff requested all newsletter
information be given to him. He will get the mailing labels from
Rob P. Dan is working on getting the newspaper on the website.
Conservation- initial fees for the lawyer are approximately $2500.
Dan is looking for the document that says Tenn. Tree Toppers must
agree with Woerner to do the conservation. Mark Dunn remembers the
sales contract of TTT property only to state that we agree to try
to make an agreement about the conservation easement.
Safety- budget is requested at $1000 to include some safety courses.
This budget will not include windsocks. Dennis was willing to call
Bruce Hawk about getting more windsocks but during the meeting more
windsocks were found in the clubhouse stash.
Bylaws- no change
PR- Jeff D sent checks of donations to First Baptist Church in Whitwell
and to the local Rescue Squad.
Website- it was reported that Dean Funk was upset that his name was
removed as site webmaster. Robert Ponder has been updating the website,
however Dean is the webmaster.
Dan brought up the discussion about committee budgets. Each year
the budgets get set around $11K to $15K. This does not mean the entire
budget will be spent. This is the allowance for that committee.
The club takes in around $15K in dues and other misc. stuff.
Mark Furst has missed three meetings in a row. Due to the way the
bylaws are written this means he has automatically submitted his resignation
from the BOD. Clark made a motion not to accept this resignation.
Anne seconded the motion. A vote did not need to follow since the
bylaws here don't require a vote. Discussion followed anyhow that
we don't need members on the Board who won't do a good job for the
About the Phil Proctor situation (refer to previous minutes). Phil
is not concerned about being on the Board. His concern is that the
Board needs to follow the bylaws closely.
Jeff D has been approached about locals wanting to hold a small wedding
party at our set-up area. The wedding is set for May 4. We need
to look into the liability issues for non-pilots at our site. They
are willing to make a donation to TTT. This could be a problem for
parking if it's a good flying day.
Shingles are coming off of the roof. Steve Lee will take care of
Steve Bellerby may be in college during the Team Challenge this year.
He still has offered to organize the Team Challenge if there is someone
here to run the meet. Whoever runs the meet will need to get the
revised rules form SB. Alli requested to join the Competition Committee.
T-shirts. The screens are already made and we are in need of more.
We are going to get different colors since that seems to be the request.
Jeff L. Reported on Clinch Mountain. Bruce Hawk wants to sell his
LZ of 12 acres for $50K. The road to the launch needs work. Jeff
is working on getting permission in writing from the launch owners
to continue to use the launch. Clinch has been opened and closed
four times. Each time Clinch was opened for flying it was used commercially
and the owners decided against that use. Kathy has suggested a fundraiser
for Clinch. TTT can look into USHGA insurance if the site were owned
Chuck Toth came to the meeting prepared with a letter he received
from Woerner and wondered if anyone else has received this letter.
Chuck is trying to sell his land near the LZ and Woerner sent him
a letter saying that Woerner was going to put in a pig farm on the
other side of Graham Road across from our LZ. None else has received
a letter of this type. Mike Nash was to have lunch with Woerner and
none has seen him since. It was unanimously decided that Woerner
is just bluffing.
Alli wants the club to decide where to hold the Mayhem. Last year
dinner was at the community center to raise money for the Fire Hall.
The party afterwards was at the TTT site.
Meeting was over. Chris motioned to adjourn at 11:58. Clark seconded
the motion. All in favor and meeting was over.
BOD Minutes of the regularly scheduled meeting!
April 13, 2002
In the absence of the president, the meeting was called to order by
Dan Shell. In the absence of the secretary, the reading of the minutes
was declined with no objection. Dan Shell recorded attendance in
the absence of the secretary. Dan Shell was in attendance. All others
Dan Shell reported that the first 2002 newsletter had been published
by Jeff Dodgen. He complemented Jeff on the excellent composition
of the newsletter. He also remarked on the quality of Mark Furst's
article on landing in the Henson's LZ. Furthermore, he recommended
that this article be exerpted and displayed permanently in the clubhouse.
Dan now has new DTP software and hopes to figure out how it works
well enough to publish the next newsletter in June, to include a Mayhem
report. Please submit photos and articles any time to email@example.com.
Dan Shell reported that the bylaws revision referendum had been published
in the last newsletter. The bylaws require thirty days between publication
of the bylaws revision referendum and the deadline for votes, so the
new bylaws are not yet available for BOD approval. There was also
some question regarding publication of the referendum. This referendum
usually includes the bylaws (or other document for membership approval)
in its entirety, as the membership is asked to approve the entire
document. The content of the argument against this focused on the
narrow scope of the revision, as it only affected the dues schedule.
Nevertheless, the argument for publication of the total document
held that the present membership may take issue with another part
of the bylaws previously passed by the membership, therefore rejecting
the present revision and subsequently referring this new concern to
the BOD or bylaws committee for further revision. Discussion was
tabled in the absence of a quorum.
In the absence of the committee chair, Dan Shell reported that he
had been personally contacted by Steve Bellerby assuring his availability
as Meet Head for the upcoming 2002 Team Challenge. Discussion regarding
hiring Steve as Meet Head for Team Challenge was tabled in the absence
of a quorum. Dan Shell's recommendation we inform Steve of the situation
so that he may be making some preparations pending a vote met unanimous
In the absence of the committee chair, Dan Shell revisited the need
for a new roof on the clubhouse. He reported that he and Mark Furst
had discussed installing a green metal roof in early June. He solicited
the board's opinion, but further discussion was tabled in the absence
All other committee reports were declined with no objection in the
absence of the committee chairs.
Announcement of regularly scheduled meetings.
Dan Shell reported that, on last contact with the president, he was
assured that the regularly scheduled meeting would proceed at the
regular time. The president was quoted as saying "I will be there."
Dan further remarked that we have previously agreed, as a matter
of procedure, to simply remind the BOD of the regularly scheduled
meeting, not solicit their opinion on the need for a meeting or their
availability in order to decide whether to hold the regularly scheduled
meeting. Regularly scheduled meetings (second Saturday every month
except July and August, 9:00 AM CT) should proceed as scheduled and
attendance taken as it stands.
Dan Shell made a motion that Dan Shell be granted a life membership.
Dan Shell seconded. The motion entertained unanimous consent in
subsequent discussion, but was tabled in the absence of a quorum.
With no further business that anyone present could recall, Dan Shell
expressed his gratitude to all present for the unusual congeniality
of this meeting and presented a motion to adjourn. Dan Shell seconded.
April 20, 2002
Meeting was called to order at 10:50
Susan read minutes from March. Jeff D motioned to accept minutes
as read. Mark F seconded motion. All were in favor.
Mark Poling wished to give a Prez Perch statement of thanks to:
Steve Bellerby for putting up a new windsock at launch.
Matt Tabor for talking with USHGA on behalf of TTT and for his own
site. There are insurance issues that needed to be addressed. The
site membership must contain at least 70% USHGA membership to continue
to hold USHGA insurance. TTT has no problems.
Steve Lee for cleaning the showerhouse and the storage rooms.
Jeff Dodgen for publishing the newsletter with help from Anne, Mark
Furst, Chris Starbuck, Clark Harlow and himself for the stamping and
folding and mailing.
Jeff Dodgen in return thanked Mark Poling for his help with the newsletter.
During this time Mark was out of his home for hours because of a
flood around his home.
Treasury Report- TTT has $6,338.57 in our checking was reported by
Maintenance- Steve Lee recommends a new metal roof for the clubhouse
and the showerhouse to come out of the club checking account. Steve
presents his research into the costs between thick tin and thin tin.
Mark Poling suggests doing some fundraising. Mark Furst suggests
doing the front side of the clubhouse this year and the doing the
backside and the showerhouse this year. Steve wants to do the whole
thing now. Steve makes a motion to fix the clubhouse roof using thick
tin. Jeff D seconds the motion. Voting follows at 6 for and 3 against.
The motion passes and the clubhouse will get a new roof for a cost
of approximately $1,6200. Steve makes a motion to fix the showerhouse
roof using thick tin. Jeff D seconds the motion. The vote was all
in favor to fix the showerhouse roof for a cost of approximately $300.
Steve Jones has his friend hold off on digging the hole for the outhouse.
Dennis is going to donate a brush for cleaning the clubhouse chimney.
Clark offers to replace the windsock in the LZ in May.
Membership - Rob Ponder is still at work on the database. Our membership
list is not yet current. Mark P will call Rob to get a progress report.
Jeff D would like to get a set date for having the database correct. Mark P is going
to send out some letters to try to get more memberships.
Discussion follows about the best way to set up membership renewals.
Chris Field says what works best in his RC club is everyone renews
at the same time. Curly says this was tried in the past for TTT.
It works great for local pilots who know they will use the site during
the year. It presents a problem for non-local pilots. Most non-local
pilots don't know in advance if they will come here to fly so they
won't want to pay in January if they think they won't get a year worth
of dues. So TTT lost paying members when it was tried that way.
Jeff D states that members decide when to join the club, not the club
decides when members should join. Clark suggests sending out renewal
forms about a month before a member expires.
Social- Mark P asks if TTT should have the party at the site or at
the community center. Alli suggests we do our own cooking at the
site. Clark reminds us that the new roof will have us hurting for
money to spend at the community center so we should keep the party
at the site.
PR- Mark P will send a club donation of $100 to the Sequatchie County
Fair in the fall. He is not sure yet if TTT will have a booth at
the fair. Mark adds that having the Mayhem party at the community
center is good PR for the TTT and the community. Alli says that having
the party at the site is good PR with the membership because of the
non-local pilots. It is a hang gliding party after all.
Website- Jeff D says the newsletter is now on the website.
Newsletter- there was a problem in the mailing labels. Jeff D reports
that the 5 states listed after Wyoming did not receive their newsletters.
We had no income from the ads. We didn't charge for the ads. Jeff
offers to do the next one if Dan doesn't have the software. Dennis
suggests to save money instead of sending a newsletter to single-day
members we just send them a calendar of events.
Bylaws- Dan says the bylaws are on the website. Any change in bylaws
requires a membership vote, which can be done online. TTT is receiving
online votes about the dues raising.
Safety- Jeff has looked into professionals having a mountain rescue
course at the site. The normal price for this course is $100 a person
for this 6 to 8 hour course, however they have offered to give us
the course for 1/2 that price. Kathy Lee knows that most of the members
won't be willing to pay and wants to find someone who will offer training for free. Jeff mentions that this course is professional.
Mark Furst wants the club to possibly split the cost with the members
who are interested. Alli mentions that since the club is getting
new roofs we should see what kind of interest we can get from members
who can pay for the training. The training could be very helpful
to the club. Mark F spoke to the cave rescue people who declined
to teach us rescue training due to liability issues. Jeff D can teach
repelling knots even though he is not a professional.
Clark would like to be reimbursed $105.40 for the computer software
he needs for the treasurer position. Clark makes a motion to reimburse
himself for the software. Alli seconds the motion. Vote is 9 yes
1 no. Motion passes and Clark reimburses himself.
Anne needs a to take a copy of the minutes to the bank to be on the
signature card should Clark need a back up.
A friend to TTT whose check bounced in the first quarter was found
to not be the fault of the friend. The check bounced because the
friend moved and the checking account was closed out before the check
cleared the bank. Sorry.
Dan Shell has been in contact with Jayne DePanfilis at USHGA regarding
something she read in an email. She had read that TTT asked USHGA
for advise on a new waiver and that USHGA turned us down. Jayne says
that USHGA didn't turn us down for help. Jayne had put a lawyer in
touch with Mark Furst. Mark Furst says the lawyer has not contacted
him yet. USHGA advises against having a lot of blanks to be initialed
in a waiver. The waiver should include someone reading the waiver
to the signer and making sure the signer understands the waiver.
Mark Poling will bring into the next meeting that we need a waiver
committee. Clark will bring a copy of the Southern Air-Time waiver
being used at the sailplane airport for the next meeting.
The BOD has not voted on budgets yet.
Site Maintenance $1500 (not to include roof)
Newsletter $1000 (last newsletter cost $576)
Alli motions to accept the budgets as set. Clark seconds the motion.
All in favor Since mowing is not included in the Site maintenance
budget Chris made a motion to add $750 for mowing. Alli seconds the
motion. All in favor.
It was mentioned in last year minutes that TTT made no money on the
Mayhem party due to the cost of the vegetarian food made by Judy Hildebrand.
Mark P inquirers whether we should have Judy cook this year. The
consensus is that other members do the cooking.
TTT is waiting for an update on the conservation from Katie. Jeff
D spoke with Woerner's son and found out that they are almost ready
with their easement.
The locals that want to have the wedding at TTT have not decided between
May or in the fall. They will be a small party and will clean up
Clark made a motion to end the meeting. Alli seconded the motion.
All were in favor. Meeting ended at 11:40.
March 27-April 1. The prima vera had begun its annual march up the
mountains and hang glider pilots from colder climes were beginning
their migrations to The Hang Gliding Capital of the East. Late winter
and early spring had been very wet so far. The ground was still saturated
and the valley shimmered with standing water. Nevertheless, even
as the streams began to return to their banks, pilots were finding
something to bear them aloft.
On Wednesday and Thursday, 3/27-28, Kathy Lee and Clark Harlow reported
respectable gains respectively. Then, after a soggy Easter weekend,
the gathering gaggle at launch were encouraged by northerly winds
under a beautiful sunny sky. But as we set up our gliders, enthusiasm
declined with the wind as velocities dropped to nothing.
This situation called for a well known and widely performed hang glider
pilot ritual. I suppose we call it potatoing because it resembles
a popular couchbound activity and the pilot actually seems to take
root on the launch ramp. He/She will gaze across the valley intently,
as if seeking "a sign." At this time those assembled in a line behind
the pilot on the ramp will commence a verbal harangue and harrassment
inclined toward dislodging the pilot from the ramp so the next in
line may take his/her turn at the abuse. Of course, in the interest
of good judgement and safety, the pilot is permitted to decline launch
and back off, usually accompanied by a momentary intensification of
abuse. In fact, the ramp pilot is required to back off in the event
of a disagreement over the interpretation of "the signs." A pilot
in line may call "PUSHING!", which requires all pilots in front of
him/her to launch or get out of the way. This is rarely done as it
is in the interest of those in line to have more gliders, and potential
"signs", in the air when it is their turn. "Pushing" is the prerogative
of the impatient.
It is rarely the wisest choice, as the pushing pilot will be first
in line and must launch NOW. Furthermore, I knew my flight would
be "the sign" for those behind me, so they'd have the advantage of
information I didn't get, but I was tired of waiting. Although not
a direct flight to the LZ, I was there soon enough, with only a few
detours to mark lift for my buddies behind me. Steve Jones and Michael
Fletcher were already in the field. Steve Bellerby (after moving
out of the way) and Dennis Felts launched behind me and successfully
negotiated the light stuff to climb out and play for a half hour
or more. Steve Bellerby was still specked over the Southwest Site
when we loaded the van and headed back up, with another ride arranged
of course. Nice flight, Steve!
April 5-25. We're usually the beneficiaries of some pilots passing
through on their way to and from the still frozen north and springtime
comps in Florida. This year was no exception.
Mark Bolt from Michigan could probably claim flights of the first
week of April with excellent altitude gains at both of the Tree Topper
sites on consecutive days. He reported a max altitude gain of 5500
over at Henson's on Friday the 5th while everybody else was getting
about 2500. He climbed past the locals by about two grand again the
next day at Whitwell, topping out at 4000 over. Steve Bellerby finally
had to return to Toronto, but not before logging 18 hours of airtime
in about a week. He even took a day off!
Jeff Dodgen, Alli Dodgen, and Steve Jones set up at Henson's for tailwind
launches on Monday, 4/15. After carefully choosing a launchable cycle,
Alli got a sled run. Jeff was following her to the LZ but managed
a low save and eventually climbed to 3500 over. Steve enjoyed a long
flight on his new wing, climbing to 2700 over and touring the valley
in the vicinity.
He had another great flight last Thursday (4/18), flying up the valley
with John Haywood to land at Pikeville for a twenty mile XC. This
was John's first cross-country hang glider flight. He reported marginally
overdeveloped cover all day, but generous lift under the numerous
clouds. Steve said they made it in three thermals with max altitude
gains around 5000 over.
The weekend coincided with soarable conditions Saturday (4/20) to
bring pilots out of the wood work. According to Curly Dunn, "everybody
was flying" and many were getting to cloudbase at around 4000 over. He reported a
max altitude gain around 4500 over "in the holes."
We usually do well to get one frontal passage, and thus one postfrontal
northerly part of the cycle, about once a week. Snagging a good weekend
is a fairly tricky proposition. With three frontal passages and at
least as many soarable days in a week, it's no wonder our valley becomes
especially popular among pilots at this time of year. We even had
a soarable weekend!
Thursday 4/25 brought clear blue skies and a pretty hard north cross.
On my way up the mountain, I found Michael Fletcher with a few others
in the LZ after being flushed in a light cycle. He reported marginally
soarable ridge lift with no embedded thermals to offer the insurance
of altitude and regular flush cycles to thin the population of the
narrow lift band. He also suggested conditions seemed to be improving
with apparently higher altitudes on the ridge while he'd been observing
from the ground.
When I reached the top, I found Steve Jones and John Haywood soaring
between 200 and 500 over effortlessly. High pressure was still squelching
thermals, but the velocity had increased to offer easily sustainable
ridge lift. Finding myself without a wire crew after assisting all
available pilots off the ramp, I called Curly Dunn and he came runnin'.
Ned Stelzel also appeared fortuitously and together they flung me
into some of the sweetest air I've had recently. It was a classic
wonder wind and several of us were making long upwind zero sink legs
into the middle of the valley before turning and running downwind
back to the ridge, losing very little to nothing. Visibility under
the high pressure was beautiful. It was a three nuke plant day, with
Watts Bar, Sequoyah, and Bellefonte all within clear view.
Dave Hopkins from Mulebridge, Maine was not content to play around
launch, though. Taking a max altitude gain of 2300 over, he jumped
the first gap then dashed down the ridge to land at T&L Chick Farm
just short of Inman Point for an approximate 20 mile XC. George Blackford
from Stewart, Florida also reported a max altitude gain above 2000
over. Rick Abercrombie was soar sore after 3 1/2 hours. He got no
May 20-June 2. The Tree Toppers traditional Mayem flying celebration
was, as usual, Memorial Day weekend. Back in the day when this kicked
off a world class competition we could reasonably anticipate a pilgrimage of pilots
from all over the eastern United States and Canada. Now, even without
the meet, the expected excellent conditions of May and early June
along with the famous pilot party still attract a respectable swarm.
We even still see some of the comp pilots, perhaps seeking a more
leisurely patch of blue.
Claire Vassort, regular member of the U.S. Women's World Team, was in
town for several days around Mayhem and reportedly did very well on
more than one occasion. She even made an XC from Whitwell to the
Henson's LZ on a challenging south day. James Tindall brings his
Miami Hang Gliding staff and students to the world famous Henson's
Gap radial ramp regularly for foot launch experience. With the lack
of topography in south Florida, their experience is limited to tow
launch. Other pilots were visiting from Orlando, Ohio, Ontario, and
The great conditions just couldn't wait for the invasion and the week
before began with a bang. Tom Prouhet cruised down the ridge Monday,
5/20 and caught a thermal at Suck Creek that took him to cloudbase
at 5600 over. From there he made the downwind glide to Marion County
Airport. He topped out another thermal there and crossed Sand Mountain
on final glide to land at Wildwood. It was hazy and he couldn't see
the Lookout ridge well, and had trouble navigating towards the Lookout
LZ. He thought that with a GPS and a better line on final glide he
might have made it with what he gained at Marion County. The next
day he didn't bother leaving the valley and flew all the way to Stephenson,
Alabama in about two hours.
By the time Memorial Day weekend arrived winds were light out of the
southwest, which suited the students from Miami fine. James set up
a station under a tent in the LZ and the Miami staff on top began
launching their radio controlled parade of pilots toward the field.
Several of the Miami students were already in the field when Emily
from Orlando apparently flared a little early, climbed out, but then
relaxed the flare and pounded hard. She reported hearing her upper
arm break like a broomstick. Fortunately, two of the Miami students
in the LZ were physicians, and quickly got her ready for the short
ride to North Valley. This was to be the first stop for her in a
summer long hang gliding odyssey, but now it appears she'll extend
her itinerary in The Hang Gliding Capital of the East while on the
mend. I hope this doesn't interfere with her artwork. She paints
murals of such quality you'd think you could step right into the picture,
a nice solution for a boring interior wall.
With continuing southerly winds early in the week, the place was deserted
by Wednesday, 5/29. I set up alone at Henson's with a light breeze
over the back cycling between calm and about 5 mph. With birds climbing
out front and Steve Jones passing through to hang check and see me
off, I launched about 2:30. I was down to 400 feet off the deck when
I found the house thermal over the foothill. It took me to 800 over
in a very slow climb. Drifting downwind (N) past East Valley Road,
I found another core which took me to 1300 over. I think Mt. Airy
was within a glide, and with a little more lift even the opposite
ridge and perhaps an XC up the valley. However, my bike was in the
field, there was a pot-luck picnic at the pastor's, and Steve had
promised a ride back up from there. To avoid disordering my ducks,
I landed after a very sweet hour.
There were good reports from this past weekend, but neither day was
a gimme. Steve Lee and Jeff Dodgen went to the field Saturday while
Rick Jacob and Ally Dodgen made low saves to soar. Lift apparently
improved as the day progressed and many had exceptional flights.
Sunday was similar, but this time Steve set the hook and did what
we're accustomed to seeing him do. He and Greg Wojnowski cruised
all over the sky around Dunlap at comfortable altitude.
June 8-17. On Saturday, June 8 everybody cruised to Whitwell after
the TTT meeting and an excellent breakfast by Jeremy. Ally Dodgen
rattled her cage with a rough landing in the church LZ trying to avoid
the hay bails. A lot of others selected the safer option of an unknown
field at the end of an XC flight. Kathy Lee won flight of the day
landing at Pikeville, Greg Wojnowski made it all the way back to the
Henson's LZ, and Jeff Dodgen landed just short of the LZ at the Sequatchie
River Bridge (formerly Humpback) on Cherry Street. Max altitude gains
were reported between 3000 and 4000 over.
This past Saturday, June 15 followed a frontal passage on Friday.
Skies dawned clear, but beautiful and benign XC type cumulus began
developing early. Wind direction was right out of the northwest and
velocity was easily ridge soarable while unintimidating all day.
The passage had been forecast all week, so pilots had plenty of advance
notice that Saturday would be great.
Before launch, Steve declared an initial goal of Marion County Airport
with intentions to continue over the back if he could find anything
at the end of the valley. He, Greg Wojnowski, Tom Prouhet, and Jeff
Dodgen ultimately landed at Lookout Mountain Flight Park near Trenton, Georgia.
Congratulations to Jeff on his first flight to
Lookout from Henson's. He reported his max altitude gain to almost
5000 over while crossing Nickajack Lake on his way to Sand Mountain.
To that point lift had been so abundant he hadn't bothered topping
it out, but welcomed the extra altitude while making the river crossing.
Arriving at Lookout about 500 feet over the field, he slid back over
Burkhalter Gap Road, found a thermal, and specked out over Lookout
to fly another 45 minutes before landing. According to Dean Funk,
"about a dozen pilots made the flight from Henson's to Lookout. Most
were first timers." Alli Dodgen, driving for the Tree Topper Team,
took her glider over, launched at Lookout, and soared over there for
awhile too. Kathy Lee landed at Marion County Airport. Steve Jones
struggled between strong lift and strong sink before leaving Inman
Point (end of the ridge) for the airport with only 400 over. He landed
short of the airport with several others. Jeremy from Florida crossed
the valley to land at Whitwell. Tip Rogers flew to the end of the
valley and back. As would be expected of a good XC day, hang gliders
were strewn all up and down the valley.
By Monday (6/17) winds were still northerly with promising cumulus
development. Jeff Dodgen launched first in the light breeze, turned
the corner for the north face, and scratched one up near Charlie Yowell's
place to about 4000 over. I launched behind him and got up at the
same place, but eventually lost it, floundered, and headed out. Finding
one over the escarpment, I worked up to about 2700 over while watching
Bill Colvin outclimb me under a dark cloud behind launch. He specked
and flew all over the valley around Dunlap before landing in the LZ.
Jeff announced crossing the first gap at Centerpoint while I ran
crosswind to a building cloud in the middle of the valley. Jeremy
scratched on the ridge and sank out. Jeff continued south just past
Art Matthews sailplane port, then turned around and worked his way
back. As it happened, the wind shifted during this time and much
of his flight was downwind both ways. The cloud I'd pursued offered
nothing, so I was on the ground at Centerpoint when he flew over coming
back the other way. He eventually landed in the same field as the
week before near the Sequatchie River Bridge on Cherry Street.
June 22. We're just past the summer solstice now so the days are
already getting shorter. Summer conditions are often tricky. Sometimes
they even seem devious. What appear to be developing thunderstorms
which are cause to decline flight may dissipate into clear skies in
an hour, while the headwind of a few minutes ago may turn tail and
dump before we finish preflighting our wings.
Such was the scene Saturday, as Chris Field, Steve Jones, Kathy Lee,
and John McGriff began setting up at Henson's for what appeared to
be ridge soarable conditions. By the time they were suited up on the ramp, however, they were waiting for a launchable
cycle in the prevailing tailwind. John launched first and was pretty
low before hooking one over the LZ and working it back over launch
height in the valley. He pursued that bubble farther into the valley
before losing it and landing in the big field just south of Cherry
Street near the Sequatchie River bridge (old Humpback). Chris Field
struggled with some lift but ended up in the LZ.
Steve Jones and Kathy Lee were working to above launch height and
drifting to the west over the middle of the valley when I launched,
attempted pursuit, and encountered nothing but strong sink until reaching
the power lines along the edge of the LZ. There was a thermal breaking
off near the highest tower there, but I didn't even have enough altitude
to drift with it to the next field along its path, across East Valley
Road. With the wind indicators indicating a switchy and rowdy LZ,
it didn't appear the best time to land. Sometimes with gliders we
have precious little choice.
Averaging the indicators seemed to suggest a tendency toward an easterly
wind on the ground, so I set up final diagonally across the big flat
bottom. I believe landing across this slight slope put my right wing
in slower air, involuntarily initiating two right turns in excess
of 20 degrees below 30 feet. When I leveled out of the last one my
basetube was clicking the grasstops, leaving just enough room to swing
upright quickly and flare. Next time I'm faced with the same landing
conditions, I'll try lining up final farther away from the slope and
closer to Henson Gap Road, hopefully avoiding this gradient problem.
Steve Jones and Kathy Lee crossed the valley and continued down the
opposite ridge to land at Stevenson, Alabama. Steve reported a max
altitude gain of about 3500 over near Whitwell. Kathy was ahead of
him to the Alabama line, where they were both struggling on the ridge.
They eventually got high again, climbing to about 3000 over before
gliding into Stevenson. These were great flights on a challenging
day. Congratulations Steve and Kathy!
It's been pretty dry around here for a while, so there are likely
many more promising possibilities for the summer. Such spectacular
flights during this relatively leisurely season are not uncommon.
The Hang Gliding Capital of the East is a favorite pilot destination
for the 4th of July. Join us and we'll...
See you in the sky!
TRX 160. Floro yellow & pink sail. TRX is ALL carbon with extra
downtubes, and wing tip bubbles. $1500 OBO. Jeffd@mindspring.com
or call Jeff at (423)949-3384
"Pilot Needs Ride" T-shirts. Fund raiser for First Baptist Church
of Dunlap Youth Department summer missions program. Silhouette of
hang glider in flight with large lettering. $15 onsite or $18 mail
order. Call Steve Jones at (423)949-8678 or (423)949-2441.
Rudy's Ridge Team Challenge Warm-Up Fly-In. Sept.28-29th. Rudy's
Ridge in Gurley, AL (near Huntsville). Prizes for top duration of
the day, top XC for the day, and top 3 spots of the day. Fly during
the day and then enjoy Huntsville's Big Spring Jam in the evening.
Food/party Saturday night and t-shirt included with registration
fee. $25.00 before Sept.1. $30.00 after. Aerotowing will also be
available at extra cost. Come a day early and practice. For more
information and directions, email Ray at Ifly4funn@yahoo.com or call
Fly By Night Bed & Breakfast. Located next to the Tennessee Tree
Toppers at Henson Gap. For details call Aldonna Johnson at (423)949-6695
Check out our website at http://www.treetoppers.org!