Well a good friend of ours, Ingo, got us all stirred up about going up to Oklahoma this Thanksgiving way back in September. So naturally, I decided to go on this trip and the closer we got to the day more and more pilots joined us.
At first it was just Ingo and I, then one night at an HHPA meeting it was announced that we were going up to Oklahoma. Soon, we had a crew of people, Bart, Tiki, Mak, Chris, Mark, Sir Rich, Ingo, and I. Later Rich R. joined us as well. UNFORTUNATELY, Ingo had to back out of the trip at the last minute, and soon we gathered up to get the logistics of the trip under way.
I had gone to the past two Buffalo Mountain Fly-Ins, held on the 4th of July, and had a great time. So I was really hoping that this time in November we would get some good flying time too. Anyways, as the days got closer to Thanksgiving I started looking more closely to the weather. THANKFULLY, the weather was just about as close to perfect as you could imagine. The cool fall weather up in Southeastern Oklahoma was a pleasant change from the muggy Houston weather. With a couple of extra blankets and some long johns the camping at night time was actually very nice. What was also nice, compared to camping at Buffalo in the summer, was that all the chiggers, ticks, and mosquitos were gone! No one had to spray DEET, the cool weather had put a damper on the critters. SO, as you could imagine, we were EXTREMELY thankful for that. Another big difference was the the weather was much more stable than the summer time weather. In July, during the past two fly-ins, there were thunderstorms that were so violent I thought I was going to get blown off the top of the mountain! This time of year the weather was very pleasant and predictable.
The first day we flew at Buffalo, and the wind was kind of cross and blowing pretty strong. I was the first to launch and my take off was OK, I transitioned to my base bar a bit too quick…so I was told, and this was verified with video.
I logged in a nice 2 and a half hour ridge soaring flight! My landing approach was a little high and sloppy but I was able to execute a good flare and land clean at the back end of the field. We were all happy about that first day of flying and we all shared stories around the campfire up on top of Buffalo Mountain.
Overnight the wind had switched on us. So we went to Pam’s Hateful Hussy Diner and I had the most awesome Pork Chop breakfast of all time! We had the gliders loaded up and then we made our way to the Panorama site. Oh My God, the wind was coming in perfectly at the launch site. By the way the Buffalo Mountain Flyers (BMF) did a fantastic job of upgrading the site and making it pristine! We were all able to launch successfully and SOAR pretty much all afternoon in some of the most beautiful Autumn seasonal weather. The kicker was that there were birds all over the place flying with us! Juvenile Bald Eagles, Red Tailed Hawks, Buzzards…they were marking the lift for us all day long. We could have easily flown until dark but we wound it down after logging in another couple of hours. Our hearts were content! The LZ at Pano proved to be a little tricky and we all struggled to make landings, everyone was OK and all the gliders were fine in the end. We headed back to Pam’s and had dinner, then back up top of Buffalo and relaxed around the campfire telling stories late into the night.
Sunday morning, the wind was calm, and the paragliders were getting training sled runs in. There must have been 6 tandems and a dozen solo paragliders, many struggled to stay up. By mid morning, Mak and I had our gliders set up and now a few paragliders are staying up. I launched first and I had a fantastic launch. Then I sank out to a 500′ above the LZ. “Oh no” I thought. I don’t want to deck it in front of everyone. Then I was greeted by a few blips of the vario. I wasn’t able to make full turns in this small thermal so I banked it up really steep and pushed out. BLIPPPP!!! I had just cored a sweet thermal and I then was able to climb my way up through an entire gaggle of PG’s all the way to the top of the stack at 4300′!!!
I pulled the VG and took off toward the potato hills. I had a blast thermaling with Naked Rich and he decided to go XC and ended up landing at the airport.
The wind was cross in the Buffalo Mountain LZ…I made and approach over the trees and swooped down to make a final approach over the hill…it was such a sweet landing that I let out a HOOT of delight!!! WooHOooo!
None of us in the HHPA could have asked for a better Turkey day either…which I forgot to mention…GREG CHASTAIN thank you so much for taking us in for thanksgiving dinner! It was the AWESOME!!! You are the man!