Monday, April 20, 2015

Harris Hill

Saturday in a Iroquois Soaring Assoc. email someone asked if members wanted to assemble the club gliders on Sunday. That didn't happen but it was enough to put thoughts of gliders in my head. Our schedules lined up for a change and my partner in the Cessna, Kate, would be be out for her first flight of the year. She is a glider fan as well so a trip to a glider port would be a fun day for both of us.

Though nothing going on at Hamilton with ISA we still had a few options. Saratoga Springs, Dansville and Harris Hill in Elmira. I decided on Elmira. It has a very active club and there is always something going on there.

Sunday was forecast to be beautiful, with sunny skies, mild temperatures and light winds. By Sunday night things would be changing. The forecast has us heading into a week of clouds, rain and even a bit of snow here in Central New York. In Upstate NY, when the weather is good you have to go. No excuses.

Climbing out of Marcellus under a few cirrus visibility was more than 50 miles. My GPS showed virtually no winds as we climbed to 4,500 for the 59 nm 39 min cruise SW over the Finger Lakes. With the plane trimmed for level flight we settled into an easy cruise and enjoyed the scenery.

Kate and me

Between watching for other aircraft and enjoying the view it was a while until I realized I hadn't touched the controls in quite a long time. Smooth as glass up here. Only a gentle touch on the rudder pedals was needed to keep us on track.

The land is beginning to change from the brown and grey of winter to the green of spring. In protected spots in and along forests or gullies snow remains as a reminder that only a few weeks ago all was white here.

The Cessna is headed to the radio shop for static when transmitting that makes me difficult to understand, so I'm using a handheld. Approaching Elmira I am over their Class D airspace but within the ARSA. Participation in a ARSA is voluntary, but I'm flying directly over the airfield and want to descend into Harris Hill which is within the Class D. From 18 miles out I call only to find the handheld, using its small antenna, is fine for pattern work but doesn't work too well over any distance. With quite a bit of effort the tower instructs me to continue as requested and no other traffic.

Descending over Harris Hill we spot a couple gliders in the air. A Discus circling 1,000' feet above us in lift and an ASK-21 below setting up for the landing pattern. We wait for him, then land.

Harris Hill from the south. 
Elmira Regional visible in the valley beyond.

The smooth ride down, while nice for airplanes, means not much lift for gliders.
The airport was pretty quiet. Several rides were given and eventually the Discus pilot landed.

Pawnee towing the ASK-21

ASK landing. Our Cessna parked on the right

Discus on roll-out. He kept his wings level as he came to a stop where he was met out on the runway by ground crew that caught his wing and gently lowered it to the ground.

Harris Hill Club House

Taugannock Falls

South end of Owasco Lake

Frozen Ocean Raceway and Murphy's Airport

 Back home to Marcellus Airport

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