Finally, some sunshine in the upper valley. A bit chilly but the conditions looked good to get the first flight of the year off of Icicle Ridge above Leavenworth. The 45 minute hike up with 40 pounds of flying machine I carried up to the take-off point. Conditions looked great with some thermic air flowing strongly up the hill. I took off in the squirrely wind and climbed out easily above the ridge. Luckily, this day I brought my big camera so I might take advantage of the flight with it.
There was lots of instability in the air, meaning lots of lift to be able to stay in the air and actually climb up to about 5500ft. I cruised up Icicle Ridge to the south firing off some shots and flew up in to Icicle canyon a bit before realizing that I was kind of getting blown into it. So, I stayed out front as I watched a squall line move in from the canyon. I flew back out and up over towards Tumwater Mountain and hung out for a bit high up, shooting more photos. It was a nice time and not too chilly in my down jacket and leg cover.
After about 40 minutes, I realized the sky was getting a bit too lifty and dark, meaning I was going up without having to work for it. This usually means a storm is coming since the warm air ahead of the cold air is rising up to meet and clash producing a not so desired effect with a very slow moving aircraft. Not a place I want to be from past experiences, so I went out to Ski Hill and put'er down in the soggy field.
Of course with all flying adventures, it is always an adventure in the air but after you land and people come up and ask all sorts of questions, that's where the fun begins. I ended up exchanging stories with a guy that was just walking by and he told me how he got to fly in his father's old trainer airplane from Vietnam and Korean wars. He ended up taking a flight in it with a top notch aerobatic pilot for an hour and a half doing all kinds of cray stunts with him. The stories afterwards on the ground with different folks sometimes far outdoes the stories I have with my little bag of nylon floating around in the air over Leavenworth. Fun day!