Last Saturday 3 pilots snuck in a flight between wind and rain storms and it was beautiful, if only a little cold. The weather forecast websites were completely thrown off by the 24-hour lull in storminess, and at 1000 feet, windyty.com was even drawing a square-edged micro-weather pattern over us. The sky was telling us that the winds were light and laminar, and knowing that real weather doesn’t swirl in perfect squares, we discounted the forecast and drove to the field to check it out.
The real weather turned out to be excellent. Usually the jet stream precludes most flying (most comfortable flying) until May because it is still shifted South from winter months. On a typical early Spring day, a PPG pilot in Maine can expect 30-40 mph winds just over the tree tops, with extra gnarly rotor between ground level and 100 feet. This Spring, we have been getting breaks from that typically strong wind approximately every two weeks. These breaks seem to coincide with the shifting of temperature- We’ll get two weeks of mild weather, and two weeks of typical winter weather. The wind is strong during the shift, but there’s a one- or two-day lull while the temperature stabilizes. On Saturday, the windsocks indicated 5-7mph, varying in speed by 2-3 mph and direction by 45º.
Our flight path took the three of us down a river and out to the ocean. The tide was going out, and the beach was wide. The first pilot to the beach noted that a high school student piled debris to form the question “PROM?” on the beach sand. We all flew over to take a gander and play on the beach. This time of year the beaches are mostly empty, and we had plenty of space to drag our feet in the sand and carve around low. There were other messages written in the sand; most of them were romantic in nature. Since the tide had only just started to recede, I figured that the messages were carved recently. I made it a game to guess which walking couple had written it.
During this flight, I had a hole in my left glove, at the tip of my index finger. It was the only part of my body that was cold to the point of pain. Earlier in the evening I flew low to stay in the warmer air near the ground, but as the sun set into a red, blue, orange and purple sky, the temperature dropped as well. After landing, I took my glove off and saw that the colors in my hand matched the colors of the sunset!