After having such an educational experience at Spring Fling and ECPC last year, I’ve returned again, so here I am in the woods of southern Florida immersing myself in payout-tow paragliding. The past two days have been too windy to fly during the middle of the day. One pilot who brought his motor to camp took a quick paramotor flight this morning and came down after a few minutes, reporting high winds and unpleasant turbulence. Nevertheless, I am confident that the weather will get better soon. Late afternoons have been flyable, and calmer weather is in the forecast for next week, the start of Spring Fling.
Typically Maine is a frozen wasteland well into May, but this past winter has been extremely warm, and it’s been flyable a few times already in April. I did not anticipate such an early season, and I feel a tinge of regret and guilt that I can’t be in Maine to take advantage of the extended season.
The day prior to driving south with all my paragliding and powered paragliding gear, I enjoyed a laminar but strong-winded flight with a friend. As the sun set, the air on the ground became cold (40’s) while the wind up high remained comfortable warm (50’s to 60’s). After a downwind leg to the Saco River, we turned into the strong headwind and climbed high into the warmer air above. Three thousand feet above the ground the headwind wasn’t as strong, yet the temperature was still warm. We were experiencing an inversion, where the air closer to the ground was colder than the air up high. This often happens in Spring here, at sunrise and sunset. The Earth is still very cold from the winter, so as soon as the sun stops heating the surface, the earth absorbs all the residual heat from the air around it. It’s not unusual for these two air masses to be moving at different speeds, or even different directions.