I did not fly. Nor did I so much as kite. So why is there an entry today?
I began the drive down from Solitude at ~1545 after an invigorating afternoon’s skiing…
… and arrived at FPS ~1645.
During my descent I had seen 12G13 and gotten excited at the prospects. As I made my last-mile navigational decision to proceed to FPS, however, doubt began to seep into my calculus as the wind was showing 11G15, evincing an uncomfortably wide gust factor for someone who does not relish the idea of a near-ground catastrophic deflation.
Pulling up to the parking lot I observed multiple pilots balling up their wings and calling it a day. Jeremy was among them and remarked that things had gotten a bit scary for his tastes. I did not take this PIREP lightly. Looking out over the lip I saw a handful of wings still aloft doing their best impression of being trapped in a lava lamp.
I hung out and watched for half an hour, the wind getting inexorably stronger, reaching 16G19 moments before Ariel executed a tumbling top landing. I watched a couple of pilots struggling even to have a clean landing at the usually well sheltered bottom. Later Janica would tell me of a scarily substantial asymmetric deflation she had 20’ above the ground as she was approaching a landing. Ariel would also remark on a moment while aloft where just as he was beginning to fear for his own safety a nearby and newish pilot was having a “WOO!” moment, perhaps not properly appreciating the danger they were courting.
In the end everyone got their feet back on the ground without incident and yet the evening was one of those where things might easily have gone materially differently.
One of the earliest decisions one executes in the Aeronautical Decision Making process is whether to get in the air at all. Although I did not fly this evening there was nonetheless an act of piloting. And so there is this journal entry lest the stream of entries suffer a regrettable selection bias.
Better to be on the ground wishing one were in the air than to be in the air wishing one was on the ground. Live to fly another day.