Not Quite the Gravy
C. G. Prince, 8/4/07
I have had eight cross-country flights so far this season, meeting my goal for number of cross-country flights, and doubling the number of cross-country flights I had in 2006. My thought after the 8th was that any more cross-country flights this season would be gravy. Well, yesterday's flight (8/3/07, Friday) wasn't quite gravy, though it had some high points. I saw what looked like a good day approaching in the weather forecasts. Wide forecasted temp-dewpoint spread, low predicted winds (seemingly just after a passing front), and an estimated low temperature the night before. I decided to overnight in the cities (thanks again Jim & Kathleen), and fly from Faribault (FBL) as I couldn't find other RWSA members who wanted to fly from Osceola. My first sign that things weren't quite going to go well for the flight was cirrus cloud coming in from the South at FBL. My second sign was that Kathleen Winters, who was going to fly from FBL that day, decided to abondon the day as not promising. I decided to launch anyways, seeing as I'd already made the investment to get down to FBL from Duluth. Chris McConnell (Cross Country Soaring) towed me to a nice thermal, and I released. Quickly gaining about 1000' off of tow, I was starting to feel good about the day. It was 12:35pm, and I started heading South West, towards my first turnpoint on my planned task. I didn't run into much more lift, however, and decided to abort my cross-country plans for the day, and head back to the airfield. I got low about 4 miles South West of FBL, at 1:13pm, however, and had to land in a farmer's field. After landing, pulling my map and a pen from my cockpit and noting my lat/long coordinates, I found no one at the nearby farmhouse. The surface winds were neglible, so I believed my glider would be safe from environmental conditions. I walked to a nearby road, and started thumbing a ride back to the airfield. Within a minute, a car passed by, stopped, and an attractive young woman gave me a ride. At first she was concerned that when I said "I want to go the airport" (and pointed with my finger to the North East) that I wanted to go to the Minneapolis airport! I quickly let her know that, no, I was only going the much shorter distance to FBL. She seemed happy enough to take me there, and so chatting along the way about female drivers, hunting, and female pilots (the first two, her choice of topic), we arrived at FBL. I offered to have Don Ingraham take her up for a glider ride (with me paying, in thanks for the roadside rescue), and she gave her information to Don, and I thanked her again for the lift.
Cody, a student of Don's, came back with me back to the farmer's field and helped me derig my glider, and put it back in the trailer. I still didn't see any people at the farm, though I did give some dog buscuits to the farm dog. This was the first time I've thumbed a ride after a landout. Plus, this is the closest I've come to landing out (at a non-airfield), when not on a cross-country flight. At the time I landed out, I had aborted my cross-country plans, and was trying to make it back to the airfield.