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Old 10-07-2019, 02:47 PM   #1
Neil
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Manned glider in High Peaks. Legal?

While on the summit of Marshall we first heard, then saw a manned glider fly over. It was fascinating to watch such a fragile looking craft manouvre around the summit ridge. Then I wondered if it was legal to so that. Also, the tow plane would have to be legal.
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Old 10-07-2019, 03:02 PM   #2
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One would assume it would have to comply with the same regulations as powered aircraft in that airspace. As for the tow plane they could have released many miles from the HPW. Seems harmless.
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Old 10-07-2019, 03:24 PM   #3
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I would hope that's an experienced, accomplished pilot.
Unless they can find some upward moving thermals, those sailplanes lose elevation for every foot forward. Modern sailplanes have impressive glide ratios, but it's a one way ride (except for those thermals). Tough to gain elevation in a hurry, should, say, Wright Peak pop up in front of you. Also, options for landing seem quite limited in the High Peaks...

Neil, what would you estimate was their elevation?
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Old 10-07-2019, 03:53 PM   #4
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Neil, what would you estimate was their elevation?
The craft was at approx. 4500' elevation. Possibly lower.
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Old 10-07-2019, 03:53 PM   #5
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I would hope that's an experienced, accomplished pilot.
Unless they can find some upward moving thermals, those sailplanes lose elevation for every foot forward. Modern sailplanes have impressive glide ratios, but it's a one way ride (except for those thermals). Tough to gain elevation in a hurry, should, say, Wright Peak pop up in front of you. Also, options for landing seem quite limited in the High Peaks...

Perhaps the pilot crash landed on Mount Colden & then parachuted down to Avalanche Lake... https://youtu.be/Dm8iae7US8U
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Old 10-07-2019, 04:28 PM   #6
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I doubt that's allowed.
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Old 10-07-2019, 04:30 PM   #7
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AFAIK, DEC cannot control air space, that's FAA. You can't take off from a lake in a Wilderness Area, but you can fly over one, like the scenic flights from Lake Placid. I believe flying a glider would be legal in Wilderness as it's not motorized.
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Old 10-07-2019, 06:47 PM   #8
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4500 feet? Sounds like a recipe for disaster. He may have gotten away with it this time......
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Old 10-07-2019, 09:24 PM   #9
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4500 feet? Sounds like a recipe for disaster. He may have gotten away with it this time......
Exactly!! Many modern sailplanes have glide ratios around 45:1.
What's the distance from Marshall to the nearest landing zone? Placid airport is 10 miles, Lake Clear airport is 20 miles.
Dropping an average of 117 ft/mile I guess isn't life threatening, depending on the flight path, of course.

Let's see, Lake Clear is about 1640 ft elevation, 20 miles out from Marshall at an estimated 4,500 ft elevation. That's a drop of 2,860 ft in 20 miles, or a required glide ratio of nearly 37:1.
Someone else can run the numbers for Lake Placid airport...

Looking again, I think that's a bet I would not be willing to stake my life on.

Still, gliders are too cool, in the right environs.
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Old 10-07-2019, 09:31 PM   #10
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Actually a sailplane can glide for a long time at 4000 feet because it usually breaks free from the tow plane at about 1800 feet. However thermals can hold colder air in the mountains and high peaks can ruin your day. Surprisingly it may be more difficult to lose height while trying to land than gain height. Side slips is a maneuver to get lower and is used sometimes in very windy conditions by all planes even in a commercial airliner. Modern gliders are vey aerodynamic and can glide a few feet over flat land for a long distance. Trying to find a flat smooth surface to land in the ADKs could be a real challenge unless he was headed for a known landing strip. Lake Clear Airport is 75-100 miles air miles from Mt. Marshall which is just under 4400 feet tall.
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Old 10-07-2019, 09:45 PM   #11
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There are fields to land in n of the peaks. E also if they could get there which seems unlikely.
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Old 10-07-2019, 10:06 PM   #12
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There are fields to land in n of the peaks. E also if they could get there which seems unlikely.
If the sailplane stays on the windward side of the mountains, (the pilot would have to be familiar with the terrain), he could make it.
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Old 10-08-2019, 05:45 AM   #13
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How far to Marcy Field? There's a landing strip.
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Old 10-08-2019, 08:40 AM   #14
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Perhaps the pilot crash landed on Mount Colden & then parachuted down to Avalanche Lake... https://youtu.be/Dm8iae7US8U
Don't the SAR folks have enough to do with the way things are now. I can hear the cell call now, " I need help, my husband is caught in a tree. Send the cat squad and ladders!".
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Old 10-08-2019, 08:52 AM   #15
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Don't the SAR folks have enough to do with the way things are now. I can hear the cell call now, " I need help, my husband is caught in a tree. Send the cat squad and ladders!".
Forget the ladder, just bring a saw, he'll fall quick enough.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:11 AM   #16
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May have to be a hand saw, not chain, depending on where he lands.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:22 AM   #17
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How far to Marcy Field? There's a landing strip.
Marcy Field is about 13 miles in a straight line; probably 18 via the route you would have to take (railroad notch, where you just visited!). Now it would have been cool to see the sailplane going through railroad notch 100' above the treetops!

LP airport is 10 miles, as noted above, and is also an easier route (downhill all the way).

Lake Clear is 20 miles, as noted above.

Flight was more than likely connected with this group:

https://www.sac.ca/index.php/en/home...-new-york-2017

which apparently holds a gliding camp in LP every autumn.

Very cool!
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Old 10-08-2019, 07:04 PM   #18
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I love soaring (gliders). We used to see them often at the Delaware Water Gap. They would soar through the gap at eye level.....the sound of the plane was so cool......whoosh!
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Old 10-15-2019, 05:46 PM   #19
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Was on top of the big A and one went right over us...back in the 70s
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Old 10-16-2019, 04:04 AM   #20
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Go to Harris Hill near Elmira and you will get quite an education on gliders. I have been there. The soaring museum is there. The sailplanes are relying on thermals, and mountain lift to stay aloft. They tend to circle within thermals. I think there are even atmospheric waves that can be used for lift. Sinking air is their enemy. Towering Cumulus can be dangerous and of course thunderstorms are very dangerous. There is a whole study of learning how to find thermals. I have read everything from looking for clues by watching birds to looking for disturbances on the ground that release thermals. There is a device the pilot listens to that makes beeping sounds. It's called a variometer and it indicates the rate of climb. The pilots tend to wear bucket hats.

They can make a emergency landing in a private field if they are forced to. Any pilot has to be aware of all landing areas and potential landing areas, should something go wrong. My uncle is a pilot. He owns a private pilots license. He was afraid to fly over the core of the Adirondacks, because of the lack of places to land.


I have done work studying glider locations and went into the field, because I was curious. I was particularly interested in hang-gliding. Areas around Dansville, the 390 corridor, and southern tier, have hotspots. I even have photos. Bath has a nice place. There is even an overlook of a bald eagle nest. Then there is Italy Valley and many other locations.

I have been to Ellenville in the Shawangunk's. It is the hang-gliding capitol of the northeast. I personally went down there to talk to the instructors. I wanted to learn about the sport. It was interesting. There are multiple groups. I was pretty much acting like a journalist learning about them. I even took a hang-gliding lesson at Cooperstown and got off the ground. Utsayantha Mountain is another hang-gliding site. Another one is near the Cuyler (Swancott) fire tower. It's in DeRuyter. The Taconics have several as well. You can see the sites as fanned out swaths of cleared land at the steep edges of hills. There is apparently, a site near Warrensburg on Sugarloaf Hill. Whiteface was supposedly a site, but I haven't heard of anything happening there. Hang-gliders fly off of Greylock in Massachusetts. Other infamous places are Hyner in Pennsylvania, lookout in Georgia, Magazine Mountain in Arkansas, Fort Funston in San Francisco, and so on.

I have heard people in the hang-gliding community say that it is greater than, to put it mildly, procreation.

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