Monday, August 31, 2009

It's not my fault - it's San Andreas fault

The San Benitos delivered again this Sunday, flying with Tom and Donny. The lose plan was to try to fly down Hiway 25, the path of the San Andreas fault around the San Benitos. The top of lift was not forecast to be as high as previous attempts, but the area of lift was wider and this was key. The ground on the west side is a couple of thousand feet lower, so still plenty of room to play. In actuality, the ceiling was just as high or higher than prevoius attempts and the hills on the west side were not working at all. So we decided to head over to Goat. Donny went over for the first time while I watched Tom fight a good fight in the valley, almost making it to the big elevator. Once Tom landed I headed over to Goat only to hear thatt Donny was also landing. (I think he had beer suck :) So what to do ? Well I headed back over the pass westward, blundering in to lift the whole way in a headwind. So I through in a few turns and got enough altitude to cut the corner over to Hiway 25 and off I went. Below you can see the valley that the fault has caused. Going down peach tree valley H25, was pretty easy. I got low in one spot where I raced for a cloud which fell apart before I got to it. But a condor came by and showed me it was about to form up again. I was a little out of the main convergence line, but the lift was still plenty good. In fact the lift improved all the way to sunset. Cloudbase lloked to be about 14k, 10 miles to the east. To the west the Marine layor was in control. I got to 11.5k at the end of peach tree valley and pretty much went on glide to Shandon on Hiway 46 near Paso Robles. It was a technical flight mostly due to retrieve navigation. But the air was smooth and easy, which was good because after 6 hours I ache anyway. The flight was about 70 miles. And crossed some new and interesting terrain :) And of course I couldn't have done it without my excellent retrievel crew especially Terry, Thanks Terry !

Friday, August 21, 2009

Big Spring - Air time.

Some time in September, a documentary filmed by Niels Dachler about the Big Spring Hang Gliding Championships is to be aired on Good Morning America.
He allowed me to sneak a preview of the footage I got.

Getting flying in the public eye, will hopefully get more people to realize their flying dreams.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Big Spring Championships wrap up.

An audience with Davis. Going through the weather and the task for the day. I think it was quite a challenging week for the task commitee. They did an exceptional job.
The final day ended up quite similar to the previous day, except everyone got a late start, as the day turned on later and nobody made goal because of thunder storms. And gust fronts. You can see in the previous picture how it rolled through. The two pictures are about 4 minutes apart. I came 11th in the end. Not quite as good as I was hoping for but I learned a lot about flying around over developement, start times and start positions. Here are the winners Glen (1st) on the right, Zac (2nd) in the middle, Dereck (3rd) on the left.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Into the final day at Big Springs

Tough day yesterday, I had a bad start and courseline was shaded. So I decided to restart. That meant diving into wind 6km. The line looked good, but I lost 7000ft doing it and got down to a few hundred feet, I was unzipped, and circling in zero sink for quite some time till I found the core. Drifting over open fields I was nervous about the retreive possibilities. Eventually in turned into a really good climb taking me back to cloud base. This would happen again before the turn point. After that I wasted some time in a weak climb and got caught by this cloud. The cloud exploded rapidly and I was glad to be on the ground moments later. The plume in the picture was a lightning strike that scared me stiff and deafened me temporarily. A Gnarly gust front soon developed, but missed me. On the way home we had another adventure, a drive through liquor store in Bible country. Not to mention to 2" rain in 30 minutes. My team at Big Spring.
Begining the final day we had a spot landing contest. OB won the day.
Davis was 3rd.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 5

I had a difficult day on task4. Sank out into a blue hole, and landed in 8foot tall mesquite trees. Task 5 which was the exact same task went much better. I used my instruments properly, the radios worked perfectly and I took an earlier start with Alex. Here is Alex over a wind farm and oil feild. We seemed to be at the leading edge of the lift area the whole flight which kept us a bit slow, however, we got there. Jeff passed me on course and landed just before me.
Alex came in a bit later with a huge smile. Bill Soderquist took the last start clock, and raced through, landing for the camera. Day 5 results.
Alex's blog

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Here is Big Spring, a bigger town than I expected. Today overdeveloped quite quickly. The task was changed but the sky had other plans. If you look carefully you can see the plume of dust from the gust front caused by the rain. I managed to get down on the ground with the Jeffs just a minute or so before the gust front hit. The wind was not as bad as it first looked. Wait what's that on the water tower? why it is the the goldern tornados insignia. The local high school sports team. I think I know why they chose it.

Big Spring Day2

A few of the contenders from around the country waiting for conditions to turn on. It certainly was not long - it caught a few off guard (myself included) Russell towed me up at a smooth 900ft/min. I flew alone again, I'm working on fixing that. Results Day2 Jeff and Jeff's blogs

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Big Spring Task 1

Nice to roll in this morning and already be set up, that gave me time to work on my instrument mount. 11am air conditioned pilots meeting. Decadent indeed :) The task was 101 mile double dogleg. The wind was quite strong 20 mph + at altitude.
I had a pretty good start but at the expense of having the oportunity of flying with Derek who won the day. Results : Not too much in the way of scenery here but the air is very nice to fly in. Towards the end of the day a thunderhead 20 miles west cast shadow over goal, I think I snuck in just in time. I walked 20 steps from where I landed into a hanger and broke down in shade and still air. Luxery. Unfortunately on the way home my team mate (Andy) had an engine failure. Bill & Maralyn were very kind and gave Alex and I a ride back to the airport.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

On the way to Big Spring Texas

Met Alex in LA and flew Crestline yesterday. Forgot my camera so I guess I'll have to fly there again. Was fun, cooler at 7800ft, flew for 3 hours and figured out my new 6030. Collected Glens glider this morning and headed for Big Spring Texas. Now in New Mexico.

Monday, August 3, 2009

the jump video

Here it is - that promised video :)

More fun at Funston

There was a good turn out at Funston yesterday, I went out to test out the changes and fixes to my harness and instrument mount. I wanted to make sure every thing is in order before heading out to the meet in Big Spring, Texas. Once the testing was done, I got together with Brian. He had heard on the radio that there was going to be a basejumper, going from a Tandem Paraglider. Brian is banked up over the dumps at Pacifica. While we waited we got some air to air shots. There were lots of paragliders, out enjoying the smooth bouyant air, also waiting for the jump. I did get some video footage of the jump. The quality is not great, but I'll try and put something together to post soon. Paris was out at Westlake teaching Tandem, he stopped by afterwards to say Hi. His student got about an hour, and some nice pictures and video. On the days with low ceilings the lift band gets quite wide, the bottom of the cloud is bouyant and you can glide out a long way, I love the light patterns on the ocean. You'll have to click on this and imagin that is all you can see, or come take a tandem with me sometime. Went quite a bit further out but kind of zoned out and didn't tke any pictures from out there. Most of the afternoon humpback whales had been sighted, back at launch I was trying to get a shot with a glider and a whale. Almost an impossible task. The Whale is the black sploge in the bottom left. The golden gate bridge was some times in the fog some times not. Its on the edge here.