Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve

A little desperate for some Christmas air, here we are at Mt Tam in a SSE wind, it was blowing 28 according to my 6030. It was easy and fun for about 12 minutes. Thats S.F. off my right wing tip.
Then cloudbase dropped 800ft or so and staying up got a little more challenging. Thats Chris about to launch from "A" launch.
A beautiful spot none the less in some different conditions, eaking out about 38 mins.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

At Home

The weather has turned and I've found myself indoors a bunch. After 5 summers in a row I am kinda ready for some downtime... (I think?)

I recently dug my old bed out of storage since our current bed is soft and unsupportive, and now sold on Craiglist. I like working with wood so sorry if this a little on the dull side ;)

Its mostly made from 4"x4" Local Redwood. with 1"x1" pine, for the slat supprts. And cheap 3/4" x4" bendy pine slats. I totally over engineered but it came out looking nice :) The new mattress is part memory foam and some other support foam, no springs. I like it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good Day at Mount Tamalpais

Just occasionally Mount Tamalpias where I work, becomes soarable, its rare and sometimes a surprize. Yesterday turned out to be one such day. Very pleasing indeed.The typical flight down is 8 mins or so, at 2000ft MSL and a sink rate of 240 feet per min descent rate this adds up.Yesterday though we climbed up over launch and caught the rare views.It was a bit bumpy and after 30mins my student could do no more.We came in for a sweet landing into a 12mph headwind. With 3 flights in the day we were just in time to catch the sunset!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kayaking in the San Francisco Bay

Another fantastic kayak journey I've been wanting to do since I bought the contraption, is a tour of the north San Francisco bay. However you if you want to have a most excellent time, getting the weather right is a must. The water is cold, the currents are enormous, and the winds can pick up, howl and create quite a chop on the water!We were very lucky to get another rare hot (89'F in the city) day like this, it happened to be a Wednesday, and so Tracey took the day off.We "put in" in an industrial area of Sausalito, and paddled through (and under) the touristy part. The tide was coming in so we decided to head for the Golden Gate bridge first and see how close we could get, before conceeding to the tide and wind. Heading in for Angel Island, we passed to the north of Alcatraz. We landed on Perles Beach. It was a beautiful 85'F right there, quite unusual for SF.We picniced and explored the beach before putting back in. On the Eastern side on the Island behind point blunt there are some very nice sheltered beaches. We passed by east garrison (an old abondonned missile base). On to China cove, the old immigration station of the west (no Statue of Liberty here, but there is a very cool bell).Angel Island was used as an immigrant processing station from 1910 to 1940. Immigrants were required to come here and stay until released after undergoing medical exams, interrogations and sometimes internment. In the 1940s the island changed to a POW camp. The Bell was intended to be used in Fog. The next cove is Ayala, the modern day tourist boat wharf. Some sea fairing folks call this home sometimes. I like the old colonial houses... From Ayala we hugged the island shore as a squall came through from the west, then made the run across Racoon Strait.
It was a fabulous trip, could not have asked for better weather! Or company ;)
It was a 5hr30min trip, and about 11.7 miles of paddling.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Back in San Francisco.

Since being back I have been quite busy, collecting up the pieces after being mostly away 6 of the last 8 months. I was pleased that my glider was not smashed in transit from France after it was denied access to the Xray machine for the flight. I've since learned the technique to getting it through security at the airport is to talk the staff into scanning half if it at a time. I don't know if that would have worked at 5am in a hail storm with the power going in and out, but I would have given it a try ;)

So what have I been up to? Mostly Flying tandems from Mt Tam.

While test flying my Litespeed at Funston I did get to see some unusual animals!Tracey and I went for a nice bike n' hike in Point Reyes. Down to arch rock.

We also went for a ride along the Bay Trail which has some nice parts, and plenty of birdlife.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

After Arizona

I have been super busy since getting back from Arizona. But the event hasn't left my mind. The meet dished up challenging (to me) flying, and yet I found it to be one of my favourite meets of this season year. I had a few bumps in the road getting there to say the least. However I gained much positive from the flying.

We flew every day of the 7 day meet (a first for me this year). While I scored poorly, I feel like I made many good decisions, as well as some not so good (new mistakes) and new lessons. One thing that has come to mind was the direct decision to result feedback. In a competition environment the decision feedback is so much better than just bumbling along cross country by myself, still, there have been many times when I've zagged instead of zigged and wondered which was the faster choice, and not known to this day. This meet was different... Likely being on radio with some top guys like Jonny, Carl and Kraig, helped very much, and maybe the conditions forcing gaggle flying contributed... When I left the gaggle on two occasions I was down not so long after.
I felt confident enough to go on ahead and search out the next thermal and perhaps catch the gaggle ahead, feeling like it was the right decision at the time, but then the strategy would fail. Of course I would then see all the pilots I was with drift high over my head on course.

Flying closely with Jonny, Kraig and Carl in the tough conditions I got observe some style I had not seen before. The last day was amazing. Both Jonny and Carl went way off course to get a climb, which without we certainly would have been on the ground. The big circle is the start cylinder. Carl (Red) stayed behind in the thermal that most left after topping out at 7000ft for the third time. Most went on a long glide not hitting a bump 11km. We flew right through the turnpoint and onto higher dryer ground, then we started grovelling Jonny (green) found the 120fpm climb and left it in search of something better knowing he could come back if needed. He flew almost 180 to course line to some birds down wind, and found a snakey thermal core that would get us back in the game. I would never have chosen to do that because I would not have expected it to work, but of course it was the only game in town. Meantime Carl had stayed back at the start and climbed to over 9k, and was now flying over us. Had it been me I may have flown right over had I not hit any bumps. (I did do this at the British Nationals and flew to the ground). However Carl sat like a school boy in detention, slowly circling down to us to find that when we reached the same altitude the thermal fell apart! But having buddies is good and between us we found the next climb. The rest of the flight went well, with the exception of my final glide where I took what I thought was a slight gamble (12:1 glide to goal) but found a very bad line into goal and ended up 5km short! 5km! thats a lot. My log shows I got an 8:1 downwind.
It wasn't how I wanted to end the meet, but had the gamble paid off I would have been first into goal, and it was that which made me go for it. That stratagy will work sooner or later ;)

So Kraig won the meet just ahead of Jonny with Carl in 3rd. Well done chaps!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Santa Cruz Flats 2010

The exceedingly pleasant Francisco Grande Hang Gliding resort, (well it is this week anyway). Former San Francisco Giants (baseball - a bit like cricket, but with a schedule) winter training facility ;)The last couple of days have seen some very nice racing conditions, here we are jockeying for position in the start circle.
Conditions on course vary radically depending on the terrain you are over. I have found it very challenging to read. This part of the course was good.
This part of the course, not so good and while I thought I would climb out of here...
I didn't and landed in a lonely spot.
With a tricky retrieve, I was very grateful to Jamie and Jon Sr for helping me out of the sweat pit I landed in.And just when you think hmm well the cliffs aren't *that* high, you look down to see what you have been walking on !
Landing at goal is by far the way to go :) Green grass, the pool and margarita, high spirits :)
results :
Jamie has great up to date write ups
And Jonny is doing his on air in the air video reporting too, check it !

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hang Gliding Tips

Gerolf Heinrichs on the litespeed
Gerolf in Laragne : Sprogs Talk 1/6 , 2 of 6 , 3 of 6 , 4 of 6 , 5 of 6 , 6 of 6
Measuring Sprogs

WW articals , Sailcloth , Polars , performance airfoils

Q and A with Jonny, Zac and Gordon

Setting up your Flytec 6030

Making a Task

Uploading a tracklog for competitions - Davis Straub
Comp tools - Davis Straub
Going to Oz - Davis Straub

magnetic camera mount -Jonathon Dietch
remote Camera Shutter Release -Diev Hart
other shutter releases

short packing - Mark Dowsett
unshort packing - Jeff O'Brien

Using Mylar to stop wear

Stopping flutter or Retrofitting mylar to the trailing edge

Reading Winds Aloft

And just like that 10 days was up.

Sadly it was all over way too quickly, the balance of rushing around trying to make use of the time we had verses being too tired and rushed to take in the experience is a fine one. I think we did well.
The journey home was a bit stressful, We got up at 4am to get to the airport extra early to deal with the glider. My parents drove down from Castellane through the night with the glider in a huge storm. At one point the road was an inch deep in hail. At 5am the heavens opened at the airport and the power went out. Ground lightning everywhere. Not the best start to the day...
When I got to the counter with my glider the staff had the look of "you have to be kidding me" all the computers were going up and down with the power. They just came up to me and said you cannot take this.
But I had prearranged it and had a small piece of paper showing this. After an hour of checks they accepted the glider, only to take away the relief moments later say security do not have the infrastructure to process it. Politics... Grrr.
Well in the end I had to get on my flight and my parents took my glider to freight.
I am very grateful for the help. I am praying the glider shows up in one piece.

Once home in San Francisco I had a day to unpack, repack, find out what was happening with my glider and head to Arizona. My glider might show up Monday. I had to leave Friday... No Glider and one hour into the drive my truck started misfiring :(

Brian Porter and Randee to the rescue! I rode with them from Merced.
Kraig sorted me out a glider to fly, and here I am Santa Cruz Flats Arizona.
What great friends I have (and am very indebited too)
Thank you !!

Rafting the Verdon

After Mont Blanc Tracey, Jessica and I headed back to Castellane to go rafting on the Verdon river. Its a great way to see the Gorge.The scenery is of course spectacular, and everyone is smiling.
Our river giude Arno (sp?) enjoyed bouncing us off the walls of the gorge, everyone else enjoyed it too.
September turned out to be a very good time of year to do this as there we few other boat on the river.
Every once in a while we would stop for a dunk in the river to cool off. I am not going to say I needed cooling off though ;)

And just like that the 25km float was over. It was fun to see my folks tracking us down river taking pictures here and there. Thanks for that :)