Saturday, May 28, 2011

Texas Single Surface Shoot Out 2011

This May turned out to be a windy one in Texas (as well as a few other places). I am learning this may be typical for the time of year here. We did get 2 flying tasks in. One to the north-east the other to the southwest.
photo by Sandor
We had only 6 pilots in the meet (3 local Texans, 3 out-of-towners). Gliders - 4 Northwing Freedoms, a WW Falcon, and an older WW Harrier. Launching and gaggling up was instantaneous, after all we had 2 Dragonflys at our disposal.
Dan launching - photo by Sandor
That's a crazy! A 3:1 pilot to dragon fly ratio. 10:1 or 12:1 is more typical. And for a meet to be cost effective that is what one would want.With the wind being strongish, we decided not to have start times just a 5km exit cylinder. After flying with Dan for a while, I ended up alone the first day, with Davis and Chris starting ahead of me, I would never see them, only Davis made goal (a couple of low saves in there).

flying over the San Marcos river that flows through Lulling.

Day 2 was a much nicer day, dryer fresher feeling air and nicer thermals. The whole meet was towed into the same thermal. Flying here with Stephan and Dan, Davis and Zimmy are overhead up top, and Melvin last to tow up below and climbing.What fun 6 gliders is a fun number of wings in one thermal 5000ft tall. Top of lift was about 5500ft msl.
in a great thermal with Zimmy & Davis.
We really only had 2 long glides getting down to 2k (1500ft above the ground)
We flew passed the Seguin airstrip, and over the Guadalupe river.
And into goal (La Vernier) , I thought I had Zimmy beat but turned out I had my instrument set to 400m goal and not 1km. d'Oh !
Taking a 15 min later start helped me win the day. Very fun :)

Davis has a much more detailed write up here for those that want more.

With two more windy hot days, day 2 results stood, I was unable to do better than 3rd.

Congratulations to Chris Zimmerman the new Single Surface National Champion.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

2011 Single Surface Shootout

-In the meantime we're going flying.

Here is a meet where better pilots are brought down to an equal level, onto a glider just about any Hang Glider pilot can fly. A great opportunity for an up and comer to fly with great pilots and learn from them. Alas only 6 pilots ? There are 2 Northwing freedoms sitting idle here. A spruced up Malibu on the rack. And after day 1 Davis is not only in 1st but has a 600 point lead.

First task results (click)

Are Hang Gliding events becoming finacially out of reach for most?
Is it that the HG population has shrunk to the point where 6 pilots might be what we expect ?
Could it be that corporate america has a strangle hold on folks that want to fly competitions but only get 3 weeks vacation per year?
Are competitions just not cool or fun any more?

I will read your comments, should you leave them.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Crystel - the sparkle in her smile.

Her death has dumbfounded me. Taken so quickly from us. She was such a warm and welcoming lively bubbly monkey. It is a devastating loss for so many. Head trauma from a bicycle accident - I do not know much more.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mid-west championships at Enjoy Field

Here we are at the Mid-West Hang Gliding Competition. With a very chilly start to the week, (34'F), the air has warmed up tremendously.(79'F - though it feels warmer than that). Joe has a very nice facility here that would comfortable handle many more pilots here near Chebanse, an hour south of Chicago.
The grass is so soft and green, even the ditches are soft and green here...
The first task was set yesterday. I free flew the course for fun and practice. Its quite damp on the ground here, the flooding to the south has been in the recent news.
Not many of the fields have sprouted crops yet, which seems strange to me in the middle of May.
Just through the start gate I met up with Dan Gravage, we floundered around in garbage air, until the cloud moved over us and sucked us back up from low.
To cloudbase, and back on course with Revo too.
Another low save over a small bonfire.
The trick yesterday was to try and stay over drier sunny ground, with a cloud slighty to the east and some kind of thermal trigger in the field. Yes Dallas a thermal trigger ;)
Well maybe a "thermal wick" totally different ?
Anyway made it around and back to the beer :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Onto Lookout

From South Carolina we headed west to Lookout mountain, home of the Inspirational (one or these years) goals of the rally. On route we passed through some of the tornado damage areas. It is wide spread, this damage is 1/2 mile from Lookout mountain flight park.
You can see the tornado track through the forest, the leaves have been striped off and wood snapped up.
We got to launch, just as this guy was launching for a shorter flight than he had planned on.
I got to help out with my first tree rescue. Nobody had a figure 8 though... Otherwize we could have had him down in minutes. Might be a good thing to add to my list of carry around stuff). When Mountain rescue arrived they preferred we not help while 30 of them stood around for 30mins not doing anything in particular. We left for a hike.

Cloudland Canyon State Park is where we went it was surprisingly pretty. Just 5 miles from Launch.
A very manicured trail. Paris, Konrad and Randee hiked down to the waterfall.
Rhododendron, red sandstone and waterfalls, very photogenic :)
Someone build this huge staircase ! Was probably a good half mile of lumber...
We finished the evening off at Canyon Grill, Claire Vassort. A huge thanks to Dean Funk for putting us up, and up with us ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rallying into South Carolina

The last two days of the Flytec Race and Rally continued to have excellent weather conditions. 2 more really good and challenging tasks were set. Including a big downwind dogleg task of 194km (around 120 miles) to Vidalia.I didn't take many pictures as I was focusing on racing, we did fly down this interstate 16 to infinite.
Another day another goal. Landing at the Onion capital of the U.S. I was concerned before launch, but had no reactions in the air like I have in the past. Pollens collect and become more dense at the top of lift, which is where we spend a fair bit of time.
That night we ate at a really cool "Tree House" resturant, the mood and food was fabulous.
Pilots meetings have been very civilized as the local airports have been very welcoming.
Goal of the last day was in South Carolina on the far side of a forest/swamp/river crossing. Never did I think I would make it as I arrived at the edge in shade less than 1000ft, but I found a lethargic burble that after 25mins got me high enough to pucker up and go for it.
The final day looked to be a wash, so pilots checked scores and we headed to a local park.
After a nice swim, the presentation started. Jonny won, with Paris in 2nd and Carl 3rd. All results here

I was pretty happy with my 15th place, the field of pilots was exceptional and the points spread close. The terrain we flew over was new and different, I set up on Monday in Florida, and broke down on Friday evening in South Carolina. Amazing flying, amazing memories... An experience of a lifetime. Thanks Jamie, and all the others that also made this happen.
Do check out Jonny's in air videos.

And of course the official blog.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Flying toward Alabama

On a day that ended up being cancelled, I went with Zac, Dustin & Carl toward Alabama from the Jimmy Carter Southerfield airport.
The lift was abundant and well behaved.
The climb was fast to 8000'

Zac was enjoying the air.
The soil is a reddish color there, nice contrast against the trees.I returned back to the airport passing over Americas, no problem, setup and ready for the next day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rallying north.

We have had awesome weather so far this year. Yesterday on Day3 we glided into Americas, the farthest we've ever made it. We launched from Moutrie, in full on race conditions.The start was pretty spread out, I started way west, for the north exit, it didn't work to badly.
Jonny is trouncing this competition so far winning every day.
I did not set up or break down this day :) but flew 111km
Pretty neat tying up next to planes and walking into the air conditioned pilots lounge. Quite civilized :)