My first flight on a double surface glider. Liked it. Handles pretty much like my Falcon1 195, except a bit more glide ratio.
Took the glider to work on Friday 12th and drove down to McClure at the mobile home park where Carmela was staying. Slept in the car. Carmela fed me a hearty breakfast of pancakes and bacon (Thanks Carm!). Right after the site intro from her we went to the launch and I was the first one that morning to fly. I was instructed to fly pretty much straight to the LZ. Felt some great thermals right after launch, but I followed instruction. Did some zigzags and then overestimated by glide to the spot landing area and overshot it a little bit. It was a scenic 3.5 min sledder anyways. I was told I needed a little bit more practice at Ed Levin, so I took off that afternoon and returned home.
The wind at the top was not exactly ideal, but found a favorable window to launch and ended up with a 6 minute sledder. Alejandro and another pilot stayed close to the ridge to enjoy 15-20 minutes of airtime. Jealous.
In the hanggliding.org forum, a 16-yr old guy once asked for support in his dream of learning to hang glide. Of all the replies, there was one that took my breath away. I could not help but save it for eternity to remind me why I hang glide.
Since you are 16 and a minor there are a ton of things I can’t recommend that you do to quench your thirst for adventure and excitement. For example I would never recommend that you pack up a 1974 VW Super Beatle with a Mountain Bike and climbing shoes and set out on the road on your own. I would not recommend that you sleep outside or then attempt to ride your bike across the country once your car broke down in say Colorado or something just to get to a climbing site or flying site. I would not recommend sleeping on stranger’s couches or cleaning truck stop urinals or working at a Pizza Hut as a cook simply so you could eat and climb and ride or in your case fly. I would not recommend that you spend the formative young adult years chasing down any dream doing whatever it takes to accomplish those dreams. Whatever you do, don’t do that.
Here is what I would do.
Do everything your parents and friends tell you to do and expect you to do. Don’t deviate from the formula one bit. Find a girl when you are very young and start a family that you can’t afford. I also highly recommend you get credit cards and then strangle yourself in debt. Go to a really expensive school and study something that will make you money, but not really happy, and then get in with a huge corporation or maybe a government job where you can watch your life tick away in a traffic jam every morning while listening to AM radio. I also recommend that you marry someone who doesn’t support the goals in your life and wants to use you as her own piggy bank to fund her endless online purchases or parade of crap at Wal-Mart.
Lastly, I recommend that when you are 38 that you look up from the life you’ve created. Look up high in the sky and you will see someone up there, maybe just a glimpse or a flash of red. I recommend you look at it a long time and pull over to the side of the road ignoring the sounds of the horns and screeching tires around you just so you can see what you think you saw; a man on a hang glider. I recommend you get out of your car in your suit and tie and keep looking up, because at that moment you will realize that what you had been doing up to that point was wrong and that you’ve been off track your whole life. I recommend that you get back in your car and cry in frustration that you didn’t have the guts to reach out and do the things we as humans are meant to do; have a spiritual and physical connection to the world and nature all around us.
This is what hang gliding has become for me. People say its an addiction. No, man it’s no addiction, its a religious touch the face of God kind of experience that will bring grown men to cry in traffic at its beauty and simplicity.
So have at it young blood. Dream away. Make your choices. Follow that passion and do whatever it takes to get where you want to be while finding the right balance in life to make it all happen. If its RC planes then do it. If its flying a Cessna 150 then do that. If its going some place when you are old enough to learn to fly a hang glider than do that. Just whatever you do, don’t let the things you dream still be a dream because you let obstacles and expectations get in the way of following those dreams.
Recently I heard about soarcast.com from Harold. Wanted to find out how good it is. And boy, did it deliver. It showed green for Hollister for last Sunday and I scored my best flying day so far.
Could not be happier with a total of 1 hour 32 minutes of airtime over a bunch of tow flights. The last one was my second best – soared to 2300′ AGL for a 15 min flight. Tom and Ziyad had great flights as well. I am still envious of their 25-30 min flights when I somehow missed out on a good thermal. But then out of desperation, suddenly I figured out how the bar push-out works. I have so far hesitated to push the bar out with force, even in a thermal, thinking about wasting altitude with a stall. Then I just tried it out and it worked. I was nearly shocked to see the vario singing continuously with a positive fpm number. I laughed maniacally going up from 1300′ AGL to 2300′ AGL. That feeling is just beyond the world.
The day could not be better and more scenic. Cumulus clouds all day. Time on the ground got spent analyzing them and predicting location of thermals. The popcorn clouds have so far been a photographic subject to me, but I guess from now on I will see them in a different light altogether.
With 8 hours and 40 minutes of airtime down under, my H3 is not too far away. Can’t wait to start flying Fort Funston!
I was looking forward to this weekend all of last week. It is the Big Sur hang gliding weekend. My first time out of town flying and that too over the Pacific. But thanks to coastal weather not looking ideal for Saturday, the trip reduced to Sunday only. Determined to not lose the opportunity to car-camp, I went to Hollister for several tow flights, geared up with sleeping bag, stove and instant noodles. And what a Saturday it turned out to be.
I had some great tow flights at Hollister. Despite no luck with thermals, my flare landings improved by leaps and bounds. I also flew a lot more relaxed, maybe that explains my textbook landings. I scored nearly 45 minutes in air, totaling just north of 7 hours of airtime till date. Hang 3 is now just 3 hours away.
I took off before sundown for Big Sur. Destination Plasket creek campground before the town of Gorda. As always I dreaded the CA-1 traffic but to my disbelief I basically had the road to myself. Driving on an empty mountain road in a moonlit night by the pacific has its own charm. Stopped a few times, turned off the lights, and took in the view. No wind and no usual shivering in cold was another big plus.
The campground was full but car camping has great advantages. The camp host let me park for the night at an adjacent parking lot for a $5 fee. And then I found the parking lot was next to the sand dollar landing zone!!! I turned off the lights, and suddenly the place felt magical, almost surreal. A big meadow next to the ocean was flooded in soft moonlight. Above me was a star studded sky with a few jets here and there. Dead silence, not another human in sight. I took in every single moment of this bliss. I could appreciate the rarity of all the elements coming together to offer me this kind of solitude.
I fired up the stove to cook some Maggi. The hot noodles was delicious after such a tiring day. And while I write this blog sitting on folded second row seats on a Honda Pilot, I figure this is the best hotel room ever. Sleeping in an SUV like this is not only cheap, it takes less space, involves no hassle of a tent, and is warm enough. I would be doing this more often. I miss not having Priti on this trip, but she is out enjoying a great ski weekend, so its alright.
Gotta see what tomorrow brings. Goodnight.
Sunday, 20 Jan 2013:
Woke up around 6:30. Loved the view as I opened my eyes. Took a short hike to watch the ocean. The weather was just too good. This could be an epic flying day. We set up the streamers at the main LZ, in front of Pacific Valley ranger station. One by one the other pilots showed up. Loren, Tom, Jesse, EricR, EricF, Alejandro and Vicky were all charged up for what seemed to be an great flying day. We loaded up our gliders on the trucks of EricF and Harold and headed for “The Knob”. What a treacherous road! I would not dream of driving on such broken dirt road! Half an hour later we were at the launch point but oh boy, 25 mph wind from mountain to the sea. Huge bummer. We went back to the LZ and noticed the wind was just perfect. Immediately we headed for the Wild Cattle launch via Nacimiento-Fergusson road (paved) and Plasket ridge road (dirt). 45 impatient minutes and we were there. It was a real disappointment to see the wind in opposite direction once again. The view was breathtaking and that alone was worth the long ride up. Gorgeous view of the pacific in bright sun. Perfect place for hanging out with fellow pilots. We waited and waited. Around 4pm the wind showed some signs of turning back but it didn’t really become favorable for launch. By 4pm we called it a day and started back to LZ. Despite all this, I am looking forward to coming back another day, hopefully soon.
A TON of thanks to Harold Johnson and Eric Froehlich for driving us around to the launch sites and teaching us a bunch of technical matters.
The new year started pretty well for me. I thought I rusted a lot from months of no flying, but my day at Hollister turned out pretty nice. Got nearly an hour of airtime from 9 tow flights, and learnt to utilize light updrafts. I have 6:20 hrs airtime till date. Can’t wait to come back next weekend.