Archive for category Hang Gliding
Been trying to take the spectrum out for a spin, but work got in the way for too long. Took both the falcon and spectrum to Ed Levin last Sat, but I got soaked in the rain instead. Today was a sunny and warm morning, so again took both to EL. Setting up the spectrum took a bit as the steps are different from falcon. Made 3 flights from the 50ft hill in very cross and light wind. First two launches were not very good as I probably held the nose a bit down and did not look at the horizon. Third one was better. It does take a bit more time to lift me up than the falcon. It flew pretty well and fast, and landing was not hard at all. One run-out landing and two almost flares.
Janica flew her falcon 5 times from 150ft hill. Must praise her zeal, she walked up to the launch and still had energy left afterwards.
Dave Jacob then took us (Janica, me, Priti, Pedro, Jesse) to the 300. I took the falcon as I needed to rust off my skills. Launched first in a nice 7-8mph wind, had a minute long sledder and nailed the spot. Was pretty happy. Pedro and Janica followed soon. Jesse took a while to set up his new Sport 2 155 which he flew pretty well.
I think I like the spectrum and am ready to take it to the 1750ft launch next time I visit EL. I didn’t like the folding basetube, so went to the mission soaring shop for an alternative. Got approval to use my falcon basetube with pneumatic wheels on the spectrum as the length matched.
Great Saturday to be out flying. Too bad I need to work tomorrow else I could go fly.
Bought Eric Froehlich’s WW Spectrum 165 glider today. This was Eric’s first glider he bought in 1998. Karl did a lot of adjustments to get it in top shape. Brian added some accessories. I was hoping to fly off Ed Levin top to test fly, but Karl flew first and I did not have time to go go back up. Had a great time at the 1750′ launch where temps were milder than 96 in the LZ below.
Couple of photos: Karl setting up the glider, then launching. Brian launching.
Our falcons are a foot wide in the middle. The first rack I built with ordinary L brackets for support was a little less wide and not very sturdy. Also a friend recently stored his glider with me for a while, so I figured it would be good to make a strong one for 3 gliders. Decided to have the middle support on a 2×4 post and the end supports bolted onto the existing cabinets. Put almost 8″ wide plywood on top of the supports. Turned out a decent rack.
Here is the post with pictures of the first rack: http://hgflier.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/gliders-are-home/
Photos on G+: Indian Valley – May 2013
Jesse, Walter and I set out for Indian Valley after work Friday. Walter’s GMC sierra was a super cozy ride. We started around 9pm, dined at a thai place in near UC Davis and reached Dave Clement’s place around 2:30am. The moonlit valley and the silence all around was an instant escape from the busy life just a few hours ago.
A relaxed weekend started in the morning. More pilots showed up one by one. The valley view was incredible, and it was pretty warm so everyone was happy about the conditions that were building up. We three headed to see the LZs and Walter showed us tweetens and a few others including the woodpile LZ. Breakfast at Anna’s cafe was mouth watering. The small town restaurants never fail to deliver quality food, and they are 10x better than fast food chains.
Back to Dave’s and everyone loaded up flying gears and headed to the Burn launch, a 40 minute drive. Wind was pretty strong around 2pm, mostly staying in the 15-20mph range and everyone started setting up. I heeded Pat’s advice and didn’t touch my falcon as it may not penetrate the winds over 15 to make it to tweetens. Turned out I was the only HG pilot that didn’t fly Saturday. Another bi-wingual pilot brought his PG that day so he didn’t fly in that condition either.
When everyone (a dozen pilots, no single surface glider) went up like helicopters at launch I was a bit upset but knew I made the right judgement call. Gotta sacrifice to stay in the sport for a long time. On the way to woodpile LZ with the PG pilot (sorry I forgot your name buddy) we saw a huge brown bear walking down the road, barely 100 ft away. I rushed for the camera but as the car stopped it looked back and was gone in a second.
Sunday started with clouds in the morning and it looked like they are getting bigger to form thunderstorms. It was also cooler the day before so the general sentiment was no-fly day. Except Rob said it could get better in the evening for a great glass off. And boy was he right.
The launch had 12 mph perfect wind around 5pm and I flew around 5:30. Had my best flight just boating around right front and gained max 1000′ over launch. Tried flying over the spine to the east a few times but came back not finding lift. There was an oh-shit moment when I felt I was not moving forward fast enough while sinking at 200fpm. Kind of like those nightmares where you just can’t run fast. Finally after an hour I felt tired and sun was casting shadow below so I headed to tweetens in very light sink. Over tweetens I could see the big barn close to woodpile LZ and tried gliding a little bit towards it with caution. Probably could make it because I was around 5700′ MSL but was wary of more sink over the trees, so decided on tweetens. DBF and S-curve approach was ok but still managed to mess up a flare landing. Was ecstatic when I checked my time and it was 1h23m, previous longest was ONLY 17m !!!
I had a few mistakes which I will correct next time:
- Never zipped up harness before in flight. Fumbled to zip up this time and still zipped up only half. Also forgot to unzip until on final, but managed to get legs out because it was only half zipped. Didn’t panic because I could belly land without harm.
- Should have taken a camelback. Throat was dry as hell.
- Installed the camera on the left wing when the sun was on right so most of the video footage has a lot of flair and washed out areas. Damn!
Also, I need to use more features of the flytec 6015 vario, like dialing in the waypoint for the LZs so I can always monitor the glide ratio and whether I can make it to the LZ or not.
Can’t wait to go back, but I think I will get 30-40 hours at mcclure/dunlap and get a double surface glider for a comfortable time. This trip was a major milestone in my flying career, getting the first 1h+ flight. I am very thankful to Jesse to convince me going to Indian Valley and Walter for all his mentoring. Also many thanks to Dave Clement for offering to camp at his fantastic place in the valley.
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.
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.