And stumbled across it I did. There are a few warm down laps to run... then the century race of long term operations begins. But, for now, we are live.
A few days later, it's a blur. I remember a lot of drilling, chainsawing, cutting, bolting, begging, buying, weed whacking, digging, cementing, etc. Club silent stalwarts Rebar Dan DeWeese and Mike Zeller worked their butts off, Dan fabricating a great rack and Mike helping with it, as wells as taking a big chunk of out of the native California scrub brush anywhere near the Big O Loop (and, of course, mowing the LZ lawn or getting multi-hour flights the rest of the time). Ken Howells was a great help in the setup and testing of the wings, ever patient with a couple of completely boneheaded moves on my part.
Friday night, after Jonathan "NMERider" Dietch helped Ken test the double rack, after Mike and I cut Lower Embree (a no wind hang launch right below the graded portion), after a very long day, I booked a nice hotel room, took a relaxing swim, soaked my bones in the jacuzzi, had a fantastic dinner, a couple of Blue Moon ales, and passed out. I was so beat from the day I woke up in the middle of the night and had a hard time getting back to sleep, making me somewhat late for the LZ on Saturday, certainly not early enough to beat Mike Zeller as he sanded down the sharp edges of the rack.
The Ranger with 2 Wings
As Mike went to weed whack the LZ (try and stop that guy), I tweaked the front rack, adding a missing bolt and lowering it 6 inches (to help keep front and back wingtips from touching). Finally, I got to do a little test flying, paying for the Loop like any other customer, a scant 15 clams buying me 3 flights for a total of 2 hours of flying.
My first flight was an extended sledder of ten minutes, where I launched too soon after Ken and flushed him out of thermals. Lesson learned: one wing should be working the slope at a time, unless arranged in advance. Sorry again, Ken.
Flight number two bore easy and immediate fruit. A series of lazy 8s between the F'O' Hundred and Embree Launches got me up to the 750, where I was able to branch out a little and start chasing the thermals that were rolling through. Soon, I was over Marshall and heading to Crestline. I arrived a bit below launch, hit 6K at Billboard, jumped to Pine, got to 7,200', then tagged Sugarpine and went on glide without turning to the CVS Pharmacy in front of the University.
I landed, hit the port-a-potty (a clubhouse will be a welcome place to take a break), chugged a diet root beer, then went up for flight #3. It was not a failure, but I didn't reach my goal of "breaking out," which I define as being over the windsock at Marshall at some point. I "only" got 40 minutes and over Regionals, before I decided to bring it in for the third landing of the day... the first time I've gotten three landings in a day at Andy Jackson Airpark.
This week, we've got customers coming and more administrative procedures to work out. We need volunteers, we need to practice and train running it, we need to think about maintenance. But, that's all minor stuff.