Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fun day at Marshall thanks to Mark Z.

Mark Z. PMed me and offered to be my driver if I wanted to meet him and drive out to San Berdoo together (he lives about 25 minutes South of me). Mark has been flying since the gliders were 18x18... he has some very interesting stories about the old times. Anyway, he wanted to see a Sport 2 as that is what he wants to get on his return to flying, but none were out.

Because of him, I got two flights in on a very good day. Thanks, bud!

The first flight was about 35 minutes. There were thermals everywhere, but the air was trashy, so it seemed like I was either in 500 fps up or down, not much in between. Here's the map of it:

When I fly out a bit before landing, that's when I got fairly close to McKenzie and Dave Aldrich on their tandem. They were boating around pretty efficiently.

I've gotta work on my thermalling techniques.

Knowing I had a ride up, I didn't sweat landing, so I got in another sled ride.

The most interesting part of this flight was that I was at the same height and about 300 yards away from another H2 in a falcon when we were both 600 feet above the LZ. He launched about 2 minutes before me. I managed to fly efficiently enough to get him about 100-150 below me (that's when I'm fying that long horizontal line above the LZ, he did an out to in approach). So, I was making a turn into my downwind leg as he was, I thought, turning onto final.

Then he did a 360 right above the house above the LZ. ahh That changed everything, I was flying right at him at altitude (since I was flying fast on my typical approach). I boated up a bit and he came out of his 360... we passed left wing to left wing, with me about 75' to his left and 50' up. As soon as we passed, I turned toward base and started working on getting back on my glide path.

We landed about 5 seconds and 100' apart... the flight of the Falcons. I was very excited about the show we had put on for the large weekend crowd.

The best part: he never saw me!!!! ahh ROFL Rolling Eyes

I laughed and told him he may want to work on his situational awareness on approach. Andy Jackson is a busy joint. Then I gave him a beer. big grin Shame of it all is that he's moving to Missouri in a few months, so I am losing a fellow n00bie, but we are flying together on Wednesday. He's not as familiar with the site, having learned at Lookout.

Saturday was the semi-annual Crestline Soaring Society meeting. John, the regional director from Santa Barbara showed and presented Rob and Dianne with placques from the Foundation for Free Flight for, in essence, being the lynchpins that hold the place together. Owen Morse, a professional juggler ( and another pilot named Len got recognized for buying the ranch house above the LZ so that it would stay in friendly hands, allowing the club to expand its grass and training hills. As it cost over $500K, this is a hell of a leap of faith, that the club would adequately support the purchase! John also got to see the new, improved training hill in action, thanks to the tractor that the Foundation helped us buy. CSS is also on the hunt for a storage unit, the insulated type like at Wallaby, and needs to do some PR with San Bernardino to help fend off further development encroachments.

I brought a camp grill/stove and some brats and burgers and gave the "Scurvy Special" to anyone I recognized and/or had chatted with. No fruits or vegetables, just brats, burgers, Doritos and beer. I was happy to see the last of the food was eaten, so I didn't waste any.

The day, in terms of hang gliding, was perfect. The only fly in the ointment was getting back at 9:30 and finding that my web server had been down since I had left it Friday afternoon. Doh!!!! Turns out when I unplugged the data center monitor, the video card was a little loose and the server froze. Since I had just been on it, it didn't occur to me to test it from an independent machine. So, I took a 45 mile trip to downtown LA, tried to find parking near 1 Wilshire (*!$@! film crews had the place blocked off and packed punch ), and got my server all updated, tweaked and tested at midnight. My 350z had me back home 40 minutes and a few obscene gesture later.

Note the plates.

So what if my email (and that of a half dozen friends and clients) was down yesterday. I frikkin flew. mosh mosh

Friday, April 20, 2007


Damn, I thought I saved my post yesterday, here goes:

I was supposed to work, but the winds looked strong and the sky clear. Good decision to play hooky; Marshall was going off.

Even a caveman could soar it. Or a newbie H2 in a Falcon. As a matter of fact, my biggest concern was penetration. The lift was banded ridge lift, with funky eddies, both up and down, and a lot of turbulence. puke

I set a couple of firsts and bests. This was my first flight where I got over launch (I mean directly over). It was my first flight over an hour (1:19). I had my highest altitude (6000' msl, 4300' AGL), fastest sustained climb (3000' in 5 minutes), and highest spike on my vario (1600 fpm).


There were no "thermals" to speak of. There were pockets of great lift, but when I tried to circle in them, I'd get blown out of the back of them pretty quickly. Instead, I rode them the way that I would fly my RC gliders in strong lift, just trying to maintain pitch and roll to optimize lift.

By the time I got past 5500' on the wonderlift, I was worried about getting caught in a high band of wind that would push me behind the hill. I had the bar fully stuffed and was still climbing! Finally, I popped out of the front and circled around it back to more familiar turf. ahh Since there were only 2 of us in the air, this was my windiest day, and discretion is the better part of valor, I am content with my decision, especially since I got another 50 minutes after bailing out of that band. It must have been part of a cold front rolling in. After about an hour, the turbulence and a bad burger from McD's were tag teaming my stomach, so I decided to head out to smoother air again, this time to no wonderlift.

Not the best day to be in a Falcon, but I landed it pretty easily, before the winds got even stronger. The wind graph showed it at 35 mph sustained about the time I landed.

What a fun day! mosh thumbsup

PS: Here's the flight:

Monday, April 2, 2007

Two flights... first thermal... embarassing overshoot

Saturday, I got two flights in, one 25 minutes and the other 35.

The 25 minute one, I had to land to pack up for the second trip up the hill. I launched, got slightly over launch, then went to check another spot... I scratched a bit, but came on down, as the lift disappeared once I got low enough to get into the haze. The winds were switchy on landing, and I worried about sink on base, but I greased the landing right down the middle of the LZ.

The next flight, launching at about 3:15, was better, except for the landing. I was afraid, at first, that I was going to be a sled driver. But, I managed to hook a thermal at 2600 ft to get me up to 3800... and then another mini-thermal. This was the first time I definitely caught a thermal, with edges and all that (I found myself circling in and out of it, adjusting to stay in).

It was a lot of fun, except for one thing: I started to get airsick from the turbulence. I was a little dehydrated as my van was not in the parking lot while I repacked... and my cooler was in it. A nice guy from Albuquerque drove it down from my 1 o'clock launch, as I drove his friend and him up to get their car. They are old school hang pilots working on their paragliding. Anyway, I didn't want to chuck in my helmet, so I got out from the hill and went for the ground.

I've never flown in thermals before and it affected my landing. Normally, I come in a little high and make up for it by diving like a madman for the LZ. Well, that doesn't work when there's a thermal behind the LZ. I had the damn bar stuffed and shot right over the LZ and damn near missed the overshoot, too. The peeps in the LZ heard me whistle by over their laughter and the whir of their video cameras. I flopped down in the weeds and came out to the side to give the "I'm okay" high signs. Bah.

Tomorrow, I'm taking landing lessons. Dockweiler Beach doesn't prepare you for landing at Andy Jackson.

Thermals are fun, but I am surprised at how much they bounced me around. On my approach, I had a hard time spotting the landing aids. Tomorrow, if I get two flights in, I'll make the first a sledder so I can focus on landing.

All in all, even with the weed whacking at the end, I am very happy to have had such a good day flying.

Here are my Google Earth tracks (the first one has a wacky GPS error that shows as a spike to the Southwest).