Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dunlap Road Trip

Mike Z, Mike B, Everyday Dave, all Crestline Soaring Society regulars, and I just got back from a fun trip to Dunlap.

Friday, I drove while the others got in a late afternoon flight to get familiar with the new launch and landing. A storm system was rolling in, leading to some striking clouds in the background of a lot of my pictures. After packing up, we swung by a grocery store and got supplies for Mike B. to cook us a great dinner at my father's vacant house.

Saturday, we had a driver and two of his assistants (young sons), but we got rained out. There was hail at the launch, lightning later in the valley behind, and a fair bit of water on and in our bags. We had to console ourselves with excellent Brazilian BBQ that night.

Sunday helped make up for Saturday. Mike B. drove while three of us got extended sledders, with Dave making a nice jaunt across the valley. There was a PG XC competition on, so I used "I was dodging them" as my reason for sinking out. Right as we finished packing up, the local pilots started showing up and even brought enough drivers for one of them to bring my van down, so we all finished off the day with hour-and-a-half flights in cold but surprisingly lifty afternoon air. We all got about a thousand feet over launch to enjoy some spectacular vistas of the Sierra Nevadas and the foothills.

Aside from learning a new site, we learned quite a few things:

- Mike B's a helluva cook
- Mike Z's a great conversationalist and has quite the supply of intriguing math questions.
- David A's got quite a music collection on that fancy new Itouch of his
- I am adept at blaming certain things on the hundreds of cows we drove by in the Central Valley.

Below are some pics. We all want to go back up in April, when all of the wild flowers and the valley's "Blossom Trail" will be in full bloom. Let's go for more than one carload that time. The local flyers up there are quite friendly and hospitable. Dunlap's got a smooth ridge, lots of XC potential, a good LZ, a decent campground at the LZ, and great views. It's a nice bit of variety.

I launch

Mike B. soars

Dave in the clouds

Mike Z

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fun Day, 3 hours and 13 minutes in the air

My fun Brother in Law Bill and my sweet Sister in Law Maria drove for me today at the hang gliding club's fall fly-in. Bill and Maria watched us launch, took a hike along the ridge, then drove my van and a friend's truck down the hill (this is very important work!).

I have the world's greatest in-laws. There is not a bad apple in the lot.

I stayed up longer than usual, this time for a personal record: 3:13. I was really tired by the time I landed. I met an online friend (IRL), which was fun. It's always fun to put a face to a name and see the person behind the words you have read for a while.

Fun day.

Here's a pic of us getting ready to launch... my glider is closest to the camera.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Best week of the year at Andy Jackson

This will be last yodel for a while about the flying at Crestline/Andy Jackson. I am done for the week and won't be in town next week.

There's another flyin on the 15th. Hope to see lots of you there.

This week was the kind of week I learned to fly for. I rode out a gust front, as I held forth about ad naseum a few days ago. Twice, I breached 10k. I practically ordered snacks and a soda from a passing Southwest flight. My wife flew a tandem with McKenzie. I completed the hang 3 requirements.

Consistent flying at least once, sometimes twice a week has finally led me to confidence in finding thermals. Yesterday, I caught a thermal for 4,500 feet, lost it, found it again, and took it another 1K.

Of course, the view from up there was fantastic, though my photography was hampered by a little pucker factor and the fear of dropping a camera 5,000 feet. The altitude allowed me to be over little mountain (top of pic) at 7,500 feet and back to the LZ at 5K. Not bad for a Falcon, IMHO. (pic pops)

Owning my own business allowed me flights on Tuesday, Wed, Thurs, and Saturday. Sure, I'm no designbydave (below), but that's pretty good for an old married coot who lives 68 miles from the LZ. One of the more experienced pilots at the hill, who flew to the Miller Brewery in Irwindale the other day, admirably referred to Dave as a "waterdog," meaning he's out all the time. (pic pops)

Flying with Dave, bluthermal, SG, Nibs, MysticWizard, et. al. is fun, but nothing compares to seeing my wife in the air on a tandem with Rob. Here's a pic of her banking a turn with yours truly in the background (below the left washout strut). (pic pops)

The only crappy flight of the week was Tuesday, when I took a 5 o'clock sled ride from Marshall, scratching and sniffing for a half hour. But, I was out that day at that time to take the Hang 3 test.

I only missed 3 questions. According to Rob, that's the best score they've ever seen on that test. PM me if you want my study notes. Heh. I can tell you which three I missed, too, some in-air aero stuff that Pagen doesn't cover super well. I have 38 solo flights, 4 tandems, and a barrel load of bunny hills. I've flown solo on 36 days and 42 days total, done all my landings and a right-hand approach. The only challenge left is actually getting and submitting the paperwork, then I will be able to fly everywhere but Yosemite and Torrey.

For those that are thinking about the sport, I can't recommend it highly enough. This time last year, I hadn't even contemplated flying. Now, it's the #2 highlight of my week (family time is first). For those who are looking for a good place to live to fly, might I recommend So Cal. You just can't beat the flying.