Tuesday, June 10, 2008

All you can eat at Morningside

My trip to Morningside ended up solidly in the "Win" column, a big relief after much travel and a "Loss" at Funston three weeks ago.

After being rained out the first of two days, I got 22 flights in on the second. I got to practice dead, cross, and strong wind ramp launches. Ramp launching in a tree gap is noticeably different than launching from a nice, rounded hilltop. The varying conditions allowed me to practice a number of different approaches and landings. Along with my best crosswind launch in my short flying career, I also affected my best crosswind landing, keeping the glider crabbed into the wind and running it out at about a 30 degree angle.

More importantly, I got to spend a lot of time with my Brother, Brad, allowing us to catch up on quite a bit. After flying, I finally saw his nice house in Storrs, where I had not visited in 7 years. All that house cuts into his flying budget, so we brainstormed how to get a university professor rigged for hang gliding on the cheap. If anyone has a Falcon 225 and/or a harness for a 6'1" 220 pounder, let me know.

Morningside Flight Park was a real sleeper hit for me. I was very impressed by the facilities:
- A nice, carpeted hanger to reassemble my shortpacked glider
- Lots of spare parts and equipment (see previous post for why that helped)
- Helpful, friendly staff
- Gatorade for sale! Man, was I thirsty in the 90 degree 90% humidity weather
- ATVs to get you to launch in a couple of minutes
- A slope that is perfect for working your way up in training and is also perfect for flying down in ground effect on final
- Aero tow operations & lessons (which I will do next time)
- Lots of enthusiastic students

Variety is the spice of life. After averaging an hour per flight in California, but only flying once or twice a day, it was a blast to get in almost 2 dozen "Mountain" flights in one day. I know you can get that many at a beach site or at Point of the Mountain or winch towing, all of which I look forward to doing. But, for this trip, getting that many flights in felt like cheating.

Well, it felt like cheating until the next day, when I tried to get outta bed. No matter how easy the ATVs and facilities make it, 22 times of putting the glider on the cart, carrying down the crest of the hill, launching, landing, and taking it back to the cart... adds up.

By about 3 o'clock, the winds had picked up to the point where you needed two wire crew to launch and I was too tired to do so safely. I ended on a 7 minute flight that got me above launch.

The wing went back to Storrs on a ladder and I spent a scant 1:20 the next morning short packing it and the rest of the day playing with my nephews in the pool.

Even Delta was nice to me, only charging me $25 for the wing, making that cost $200 for the round trip... fair enough. And no tubbies crowded my "airspace" on the way back.

Work bit with a vengeance, though, and I stopped by a client's on the way home from LAX and recovered a failed RAID array until two in the morning.

When do I get to fly again? How can I make it back to Morningside this summer?

Open the link and click on Watch in High Quality for the video.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Planes, cables, and automobiles

Needless to say, on a supposedly full flight, I get stuck next to a 350 pound man. Delta's response was something to the effect of "sucks to be you." Ugh. So, for 6 hours, I tried to doze while shifted to the left out into the aisle... getting bumped by the flight attendants and passengers every time. Worst... flight... ever.

Fortunately, it was a straight shot and 6 hours later, I was on the ground in CT with my bro and it's great to be hanging out with him. He's a fun guy and a good big brother to have. I wish he lived closer.

Here's a tip for the shortpack of a Falcon. DO NOT LET ANYONE DISTRACT YOU WHILE DOING IT. The one time I was hurried while dissembling it was when I was putting the battens in a few days after having done most of the packing. My wife was anxious to leave for the gym... and I ended up dropping the kingpost luff line dongle, a 6 inch cable that hangs out of the kingpost to hook the luff lines to. The way the dongle works, it can twist and slip out of the kingpost if there are no other cables in the kingpost to help hold it in. It was in the grass of my backyard as I was in New Hampshire. Profanity ensued this discovery... next time I'm putting it in a ziploc. Fortunately, the helpful guys at Morningside crafted a spare from old parts (shortened one from a previous WW Glider) for me. The cost was some beer. Great guys.

I spent about 4-5 hours reassembling the wing in their great hangar, protected from the rain and the South winds which kept me, along with being too tired, from flying.

After going back to the nearby hotel, which is cheap and clean, showering and taking a cat nap, I walked with my brother to the top of the 450' launch. Morningside is such a nice place... what a great setup.

Today, we fly.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Off to Morningside

My policy of not liking to travel, especially by air, is well founded, though it's going fairly well so far.

Delta cut me a minor break... only charging me oversize ($150) and extra bag ($25) and not overweight (would have been $85) for my glider.

Man, I wish Morningside rented wings... I'da soooo much rather rented, especially since weather there is so fickle. But, the ticket wasn't bad and the trip will be worth it...

Now I am sitting in LAX at the bar... wondering if I am going to pull a Radwhacker. I drove up early to beat the traffic. Dockweiler looked quiet, though a Condor was unfolded, nobody was flying. So, I am drinking a Sam Adams, waiting for the Celtics game to start, watching the birds go by... could be a lot worse.

Security didn't open my glider bag... they just wiped the latches with some kinda of chemical wipe... phew.

Gonna be a long night.