Monday, October 27, 2008

Good News at Lake Elsinore... a Good LZ Reopens

This good news popped up on the Crestline site today.

To give a little background, when you've got Santa Ana winds, you want to launch from the Edwards launch at Elsinore. Since the Oak Tree LZ got shut down (it's right below Edwards), pilots have been landing at a small LZ closer to the E launch than it is to Edwards.

Elsinore has high drill potential, especially in Santa Anas, so you need an LZ near Edwards. This Marina will do. I would still recommend flying a double surface wing there. I have barely made the Oak Tree LZ in my Falcon, I've gotten drilled so hard.

The E has a bailout that D by D and I have both kissed the ground on (literally in my case... took my helmet off and kissed it).

Here are some tracklogs of the weekend I got drilled at each launch. The first was from the E to the firehouse bailout, the second is from Edwards to the Oak tree. In each cap, I've marked the "new" marina LZ with a red LZ.

Pictures pop to larger ones

Assuming you make it there, this LZ will be miles better than the other one, replete with cold beer for sale.

Edit: I've been informed by old school E Teamers that the Marina is a fairly easy 5:1 from Edwards and 7:1 from the E. They used to land there all the time. Also, there are a lot of bailouts along the way. I still would recommend double surface wings if you have the choice. If you do fly a single surface, you have to be prepared to watch other guys launch and make sure the conditions are fairly bouyant and not too rowdy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A fun thing happened on the way back from Reno

Happiness is turning a business trip into a business and hang gliding trip. I went to Reno to install a couple of computers for a favorite client and managed to stop by Dunlap on the way back. I drove the 800 miles with a hang glider on my van and all my gear... except my harness. Doh.

Fortunately, Dan Fleming, the Dunlap LZ owner and local instructor and WW dealer, had a nice high energy pod. I'd never flown a pod before and it was a perfect fit. I loved how easy it was to get into but missed the support of the cocoon... my back was a little worn at the end of the flight. I guess I wasn't relaxing in it well. I forgot about it by the time it came to land but it didn't seem to make a difference. I did remember to unzip.

The flight was a nice one. It was pretty easy to get over launch and I got 2K over and tried to go down range and around the corner. I didn't want to get too far away from the LZ in a relatively unfamiliar wing and completely different harness... at an away site.

A fun thing happened on the way back from Reno. from knumbknuts on Vimeo.

I came back and had some more fun. Then, the sun came out, the winds shifted to cross range, and I sunk out. I should have stayed further away from the ridge, in hindsight, or worked a North facing face like last chance.

No worries, with a 4 hour drive home (having woken up 4 hours North in Roseville), I was ready to go home with a smile on my face from the 90 minute flight.

Here are some landings from the other pilots, too bad I missed Dan greasing it in. Again, follow the link for better quality... click on HD on.

Dunlap Landings - 10-18-08 from knumbknuts on Vimeo.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Idiot lift

Idiot lift is lift that is so easy to find, any idiot could do it. Today was a good day to get dialed in to my Sport 2. The winds were strong, flattening thermals, but giving a general buoyancy right up to cloudbase.

I launched Marshall around 3:20, last off, alone. I took it slowly and carefully and found that the sport 2 is easier to ground handle than the falcon 3. Coulda used that at blackhawk.

I only found two well defined thermals in the hour I flew, but finding lift wasn't a problem, it was everywhere. Wanting to get home at a reasonable hour, I burned it out front and circled down. It was a good opportunity to experiment with VG settings and I threw some direction changes into the circles to get a better feel for the wing.

A few regulars and some of the kids watched my solid approach and flare and responded with applause. I'll take it... it was nice to land on my feet with a good flare. In the end, traffic won... I might as well have stayed up... but I am far from complaining. It was a very good day.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Quick first impressions of my new (used) Sport 2

I've read a lot of "Sport 2 vs U2" articles, but not as many about the transition from the Falcon 3 to the Sport 2.

The two, as I should have expected, are almost different types of aircraft. While the fundamentals are the same (shift your weight, pull in, push out, etc.), the way each feels is remarkably different from the other. What kept going through my mind as I flew yesterday was: "This wing is slicker."

In most ways, that slicker was better. The Sport 2 cut through the air more easily and quickly than the Falcon. It was quieter, smoother, and faster. But, the slickness worked against me in one way: it was harder to stay in thermals. I felt like I was sliding out of thermals that I may have stayed in with the Falcon. I compensated for this by focusing on pushing out and going more slowly and that seemed to help, but the telltale wingtip bumps and feedback though the control frame were dampened.

Spaghetti Junction on a Sport 2

As far as the quality of the specific wing, the guy I bought it from took good care of it. It's seen a lot of sun, thanks to the East Coast flying style that has the wings unfolded longer than they are out here. But, the wing is quite clean the the sail in good shape. D by D pointed at some stitching on the wingtip and commented that the stitches will not be that clean again. Time to fight the West Coast dirt, which Wills Wing considers to be a greater threat to the longevity of their wings.

The weather yesterday was odd. It was light and mildly bouyant, ideal paraglider weather. I only got over 5k once but was able to cross the ridge quite a bit without losing any altitude. It was almost a perfect day to try out a new wing. While I'd have loved to get to 8 or 10 K, I'll take the gentle thermals and easy conditions.

My approach and landing were better than my first flight on a Sport 2. This time, I was relaxed on approach and only made the mistake of flaring too late, as I was a bit preoccupied by facing into the West winds. I was in a wind shadow and was expecting more slowing from the wind... that was blocked by the gazebo. I was a little low and flared right at the end of the window, my right knee sliding across the grass like I was sliding into second with an almost-stand-up double.

Fun times, I am glad I bought the wing and am looking forward to more time in the air.