Monday, February 16, 2009

Torrey at Long Last

Torrey Pines is a well known and scenic flying site, catering heavily to the paragliders that fit the "normal" winds there better than hang gliders do. But, occasionally, it's "on" for the "bones" as well, and fun times can be had by all.

Sadly, Earth's climate is not the only obstacle to a hang 3's enjoyment of the site. There has been a human cold front parked over the site for quite a while now, from which all levels of paraglider pilots are insulated but we HG pilots are not.

To fly Torrey, you must have an Advanced Hang Gliding rating, while a Novice Paragliding rating suffices. As a well-experienced intermediate HG pilot, you can take a $195 lesson and fly that day. That is what I did... it's well worth it the first time, it just sucks that I'll probably have to do that every time I fly there until I am "hang 4" (then I'll pay $7/day).

So, enough with the politics, on with the day.

My instructor, Steve "Stack" Stackable was the old pro from Dover and gave me the rundown on landing and launching. His advice on launching, "sneak up on it" (among other things) was probably the best launching advice I've ever gotten. He watched me land a couple of times, giving pointers on radio, and cut me loose, keeping an eye on me the rest of the day.

It was a perfect day for learning the site. Baby Bear was at the Zoo and Papa Bear was at the bar. Mama Bear and I had a great time enjoying the "just right" conditions. Hmm... I think I just made myself Goldilocks.

I went far up and down the range once, the rest of the time being careful not to stray too far my first time at the site. A few hundred over was easy to get to and landings were not too turbulent. I self launched 9 times, the most satisfying aspect of the day. I learned a bit about flying a ridge... boy is there cause to keep your eyes peeled.

Most importantly, I knocked out ten more flights toward my hang 4 rating. 22 to go.

It was fun to see Joe Spinney in action and fly another new site with Dave D-by-D Aldrich. Old pros Heiney and Beardslee, and Beardslee's fellow 'fugee (and new RD) Bob K. were all out. The staff were very nice, as well.

Didn't talk to one PG pilot though... I kinda felt like a looper during "Caddy Day" at the Bushwood Country Club pool.

It was a very fun day as the video below will hopefully show. The music in my video is what was in my head while I was flying.

Torrey at Long Last from knumbknuts on Vimeo.