Sled rides at scenic sites like Big Sur or Yosemite are the topping or the cherry, but days like last Friday are the cake... they are the reason I hang glide.
I love Septembers... the heat from summer is still pushing against the sky, but, occasionally, as the jet stream plays around, we get some pushback against the marine layer... allowing us to fly without an inversion layer. The muck and gunk gets pushed out to sea and before it comes back in, and just after the Santa Anas fade, we get high.
This is a year for getting dialed into my U2 and Rotor Vulto harness. I am not going to take significant risks, go XC, etc. I want to fly well, launching aggressively and landing with good technique, until it is second nature. I am reminding myself that guys like Owen have flown a decade longer than I or guys like David fly twice as often... and both are better natural pilots. I need to fly my own flights, take my own trajectory.
On 9/25/09, I got to stretch my legs and get a little confidence built in terms of going places, without taking much of a chance. I never got worse than 7:1 from LZ, yet I flew a 16 mile out and back one direction and a 18 mile out and back in the opposite direction. Flychart gave me credit for a 33 mile triangle. I hit 13,000 MSL and was, at one point, over 2 miles above the ground... as I watched cars crawl up I-215.
Turning slow circles 10K above the ground, with airliners on approach to Ontario well below me, almost endless views in each direction, and very cold hands on a hot summer day, I could only be thankful for such an amazing sport. I will say it again: I just don't understand why more people don't fly hang gliders.
Photo of my landing on 9/25/09 by Dave Aldrich