Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Big O Loop begins!

I want to revolutionize hang gliding in Southern California. Helping Owen Morse and Len Szafaryn get the some income out of the Cross Country Ranch House property will do that. Owen and I are building a system to take hang gliders on carts to a new launch 400 feet above the LZ, without having to break them down. This will greatly improve training for all levels of pilots and general enjoyment for those who want to get more flying in when they go out to Andy Jackson Flight Park (AJX).

This new venture is called the Big O Loop in honor of Owen Morse, one of the property owners and captain of this ship, so to speak (I'm the XO, to extend the metaphor).

Dusty Rhodes prepares for the first flight from the F'O' Hundred Launch

Three other sites gave me the inspiration for this: Morningside, Torrey Pine, and Yosemite. I paid a lot of money to rack up flights at Morningside and Torrey so I could fly at Yosemite. It's easy to get airtime in Southern California, but it's hard to get the 250 flights you need to get your Advanced Rating, required for Yosemite.

So, In June of '08, I spent just under a grand and a weekend short packing my Falcon 3 to fly to Morningside to get as many flights in as possible. I got 22 in a day, but only one day out of three was flyable. A year later, I paid $195 for a "lesson" at Torrey and got 10 more flights in. I got my advanced rating in June and flew at Yosemite in July. It was a lot of work to get there, but it was worth it.

What, I wondered, if we had a cart system like Morningside out here? That would make it so much easier to build up skills! In October, I pitched an idea to Owen and it turns out he had already wondered about launching from his property and had a spot already picked out for a launch. I explained the cart system concept and asked him if we could build a system like that on the XC Ranch House property. Owen enthusiastically gave the thumbs up, checked with Len, and it began.

We have three main goals:
- Provide a system to allow for "all you can eat" flying in Southern California, improving enjoyment and safety of the sport.
- Reduce the principal on the loan for the Ranch House.
- Support hang gliding instructors by allowing them access to the system free of charge.

Gene dozes the trail - day one
from knumbknuts on Vimeo.

As it stands now, we're cutting the road and prepping the property. The website is up. Up next: buy and build a cart system to get as many wings to the top of the hill as easily as possible.

Hang gliding is fun. This will make it even funner.