Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bike Ride

Recently Dustin and I cleared trees going up the mountain behind my house and started making a trail. Should be real nice after it gets worn down a bit.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Flight 2-12-2011 - Rising Fawn

Nice flying here at Lookout yesterday. Scott and I blazed down to Rising Fawn crossing high over Cloudland Canyon. The air was relatively smooth with nice fat thermals to carry us up. I think I averaged 500fpm on most. We topped out about 4,000+ and the visibility was unlimited. I love the days when I can see Big Frog and the Appalachians so clearly.

My new camera mount worked out well with my heavier Nikon camera. I was a bit nervous about hanging 3lbs 6 feet off the nose, but with the counter-balance it flew nicely. I even managed to keep the camera off the ground on landing :). I set the timer to shoot every 30 seconds and came up with a few shots that I liked.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

You still there?

Wow, almost forgot I had this blogger thing. For all of you who wake up every morning first thing to check to see if I have posted something new, I'm sorry. Hopefully your world is not too dark yet.

I have had a great time since Halloween. The holidays were nice and we even had 4 to 5 inches of snow falling on Christmas Day. 2011 has been kind so far and except for the cold, I couldn't ask for any more. I have been getting flights off the mountain lately but it seems it's just to keep the rust off. No good thermals and cold fingers take some of the fun out for me these days. I did get my new WW Covert harness and that has kept the flying excitment up a bit. I'll get some pics up soon.

I recently took all of my footage of landings and compiled them into a video that I posted on you-tube. Check it out below.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Art and Aviation

I thought I would put up a little post about some "art and aviation" that I have been doing lately. The first picture is of a quick sculpture I did out of ambrosia maple and purple heart. I was going for a feather.This next one is just something abstract that I came up with as I went. I had a general idea but nothing more. After it's completion, I decided it looks like a rocket blasting off. As I was chopping wood last winter I noticed a piece had a nice curve in it. Somehow I saw the middle section of a body so I started shaping with the chain saw. Then I used chisels to make finer cuts. My wife made fun of me saying most people would make a bear or something, but I carved out a butt.

Speaking of my lovely wife. I was recently reminded of a piece that I drew of her just weeks after we first met. I sat and sketched it in my van while I waited for her to get out of class one day. She is even more beautiful now.

And now for a little aviation. I have had some great flights lately but this one I actually had a camera along for the ride. It was a nice smooth evening right before sunset. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I made goal!!!

I had one of my favorite flights the other day. For years now I have wanted to fly from Lookout and land at my Papaw's house in Ooltewah. I think it's about 40 miles so the distance isn't that great but the course line proves to be quite difficult by either going around the Chattanooga airspace or daring to go straight over with enough altitude.

Once I got up and started over the back, the day looked like it was turning on to be great with clouds everywhere. I found another climb over the Chickamauga Battlefield and reached base again but then had a tough decision to make. There were no clouds along my planned route but there was a decent street going straight over the Chattanooga airport. To stay legal I would have to stay above 4,700 ft. MSL to miss the airspace restrictions. Also going this way there were little options to land if things didn't work out. After some consideration, I went for it; you only live once!

The cloud street turned out to be working pretty well as I crossed over staying between 4,800 and 6,500ft. It was surreal watching a couple of ASA jets coming in to land under me. After reaching the end of this street I glided out into the blue hoping I was staying in a good line. Upon reaching the mall I was getting low and nervous with very few options to land. I scoped out the big parking lots at Home Depot and Lowes from 1,000ft but knew this would test my skill. I considered heading over to the new Volkswagon Plant but it didn't look real inviting. Looking ahead I saw a small patch of grass in front of the US Express trucking place off of I-75. I figured obstacles there would be more predictable so pushed forward. As I studied the power lines and slope of the terrain I grew more and more nervous knowing that this would need to be performed perfectly. Finally, at 700 ft I stumbled into some light lift and started cranking it up. Wow, was I relieved!

I took this thermal back up to 5,500ft and headed out past the city limits and into the area that I grew up around. Cruising comfortably now I took time to just soak it all up. I flew over my high school. Then I noticed some of the hiking and biking trails that I spent hours on. I followed these and flew right over my old house and many memories flooded my mind. This part of the flight was simply awesome. Everywhere I looked I recognized something and it would remind me of some part of my childhood.

I saw the lake up ahead and knew I had my Papaw's house on glide easy. As I arrived overhead I still had 2,500 ft so I started big lazy circles watching the yard for movement. This brought back memories as well. When I was 16 I would rent a Cessna and fly around solo building time for my private license. This usually included going over there house and messing with the throttle to get them to come out. As soon as they came out in the yard and waved I would rock my wings and go on my way.

After circling for about 10 minutes with nobody coming out, I decided it was time to land. Housing development in Ooltewah has exploded so landing options weren't as great as I had thought. Still, I found a nice golf course just a half mile from Papaw's front yard and brought it in straight down one of the fairways for a soft landing. After getting over to his house and eating my Memaw's good cooking I took a quick shower and waited for Scott to show up with my truck. Thanks for picking me up man, definitely a huge favor. Scott is one COOOL dude!!!!

Anyway, I wish I had a camera with me on the trip. It was the best seat in the house on a nice scenic tour over the area I have spent most of the last 31 years. Chattanooga is a beautiful place, especially from the air.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wills Wing Demo Days

We had a great 4th of July weekend here at Lookout Mountain Flight Park. Steve and Mike from Wills Wing came out bringing their hot new wings for pilots to fly. These guys are terrific answering all the questions anyone had as well as helping pilots out with their current wings. I admire their quest to travel the country mixing with pilots and getting feedback on the wings they design, as well as just supporting the sport overall. It makes me proud to fly Wills Wing gliders and am sure that's why they are performing/flying so well.
The weather turned out to be great. Even though it was SE over the back, many pilots used the tugs to get pulled up. There were clouds and I reached base each day at around 6,000ft. Climbs were averaging 3-4hundred up.
Saturday night we had a catered dinner with a local band from Birmingham. They sounded great and went well with the out-of-control firework displays. Good stuff!

Come out and join us next year!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Road trip video

Here it is. I have finally put together a video of the trip. Check it out!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Camping/Flying/Road Trip

Scott and I left for a hang-gliding/camping road trip across the country last Wednesday. We soared over Mt. Nebo in Arkansas on Thursday, then drove non-stop to Denver where I got to over 10,000 ft launching off of Lookout Mtn. in Golden on Friday. Saturday we drove up to Dinosaur, CO and after finding launch and setting up camp, we spent the next two days camping and waiting on good weather. After a coin toss, Scott won the chance to fly first. He had an awesome flight and I drove down to pick him up(it takes an hour to get down to the LZ). After getting back to launch, it started rain/sleet/hailing and we had to wait it out in the car for 2 hours. Finally the weather cleared as we started a fire for dinner and the sky opened up for a great view of the stars with the milky way visible from horizon to horizon. Simply breathtaking. Monday the rain finally moved out and I launched around 1:30pm. Everything worked out great and I flew for over an hour above the most beautiful terrain I have ever seen. After landing we drove to Draper, Utah where we set up camp on the South Side at the Point of the Mountain.

After some advice from Jeff O'brien, I set my alarm for 4:30am and woke up to steady south winds and set up my glider. I launched in the smooth pre-dawn air and flew around watching the sun-rise over Salt Lake city. The wind picked up a little so the paragliders didn't show up and I had the ridge to myself most of the time. This place is an aerial playground. You can definitely let the monkey play a little. After packing up we left for California. We are planning on getting to the coast tomorrow and visiting Fort Funston for a hop. Then we are heading down to Big Sur in hopes that the fog doesn't come in. Finally, we are scheduled to fly Yosemite this weekend. Obviously I am very excited about that one. So I have left a lot of the great details out including near golfball sized hail that hit us in Golden, CO after my flight, the tornado that developed 3/4 mile behind launch at Dinosaur (I have video I can upload later), and the batten that I broke on my wing. (Thank you Wills Wing for overnighting me a new one!!) I hope to share some of these things on other posts. Scott and I are using our cameras and I hope to put together a video of the trip on the way home so stay tuned. In the mean time, here is a small sample of the adventure. Check out the short clip below.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thank you

My Papaw (that's my grandfather to all you non-southerners) introduced me to aviation by teaching me to fly rc planes many years ago. Flying has been a part of his life for something like 70 years starting with model planes, moving on to owning a Cessna 172, and then spending 20+ years flying the Pawnee tug and sailplanes. Currently he has more rc aircraft than he has room for and flies them regularly.

While growing up, I spent many weekends out at the gliderport while he towed. These are fond memories of fishing in the pond, helping move gliders around, flying my rc plane, and occationally climbing up to cloudbase in a sailplane with him getting a few pointers on how to stay in the thermal. That is when my eyes starting studying the sky and is why I continue to chase clouds today. Thank you Papaw for this wonderful passion!

Recently he gave me a new Funtana 125 rc plane to build and fly. I slapped a Saito 150 on the front which gave it unlimited vertical performance. I only have about 10 or 15 flights on it but I am loving it. I decided to put the GoPro camera on it and built a nice mount to fit over the tail looking forward getting almost the entire plane in view. But, that was going to need a huge amount of weight on the nose for balance so I decided to mount it on the canopy instead. It turned out OK. While doing spins the oil from the exhaust came up and around the wing which caused the camera lense to get fuzzy. Still, I think it's fun to watch. Check out the video below!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Well, the Rally has ended. Due to the lack of internet service I was unable to keep up with the daily reports. All in all, it was a relaxing comp. The weather was uncooperative with light lift and too much wind on most of the days. I think we had 4 flyable days out of 7. Still, I had a great time and enjoyed seeing everyone.
I think my favorite and best day was day 5. It was about a 75 mile task to the north to land at an airport. Inside the start circle I joined a gaggle of maybe 25-30 gliders and made it to the top for a good position to start. I continued to stay with this group for a while until they eventually pulled ahead one glide or so. A half hour later I noticed them up ahead circling but not gaining too quickly so I went to the east to look for lift over a small town. This turned out to be a great decision as I climbed fast and was able to catch up with the lead gaggle arriving 500ft over them.

This bird (osprey?) snagged a fish right out of the pond at Quest and took it up into the tree to have its lunch. That's the fish under it's left foot.

This was the day for big gaggle flying. Every time we stopped to turn, it was crowded and my neck became stiff for all the straining to see where they were. Towards the end of the flight I was on glide and about 12km from goal with only two gliders in front of me. With the airport in sight we just needed one more thermal. Everyone stopped to turn in a light one but I got impatient. I thought that there had to be a better one so I went off to find it. Soon I found myself landing at an intersection in a neighborhood just before a stop-sign and I watched the other patient pilots fly right over me and into goal. I had landed a couple miles short. Even though I didn't make it, this was an incredibly fun flight that I won't forget.

So, I made it back home and back to family, work, and play. I've been busy working all last week but it's good cause the weather hasn't been that great for flying. We went and picked out a new bat for Isaiah and have been working on his hitting. So far his team is undefeated. GO SUNDEVILS!!!! Life is good.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 3 task cancelled

The winds were only slightly lighter than the day before and no cummies were developing. Lucas and I decided to go early so we went to the launch line 2nd and 3rd in position. Once in the air I soon realized that this was going to be a tough day. There was a low inversion at about 2,500ft that we could not get through. The lift was sharp and small, being blown almost straight back to the way we needed to go. I flew for about 45minutes just trying to inch my way out of the start circle.

After a while I noticed that half of the gliders on the ground had stopped towing and others in the air were going in to land. I wondered if they were calling the day so decided to go back to the field. My landing was fine in the turbulence but I watched some interesting landings happen after. Finally the task was cancelled at 1:59pm. So a debate decided that most/half of the pilots wanted to stay here at Quest instead of driving north into Georgia. I wanted to go to GA since I am hoping we will be able to fly to Tennessee this week. Thursday should be blowing SE so maybe that will be possible.

I shoved my glider under a tree and set camp back up. Afterwards I mostly sat around the pond and the rope swing. Later I cruised around with my camera and found Ollie playing with his new bow and I gave it a shot. Turns out I am kind of a natural.

I love this place and have had a good time even though we aren't flying enough. But, I hope we can get to a new place today. After all this is a Rally isn't it?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 2 cancelled

Yesterday was quite windy out of the west and was very turbulent. OB and Davis launched while the clouds formed overhead. Since I was near the back of the staging line again, I suited up and walked to the front of the line. Getting on the cart a few pilots came over to inform me that the safety committee was thinking of cancelling the day. I decided to wait a minute. After about five minutes the decision was made - it was too rough.
So it turned out to be a relaxing day out by the pond in the tree stand. Authentic Mexican food for lunch made for a great change from the daily peanut butter and banana sandwich. Looks like today will be much lighter winds so a task of 87km is called. After that we will head to Moultrie, GA for tommorrow.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 1 - 67km

Day 1 started out with low clouds and high winds. As the day progressed, the base rose to maybe 4,000 but started out around 2,000. The task was straight downwind to an airport just northwest of lake Okeechobee. I launched late in the launch line but found a decent climb off of tow. I found cloudbase at 3,100 and started on my way.

The thermals I found near the swamp/lake kept drifting over and I had to leave early every time since I was not comfortable in the spotty lift. This eventually put me down just past a small town. I made it about halfway to goal.

Sure was fun getting back into the air again here in Florida. After Dale picked me and Lucas up, we drove up to Quest to sit through the storms that were approaching. Pizza and downloads were followed by a game of poker. Believe it or not, I won the the game at around 1:30am. After that I went to my tent to find that the rain had made a lake inside. So I put my sleeping bag in the hangar and tried to sleep there until the mosquitos ran me out. Then I went to Lucas's car and laid the seat back. Needless to say I have not slept well. Now the weather has cleared and they say we are going to fly today.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Flytec Race and Rally 2010

Florida or bust!

Lucas, Dale and I left for the Flytec Rally Race on Friday. We decided to take Lucas's little Honda Fit and after a few hours of building we had created a nice strong rack. This took longer than expected though and we left 4 hours later than we had hoped. Anyway, we made it to Ocala, FL and got a hotel. The next morning we finished the drive in about 4.5 hours. Now here we are at the beautiful Florida Ridge ready to do some hang gliding.It is a big turn out this year with maybe 50 competing pilots. Wills Wing has shown up in force as I look around and see many pilots setting up their new T2C's - what a beautiful glider.

Today looks a bit windy and base maybe not so high so we'll see if they call a task. I think we will try and go to Quest so that we can get behind this fast moving front. This is gonna be a fun week!