Sunday, May 31, 2009

The rain has stopped!

We have finally got some good weather for a change. Friday Lucas and I went for a leisurely stroll down to the point at Lookout. Nice smooth ridge lift and a couple decent climbs took us there and back. The NW winds also made the LZ quite switchy.

On Saturday we decided to go to Hensen Gap and try making it back to Lookout. The forcast was better than it turned out. People sank out for most of the day getting only small, light thermals and minimal ridge lift. But, late in the afternoon, someone flipped the switch and it was blowing in nicely. I launched and went up immediately. Ollie, James, Miller, and I headed south along the ridge. Lucas was soon in the air and catching up. The rigid boys made it to Inman's point and were awarded with a slow climb drifting over Sand Mtn. When Lucas and I got to Inman's, there was only blue sky and little ridge lift. We loitered for about 30-40 minutes at treetop level waiting for a ticket out. Finally, we decided to take our chances in the valley only to find nothing and landed. I picked this field because I could land uphill and into the wind, but didn't realize how high the grass was. I had a nice flare and settled down into waist or chest high grass. It was a real chore walking out to the gate.Here is Lucas getting down to the gate. The grass was actually shorter here than where we landed!

Ollie, Steve Lee, and Miller ended up at Lookout and James landed on top of Sand Mtn. Great flying guys!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Grateful Dad goes sailing

We were finally able to try out the sailboat the other day. It was supposed to blow 10-15 ENE but when we got to the lake it was pretty calm. This was nice because it allowed us time to paddle out a couple hundred yards, raise the sails, and try to figure out what we were doing. Small gusts would come by every now and then and would get us all excited and moving. After about an hour the wind started blowing more consistantly around 10 mph and we were having a blast.

It was nice to see all that hard work and time paying off on the water. I thought she handled quite nicely. I feel like I could handle the whole thing by myself next time so I should be able to take Isaiah . I know he will love it.( even though he said sailboats are slow and boring)

Check out the short vid of the maiden voyage.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rally Round-up

I haven't had internet connection for a few days so I couldn't update. Friday we had a 76 mile triangle task. Actually, it was more like two out and returns. We headed south into the wind for 22 miles, back north for 36 miles right over Quest, and finally south again 18 more with goal at the airport. It was a fun task with very nice climbs and clouds everywhere.

Saturday the task was a bit more difficult. An out and return of 91 miles I think. I had a good start, being able to fly with the big gaggle and figuring out their secrets. I learned how to make better decisions and where I have been wasting time. I was able to hold on to them most of the way to the turnpoint, but then got low and had to spend time just surviving. The western sea-breeze came in and made everything ugly. I ended up landing just short of the turnpoint in the middle of a horse racetrack.

So it turns out it was a good decision to head south to finish the comp. I guess it was raining at Lookout everyday, and we had two wonderful days of flying here. Florida is amazing.(for flying anyway). Jeff Obrien took third, Zippy second, and Glen Volk first.

This comp was definately an awesome adventure. It was cool staying in a different town almost every night, and seeing the southeast from high above in my little wing. I hope they try this again next year.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Back to Quest

The Rally made it to Americus, GA. and then was stopped by nasty weather to the north. We had a pilots meeting and held discussion on what to do. The majority wanted to go where the flying would be good so everyone headed back down south to Quest. I was on the fence about heading home to Lookout, or going back south. I miss my family very much, and I hate back-tracking. But Ashley (my wife) warned me that I could regret not finishing the meet so here I am in Florida. She's so good for me!

The weather report for today looks spectacular. I imagine with the light winds we will try for a triangle task. We'll see...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lucas got too excited and spilled his O.J. this morning.

After the clean-up we enjoyed a nice buffet style breakfast at the little restaurant in Williston. They did a great job accomodating all of us. After breakfast we headed out to the airport to fly.

I have got to get a new harness. After flying these two comps back to back I realize that my harness just does not fit. I have been getting sore, but today it was unbearable. It's like when you wear shoes that don't fit and you get some blisters. Then, you keep putting them on and walk for miles every day in them. After about 20 miles today I just simply gave up and circled down to land at an airport. At the time I thought I was making the right decision, but I spent the rest of the day angry at myself for giving up. Hopefully I will heal enough to be somewhat comfortable tommorrow. I will be looking for a new one when I get home.

I'm not sure how most people did on the 144 mile task, but I think quite a few made it about half way. A front moving south shut everything down.

Rally Race - Day 2

The task was set to go to Williston, FL., 67 miles miles to the north. It all started when I found a nice soft climb off of tow and climbed straight to base. Making my way over to the start circle edge I was joined by OB and Lucas. We all chose to take the 2:00 start.

I left out first and passed the next climb I needed. Lucas called me back when he found it so I ran back to catch up. I wanted to take it all the way up so I was left behind as I climbed.

I was by myself most of the flight except for when Kevin Carter passed me. Over the town of Ocala I found a couple very nice climbs and soon found myself catching up with Lucas and 3 others. The sea breeze came in from the west and started shutting everything down. All 4 or 5 of us found ourselves low over this town with few landing options when we hooked a decent thermal to get us out. But since the winds had changed to more westerly, it was hard to make any progress.

Tom Lanning, Lucas, and I finally landed in the nicest field you have ever seen. It was finely manicured and even had fences around the trees. Soon after landing a woman driving a Mercedes wearing big diamonds came and informed us we were not invited or welcome, and that we needed to leave immediately. We apologized and broke down quickly.

There is the field behind the fence.

We ended up landing 15 or so miles short of goal. Nobody made it today as the sea-breaze shot us down. Lucas and I did pretty good getting in 8th and 9th for the day. It was a fun flight. It is pretty cool to see the vegetation changing as we head north. There are more flowers here than in south Florida. Today is supposed to be 144 miles, we'll see....

Here is a short clip over the town of Ocala.

Monday, May 4, 2009

128 miles!

The first day of the Flytec Race and Rally started off with a bang. 128 mile task straight to Quest. The conditions were great with cloudbase around 6,300 and good solid climbs. I made a new personal best record for distance with this flight. It took almost 41/2 hours to complete and I was quite sore when I landed.

It all started with a weak-link break at 400 feet out of the field. As I turned around to land and relight, I noticed I was in a good thermal. In just a few moments I was climbing through 1,500 feet and on my way. The start circle gaggle flying was intimidating but I executed a perfect start. Right at cloudbase, at the tip of the circle, and leaving a few seconds after 1:00pm.

Some highlights of the flight were a bald eagle thermaling with me, a close encounter with a turbo-prop airliner( I could see the co-pilot looking out the window at me), and I also heard a jet pass over me in the clouds but never saw it. Florida seems to have some fairly busy airspace, especially around Orlando.

I landed just before 5:00pm and felt like I had been beaten with a 2x4. I had to lay on the couch for a while. Quest hooked it up for everyone with a great assortment of snacks and 2 kegs of cold beer. I have some pics from the flight and will try to put them up later. For now, I have to go get ready for another flight to the north. 67 miles nearer to the Florida/Georgia border.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Final Task

It's lonely when you land short. But, at least the scenery is nice.

Task 4 was another long one, 102 miles, with 4 turnpoints. I found a good climb off of my first tow and hooked up with some other gliders. I was busy climbing and decided to wait for the 2nd start clock which made me loiter for about 10 minutes. I actually did quite nice as I left the start circle 45 seconds after 2:15. This is something I am trying to master, and has never been easy.

At the first turnpoint I was high and saw three other gliders coming so I decided to wait on them. Turns out Lucas was with them so for the first time this meet we were able to fly together. We all had a good climb and I was on top. At 6,300 feet we decided to glide towards the 2nd turnpoint. I left first. I had a good line as I was only sinking at 200 fpm until I got close to the turnpoint when the air got roudy. I knew there was a good climb nearby, so I started searching for the lift. I was sinking like a rock and starting to worry. Looking back to find the others, I saw that they had found it about a 1/2 mile back and to the north. Now at 1,000 feet I didn't have the altitude to get back to them and I turned downwind with my fingers crossed. I found nothing and landed in a huge field beside the road, extremely upset with myself.

After I cooled down, I realized just how lucky I really am. If this wasn't a competition, I would have considered this a pretty good flight. I am lucky to be doing exactly what I want to be doing, flying around the country like a bird.

The comp is over and Dustin Martin came in first, Andre Wolf in second, and Johnny Durand in third. Now we rest for a day and start the rally race back to Tennessee tommorrow.