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!