For those not familiar with the term, a blog is short for web log, a kind of public diary in which everyday people post the details of their daily lives and dreams on a website, sometimes updating these things five or ten times a day. Of course, as soon as I had I seen this phenomena I became determined to start my own blog, but not just any old blog. No, I needed something truly insignificant, so I chose to write about my inevitably short flights in my hang glider. Yes, every time I fly, I have promised myself that I will post a blogified account right here. In keeping with blog tradition, I won't try to recreate my entire flight history but will just start with my most recent and keep going (assuming I keep flying) in reverse chronological order--which is kind of like how I fly, anyway.
April 20, 2008, 9:00 AM
I don't count the training hills as flights, but since I have nothing else to report, I will say that I went out to the Flight Park with Alan Bloodworth on Sunday morning and did three flights off the "Big Hill" in a Falcon 195. It was enough to make me drive up the mountain and stand on the ramp for the first time since we got back to Chattanooga. The new radial concrete ramp looks very interesting. I find I am pondering it a lot lately.
July 11, 2004, 3:15 PM, Flight #200
Hung around for two hours before I even set up, then hung out some more, finally gave up and launched for a sledder, only to watch an hour later from the pool as the ridge turned on (lightly) and lots of gliders soared. Launch was poor, either because I transitioned my hands at the wrong time and popped the nose, or I stepped off into nothing expecting lift--but either way that's pilot error. Landing was decent. Annie and Laura were on their way up the Interstate from Mississippi and stopped by for swimming, which was great. Note to self: research Masons.
June 12, 2004, Flight #199
I had vowed that if I did not fly before June 30 (the close of the fiscal year, I would sell the glider). Annie, Laura, and I went out to the Flight Park, and I decided I wanted to keep the flying option open. Had to pay flight park membership, glider storage, and rejoin USHGA to fly legally. Boy, that was an expensive sled run (around $300 in all). But my launch felt good, the sledder was uneventful, and the no-wind landing was okay despite having to run a bit. It was glorious to float around in the pool afterwards, feeling like pilot again.
October 12, 2003, 3:00 PM, Flight #198
The previous Saturday I had taken the Ultrasport to the training hills where I did a flight off the big hill and then four more off the little hill after it started tailing. The little hill is tough to fly! I thought it had been ten months since I had flown, but actually it had only been six. On this Saturday I set up, hung around waiting for better conditions that never came, then took my sledder. Managed to whack very gently at the cone. In other words, I was flying as good as ever!
April 5, 2002, Flight #197
Four months after my last flight, we went out to the Flight Park on a glorious spring day. I launched around 1:15 PM and got up fairly easily on thermals blown into the ridge, flying for an hour up to around 2,700 over (all back on the mountain). Others went at least 2,000 feet higher, but I was cold enough in just a t-shirt that it actually felt pretty good to get down. Laura and Annie spent the afternoon playing in the LZ.
December 1, 2002, Flight #196
What better way to spend the last day of a four-day Thanksgiving break than soaring 1,500 feet over the Flight Park? Temps were in the 40's and the thermals were numerous enough (for a while) that I launched and got up easily. After bragging that I had never wacked my Ultrasport the previous weekend, I was overdue for payback, and got it on the landing after about a 35 minute flight. Moments before flaring, I was bleeding off speed when I got turned by an evil bit of wind and never did quite get my wings level again. Wack! It was a fun day none-the-less. Lots of folks flew. An equal number of people flew Zaggi's up at launch, crashing them repeatedly into the windsock, the ramp, gliders, and hapless spectators. Airtime now 95.7 hours, still creeping towards 100.
November 24, 2002, Flight #195
Beautiful Indian summer day, with some guys going shirtless as they set up their gliders. After Heckman, Jon, and even Claire Pagen sank out, we knew there wasn't much hope for us mortals. Ken and I launched and did our sled runs. I still had problems transitioning from a grapevine grip as I went prone--I think I'm trying to do both hands at once. Had a no-stepper landing about 40 feet from the cone. Afterwards I went with Ken and Dottie and toured their 19 acres on Buckhalter Gap Road. Writing this tonight, I think I'll just upload my entire flight log in Excel format, not that anyone would ever care, but just so I'll have it to sift through while I sit at working waiting for that big raise.
October 5, 2002, Flight #194
Finally, a nice "gimme" flight. Did some easy ridge soaring for an hour or so, max 700 feet over on weak thermals. Had to run out the landing but as I told Dottie, "No injuries, nothing broken," including my pride.
September 1, 2002, Flight #193
Yuck. I sat around the ramp for three hours until it started tailing, then tried to run off in a lull. My hands were sweaty and I was having trouble holding the glider during the long minutes I spent on the ramp. I remember changing my grip on the right side in mid-run. Idiot! I was kicking into the pod and changing grips right when I needed to be flying the glider, let the nose go up, and dived down close enough to the trees to reach out and touch them. Probably my worst launch ever, followed by a few circles and slide into home at the LZ. Very bummed out.
June 14, 2:42 PM, Flight #192
Today's flight was excellent. Early afternoon was blown out with 24 MPH gusts on the ramp, but by the time I launched at 2:42 PM it was fine. Plenty of ridge lift and some strong but blown-apart thermals that could be a bit rowdy at times. Cloudbase was around 3,500 over but I managed to get only up to 2,400 over. Got a real ride at Stedman's Gap in the tiny 1,000 up thermal that felt like a giant hand lifting me up every time I circled into the core. Got down to the Point and thermaled up 1,500 feet over Point Park. The very rowdy LZ had calmed down to nothing by the time I had a good landing near the cone after a two hour, ten minute ride. Six folks made it over from Hensons today. I believe several Lookout folks went XC as well. Kristi Griffin had joined us and Laura enjoyed playing with her at the pool. You could look up and see dozens of gliders still cavorting in the sky as we left.
June 2, 1:45 PM, Flight #191
By all accounts I had missed a great day Saturday (we were cleaning the sailboat) but I had a great flight today on Sunday. Launched at 1:45 PM and had the sky to myself. It was ridge soarable but I found thermals quickly and eventually rode up to cloudbase at 3,500 feet over Christian's house. Nice and cool up there, too. Landed after one hour, 45 minutes only because I was hungry and wanted to get the "thrill" of landing in somewhat rowdy conditions behind me. I had to run faster than I thought possible but the landing was otherwise uneventful. A little while later a thermal blew though the breakdown area and my glider was rearing up, so I had to make a run for it and dive for the wire, skinning up my leg again. The crowd was very pleased with my "save." Swimming with Laura later in the pool was the perfect way to end a great day at the Flight Park. Airtime now 91.7 hours.
May 26, 2002, 2:10 PM, Flight #190
I set up early intending to get in a sledder with Ken Berry, who had given me a ride up the mountain, but of course I got stuck on the idea of having a soaring flight and potatoed on launch long after Ken and Dottie had gone home. Shortly after 2:00 PM, I heard from Rocky Wahl (who in turn had probably heard it from the guru himself, Greg Heckman) that the tailing cycles were getting ominous, so I followed Rocky, Greg, and a bunch of folks off. Dropped quite a bit on launch and thought I might have popped the nose, but someone told me later my launch was okay. Kicked in, I'm swooping down over the mountainside and it's sink, sink, sink. Didn't get a peep on the vario. At least I could try again for that perfect landing on top of the cone, right? Wrong as usual. Either I flared early or there was a lot more headwind than I thought, because when I tried an aggressive flare the glider climbed dramatically and I had to parachute to the ground from about eight feet up. Even when you land on your feet and manage to avoid a whack, this is no good because the 70 pounds of glider keeps going until the base tube hits the ground with a big thump. Apparently it started tailing consistently because no one else launched and I was stuck trying to get a glider ride up the mountain for about three hours until David Greene took pity and drove me up. It looked like rain and we actually had a little gust front that flipped a glider but it never did rain. My total airtime is now 90 hours. At this rate, I expect to reach the 100 hour milestone sometime in 2005.
May 25, 2002, 4:00 PM, Flight #189
I waited until the light wind turned just west enough that some nuts were actually ridge soaring. Off I went, turning left from the ramp, and easily got above the ridge. One trip back over the ramp and then I decided to continue south down the ridge toward Christian's house. I lost altitude slowly but steadily until I turned back far too late and had to leave the ridge. Hit nothing on the way to the field but I did have a one or two-stepper landing about five feet from the cone. Flight time was about twelve minutes, but the landing made me happy and besides, it was my second flight of the day. It was also satisfying to see everyone else on the ridge get flushed and come down, too.
May 25, 2002, 2:00 PM, Flight #188
Hadn't flown in two months so it was time for a flight, sledder or not. Ken and Dottie and I had even been out to the training hills (didn't fly, but we were there) so I was primed. Heckman launched and was getting up over the field. The two gliders off the ramp ahead of me went right and left, so I split the difference down the middle. Heckman was long gone, as usual, when I got to the vicinity. Circled in very weak light around 700 feet over the red house, climbing a grand total of maybe 100 feet in five minutes, drifting steadily north until I had to head for the field. The cone was in my sights and I knew I would nail it this time. Cripes! I was a little short, waited too long to flare, and was too low on my ground skim to recover from it. I slid into the grass on my left leg, which made for a nice six inch by three inch abrasion that reminded me of my mistakes for days to come.