Sunday, December 27, 2009

More Colombia Pics

Not much flying, none in fact. Winter is set in and spring is to far away - somewhere in between. Colombia! hmm.

Manizales from the observation building.

Bronze sculptures at the ridge walk in Manizales.

Great views from the ridge walk.

Dad, our host and me.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Tulua, Columbia 11.01.09

Taken from the air, coming in to Cali.

Yesterday we made the drive from Manizales to Tulua, Columbia. It's an unbelievable 2 hour trip that starts at 7000asl, and slowly winds through mountainous, tropical countryside. The highways are better than most rural American roads - clean and well maintained. Tulua is a city of 600,000, and appears to have more of an authentic Columbian vibe.

The street in front of the church we were at this morning.

The locals do double takes when they see us. The absence of Americans here, and gringo influence is evident. At first the reactions from the locals seemed negative, but I believe they really don't know what to think when they see us (more so here in Tulua than Cali or Manizales).

The Juan Maria Hotel (Dad in front).

Looking across the street from our hotel window.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Colombia 10.31.09

Hola from Colombia! We arrived in Cali, Colombia this past Monday. There wasn't much of a problem with jet lag, given Colombia is in the eastern time zone. We did however spend Tuesday as a decompression day. Wednesday we traveled by van to the city of Manizales and were blown away by the City's stunning beauty. Manizales is a city of 800,000, built in the mountains at over 7000asl. Impossible to describe. Maybe the pics will help.

Our humble abode while in Manizales

Lunch with friends in Manizales

Today we traveled to the city of Tulua. More later!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Colombia Man!

At Salt Lake International, pausing for a moment of contemplation. Tonight I'm flying into Oklahoma City to meet up with my Traveling partner - my dad. Tomorrow we're off to Colombia, South America for ten days.

As the trip progresses, I'll drop a few pics and more information about our travels.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Habits and Trends

Photo courtesy of Dale Covington

A few mornings ago I woke earlier than usual. As I went through my normal get out of bed routine, I noticed something interesting, while at the same time disturbing. I typically sit up in bed, rotate my torso and legs over the floor, lower my legs and sit for a moment running my fingers through my thinning hair before standing. I most always let out a sigh or muffled grunt as I slowly rise towering six and a half feet over the floor. Then it's off into the groggy morning haze, as I feel my way through blurry eyes to the bathroom. However this particular morning I spent a noticeably longer period of time scratching, stretching, yawning and generally loitering at bed side. The trend - getting older. The realization hit sharply in the deepest resides of my gut, and a cold sweat followed. Without further provocation I moved rather hastily toward the bathroom. Determined to leave that nasty half dream behind, I turned the corner into the bathroom squarely stumping my big toe into the door jam.

There are obviously some things we can't change, like the speed at which we accelerate through life. But that introspective moment I spent at beds edge a few mornings ago left me with a profound epiphany. Though time will not slow down for us, we do have control over the habits, trends and unfavorable artifacts that are a direct result of living life. I determined to get my butt moving in the morning and put an end to the loitering at bedside trend.

In most of our pursuits where there is a level of responsibility involved, whether professional, personal interest or hobbies, constant updating and re-certification are a normal part of staying current. Doctors are constantly upgrading their knowledge base by reading journals and online references. They also attend conferences and lectures as a means of fortifying their expertise. Boards exams are required every seven years. The FAA requires a pilot to maintain his (or her) proficiency with annual check rides and stringent tests at each learning juncture. Doing it isn't enough. Learning breaks up the trend of negative reinforcement, and throws a wrench into the proverbial gears of bad trends and habits.

It's not a stretch to imagine after many years of flying hang gliders, trends and habits (good and bad) have become a part of my flying protocol. Like griping a pencil, every individual has a specific style they have developed through the years. We're creatures of habit. We like the comfort we find in repetition and consistency. Not always a good thing. It was surprising to watch a video clip of me landing at Crawfords a few weeks ago. The landing wasn't that bad, I ended up dropping the nose of the glider after flaring poorly and running it out. After a knee injury a few years ago while skiing, I developed some defensive habits that led to a trend of mediocre landings. Even after my knee healed, the defensive habits remained.

In the video I realized my body position on final looked as though I was bracing for something as apposed to being in the optimal position for a proper landing. My flare was hesitant and weak. That night I began searching the Internet for videos of landings, and happened upon a treasure trove of material shot by a California pilot, found here - Anyway, I began studying these compilations of landings, of which were mainly filmed at the Andy Jackson Flight Park. I basically identified what I was doing wrong, and applied the knowledge to my landings in the days following. Clearly, I was in need of updating and fortifying my landing skills. The realization and willingness to commit to a learning episode in my flying regime has put me on a path to better my landings. Hang gliding is certainly an activity where constant learning and updating your skills will pay off.

I think a similar self imposed crash course on launching is next for me. What about you?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

X Marks The Spot

Last week yielded a few mentionable flights. Site X was good on Wednesday. A north east system brought surprising results. Climbs to 10,500asl and an incredible backdrop made for a great flight.

Saturday over 15 hang gliders converged at the Crawfords. It was a strong day, with a few pilots experiencing scary launches. There was one actual blown launch, but the pilot and glider were spared significant damage. Overall it was a fun day. The air time was easy. I was able to add another 2 hours to my log.

Breaking down in the massive LZ.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just A Few Additions To The Log

It's been slim pickens' here lately! There have been a few short flights to mention.

Wednesday, 5.09.09, Site X produced a 45 min flight. Yesterday I got up early and flew the South Side at the Point. It was slow to build, but finally the expected south push arrived. There were many hangs out, and they all got plenty of airtime. I had three flights and netted about 40 mins. Need to move back to California!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Randolph 9.07.09

As we approached The Crawfords, the sky looked a bit ominous. There were linticular clouds everywhere. The saucer shaped clouds gave the appearance of an alien invasion.
The wind was strong from the southwest. Cody, Matt, Greg and I were met on top by 25 to 30 mph winds. There were lighter cycles for launching. Matt was first of the hill with his dog clover along as a tandem passenger. Matt and Clover plowed toward the south end of the main ridge in the strong 45 degree cross headwind. Matt said it took him 25 minutes to fly the 2.8 miles. Soon we were all air born thanks to Cody's willingness to help wire the rest of us off. Fortunately, more pilots showed up to help with Cody's launch.

Can't beat the visuals of the Crawfords!

Cody coming in for a landing.

Even though the wind wasn't perfect, the air was reasonably fun. We all had 2 hour plus flights.

More of the Crawfords.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sunday 8.16.09

Cody and I made the regular homage to the Crawfords on Sunday. Given the weather conditions this summer, it's been the flying site of choice. Almost every time we have flown the Crawfords, XC potential has been good. Sunday was no different!

In short, Cody and I set up and got off the hill as a few other pilots trickled in. I flew straight out from launch and without much effort found myself a few grand over launch. I continued flying out over the flats and toward a cloud that was relatively fresh. I found good lift in the area under the cloud, and soon I was in some of the strongest lift I've been in this year. I was averaging 15 - 18 hundred fpm for 20 seconds and longer at a time. I was quickly 14,000+asl and at cloud base. As I waited for Cody I played in the cloud, flying a hundred feet or so into the edge of the cloud and then flying out its side. Too much fun.

Cody soon caught up and we decided to head north toward highway 30 junction and hopefully on toward Kemerer, WY. Our plan was short lived. The lift to the north wasn't working as well. We found a nice hay field that had just been cut and landed into a nice breeze. Flight time: just over 2hours / Distance: hmmm

Monday, August 10, 2009

Site X flight #7

Greg and I had our seventh flight Monday at Site X. It's proving to be a dependable, soarable hill. We did wait a while, finally getting off launch around 5ish. There were nice cu's around, especially over the back - sreeting as well. I was able to gain 2200 over in a somewhat consolidated thermal. I drifted back behind launch quite a ways as I watched Greg's launch. We both thermaled around for a while with some of the local boys - a couple of juvenile golden eagles. They have been out flying the last few times we've been out. The eagles are quite active. At first I thought they were just playful, swooping and diving around us as we were coring up. But yesterday they dove at me a few times with their talons extended. I think it was definitely aggressive, territorial behavior. Maybe they will get use to us?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

More Fun At Crawfords

Where do I start! Tuesday, July 28th, Cody and I returned to the Crawfords. It was a stereotypical XC day. Winds were strong from the WNW, with a great soaring forecast to boot. We both launched within minutes of each other and were soon scouring the hill for a reasonable thermal. After twenty minutes or so, I found a boomer at the south end of the ridge. A call on the radio brought Cody down my way, and as I was thermaling up into a nice cloud at 14,000, Cody began circling 2000ft below in the same lift. I hung out and flew back toward the ridge in broken lift waiting for Cody to catch up, but ironically the scenario soon flipped with Cody fifteen hundred above me whiting out in the same cloud I was in earlier. I found another good core and took it back up to 13,300ft. Cody committed to going over the back, so I hesitatingly followed even though the lift I was in was becoming less dependable. Cody was high in a great position, and continued on crossing some desolate un-landable terrain. He ended up with a 58 mile flight just shy of Little America, WY. I however landed out on top of a ridge just 13 miles from launch. Big thanks to our driver Dorothy for a quick pickup.

On Friday, Cody once again showed us how to go XC at the Crawfords. Greg, John Glime, Cody and myself set up in strong conditions at the Crawfords. I had one of the scariest launches of my flying career. After wireing everyone else off, I launched myself with Dorothy on my left wing wire. An errant gust lifted me prematurely and I felt I wouldn't get the wing back down, so I went with it. As soon as I was ten feet off the ground another strong gust from the right turned me 90 degrees to the left and toward the hill. I corrected with full right input and the wing slowly responded and flew out away from the hill. Yikes, should have had a wire crew - won't do that again.

Everyone had a great start once in the air. The conditions were very strong and with 30mph+ winds, drifting back with a thermal was very committing. I decided to stay out front and make a local day of it. Greg and John went over the back landing safely 13 miles from launch on the same ridge I landed on earlier in the week. Cody climbed out succesfully and went on to complete another great XC flight - this time 62 miles.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back at the Crawfords

It's the middle of summer and the XC season is quickly fading. With only a handful of short XC flights between the amigos, the hunger grows and trigger fingers are getting sorta itchy. Cody and I set our sights on the Crawfords for the second time this month.
Dorothy was kind enough to drive once again.

When we crested the top of the mountain, it was apparent the wind forecast was a bit off. The predicted 9-11mph from the west was in reality 20-30mph from the southwest. Cody was first to launch, and in less than five minutes he was 2 grand over and climbing. I followed finding less buoyant conditions, but soon caught up with Cody and we were climbing together. We left the launch area and drifted to the north hoping to connect with highway 30 and head northeast toward Kemmerer, Wyoming. The wind at 10 grand was close to 40mph and climb rates slowed down the further north we ventured. I decided to head north long 30 as apposed to going east toward Kemmerer as originally planned. The climbs were fun and as usual the area provided vivid landscapes in every direction.

We continued north on 30 and landed 36.6 miles from launch. Great landings - big smiles!

Not that far, but big in quality.

Cummies were in abundance!

Highway 30 stretching south toward the Crawfords.

Gorgeous views in every direction.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Crawfords 7.22.09

Beautiful place to fly! Endless landing possibilities, rivers that wind through the flats in front of launch etc., etc.. We take to the air after a wait for the wind to straighten out and find the light wind is plenty to keep us up. Landon and Matt take off just a bit early and sink out, the rest of us get around an hour of airtime in. Landing in the big LZ at the bottom is nice - the field has recently been cut. A few of us stop over in Randolph for a burger and shake at Gators.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Albion Basin - Alta, Utah

Julie and I went for walking tour of Albion Basin last weekend. Following are some Pics of our excursion.

The hike starts here at he top of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Albion Basin is inside Alta Ski Resort, and less than two miles from the bottom of the lower lifts. Most of the hike is on well maintained trails used for mountain biking, and resort vehicle access.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Catching Up

just a quick catch up.

So far, since June 1st, I've logged 5 flights at our new launch - "Site X" (somewhere on the Wasatch Back), 4 of which have been soaring flights. The first flight at Site X was a fantastic flight, gaining over 4 grand and touring the area - with of course the usual suspects.

Sunday, July 5th, Greg and I flew Inspo. I had a low save and ended up with a 2+ hour flight with several gains to over 12,500asl. Greg had a later launch and missed the better air. He worked hard to get up, but ended up landing in the bailout LZ.

Today Cody and I had a fun XC flight from the Short Divide. We launched around 2pm in a stiff south wind. We quickly reached departure altitude (11,500asl) and were over the back. The Cache Valley is such a beautiful area, especially with all the rain. We leisurely drifted in light lift over the town of Westin and then Preston with fun gains to 10 grand and change. Cody ended up with a 35 mile flight to Thacher. I headed toward Swan Lake for 28 miles.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today at Inspo 6.24.09

Finally it's drying out - well for a day or two anyway.
Cody and I met up at Inspo and flew our gliders. A few pics of the days activities.

Monday, June 22, 2009

South Side Notes

Just a few South Side Notes
Last Friday a few of us flew the South Side at the Point, and again Sunday. Sunday the conditions were strong with winds topping out at just above 30. A strange thing happened - toward the end of the session I was flying a few hundred feet above launch in a significantly strong west component. Paul, a pilot from Minnesota, was flying with me. Paul set up to land, and I followed suit feeling like the air was getting a bit to wierd and strong. I set up to land on top, but found myself racing toward the edge of the hill as the wind was dramatically decreasing in velocity. My hard flair stopped me and the glider right on the lip. As I set my glider down the wind had almost completely died. I've never seen the wind go from 30+ to zilch in such a short time. As soon as my glider was packed and loaded the wind picked up fiercely out of the north.

A few pic from Inspo Taken by Paul Martin last year.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Today...hmm hmm hmm!

Decisions, decisions. I got up this morning and decided to fly the Southside at The Point. I considered running down to Provo and flying Inspo, but in the end chose to fly The Point. My decision was based on 1) the fear that later in the day we would get another round of afternoon thunderstorms. 2) there were things I kinda needed to get done later, so a morning session at the Point would suffice. I arrived at the Point around 8:30am and missed the early cycle - it wasn't all that great from what other pilots reported. I did manage to get a couple of later flights in that added 20 minutes to my flight log. As I lingered in the waning late morning wind, I watched as beautiful cu's formed over Mt. Timpanogas and Cascade down by provo. It did OD north of the Point, but to the south down by Inspo, it looked like epic soaring conditions with possible XC potential. I considered quickly breaking down and jetting down to Provo, but figured if I stay at the point it's bound to get better. Besides I'm already set up! You can figure out the rest of the story.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Inspo 5.3.09

Just a quick blurb about yesterday.....Greg and flew Inspo on Wednesday. We launched around 3:30 into a straight stiff breeze that allowed us to ridge soar the main ridge at launch. Greg dominated the day with superior climbs. We both ended up with over an hours worth of airtime. We met up with Jeff O'brien and got to catch up with his current state.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Cody Brings Hang Gliding to Wellsville Elementary

Last Friday was Flight Awareness day at Wellsville Elementary School. Matt Shoemaker, myself and Cody Dobson who is principal at the school, brought our gliders and participated in the event. Over 300 students filed through the different stations where there were lectures, static displays, RC aircraft and videos of tandem flights made by Matt. Cody spent months preparing the special event for his students, and worked hard as the spokesperson for our display.

Most of the students in the groups were excited to see the hang gliders and hear Cody's ten minute talk.

Matt commented about a similar event that took place during his school days that eventually led him to become interested in Hang gliding.

The kids were extremely polite and very interested. Seems like a great idea - an effective way to promote our great sport!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Over the weekend there were a few flights. Friday was the first day of the local clubs spring comp at the North Side of the Point - the AAA sprints. I didn't compete, but I flew. There was quite a few bags as well as hangs out. Sunday Inspo worked. It wasn't the best day, but good enough for an hour flight.

A short Movie of Mingus, plus some Grand Canyon pics.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More on Mingus

A collection of pics from the Mingus trip.

Chris Thompson, a club member, spent a good part of the morning showing me around and driving me up to launch. These guys are all about hospitality. The group of pilots I was lucky enough to meet and fly with, were beyond helpful, and great fun.

My talon, ready to fly at the top of Mingus.

The hang glider launch ramp.

Mingus set up area.

Just below my helmet is a complex of time shares in Sedona where Julie and I stayed for the week. Mingus is 15+ miles from Sedona. We had plenty of time to hike and sight see. We even drove up to the Grand Canyon on Friday and did a bit rim hiking.

Taking in the desert pana-rama from 10k. As always, pictures never capture the moment. This flight is in my top five most scenic flights.