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.