Monday, May 11, 2009

First time flying in the Owens Valley

"Eagles and a Falcon in The Owens Valley"

I think Rob summed up our awesome weekend pretty well. I don't think we could have picked a better weekend for our mission at giving some unfamiliar pilots (including me), a taste of what the Owens Valley has to offer.

My first flight on Saturday from Flynn's was a fun start. I launched last and played around for awhile getting a feel for the air. Arnie and Tim were already long gone past Black Mtn when I decided to head south. I made my way down to Black Mtn and got up to 12.5k over it. I wanted to chase Arnie so I started on glide over the gap but was getting drilled so I turned around at hwy 168 and made it back to Black Mtn. I figured I should go ahead and do one of these out and return things that everyone talks about but I never try. So, I made it back to launch no problem and tried to glide out to town but I left to low and wasn't going to make it over the airport so I returned to the LZ. Unzipped to land and sure enough the valley started to breath and I took that thermal to 12k over launch and now I knew I had Bishop. I actually wanted to land in front of the Barker's house a bit west of town but my stinkin Falcon said I don't think so. I was hungry so I put it down at the high school soccer field. Packed up, left the glider and headed for an overdue lunch at the bakery. The out and return and glide to town turned out to be about 33 miles.

Sunday topped off the weekend for sure. I launched Piute last and went after Arnie once again who was already specked over White Mtn. I cruised north between 9k-12k until I got to the last spine before it wraps around. I was able to tank up to 15k then over to Boundary peak where I cleared 16k. The 360 degree view was spectacular and I could have stayed there all afternoon. However, Arnie was getting away from me as he went on glide down the north east spine. I finally caught him and we made some turns together but it was the first time I flew with someone all day and it turned out being pretty distracting at that point as we were low and I needed to hydrate a tumble weed. I ended up landing just north of the Basalt LZ where hwy 6 and 360 meet for a 36 mile flight. Arnie hung in there and went a few miles down the hwy. I wish I had hooked up a way to mount my camera- oh well next time. Thanks Rob and Kari for an incredible weekend and the Barker’s for the first class hospitality!

Good times looking back at Boundary Peak.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Santa Barbara Harbor Whale

What do you do in Santa Barbara when you can't go flying? Well, you could always go hang out with our local harbor gray whale! On Tuesday after work I went down to the harbor by myself and jumped in one of my Dad's kayaks to see if I could find the whale that has been making the front page of the newspaper. Sure enough, he was out and about doing laps in the entrance of the harbor and I hung out for about 45 minutes before he took off. I thought I got a really cool video of him coming up next to my kayak but it turned out that I hadn't recorded it on my camera like I thought. I was so bummed because I couldn't show Ashley how close he got. So, the next day Ashley and I planned to go out together while she had a break at work. She did get to see him and it was really fun, though he never came that close and after a while he left again. By the time we went back in so Ash could go back to work my dad had just showed up and he wanted to go out so I figured this was my last chance to get a lucky shot. Out of pure luck, I got a really cool video. It's better if you click on the high quality (HQ) button and the full screen as well.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My switch to hang gliding explained

Lots of people have been asking me why I made the switch from paragliding to hang gliding. So I decided to really think about the main reason why and write it down. Now I can just tell them to go read my blog. About a year ago I started taking hang gliding lessons and received my Hang 2 rating but didn't get the chance to really start thermaling until a few weeks ago because things kept getting in my way like: not having the right gear or the right weather and oh yeah, a broken back (not from flying). Hey, this sport is all about patience so at least I got a good dose of it right off the bat. Essentially, I've had my eye on HGs since I started flying paragliders, and now I know truely feels as close as it gets to pure flight and I don't think there is anything out there that puts a human closer to soaring like a bird. I feel like I'm finally in my element and looking forward to a lifetime learning experience in this sport. I'm also really stoked to have some of the best pilots in the world (who have been flying HG's longer than I've been alive) at my finger tips but not so stoked because I'm the only new pilot in SB since who knows when. All in all, I wouldn't take my PG experience back, because hey... it's already paid many dividends like, I've found out that it is really nice to know all the PG pilots as it gives me a much better chance a catching a ride back to town if I land out, and I don't really need to relearn how to fly cross country. Also, I look forward to helping bridge the social gap between the two flying circles because we should all be looking out for each other. So, at least I know what I'll be flying for awhile. I kind of like the saying, "Try everything in your 20s, perfect one thing in your 30s, and master it in your 40s" or something like that.

P.S. Oh yeah, A hang glider is probably my only chance at beating Bo and Dean cross country... haha, one day suckers!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Maybe next weekend came true!

Well everything except the "high above the SB peaks and landing at the beach part." It still turned out to be the perfect mellow day to take Ash for her first tandem with me at Skyport. The lift was super light but just enough to give us a comfortable extended sled ride to Parma.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ash at the training hill

Ashley takes to the air with wonderful finesse on yet another beautiful day at the training hill. She took some kiting pointers from Kevin and next thing we know, she’s keeping her wing up until the sun went down. We are looking forward to flying tandem together, high above the Santa Barbara peaks and landing at the beach. Maybe next weekend?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fun Tandem

Good times in the air with Aaron who is from Hawaii. We are both working on our commercial tandem rating so we can take friends and family flying. We had a nice flight from Alternator launch in Santa Barbara working the thermals for about a half hour. Thanks Aaron!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Flying at Dunlap

So I tried to reel in some takers for the Nor. Cal. league Meet at Dunlap this last weekend. After watching the forecast all week, I finally hooked some big fish Friday morning: Bo, Dean, Andy Palmer and I all believed it was going to be promising, so we decided to check out the site for the first time. It was an easy 4.5 hr drive to the LZ with a meet time at 0930 Sat. morning and about 40 other pilots showed up for some action. Saturday's task was ONLY 99k and Jack Brown, Dean and Josh Cohn made a decent effort. However nobody made goal but had the race started a bit earlier they might have had a better chance! I had a fun flight getting to know the site and tagged a few points before getting flushed by the valley winds. Afterwards everyone meet up at the Bear Mountain pizza and beer spot. That night most pilots chose to stay at the Sequoia Highlands camp which is adjacent to launch and provides private cabins for rent, a bunkhouse for 10 bucks a night per person or you could pitch a tent. There is also a fun recreation room with pool tables, ping pong and a fireplace with couches to kick back on and talk about the great day of flying. The next morning the camp host makes an all you can eat breakfast ready when you wake up. Sunday’s task was about 62k with a little fishbowl then an out and back to the main LZ. Again Dean and Josh went at it and I think they would have had a better chance again had it started earlier as well. Andy flew his Peak XP very nicely and and I did my best to keep up. Bo was skying out both days with a thermal clinic student of his and taking beautiful pictures of everyone. I had a 3hr flight and made most of the turn points except for the longer out and return legs. Nobody made goal either day but lots of pilots had exceptional flights. The weather was pretty high pressure with lift taking us up to anywhere from 6000-7700 ft. Valley floor is about 1,500 ft. The valley winds in the middle of the day made the up wind tasks challenging.Overall it was a fantastic weekend. Jug puts on a well respected meet and it is growing every year. I highly recommend you check it out especially since Dunlap is so close. You don’t need to wait until Rat Race to get your feet wet in the comps. These are low stress, high fun events with some of the best XC pilots around. It is also a perfect place for new P2s to get in some early morning and afternoon thermalling flights similar to Valle or Woodrat. The next one at Dunlap is June 21-22nd. Bo, Dean or Andy should have some cool photos for you to enjoy (my camera sucks), but see it for yourself. Don’t miss out next time! Ben