Monthly Archives: May 2007

Lesson 3

Today turned out to be a great day. I was able to get four scooter tows in. The winds were stronger today, averaging about 10 knots. It was also a day full of thermals. Mark layed out a lot of line today so we could get nice high tows straight into the wind. The first tow of the morning was done by an experience pilot. He towed up to about 400′ and was able to work some light thermals for an extended sled ride. The 2nd tow was a student on the verge of getting his Hang 2. He had a nice tow but has no thermal experience so he landed in short order.

Next was my turn. As a reminder I’m back after a nine year break. I’ve had 4 tows over the last 4 weeks and those were in little wind. Today I had 10+ knot winds. I got all ready and waited for a good cycle. It smoothed out a bit after a few minutes of waiting and I launched. Mark towed me up to about 300+ feet. After release I tried getting into the stirrup harness but was having some issues. I just flew (number one rule – no matter what else is going on – fly the glider). I did a big 180 to head back were I started. The plan was to fly back, setup an approach, and land without having to walk so far back to the setup area.

Shortly after the first 180 I hit a thermal and decided to give it a shot. I was high enogh and worse case I would have to land further upwind in the big field. I managed to do a couple 360’s. Far from perfect but at least I remembered how. In the end I managed to work several small thermals and stayed up for over 4 minutes. Not too bad for a 300′ tow. I turned in both directions for practice. I played with bar positions and speeds a bit. Definitely rusty but it was working.

Finally I had to setup an approach. I was able to finally get into the harness all the way so at this point I rocked up nice and early, pulled in a bit and setup into the wind. I ended on final in ground effect a bit cross to the wind and I flared a bit too hard for the conditions but overall I did OK. I was stoked. What a way to start the day.

Everyone was excited and happy for me. Not as much as I was of course Smile

It turned out to be a productive day. There were 20 tows before we had to break down quickly for a fast approaching thunder storm.

My second flight wasn’t nearly as good. I tried going prone in the harness during tow this time and had big problems. I couldn’t work any thermals this time and quickly came in and setup an approach. Except this time I forgot all kinds of things. I rocked up early but left my hands on the base tube way too long. I nearly stalled twice due to poor control and bad hand position. And again I flared way too hard. Mark gave me a good talking to about my mistakes. Oops. OK, I learned a lot on that.

My next two flights went much better. I still had harness problems but I was OK with that – nothing critical – I just waited until I was off tow to go prone. I worked a little lift but the thermals weren’t as good as the day went on – kind of strange. Both of the remaining landings were much better. Better hand position and better speed control. Mark, and well as me, was much happier and was glad to see my return to normal.

I’ve been talking with Mark about a glider. He is getting a used Sport 2 in soon. It only has 15 hours on it. The owner wants the bigger version so he’s selling his. I’m at the top end of the weight range for the mid size one but I’m hoping to drop a few pounds. I’m also at the low end of the range for the big one. In Colorado I’d rather be at the high end than the low end of a glider.

I’ve also ordered a new Quantum 440 (I believe) to replace my 1979 vintage chute. Mark thinks another 3 good lessons and I should be ready to be turned loose with my renewed Hang 2. I’m in no rush so we shall see how it goes.

I’m just so happy to be back in this amazing sport again.

Here’s a video showing 3 of my four flights (my third flight wasn’t recorded).


Until next time.



I be turnin’

[ Happy Mood: Happy ]
I know I said I wouldn’t be able to train for a few weeks but I managed to get out anyway. The plan was to meet at the scooter towing site at 7am. By the time a few of us arrived and we got all setup it was closer to 8:30. I did two ground runs to get warmed up. Both went very well. There were two guys that were on their third lesson and were hoping for their first tows today. After they got in some ground runs it was time for the scooter.

Mark, our instructor, called me out to get ready. Cool, my first tow in three weeks and the first for the day. The wind was real light and variable today. I put on a school stirrup harness, radio, hook knife, and headed to the glider.

I reviewed the tow commands with Mark since it’s been a few weeks. I did a hang check and got all hooked up to the tow line. Mark and I talked about the flight plan. He was going to tow me up high enough to get some turns in and set up a landing. OK, I haven’t made a turn in over 9 years but I remember how.

Mark got the scooter going, released the brake, and then it was up to me. The wind was straight and light. I picked up the glider and quickly got it balanced. Clear! Slack! Tension! I took two steps and darn near got pulled out of my shoes. The tow pressure was much stronger than the last time I went. I got off OK but I was a bit behind the glider for a few seconds. Once off of the ground I did a nice steady tow.

Mark pulled me as far as he could and I released. I was about 150-200′ up. Mark mentioned over the radio that I flew the glider a bit slow on tow and reminded me to keep up the airspeed. I did a wide 180 degree turn back toward where I started. Quickly I needed to turn back into the wind for landing. I did about a 120 degree turn. At that point I was too low to safely finish the turn. I leveled out and setup for the landing.

Since the wind was so light being a bit cross wasn’t an issue. I got down into ground effect and let the speed bleed off. I got my hands up nice and high and at just the right time I flared and landed with just a few steps. All right! What a great way to start the day.

A few of the newer folks got short tows. Once of them got into a turn and landed strange. He was fine but he did put a heck of a bend in one of the downtubes.

Shortly before I was to get my next turn the wind started to switch as expected so we spent the next hour swapping ends.

Eventually it was my turn again and I did all the usual setup. It was mid day and warm. We were getting some light cycles coming through so I new the tow would require some more corrections. Mark and I talked about the first tow and the take-off I had. He assured me that he would use less pressure – which also meant a lot more running.

He wasn’t kidding. I really worked for this launch but it was a good one. I also kept the bar in a bit better this time while towing up. I went through two small thermals and had to work a little to keep straight and level. No big deal but I had to pay attention. This was a little shorter tow due to how everything got setup after swapping ends.

I released and did a 180 degree turn. Most of the turn was in sink so I was a bit lower this time heading back to the start. I knew I was now too low for a 180 back into the wind so I opted for a 90 degree turn. Unfortunately the wind had shifted a bit and I was now fully committed to a real downwind landing.

I knew what to expect. The ground would be whizzing by but I still needed to ignore it and fly the glider at the proper air speed and then flare at the proper time – all while ignoring the green blur under me. At what was probably 1 second or two too late I flared but not well enough. I was still cruising. I was expecting to whack in pretty hard but luckily I kept the control frame out enough and ended up sliding on my knees while the glider rolled on the wheels.

I was fine and so was the glider. After talking with Mark he was actually quite pleased with two things I did. First he liked that I was wise enough not to attempt a full 180 degree turn as low as I was. Second, he liked that I recognized my downwind situation and that I flew the glider at the proper air speeds, not ground speed.

Later in the day I was hooking in for a third tow when the winds starting switching again. We had two big cells growing near us and they were starting to effect things. Mark made the right decision to call it a day and we packed everything up.

All in all I’m happy with today. I got two nice tows. I still need lots of practice but that’s the whole point of taking lessons again. Weather permitting I will be back out next weekend – at least one day anyway.

Here’s a video of my two tows:



Weathered Out

Sad I was due to have my next round of lessons this weekend but the weather gods had other ideas. It rained a lot yesterday so the lesson was canceled. Today is starting off real nice but all the local training sites are too wet and it’s supposed to get too windy this afternoon.

The worst part is my schedule doesn’t allow me to even try the next two weekends so I have to wait another three weeks before I can try again – on top of the week I just waited. Ugh, I just realized that that is Memorial day weekend. I hope my instructor is teaching then.

Oh well, patience is a virtue. Yeah, right. Wink

Nice People

After reflecting on this past weekend I am reminded of one of the great things about hang gliding – the great people. I met 8 or 9 new pilots this weekend out at the training field. Everyone was great. Obviously we all have a common interest so that helps a lot. Need help with a hang check – no problem, just ask. Have a question – just ask. The more seasoned pilots are more than happy to give advice or answer questions. During lulls we got to hear all kinds of exaggerated flying stories Wink

Oh what fun.