[ Mood: Happy ]
I arrived in Orlando Tuesday night (the 25th). This trip corresponded with the 11th annual Wills Wing Demo days at Wallaby. Since I had never aerotowed I wanted to get there early in the morning since it was most likely going to be busy. I signed in at about 7:45 and headed out to the flight line with the morning gang. At about 8:10 I was hooked in with Malcolm in the big tandem glider. The tow to 2000′ AGL went real well. So well that Malcolm signaled the tug pilot to really give me a good checkout. Lots of S-turns to make sure I could keep following. I got a little low at one point and had to really push out – full arm extension – very unnatural feeling but you can’t stall under tow pushing straight out. We released and had an issue. The v-line wrapped around the carabiner but before Malcolm could reach the secondary release the weak link at my shoulder broke and we were free and clear. We then had a nice sled ride down to a smooth, on the wheels landing.
5 minutes later I was being called to hook in again for my solo flight! This was unexpected but good news. I was now in a Falcon 2 195 solo. As I lay there prone getting ready my heart began thumping a bit more. The tug took the slack out of the line and away I went. I had a great tow. It was actually easier solo in the 195 than tandem in the 225. My tow went quite well. I released and had a nice sled ride down to the LZ. After Malcolm saw me a few minutes later he shook my hand and said congrats! Cool. It was only 8:40am on my first day. I was originally hoping to be at this point by the end of Friday.
During the rest of the day and through Sunday (the 30th) I managed 10 more flights for a total of 12. Six on the Falcon and six on a Sport 2 – first with a fin and then the rest without. The midday tows were, shall I say, interesting. We had some good lift and it was a lot of work to stay in position. My vario recorded 1300fpm on the 5sec averager on some flights.
Overall it was an amazing week. 650 tows in 4 days. The Wills Wing folks did some great evening presentations showing movies and slides of the early days. It truly amazes me that anyone survived the early 70s in this sport.
Wallaby is an amazing place. I’ve never been anywhere like it. So many hang gliders, so many pilots. Everyone was great. Noobs hanging out with sky gods. What a great sport.
Now that the big event is over it is a lot less busy here. It’s been pretty breezy so no one has flown today (Mon 31st) and it was shutdown at 10am yesterday. I think everyone is just worn out from a great week.
I’ve met so many people. I shared a condo with several HG.org folks: Lobido, DesignByDave, RadWacker, Axepro, and PilotGuy. You never know what to expect sharing a house with people you’ve never met but it worked out great. We had a wonderful time. I met so many others as well that I’m not going to even try to list them all. I also ran into some old friends I haven’t seen in a dozen years too.
This whole trip far exceeded my expectations (which were high )
It’s very likely I’ll be back for another Demo Days event. Malcolm is going to be hard pressed to top this year.
Here’s a shot of me on tow:
And here are some of my roomies: