Road Trip to Crestline Day 4 – CSS Fly-in

What a great day this was. There were so many pilots here today. I heard there were 70 hang gliding landings plus dozens of paragliding flights. I was on the 2pm shuttle ride to Crestline launch. When we got to the top it was an amazing site. Dozens of gliders all setup with dozens more in the air. There was no where to setup but soon many of those pilots took off and made room for the next wave of us.

Given the issues I had the last two days with crowded airspace I was a little worried today since there were 10 times the number of people in the air. Some guys were doing low, high speed passes right in front of launch, while people were lined up to take-off. That was lame in my opinion. Mitch was out doing loops and other crazy stuff. Pretty wild to watch.

I helped DayDreamer and another guy launch then got into my own harness and walked out to launch. Happily by this time the airspace around launch was quite cleared out. The lift was really good today so the sky wasn’t nearly as crowded despite there being so many more gliders. It was blowing real strong on launch when I got there so I a few minutes for a slight lull. I picked up and launched. Within seconds I was on an elevator straight up. Yeehaa!

I spent the next 80 minutes playing in some big thermals getting as high as 1200 over launch. It was a fun time riding the thermals with so many gliders. At one point a helicopter came nearby. Too close for me. I bugged out a bit until it cleared out. About an hour into the flight I started getting drizzled on. The sky didn’t look too bad – one grey cloud. But I was worried about it getting uglier and 50 gliders all trying to land at once. I left Billboard at about 6000 feet and headed toward Marshall.

I was in light drizzle on the way out. When I got to Marshall there were a lot of hang gliders and paragliders boating around and the LZ was full of gliders – quite a site. The drizzle stopped and it didn’t appear everyone was bugging out. The sky wasn’t getting worse so I decided to stay a little longer. I was getting tired so my plan was to just boat around and slowly head on down. I flew through several thermals and gained without even trying.

I headed out over the college south of the LZ. I started planning my approach by figuring out where other gliders were. I also had a bomb drop to plan. I found the traffic ahead of me and worked my way down. At 700 feet I suddenly saw another glider at my altitude – where did he come from? I then hit a small thermal they kept me up enough to let the other guy head in first. I then flew over the bomb drop target and dropped my sand bag. It didn’t look like I was going to be on the LZ at all but I later found it on the outer circle – quite a surprise.

After dropping the sand bag I did my approach. I did a wide downwind to lose a little more altitude. Plus the wind was strong from the west. Plus the glider ahead of me was near the spot. I came in with a lot of speed into the wind so my base leg was really my final. The glider ahead of me was asked to move to his right – perfect. I came in with my wing tip just over from his as I headed for the spot. I did a small S-turn since I was a tiny bit high for the spot. This combined with my speed and the other glider nearby left me trying to land a bit distracted. I got popped a little as I transitioned to the downtubes then floated down in the wind. Just as I was to flare my right wing dropped just a little so my flare was crooked. I landed on my feet but my wing tip and control frame hit the ground. Oh well. This was my first bomb drop and spot landing contest. I was at least near the outer circle on both.

I carried over to the break down area where there were dozens of gliders. So many people. A lot of kids and SO’s were sitting and playing. I hadn’t eaten lunch and dinner was being served. I broke down my glider then finally had a chance to get some food. I had a great meal sitting with some locals and then later chatting with SG and GTPowell a bit.

After the awards (spot landings, bomb drops, and glide distance) the crowd started to thin out. I hung out with several folks on this list until nearly 10pm and headed back to the hotel. What a wonderful day. There is another CSS Fly-in in September. I suggest you make that one or next year’s July Fly-in. It’s a great time.

Some pictures:


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