Author Archives: rmaddy

WWDD 09 – Day 1 – Denver to Wallaby

It’s Monday the 30th and I wake up to a blizzard. Great, I have a flight to Orlando in a few hours. But first I have to take my son to school, come back home, finish packing, and load the car. On the way to the airport I need to stop at my ex’s house to drop off a bunch of stuff for our son.

Late Saturday night my son (7 years old) and I returned from a 2500 mile road trip. We drove from Denver to California and back. Stops included Meteor Crater, the Grand Canyon, Pacific ocean (in Oceanside), LEGOLAND, Hoover dam, and Las Vegas. We had a blast and Daniel did real well despite all the driving.

Now I was off to Wallaby Ranch near Orlando to attend the Wills Wing Demo Days event. This will be my second year. Unfortunately the weather forecast isn’t looking nearly as good as last but it’s still a nice vacation.

When I get to the airport I find just about all flights have been delayed an hour. The weather was actually starting to clear but the short storm dropped two inches quickly and caused the morning issues. So after a the extra wait I was off to Orlando. I would be sharing a house in Davenport with Axo and a friend of his from Miami and PhantomFlyer.

I arrived at the house about 8pm. Axel and Daniel were already settle in. Gary would be arriving tomorrow night.

I haven’t aerotowed since this event last year so my plan is to do a tandem first thing in the morning to knock the rust off and get reminded about all the details of this form of launching. Then I want to get a solo in on the Falcon and then the Sport 2. Then finally to work up to the U2. I have a U2 160 on order and should have it by mid-April. But I’ve never flown one. I put about 45 hours on my Sport 2 last season. My last flight was in October except for a real short scooter tow about 30 days ago.

Let the fun begin.

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Road Trip to Crestline Day 7 – Drive Home

I set the alarm for 7am figuring I would be on the road by 8 and home about 1am. But I didn’t sleep well and I got woken up by a bunch of noises a bit after 5am. In a very unusual step for me I decided to just get up and go. So at 5:30am I was packing and loading the car. I checked out and hit the road at 6:10am with what gas I had in the car.

One advantage of leaving so early was that is was cool and there wasn’t any traffic jams. The downside was I couldn’t stop yawning and I had trouble keeping my eyes open. But I woke up eventually, sort of. I was worried about driving through Vegas midday but I got there about 9:30 or so and it was clouded over so it wasn’t too warm. The real heat was in Utah. Cloudless desert and midday.

I had an easy, uneventful drive home. My biggest worry, as with all of these long drives, it where to stop for gas next. I like to maximize each tank to minimize stops. But the Garmin GPS I have has no fuel planning features so it’s always a guess on when and where to stop. I did mess up once and found the sudden need to stop for gas at one of those middle-of-nowhere type places that you know will be charging a bit more for gas. This place was between Baker, CA and the NV border. I pulled in and was shocked to see regular unleaded was $5.56 a gallon! A full dollar more than the rest of CA was charging. I got 2 gallons so I could make it to the next major area – what a rip off.

There was far less construction heading home than on the trip out. Not until I got to CO did I have a lane closure. Sunset hit as I was going through Glennwood Canyon, CO. Same timing as my return from Las Vegas a few months ago. It’s very pretty in there at sunset.

I pulled into my garage at 10:50pm – 15.75 hours after leaving the hotel in San Bernardino, CA. I was wiped out.

No more long trips planned until the TTC in late September. I think I’ll be staying in Colorado until then. Though a trip to Utah can’t be ruled out.

Until next time…

Road Trip to Crestline Day 6 – Last Crestline Flight

One last Crestline flight for this trip. Dave, Dusty, Stein, and a couple of others went up on the 4pm McShuttle. It was looking like a typical day but being a bit later the thermals were weaker. I was the last to take-off (again) and spent the first part of the flight working light lift on the main ridge near launch. Dave did a close pass with me. It was cool having him so close but at the same time I was nervous. Eventually I decided to give Billboard a try. I got there about 200 over launch which is about even there. I hit a raspy thermal that was doing weird things to my glider. It took me a couple of shots at it before I figured it out and started going up. I maxed out at about 600 over and was looking over at Pine. Two gliders had gone over there. I started to head that way and 10 seconds later I chickened out and decided to play on Marshall instead. I spent the rest of the flight having fun staying up in light lift. I flew all over the Marshall/Regionals area hitting little spots of lift here and there. It was a lot of fun and more mellow being late in the day. I eventually decided to head out. The sun was blocked now by a big cloud and I thought it might shutdown. But to my surprise it stayed fairly lifty the whole time I head out over the LZ. I just boated around near the LZ slowly sinking my way down. I finally got low enough to setup my approach. I used the VASI on my downwind. I was right on the glide slope but my base wasn’t close enough to the hill so I was a bit high as I turned final. I did two S-Turns and overflew the spot. I leveled out, bled off the speed, and did my best landing of the trip – yeah! What a great way to end a fun flight and a great trip.

This trip has been so wonderful – well worth the long drive getting here. I’m just amazed at how consistent this site is. I’ve never been to a site where the wind blows straight in everyday, all day. I had 5 days of excellent flying. Except for maybe the first day I landed by choice each day, not when I sunk out. I definitely need to work out some. I landed because I was worn out.

The LZ here is a joy. Nice grass, nice shade structure. The CSS folks have a special place (and they know it). If you have never flown here please make a plan to do so. There is another fly-in this September.

Thanks everyone.

Road Trip to Crestline Day 5 – Crestline Flight #4

Another fabulous day of flying at Crestline. The winds were a little lighter today and the thermals were booming again at times. Another day of landing when I wanted and not when I had to. I was the last one off amongst the 1:30 crowd. I launched into another boomer of a thermal. I was almost 600 over in less than two minutes. I was higher than most other gliders right off. Of course it didn’t stay that way. I stayed in the general area of launch for about 25 minutes plus one pass over to Billboard. Not much. I decided to head over toward Marshall as there were lots of gliders (both types) getting up over there. At 400 over launch I head over to Marshall. Once there I was sinking out and thinking of landing. But then I hit a boomer and got a great ride up. with a gain of about 1500 feet. But I was getting tired and decided to land. I left the mountain and flew over toward the college. I flew straight through some great lift but wasn’t trying to get up at all. I boated over the college and worked my way down to land. I came in hot and flared a spec too soon and didn’t hold my flare as usual. On my feet but the control frame came down hard. But it was a fun flight with Dave, Brian, Glenn, and lots of locals.

Brian and Glenn headed back up North after today’s flying. I am very glad to have had the chance to fly with them the last few days. They are good guys and I hope to see them again soon. Plus it was fun watching Brian nearly overshoot the LZ today – good save Noman!

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:







Road Trip to Crestline Day 3 – Another Crestline Flight

Another nice day with lots of pilots. I launched into a nice breeze and tried to work the light ridge lift but there were too many gliders for my comfort. I couldn’t really get in the lift band – a lot like yesterday. I eventually headed toward the billboard but I was low and couldn’t get up. As I sunk out I headed out toward the Marshall area. I ended up working some nice thermals up about 1000′ before finally losing it. It was bumpy. The thermals were small and I went over the falls a couple of times and got kicked around some. Eventually I decided to head in to land. I had plenty of altitude and slowly came down to the east of the LZ. I suddenly realized I was getting too low and was pretty far out. I made a straight line to the base of the training slope thinking I wasn’t going to make the LZ. But I somehow did and had a real nice no stepper next to the spot circle. It was fun flying with several folks on this list including DbyD, KK, Noman, and DayDreamer along with several locals.

Crestline is quite a site. The flying weather is consistent, the LZ is beautiful with all the grass and shade structure. These guys are spoiled rotten.

Here’s some landing pics:

DesignByDave

KnumbKnuts

Noman

Noman seconds later

Road Trip to Crestline Day 2 – First Crestline Flight

I called Rob McKenzie at 7:30am to get a ride. The plan was to head up at 3pm. But I found out the Wills Wing guys were going to be at Andy Jackson so I headed over there to watch some test flights.

I headed back over there at 2:30 and met some of the locals then loaded up with several other guys for the ride up to Crestline. The road up is quite amazing – the way it is built into the side of the mountain. When we got to the launch area it was blowing in quite a bit.

We all setup and people started flying. I was one of the last few to launch. The sky near launch had quite a few gliders in it. The lift was light and most guys were only getting a 100′ or so above launch. I launched and got into the mix. It was quite a free-for-all. I couldn’t stay in as close as I wanted due to the crowds so I was having trouble staying up.

I left the main area in front of launch and headed to the right not finding much. After getting 400 below launch I decided to head out. Found very little on the way out. Once in between Marshall and the LZ I found some small thermals. I was able to extend my flight some but I couldn’t stay in the thermals enough to be too effective. Plus I was tired and my arms were worn out. I eventually got low enough to think about an approach. I boated around to the north of the LZ until it appeared to be time head in. My downwind was fairly far away so I had a long base leg. I had lots of speed to help bleed off my altitude. I turned final and got fully upright. I was heading for the spot. I noticed the flags were showing wind from the south so I did a shallow turn a bit more into the wind. Like my first Lookout flight this bled off a lot of my energy and I found it was time to flare suddenly. I was still 10 feet up. I did my usual flare and floated down. I landed with a no stepper near the spot but the glider came down on the basetube lightly because I didn’t hold the glider up. Bad habit I need to break. Overall it was OK. I had a good launch and good approach. The flare was weak and my soaring skills weren’t too good today. I was worn out from the previous day’s long drive.