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.

Road Trip to Crestline Day 1 – Denver to San Bernardino

I left Denver about 9:05am MDT and arrived at the hotel in San Bernardino (S.B. from now on) at 11:45pm PDT – nearly 16 hours. Exactly 15 hours actual driving time. In a car without A/C it was hot. Driving through Las Vegas at about 8pm left me feeling like the expression "Hotter than Hell" was actually true.

The good news was the drive was totally uneventful. There was a lot of construction though. Closed lanes on I-70 in Colorado and Utah. Closed lanes on I-15 in Nevada and California. Only one caused any delay and even that was only 5 or so minutes.

The only construction problem was when I was 2 miles from the hotel. I got off of I-215 (or I guess you strange CA folks would say "the 215") and the turn I was supposed to make had me on a closed road. So I kept going and the updated GPS direction took me to another closed road. One more change had me back on I-215 then right back off. Finally made it. Figures this would happen when I’m the most tired, it’s the most dark, and I’m so close to the end.

Not a big deal. I checked in and got some sleep. Looking forward to 5 or 6 full days of flying. Stay tuned.

Road Trip to SF – Day 12 – POTM and Home

We met at 7am for breakfast then headed over to the south side of POTM. A few paragliders were getting sledders but there wasn’t too much wind. A few guys started setting up hang gliders. I wasn’t in a rush. It was looking too good and it was supposed to turn north later. But a while later it seemed to be picking up so I decided to setup. Bad idea. By 11:30 it still hadn’t gotten any good so we all broke down. Day Dreamer and another guy took sledders to the bottom but the rest of us packed up. A whole bunch of us headed out to lunch. It was almost 3pm by the time we left the restaurant. It was blowing north a bit. I dropped MysticWizard and his son off at the hotel and I drove up to the north side. No one was there but it was blowing in nicely. Not quite soarable but looking good. I walked around a bit. They are making good progress on the new park. Soon some other pilots started showing up. Several of us setup in anticipation of a repeat of the night before (which I was there for). Radwhacker and Sicko Wayne showed up along with several other pilots.

Soon the paragliders were there too. One or two tried to fly. One couldn’t stay up. Eventually one of the hang gliders gave it a shot, then another. Both top landed after only getting up about 80 feet. And that’s how it went. At 7:30 I gave up and broke down. Second time for the day having not flown. Crying or Very sad

I loaded up the car, said some goodbyes and hit the road. My plan was to drive to Rock Springs, WY and finish the drive to Denver on Friday. An hour into the drive I decided to go the whole way straight through. The GPS was showing a 4:45am arrival at home – 8 hours total. It was a long night but I made it with only one stop. I pulled into the garage on fumes as the sun started coming up. I went straight to bed and slept until noon.

Road Trip to SF – Day 11 – Driving SF to SLC

I pulled out of Daly City about 9:45am and arrived in Draper, UT at 10:45pm – exactly 12 hours with the time zone change. It was a long but uneventful drive. I made my first stop just a few miles east of Reno. Just before my stop I passed several police cars each having someone pulled over. As I was passing the 3rd and last police car the cop suddenly looks at me and waves me to pull over. What!? I’m only doing 70 in the 75. Being the chump that I am, I pull over and stop on the shoulder about 100 yds down the road. The guy already has another car pulled over so I figure I might be there a bit waiting my turn. I can’t even guess why he pulled me over. So I use the time to dig out my registration and insurance info. Uh, Oh. My insurance card expired last week. I have insurance, just no card to prove it. Just as I’m discovering this the officer knocks on my window and quickly states that I was NOT who he wanted to pull over, it was some other car. He then quickly tore off down the highway. Yeah. So I got going and pulled off the next exit for food and gas.

After a short stop I was about to pull back onto I-80 when two hitchhikers jumped up holding a sign saying "CO". They immediately noticed my Colorado license plate and got real excited. I don’t know why but I decided to pull over and give them a ride. I told them I was only going to SLC but they were happy to get that far. They were an interesting couple of guys. They just met 20 minutes earlier and just both happen to be going to Colorado – two different places though. Other than them needing a shower and deodorant it was a pleasant drive with some interesting stories and rounds of jokes.

I arrived at the hotel in SLC and 15 minutes later I met several guys from here – Noman, Day Dreamer, and WillMRX. I would later see MysticWizard as well.

Road Trip to SF – Day 10 – Hang Waiting

I woke up to clear blue skies – and little wind. OK, I’d rather it be cold, and low ceilings – at least there was wind. I showed up at Funston about 12:30. Two people had setup. A few others were just milling about. It was straight in but too light. It showed signs of getting better. Eventually it blew in enough for three or four guys to make a couple of passes then land. But that was about it. It did get a little stronger but turned southwest. I finally left about 6:30 having spent the day BSing with the local pilots. Wednesday will be a travel day – SF to SLC.

Road Trip to SF – Day 9 – Even more Funston

Another fun day at Funston. I made it to the setup area about 12:30 today – I’m getting better. There were only a few gliders there and one flying – but that would change. It was another overcast, low ceiling day. I haven’t seen the sun since the middle of last week.

I setup, dressed warm, and hooked in. I walked out to launch determined to have a good solid launch. It was blowing straight in again but it was about 18 or so. As I got close to launch the glider started to pull me forward. Not again. At least my wings were level. I took over and ran off with a nice launch. It just wasn’t quite started by me. I did the usual passes back and forth along the ridge for 30 minutes. Several others showed up while I was flying. Not yesterday’s crowd but a good turnout for a Monday. I decided to land and made sure it was all clear and I did a nice left hand pattern with a fun no stepper. I had good speed on final. You can tell you need the extra speed because I got bumped a bit as I descended.

I relaxed for about an hour and decided to go up again. This time I decided to launch using the basetube method. This worked out real well. I had much more control this time. I’m really sold on this technique for strong wind ridge launches.

So this was another 30 minutes of boating around in the big fat coastal air. One interesting thing this time around though. Near the North end of the ridge I hit a stronger spot of lift and decided to work it. There wasn’t anyone else nearby so I had some space. I did a few 180s. I had been mostly about 225 feet above launch. I was now 300 and still going up. A few more 180s and I broke 400 over. At about 430 over, and still going up, I started seeing some whispies. Uh oh! I pulled in fast and dove down. At first I wasn’t going down. Cloud suck! But I did some slipping turns and pulled in more and got back down to 200 over. Now that I safely out it was cool. I never got back up that high the rest of the day. This fun stint was ended with another great, easy no step landing. I’m getting spoiled with the fat, high wind landings.

After a half hour rest I decided to go up for a third time. I used the basetube launch again. So much easier. I spent another hour enjoying the views (despite the low ceiling). I did a few high speed runs and played with various turns. No good bird encounters today – oh well. It was getting cold. I was dressed warmer than some of my high altitude mountain flights. Time for one more landing. I got already for the usual setup. Another guy was landing ahead of me. I followed him in with plenty of distance. One more great landing.

What a fun day. Two hours of airtime. A trip to the clouds. Three great landings. It doesn’t get much better than this.

I asked a couple of locals over the course of the day how today (and the last 2 days) rated compared to typical Fort Funston days. I didn’t know if these were so-so days or amazing days. As it turns out both guys rated today a 9.5 and a 10. The 9.5 was due to the lower ceiling. After a slow start last week these last three days have really turned on and been great.

Road Trip to SF – Day 8 – More Funston

Yesterday wiped me out due to this darn sinus infection. Despite great conditions today I just didn’t have it in me to fly. I didn’t get up until almost noon. Bummer. I went out to my car about 2:30 to get something and was worn out when I got back to the room. At 4:30 I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to head over to Funston. I was actually feeling more alive. When I got there I saw a bunch of gliders setup and several in the air. The ceiling was at about 700′. I heard some stories of guys graying out heading to Westlake.

I setup and was feeling pretty good. I dressed warmer than yesterday. It was quite chilly (low 50s) and breezy. The wind was straight out of the west at 15-20. I suited up, hooked in, and walked out to launch. Remembering yesterday’s near disaster launch I was really on top of this one. Due to the wind I did a nice, fun moon-walk launch.

I spent the next 80 minutes enjoying nice ridge lift on the Pacific ocean. It was fatter than yesterday but not quite as smooth. Nothing to complain about of course. I flew with about 4-6 gliders at any given time including a rigid. I also got fairly close to a hawk a couple of times. The beach was looking pretty small today – not a good day to land down there.

I finally got around to getting my camera out of my new camera pouch on the side of my harness. I got it out OK but I couldn’t get it back in. In the process I pulled the pocket off of the harness (it was held on with velcro) and dropped it on the cliff face. Luckily the camera was safety tied and I still had it. But it was hanging down and I didn’t want to land that way. I spent some time stuffing it in another pocket and making sure my zipper pull wasn’t tangled. Oh well.

Not wanting to over do it today I decided to land before I got too tired. I ensured the landing area was truly clear and I setup a nice left hand approach and did a fun, floaty, no stepper landing and walked over to the setup area to break down.

I felt a bit tired but not overly so. I’m hopeful that I’m on the mend and will be able to fly Monday without any issue.