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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The sinus infection kept me sleeping a lot and resting at the hotel. But this morning I woke up feeling a little better and having some energy. I checked the webcam and people were flying at the Fort. I headed over there about 11:30 after taking my time getting ready. There were quite a few gliders setup with half a dozen in the air. I took my time setting up and talking with a few of the locals.
I got all suited up and headed over to launch. It was blowing straight in about 15 or so. I waited for a good clearing and off I went. I worked the ridge a bit and decided to do my first top landing. I did a nice setup but it turned out to be a tiny bit to close. I glided on final right to the edge and kept going. I ended up taking a step or two and launched again. After another pass I did another approach and had a nice landing.
Later a did another round that ended in a less graceful landing. This one ended up being a light whack on the nose. No harm done.
My third round for the day was the eventful round. It started off with a bad launch. I let the glider fly me instead of the other way around. I was standing on launch. The glider was off my arms flying in the wind. I was waiting for a good clear spot when the glider started pulling my forward. I didn’t do enough to stop it. As I drifted forward the right wing started to drop. Uh oh. I finally took over. I shifted my weight to level the wings and I started to run. In the end I got off fairly uneventfully but I was not happy with myself. I generally have good strong launches. I can’t let things like this happen.
Once in the air I spent some time working the ridge. There were 6 other gliders in the air with some landing and some taking off. It was a fun time.
But I was getting tired (I’m still sick) so I decided to land. I had to wait a pass or two for gliders and people to be clear enough. I had my opening and did a right hand approach starting over the bushes by the setup area. I turned 180 onto final and came across a huge surprise. There was another glider on final just 3 feet off of my wingtip. Holy crap – how did this happen? We ended up landing at the same time less than 10 feet apart. Turns out we did opposite approaches at the same time with neither of us seeing each other until on final. Close but harm done. We talked together after and neither of us felt we screwed up. But we both agreed to keep a better eye out from now on.
Overall it was a great day. I could have flown all day but I was wiped out so I left while it was still nice. Hopefully Sunday brings more of the same but without the close calls.