Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day 4 - Reserve Toss Day

No pictures again today. My focus remained on actually getting out of the valley and on to the second way point again. The start of the races was not a lot of fun. Flying in gaggles of 60+ people is hectic but doable, but flying in gaggles where everyone is scraaaatching the trees, rocks, and hills just to stay in the air is not fun at all. Before the window opened half the field moved away from launch and part way down the hillside. Pilots were hanging onto the lift like it was some 5.14b slab with fingernail holds. Even a few established comp pilots fell off the wall and bombed out in the valley.

Somehow I managed to maintain just above launch, and was completely blown away when I saw Nate return from the lead gaggle to climb out again from launch. Nate was all smiles, gave me a whoop and told me to follow him. Of course I left lower than Nate, my glide is about 7500 times worse than his new comp glider and I was 5 times as slow through the air. I arrived super super low, repeating the internal mantra of "patience patience patience." Half a dozen slow and low figure 8's later I somehow managed to gain enough to start making circles again. I climbed up above the ridge with three other pilots and as I made slow turns trying to top out before heading out to the first way-point I heard a pilot shouting and the sudden rustling of fabric.

I looked over to see 1/4 of an orange and gray UP glider wrapped around another pilot's pod harness. As soon as the mid-air collision occured the pilots turned away from one another. The UP re-inflated and flew away, but the pilot in the pod took what he later described to be 4 riser twists. The glider was inflated and flying but with that many riser twists there was no way for the pilot to weight shift or put in any brake inputs. We were relatively low (500 feet) off the deck and the pilot did the right thing and yanked his reserve and drifted down under his reserve parachute. His reserve hooked up in one tree, and his glider got tangled up in a second tree leaving the pilot suspended in his pod harness about 90 feet off the ground and 20 feet from one tree trunk and 40 feet from the second tree trunk.

I likened the whole event to a boat getting pinned. Fortunately the pilot had a tree extraction kit (100 feet of p-chord, two floss boxes, some slings and carabiners) and a rescue crew had him out of the tree 4 hours later. His glider, harness, and reserve spent the night in the tree. I don't know how that extraction will work.

After I radioed about the downed pilot I topped out as much as the thermal allowed, headed for the end of the ridge, tanked up again and had an incredible glide across the valley, arriving high I worked up the ridge, luckily found a good tight core, glided to Bald Mtn., got a fantastic final climb and I was out of the valley for the first time since last Saturday!

I thought I could clip the corner of the second waypoint, but pushed it too far and lost a bunch of altitude when I had to make a 90 degree turn and tag the cylindar. I made it a few miles further. Here is my track log.

Looks like bad weather for the next couple day. The event might be over.
More after the jump...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day 3

No photos today as I wanted to get off the ground, establish myself in the air, and actually get a flight that would take me out of the valley and on to at least the second waypoint. None of which happened. I couldn't climb out of the first waypoint. Here is my track log. More after the jump...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day 2

Day 2:

So the spots arrived in time for the second day, but they still did not have the live tracking feature functioning. Bummer, sorry gang. Maybe you have picked one of the other pilots to follow. Sorry gang.

I launched dead last today because I was taking photos at launch. Bad mistake as far as the flying goes. The advantage to launching early is that you can get up with the best pilots, then watch the lines they take, and get a feel where the up air is and where the the sink resides.

By the time I got off the ground all the good pilots had busted out of the valley and I was left to grovel around on my own. I had a good boost to a low cloud base and stepped on the speed bar to try and make the jump out of the valley. I scratched in crummy lift for a while, then sank out and watched the fiery 112 lb. 5 foot nothing French-Canadian babe boost up and kick my butt out of the Valley. Good work Megs. My track log.

Loading up the vans to head up to launch:

We had fog, low clouds and discouraging conditions on launch. Eventually the fog and base lifted, and the skies cleared enough to start a task. 40 pilots ended up in goal after a 50 + kilometer task.
Some of the pilots put in some labor removing branches and roots on launch as we waited for the skies to clear.
The land owner showed us how to use a shovel, and told us his stories of his days in the hi Sierras:

Meredyth on launch:

Nate Scales:
Andy McReae:
Bill Hughes and Kieth:

Megs and others:
Connie checking in pilots:

I went up in the evening and had an amazing glass-off with Jon, Natalia, and Martin:

Life is Grand!
More after the jump...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 1 US PG Ntls. Dunlap CA

Monday was the first day of competition. We had great conditions and about 14 pilots made it to goal. I launched close to last as I was taking photos on launch. Once in the air I had a good climb but my GPS ruined an otherwise potentially enjoyable flight. I spent the entire flight staring at the grey screen trying to figure out where I was in relation to the turn points.

My flight ended as I searched for light afternoon lift and instead found a bush. It took me 45 minutes to fish my wing out the thorny branches. All the while it sounded like the neighbors were strangling cats. On my hike out I passed a cock-fighting farm. If you have google earth download my track log and see the bush I picked as an LZ

There have been a few glitches in the event organization and the spot tracking device that I had rented hasn't yet arrived. When it does arrive I should be listed as pilot 35.

On launch:

. On launch Connie, the co-meet director describes where we can't land. For such a large valley there are very few options according to Connie.
"See the first pond on the left? Ok, don't land to the left of the pond, that is Dan's LZ, we are NOT ALLOWED to land at Dan's LZ. Clear? Ok, good. See the dirt road with the dog-leg? You can land to the left of that road, but not to the right. See the rectangular dirt patch? That land owner has arabian horses, we can land there, but if you see horse or people riding horses warn them that you are coming in to land. Clear? Ok. See the school across the valley? DO NOT LAND at the school. They WILL call the Sheriff. Clear? Ok, good. See the red barn? Ok between the red barn and the dog leg road, all the way out to the main road and over to the next pond is a DO NOT LAND ZONE! Clear? See the dump? It looks like there are a lot of trees there, but we can land there. That is a designated landing zone, in fact I land my hang glider there. Ok, see the next valley over? That valley is ok, but the next valley beyond that is not. Clear? Ok, see the .....":
pre flight game faces



Nate Scales:



More after the jump...