Sunday, December 28, 2008

Project time

The weather has been very nice here, lately, but the prevailing winds have been North to NE and that doesn't provide good flying weather.

I have been looking over my gear with an eye towards the next season of XC & competitions:

MY WING - Gradient Avax XC2:
Has about 95 hours on it now but is in very good shape. I'm so happy with the wing that I'm going to fly it for another season. The temptation to jump to a comp wing has raised it's ugly head a couple times lately but I'm going to stay with the Avax XC2 because it has great performance and good safety. Gradient has graciously provided me with a new lineset and I plan to put these lines on in March.

MY HARNESS - Airwave Ram Race Has about 125 hours on it and it is still doing its job. After flying at high altitudes in Chelan and the Owens Valley, last year, I am tempted to try a pod. I found the cold - at altitude - to be a slight detriment to my performance. I'm also ready for the slight decrease in aerodynamic drag that a pod can offer.
UPDATE: See the results HERE.

Because I'm very happy with the Airwave Ram-Race that I'm flying, and because it is very clean aerodynamically, I'm going to do a bit of experimenting with an "add-on" pod from UP. I'm hoping that this will satisfy my needs for a season before I jump to another harness. The price is reasonable and I will report on my progress when the pod arrives. Here is what it will look like, I hope. (click on pic for larger view)

MY GEAR Is still working well and I am very comfortable with its use, so I don't plan to upgrade from my Flytec 5020 and Garmin GPS 76S. I'll be carrying my SPOT again this year. The Reserve that I purchased last year (a GIN ONE-G reserve) is still in good shape.

Last year's flying was filled with great experiences and the guys and girls that are flying the comp scene are the best. I am still learning - still challenged - still motivated to do more, and do it better. So this year I'm going to fly as much as possible again.

Monday, December 1, 2008


It has been WAY too long since I was in the air. My wing hasn't left the pack in over 3 weeks! I have a new line-set for the Avax XC2 coming from Czechoslovakia and I know that as soon as it arrives I will have some good flying days.

Here's a bit of pilot-porn for you -

Streamlined 08 from Team Silver on Vimeo.


Friday, November 28, 2008

2009 U.S. Paragliding Competition Schedule

From the USHGA website, I have gleaned the following Competition Schedule for the 2009 season:
The website addresses are correct - They may not be up yet, however.

Sierra National Challenge-US PG Nationals (Dunlap, CA)

4/26/2009 through 5/3/2009

West Coast Paragliding Championships (Woodrat, OR)

5/31/2009 through 6/6/2009

Rat Race Paragliding Competition (Woodrat, OR)

6/28/2009 through 7/4/2009

US Paragliding Nationals (Squaw Peak, UT)

8/16/2009 through 8/22/2009

The first and last meets of the year, (Dunlap, CA and Squaw Pk., UT) will comprise the "US Nationals." Their scores will be combined (with a throw-away option) to determine the US Champion.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's a bit of a happy tale for you -

I hope you find yourselves in the company of loved ones during the holiday season.


Original posting was from the

This is a good story. If a tear comes to your eyes — it's OK.

By Catherine Moore

'Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!' My father yelled at me. 'Can't you do anything right?' Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn't prepared for another battle.

'I saw the car, Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driving.' My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt.

Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil.

What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon. He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess. The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived.

But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor's orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust. Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue. Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad's troubled mind. But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.

The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered. In vain. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, 'I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article.' I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons, too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world's aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed. Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.

I pointed to the dog. 'Can you tell me about him?' The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement.

'He's a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him, that was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow.' He gestured helplessly.

As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. 'You mean you're going to kill him?'

'Ma'am,' he said gently, 'that's our policy. We don't have room for every unclaimed dog.'

I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. 'I'll take him,' I said.

I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch.

'Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!' I said excitedly.

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. 'If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't want it' Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house.

Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples.

'You'd better get used to him, Dad. He's staying!' Dad ignored me. 'Did you hear me, Dad?' I screamed. At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate.

We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw.

Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal.

It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne. Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.

Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad's bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne 's cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.

Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of mind.

The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. 'Be not forgetful to entertain strangers.'

'I've often thanked God for sending that angel,' he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article.

Cheyenne 's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter … his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father … and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all. Life is too short for drama & petty things, so laugh hard, love truly and forgive quickly. Live While You Are Alive. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second time.

Please share this with someone.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Project complete!

Ok, this ain't paragliding. . .I had planned to fly the SoCalXC event this weekend in Santa Barbara. I was looking forward to meeting up with the SoCal boys and Nick from Hong Kong, who had flown his Cathay 777 trip to LAX and had enough time to fly. Unfortunately the Santa Ana winds are blowing. We wouldn't be flying anyway, since the tragic "Tea Fire" is burning out of control in Montecito.

So, I finished up the Gate Project(s) . . .

To Recap: I had a gate that looked like this:

So I built a gate, to replace it, that looked like this:

But my Wife decided the new gate was too nice to hide on that side of the house so I installed it on the other side of the house - by the garage and nearer the street with good exposure.

Here's a shot with the gate open looking down the side of the house.

Which left me needing another gate for the hidden side of the house. I'd already taken many days to put the finish on the fancy gate so I built what I call a "one-day gate." I spent an hour or so digging a post hole, another 30 minutes tying the post to the house for stability (my preferred method since the gates hang true forever) and 90 minutes to built the gate, hang it, and install all the hardware.

This is the view from the back.

Damn, I hope we get to fly soon!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ongoing Project

More time spent not flying this week. I'm playing with the idea of putting the gate in front of the house. . .

What do you think? This is NOW. (All images can be clicked for larger views)

Here's a Photoshop mock-up of what I have in mind. 'Not sure I like it. . .

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Other Activities

I haven't been able to get into the air on my paraglider lately. The winds have been from the East (Santa Ana winds) which brings wonderful sunny weather but is not conducive to good flying. We've also had our share of rain in the last week too. I decided to work on a long-overdue project. Seen here,
is a gate on the side of my yard that was built before we bought the house, 4 years ago. It was obviously built as a temporary gate and it was logged in my brain as "the first thing I'm going to do after escrow closes." Well, after almost 5 years, new floors, a remodeled kitchen, and various other projects, I finally turned to this project.

I wanted to build something a little different & started sketching on some paper. What I came up with looked surprisingly like the finished project ;-)

The gate is built-up design with 1/2" CDX plywood sandwiching 1X ceder and redwood stock. I coated the gate with many layers of a polyurethane spar coating. At this point all I need to do is figure out how to properly protect the edges of the gate from water and I'm going to use a darker finish on the ply outer layer to "pop" the design a bit more from the internal exposed planks.

The last two photos show the result of mixing a little oil based stain (dark mahogany) with my spar polyurethane to 'Pop' the frame a bit.

The problem now is that my wife & neighbors think the gate is too nice to hide over on the side of the house. I may install the gate on the other side of the house or even use the gate in a front courtyard that I've been playing around with in my head.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Recap of the '08 season

This year I chose to put some time & effort into attending as many paragliding competitions as I could work into my otherwise, fairly full life. My wife, Mary, has been very supportive & patient with my single-mindedness. I spent a lot of time flying to familiarize myself with my new wing, the Gradient AVAX XC2, a very nice wing with increased performance and a dream to fly. Rated EN-C, it is able to hold its own with most DHV 2/3 gliders. I also spent a lot of time reading everything I could get my hands on. My reading list included "Secrets of Champions", "Psyched to Win", "Deep Survival", and "Thermal Flying for PG & HG Pilots."

In addition, I compiled some Tips from Competition Pilots off the PG Forum that have given me much to think about. I also found a great resource online at John Cochrane's Glider page.

The results tell a tale -

In Jan '08 I went to Australia to fly the Killarney Classic where I flew my Aspen 2 to 39th place. The flying was primarily flatland flying which was very unfamiliar to me. I learned a lot & even though my results were dismal, I set a personal best of 71 miles when I made goal on the last task. This flying helped to prepare me for Chelan, later in the year.

In June I went to Ruch, Oregon to fly the West Coast Paragliding Championships where I made goal only once. I placed 29th overall and 11th in the Serial class. This was my first comp flying the Avax XC2 and had only 15 hours on it at that time.

In July I went to Chelan, WA for the Chelan XC Open - A pre-PWC event and the Canadian Nat's. There I flew three tasks and made goal on two of them. I placed 35th overall, and 7th in the Serial class.

In September I went to Bishop, CA to fly the 2008 U.S. Nationals. I love flying in the Owens Valley & had a good competition, although we only flew two tasks. One task, of over 100k. had me on final glide with the lead gaggle - placing 15th & only a couple minutes out of the leaders. I placed 22nd overall and 7th in the Serial Class. I also had one of my all-time best flights, on the practice day, from Walt's launch on the Sierra side of the valley. I flew, mostly alone, for 64 miles along the high Sierra to Bishop with wonderful views along the way.

I've had good results in the Northern CA XC League. My Avax XC2 is an EN-C rated wing which put me in the "Cat 2" group. This year I placed 5th overall (behind very good pilots on competition wings) and 1st in my category, ahead of all other DHV2/3 and DHV2 wings. Most of all, I had a great time flying with the BAPA pilots that regularly make these events. I have learned a lot from Josh, Eric & Eric, as well as many other pilots who have flown these events. I've also made an effort to help other pilots who are getting familiar with their equipment and the rigors of XC competition.

The tale, that I think is indicated by the results, is that the more I fly, the more proficient and consistent my flying becomes. I flew my Avax XC2 over 1,500km. (930 miles) in 33 flights - My comfort with the whole comp preparation and planning has also increased during this season.

I'm really looking forward to next year. The US schedule isn't out yet but I will, again, try to fly many comps to improve my flying skills and achieve consistent results..

Fly a lot - fly safe.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

US Nat'ls - Bishop - Day 7 - Task - Canceled

Well, it's over. We had two great tasks and the Owens provided the beautiful scenery & excellent flying that it is renowned for. Unfortunately the winds were excessive at launch a few days and the winds aloft kept us on the ground on otherwise flyable days. The decisions to cancel that 5 days were well thought out and in the interest of safety. As Kevin Biernaki said, more than once, "we need to remember that this is only paragliding." I agree that we can't task 80 pilots to fly in obviously marginal conditions in the Owens.

The conditions, when favorable, were awesome this week. We flew 2 tasks, each over 100K, that were exciting and fun. The air was active but not scary and lift was often to a cloudbase over 17,000'. Congratulations to Dean Stratton who repeated his win of the US Nats.

1 Dean Stratton USA UP Edge XXL
2 Josh Cohn M USA UP Edge
3 Peter Schaefer USA Niviuk Peak 27
4 Eric Reed M USA Niviuk Icepeak XP
5 Jack Brown USA Gin Boomerang 5
6 Nate Scales USA Advance O7
7 Nicholas Greece USA Niviuk Icepeak XP
8 Alberto Brun MEX Niviuk Icepeak XP
9 Hayden Glatte USA Gin Boomerang 5
10 Honza RejmanekUSA Axis Mercury

I placed 22nd overall & 7th in the Serial class. I'm very happy with how this comp turned out.


Friday, September 19, 2008

US Nat'ls - Bishop - Day 6 - Task - Canceled

Today looked so bad, due to forecast high winds in all the models, that the day was canceled at the pilot meeting before going to launch. A few of us decided to go up to Baker Lake for some hiking. We drove to 10,500' (a three hour teeth-jarring ride in Roger's unstoppable Chevy) to Baker Meadow. Then we hiked into Baker Lake & did a bit more hiking around the lake before returning to the truck for the long ride back to civilization. It was a beautiful day and amazing scenery.

Tomorrow is the last day of the comp & we are desperate for another task to make this a 'valid' competition (one that provides points for the top pilots for their ranking towards the US World Team selection) Tomorrow is forecast to have lighter winds.

Here is a video of the Gunter launch shortly befor the first pilots were in the air & prior to canceling day 5.

As of today, I'm 21st overall & 6th in the Serial Class. The quality of this group is very high & deep, so I am very happy with this result, so far.

Hopefully more tomorrow -


Thursday, September 18, 2008

U.S. Nat'ls Day 5 - Task 3 - Canceled

We arrived at Gunter's at around 10:30. Calm at the airport and on the launch. Threw a few wind-techs into the air around 11:30. It soon became apparent that the winds aloft were stronger than forecast. A task was called & pilot meeting briefed, but shortly after the launch window opened, it was closed due rapidly changing wind conditions. A check at the airport again - 15 gusting to 20 kts. . . The meet director & safety cmty. agreed to call the day, based on observed winds and the forecast for an increase later in the day.

Results should be HERE soon. They may be delayed due to some pending protests and rule verifications.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

U.S. Paragliding Nat'ls - Day 4 - Task 2

Today we drove to the Gunter launch on the White range. This launch is at 8300' (2524M) and provided a very nice open area,if a bit bushy, for us to lay out & launch. The weather cooperated well - light Southerly winds and good lapse rates & enough moisture to provide some nice clouds. Cloud base during the day was around 15,000'. Any threat of overdeveloping was soon dismissed.

The task was a run North along the Whites that required a dip to the edge of the valley at MVWHIN and the a straight 75K shot to MINA. Total distance, 110K (68miles)

I launched an hour before the start and climbed out slowly. I was fortunate to have good height at the start - many others were stuck on the terrain trying desperately to get up enough to get away. I headed North with the second gaggle. The lead gaggle was high & moving along the high ground quickly. The second gaggle seemed to disintegrate and I was soon flying alone from thermal to thermal. Sometimes I was the pimp & sometimes I was the pimpee, but I was able to move along quickly with at least half speed bar most of the time.

I seemed to be making good time and staying high until reaching Boundary Peak at North termination of the Whites. As I crossed over the Western spine of the peak I saw a paraglider under reserve drifting down onto the peak. He 'landed' just below the tree line at around 11,000'. HERE is his Google Earth landing spot. I announced the toss & tried to raise the pilot but was unable to. About this time, I encountered the trashy air that precipitated the toss & had my hands full. I took a GPS fix, in case the pilot needed extraction & then set about flying my wing. . . I was down to 10,000' by now & needed some lift. I had hooked into a nice 800'/min. thermal when I heard Chris K. on the radio, announcing he was OK. It was good to hear his call & I was able to concentrate on my flight to Mina again. I'm sure Chris has a interesting story to tell tomorrow.

This climb allowed me to kick the bar some more and I was soon surprised to see a gaggle of comp gliders ahead and below me. As I approached them, I realized this was the lead gaggle! I came in on top & soon was circling with them in weak scattered lift. It soon felt a lot like gaggle suck to me & I had the slowest wing in the gaggle so I made the decision to push things a bit & head out. I climbed for a while but left with 10.6:1 glide to goal (20 km away) knowing I would probably need a short climb to make goal. As I pointed at goal, I knew this decision would either put me in goal fast, or put me on the deck trying. To make matters a bit more dicey, 90% of the ground was in shadow from cloud so I was hoping for lift in an unlikely patch. . .

I watched the required glide ratio to goal and decided to take the next bit of lift I could find, until I indicated 8:1 required. I found a small 350'/min. thermal & stayed with it until I had goal made & headed the last 10 km on 1/2 bar. Quite a few guys passed me on the final glide, but hey - it's a thrill for me just to be in a position where I can see the winner cross the goal line! I finished 6th in the Serial Class & 16th overall for the day. There were 42 in goal and it was a great day of flying with lots of buddies in goal. I must be getting acclimated because I don't have the fatigue problem I had after the first task. Flying without O2 made me keep my climbs below 15,000' but wasn't really an issue today.

Tomorrow looks like similar conditions so we may go big again. So far, in three flights, I've flown 12:47 & 327KM (203 miles) and we still have three days to go!

I'm not sure of the results for today - Results will be HERE.

My flight is HERE.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

US Nat'ls Bishop, CA - Day 3 - Task 2 - Canceled

The forecast for the day looked a bit windy but the conditions at launch were encouraging. The wind on the valley floor, at the Bishop airport, was calm & we had cumulus clouds forming nicely over the Sierras and the Whites. A task was called early that took us North from launch, along the White range, with a turnpoint in the flats at the Paiute LZ and Hammil then to Benton at the North end of the Whites. The task was short at 49.8km.(31 miles) but would have us on the deck before the wind picked up. . .

The start was a multi-gate start, every 20 minutes beginning with a 11:45 start and ending with a 1:05 start. The goal would close at 4pm.

Some of the wind techs were hanging on but not getting up at 11:45. I wanted to get in the air before the wind picked up so I got in line, only to step out when nearing the launch point. I waited 15 minutes and saw some weak climbs out front, so I launched into the fray. The lift was very weak but I was able to get to about 1500' over launch. The thermals seemed to break apart at this altitude so, for the next 40 minutes, I just boated around in disorganized lift and a 10-20 mph wind from the South. The clouds were beginning to overdevelop with virga visible so being in the air much longer wasn't going to be fun. The task was officially cancelled at 12:20 or so. A couple guys, with more hunger than I, were able to get away & they flew downwind along the Whites. I think most landed down in the Paiute LZ. I landed after the launch director reported strong winds at launch, around 12:46pm.

It's a bit disappointing because the day looked quite good for a while. The forecast for tomorrow still calls for some 10kts of South wind and cloud cover for much of the valley.

I must say that I am still impressed by the handling, performance, and safety of my Gradient Avax XC2. It has been solid in some very dynamic air. I'm really happy with it after flying 80+ hours & 1300km. in 4 major competitions and many more weekend events.


Monday, September 15, 2008

US Nat'ls Bishop, - CA Day 2 - No Task

Today looked good with a chance of winds increasing from the South again. Launch opened at 12:40 and closed 15 minutes later when the safety committee called the day due to gusty conditions at launch and reports of a wind front approaching from the South.

I'm disappointed, but secretly glad to have a day to recoup. I just hope we don't lose many days to the forecast wx that is expected to pass through the Bishop area in the next couple of days.

Here are a few more shots from the practice day flight from Walt's, along the East side of the Sierra Nevada range to Bishop. CTRL/Click the photos for a larger view.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

US Nats - Day 1 - Task 1

Today's forecast was similar to yesterday's except that the winds had a Southern component in the afternoon. The task was a 110k (68 mile) task from Flynn LZ to Hammil (in the valley) then to Big Ears and a 28k final glide to the Fish Hatchery. I launched early (as usual) and had an easy time to 13,500'. The conditions at launch changed dramatically after I launched. The wind came in strong from the South and gave many pilots a tough time on launch. Additionally, when the wind shifted it caused the lift cycle to end & some pilots went down in the LZ.

I waited around for the start (an EXIT of the 3k cylinder) and was off in good shape for the run North. I made a few climbs and hit the first turnpoint comfortably high & not far behind. When I returned to the foothill that had been so kind to me on the way out, there was no love for Tim . . . I groveled along the ridges for 30 minutes below 10,000' until I found a nice 500'/min. thermal that put me back in the game.

Three thermals later, I was gaining on the Big Ears Turnpoint, but only at between 10-15kts. groundspeed. The South wind had kicked in & being low was not a good idea. I did my best to stay high to avoid much of the headwind while going to Big Ears.

Finally I hit B. E. and was able to hook into a 300'/min. climb to almost 12,000. I left this thermal with a required L/D to goal of 8.6:1 and by the time I crossed the goal line, 14 miles later, the required L/D was below 4:1. My ground speed on final glide was over 65kph.

There were over 30 in goal and I was in the last 30% to finish the task at goal. Results will be HERE. I believe that the top 3 finishers were:

1st. Eric Reed
2nd. Dean Stratton
3rd. Josh Cohn

My flight is HERE.

All-in-all, today was a really fun day. Lots of work & some hard flying, but the conditions were generally well behaved. The 20 minute final glide was very relaxing after the long,and sometimes frustrating, flight.

Tomorrow is going to be another good one & I hope to successfully get to goal again. I must admit, though, that I'm really tired after flying two 65+mile flights at high altitudes without O2. . . It won't keep me from going big again tomorrow though ;-)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

2008 U.S. Nat's Day 0 - Practice Day (EPIC)

WOW - A great day of flying today. Jug, Tom, Jack, Nick, Gary & I all headed to Walt's today for a warm-up flight before the comp begins tomorrow. The forecast was for very light winds at all altitudes with an Easterly component. This combination made the choice of Walt's (on the Sierra side of the Owens Valley) one that made sense. It also had the added lure that none of us, except Tom, had launched from that side before. The plan was to head for Bishop, about 60 miles up-range from launch.
I launched second and found lift very quickly. I have no oxygen system for the week so my plan was to see how my body reacted to climbs to 13500-14500'. For the first 15-20 miles I climbed to 13,500' & left the lift to go on glide until I was 12,000' & then take climbs again to 13,500'. I basically pointed the glider North, climbed when it made sense, glided along the Eastern side of the sierras on one of the most enjoyable flights ever. The scenery was amazing. I've flown the Owens before, but never this side. Mt Whitney and the associated pinnacles were unbelievable. My photos don't do the views justice, but may give an idea of the scale of the landscape.An early gaggle launched an hour or so ahead of us & some of these guys flew 100 miles. Our group split up & most landed 15 miles S. of Bishop in Big Pine. I was able to make it to Bishop & landed next to 395 in a nice field. Roger Marsh was just driving into town (from San Diego) & stopped to give me a ride - Thanks Roger!

A great day with a 68 mile flight. I hope the conditions continue to be so conducive to long, enjoyable flights. My flight is HERE.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Heading to the Owens Valley


Tomorrow I'll be heading for Bishop to fly the US Nationals. Conditions look good with lift to over 17k & light winds (for the Owens) so I think it will be a good week.

Jeff Wishnie had a good warm-up flight on Tuesday & flew from Walt's 168K to the North end of the Whites.

If you would like to have a look at the waypoints used in the Owens so you know where we are flying, you can download a waypoint file that will open in Google Earth, HERE.

Check back for the blow-by-blow.


Monday, September 1, 2008

I've had enough

Ok, I know this has nothing to do with paragliding, but I'm fed up with all the hoopla about the Presidential candidates. I don't believe either of them to be the new messiah or the moral executive that I can respect. So sign me up for the "Noneoftheabove" party.

It may get in the way of some paragliding activities, but I've decided to run for President. My platform is one that promises "Free lifts to Launch" and "Beer at Goal."

Please visit my campaign website for further info:
Timo's Presidential Run

Thank you for your support.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Why do we fly?

I often ask others on the hill what they get out of the sport. The answers vary depending on their skill level, experience, and sanity. The common thread seems to be the freedom and perspective that flying like a bird gives one. Here's a short film entitled "Because" that explores why 'we' do what we do. . .

because... from Ozone Films on Vimeo.

If it doesn't load, try this link: or
This short film was created, written, and directed by Jorge Atramiz and Herminio Cordido, the same minds behind the epic film ‘The Never Ending Thermal‘.Whatever your reason or motivation is to fly, enjoy it!

Thanks to Loren for the link to the HiRes version!

My wrist is healing and I should be fine for the Nat's - Sept. 14th-20th. Looking forward to it.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Full Disclosure

Last weekend was a lot of fun & I included the high points in my email & blog. I hadn't been seen by a physician yet, so I neglected to mention that, after making goal on Sunday, I continued down the Dunlap valley to land near my truck at the school. I got popped up by some lift in the LZ and had to do some turns to burn the extra altitude. I misjudged my final turn & was at the bottom of a pendulum when I 'hit' the ground. It wasn't a crash or even a very hard landing, but I made the mistake of putting my right hand down while flaring. My wrist smarted a bit & began to swell. I had it X-rayed yesterday & have been diagnosed as a dumbshit with a significant break of the end of my radius bone. I'll be fine for Nat's (with or without a cast) but won't be flying for a while. . .

I used the harness padding & butt-slid the landing. I should have stood-up the landing, which would have protected my hands. FYI - I broke the same bone 18 months ago while walking across the street & tripping. . .

Be careful out there -


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dunlap BAPA Comp - August 9-10

The weather forecast for the Dunlap area called for light winds and good thermals to 6500' so I was looking forward to the weekend. Patrick from SLO joined me for the ride up & put up with my snoring in the pop-up.

The turnout was good, with all the regulars and a few first-timers. Jonas from SoCal (and the PG forum) was there and Greg B. made the weekend too. We also had Kaya and Ruth, who were very helpful in the role of retrieve drivers. Thanks ladies!

The first day's task was a variation on the usual valley tour and then a 16k leg from Bald Mtn. to Gage Station in the flats. After tagging Gage a 22k leg took us over Kaktus on the way to the pizza place in Squaw Valley. 68.6 Km. total.

I had a good start, but was a bit low at the first turnpoint (Sontag) - this didn't slow me much though, as I was fortunate to find a nice climb. I flew just behind the leaders for the first three turnpoints and then got slowed for a bit in front of the Dunlap Launch on my way to Bald Mtn. I took my time & got up high for the transition to Bald Mtn. I was able to cut the corner & went ahead of a few of the guys ahead of me until I got to Bald. There I overflew, without knowing it, Josh & Eric who had dirted while leading out. If I'd known they weren't ahead of me I might have taken a bit more time. . .

Anyway, Kansas was down low ahead of me on his brand new baby-blue Boom 5 and he made a great low save to continue on course. I flew by him but took a dumb line & got hammered by sink that took me to the ground about 5 Km. from the Gage Stn. turnpoint. Jug joined me about 10 minutes later and Tom M. was close. Kansas and Patrick (nice job!) managed to hit the Gage turnpoint before landing. Greg B. and Eric B. managed to get close to the Kaktus turnpoint to win the day with no one in goal.

A few of us voiced our opinions that, although it is fun to fly tasks that are long, it would be preferable to have tasks that get 20-30% of us in goal. It is more enjoyable and educational to have 'doable' tasks. I like long tasks, but this league is not just to challenge those of us on 2/3 and comp wings; it's also to promote and teach the techniques, tactics, and logistics of XC competition flying. I'm an example of a pilot who has benefited by participating and learning from the likes of Josh, Eric & Dean. Even when I was flying my Sport 2 and landing short of goal, I was learning. It is frustrating to never get to goal though & I'm glad today's task was a reasonable length that also was technical enough to make decision making as important as the longer tasks.

The task set was 42 Km. in length and had us fly from Launch to Hill 49917 to Turkey to Sontag, across to Airstrip then to Delilah and Sampson on the main ridge, then over to Bald Mtn. & then to the Ranger Stn.

I launched about 45 minutes before the 12:30 start time & got high until the start. I hit the cylinder right on time & got to the first 3 turnpoints in the lead gaggle. The transition from Sontag to Airstrip was a 6 Km. glide & I really didn't want to arrive low over Granny. When Greg B. Josh, Eric R. and Kansas all headed across, I started to follow but REALLY didn't like the look of my chances so I turned to the ridge & climbed out in front of launch. The decision was conservative and slower, but it was validated when I arrived over the airstrip & saw a couple of the leaders folding up their gliders in a field short of the fix.

I soon was climbing up again to cross the valley to tag Sampson & Delilah (behind launch). I could see Josh & Eric but there was no way I was going to catch them so I took it a bit slower to assure goal. Eric was on his way to Bald (going West) as I approached 49917 (heading East to Delilah) and showed me the thermal of the Day. 800'/min. to 7400' put me in good stead for the loop to hit Sampson & Delilah without needing to stop for lift & then refueled me for the last leg to Bald & the Ranger Stn. I left the lift with 6.5:1 and there was enough lift to bring the L/D required to 5:1 so I was on as much speed-bar as I could stand for the final glide.

I placed 3rd for the day & Eric B. (a very good pilot) made me feel good when he said he was working hard to catch me on his Ice Peak but couldn't catch me. Today I feel like I flew smart and fast. This has been my goal for the season - to learn to fly with the comp wings and fly fast but know when to let them go.

It was a lot of fun flying with the group and Patrick flew great.

My Sat. Flight is HERE and my Sun. flight is HERE

Scores will be HERE on Tuesday night - So far, I think I'm leading the Serial Class!

A great weekend.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Chelan Day 6 - Task 3

Overall winners:

1st - Santiago
2nd Matt Dadam
3rd Eric Reed

Today' forecast was for climbs to 10,500' and light winds from the W and NW. When the throng of eager pilots got to launch around 10am Cu's were just starting to pop to the West and within an hour they were also forming on the flats to the East. We were going to go big and a triangle was in the plan.

The task committee huddles for a long time and then announced (what was to be) the perfect task for the day. A 120k triangle East to Farmer, then a North East leg to Leahy (the goal on Task 1) then return to the LZ in Chelan.

I launched as soon as the window opened - about 65 min. before the start. This wasn't my best decision of the day since the 120k task would take a while.

By the time I landed in goal, it had been 6:09 since launch. The lift was abundant and high in most places but there were still some cruxes along the route that dirted many good pilots who didn't realize they had to change to a slower pace for a bit. The air at the top of lift was very cold. Even with my balaclava, winter gloves, & hot hands, I was very chilly at altitude. We were topping out around 9500' over launch and I had plenty of time to practice runs at the 1.5k entry cylinder for the start. The gaggles formed above launch and, with 5 minutes to the start, I found myself in pretty good shape for the start. I entered the 1500 meter cylinder about 3 seconds after the start time in the perfect quadrant to tag the 400 meter cylinder & head out on course.

We all got low for a bit but were able to get up well as we moved East. I was doing well into the first turnpoint, but felt slow & low until I hit the best thermal of the day over Farmer. It solidified into a solid 1100'/min. thermal for 5 minutes and took me to 10,400'. I then caught many of the guys ahead of me as I headed down the second leg. Going into the second turnpoint, it looked like many of the leaders were very low & grovelling at the turnpoint so I tanked up as much altitude as I could before going in to tag Leahy. This paid off & I caught many of the lead gaggle (which was beginning to break up). Soon I found myself getting low & alone & had to wait for scattered lift to solidify into solid 5-600'/min. I was looking at 15 miles to goal & it seemed like forever until I was on my final glide.

The final glide was also very tricky since the rim of the Columbia River Gorge is 2000' above the landing field at the bottom of the gorge. In order to clear the rim of the gorge you must not rely on the final glide on the instruments. . .The problem was, nobody knew when a safe final glide would be sufficient - 5:1? 6:1? I decided 5.5:1 would be enough & was fortunate that it was, but it looked bad for a bit as the rim was coming up to meet me as I was gliding into the goal. Many pilots had to land on the top of the rim or find lift at the last minute to make it into goal.

I made it to goal today & set a personal best of 74 miles (120k)& 6:09 flight time (of which 5 hours were for the task). This put me at 4th in the Serial class & 27th in the open for the day. I placed 7th in the serial class overall.

The mood at the soccer field at goal was very *up* since we knew that the task was very well suited to the day and we had worked hard to make it into goal.

I felt that something was different than any other time in goal. I realized, as I sat sipping one of Steve Forslund's signature margaritas, that I was watching others - many others - arrive in goal after me. It felt good!


Obviously I wish we'd been able to fly all 6 days but the three we had were great. Including my flight on the practice day, I flew 202 miles in 4 flights.

I made goal 2 out of three days and had great starts every day. I used my condom catheter on two flights and am happy with the ability to hydrate at will and yet fly comfortably for six hours.

A thanks to Doug & Denise for putting on such a friendly comp and to Kevin for running the show. The task committee and volunteers did a great job.

A good week.

My flight is HERE

Results are HERE


Friday, August 1, 2008

Chelan Day 4 – Task 2

Today the forecast was for lower climbs and 10-15 kts of wind at the top of lift. We went to launch & had light winds on the Northeast launch. A task was called from The Butte Launch to Okanagan, 42 miles. This flight took us due North and was very critical when it came to decision making. We had the option of shooting East, across the gorge, to hit the flats upwind of the course line and then fly the flats all the way to the goal; or to head North, over some hilly territory near the Chelan Airport, and then cross the river near Brewster and continue directly to goal.

I launched early again. I had little problem staying up, but many other pilots got caught in some substantial down cycles & had to land before the start. With only a few minutes to go to the start, I had gotten high but was North of the start cylinder, so I headed back South to hit the edge of the cylinder just as the 1300 start time elapsed. I turned North on course and was gratified to see about half the field, heading to the airport along with me. I don’t like being in the lead, from a strategic standpoint, so I was loafing along at trim speed to let some of the comp gliders get ahead. We soon were getting low but found a good core that gave us enough altitude to continue searching.

We pressed on Northward, until we hit Brewster. There I got distracted and all my thermal buddies got higher than I. I tried to find the lift they had climbed away from me with, but all I found was unorganized lift and sink. I continued on course until I finally, about 12 miles from goal, had to land.
I hiked out a few miles to get to a sign the tell retrieve folks what road I was on & soon a ride appeared.

The other option was explored by a gaggle who took the first crossing to the flats right after the start. They had good success and rejoined the other gaggle North of where I went down.

Mike Steed is leading the pack and Kieth McCullough is the top Canadian.

Today was very exciting, because I really felt I was flying well & staying with the good pilots on the best comp wings. I was also making good decisions that kept me in the race for 20 miles – Until I didn’t. Once I lost close contact with my thermal buddies, and allowed them to get away from me with 11 miles to go, that was the beginning of the end. I made a ‘Hail Mary’ dive into a likely spot for a thermal but had no love this day & made an uneventful landing.
There were 41 in goal today and I only got 320 points for the day, which moves me from 29th to 39th overall. Tomorrow will be a better day & I’ll have figured out what the heck I was thinking when I let it get away from me.

Cherie Silvera won the day, with Mike Steed not far behind.
I've dropped from 29th to 39th overall & from 4th to 8th in the Serial class, so I hope we get to fly again on Sat.

Results are HERE.
My flight is HERE

It's Friday morning and the winds are howling, so I doubt we'll fly today.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chelan Day 3 - NO TASK

Too much wind on launch again today. Too bad, it was a beautiful day. We all enjoyed the local charms.

Hope to fly tomorrow.


Chelan Day 2 - NO TASK

Called at 12:00 due to high winds associated with a small system passage.

Amir Izadi took some photos of the start and I seem to be placed well in the frame ;-) I'm on the grey/blue XC2

Thanks Amir -

It is 8 am on Day 3 (Wednesday) and winds are already very brisk. The forecast isn't encouraging for today so I doubt we'll fly. I saw Batman last night - Great movie.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chelan XC Open - Day 1 - Task 1

Chelan Day One - Task 1

Today's forecast looked very good so anticipation was high at launch. We assembled a bit early to ensure that the rides to the top were adequate for the entire group. That meant that we spent two and a half hours killing time, socializing, checking out set-up, then checking it again. The lift forecast called for lower top-of-climbs than Saturday, but the winds aloft were forecast to be light until the Souterlies kicked in later. I took some time to review my goal for the day & this contest in particular. The flats can be tricky when the winds kick in and cloud bands can also require a gear change until the lift increases. My goals for the day were to get to goal & not make mistakes that put me in a "hole" that delays or dirts me. . .

The task was a short one - 63 kilometers (38 miles) that took us East to Simms Junction then North to Leahy. I launched early and got up easily, about 50 minutes before the start time. The thermals got rather crowded and tense prior to the start but sense prevailed. My start was spot on, I wasn't high guy but I was in the front and plenty high when I made it to the rim on the other side of the Columbia. None of the gliders ahead were turning in lift so I headed North a bit to reach a few gliders turning in weak lift. This turn took me to a sunny area and cut the corner so I made up some time on all the guys ahead of me who, eventually, came over also. Things went well for the next 20 miles & I wasn't far behind the lead gaggle until I got within 5 miles of Simms.

There was quite a shuffle in the lead gaggle as Marty, Dean, and many others got low & eventually landed near the turn-point. A few caught a ripper while many gliders were dirting in the shadow over Simms so I changed gears and took any & all climbing opportunities so that I could stay in the air until the sun-band came along. The low climb rate allowed the wind to take me NW (downwind) of the course line, which was very frustrating to watch, but I needed to stay in the air to make goal, so I took the slow climbs. Eventually my patience paid off & I caught a ripper that allowed me to get high enough to penetrate to the Simms turnpoint and turn back to the lift.

The wind that had been my nemesis for 35 minutes then became my friend. I climbed to 7000' and saw 7:1 glide required to goal, so I headed to goal. I pushed full speed-bar and kept it in until the end of the speed section 11 kilometers later. At times I saw 75 kM (46 mph) groundspeed.

The goal had many pilots already in the field but it was nice to start the comp with a flight to goal. I don't know the standings yet, but the scores will be HERE. It sounds like Jeff Wishney won the day and there were 25-30 in goal. I'm currently in 4th in the Serial class & 26th overall.

My flight is HERE.

The Tuesday forecast looks marginal due to winds, but I'll be ready if we fly.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

First flight in Chelan

Saturday was my first day of flying at Chelan and the morning forecast looked doubtful that we would have a good flight, due to gusty winds. We drove up to launch at 1130am to look things over & see how the winds looked. My first thoughts were that the topography of the area is beautiful with the juxtaposition of the calm blue water of the Columbia at the bottom of a 2000' gorge that features amazing vertical rock walls. Once across the Columbia River gorge, in front East of launch, the land is FLAT agricultural land similar to the topography in Killarney AUS.

I was resigned to a local scenic flight. Today & tomorrow are just practice so I wanted a low impact flight to get the lay of the land. The sky was 50% or more covered in high cirro-stratus so the thermal action was dampened. A couple of students launched early & encountered some lift, so I decided to suit up & get off the hill before the mad rush began. I decided to only wear my shorts & a thin summer top & summer gloves, since I was not planning a long-high day.

The launch went well & I soon cored a thermal & got to 6000' (about 2300' over) I didn't want to cross the gorge without 6500' or so, and I didn't want to go alone, so I just boated around at the top of lift for 85 minutes while the launch queue filed into the air. Many were struggling down low so I tried to stay at the top of lift with some success. Finally a bunch of us got up to 6800' and headed across to the East side of the Columbia river gorge. I was looking at the clouds overhead & decided to let the guys on the UP Edges & IcePeaks to fight it out while I just took my time & stayed in the blue band of clouds. This plan worked for quite awhile - I'd stay in the sunny area until the clouds were approaching the sun, then fly on 1/2 to full bar until I approached the edge of the shadows again. Soon I was overflying many pilots who had raced into the shadows & dirted. I didn't have any waypoints loaded in my GPS and no map so I just kept heading East with a few other guys. I was freezing my butt off at 10000' in my shorts, but it was great to have the altitude.

Soon it was just me, Nick G. and Amir (on an XC2 also) heading for the Grand Culee Dam. I got a bit ahead & contacted Babush for a while as we headed Northeast. After 4 hours I was cold, hungry, sunburned & had a bladder stretched to its limits, so I decided to join Babush, Nick, and soon, Eric R. in a nice field. 10 minutes after getting to the road, Nick negotiated a ride back to within 15 miles of Chelan with a gun-toten, Wild Turkey drinkin' local guy for three of us. Tom picked us up in Brewster and we got back to camp around 7pm. It was a full day ;-)

Total distance 84 kilometers (51 miles)- not a bad first flight in Chelan. The comp begins Monday. My flight can be viewed HERE

For grins I'll be SPOT-Casting along the routes this week - You can see my progress by going to MY SPOT PAGE (WHICH I THINK ONLY SHOWS THE LAST 24 HOURS)

The crowd is starting to grow & it looks like it will be a fun week.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Heading North for the Chelan XC Open!

I am heading out tomorrow for the Chelan XC Open. This competition will act as the Canadian National Championships and is also a Pre-Paragliding World Cup event. It has attracted pilots from all over the world. The conditions look good for high & long tasks so it should be a very fun meet.

The drive to Chelan (Ctrl-click for a map of the area complete with waypoints) is over 1000 miles and will take two days. Our plan is to stop in Klamath Falls for the night. Tom from the Bay Area will be sharing my truck for the trip.

I'm hoping to get 1 or 2 flights in before the competition begins on Monday since I don't have a lot of experience in flatland flying and no experience in Chelan. . . getting familiar with the area will really help my flying.

I'm feeling ready though. My gear is dialed in. My batteries are charged & I'm feeling good physically, so no excuses ;-) This will undoubtedly be the biggest comp so far this year. It is subscribed to 120 pilots. The WCPC in June had only 50 and the Rat Race, earlier this month, had 88. Lots of talented pilots on the list too.

I'll be blogging as best I can - I don't know the state of cyber connectivity at our camp and/or competition HQ, but will blog as opportunity allows.

If you'd like to see my SPOT in action, you can visit my Spot Page and view the "spot tracking" as I fly.

I hope you all get some air. Wish me luck!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Between Competitions-

I’ve had a month between the West Coast Paragliding Championships and the upcoming Chelan XC Open to reflect on my quest to improve my performance and competition results this season. I haven’t had a chance to fly (due to my work schedule and the adverse local weather/fires) so I’ve taken the opportunity to tweak my gear and work on my ‘brainage’.

The gear tweaks consisted of some fine tuning of the speed system – I replaced my speed system line with 4mm tech-cord and eliminated the exit grommet from the system. I simply put a slit in the neoprene to allow the cord to exit the harness fairing without rubbing on the abrasive edge of the grommet. This seems to eliminate the ‘skinning’ problem I encountered at the WCPC which required twice replacing the speed system cordage during the comp.

I also modified my cockpit by relocating and changing the geometry of the hang straps and redesigning the flap hold-down system. I use a strap running around the waist strap and bag to give the cockpit some stability when yankin’ & bankin’.

WRT working on my brainage. . . I can’t understate the importance of proper mental attitude & preparation for a comp. Just as the mental variable can improve the chance of survival in a “defining moment” in one’s life (read Lawrence Gonzales’ book “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why”) so can one’s outlook affect his performance.

We make many decisions each minute during a task. We are evaluating the air, position of other competitors, maximizing climbs, altering our speed in transitions, etc. Each of these variables can affect the outcome of the flight. At any one moment, we are 15 minutes and 100 or so decisions away from a landing. Gravity is our insistent and relentless constant. We have to beat (or at least delay our submission to) gravity while using it to propel us along our route to get to goal.

I’ve been rereading “The Secrets of Champions” by Dennis Pagen with a new perspective. Some gems from the best:

From Bob Baier:

"It should be made clear that if a pilot is afraid, overexcited, pushing too hard, or thinking too much – anything that prevents relaxation – he or she will not be able to learn how to get the ‘picture.’ So the first rule in becoming an excellent thermal pilot is to mentally relax.

I believe pilots should be in competition, and flying in general, for the long run. Being overly aggressive usually burns you out if it doesn’t injure you or worse.

It’s important to remember (that) we fly for fun, and pushing past the safety margins for a chance to win is not my idea of fun."

Of course I’ve also read a lot of how-to in this great book.

Next stop is Chelan, WA to fly the Chelan XC Open in late July to do some flatland flying. I hope that my experiences in Killarney back in January will help me adapt to this foreign flying venue.

Later –


Monday, July 7, 2008

Rat Race 2008

I see from my site stats that many folks are coming to this blog because it's listed as a Rat Race Blog on the website - Sorry for the hip-fake, but I was unable to make the Rat Race this year. I'll be at the Chelan Open later in July instead.

Here are some links for those looking for Rat Race 2008 info:

The Scores can be found HERE

The Rat Race website is HERE

And, finally, Bret's blog is HERE

And Alex's blog HERE

Fly Safe -

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dunlap BAPA Comp - June 21-22

CTRL/Click Photos for larger photos
The lapse rate was good and the winds aloft fairly light, so it looked like it was going to be a good weekend. We had a lot of pilots and it was nice to have some friends & family to help with retrieves. The tasks both days were ambitious but the flying was very good. I met Dave S. at the school & he stayed in the camper with me. I flew 8.5 hours in two flights and Dave flew over 9!

Saturday the task was a 77 kilometer task 3 valley crossings and then a 53k leg to Exeter out in the San Juaquin Valley. I flew much of the last half of the task with 'Kansas' and we traded leads as we picked our way down the foothills. Eventually I caught a thermal that provided sufficient glide to get to Colvin Mtn. out North of Woodlake. This hill has some significance for me since it was the first hill I launched off of and thermalled in a paraglider, 5 years ago. A buddy of mine lives at the base of this hill. I spent 15 minutes or so trying to get a climb but nothing substantial cycled up the hill so I ended my 4:30 flight.

I figured Dan & Denise would have beer in the fridge & be willing to give me a lift to where the retrieval car could pick me up. Nobody was home. Bugger! So now with thoughts of a cold beer dashed, I started my hike out to the main road, three miles away. Did I mention that it was around 100F with no shade? I drank over a gallon of water and still got severely dehydrated. Fortunately a good samaritan gave me a ride to Ivanhoe where I met up with Dave & Kansas for the ride back to Dunlap.
Eric B. and Josh C. made goal, with Eric R. Kansas, Me, & Dave, landing within 5-10km. of goal.
My Sat. flight is HERE
Sunday the task called was identical to Saturday's except that after Bald Pk. we flew to Gage Station and then back to launch & out to the Pizza Place in Squaw Valley. I spent much of the task flying with Andrei A. & Eric R. They were both on Comp wings so I needed to use quite a bit of bar during the transitions to stay with them. Conditions were very scratchy so we spent a lot of time mapping the weak lift. I was able to get a low save off a low ridge while the other guys waited for the next cycle and headed towards the Dunlap valley. I got extremely low over the airstrip and spent 10 minutes in zeros waiting for the release of a decent thermal. Finally I got a kick and then a red-tailed hawk showed me the core of a 500'/min. thermal back to 5000'. This climb got me back to last chance but that proved to be my undoing. I struggled for a while in ragged lift. After 4+ hours, in sometimes scorching heat, I didn't feel like fighting with trashy air low over the trees. I fought the fight another 15 minutes without making any headway towards the Dunlap launch waypoint so I landed & hiked back to the school. My Sun. flight is HERE

Dave, meanwhile, was making a gallant effort. He had flown the entire route solo (a feat in itself-given the day's conditions) and made the Dunlap launch waypoint. He struggled for a while on the way to Squaw Valley before getting low enough that he side-hill landed at the base of hill 49917. I say the base of the hill, but he had a 90 minute hike-out. An epic day for David, he placed 4th for the day.

I really felt good about my flying this weekend. I team flew with one or two guys on comp wings each day and was able to contribute to the team so we all could make progress. I made the decision to continue on solo when it was necessary. The results aren't out yet, but I believe I placed 5th in both of the long tasks.

Results are HERE

A great weekend.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gotta Share

This site just entered my view, and I love it. The posters are classic anti-corp. and the humor is so cynical that it appeals - no end!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lessons from the WCPC

This Blog Entry has been edited for inclusion in the 2008 Rat Race Book. It is now an article entitled "Lessons I've Learned From my First Few Comps" and can be downloaded HERE

I got home late last night after a 10 hour drive. The pop-up trailer was very comfortable and made the week of flying enjoyable. . . I figure that having the 20-yr-old camper saved me approximately $700 over the 9 days I was in Jacksonville. I ate well & had fresh, strong coffee each morning while laying in my bed - Life was good, even when the temps dropped to 40F at night.

The flying at Woodrat was classic Rat. Nice buoyant areas of convergence that are accompanied by strong (sometimes nasty) turbulence. The tasks were very well suited to the conditions as they changed over the week. This competition attracted most of the top 50 pilots in the US and I was very happy to watch & learn. Josh, the Erics, Dean, Brad and many others were always willing to offer advice. Jug and I had a lot of fun flying together and watching as our different styles still had us meeting up at the next turnpoint or thermal, wing-tip to tip.

Lessons I learned are below - Some are repeats of lessons listed in prior comps. I never have said that I learn quickly or efficiently - Just that I'm learning. . .

Be ready to launch early. Then Launch early.

I launched at least 35 minutes before, and usually 50 minutes before the start. I am now confident that I can stay in the air if anyone can. This confidence allows me to sample the air, explore the start cylinder for lift, and try to make my own start rather than chase the gaggle.


I had 4 really good starts and a couple of marginal ones this week. A big lesson I learned is that being with the leaders, but low-man, as you cross the valley is not as competitive as being behind and high. Go fast by slowing down if the climbs haven't come at the right time.

Stay with the Gaggle.

It's not easy to stay with the comp wings on my Avax XC2, but I MUST try. If I get dropped, the second gaggle is an excellent place to be. It is easy to drop back (actually let them catch me) to the 2nd gaggle and be the 'high-guy' when they get to my thermal. It is sometimes amazing how close the second gaggle is (in time) to the leaders when getting to goal. More than once this week the leaders raced themselves into the ground, allowing the next batch of gliders to tip-toe through the weak patch & make goal.

Don't get low - or alone.

My two worst moments were the desperate last ten minutes of flights where I hadn't heeded the prior rules. I found myself low & alone. Without help, the chances of finding a low save are very small. It's all about making high probability decisions. - Even bold moves must be done with good odds. It's like playing poker & knowing all the odds - Going all-in looks bold to someone who doesn't realize the hands showing are in your favor 75% to 25%.

Don't Give up - Until it's time to give up.

On the last task I had goal almost made. I glided into Boaz Peak low, hoping to get to the 1k circle and then glide into the goal cylinder 1.75k (about a mile)away. As it turned out, I turned away from the 1k cylinder with 750 feet to go because I was heading downwind, into steeply rising terrain, in crap air, and I heard my inner voice say, "Tim - You are not going to get extra attention from the ladies, or rich, or famous, if you make this turnpoint. Do what's smart & fly the jet." So I did what I knew I should, turned & made a safe landing on my terms in a nice field. No fame ;-) but I get to fly another day. If I'd pushed it, I might have made goal, but it would have put me in 24th place overall, instead of 27th - worth it when the down-side was ugly? Nope. . .

As it was, I landed about 100 meters from where Marty had thrown his laundry when his wing went away at 50 meters in the air. He used up some luck & walked away unscathed. His luck was compounded when he made goal by a couple feet while he hung in the tree! Welcome to the Caterpillar Club Marty.

To summarize - I'm learning the game. Fly fast enough to stay with the gaggle but be ready to change gears and slow down when conditions warrant. My speed system was not set-up to allow me full bar & this hurt at times. A.J. flew his 2/3 with the comp wings by aggressive use of bar & pulled it off day after day. He's an excellent pilot and will go very far.

I had a great time at the WCPC. My flying wasn't as consistent as I'd like, but I am really understanding what's going on. When I make a bad decision, I'm realizing the consequences much sooner than before. I hope to be able to use these lessons to avoid the bad decisions in future flights. On an up note - I felt like I flew really well for portions of a couple tasks. My attention waned, or fatigue set in, or something - but for a while, things were really clicking.

Next comp is the BAPA comp in Dunlap next weekend. Then the Chelan XC Open in Chelan WA.