Thursday, December 17, 2009

Morning Glory video

The Morning Glory cloud is a rare meteorological phenomenon observed in Northern Australia Gulf of Carpentaria. A Morning Glory cloud is a roll cloud that can be up to 1000 kilometres long, 1 to 2 kilometres high, and can move at speeds up to 60 kilometres per hour.  In the front of the cloud, there is strong vertical motion that transports air up through the cloud and creates the rolling appearance, while the air in the middle and rear of the cloud becomes turbulent and sinks. The cloud can also be described as a solitary wave. The 178 pop. settlement of Burketown annually attracts glider pilots bent on riding this phenomenon.

I've flown extensively in wave back in the late 70's in sailplanes and fondly remember the smooth lift and the excitement of transitioning from the rough rotor to the laminar flow of the standing wave.  To fly it in a foot launched wing would be a thrill.  Here is a great video of the morning glory in Queensland.

A couple of the earlier scenes in the movie above remind me of being 17 & strapped into my 1946 Luscombe & flying low back when I was young & stupid. The tune is great too. . .

Sunday, November 15, 2009

2010 U.S. Paragliding Competition Schedule

I just received a dispatch from Rob Sporrer, who has just returned from the USHPA BOD mtg.

May 2-10
Florida Ridge
Florida Ridge
David Prentice
June 13-19
Rat Race
Ruch, OR
Mike Haley
July 10-15
Chelan XC Open
Chelan, WA
Doug Stroop
Sun Valley Nats
Sun Valley, ID
Mike Pfau
There will be a PWC event directly after the Chelan XC Open.
July 18-24
Chelan, WA
Doug Stroop

The Chelan XC Open and Sun Valley Comp scores will determine the U.S. Nat'l Champ.

I'll list the websites as they become functional.

Let the fun begin!

Monday, November 9, 2009


The weather has been a bit "Easty" lately, so I haven't been flying much.  I find that I think about flying a lot when I go through a dry spell, like this.  I even had a paraglider dream last night - which never happens when I'm flying regularly.  Here's a video that describes what I'm going through very well.

It's title is "Rush Hour Dream."

While I'm at it, the PPic widget (lower right of this blog) had one of the most serene and beautiful shots recently. . . Click on photo for larger version.

Photo by Raphael Neuhaus

I put videos I create on Vimeo. You can see my profile.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Flying Pirates

I got to fly a new site today. I've heard about some of the flights at Pirates Cove, so today when Patrick called me, I gladly hiked up to launch. The view was striking and the weather very nice. We flew for an hour or so.

Here's a short video of the fun.

Flying Pirates from Tim O'Neill on Vimeo.

A fun day with Patrick flying Pirates Cove.

Have fun & fly safe -

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Strong Owens Air (finally)

Monday we finally got some post frontal fun. The system, that passed through yesterday, left behind quite a bit of snow on the Sierras and even closed the passes for 24 hours. The remaining airmass was unstable, dry, and extremely cold. Winds were forecast to be light from the West.

We all met at the TownHouse Motel and then shuttled up the 45 min. 4X4 road to the Paiute launch.
The task called was from Paiute launch to TowerControl (10 miles S.) then back to the North 35 miles to Benton, which is well into the flats.

I suited up with as many layers as possible, hot hands in my gloves, and balaclava. The temps at 12,000' were in the mid 20's.

I launched early and climbed to 10,500'. I had a good start and proceeded South for the first leg. The air certainly was more active and sharp than previous days and I decided early that I didn't want to put myself close to the terrain with such strong, sharp edges. I started the task taking climbs that I probably could have passed up, but felt that conservative was the way to start things off.

I made good time down to the first waypoint and managed to get out to the turnpoint and back in good shape. I then hit a massive thermal that gave me a fight for three or four turns. It had some 800+ft./min. air, but also spent time slapping me silly. It was all I could do to find some semblance of a core while fighting to keep the wing open. Eventually I managed to get some consistent lift, and was soon back above 10,500' and heading North.

Eric was ahead of me and deeper into the terrain, but I seemed to be making good progress by staying in the lower terrain. I had a slight tailwind so I was happy with the lower line. The lift was very dependable and sometimes very strong. They were the kind of thermals that grabbed the wing and just forced it upwards. It was quite a workout by the end of this 3:30 flight.

I made good decisions for most of the flight and was flying relatively fast. It was my first competition task on the Boom 5 and it felt good, even when the air got rowdy.

The last decision I made (relative to the task) was my undoing. I got a little impatient, or excited, and made the decision head directly from the mountains to Benton on a heading of 300*. I should have continued up the range, another 4 miles or so, before pointing at goal. This would have had me spending less time trying to penetrate upwind along course line. . . As it turned out I landed 1.5 miles short of goal. Eric, Arnie, and a couple others made it to goal by making a better final glide decision.
It was great to get today's task in before driving home. I flew 4 days out of 5 and learned a lot about the Boom 5. I really enjoy flying it and am getting more comfortable on it.

It was also great to see the commitment everyone made to fly this week. Everybody had fun and flew well. There were no accidents and all were very generous with their time & vehicles. It was good to have the time to meet and learn more about people I'd flow with but not gotten to know. Thanks to Jug for another great season with the BAPA league.

My flight is HERE.
League scores are HERE.

Fly safe -

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday in the Owens - No fly

CTRL/Click on photos for large version
Today the crowd gathered and we decided to head over to Flynn's to have a look. The weather reports were not encouraging, but when 30 pilots gather you have to take a look.

This is what we saw from the East side of the valley, looking West -

I took the opportunity to see what the Tundra could do. Because of the load of 800lbs of wings and people, or faulty driving, I only made it up 75% of the way up the hill. The ground got very sandy & soft and I bogged down.Tomorrow still looks promising, so we'll hang for one more day.


Flirting with wave

To view photos larger cntrl/click on photo
All photos were taken well after today's flight!
I’ve been in Bishop for three days. Flying the Owens is the best anywhere, when it’s good; and a great disappointment when it’s not. Usually it’s either great or not flyable. This week has been fairly ‘ho-hum’ with some exceptions. . .

The first day (Thursday) was Jug, Tom, Steve, Eric, and me at Paiute launch. We knew the climbs would not be above 10,000’, but we still made plans to fly North. I went first and flew around the area for 45 minutes before heading out. Tom and Jug were in the flats getting decent climbs and I was paralleling them along the foothills of the Whites. Eric and Steve launched a bit later, and the climbs improved a bit for them.

Eventually Tom, Jug, and I all landed about 14 miles from launch, next to Hwy 6. Steve made it up to Benton, and Eric landed about 30 miles out. We all hitched back to Paiute and met the truck there.

Friday we all headed up to Paiute again, this time the 5 of us were joined by 15 other pilots on launch. I launched early again and flew for 1:15 in ragged conditions, never climbing over 9000’. I landed in the LZ, while Jug, Tom, Steve, and Eric all landed after 30-40 minutes, a few miles N. along Hwy 6.

Saturday was the first scheduled day of the BAPA league competition. We all met at 9AM and the decision was made to cancel the day due to forecasts predicting high winds. Jug and I were making plans to go for a hike in the Sierra when a contingent of pilots suggested a quick flight off Flynn’s launch. I didn’t have to be asked twice, and went along to “take a look.”

When we got to launch the conditions looked very benign and the wind at the Bishop airport was calm. A few of the crowd launched and went to the LZ quickly. I waited about 15 more minutes and figured I’d get an extended sledder and a ride back up the hill. Katrina, I, and Phil all launched together and played with a couple of sharp-edged thermals that took us to about 700’ above launch and then fell apart.

Eventually I was able to coax another 1000’ and worked back a bit to the higher ground, where another bit of lift put the next bench back into reach. I was very aware of the winds aloft as I climbed and watching the valley for any indications that the forecast winds were picking up. Every 1000’ or so I’d roll out of the climb and do a short ‘penetration check’ to verify that moving forward into the valley wasn’t a problem.

When I was climbing through 11,000’, I started to feel the cold. I really hadn’t planned on a high flight and hadn’t worn my thermal top and balaclava. At 12,000’, the lift felt much smoother and I started to feel that I was flirting with the wave that was obviously in the vicinity. I decided that it was time head back out front; I’d had my fun and didn’t want to extend the flight into the ugly conditions forecast for later in the day. I had to anticipate what the conditions would be in the LZ 30-40 minutes from now, since that was how long the descent could take. As I penetrated out, I played with the speed bar a bit. It’s amazing how much the speed increases on the Boom 5. I pushed ¼ bar for quite a while, then ½ bar. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to take the opportunity to feel out this wing. All the while, I’d throttle the bar to compensate for movement of the wing due to turbulence.
My concerns with the wind and penetration were valid, but I’d made the decision to come out front before the winds increased above 12-14 mph.

After getting out front I headed North to fly over launch. I still had around 8,000’ (3,000-4,000’ AGL) and pushed about ¾ bar for a while. The wing felt very stable and solid until I hit a ‘bump’ that loaded up the wing and then I went very light in the harness. At that moment the wing just ‘went away’ and disappeared behind me. I waited for the surge and caught the wing as it came forward without any asymmetry, but the right wing was badly cravatted. I counter steered and weight-shifted to hold my heading (as best I could) and started to fish the stabilo line to clear the tip. At that point the wing started to wind up to the right and I had to increase the counter-steer by giving the left brake more pressure, to slow the turn. The tug on the left brake caused the wing to stall, so I went immediately to a full stall position with both brakes to ‘reset’ things. After holding the stall for a couple oscillations I recovered, with the cravatte cleared, and stopped the surge. It was a text-book recovery and I hope they all go that well. From the looks of my flight trace, I only lost 200-300 feet during the maneuver.

I landed in the LZ about 30 minutes later in dead-calm winds. About an hour later (2 hours after I decided it was time to head to the LZ) it was gusting to 25.
The lessons learned from today’s flight:

1. Don’t underestimate the ferocity of the conditions in the Owens. The weather can change very quickly. I would have shown more sense, perhaps, if I’d called it a day earlier in the flight, or had not climbed as high. The reason I say that is because I do believe I was nibbling at the edge of the wave. Paragliders aren’t an appropriate flying machine to play with wave - especially in the Owens Valley. I pushed things a bit today and got away with it – If I’d pushed any farther things might have gotten ugly because the envelope of a PG is so narrow.

2. I only have about 5 hours on my Boom 5 now and I really shouldn’t be playing around with more than ½ speed bar until I am comfortable on the wing and can understand what it’s telling me. One of the reasons my wing blew up is that I didn’t recognize that it would probably do so when I hit the bump. I’m proud that the recovery went well and I didn’t over control and create a cascading event that went on and on. Using speed bar down low is for others, more motivated than I.

3. The Boomerang 5 is a good, honest wing that is solid until you (I) fly it with a disregard for its peculiarities. It treated me well today and I am getting better at flying it.

4. Thanks to Brad Gun for his SIV magic. I must have learned a lot because it all came through today.

All-in-all today was a fun, eventful, educational, and humbling day. That’s the personality of the Owens and maybe, that’s why I enjoy flying here so much.

Fly safe –

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Simple things

Point a video camera at the sky, the horizon, hilltops, a bay; allow the world to go by in real time, but record it in 'lapse' time. It sounds simple - and it is; but it accentuates the visual vividness that we all could, simply, experience when seeing.

Another Cloud Reel... from Delrious on Vimeo.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

PWC Superfinal in Poggio Bustone

Those of us relegated to spectator status have something to watch this week. The PWC (Paragliding World Cup) Superfinal is on in Poggio Bustone, Italy - At least that is where they have tried to run the comp - It appears that the weather has been less than cooperative and the participants have been moved to a site near Norma.

So far, three tasks have been flown and scored. The second task was scored after being stopped, and the scoring of this task has created a bit of an anomaly in the overall scores. To read about the comp see the PG Forum topic.

We have pilots from the US participating in the Superfinal. 2009 US Champ, Brad Gunnuscio, as well as Jack Brown, Pete Schaefer, Jeff Wishney, and Bill Hughes all qualified for this elite event. Jack is blogging, when internet connection is available, HERE. Jack is one of the top-ranked US pilots and a fellow airline pilot & Masters class racer - He's giving me hope that an 'old-guy' can compete in this sport. Luca Donini, an 'over 50' Italian, is leading the Superfinal, so that too is encouraging.

There are some great videos of the tasks, from the cockpit of Philippe Broers (a non-competitor) HERE. You can start with THIS video of task one.

Results are HERE.

Good luck guys - Fly safe -


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Paragliding and Life -

The '09 XC competition season is essentially over. I have one long weekend in October scheduled for the last BAPA event in the Owens Valley. So I'm back to watching XC Skies and hoping for good flying weather when friends are available and family events allow. I think it is very easy to forget the impact that my activities can have on others. I need to remind myself to be thoughtful of my family, and my wife in particular. Because paragliding is time intensive, and not the most audience friendly sport, I've purposely avoided dragging my wife to the dry, sometimes desolate locations we often site our competitions. For this reason, I spend weeks on the road at comps without the company of my favorite person. Next year I hope to take Mary along on one of the trips to Oregon or Washington, so she can enjoy some of the local sights while I'm out flying with my buddies. . .

I received an email from someone recently that reminded me that simply filling the skies with our colorful wings can have a positive impact on the daily lives of people held firmly to the ground. Sometimes I forget that what we do is, for lack of a better adjective, 'special'. It sometimes takes an exuberant outburst in a retrieve van by Nate Scales, exclaiming, "How COOL is this?! We FLEW today - UP THERE!" to remind me how. . .'Special' what we do can be.
Anyway - Here is the email I received during the US Nationals in Provo, Utah, edited a bit for brevity -
It's going on 3 a.m. and I'm enthralled with your blog and website. I can't wait to see more, read more, and share it with my family. By way of explanation and introduction into my life, my sister, 80 year old Mother, and I live down on Canyon Road in Provo. Our condo has a patio with a straight shot at Squaw Peak. Everyday I spend time with my Mother on the patio enjoying the beauty of Squaw Peak. This week has been a new and incredible journey for us as we view the paragliders. My Dad is buried half way between us and where you are launching in a cemetery that you probably see from the sky. So we put the dog in the car and ride up the hill to the cemetery for a better view. Thursday we saw a big black bird following a couple of you around and around. I wonder if that was you!

Anyway, what I do want you to know is that you and your fellow fliers have brought a lot of joy to some people that you don't know. My Mom is one of them. Her days become very long, and I find that the smallest things give her much happiness. This week I can't wait to hear her call me from the patio saying, "Barbara, come quick. You'll never believe this sight. The sky is dotted with color!!" Then I know that it's time for the paragliders, and we have a new afternoon to enjoy and take in the beauty. Thank you for providing us with wonderment everyday this week. Next week should prove to be pretty boring!

Another person that you have brought happiness to is my friend that lives across the street. His name is Paul, and he is in his 40's and is dying of liver cancer. As we watched you the other day he made the statement, "I would much rather die flying around like that and feeling freedom than I would from cancer." I asked him if paragliding is something that he would put in his "bucket list". He said that he'd love to do it, but medical bills, child support, and being on disability does not allow for that type of a bucket list. He said that he has loved watching the paragliding this week, and that it has given him a sense of freedom in his mind. Paul doesn't know it, but I'm going to check around with some people here in the condos and see if they want to put some money together to give him a tandem ride or something like that at the point of the mountain. I don't even know if there is such a thing, but I'm going to check it out.

Oh my goodness - all I meant to say in this email was thank you for the information, and we hope to come up on Friday or Saturday. It would be wonderful to find you and shake your hand. By the way, I sent emails to the TV stations and the newspapers. Haven't received a reply, but at least I tried.

Thanks for reading my ramblings. I hope you have perfect weather on Friday and Saturday, and I hope that you have much success in the competition. Thank you again for your kind reply. And thank you for adding to the beauty of the earth and touching the lives of those that you don't even know. That is a measure of success.

Fly safe,
Barbara J.
I responded with this:
Dear Barbara -

Thanks for that great note Barbara. I hope you and your mother were able to get a good view of the action on Friday and Saturday. We had a fantastic week of flying - flew 7 out of 7 days, which is unheard of in most competitions due to weather.

It is great to hear that our activities can positively affect others. One of the hardest things to convey to 'non-flyers' is the joy and freedom that we feel when we are flying a cross-country flight. Paragliders are flying machines with no structure other than the rigidity of our own bodies. The wing is moving with the undulations of the air and we fly reactively, like a bird does when he alters his feathers to compensate to changes in airflow. We actually 'touch' the air and use the information we derive tactily to find lift and continue our flight. This joy we feel is an individual, isolated joy, that is seldom shared with others. I often feel that the sport is selfish in some ways because the amazing benefits and joy I get out of the sport are often viewed to be trivial to those that don't share the experience. The fact that you and others have derived some level of appreciation for our activities brings me an additional layer of joy.

I think your effort to get your neighbor, Paul, a paraglider ride is admirable. I have forwarded your email to a couple of instructors I know who enjoyed reading it and also value the sentiments. Go to the North launch at Point of the Mountain any weekend and you will see as many as 30 wings being kited and flown in a family picnic atmosphere.

Thanks again for the note and I hope your mother doesn't find the beauty outside her back porch to be too boring now that we have flown to other sites.

Tim O'Neill

So, Fly safe & spread the Joy!


Monday, August 24, 2009

US Nats - Inspo, Utah - Results

It's been a great week with 7 straight days of flying. The organization was good with retrieves coordinated by L.E. and executed with precision by some of the best volunteer van drivers I've ever seen. The task committee was spot-on in extracting the best flying available by designing tasks each day, and Chris Galli was very helpful in understanding the Salt Lake Basin weather. Mark Gaskill was a good meet director for the week and kept it fun. If I've left anyone out it's because I just returned from a 16 hour drive home. . .


I was unable to get quality podium shots so if you have any please send them to and I will put them up here. Thanks.

Congratulations go out to Open Class winner Mads Syndergaard, who dominated the comp and placed first overall. Matt Beechinor, Brad Gunnuscio, Josh Cohn, and Jack Brown filled in the Top-five places overall.

The Women's Top-5 were Cherie Silvera followed by Melanie Pfister, Nicole McLearn, Meredyth Malocsay, and Natalia Bonilla.

The Serial Class was won by Johnnie Van Duser, followed by Dave Hanning, Steve Young, Darius Lukosevicius, and Cherie Silvera.

The Sport Class was won by Jochen Rink, followed by Tim O'Neill, Nicole McLearn, Arun Moorthy, and Gary Scillian.

The Masters Class was won by Jack Brown, followed by Mike Steed, Tim O'Neill, Steve Young, and Andy Palmer.

The blended scores for the two legs of the US Nationals determined Brad Gunnuscio as the 2009 US National Champ. Congrats to Brad.

See you all next year!


Saturday, August 22, 2009

US Nats - Inspo, Utah DAY 7 - Task 7

WHEW! What a week. Seven straight days of flying. The task committee did an amazing job of working with the weather, winds, and FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions to make the week safe, challenging and enjoyable. In seven tasks the total mileage was 547KM and there was someone in goal every day.

It's late and I'm pooped. so here's the rundown on today:The task was late do to some conversations regarding a TFR North of the Point of the mountain. We flew the revised task above. It was very hot on launch today.

The 53Km task assumed a light west wind. It was a 2Km Exit start around the "Y" mountain, then North to Mahogany. Then we headed South to Stoufer - a school out in the flats.
Then it was a glide to Inspolz. Many had issues down low at various locations, so I opted for the high conservative plan. It worked well all day & I was passing pilots all the way to goal. A high Cirrus layer occeasionally blotted out the sun and having height was gold.

The race went as expected, I placed 14th for the day. Overall, I placed 23rd and took 3rd in the Masters Class and Second in the Sports Class.

The awards party was held tonight and was a lot of fun with great sides and a roast pig for the main.

After merging the scores for this comp and the 1st round in Dunlap this year, Brad Gunnuscio is the 2009 - US National champion.

I can't even stay awake so get the scores HERE - they will be up ASAP.

Fly safe -


Friday, August 21, 2009

US Nats - Inspo, Utah DAY 6 - Task 6

Today started a little sooner and conditions before start were perfect - light winds aloft and good lift to 11,000-12,000'. The task called was a dash South 13Km to Camel Pk then a 28Km leg to Mahogany. We then proceeded 40Km North to Beacon Hill, and finally 35Km back South to Point of the mountain. Total flight distance was 115Km.The start was much more of a race start than on prior days because there were two large gaggles at 11,000-12,000' over Cascade Peak in good position for the start.The leaders and second gaggle were able to make quick work of the first 70Km but got stuck at Beacon Hill. Lift was very weak and disorganized until the cycle let loose. I was about 20 minutes behind the lead gaggle and thought I was in good shape as I passed over them with a lot more altitude than they had. Unfortunately the area around Beacon Hill just wasn't putting off dependable lift and I guess I wasn't patient enough.Meanwhile the flow into the finish cylinder was increasing. It was a photo finish between Josh Cohn and Matt Beechinor, with Josh winning the task with leading points. The top ten were:
1 Josh Cohn 03:11:18 1000
2 Matt Beechinor 03:11:18 997
3 Brad Gunnuscio 03:15:39 933
4 Nate Scales 03:15:34 932
5 Nicholas Greece 03:17:37 910
6 Eric Reed 03:17:15 909
7 Bernard Winkelmann 03:18:42 898
8 Peter Schaefer 03:21:05 871
9 Matt Dadam 03:22:29 869
10 Andy Macrae 03:21:16 864

There were 33 in goal and 20 between the Beacon Hill turnpoint and goal. 55 pilots flew more than 70Km today.

As you might have read on the RESULTS page, the meet director has requested that cumulative scores not be published until Saturday's award ceremony.

If we fly tomorrow it will be a short task and the awards ceremony will be held at the North side of the Point.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

US Nats - Inspo, Utah DAY 5 - Task 5

Winds were forecast to be light and variable today. The task committee took this info to heart and set a task that would separate the men from the boys. Those who completed the task would hold the new Utah State record and site record.The task called was a 111Km. out-and-return flight from Inspo launch to Mahogany Pk. to Beacon Hill (above UOU in SLC) and back to Inspo Launch.

The conditions before start were more lethargic than usual. With 30 minutes before the start, only 1/3 of the field was in the air and many were below launch height. Those that were at the top of the available thermals were only 1000 to 1,500' over launch, bouncing off the inversion.I launched late, about 1 minute before the start, and was able to get just enough height to cross the canyon and work the low hills in front of Mt. Timpanogos. I had hoped to fly along the Timpanogos ridge and take some photos that might give some idea of the beauty of the area, but instead I was bouncing along below 7000' in the hot air with my buddies.As we inched North, the climbs became more substantial and higher. Eventually a rhythm was set and the gaggle continued to leapfrog from climb to climb working loosely together to cover the 30 miles to the turnpoint before the North winds picked up.

In the canyon just South of Lone Peak, I made a bad decision and found myself setting up to land at the bottom of the canyon near some outlying homes. At 400' above the ground I aimed for a possible trigger - sure enough, there was some weak lift. I stayed in the area with light lift that averaged slightly more than zero sink for 5 minutes or so, when a hawk appeared to my right and 40' above me. He was circling in lift and out-climbing me so I moved over to him - talking to him and thanking him for his help in finding the core. We worked our way from 7600' to 12,000', all the while he was 40' above me. At the top of climb, he folded his wings and dived to the valley floor as if to say, "From now on you're on your own." This climb made the Lone Peak crossing possible and paved the way to make it to the turnpoint at Beacon Hill.

It was at Mt. Olympus that I was passed by the leaders as they began their flight back to the Inspo launch, 45Km away. I was getting tired by now and became fixated on making the turnpoint without really considering my options after making the turn. Bill Belcourt and Chris Galli were 1/2 mile ahead of me and I followed them, passing up a bit of essential lift, to tag the turnpoint. Bill was able to make the low save off a low finger but the rest of us dirted a few km South of the turnpoint after tagging it.

There were three pilots in goal and another 12 pilots within 5km of goal. Considering the day it was a spectacular display of talent and tenacity.

Scores are HERE but here is the rundown of the top 5 in each category after 5 tasks:

1 Mads Syndergaard 4453
2 Josh Cohn 3990
3 Matt Beechinor 3962
4 Brad Gunnuscio 3958
5 Nate Scales 3747

1 Cherie Silvera
2 Melanie Pfister
2 Nicole McLearn

1 Darius Lukosevicius 2643
2 Johnny VanDuzer 2536
3 Dave Hanning 2356
4 Cherie Silvera 2108
5 Steve Young 2087

1 Jochen Rink 3078
2 Tim O'Neill 2035
3 Nicole Mclearn 1874
4 Arun Moorthy 1463
5 Matt Cone 1062

1 Jack Brown 3692
2 Steve Young 2087
3 Tim O'Neill 2035
4 Mike Steed 1919
5 Andy Palmer 1513

My flight track is HERE. I placed 35th today which has further lowered my standing to 28th overall. I'm having fun and learning a lot. Two more days of flying to come.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

US Nats - Inspo, Utah DAY 4 - Task 4

The weather forecast for today was not much different than yesterday's, but it felt very different at launch. It was noticeably warmer with less breeze and cycles seemed very weak. Forecast winds were from the West generally, with the normal Northern flow in the afternoon. Top of lift was forecast to be 10 to 12,000'.The TFR that restricted airspace over the fires to the South had been modified to only one mile in radius, so we tasked to the South again. The task was an 87Km. task from Launch 10K to BUCKLY, then 8K to MAPJRH, then 69K to LEVAN. The launch queue was slow to file off the hill due to less than encouraging climbs by the early flyers, intermittent lulls and occasional back-winds at launch. Eventually we all got into the air for the start. Many were very low for the start but proceeded down range anyway. They were rewarded with nice climbs that put them back in action. The lead gaggle had specked out and were into the NW winds, using the additional tailwinds to make quick work of the first 2 turnpoints.

American Canyon, a wide expanse with large wind generators strategically located in the mouth of a venturi canyon, was the first real crux for most of us. In my case, I found myself groveling at 300-400' AGL, trying to get up while baking in my cold wx gear. I was HOT, LOW, and UPSET, much of today's flight. I guess I gushed a bit too much about yesterday's flight and this was my payback. Those that made it by the wind generators were stuck on a West facing ridge with North winds. It was very hard to get past Payson, and many did not. Those that did get up had a nice downwind leg to goal but it was not an easy flight and many landed along the course line.

We had 11 in goal with Mads Syndergaard first and Matt Senior second and Brad Gunnuscio third.

Cumulative scores, after 4 tasks, shape up like this:

1 Mads Syndergaard 3601
2 Matt Beechinor 3125
3 Josh Cohn 2990
4 Brad Gunnuscio 2973
5 Nate Scales 2914
6 Jack Brown 2909
7 Peter Schaefer 2794
8 Eric Reed 2730
9 Hayden Glatte III 2667
10 Nicholas Greece 2604

In spite of the fact that I placed 35th today, I'm in 26th overall.

The temps are forecast to get warmer and climbs to get higher. It may be time to dust off the O2 bottles. I'm looking forward to the next 3 days of flying.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

US Nats - Inspo, Utah DAY 3 - Task 3

Today was the kind of day that I really enjoy flying paragliders. The task was challenging, the terrain was beautiful, and the air was undeniably spanking us all at regular intervals.

A fire South of launch caused a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) that precluded our ability to task to the South. This left the only option of flying North along the range. The task committee called a task from Inspo launch 35km to Hounds Tooth Peak, then 18Km South to GOAL at the North Side of Point of the Mountain. The prevailing winds were from the West along our route but the forecast (and all the local pilots) indicated that we should anticipate the wind to steadily freshen from the North in the latter part of the day. Strategically this put us in a mode of flying X-wind along the range with 5 major canyon crossings with the knowledge that we had to get to Hound's tooth Peak before the North winds kicked in.

The winds at launch were a bit fickle and slowed the launch slightly, but all got off in good form. I got a great start and vowed to stay high on a day I knew would test my resolve to do so. The first crossing to Mt. Timpanogos went well but it was obvious from the greeting we got on the ridge that the day would be a workout. The wind was hitting the sheer rockface and thermals were rocketing up the slopes. They were the kind of lift that is so strong and fierce that you don't really even want to turn for fear of getting a serious spanking. As you can see from my flight track there was some strong lift. As we all sidled along the knife-edge of Mt. Timpanogos we could see hikers on the trails gawking at the crazy guys flying sheets around at 11,000'. The way I was whooping and hollering, I can't blame them for thinking we're crazy. I would have had more photos, but I was afraid to take my hands off the brake toggles.
The lead gaggle was screaming along by now (the winners had an average of over 32Km/Hr.) and continued on course. It was from that point on, a day of survival. Knowing when to push; we had that headwind to expect soon - and knowing when to slow down to take a climb so we didn't get stuck in a hole; was what made this task a tough one. I loved the day - It was #2 in my top ten flights. Second only to my flight in the Owens last year, prior to the Nat's there. This flight had it all, wind, gut-wrenching thermals, and tough strategic decisions.

When the group I flew with(+/-2:00)hit the last turnpoint the wind was just starting to veer to a North wind. This gave us a great ground speed of 70-80Km/hr on full bar. It also gave those behind us fits as they tried to tag the last turnpoint. Many good pilots on good wings were unable to get to the last turnpoint due to the increasing North winds.

Winners of the day were Josh Cohn who tied with Matt (Farmer) Beechinor. Their times were 1:32 and their average speed was over 32 Km/Hr.
Scores are HERE but here are the cumulative standings for each of the categories:

1 Mads Syndergaard 2601
2 Josh Cohn 2492
3 Matt Beechinor2455
4 Nate Scales 2444
5 Matt Dadam 2161
6 Jack Brown 2101
7 Brad Gunnuscio2062
8 Peter Schaefer2000
9 Eric Reed 1821
10 Jochen Rink 1810

1 Darius Lukosevicius 1560
2 Dave Hanning 1458
3 Johnny VanDuzer 1421
4 Steve Young 1371
5 Manuel Quintanilla 1232
6 Chris Galli 1165
7 Cherie Silvera 1121
8 Trey Hackney 1112
9 Riss Estes 1090
10 Jeff Ames 1066

1 Jochen Rink 1810
2 Nicole Mclearn 1341
3 Tim O'Neill 1241
4 Arun Moorthy 820
5 Matt Cone 734
6 Ty Sporrer 631
7 Gary Scillian 537
8 Natalia Bonilla 345
9 Luis Quintanilla 231
10 Sam Mulder 201

1 Nicole Mclearn 972
2 Cherie Silvera 784
3 Melanie Pfister 701
4 Natalia Bonilla 274
5 Meredyth Malocsay 137

1 Jack Brown 2101
2 Steve Young 1371
3 Tim O'Neill 1241
4 Mike Steed 1169
5 Andy Palmer 841
6 J. David Nelson 621
7 Gary Scillian 537
8 Roger Marsh 417
9 Foster Winter 157

I placed 16th for the day and have improved my ranking to 25th overall. Let's hope that the forecast for more good weather is correct - I'm having a blast.
Finally, in the 'SEEN AT THE NATS' or 'WHAT NOT TO WEAR FILE,' is a photo of our beloved Nick Greece in his unmistakeable flying attire -

Fly safe out there -

P.S. There are a couple of other quality blogs out there. Try Brett's Blog:
and Andy's Blog:

Monday, August 17, 2009

US Nats - Inspo, Utah DAY 2 - Task 2

The weather has been cooperating here in Utah and we had a stellar day today. Climbs were 'exuberant' at times with fierce jolts of 1500'/min up, but generally the task was well suited for the day. We had 25 or so in goal - many of whom were very late on the course but were able to fly the route well using convergence and taking advantage of the lessening headwinds.The forecast was for North West winds so a 66K downwind task was called to Nephi airport.. This sounds easy, but it was hardly downwind. In fact, if you took your climbs high enough, you could be looking at a 25K/hr headwind. There were also some expanses across wide mountain canyon mouths that were challenging.

The day started late and the task cmty pushed the start time back because none of the (2) wind techs were able to stay up. Finally a few launched and it was on. I was able to get high and back towards Cascade Peak which put me in good position for a nice, high, well positioned start.

After the start we headed along the range with one gaggle going back to the higher range and getting 1000-2000' higher than those of us out front. When we got to the end of the range, and we were given the choice of going out over the flats or going left and following the range on the South side of the gap.Many ahead of me were going on (what looked like) death glides into the shadowed flats, while some were hanging in weak lift as they traversed the range. I was high enough to get a very good view of things and had started to turn to the hills on my left when I noticed Jug also heading that way ahead of me. We were able to contact some very nice lift as we flew along the range and worked our way South towards Spanish Fork.

Later in the flight another choice of High ground vs. across the flats presented itself. I chose the latter and made it to some very promising bumps that should have been pinging off thermals like mad. I spent the next 20 minutes bouncing along 50-150' off the ridge trying to get up. I ended my flight when a reasonable field presented itself without any others beyond that point that I liked. I was met by Karen soon after landing and we scooped up 7 more pilots before returning to HQ.

Meanwhile many pilots who had been behind us were high & going to goal. They flew a better line at a better time, and enjoyed making goal.

Mads Syndergaard won with a margin of 20 minutes and has taken 1st overall.

I placed 34th for the day which puts me in 40th overall & 3rd in the Sports Class.

Scores will be HERE Below are the overall standings for the top 10:

1 Mads Syndergaard 1787
2 Nate Scales 1583
3 Josh Cohn 1515
4 Matt Dadam 1485
5 Matt Beechinor 1477
6 Jack Brown 1278
7 Brad Gunnuscio 1270
8 Peter Schaefer 1248
9 Hayden Glatte III 1129
10 Claudio Mota 1112
My flight is HERE

The next few days look very similar to today, so I hope to get to goal tomorrow and thereafter.

We did have one pilot get injured yesterday while making a tricky landing. He broke his leg and is in the hospital, but is in good spirits and we all wish him well,


Sunday, August 16, 2009

US Nats - Inspo, Utah DAY 1 - Task 1

The first task of the US Nats was a 56K task from launch South to STOUFF (12k away) then back to launch, then a 25k leg to PSNSKL.

The conditions didn't develop until just before the 2:30 start time so many were struggling prior to the start. I was fortunate to get a couple nice climbs in the 35 minutes I had to survive before the start. I was in a good position for the start, but not as high as I would have liked. Because I am unfamiliar with the local wx and strategy I was very happy to let about 12 gliders pave the way for me as I headed South along the range. I was able to contact a very nice thermal a couple of K's from the first turnpoint, then headed in to make the point. When I returned to the front range for the return to launch I had no idea that the headwind component, coupled with a large area of oppressive sink, would stop us in our tracks.As we approached the canyon which had produced nice lift on the way into the turnpoint, we were greeted with massive sink that required a turn into the wind and resulted in a 2:1 or less glide out to the potential landing options. I hoped for some lift to provide a survival climb but was not rewarded. Many were going into a nice green field at a facility and others were heading for a bigger field with shade at one end and a retrieval van already poised to whisk us back to HQ (not to mention that there were rumors that the vans would have beer - sadly this one didn't).

Once on the ground we did the normal commiserating and were greeted by a couple of young, local girls named Caitlin and Kirstin. They asked the normal wuffo questions and were a treat to talk to.
MANY were down in the first 40 minutes of the task - I'd estimate that no more than 15-20 made it back to launch. The last leg had a tailwind but had a sketchy stretch over the flats that may make it tough to get to goal.

Scores will be HERE.

Tomorrow looks like the top-of-climb will be higher. If the winds cooperate we may have a longer task.


Monday, August 10, 2009

BAPA Comp at Dunlap Aug '09

This weekend Jack Grisanti joined me to fly in a weekend comp at Dunlap, CA. We drove up Friday night and stayed in my Pop-Up camper. The days were about 85*-90* in the Valley but cooled in the evening for perfect sleeping weather at the top of the hill.

The turnout was good with many first-timers and a few visitors from Hawaii, Germany, and Bo from Seoul.

The weekend forecast looked like the top of climb would be around 6000' with good climb rates and no cloud. Actual conditions were good with some very small cores that made centering a bit of a struggle.

The 65K task on Saturday was lap of the Dunlap valley followed by a 37K leg to goal at Woodlake. I had a good start and was in the hunt for the first few waypoints. At Bald Mtn., the last fix before the leg to Woodlake, I was about 10-15 minutes behind Josh & Eric and Kansas. I was between the lead pack and the second small gaggle. I hit the Squaw Valley turnpoint and decided to go back to Bald for a climb which would also (possibly) allow me to be joined by Steve and Alex to help with the nleg to Woodlake. By now the West winds had established and it seemed to break up the lift on top of Bald. To make a long story short, I ended my flight at the Ranger Station with many others after getting skunked at Bald. I had made what I thought was the high percentage decision. The fact that it didn't work out doesn't it make it wrong, but it does make me replay the decision to look for reasonable alternatives.

Eric was the only pilot in goal, with Josh and Alex just short of goal. I placed 5th or 6th for the day.

Sunday weather was a carbon copy of Sat. and we called a 39K task that included 5 valley crossings. With the winds, and critical crossings, this task was very technical. Every pilot had at least one or two low saves.

I had another good start and was, again, right behind Josh & Eric for the first hour, with Kansas, Alex, and Steve, just ahead of me or hot on my heels. We (the second gaggle) actually traded positions many times as each of us found our own holes, routes, and low saves. I was very conservative generally, and used most climbs until the net gain (lift vs. drift) was a wash.

Near the end of the task, as I neared the ranger station I passed by Kansas and Josh, who were in the lead and flying from the Ranger station to launch. They were quite low and flying along my track. I had felt little in the way of lift, so I was in doubt about the prospect of lift along that route. As I headed the last 2K to Ranger station, I kept an eye on Josh & Kansas and it was not good, so I made the turnpoint and turned left to a low (200' tall) lift trigger. The hill had been terraced for a home and had a field at the base if no lift was found. Fortunately, I hit a well behaved thermal at about 250' above the ground that took me up 3000' and assured making it to launch. I'd have to say that my decision to take the weak climb, just prior to the ranger station, which gave me the extra 200-300' to get to my lift trigger, was THE decision that allowed me to make it to goal. Luck was a factor too, but in this instance, I made my luck.

On the way to launch I found one more boomer that gave me enough altitude to fly from launch to Granny's knob, then to goal. Alex had had a similar save and was only about 5-10 minutes behind me into goal. There were no other pilots at the goal field, so my initial thoughts were that Josh and Eric had gone looking for shade and beer. It wasn't until a guy drove by and congratulated me that I realized I was first into goal 8-) Alex was also surprised when he found out that we were the first. SEE EDIT BELOW.

We had a celebratory brew and packed up before a few other pilots landed at the LZ, but I'm unsure if they completed the task. It was a long day that required the dreaded low save. I was able to make goal while others weren't, only because I was lucky enough to get my save when I needed it most. Alex flew very consistently well - placing second on both days.

It was a great weekend with a lot of great flights and great people.

EDIT - My initial thoughts were correct! Eric Reed won the task day with a great time of 1:20 for the task. I was a full 38 minutes behind Eric. He then continued on to a landing out by the pizza place. Alex and I are happy with second and third.

Results will be HERE soon.

My Sat. Flight is HERE.

My Sun. Flight is HERE.

This was a fun weekend and a good warmup for the US Nat's next week.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Looking forward to Inspo

Click on images for larger version

In two weeks I'll be headed for the second and final leg of the U.S. National Paragliding Championships above Provo, Utah.

This site provides some spectacular views of Utah Lake to the West of Launch and the high peaks of the Cascade to the East. The panorama above shows the view from launch. The graphic below shows a Google Earth view from 12,000' above Squaw Peak, with launch in the foreground, looking West.

I'll be flying my Avax XC2 in this competition since I still have had little opportunity to fly my Boom 5. I may fly it in the upcoming BAPA weekend in Dunlap, on the 8th-9th.

Fly safe -


Friday, July 31, 2009

X-Alps is over. Honza places 3rd!

Well the Red Bull X-Alps 2009 is over and it was a great race to watch. As I said earlier, this race is quite an adventure. The sacrifices these athletes make to prepare for, and participate in, this race are much more than most modern citizens will ever endure. RESPECT to all the athlete/pilots.

Christian Maurer absolutely outran the field winning by almost two days margin. Alex Hofer placed second and was the only other competitor to make it to the raft in Monaco.

Honza Rajmanek made a late push beyond Aiden Toase and finished a respectable 3rd place. He covered over 1150KM and had an epic journey. I really enjoyed watching this event and am proud of them all.
The event website is HERE.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

SPOT Improvements

I've carried a SPOT on my flight deck for 18 months now. It has never saved my life, but it has always been there, waiting to be activated if need be. In March I resubscribed for the 2009 season using a promotion that basically gave me a free SPOT unit for the cost of subscription (around $150). I also consider the $8/yr. GEOS SAR subscription a valuable bit of insurance that appeals to my sense that SAR service fees should be the responsibility of the adventurer who gets himself into trouble. To that end, I am taking the responsibility by insuring myself.

A new SPOT promotion is now available that will, again, provide the present SPOT hardware essentially free for the price of the services. The rub is that SPOT is now asking for a 2-year subscription to qualify for the $150 rebate. Should you make the commitment at this time? Well here's my take on it. . .

The present Spot unit is quite adequate. I use my SPOT unit in three circumstances:
  • as a form of 'catastrophic insurance' to send out an SOS, with GPS coordinates, even where cell service is unavailable. and,

  • as a means of communicating with my retrieval team when flying XC or in a competition.

  • SPOT-Tracking

  • SPOT is about to offer a "NEW" SPOT unit that is smaller, lighter, and integrates some improvements that those of us using SPOTs have requested. Improvements include a more robust GPS chipset and antennae, lighted buttons, additional message options, and a dedicated SPOT-Tracking button. In addition are some much appreciated indicator lights that indicate GPS acquisition and message sending lights.

    These improvements address some of the 'limitations' of the 'old' unit. I, however, believe that the old unit is adequate for the basic catastrophic insurance that is my primary reason for carrying a SPOT.

    So, should you upgrade to the new unit?
    If you are a 'gadget-guy' who needs to have the latest & greatest - maybe.
    If the unit is much better at sending messages under a canopy of trees - probably.
    If the unit price isn't too much more - (I think the price point is $150 to $200)

    Will I? Not for a bit. If you don't have a SPOT yet and have decided to get one, I'd think about the 2-yr. FREE SPOT Deal. I imagine that you will have the option of applying your subscription to the new unit in the future if you decide later to upgrade.

    Hopefully I'll get to try one out when they become available.

    Fly Safe -

    Saturday, July 18, 2009

    Red Bull X-Alps 2009 Starts tomorrow

    The 2009 Red Bull X-Alps begins on July 19th and 30 pilot/athletes from 23 countries, will travel 818 Km.(508 miles) from Salzburg, Austria to Monaco. The route takes competitors through the Alps on an amazing journey. Competitors will travel by foot or paraglider depending on their skills and the weather. Alex Hofer is the favorite with 2 X-Alps wins to his credit.

    The live-tracking available on the X-Alps website and personal blogs of the competitors (see below) will allow a view into the epic adventures.

    I am truly envious of these individuals who have interrupted their lives to embark on this test of their skills, physical strengths, and mental toughness. When I think about the explorers of old, Lewis & Clark, Stanley and Livingston, I am amazed at the personal suffering and commitment these men endured. The closest a 21st century man can come to this kind of adventure is a X-Alps type of journey.

    Honza Rejmanek is a California pilot participating in his second X-Alps. In 2007 he placed in the top 10 even though he started the race with a terrible stomach problem that basically put him days behind from the beginning. Fly safe and have fun Honza!

    To follow the action you have many options:

    X-Alps 2009 official website
    X-Alps mobile live (for mobile communication, without flash)
    X-Alps RSS Feed
    X-Alps Facebook
    X-Alps twitter
    I can't figure out why the gap below. . . scroll for individual blog links. Thanks to Otto Schulz for putting this info together.

    Country Flag Athlete Age Supporter Glider Personal blog / website prev. participation
    AUS Lloyd Pennicuik 43 Lewis Nott Axis link 2007 (17.)
    AUT1 Helmut Eichholzer 32 Andreas Neubacher Advance link 2005 (4.)
    AUT2 Christian Amon 38 Manuel Goller Swing Stratus Proto 2005
    BEL Thomas de Dorlodot 23 Maxime van Dyck Gradient Avax XC2 link 2007
    CAN Max Fanderl 43 Penny Powers Nova Factor link 2007
    CZE Jan Skrabálek 38 David Bzirsky Gradient link 2007 (11.)
    ESP Ramón Morillas 41 Juan Morillas Advance link 2007 (7.)
    FIN Jouni Makkonen 37 Toni Leskelä Gradient Avax SR7
    FRA1 Vincent Sprüngli 43 David Bibier Cocatrix Gin Boomerang 2007
    FRA2 Julien Wirtz 32 Adrien Vicier Ozone link 2007 (12.)
    GBR1 Aidan Toase 35 Charlie Merrett Ozone link 2005 • 2007 (6.)
    GBR2 Tom Payne 33 Aley Raymont Axis Venus II light link
    GER Michael Gebert 28 Florian Schellheimer Gradient Avax XC2 link 2005 (5.) • 2007
    HUN Pál Takáts 23 Mauritz Volkmer U-Turn link
    ITA1 Leone Antonio Pascale 41 Maurizio Dalla Valle Gradient Avax link 2007 (10.)
    ITA2 Andy Frötscher 40 Raphael Graetz Murphy Skywalk link 2003 • 2005 • 2007 (14.)
    JPN1 Kaoru Ogisawa 49 Masaru Saso Gin Boomerang X6 2007 (5.)
    JPN2 Masayuki Matsubara 37 Tetsuo Kogai Nova Triton
    NED Ronny Geijsen 30 Hugo Robben Gin Boomerang
    POL Filip Jagla 31 Piotr Goc Gin Boomerang X6
    ROM Toma Coconea 33 Vasile "Gigi" Trifan UP X-Alps Proto link 2003 • 2005 • 2007 (2.)
    RSA Pierre Carter 43 James Braid Gradient XC
    RUS Evgeny Gryaznov 36 Dmitry Gusev SOL Torck
    SLO Primoz Suša 31 Igor Erzen MacPara Magus 6 link
    SUI1 Alex Hofer 32 Nicole Schlotterer UP Trango Xlight link 2005 (1.) • 2007 (1.)
    SUI2 Martin Müller 42 Fabien Zuberer Gin Boomerang 5 light link 2007 (3.)
    SUI3 Christian Maurer 26 Thomas Theurillat Advance Omega link
    SVK Peter Vrabec 36 Tomas Bernat Axis Mercury 2008 link 2007
    USA Honza Rejmanek 33 Dave Hanning Axis Mercury link 2007 (9.)
    VEN Raul Penso 35 Ismael Penso Niviuk 2007