Saturday, April 30, 2011

Walkin' My Way Back Home

Matt and I went flying from Morgantown this afternoon as the conditions were settling and the flying conditions promised to be about perfect!  
Matt's planning to stay out in Morgantown tonight and fly out to Kolb Field (departing from Morgantown) in the morning. 
Tonights flight did prove in great conditions and I was feeling like I wanted to do some foot draggin', which is when you drag your foot along the ground to practive control of your climb/descent/speed/drag management all in one.  I soon discovered that my drag and descent were good but my climb and speed would need a little work.  Soon, I'd be walkin' my way back home.

Cow Mountain - Heffers In Battle

Woke up early this morning to go flying but soon discovered that the winds were blowing much faster than I could run.  For the 30 seconds I did get airborne, I felt like a 3 foot tall person stuck inside of a packed elevator - the situation stank and I was getting hit from all sides!

Later on this afternoon, however, I was able to get in a great flight and finally got down to see Cow Mountain - which is a name we (PPGers) gave this large hill in the middle of a pasture that the cows love to climb up and play King, er Queen of the hill.  As I was flying over I saw one large Heffer biotch slap another one tryin to take her spot.  Honest!

Here, take a look:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jibber Jabber - Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Matie!

 Each year my work puts together an operator seminar in which we give lectures and presentations on various topics within the energy world including lessons learned, emerging technologies, and best practices.  The seminar lasts for one week, however we repeat it 10 times in order for all of our operators and surrounding companies operators to participate.  All together, we host about 800 operators that come to the week long seminar.  This week we were ending our 7th week at the Loews Hotel in Annapolis Maryland and will now be moving our “show” to Cleveland for the last 3 weeks of this 10 week event.  To thank us for using their hotel while in Annapolis, Loews took all of us trainers on a tour of the bay on a chartered sailboat.  We were shuttled down to the dock in these cool eco-friendly battery operated vehicles.  When we first left the dock, we were served a delicious meal of Sushi, Turkey, various salads, and wonderful pies, accompanied with Rum Punch and a variety of other drinks.  We enjoyed the meal and soon afterwards the Captain announced that we needed to get prepared for the race that she had entered us in. 
What?  Did you say race?  None of us knew the first thing about sailing and I thought she’d lost her mind.  I barely knew which end of the boat was the front and she was speaking in terms of Ports and Starboards and Jibs and Masts.  She quickly went over the things she thought we’d do best at (leaning on the high side) and soon the cannon fired to signify the race had begun.  Our sails were raised and she pointed the boat down yonder way and off we went.  We started near the back of the pack but very soon started passing boats on the left and right.  We were leaning hard to the left and there I was hanging on like a tic in a dog park.  We jibbed and jabbed, circled a buoy and headed back to the finish line.  On the way back we were doing 9.4 knots and were in a race not only with the other boats, but with the lighting and thunderstorm we were headed towards.   
The Finish Line

Raw Oysters with Beer Shooters to celebrate our Victory!

We ended up winning the race and celebrated by more Rum Punchin' (YAY) and got back to shore just in time for the storms to arrive.  What a great time we had.  Can’t wait till next year when we go to Williamsburg Virginia.  After our victory, we stopped in for Lobsters, Oyster Shooters, and more punch!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Contour GPS Flight on Sunday - Morgantown

Got a quick flight in today after getting unpacked from Phoenix.  Had to repack my reserve and only halfway think that I did it right.  Didn't end up needing it :-) . 

I'm testing out my Contour GPS to see how the video matches up with the GPS track.  Looks pretty cool and this gives a great recap of where you've been and how high your were when doing it.
We only flew for a lil bit as it started getting a bit bumpy and the winds continued to increase.  After I got home the forecast for winds aloft had increased to 40 mph and I knew it was most probably accurate.
Beth and Baby Ella came out to watch our flying and as you can see, the Baby was watching each time as I flew over.  I want to get a harness and take her flying after I get at least a year of experience under my belt.  I think she'd enjoy it and hope to find out late this summer.   
Kevin called just as I was getting back home and was, himself, just arriving at the field with his family to show them what this fun and crazy sport is all about.  Brian also showed up after flying in on a cross country flight from his home.  I do wish I'd have waited a bit longer, but had no idea others were coming to fly.  Hopefully this weekend we'll have great flying weather to do it all again.  Be Particular!
Have a look and let me know if you like it. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Paragliding Phoenix, Part II

Back to the LZ for flight number 2.  I had another chance to fly while in Phoenix so I definitely wanted to take full advantage of it as it will probably be a year or so before I get back.  The afternoon and day following flight 1, the wind picked up and was way too strong for my skill level.  As you can see in the background, the wind is pretty strong here (guessing 20mph) and also in the wrong direction for a flight intending to land here.  Carlos had me go through a skills assessment prior to my first flight and would coach me along the flight with the radio's I brought along.  For this second flight, about as quickly as I got airborne, the ear piece came out so he could have yelled that my crack was showing and I'd of never known it.  Glad it wasn't a Full Moon over Phoenix. 
In The Park Practicin' the Torpedo
Anyway :-), I met Carlos on Friday morning for the hour long drive back up to the top of South Mountain in Phoenix.  He said it was a 50/50 chance that I'd get to fly because the wind was picking up.  I silently pouted a bit cuz I just knew that I wouldn't get the chance to fly.  Soon enough we arrived back on top and I started setting up my gear.  Carlos had me set up but we waited for a few minutes to see what the wind was going to do.  Finally there was a dip in wind speed and he said OK.  I could still feel it blowing a little strong so I asked him "Carlos, is it ok to go?".  He chuckled and in a Brazilian accent said, "You're the Pilot in Command, you tell me".  I grinned and away I went.  With the extra wind, it was a bit easier to get airborne this time and I actually climbed a little bit.
As you'll see, I did a "reverse" launch this time as the wind was strong enough to allow me to get the wing overhead without running like a crazy woman off the side of the cliff.  I was able to "fly away", off d'cliff.  I launched from the lil circle on the top of the picture to the left and you can see the elevation track at the bottom of the picture.  I didn't climb much, but my golly I climbed a little. haha.  My flight lasted a little bit longer than the first and I loved every minute of it.  Hope you enjoy the video.  I suggest watching it in HD.  Link here if that one below doens't play in HD: 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Paragliding Phoenix

Well here I stood at the end of a short runway ( the picture makes it look long but it's really about 30 feet) getting ready to run off the side of a mountain. Am I nuts? We had actually came for a seminar, and I had coordinated with Fly High Paragliding to take an abbreviated transition class from Powered Paragliding (PPG) to Paragliding (PG) so I could jump of this mountain now right in front of me. It sounded fun before I got here, now I gotta pee.  The actual flying portion is only slightly different from the paramotoring that I've been doing.  In PPG flying, I have a motor that I can use to take me elsewhere to a better landing spot, or just to keep me airborne for as long as I have fuel.  In paragliding, you must find thermals to use to gain altitude, or your ride will be short (like mine).  I'm using a paramotor wing that may not be as efficient in getting the best glide performance but it's probably also due to the fact that I was about to take my first paragliding flight and had never had to go thermal hunting before. 
There was another flyer there with me today, Tracy.  She was there to take a tandem ride with Carlos, the PG instructor.  I was to go first just in case I bought the farm; he'd call in help to get me off the side of "South Mountain".  I had learned that just a month earlier in better conditions than today, an experienced paraglider pilot stalled and fell 60 feet to the mountain side and had to be medivaced out of there.  Wonderful  I thought, and why was I thinking of that now - as I stood near a cliff I was about to run off.
The day before Carlos had met me in a local park to do a "skills check" on me to ensure that I really did have a little bit of kite handling skills.  I practiced the "torpedo" launch a few times and then he murmured something in Brazillion and told me to meet him the next morning at the base of South Mountain.  I'm not sure if I was cussed at or congratulated. :) 

The Torpedo training was fun until I had to run
back up the hill about 5 times in a row. 
This morning I met Tracy and Carlos at the base of the mountain and we drove over to the LZ (landing zone) so Carlos could discuss the proper approach to landing sequence that he wanted me to do.  I thought to myself "I know how to land" but once we got there and I saw that the whole landing zone was surrounded by cactus, with some reaching 25 feet high, I began to listen a bit more closely.  "Don't fly over this ravine low level", and "don't go near that cactus there", "and watch for these rocks, those snakes, that power line there, this sticker bush here....".  I started to take notes but figured I wouldn't have time to read it before landing anyway. 
Soon enough we headed back to the vehicles to take the hour long drive to the top of the mountain. It's not really that far (launch to land) but the only roads up the mountain top originate on the other side so we had to drive all the way around.  We reach the top, Carlos said set up your gear, and now here I stand wondering again, am I nuts?  I just peed a little.....    Here's the video of my quick flight, hope you enjoy it.

If the video is too small, click on the YouTube icon in the lower right hand corner. I'd also recommend changing the video resolution to HD by clicking on the number in the lower right hand corner and then clicking on the highest number.  Hope you enjoy it! 

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