I was a Live Exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum Dulles Annex, Udvar-Hazy Center,
March 25, 2006

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Ed Levin Thanksgiving Week

California Flying - Long Report / Short Flight
Spending Thanksgiving week in Northern California, San Francisco and Sonoma County wine country, we planned a city vacation and family time. However, a few days before departure, Kay asked if I wanted to fly while out there. I had not expected encouragement, but jumped at the idea. Calls to Mission Soaring in Milpitas arranged for a glider rental, and even a weather-dependent tandem for Kay.
We drove down from SF to Milpitas on the day before Thanksgiving, meeting Pat Denevan at the Mission Soaring shop when he opened it at 11:00. Another out-of-towner, Paul Donahue, was in from Florida, also planning a glider rental. Wind conditions precluded a tandem for Kay, but Paul and I both looked OK to fly. Winds were over the back at Fort Funston, but the NW to N winds made Ed Levin Park, just a few miles from Pat's shop, a possibility. Paul had borrowed a ladder from his local brother in law, so he carted his Falcon 195 and my Pulse 11M to the LZ at Ed Levin, Kay following in our rental.
What an amazing deal - Ed Levin is a county park, just at the edge of town. There is a permanently established fenced LZ with parking right there, as well as a small training hill, and launches at 300, 600, and 1750 AGL. Gated access to launch is controlled by locks - all members of Wings of Rogallo have the combinations. The road is 4WD only, so Paul and I had to wait at the LZ for a friendly and helpful local. We found two PG pilots and two HG pilots, none of them anxious to fly. Several locals were already at the 1750 launch, but were reporting NE winds (over the back) and they were breaking down. Winds started looking a little better at the 600' and the PG guys talked each other in to hiking up for a sled. Doug, a new H2 with about an hour airtime, was not going to fly, but offered to cart Paul and me up to the 600 and assist with our launches. We knew only sleds awaited, but had both come all the way across the continent and rented our gliders, so Paul and I went for it.
Packing Doug's car, I mentioned I'd be flying in my knee-hanger harness. Doug responded, "Knee hanger? Is that an antique?" Uh - he was serious!
At the launch, the two PG pilots arrived while Paul and I set up. They both got off safely, then Paul and I in turn carried around to the front of launch. I stayed in back until Paul was airborne, so that Doug could help me get around the side to launch position. I waited for Paul to land before running off. Winds were about 6 to 8 almost straight in, so it was an easy unassisted launch. I flew down the spine, through a small point of close in ridge lift, before turning toward the LZ. Hit another bump on my base leg, so added a figure 8 to get back down where I belonged before turning final. Still was a tad high, so went beyond the spot, but made a safe landing. Kay, waiting at the LZ, had photographed both our flights.
Short, sweet, basic, and easy - but safe, and a flight in a new site, new state for me. What a great sport!
Special thanks to Pat Denevan at Mission Soaring, as well as Paul, Doug, and Kay, for letting me have such a great experience.
30 seconds in the air, launch with sock on the far right:

Landing in the background as Paul breaks down:

(photos by Kay)

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Pulpit November 15

Oh, ye of little faith! Forecasts of cloud cover and light winds scared you off! Bacil said Saturday would be a Pulpit day. You didn’t trust him and ran to the towpark, or stayed home. You lost out! The Bacilcast has been vindicated.
I arrived at the Pulpit about 11, roughly two hors earlier than my routine, thinking I’d only find a couple of folks there. There were already 7-8 vehicles, and many gliders set up. So much for being early.
I launched just before 1:00 into 10-15 and a little switchy direction. Took me a few minutes to feel the glider balanced. Thanks to wire crew Bruce and Alek for putting up with my slow launch as I got the feel of the wing. Ran off into enough wind to maintain near ramp altitude, but did not get the sweet immediate lift that I had seen Sparky get about noon. Worked my way down the ridge, in and out of light lift pockets, showing up near the towers about 150’ below launch height. With some careful work I was able to get back up to about 200 over. Spent the next hour or so working between the towers and half way back to launch, ranging from 200 below to 200 over many times. Never got up high over the ridge crest, as I saw 6-8 other gliders doing. I also noted a period when I had that end to myself, as everyone else was about 500 over up near the ramp.
For about 20 minutes I was 100-200 over, with Matthew scratching well below me. He eventually climbed back up to a few hundred above me. I found a bit better lift areas just west of 16, as opposed to hugging the ridge. Over the hour I recovered from 150-200 below at least half a downs times. Felt like I was really earning my flight. Landed at 2:15, nailing my flare right nest to the wind sock. I was extremely happy with the entire flight, 75 minutes, max 250’ over launch.
Hooked a body ride back to launch with Hugh so we could assist the last launches of the afternoon. Steve Padgette was first off in this shift. He flew a bit out from the ridge, and never caught enough lift to head down near the main, so he demonstrated use of the secondary LZ. Brian was preparing Alek for his first Pulpit flight. Alek had an excellent launch, and was able to work the light ridge lift and end in the main LZ. He should give the details of what looked to be a nice flight. We got Brian on launch, where he had a lot of difficulty controlling his glider due to slippery gloves. A quick swap on launch of his fancy lined Hotfingers ski gloves for my split cowhide cheapo work gloves gave him enough grip to stay in control, and he headed out for his late day extendo.
Matthew laid out his paraglider, and after a couple of false starts bouncing on the rocks, he demonstrated a two-part stand-sit-stand launch with assist. Ellis set up, but decided against flying in the switchy cross.
Our invasion of McKinstry’s in Mercersburg was quite successful, with a total of nine ensconced in the back room. The chef/owner, who has gotten used to us, told us that if we ran off her new waitress (we were the first table of more than four she ever served) Brian would have to fill in. Luckily, she stayed, so Brian could displace Paul in the seat next to Lauren and hit on her for half the dinner. Of course, Alek demonstrated the power of an accent, and had Lauren’s attention the other half. Paul watched from the end of the table, and had his revenge by making Lauren pay their check.
Special thanks to the many pilots who came out just to help launch – Bruce, Holly, Scott.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Veterans' Day at Daniels

A personal first, I have now flown Daniels. Actually two firsts - first time I used the 4WD in my new truck, and first time flying the site. Tuesday was rainy up around DC, and the upper level forecast was strong, 33 kts at 3,000'. Notwithstanding those harbingers, conditions at Daniels were pleasant and light.
We had partly to mostly cloudy, with notable blue visible in the sky. Winds were barely strong enough to lift the red disk in Mark Cavanaugh's Hall wind meter. It was sled city, and the bagwing was the wing of choice. Ellis Kim had flight of the day, reaching 200' over launch with her paraglider on her first flight. Over the rest of the afternoon she logged a total of four flights. Tom Besch and Alex (Don Alexander?) each had three PG flights, and John Middleton rode his bag out for two.
On the plumbing side of the foot launch community, Greg Dewolf, Nelson Lewis, and I each took our sleds like the men we are. Having been warned about the tight approach requirement I flew my Pulse instead of the Ultrasport. The landing went great, but the brush growth is high so I flared about 3 feet higher AGL than I had realized. Just meant a longer drop to earth than expected. I was happy with the short smooth flight.
Mark gets major bonus points for using his bow saw to improve the low end of the slot, dealing with tall growth for over an hour. Eventually he packed his glider back up, not wishing to push his K5 into a 3-4 mph launch wind. I think the sequence of clearing and then not flying doubles his points for the day.
We also garnered a wuffo gallery - a nice young woman with her three daughters (age 8 and below) who were driving up the road and stopped when they saw us on launch. Nelson got the girls to count down his launch run. Mom appeared more excited than the girls to get to see us fly.
Dinner en route home was at the Culpeper Diner in Beautiful Downtown Culpeper. Reasonably good food, and judging from the crowd, locally popular. The local Budweiser distributor owns the beer cooler, but at least he provides Heineken to supplement the St Louis brand set. Middleton was quite happy to find his Bud Light available.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Ridgely 11/1-2

Feeling lazy, and working for max sympathy at home from a light cold, I didn't head over to the Eastern Shore until nearly 3:30 pm on Saturday. I knew I really had to get there to take advantage of the parachute re-pack weekend that Brian V-H had set up. Light, reasonable traffic on the way, I arrived shortly after 4:30, time enough to get my own chute aired out and packed back up. Thanks to Mark Cavanaugh for giving me tips and reminders as I worked on the chute.
Marvelous gang/community dinner Saturday night, with big pots of minestrone and chili, a batch of smashed taters, and what appeared to be brat-n-kraut (I filled up on chili and didn't sample that pot. Hats off and thanks to the many contributing cooks!. We were also treated by Joe Gregor to an evening of competitive beer tasting. These Guys roundly trounced Those Guys, as Those Guys (my team) repeatedly talked ourselves out of our first impressions and named the unknown brew wrong with our second and final choice. Rumor has it that These Guys had a lucky ringer on the final selection, since Adam recognized it as his personal favorite brew.
After more socializing and my first ever game of spoons (dang, that tingles!) we wandered off to our separate tents. Paul & Lauren suggested my tent might be too close to theirs, considering Paul's snoring. Naw.. I can sleep through any snoring. Next morning, they assured me I could sleep through ANY snoring... mostly my own. (Told you I had a cold!)
Sunday morning I assisted Brian in guiding several more folks through their own chute re-packs. Challenge of the day was when David Bodner put one small twist in his lines, and Brian and I succeeded in turning the whole assembly inside out and super-twisted, until the untangle team grew to six with Chris Cioffi, John Claytor, and Steve Padgette all assisting us. We finally got it all back into conformance and David has a nice, freshly packed parachute.
About 3:00 I headed over to the glider line to take my sleds like a man. (Did I mention that no one was reporting any lift all day?) With continuing reports of no-lift, I opted for a series of pattern tows to work on my landings. Four flights, no excitement, good flare timing on all, one long overshoot on my target, the other three reasonable close to goal. I was pleased with the results.
Was nice having a shirt-sleeve flying day in November. And we all owe Brian V-H big time for setting up the pack day. Look for a new Halloween tradition!

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Pulpit Saturday 10/18

I arrived early, about 11:20. Only Mark C was set up. Lots more folks arrived, and began setting up. The winds were NW about 4-6, as expected. What was not expected was the solid overcast - no ground heating going on. Eventually we started seeing some blue sky, and thing looked promising.
I launched late in the pack, about 3:15. Light lift on the ridge, I slowly made it up to about 500' over launch, mostly down by the first radio tower, and in front of the house on Route 16. Rather frustratingly, I could never get as high as Steve Padgett in his Falcon. Even Rance Rupp on his Pulse was above me. Danny Brotto flew rings around me on his new/old Harrier.
Maxed at 1,170 over, but then lost it and just kept getting more down than up. Landed with 35 minutes, late on the flare, but safe.
Most enjoyable dinner gang in Mercersburg afterwards.
My launch, courtesy of Ralph Sickinger: Launch Sequence

Sunday, October 05, 2003

High Rock - Sunday 10/5/03

Well, I had both the worst launch in my personal HR history, as well as the scariest launch of the day. I launched late, ~4:30, after waiting to Observe Dave Bodner off for his 2d HR launch ever. His launch was flawless. Not mine. Had a right wing lift JUST as I called clear. Folks still on the rock when I launched told me they were REALLY scared by my turn-on-launch.. nearly hit the rock with left wing. Fortunately, I was focused on flying and not being scared, so I got turned back to the right and missed that tall tree.
Curtis launched after me. The two of us never got as high as the earlier launches. I got only about 30 minutes, , and only got about 900 over.
Mark Cavanaugh and John Middleton had 3+ hours and 2K over. Lots of other pilots on hand - nice crowd: Allen Sparks, Kevin Carter, Brian Vant-Hull, Hugh McElrath, and others.
About 5:00 a flush cycle sent 4 or 5 of us to the LZ all together. Staging and position went smoothly, so we all got down safely.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Ridgely Sunday 9/14/03 & WW Demo

Forecast was cloudy all day, but nice winds (SE 4-8). In reality the sun came out early afternoon for a lot of blue peppered with nice clouds. However, there was never enough ground heating to make it the boomer day reported a week earlier. No great adventure flights, but a lot of fun flyiing.
I took a couple of extended sleds in my UltraSport, for 20 and 16 minutes, feeling good about the tows and the landings. On that first one I finally caught a tiny thermal at 750 that I tweaked back up to 850, but that was as good as I could get.
I also kept telling Rob Kells that I had to avoid trying the U2, because I have had the US less than a year and cannot afford to want another glider so soon. But John Middleton flew the U2 160 and had one of the better flights of the day, playing at EXACTLY 500 (I swear, ossifer!) feet below a cloud for quite some time, and came down raving about the handling. Then on a second flight on it he was all
grins about how much time he got just sledding around and how nice it was.
SO.. About 5 I gave the U2 160 a try. Damn! I knew I shouldn't have flown it! On tow (no fin) like on rails. Easiest bar pressure and control I've seen. Fast was neat, slow was easy. Had to REALLY puush out to stall it. Brainless stall recovery both straight and in turns.
One surprise was on landing approach. My turn from downwind through base to final was more a big 180 than separate legs. That turn became a slipping turn (not planned) so I quickly lost more altitude and gained more airspeed than planned. Coming out of the turn put me in PIOs that entertained the crowd and made Rob worry for his glider.
However, I smoothed it out, went upright, and the glider gave me the most beautiful flare signal and timing I've ever had. What a hoot!
Good crowd, good flying day, good visits and good advice from Rob.