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

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend - May 23-25 '08

Yes, I know Memorial Day is the 26th. But I will not be trying to fly that day, and have reports for the other days.

Friday 5/23.
As of Thursday night, Woodstock looked most promising. Packed all the gear that night and took it to work Friday. Left the office at noon with visions of mountain soaring. Arrived at launch to find the set up area covered with gliders and lots of hang waiting happening. The forecast 5-10 NW was a L&V trickle. Only Kevin C soared. Two others, Bruce and Adam, took their sleds. Others broke down at launch. I didn't even set up. Oh, well ... next time.

Saturday, 5/24.
A call to Steve Wendt in the morning elicited pessimism about the flyability of the day, so I delayed departure until noon. The normal drive time to Blue Sky is about two hors. In honor of the holiday weekend, both I-95 and US 1 became parking lots. I arrived after 4:00. However, I knew the drive would be worthwhile, because waiting for me was my brand new blue & silver U2 (click the photos for full size):

New U2 Hang Glider

After almost two hours of learning the nuances of set up and break down with tip wands and sprogs, I suited up at 7:20 and trucked off for my inaugural flight:

U2 on Blue Sky Launch Truck

The glider was rock steady smooth, and handled superbly. Mine was the last flight of the day for the park, so I had an entire pavilion of pilots and friends watching my landing. Luckily, I pulled it off cleanly.

After a fine burger and dog cookout hosted by Nick, Steve called us all together in the club house for a remembrance of Jim Carrigan. It was a touching and informal gathering, with Steve and others telling a few stories of Jim - one of the warmest and most positive pilots we knew. And almost none of us knew of his illness, much less that he had fought it for 8-10 years longer than his doctors predicted. After digital photo memories, accompanied by Jim's own singing and guitar music. we migrated out to the campfire.

A little new entertainment - Daniel showed us a bit of his choreographed fire flinging:

Sunday, 5/25
I started the flying day by joining Davis Straub for a scooter tow class with Steve. That was fun. Davis worked on his launch runs in full harness. I worked on my landings. He got in about a half dozen flights, I did four on the Falcon. Check the OzReport for Davis's report on this training.

(I was photographer for his short video.)

Here is that video, which is also embedded in Davis's report.

In the afternoon, I flew the U2 four more times off the truck. Kevin C. had flown down
in a little Cessna and spent the afternoon as AT tug pilot. The only truck-tow launch resulting in a soaring flight was Billy in the SuperFloater. Thus, my total flight time over 4 tows was between 16 and 20 minutes. Not long, but I got a good start on getting the feel of the new glider. Oh, Peter K was Kevin's first tow; Peter was supposed to be a practice pilot for Kevin. However, he stayed up over three hours, topping out at 6200'. Kevin had to find a few other practice pilots for his tow. They all stayed up a long time, too. I was envious; but Steve was being careful for my first few flights.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dreaming of Flight at Kill Devil Hills

This b(L)og is all about flying. I try to stick to the one topic here. However, this post is about a day I wished I could have flown. While vacationing for a week on the Outer Banks, I not only flew the dunes at Jockey Ridge State Park, I also visited, for the first time, the Wright Brothers Memorial. What a great place. I've included a few pictures from the visit, below.

The memorial itself is undergoing rehab and repair, so we were kept back by a construction fence. The busts of Wilbur and Orville at the base are wrapped to protect them during the construction. The result is a duct-tape Ninja look for the brothers.

The memorial is at the top of the hill the Wrights used for their thousand glider flights from 1900 into 1902, learning details about aerodynamics and control surfaces. And that hill offers two of the most enticing looking hang glider launches I have seen for an advanced training hill. A steep drop faces south, overlooking the sculpture reproducing the first powered flight. You can see the sculpture in the upper left corner of this panoramic view.

Here I am in what would be a nice close LZ, the memorial and hill behind me.

The north side of the hill faces out onto the flat area where the first four powered flights took place. It offers a more shallow launch, and a superb extended LZ down where the powered flights occurred.

At the first launch of the powered Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903, the Wrights asked Surfman John Daniels to operate their camera. He captured the launch perfectly, creating an historic record of the beginning of that 12 second flight. That photograph is reproduced in sculpture at the park.

His view must have been amazing. Wish I could have been there with him.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tuesday on the Kitty Hawk Dunes 5/6/08

Two months ago we got a postcard reminding us of a week of timeshare on deposit that would expire in August. Not wanting to waste that, I asked for an Atlantic beach location any time in May or June. They found us a week in Kitty Hawk in May. When I locked it in, the wife said, "You'll take your glider, right?" Of course! (I love having an understanding wife.)

I brought the UltraSport for a bit of aerotow at Currituck airport, and planned on renting a glider to play on the dunes. Monday was rainy, but Tuesday was bright and sunny with a light NE wind. Over at Kitty Hawk Kites I met Bruce Weaver, who was teaching the dune classes for the day. He provided a Falcon 2 195, which I carried out to the low dune where he was teaching. With light winds and a somewhat flat slope, neither the students on the Eaglets nor I on the Falcon had long flights. I got in 4 or 5 short flights there - nothing special, but I was in the air. I then left the class area, and carried a couple hundred years back to the BIG dune. With three families playing at the top of the dune as my audience, I took a nice run down the steep slope. With applause in behind me, I flew out a fifty yards and and set down smoothly, all smiles. First a wave to the crowd on the hill, then pondered another carry up that slope of sand. Nah... it was 3:30, I'd been there since late morning. I didn't have one of those healthy 20-something KHK instructors carrying my glider for me. Time to carry back in for the day.

Fun day, good exercise on the sand, and finished with a really nice dune sled. It was also good to finally meet Bruce, having heard his name for so many years.

Minor disappointment - until the tourist season opens in a few weeks, the AT operations at Currituck are weekends only. I had hoped for a mid week tow day. I'm used to Highland and Blue Sky being full time parks most of the year. KHK is more dependent on tourist trade, so is much more seasonal. We'll stop at the airport Saturday morning en route back to the DC area, and try to get a flight in before leaving the area. I'll report if successful.