Saturday was a pretty good day of flying! Sir Rich, Alex, Dave, William, Makbule, Rich,Rich 2, Tim, Mick, Matt, several students and myself all flew. Mick had a 2 hour plus flight which no one could believe. I tried my hand at doing some Jonothan Dietch style live narration. I just used my cell phone and the quality is not nearly as good but it’s a start. I also kind of enjoyed the flying and just talking out loud whatever I was thinking. Anyways, here is a video with no the greatest audio quality.
Looking back at this video, I can see where I missed a thermal over by the highway. Also, I can see that I probably should have stuck around with the light thermal that was still producing instead of calling it dead and moving on. Oh well, it was still fun! That is what you have to remember at the end of the day, it’s all about having FUN!!!
As always I want to give a big thanks to Cowboy Up Hang Gliding for, well for everything! Even though we didn’t all have awesome soaring I still had a great time hanging out with all the pilots and enjoying everyone’s company.
The Guadalupe Mountains trip had been in my mind for a long time, having heard stories from fellow pilots of great soaring, I was on the hook for the trip. I waited till the last minute to make the call, the weather for the L/D contest was not working for us here in Houston. At the same time I was keeping an eye on the weather up in the Guads.
Ingo gave me a call mid Friday afternoon. He knew about the Guads Fly-In and wanted to know if I was going. I said yes, and I had an extra spot in my Honda Element for him to go. So Ingo rushed to get his stuff together and we met up in a Walmart parking lot in Sealy, Tx. Once we got everything loaded up and strapped down it was 6pm and we chased the sunset down I-10. We skirted north of San Antonio and blazed it to Fort Stockton. We cut it close on gas, filled up and cruised north to Pecos. It was 4:30am by the time we were finally on the Dark Canyon Rd. that takes you to Queen, New Mexico. Exhausted and lost, Ingo and I pulled in on a dirt road and threw up camp at 5am.
I was already up at 7am and the sun was breaking over the mountains. The excitement was setting in and I could feel a breeze coming in from the SW. I knew we were close but not quite sure exactly where to go. I had only seen on the google maps where launch must have been but there are so many small roads it was easy for us to get lost, there were no signs saying “this way to Fly-in”. So instead of getting lost again, we chose to head back up to Queen and ask for directions. If you blink, you will pass Queen, it is just a street sign with an intersection. Anyways, we catch a glimpse of a couple of vehicles with gliders, it was Nate and Karl! We were happy to see them and we drank coffee and had a nice breakfast burrito in a cool little cafe. The excitement was in all of our eyes.
We learned that where we camped out that night was only a few more miles away from launch and camp. There was only just one more hill to get past…then there it was. The rim launch was already crowded with gliders and pickup trucks by this time 11:am. Ted was there and already set up, “Ty, Ingo! I’m glad y’all made it!” Ted said. The two of us were still kind of delirious from driving all night long and only getting a couple hours of rest. Ted gave me one of his signature lines, “There is some assembly required!” and we were setting up our gliders pretty quick.
The wind was pretty stiff, coming in at 17-18mph with some gusts getting up in the 20’s. The first guy launching, Patrick I think, walked his Falcon to the edge. Every square of fabric on that Falcon of his was ripping in the wind coming off the cliff. His glider was dancing around and the full wire crew kept him steady. He had a great launch and just went straight up. The sight of this pilot taking the elevator ride up was enough to get us stuffing battens with a bit more haste. Ben finally pulls up, he had the same scenario as us, ended up camping in a random place the night before. But we were in good spirits.
Despite how excited I was, I was exhausted from driving and lack of sleep. I was in too much of a hurry to set up my glider and forgot to put on the nose batten. I was trying to get to launch as fast as I could and I was making those kinds of mistakes. I was hooked in hang checked and I was getting ready to launch. My heart was pumping, and suddenly, the wind stopped blowing. All the guys who launched previously were starting to sink out. One guy was able to make it to the top landing zone…while everyone else landed down in the valley.
I decided to not launch, and wait for it to pick back up again. This was a great decision. I got back, unhooked and took a little nap underneath my wing. About 30minutes later there was smooth wind coming up launch 13-16mph steady. This time I was feeling much better, I went through and checked the glider again, hooked in, hang checked. I was feeling much better, I had great help from Ingo, Nate, and Ben on my launch. It was a super smooth launch, and I immediately started to climb up. I made it to 2200′ above launch, ridge soaring for almost 2 hours, explored the ridge, Ben launched, Ingo launched, Nate self launched, Rusty followed after Nate. We shared some thermals and we were hooting over the radio about how awesome the flying was! The view was amazing, I could see snow topped mountains to the North. It was EPIC!
Then the lift coming up the slope started to weaken. Our climbs weren’t taking us as high as we had been getting before. I looked to the West, the sun was starting to get shaded in by some alto stratus. I started to work my way closer to the top LZ. Then I notice Ben walking his glider on top. Whoa! Ben just top landed! I thought, shoot, if Ben top landed I can top land too. Then I thought about how he was on a Falcon. Then I looked down in the valley and thought about how long that retrieve would be, well into the night. I got about 800′ above launch and went for the top LZ. It is super tight and the little bushes that I saw were actually trees. Thankfully someone placed a flag and I lined up with the wind. I waited a bit too long to flare and had to run it out, but I ended up tripping on my harness boot and fell. It wasn’t bad at all, no bend metal, no blood, not even a rip in the jeans. Ingo was really low on his approach but made a great landing none the less.
The night was filled with great food, drinks, stories, music, we just had a great time!!! We all had such a good time, everyone turned in at about 10pm.
Sunday the wind just BLEW! 30-35 all day long, knots, that is. After Rusty found an unbelievably beautiful arrowhead I went out on my own searching for arrowheads. All I could find were some old beer cans from the 70’s. The wind never did back down and we frequently walked to the rim to check the wind. The wind sounded like waves crashing at the beach, a white noise kind of sound.
For a 3 day weekend trip, this one was by far the most awesome trip that I have had in a long time. There was a little bit of adventure to it. I wont forget this trip for a long time! By the way a huge thanks to Ben, for the hand and foot warmers! Those saved my bacon for sure!