Spring Break 2017 – California Part 3

Thursday was another textbook perfect day at Marshall/Crestline.  Clear, Steady upslope wind, classic California weather…not too cold…not too hot…the Goldilocks of weather…Just Right!

Anyways, the boys from Wills Wing were out early test flying brand new hang gliders.  I was kind of star-struck and I fumbled my words when I walked up to the van with Mike Meier, Steve Pearson, David Aldrich, Ken Howells, and Alfredo Grey.  I felt like a kook, this Texas dude out in California, but Steve was like “Hey Tyson!”  and I didn’t want to disturb them as they were all waiting to go up the hill and get some test flying done.

Anyways, Kale and I caught a ride with Rob McKinzie in his NICE air-conditioned van and there was this older asian paraglider dude that took the ride up with us.   His english was really broken up and from what we could gather was that it had been 3 years since he had last flown.  I was thinking, “Oh god, this dude is going up to Crestline!?”  Anyways, Rob caught wind that this guy was a bit rusty and he didn’t let him launch at Crestline.  Meanwhile, Kale and I set up gliders and had lunch at launch under our wings.  It was nice up there at launch.  It is easily 20 degrees cooler up there and we just kicked back and ate sandwiches soaking it all in.  Kale didn’t want another rowdy day, he brought himself a book to read until the conditions calmed down later on in the afternoon.  At this point in the trip I don’t have anymore GoPro footage.  I was burned out on trying to keep the batteries charged and mounting the damned thing every time…it felt good not having to deal with it…but, there is no sauce to enjoy later on…it’s all in my head and in this journal.  Anyways, the wind was coming in perfect and it was another stunningly perfect launch and I was soaring the upper ridge and exploring a bit further than normal.  Got low and climbed back out from 500′ above AJX and took it all the way back up to Marshall then another back up to Crestline.  I did this a couple of times, it feels great doing it!  I jumped over to pine flats and skied out, buzzed the launches of Marshall, Regionals, and the lower 750′ launch.  I tried my best to keep my eyes open and saw a few Red Tail Hawks, and flew with a conspiracy of crows.  I gazed out at the snow capped San Gabriel Mountains and imagined what it would be like to climb to above those peaks.

This day, I made sure not to fly too long, and let the wind switch cadiabadic on me.  So I spiraled down in a bit of sink after I flew out over the university and little mountain.  This time I was going to make sure I had a great landing on the AJX LZ.  The landing zone at Andy Jackson Flight Park is DELUXE!!!  You want to walk barefoot on it because it is soo soft and when you step on it it sinks in just a bit.  Sooo NICE!!!  Probably because they water it everynight and take care of it with fertilizer.  Speaking of fertilizer…when I was on approach there were all these 5ft high piles of manure dotted around the LZ.  Next thing I knew I was on final and heading towards the cone.  Someone had moved the cone next to a pile of the manure!  Anyways, I avoid the manure and end up landing in the back end of the LZ.  I had a good flare and my trusty U2-160 came to a rest on my shoulders as landed.  It feels so good to land a hang glider, it’s one of my favorite parts about flying.  The guys said I got my moneys worth on my landing because I skimmed accross the whole LZ and landed at the very end.

Again, it was another night of camaraderie, storytelling, laughter, and all around good times that couldn’t be beat.  Our tents were set up about 100 yards away from the LZ and the shower was right behind us. 












We stayed up to enjoy the sunset and the cool air coming down off the mountian, chilling the most!

Spring Break 2017 – California Part-2

The launch at the E is awesome.  It is really easy to drive to get up there and the LZ on the other hand was further away than I had expected.

I was so energized to launch but the conditions began to deteriorate.  The steady wind that was blowing up the mountain started to weaken and then it got calm.  Occasionally there were light breezes coming in then…just calm.  I thought, “Shoot, I missed it!”  Then a hint of wind coming over the back started…I thought, oh heck no, im getting off this hill soon.  I waited ready to launch a good 5 minutes before the last gasp of N wind came at me, and I ran for it.  I had a great launch and headed over to where Everyday Mike was climbing up.

Well my fat butt didn’t climb out like the local E-teamer on the Para, it was sink city for me.  Next thing I know I was thinking, “Dang, I better head to the LZ”  but i couldn’t see it anywhere for the life of me.  I had wasted too much altitude scratching around for a thermal to get back up and ended up too low to make it to the primary LZ, apparently.  I was like, “Oh man where the hell is the LZ?”  I couldn’t believe it and stressed out about it for a minute…then I thought well hell, guess I’m going to one of the bailouts.  Everyday Mike said that those were perfectly fine options if you didn’t make it to the primary LZ, but for some reason I was a little bit scared.  I was scared because I knew it was going to be a little bit downhill landing, and I couldn’t get a good read on the wind, also, in the back of my mind, I was scared that if I hurt myself I would ruin the rest of my California trip, even further in the back of my mind was my recovering ankle.

I made a safe approach but I caught myself looking down on final and waited too flare to long and had a weak landing that ended in a little wack…no big deal…looking back at the video after a dozen times I can see the flare window go by and there was a combination of things…I needed to be looking up, and I needed a more positive mindset, instead of being so worried, I have made great outlandings before like usually and I just didn’t have the confidence that I usually have.   Anyways, enough analyzing….

Anyways, after breaking down and talking to a local lady who was making sure I was OK.  Kale and I headed back to Andy Jackson Flight Park and caught a ride back up to Crestline.

We caught the evening glass and had really nice smooth conditions.

The only catch was that we flew so long into the evening that the wind switched cadiabatic  on us and I had to change my landing a bit.  I over shot the grassy, cush, LZ and ended up landing in a small ditch on the training hill.  It was a knee landing, for some reason in the evening light, I had a hard time judging the ground and had another weak landing.  But it was all good, no bent anything, not blood, no ripped blue jeans.  The ripped blue jeans came when I was getting out of the van a couple days later.

The third day of the trip, we hooked up with JD again and woke up early to make the drive over to Sylmar.  The Sylmar LZ is equally as nice as the Andy Jackson.  Nice green grass, plush, lots of shade…

We loaded up and headed up Kagel Mountain.  4WD ONLY!!!  It was a sketch drive up the mountain and once we got up there it was another breath taking sight to behold.  Good news was that there were several other pilots already set up and getting ready to launch.  They all skied out, even the Tandem!  I wired off an older gentleman in a knee hangar harness/Falcon.  That dude got higher than anyone else out there!  I took my time setting up and I was last to launch.  One of the drivers found this awesome Horny Toad!

Luckily Lawn Dart Doug was there to hold my nose.  It was an epic launch and even more epic flight that I’ll never forget.