WOW- This year the XCBohl was even better than the last year! We had many more pilots and we had good flying conditions the entire weekend. What more could you ask for? Well, you could have asked for some OFF! mosquito repellent, but that was about it.
I showed up Saturday morning and there was already a bunch of pilots stirring around the Cowboy Up hangars. This year we had a great turnout of pilots from all over the United States and International pilots. The Vassmers from Miami made the long drive to come fly with us, I had not seen them since the Midwest 2017 comp. An Ecuadorian pilot that is living in Oklahoma, Nicolas, flew in and brought his harness to rent a glider from Cowboy Up for the weekend. James Race, Rich Rinauer, and Gregg Fergus came down from DFW to fly with us. Ben Sands, Dave Hayner, Chad Garret, Patricio Garza, Jeff Hunt, Mark Carlson, and Nate Wreyford came in from Austin. Also, there was also near perfect attendance from the Houston Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. Makbule LeFay, Efrain Garza, Ingo Heilmann, Eduardo Fonseca, Alejandra Ayoroa, Alex Weldy, Mark Moore, Rich Diamond, Henry Wise, Rich Baumgardner, Micheal Williams, Gregg Ludwig, Hazem Arafeh (Brownsville), and myself. I know I am forgeting some people here…and I almost forgot the HUGE turnout from @WILLSWING!!! Zac Majors, Majo Majors, Alfredo Grey, David Aldrich, Wolfgang Siess, Tyler and Dustin Martin all drove down from California!!! How friggen cool is that! It was such an awesome opportunity to talk and rub elbows with the industry insiders! Not to mention, they brought down gliders to test fly! The Wills Wing guys are so down to earth and approachable, I can not say enough how grateful we are that they came down and spent time with us. Certainly I can’t forget to mention the TOP hang glider competition pilot in the USA, Robin Hamilton, was present with his clan. Robin was there to set the course and provided us with a great lecture in cross country soaring.
So, I hope you can imagine now the characters who were there and what it was like. We had a great time. Saturday, the wind was out of the North and I somehow felt a great responsibility to make sure pilots had plenty of help getting their gliders to the other end of the field to take off into the North wind. I was on the golf cart hauling people, carts, and gliders to and fro. By the time I was able to launch it was already 4 o’clock and I didn’t find any lift and I sank out and landed back at the airport. The towing went on all the way until dusk. I was on the grill cooking up hamburgers, chicken, hotdogs, and eggplants. There was a huge amount of food, plenty for everyone to have 2nds and 3rds. I was force feeding people hamburgers, it was hilarious! After dinner we all settled down in the hangar and had a special evening talking all about our dearly missed friend Jeff Bohl. Tiki put on a very heart warming slide show that had a ton of Jeffs photos…there were many of us in tears…and we all shared our favorite Jeff stories. Then we shifted gears a bit and we had a bit of fun with our resident ACE pilot, Robin Hamilton. We wanted to praise him for leading the US HG team at the Worlds in Brazil as well as thank him for being such a great mentor for all of us here in Houston. Many of us took turns sharing stories about Robin and we kinda put him on the spot, in a good way, he wasn’t expecting all of us to do something like that to him. Then after we had finished it was jam time. Ben, Robin, Alex, and I played guitars and sang songs (In perfect rhythm and harmony) until the early morning. We had such a good time, there is no doubting that!
Sunday had a lot better weather in store for us pilots. That night it got cold. I was camping out and I woke up and had to cover up with an extra blanket. So, I knew the next days flying was going to be awesome. With such a big difference in the nighttime lows and daytime highs, I had a hunch that we would have a day on our hands. The majority of gliders were already set up and tied down on the flight line. I was on the grill again that morning mixing up pancakes, cooking breakfast sausages, scrambling eggs, and sipping on coffee. The morning started out blue but I knew it was going to POP with cumulus clouds by afternoon. After breakfast we had a pilots breifing with none other than Robin Hamilton. He set us a challenging task, Wharton-Kendleton-El Campo- Wharton for the open class and Wharton-Kendleton-Wharton for the Sport class. I talked with Bart who had just flown a tandem that morning and he inspired me to get ready because there was already a ton of activity in the air. I was second to launch, and there were several pilots all lining up to go. I think I was off the cart at 1pm. There were clouds popping everywhere. I decided very quickly to head out on courseline, I was very confident that I was going to make the task. There was a pretty clear cloud street running the whole way…the lowest I got was maybe 1800′. Anyways, I was hoping to make it to El Campo as well but by the time I got to Wharton again I found nothing buy sink and I had a sweet landing back at home base. A little bit later, Dustin Martin came in, and boy did he come in FAST! He buzzed the hangars and executed a perfect landing. He was the first one back from the Open course, a short time afterwards Nate Wreyford would make it back home on the Open course.
Again, we had another great night of camaraderie, music, storytelling, laughter, more music, and a very special Video from Wolfgang. I was on the grill again and I had a good response on how I cooked the chicken legs and steaks. I hope that you can envision the BBQ that was rendered, nothing short of perfection there:).
Just as fast as we had started the XC BOHL was winding down…many of the pilots did not have the Monday available to fly. Many pilots reluctantly had to wind down and head back to the everyday grind. Back to the real world, where no one really understands us hang glider pilots. Back to the daily grind, traffic, deadlines, meetings…the total opposite of camping at an airport and flying your pants off everyday. Despite the humidity and the relentless onslaught of mosquitoes, we raised a TON of money for the kids in Wharton, for the Boys and Girls Club. We couldn’t have asked for better flying in October. We all flew! And there were many new Personal Bests set. Congrats to Ben Sands, setting his new Personal Best XC flight! Congrats to Rich Rinauer, for his new PB XC flight! I set my own PB for an out and return flight! I had never completed one the far! It was a total success for the majority of the pilots. I’m sorry I didn’t get more reports from other pilots to find out if they broke any of their own personal bests.
I’m sorry I didn’t get that many photos of the whole gang. But I did shoot some videos that I put on the HHPA Facebook page that show what was going on….