Category Archives: Hang Gliding New Mexico

Looking back at 2017

What a year it has been! 2017 has flown by and it has been… probably the best year I’ve ever had! I have been up since 5am going through my logs and rehashing all the flights and adventures. There are so many!!! I’m going to try and recap… so grab a cup of coffee, or tea…here we go.

January 2017

Logbook entry:  1/14/17  Had a HUGE climb with a 7-8 up averager, hit some 1200’fpm core.  Almost got sucked up into the cloud…Drifted downwind with L.J. went XC for 12miles to Egypt, Tx.

Logbook entry: 1/30/17 AWESOME blue day soaring.  30mile XC!  5200′ top…great no step landing.

JAN. Totals: 5.2 Hours, 42XC miles, 2 XC flights, 6 flights total

February 2017

Logbook entry: 2/12/17 Great XC, 5000′ cloudbase, 27 miles, made it to a goal that was declared.  Had no wind landing, missed the flare.  Slid in on my knees.  Had to swallow my pride.

February Ingo and and I went on an EPIC 3 day weekend trip to New Mexico to fly the Guadalupe Mountains.  Talk about being out in the middle of no where!!!  Such a great time with great people, Ben and Nate ,… thanks for talking me into this one!  Camping, flying, totally disconnecting from the world!  Had so much fun!

Here is the full video from NEW MEXICO

Also, I tried my hand at doing some Jonathan Dietch style live hang gliding narration.  Uhhh-yeah…it’s a lot harder than it seems!

FEB Totals : 4.6 Hours, XC 27 miles, 1 XC flight, 5 flights total

MARCH 2017

Another massive road trip!  This time CALIFORNIA !!!  A huge shout out to Kale for making the trip possible!  You are the man!  Kale and I had been keeping tabs on possible HG trips for almost a

year and we decided to pull the trigger on driving to Cali for a weeks worth of Hang Gliding….TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!

On that trip to California, we were so lucky!  We got 5 days in a row of flying!  I got to meet, FLY, and hang out with one of my heros Jonathan Dietch!  We scored on really beautiful conditions!  Little did we know that later on that year much of the land we flew over was going to be ravaged by wildfires.  Flew Crestline, Regionals, Lake Elsinore, Sylmar!!!

Logbook entry : 3/15/17 Awesome 2 1/2 hour flight at Sylmar, EPIC, Video, PERFECT no step landing.  Dinner with JD and rest of the Sylmar crew!  Stoked!

MAR Totals :  11.6 Hours, 1 XC mile, 4 new sites, 6 flights total

 

APRIL 2017

April was really tough.  The conditions were damp and cloudbases were low in South Texas.  Never the less I went XC as much as I could.  A huge THANKS goes out to my drivers JASON and Chris.  I had a streak of three 30km XC flights in three days in a row!  But then finally towards the end of April it dried out and we had an EPIC blue day with a good lapse rate.  Mak and I went XC and I set my Personal Best .

Logbook Entry : 4/27/17  3hours 58min. BLUUUE Day, XC w/Makbule, made it to Gloster Aerodrome, 62km, PB, Video…flared a bit early with too much VG, zoomed up and landed hard  bruised my right foot heel.

APR Totals : 4.3 hours, 59.2 XC miles, 4 XC flights, 10 flights total

 

MAY 2017 :  GO BIG OR GO HOME!!!

Mothers day weekend, new harness, no driver, no problem….

Logbook Entry:  200km XC, SOLO, AWESOME FLIGHT, Mag article, PB, STOKED!!!!!!!  Now, I GO FOR 200miles!!!!!

This flight really was a game changer for me.  I had been flying all these 20, 30, mile XCs then BANG!!! I broke 100miles… 123miles to be exact!  Such a trip!  It was then I realized that I could do it!  I knew all I had to do was just keep going for it, and it was going to happen!  also set a flight duration Personal Best 6hours 50mins.   I sent my thermalcowboy write up to the USHPA Magazine and they published me!!!  I was so STOKED, shoot, I’m still STOKED!!!

MAY Totals : 12.1 Hours, 162.8 XC miles, 2 XC flights, 3 flights total.

 

JUNE 2017 

My first time to compete.  I was an H3 in the Sport class and I was intimidated at first…then I found my stride and made GOAL 3 times!  Honestly, I really loved the competition scene, it was a lot of fun and good rivalry!  In Hang Gliding I have finally found a sport where I can compete!  Sadly, I just don’t have the means to make it to all the competitions throughout the year, it’s expensive!  So, I have to set a new goal if I am going to be able to participate in all the HG comps.  I need to become financially independent, that is my new Goal…then I should be able to go to all the comps. 

JUN Totals : 14.1 Hours, 226.4 miles, 9 XC Flights, 2 new sites, 13 total flights.

 

JULY 2017

EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN TEXAS!!!

Ingo and I went up to the Buffalo Mountain Fly In and had a blast camping out and flying!  We also drove up to Arkansas to fly at Magazine!  Great times!!!

Right before Refugio, Mick and I went out for a triangle Task!

Journal Entry: 7/14/17 A fun yet scary out and return, triangle, had to dodge storms, low saves, RAIN, Lowest save, Lucky to make it back to the Airport!!!  Was happy to be back on the ground too!

REFUGIO!!!

What an EPIC,  I MEAN EPIC TRIP!!!!

I can’t thank the people who made Refugio possible enough!

Jeff Kanard, Gregg Ludwig, Mick Howard, Robin Hamilton, Mark Moore  those people right there….THANK YOU SO SO MUCH!!!

Of course, my HUGE flight from Refugio wouldn’t have ever been possible without the great training I received from Bart and Tiki at Cowboy Up Hang Gliding!!!  Thanks to all the other pilots who took me under their wing!  You know who you are…

JUL Totals : 36.7 hours, 505.2 XC miles, 7 XC flights, 2 new flights, 13 flights total.

 

AUGUST 2017

After the massive flights out of Refugio, I came out of it a changed pilot.  I had expended a ton of energy going XC and I hit several new Personal Bests.

Logbook Entry: 8/13/17Short flight, couldn’t connect with it, didn’t want to go XC.

8/19/17  Out and return East Bernard-Wharton, almost made it back 58K.

I guess I was looking at the weather and not feeling the XC in me to go for it.  I critique myself, was I lazy now that I had flown 185 miles?  Was I stuck in thinking that “if it wasn’t a 100 mile day, I’m not going XC?”  In reality, I don’t think it was that, honestly…I had been burning my retrieve driving candle on both ends….  I still need a dedicated retrieve driver.

Nevertheless, I made another dash out to California to check off a couple more flying sites off the list!!!  Also, it was my first time to San Francisco!

AUG Totals: 9 Hours, 36.6 XCmiles, 1 XC flight, 2 new sites, 7 flights total.

 

SEPTEMBER 2017 

Hurricane Harvey

I did manage to get in a few flights after all the water had backed off!  What a nightmare….I was BLESSED to not be affected in a major way by the flood, some of the others in the HHPA community were not so lucky.  🙁

SEP Totals: 3.5 Hours, 3 flights

 

OCTOBER 2017

XC BOHL!!!  The XC Bohl was a huge success this year!  We managed to raise $3000 dollars for the Boys and Girls Club of Wharton who were hit really hard by the floods of Hurricane Harvey.   Also, I got to hang out with some more of my heros, Zac Majors came down again for the XCBohl.  Zac is one of the coolest, if not THE coolest, most laid back, approachable Pro-Hang Glider pilots out there.   AND…, I got to meet, fly, and hang out with Wolfgang Siess and Dustin Martin!!!!  The California gang from Wills Wing, David Aldrich, Alfredo Grey, y’all are all my heros.  Thanks so much for coming down!  It means a lot to all of us down here in H-Town!

 

OCT Totals: 8 Hours, 80 XC miles, 3 XC flights, 5 flights total

 

NOVEMBER 2017

BUFFALO AND PANORAMA EXTRAVAGANZA!!!I hope that we continue to make this trip up to Buffalo for Thanks giving what a great time!!!   Thanks so much to Gregg Chastain for taking us in for a FANTASTIC Thanksgiving dinner!!!!

 

NOVEMBER Totals : 7.4 hours, 1 new site, 5 flights total.

 

DECEMBER 2017

I haven’t been able to fly that much in December….

DEC Totals: 1.5 hours, 2 flights total.

 

Looking back…WOW!!!  I don’t know how I am ever going to be able to top 2017, what an amazing and humbling year!  Here’s to 2017 what an EPIC year you’ve been.

2017:

Hours flown 118

Cross Country Miles Flown: 1,140.4

Cross Country Flights : 28

New Sites Flown : 12

Total Number of Flights : ~80

 

 

 

The GUADS!!!

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!