Category Archives: Hang Gliding

Mothers Day Mother Lode PART 2!!!

“Wouldn’t it be cool to fly 100 miles…on the same day that you flew 100 miles the year before?”  That is what I thought as we drove to Cowboy Up.  I was in the car with Rich and Makbule as I looked out the window, I noticed a haze in the air under the already puffy cumulus sky.  “You know, last year when I flew my first 100miler, the sky was just like this…hazy.”  I said to Rich and Mak.   Then I made a phone call to my grandmother…see, last year before I flew my first 100 miler, I called my Mom and my Grandma.  I figured I better keep up the tradition.

But this years Mothers Day 100 miler wasn’t going to come as easy as last years.  Not by far.  Sunday morning, Mothers Day, we were setting up gliders by 11am and by noon we were already launching into a cumulus filled sky.  I was kinda worried that it was going to over develop because the cumulus clouds were getting tall.  Not to mention the heat, Houston Heat, muggy, hot, you can cut it with a knife.  The cloudbase was looking low and the forecast was for 3500-4ooo feet ceiling, in reality the cloudbase was closer to 3000′.   There were not any clearly defined streets, like you would hope for, but rather clouds everywhere.  The bottoms of the clouds were wispy and raggedy.

Rich launched first and was managing to stay up high.  I launched second and I hoped off the tow at around 1600′ in some decent 3-400′ up.  Rich was already on glide to the next cloud by the time that I got up.  However, by the time that I was chasing him, Rich lost a ton of altitude on his glide looking for lift.  Soon, Makbule was launching and later Robin. 

There was a solid 13-15mph tailwind, with the cloudbase so low you really couldn’t make too many mistakes.  Soon Rich and Makbule were scratching together.  I watched both of them working together to stay up.  Meanwhile, I played a very conservative game.  I was topping out and boating around with my cloud.  Below us, the rice fields were glistening.  Not good, just the day before those rice fields were dry…now they were flooded.  The fields were wet and the thermals were weak, broken up, drifting, and really hard to stay with.  You couldn’t make a full circle in these thermals…you couldn’t really relax and just climb up…you had to work for it.  When I did find lift I stopped and topped out…one last look back to see Rich and Mak, they weren’t high but they weren’t low either…somewhere around 2000′.  I was hoping that they were going to climb out and catch up with me.

The first 40 miles all the way up to Interstate highway 10 were like this.  I lost track of how many times I thought I was going to land.  On several occasions I gave up on my weak broken up lift and just went downwind, content with the idea of landing in a boggy rice paddy.  But low in behold, I was able to find some more scraps, just enough to help me get to the next scraps.  I was stuck at 2400′ forever… it seemed like.  Once I had made it to I-10 and on to some dryer ground I thought it was going to get easier.  I was wrong.  It was more of the same broken up lift, and it was really requiring all of my mental ability to keep on point with the thermals.  I was so desperate to find a good core and throw my arms over the bar and relax!  Instead I was getting 1/2 turns in lift and falling out over the sides…

Soon, I was coming up on Brenham, where I had landed the day before.  I was low, and I was flying over the same LZ from yesterday where I landed out.  Downwind was the town with no LZs, I had to make something happen and I was really dreading to land where I did the day before.  Luckily, the chicken coops on top of a hill were producing a good thermal.  I was able to climb out and glide over Brenham with ease.

Heading north past Brenham, towards Hearne, there is a large forest.  The year before I flew right over that forest with out any problems.  That day, every single cloud was producing a perfect thermal.  This year, not even close…there were no guarantees.   You could fly to a cloud and just get a 50-100 up and waste 30minutes not gaining anything.  I chose a path to the west, towards lake Sommerville that offered more opportunities for landing out than last years track over the forest.

Once I got near the lake, I got stuck again, I spent another 20minutes at 1800-2000′ looking for broken lift, not losing or gaining, just drifting.  Then eventually giving up and going downwind to find it.  Thankfully, the birds were actually helping out with the thermals.  Back below I-10, it was as if the birds were playing practical jokes on us pilots, flying in sink, flying upwind, just going everywhere.  Finally, I was able to relax and enjoy my power bar at 4 o’clock.

I was really topping out with every climb as I neared 100miles.   “Oh boy, I’m so close to repeating what I did last year!”  I thought.  I didn’t want to blow it and land at 95miles or something…. I wanted that 100 bad!  But like I said, there were no guarantees and I struggled to make that 100 miles happen!

College Station is the town that you get to see when you make 100 miles.  I had a 15:1 glide to Hearne.  “I’m going to make it!” I thought.  I showed up at Hearne sky high, and there was no way I was going to spiral down to land there…oh no….I wanted to fly over my old LZ…maybe even land in my old LZ and say hi to KC in Calvert.  Luckily, I was able to get another climb and make it to Calvert, HIGH!  I decided to keep on pushing and not wind it down.  I had to make a big jump to another cloud and fell short.

I found a nice pasture and flew over the house with a pool in the backyard.  I waved at the girl in the pool, they waved back.   I squared up into the wind, using my GPS to see the ground speed to help find wind direction, and I had a perfect no step landing in the pasture.   1000 times better than last year when I beaked it!!!  135 miles!!! This time, I had a GPS tracker, a cell phone battery, and another tracker running on my cell phone.  Unlike last years….

Thankfully Christopher drove and picked up me and the other pilots.  We had a great dinner, thanks Robin!!!  Great times!!!

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