Category Archives: MIDWEST 2017

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

 

 

 

MIDWEST 2017 – Part 6 (Lowest Save)

What would turn out to be the final day of the Midwest 2017 HG comp. was a beautiful day with cu’s developing early.  For the Sport Class we were headed to a goal labeled “BONG”, as it turns out there is a wildlife refuge there called Bong.

Like I said, it was another beautiful day and the cu’s were getting higher and higher. All the pilots waited in anticipation as I chatted with Bart on the flight line.  Bart said “With the moisture in the air, you might want to be a little bit cautious.”  There were some pretty big gaps in between the clouds.  Anyways,  I get towed up and I find myself under a big gaggle of people, and way up at the top of it is Tiki.

We all drifted and topped out and went on glide to the next cloud.  This was going great for the first few clouds, then I got a little bit too eager to start racing away.  I caught a glimpse of a glider way ahead on courseline and I made a B-line for him.  It turned out to be Knut’s green Discus.  I discovered that Knut wasn’t really thermaling but instead he was struggling to stay up.  Now I’m down underneath him and I’m really struggling.

As I got down to 800′ I had lots of LZ’s to choose from but I thought I would try and cruise over the top of a barn and silos that had been sitting in the sun.  By the time I made it to the silos I was at 600′ and sure enough, there was a workable thermal there and I was able to salvage me flight!  I worked the thermal up to about 3500′ then I decided to make another gamble.  It was a fire, a couple miles away downwind.  I decided to leave my strong low save thermal and try to speed up and hit the next thermal coming from the fire.

Once I got the the fire and I could smell the smoke, I realized that it was a bad idea.  The thermal there was weak and soon I was struggling again.  To my relief I saw another glider like mine, a U2, but this one had a blue top to it.  We both were drifting along scraping, flying together, right at a treeline before a lake I hooked up in a strong thermal.  For some reason my fellow pilot couldn’t get the drift of the thermal I was in and he slowly sank out.  I had a decent climb and then my thermal drifted me right into a BIG thermal that was coming off of Walmart.  I skied out!

Once I saw that I had glide to goal, I pulled in hard to speed into the finish.  The lift was so strong that I was climbing even as I was pulling in all the way.  With the full VG, being pulled in all the way, the strong thermal was tossing me to and fro.  I made it to goal!  I caught a glimpse of Kelly landing his Gecko and I was happy that I did because the wind direction was 180degrees the other direction.  Then I caught a glimpse of Sara, doing big wingovers with her Sport 2, in celebration of making it to goal! 

More and more gliders made it to goal.  Some just barely made it in!

Lucky for me a professional wildlife photographer captured my whole landing on film!  I had accidentally left the VG on full for my landing.  Thankfully, I had a good headwind to make it easy!

WooHoo good times!  Kelly saw me and said, “DUDE, I thought you were landing for sure!”  “I did too!” I said!  Couldn’t have asked for a better day.   The Midwest Comp was a ton of fun!  I had only just got a taste and just like that it was over!  Time flys when your having fun!

BY THE WAY!!!  My fundraising goal of $50.00 has been reached!  My newest donor Mr. Fabshaft has made a humble donation and I have now secured funds to keep the thermalcowboy.com up and running for 2018!  Yeehaw!  My most sincere thanks!