Saturday, November 19, 2005


I'm here at home for a few months enjoying the slow life at Quest. After returning from Australia things were nice and quiet here, but they are starting to pick up again thanks to some gorgeous summer weather that just doesn't want to quit...even now in mid November.

We've had a couple of fun events here over the last month or so. The first weekend in November we had Quest's 10th Anniversary Party and fly-in. Lots of people showed up for a mini competition, barbeque and poker tournament. Everyone had a blast and Bo went home with all everyone's poker money!

Tammy Burcar is visiting here for a few months and she organized the first all-girl "formal" fly-in. We dressed up in our evening gowns and ran around the field looking pretty silly waiting for conditions to improve. Finally late in the afternoon it looked decent so we all took off in our dresses, each with bouquets taped to our uprights for the bouquet drop. It was great fun and I'm sure we'll have to do it again soon!

Fly Girls

Best Dressed Tug Pilot

I suspect there's no one that has been to Quest that doesn't know who the world's best tug pilot it!! It's Lisa of course - anyone who hasn't had a chance to fly behind Lisa, give a it try and you'll see what I mean! I don't think this girl can give a bad tow, period! (ok, ok, I know, I am her biggest fan!)

Nancy Smith Raring to Go!

All Dressed up and Nowhere to go (but up!!)

My job....ground crew ;-)

Darien - Looking so Grown Up!!

Right to Left - Judy Leden, Russel Brown, Judy's Man, David Glover

World's Best Tug Pilot

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Journey Home

Corinna and I arrived today in Munich after a loooooong flight around the planet. We drove from Newcastle to Sydney yesterday with Stuie and then flew from there to Kuala Lumpur (9 hours) and then on to Vienna (11 hours) and then to Munich (1 hour). I will fly back to Orlando tomorrow after a bit of catchup on my sleep in Munich. It has been a lovely trip and I am happy to have made a lot of great new friends that I will hopefully see again very soon.

I got to finally meet Tony Barton at Newcastle. He is a great American pilot who has lived in Australia now for quite a few years. He was a well-known comp pilot but he stopped competing right about the time I started, so I hadn't met him before. He does tandems on the beach all day long with a nice little landing on top in an incredibly small spot - I wouldn't be attempting that anytime soon. I also got a tour of the Airborne factory from Scott - very tidy and organized place and everyone is super friendly! We started talking about it over lunch and I realized that there are very few hang gliding factories that I haven't visited....really just Aeros in Keiv and maybe one or two other small ones. I guess I might have to make that my see them all.

We were able to spend a few hours in Sydney yesterday and shopped at the Paddington Market. It's a great outdoor market with jewerly and arts and crafts. Stuie is a great shopper and put up with us speeding around the market looking for a hat for Corinna. Of course, we were having such fun that we lost track of time and found ourselves speeding to the airport and nearly missing our flight.

Leaving Canungra was very very sad, but I did get to fly again on the last day, thanks to Jonny. He is the best host and took me to Mt. Tamborine for a quick flight. Although both Jonny and Lee warned me not to leave the mountain too low, I was a bad girl and found myself on that big floater in a headwind that had me not quite making the landing paddock. Lucky for me I found a little something that took me up again. I'm really enjoying flying these floaters around....they are so easy!

Here are a couple of random pictures - me launching at Beechmont, Tony spot landing, Jon Sr. (the only one I could understand on the radio thanks to his lovely American accent :-) and Kath Kelly and her big new belly (she's due in February, so she'll be ready to fly again for the Women's worlds in May and we'll get to see her and Lee and the new little guy then!)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Byron Bay

Corinna decided to head down to Sydney a bit early to arrange our tickets back home and visit with friends. We took her to the airport and then promptly spent all of Jonny's prize, not on anything fun, but on new tires for Jonny's car. Today we had a nice little drive down to Byron Bay. The town reminds me very much of Santa Cruz....kind of earthy and full of hippies and vegetarian food. We met up with Curt and watched him do a few tandems in the 25 mph wind. It looks like a fun place to fly when there is a little less wind.

Post Comp

The competition ended just as expected....Jonny won! But, it was a close race right up to the last day when Jonny went in with just a few points over Dave Sieb in 2nd and Atilla in 3rd. The last day turned out to be difficult and rather turbulent. Dave and Attila both went down very early and only Jonny and another Aussie pilot ended up making goal. This is the 5th year in a row that Jonny has won the Canungra Classic. Being the superstitious dork that he is, he probably wont want win it next year....we'll see :-)

Durand Homestead

The Durands have been the most wonderful hosts here. Judy cooks awesome veggie food every night and we all sit around the table telling funny stories and making fun of each other....feels very much like home. I start to like it so much here that I may just stay forever :-) Corinna convinced Jon and Judy that they should adopt both of us...I have the right first name already, so I would fit right in with Jon, Judy, Josh, Jonny and Gemma.

I haven't been up early since the comp ended, but Judy got these great shots this morning of the view from the deck and a kangaroo munching on grass in the front yard. I've decided it's worth dealing with the snakes (which I haven't even had to do) in exchange for all the other cool wildlife around here. I am starting to spot kangaroos all the time now and I even saw 4 baby crocodiles while chasing Jonny to goal on the last day....ok, they weren't really crocodiles, but they were some of the biggest lizards I have ever seen!!

The young girl in the picture is the lovely Gemma. What a sweetheart she is!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Days Off

We've had a couple of bad weather days recently so we've had to find ways to entertain ourselves. They have something of a tradition here at the Canungra Classic called Red Faces (named after an Australian television show much like our Gong Show). All of the flying teams put together some sort of silly act designed to make them (or others, as was the case with Curt's spoon fighting act) look as foolish as possible....they do a really good job of it. But, it's great fun and I think a tradition we should start for the Flytec meet. For the most part it stays pretty G-rated, although the Brits may have taken that up to a PG for their stripping act. I was asked to be a judge, which I thought consisted only of giving a score...until it started and I realized I had to be in front of everyone, coming up with some witty comment about each act. That's not exactly my forte.

Yesterday, our second bad weather day in a row, we decided to head down to the Gold Coast and do a little shopping and a little bowling! Jonny is quite the good bowler and if he had only listened to the expert in the lane next to us, he would have been even better. As with most everything else, he beat us all, hands down.

Bowling Tourny

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Red Faces

Belly Dancing

Today was the first day we had to cancel for bad weather. Actually the weather was quite nice, there was just litttle or no lift and it was blowing over the back. It was good - gave everyone a chance to catch up on stuff. I was hanging out over at the Airborne camp when the topic of belly dancing came up. It turns out that Monica is quite a good belly dancer. She had heaps of the coin and sequen covered belts for everyone to give it a try and pretty soon everyone was out there trying to get their hips to move in ways that they don't necessarily want to go. It was good fun to see all the boys shaking it, including Jonny and Scott. Monica was already very good and Lisa was a very fast learner looking just adorable in all the garb.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Random Shots at Canungra

I've been having a great time driving here for the Mongrel boys. So far only one minor incident with driving on the wrong side of the road :-) I picked up Gabor the first day and in searching for the others I had to make a u-turn. I just pulled right into the wrong lane and drove away. Poor Gabor, sweet and quiet, didn't say a word. He just sat in the passenger seat silent, frantically pointing toward the left lane. I finally noticed him out of the corner of my eye, thankfully before there was any oncoming traffic. Silly guy! I told him next time he ought to scream or something....who knows how long I would have gone on otherwise!

Other than Gabor being way too polite, the driving here is incredibly easy. Without coordinates and without really having much idea where I am, I seem to drive straight to everyone where ever they land. There's definitely something magical about this place (or it could be that there just aren't that many roads :-)

We saw a giant paddock full of kangaroos the day before yesterday. They all think it is hilarious that Corinna and I get so excited and have to stop the car and take pictures. As soon as I get a decently close up shot, I'll post it.

I'm working on my Aussie and have heaps of new words in my vocabulary and even some new grammar. I was told recently that I could instantly be picked out as an American when I put "already" at the end of a sentence. Apparently that's something they don't do. I'm putting the new words and new rules to use already!

Old Friends

Louise and Curt came up to visit yesterday. Curt is living down in Byron Bay now and that's apparently just an hour and half drive from here, so they came up to say hello. Curt is looking great and much healthier than last spring :-) Louise is looking lovely as always.


Aussie pilots have a slightly different fashion sense. Here's Gabor in his tights. There's actually a rival team called the MAFITs (Men Against Faggots in Tights). They're funny people here :-)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

These are some of the beautiful birds that feed on the deck out front.

Another airplane shot of the Gold Coast

Arriving at Syndey Airport

Isn't this cool! It's taken out the window of the airplane!

Miami Beach...the start of our long journey!

Tequila Sunrise

Well here I am in Australia…finally. I woke up the first morning here in Beechmont and was convinced that I was in heaven. It was certainly worth the slow trip!

Corinna and I met up in Miami last Friday with the plan to fly toward the east through Frankfurt, Vienna, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney and then on to the Gold Coast. Well, while we were in Miami we realized that the flights going west were looking less crowded. So, we changed everything and just decided to meet up in LA on Sunday and go straight from there. Sounded like a nice idea at the time, but it wasn’t as simple as it sounded. We couldn’t get on the Sunday night flight to Syndey because apparently United Airlines would prefer to take cargo over passengers. Despite the fact that there were something like 20 seats available, they wouldn’t let us on the flight because of “weight restrictions”. Of course, they weren’t soooo weight restricted as they took our luggage (supposedly by accident). Well, we worried that the same thing would happen the next night, so we hopped on a flight to San Francisco thinking we could get out of there a little easier. Ha! Exact same problem Monday night. Lucky for us Brian Porter lives about 10 minutes from SFO. In his usual easy-going manner, he offered to pick us up, he took us to a great Mexican restaurant on the Bay and then put us up at his place. We had a blast with Brian and all of his amazing collectibles. We got the grand tour of Museo de Porter, complete with an interesting shopping spree that can’t be elaborated on here (if you’re curious, just call and I’ll tell you the story – it is hilarious and a great example of ultimate justice).

After enjoying a day with Brian, we finally decided that Honolulu would be the go. As you can imagine, if we made the flight from there to Sydney, great, if not, well, that’s still great. We arrived in Honolulu just after noon and then had all day to skulk around the island before our midnight flight. We drove the coastline counterclockwise from Waikiki. It’s just gorgeous and we were fortunate enough to come across some hang gliders that had just landed next to the beach. One of them was Walter, an old flying buddy from Marina Beach who moved to Oahu several years ago. He offered us a place to stay and gliders to fly the next day in case we didn’t make the flight that night. Lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) for us, we made that flight and were finally on our way to Sydney.

So here we are now in Canungra. I am writing this from the Mt. Tamborine launch and as I said before, I have most definitely arrived in heaven. I have to say that the scenery may not be as majestic as Austria, for instance (my other favorite place). But, the Durand family and the warm friendly people here more than make up for it. After having spent so much time in European countries, it is refreshing to hang around “normal” people who don’t believe that they are superior to the rest of us. Everyone is so down to earth…I’m loving it! The Durand’s have an amazing house up on a hill surrounded by critters of all types, good and bad. Although Jonny denies it, I’m still convinced it was him that planted the snake out on the deck to greet my the first day. I am assured that the poisonous snakes can’t climb (and the house is on stilts), but that doesn’t comfort me much. The Wallabies were out munching on the grass this morning and every day there are different exotic birds at the feeder on the deck.

Here's a cool Hawaiin sunset

Thursday, September 15, 2005


I never would have guessed the DC area was so pretty! This is Tim's driveway with a cute little wooden bridge over a stream running through his property. What a great backyard!!!

Don't Bother me Before my Morning Blog!

My other car is a....

Tim let me mow his lawn on his cool riding mower. Alright, that's a lie. I didn't mow the lawn...I just jumped on a drove it around a bit for the camera :-)

On My Way Again

I'm on my way to Australia with Corinna for the Canungra Classic. Don't know yet if I will be able to compete in the meet, but if not, it will be nice to have a little vacation (because, let's face it, I haven't had one in nearly a month now :-).

I had the chance to come through DC this week - sort of on my way to Australia - to visit with Tim before he sells his incredible house and becomes a trailer-living, flight park bum like the rest of us. His place is beautiful and if I were him I would have a really difficult time giving it up. Just 20 minutes from Dulles, it feels as though you are somewhere in the middle of West Virginia...very wooded and rural feeling. He has 8 acres bordering a wonderful park with hiking trails. A few days ago we took off for a hike right out of his back yard where there are tons of quiet trails that you have to share only with the deer and foxes. I'm now starting to really regret not having come to visit him sooner. By the time I get back from Australia, he'll be down in Florida and this amazing spot will belong to someone else.

So, I leave for Sydney on Saturday, via Miami, Frankfurt, Vienna and Kuala Lumpur. Yeah, definitely the long way around, but it works out nicely because I get to go with Corinna that way. From Sydney we'll take a short flight up to the Gold Coast where the competition starts on the 24th. That will give us a couple of days to get over the jetlag and get used to the flies and snakes :-) I'm scared!!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

New Toys

I'm home at last...back at Quest. Although it is quiet around here in the summer, we're still having a blast with the new toys. I haven't been checked out on the cool new mower yet, but I got to try out some other less utilitarian toys this afternoon with Mitch and his boys. What fun! Someone found something they're calling a powered surfboard out in the bushes (apparently?) and got the engine running. It looks a bit like a really old jet ski. As with most things requiring a minimal level of coordination, I suck at it. But, I think it was good for entertaining the others :-)

Mitch's son Bryce has a great dirtbike that he was brave enough to let me try out. But, he's much better than me, so here's a nice shot of him!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Jonny Wins....But I Took Home the Big Money!

It's a little late (I'm already back in Florida) and I suppose everyone already knows, but Jonny won the Big Spring Open. I knew he would. The prize giving and party were great are a few pictures. Jonny's trophy was just too big and heavy to cart all the way to Brasil and then home to Australia, so I had to take it home with me. Its a really cool Frederick Remington sculpture of a cowboy. I might just hand deliver it to Oz in the next month or so :-)

I was the big winner in the final Texas Holdem game. It was tough, but thanks to Robin's bartending skills, no one could figure out when I was bluffing and when I had a real hand, since everything was getting pretty giggly.

Friday, August 12, 2005

More Info....

See's Jonny's blog for the full story. Kevie is fine, but will take the day off today while he repairs the glider and rests a bit.

Double Chute Deployment

We just arrived at the airport this morning to find that apparently Kevin was up doing aerobatics in strong wind and tailslid, tumbled and deployed two chutes. He is fine, but not back to the airport yet. I hear it just happened 15 minutes ago. Will be back with an update soon!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Dusty and Mommy :-)

Dusty smoked everyone today coming into goal 20 minutes before anyone else. This is Dustin and his mom, she's here watching the comp all week.

As of today its Mikey in 1st, Jonny 2nd, Dustino 3rd, Glen 4th, Robin 5th and Kraig 6th. Not too bad for the Litespeeds!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Task 2

Yesterday's task was cancelled when a giant cell came in with a great lightning show. Everyone came rushing back to the airport which made for some entertaining landings (no one was hurt thankfully).

Today's task was a 76 mile downwind run. Jonny won the day!! We went for a nice dinner with all the Moyes boys and the conversation was nothing but baby talk....shows how old we are all getting. Between Denny, Kraig, Glen and Phil, I have never heard so much about baby poo, barf, binkies and blankies. Not the topic I would have expected.