Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On the Road Again

After my favorite Pad Thai last night, I hit the road bright and early today to drive to Highland for the East Coast Championships. I'm driving by myself this time, no one to keep me company.

I once drove cross country with an Italian that pointed out that apparently Americans need to be told everything. The highway departments in Georgia and South Carolina feel the need to tell drivers that the bridges might ice in winter.....this bit of information comes at every single bridge, large or small. I counted 34 in Georgia until the phone rang and I lost count. I would guess there are a hundred of these winter ice warning signs on Interstate 95 in Georgia alone. I couldn't get the camera out in time, but my other favorite was the sign that just said "BUMP".

Are we a country full of morons who have completely lost our common sense?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bikini Tandems

Flavia and I shot some pictures for an ad in a biker magazine. They were mostly pretty silly, but it's always fun to fly in a bikini ;-)

Its the Time of the Season for Love.....Bugs?

Late May in central Florida brings the nastiest bugs on the planet. Some moron named them Love Bugs. But, be sure, there is no love when it comes to these things. I can think of another more accurate word for them, but I can't print it here. They apparently live to mate and they swarm like nothing I have ever seen. You can't brush them off your skin when they land on you - and they land on you by the hundreds if you are outdoors this time of year - they just smash and leave a trail of guts all over you if you try to shew them away. They're also particularly hard on car paint jobs.

Today I drove out to the beach to see the little flat that I've been calling mine for several months now (and actually might really be mine in a month or two). On the way I drove through a swarm of these buggers that left me unable to see through the windshield. They have to be washed off as quickly as possible or their guts eat away at the paint on the car. So, when I stopped at a gas station (for the first of three washing sessions in the 1 hour 40 minute drive) I took these shots of the car.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Maxie's Hooked on Hang Gliding

My family probably gets really tired of me showing them thousands of hang gliding photos every time I come visit. But not my two year old nephew Maxie! I played Jeff O'Brien's video from the spot landing contest in Big Spring last year and he couldn't get enough of it. I think we watched it at least 30 times and he still kept asking for "more hang gliding." I give him about 14 more years and he'll be ready to go!

Visiting the Parental Units in Cal City

Jonny and I traveled from one desert to another on Monday, from Casa Grande to California City in the middle of the Mojave Desert. This desert is full of my favorite Joshua Trees.

We passed by a windmill farm near Palm Springs. The look pretty cool from the highway. The largest ones are about 150 feet tall. Apparently they produce about 600 million kilowatt hours a year.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Final Day

We just finished off the Santa Cruz Flats meet with a really nice dinner here at the resort. This was, by far, the nicest closing dinner I've ever been to - fully catered excellent Mexican food in a private dining room, fancy tablecloths, linen napkins, the whole works. Although it was a small group here, it was a fun one and everyone seemed to geniunely enjoy themselves. Dave Cameron said at dinner that this was the most fun meet he has ever been to. I'm sitting now in our suite at the afterparty with a bunch of guys talking about how stress free this meet was. I think it comes from a mellow group of people who just came to have fun.....no protests, no whinning about anything, just a party every night at goal ;-) We've talked a lot about doing this again next year and everyone is absolutely for it. Dustin did a great job putting this all together and securing the nicest venue any of us could hope for. I can't wait for next year!

Of course, Jonny won. Dustin was in second and Chris Smith in Third.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Days 5 and 6

Too lazy to report yesterday, and I got to fly last night, so I was more interested in flying than blogging. At this point, I can't even remember who won the day yesterday ;-)...maybe it was Jonny.

Today was a super difficult day. They called a 93 km task, but no one made it. Chris and Jonny came into goal and pretended (for about 10 minutes) that they had flown the course. But, they didn't get the last 2 turnpoints. Davis landed inside the start. We rushed out and grabbed him and sped back to the paddock, got his glider set up again and got him in the air. Unfortunately, he landed again about 15 minutes later. The day won't be worth more than 300 points at most.

I just learned that we've had record high temperatures here this week. We all kind of thought this was normal. But, apparently 88 (31c)is normal for this time of year - we've seen over 100 and up to 104 (37 - 40c).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

More Shots of Our Cool Place

The briefing is getting closer to the bar every day. We started at the pool, then on to the patio and today into the bar.

We play a lot of frisbee here after everyone comes in.

Many In

Looks like all but three came into goal today. It's a big party around here. The resort has a cookout on Thursday nights with a bonfire and all you can eat BBQ.

Here's Dustin setting up over our resort.

John Nagvary made goal today - this is his first comp and he's really enjoying the flying!

Day 4

We've got a lot of guys into goal today after an 82 km triangle task. Chris Smith won the day, Scott Gravell second, Jonny third, Jeffo fourth, Dustin fifth, Davis sixth, Mark Dowsett seventh and Conrado eighth. Probably more coming along with some pictures.

Here is Chris talking about his first time (winning a day in a comp).

Gabcast! Chopper Wins the Day

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Finishes for Day 3

I'm a little slow posting today because I had to go get my guys. Jonny was the only one that made it in (of my crew). So far, looks like it was Dustin, Jonny, Dave Cameron, Mark Dowsett (who was in the circle, but not at the resort). Armand was about 1 km (or less) short of the goal cylinder :-(

Here's Chris' landing field at the 3rd turnpoint.

And here's Conrado's field, complete with a warm bathtub.

Day 3

They're all off on a 107 km squarish task bringing them back to the margaritas again ;-) We got everyone up and on course with just a single tow each....looks like much smoother conditions today.

Here's an update from Jonnny at 2000 meters waiting to take the first start.
Gabcast! Santa Cruz Flats - Day 3

Jonny waiting for the start....

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Day 2 Results

See results here. American Chris Smith is now in first place (about 7 points in front of Jonny)!!

Dust Storm

Right after the last guys came into goal, I got an SMS from Conrado. He had just landed about 2km short of goal. I rushed out to get him as this beautiful dust storm was approaching. It was fairly slow moving, so we managed to get him packed up and on the car just as it hit us. First was a giant dust devil that looked like a small tornado carrying lots of tumbleweed. Then the huge dust cloud took over and lowered the visibility so that we could no longer see the tower at the hotel. It was spectacular to watch (from my safe and dust free seat in the car).

Day 2

Today they flew a 64 mile bowtie task....things moved much more quickly than yesterday and the first group has just come in. Everyone is very happy. So far, just 5 into goal - Dustin first, Chris second, Jeffo third, Davis fourth and Jonny boy fifth. Davis was much happier today- said they were pulling out at about 11,000 ft going 500fpm up!

Here's Davis just after landing.
Gabcast! Roadtrip #0 - Day 2

Monday, May 07, 2007

At Goal on Day One

You can see full results here.

Day Winners Shittalking

Here are the boys at goal with a few margaritas in them, chatting about the first day.

Gabcast! Roadtrip #2

Results so far....

We were starting to wonder if no one would make it back today. But at last Jonny came in and then Chris behind him about 10 minutes or so. Looks like Jeff O is coming in now!! Haven't heard from Dustin yet....we'lll see!
Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

Santa Cruz Flats - Day 1

They called an 80 mile triangle, expecting 14,000 cloudbase and 10c temperatures at altitude. We'll see if they actually got that high...and that cold. There was a existing north/south runway here before we came along, but Dustin and the local club cleared and groomed it quite nicely and also cleared an east/west runway. It's nice and smooth and flat, but about as dusty as can be. It sits right up next to our oasis of green grass and trees. Luckily goal is right in front of our rooms back on the grass so we don't have to deal with more dust. I suppose it is a bit like Hay, although I've never been there myself.

Jonny, Chris, Dustin and Jeff O'Brien launched right at the open and climbed out quickly. The others were a bit slower to get going but we got all 16 in the air without an problems. Rob Kells is out from LA helping a bunch on the launch line - it's great to have him here. I had to scrub about 3 inches of dust off before heading out to the pool to relax and watch for them coming in to goal ;-)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Day Before

Dustin and Jonny went up and cruised around in a sailplane today.

Here's a shot of the whole group of us at the briefing tonight.

Santa Cruz Flats

Today was beautiful. The temperature is just perfect (about 85 - although it is suppose to reach 100 by later in the week). We're getting everything set up here and so far everyone loves this place. The gliders and dragonflies are parked right outside our rooms in a nice grassy area next to the pool and bar. From above, this place looks like an oasis....it is very much a desert everywhere but our little bubble here.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Finally in Arizona

We woke up to cold air and snow covered mountains in Flagstaff this morning. After a couple hour drive, we're finally here at the resort in Casa Grande. This place is really great. The dragonflies are parked outside our super cool suite. We spent most of the afternoon meeting up with arriving pilots and drinking margaritas celebrating Cinco de Mayo!