Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Gulgong - Final Day & Prize Giving Party

Big congratulations to the Moyes boys Jonny (1st), Atilla (2nd) and Trent (3rd)!  There was a little bit of an upset with Atilla not making goal on the last task - that put Jonny in 1st.  The final day was cancelled due to high winds, but that made for plenty of party time, costumes and all (some very interesting - check out the photos).

Thursday, November 29, 2012


It was a bit of a merry-go-round at launch today.  For the first hour or so, they couldn't get them launched as quick as they were landing.  There was an inversion about 3000ft (and the field is at 1400) so even the former world champions were having a reflight.

It did finally turn on though and everyone got on course - many well past the last start time.  The sky opened up and looked great.  Nine or ten in goal in the end.  There was a bit of a thunderstorm cell between the last turnpoint and goal - some went through it and go rained on and other went around.  All happy in the end though.

The pictures in this album may look like launch and goal....they're not...just launch with all the landings and reflights.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A few rest days...

The tasks yesterday and today were cancelled due to bad weather.  Most of the field ended up in Mudgee yesterday.  Cute little town with a nice brewery, but pretty nasty Thai food.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A few pics from the first two days...

Gulgong Day 2

The day called for possible thunderstorms in the afternoon, but they called a triangle hoping to avoid them.  Turns out the first leg was upwind so it was pretty tough for most.  Even well after the start, I kept hearing on the radio that they were still trying to make the first turnpoint.  I didn't think anyone would be making goal.  But apparently, once they rounded that first turnpoint things got easy.  I heard Dave May say that he glided all the way from the first to the second without taking a single climb.  

Unfortunately, the overdevelopment did come about late in the task.  As Atilla was coming into goal first, there were lightning strikes north of the field.  Atilla came in fine and got his glider into the hangar as Jonny came in sky high.  I knew something must be up for Jonny to be crossing goal at 2000 ft.  Apparently he went on final needing a 10-1 but just couldn't get out of the lifting air.  He took a wide final out over the town of Gulgong to try to get out of the lift and go around the darkest parts of the sky.    Once he landed, the wind started to pick up as the gust front slowly arrived.  Konrad and Glen were next in and Konrad managed a nice landing in the 15 knot wind.  Glen flew way out over the town at about 2000 ft and we were sure he was going to run away from the storm and land elsewhere.  Turns out he was just trying to find a part of the sky that wasn't lifting.  By the time he found some and came back, the wind had really turned on.  Glen, John Smith, Wolfi and Matt landed in pretty strong stuff but everyone pulled it off alright.  

Over dinner we heard that Trent made goal and then flew away trying to escape the storm.  He flew nearly back to the first turnpoint before he could find any air going down.  Cameron also had a pretty scary time trying to avoid the cloud suck.

Today isn't looking terribly promising.  The storm dumped a bit of rain and it looks quite stable out there now.  The forecasts are calling for little or not lift.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Airborne Gulgong Classic - Day 1

We made our way from the Central Coast to the little inland town of Gulgong for the Airborne Gulgong Classic.  I love these little outback towns….although the wildlife here seems to have become incredibly lazy.  Driving out we passed 4 wombats, 3 kangaroos and a giant lizard all sprawled out taking a nap beside the road - sometimes right in the middle of the road!  Lazy things!

Today was the first task day with great conditions.  They ran a 124km triangle(ish) task coming back to the airfield.  Adam Parer cruised in 15 minutes ahead of everyone else.  Having taken a pretty early start, he probably won't win the day though.   I think there were about 20 in goal in the end!

 The sky was gorgeous all day!  The entire week is looking pretty good at this point.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Music to My Ears

From 1st to 4th grade my family lived in Washington state in a tiny little town north of Seattle.  My father pastored the Clear Lake First Baptist Church and I've always felt like those years were the favorite years of my childhood.  Although dad was the pastor, he still had incredibly good taste in secular music and much of my lifelong musical preference comes from the years of listening to dad's favorites - Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Loggins & Messina, the Eagles....and Elton John.  We had every Elton John album on cassette tape back then and to this day I can still recite the lyrics to every single song on Captain Fantastic, Honky Chateau, Madman Across the Water and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (his best, by far!).  

Elton John played at the Entertainment Center in Syndey last night and Glen got us tickest.  I wish my mom and dad could have gone with us, they would have loved it.  He puts on a brilliant show.  Of course, that was no surprise.  

What was a surprise was two cellists in his backup band.  These two Croatian guys are apparently a musical sensation in their own right and will soon be spinning off to tour the world with their cellos.  They have a band called - what else - Two Cellos.  I've never seen two more psychotic looking fellows sitting on a stage in my life.  They were the opening act and they did three or four songs, all rather hard rock songs performed most frantically on their cellos.  They finished off their set with the best version of Highway to Hell I've ever heard.  If ever I see them doing a show where I am, I won't miss it.  

I can't embed any of the videos here, but check out this link to my favorite - a little duet with Steve Vai.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In the Land of Ice and Snow

They say that Iceland is green and Greenland is ice.  I suppose that depends on what time of year you go.  I just returned to sunny Florida from a week in Iceland.  I found that November is positively arctic in Reykjavik....arctic, but still a magical place.  Although the trip was mostly work - I went to the CIVL Bureau meeting there and we worked about 12 hours a day for 4 days straight - I did get a chance to do some sightseeing after the work was done and I was blown away by the gorgeous barren landscape where hot air seems to explode from random holes everywhere.

The city of Reykjavik is so perfectly tidy and colorful that it nearly looks like a toy village to me.

I even found a pretty impressive graffiti collection.

At times the landscape looked like another planet.   No need to worry about tree landings here - trees are few and far between.  But you have to beware of the massive lava beds that would make for a very very painful landing....not to mention the hot springs popping up everywhere you look.  

We toured a geothermal power plant. Since I've been back, I've heard so much buzz about Iceland and their energy independence.  What a cool thought!  Funny, these pictures were taken about 2 o'clock in the afternoon.  The sun never gets high off the horizon this time of year.  It's cool to watch it traverse  low across the sky rather than the usual rising and setting we have closer to the equator.  

And the highlight, of course, was the world famous Blue Lagoon.

Although it was the right time of year, there were no sightings of the Northern Lights.  I found a website where they are forecast and they were supposed to be visible on Friday and Saturday after I left :-(.  Iceland most definitely deserves another look and I'll be back again soon to try to catch those illusive lights!

Very special thanks to Agust and his lovely wife for being such great hosts!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tennessee Tree Toppers Team Challenge

I had the chance to fly the Team Challenge up at Henson's Gap earlier this month.  This is a competition that I've been trying to make for years.  Finally, the planets aligned and I got to spend a week hanging out with the coolest southern hang glider pilots on the planet.  The Tennessee Tree Toppers has been organizing this competition for many years.  The sweetest man on the planet, Ollie Gregory is the boss man and he does a stellar job!

What's most impressive to me is that there so much chatter here in the US about supporting our competitions program and encouraging more pilots to enter.  But no one really steps up to the plate the way the TTT's do.  I knew before coming to this event that it was a "training" event.  But, I really had no idea how much they did apart from just teaming up newer pilots with experienced comp pilots.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on how you look at it) the weather wasn't exactly cooperative.  What this meant was no hands-on cross country training of any consequence, but plenty of launch and landing clinics - every launch and most every landing the entire week was video'd.  We spent days that we couldn't fly getting top notch instruction and tips from current and former world team pilots.  I was really overwhelmed by all that they do here.  I'm not talking about half hour talks in the evening, I mean full on 2+ hour sessions on cross country flying, how to use your 6030, reviewing and critiquing launches and landings, etc. etc. all afternoon and into the evening.  It made me feel like crap for what pilots get for their money at my comps ;-).  When we can't fly at the Rally or Santa Cruz, my first thought is how soon can I run off and do something without a bunch of nutty pilots.  Here was exactly the opposite - they made incredibly good use of every minute.  I hate to say it, but for the money, the Team Challenge is a way better deal, by far!!

Another really cool thing about this event is the club in general - the Tennessee Tree Toppers.  I couldn't say for sure, but I would have to guess that this is the only club in the country that owns, outright, their own launch AND landing field.  I know the club is most famous for their beautiful radial ramp, but I was thoroughly impressed with how well organized and established they are.  How nice to never have to worry about loosing a launch or landing field to a fickle landowner!! And, they have a beautiful campground and clubhouse on launch.  It's really a pretty amazing place and I can't wait for next year!  I hear they're planning on going a bit earlier next year with better chances at good soarable weather.  

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Team Challenge - Task 1

At last we get a day without rain.  Unfortunately, the rain of the last few days has made things pretty soggy and, despite the beautiful sunshine, there wasn't a great deal of hope for a decent task.  We woke up to a lovely blanket of clouds in the valley below.  By mid-morning it burned off, but a bit of high stuff moved in preventing as much heating as we probably needed.  Anyway, a good time was had by all with lots of launch (downwind and 90 degree crosswind :-/ ) and landing practice.  

Here's my awesome team - Kip, Stumpy and Michelle.  I'm quite certain Stumpy is the sweetest man on the planet - and certainly the best rigid wing lander I've ever seen.

Night here is so peaceful....and cold!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Flytec School

These guys really know how to make the best use of non-flying time.  Unfortunately, it dumped a load of rain all through the night and that rain is supposed to continue through the day today. So, we're all sitting in the clubhouse getting some very detailed flight instrument training from Mitch Shipley.  Mitch is the resident 6030 expert and he's teaching us everything from the most basic functions of the instrument, to the best set up of fields for each page, to how to use all the various information we can get from a 6030.  It's great!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tennessee Tree Toppers - Team Challenge

Day one of the Team Challenge and I'm loving the relaxed attitude/learning environment the club has created here.  What's really nice for me is that I'm totally off the hook for doing anything and I get to be 100% tourist - it's really heaven.  The Tennessee Tree Toppers (hang gliding club) own the land where the launch and landing fields are situated.  There's a huge campground on launch with a clubhouse and anything and everything a pilot could need - including nice fast wifi for me ;-).  There are nearly 50 in the competition here, plus heaps more free fliers - most are camping at launch.

Today wasn't taskable.  Rain was forecast to come in around 3pm.  So far that hasn't happened, but the sky has been completely overcast all day, so there's been nothing in the way of lift.  But I love the attitude here.  The purpose of this competition is to raise up new competition pilots, so even if it isn't taskable, there is still so much that can be done.  Many pilots (me included) opted to have a sled ride to the bottom landing field - good launch and landing practice.  Mitch had ET set up in the landing field doing a bit of electra-towing.  Tonight as I type, Mike Barber and Dennis Pagen are giving a talk on cross country flying.  What a great way to get more guys (and gals) into our competition scene!

Sweetest meet director on the planet - Ollie Gregory.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Bit of Begging

The 2013 worlds are being held in Forbes, Australia this coming January.  I have a rare opportunity, along with my teammate Linda Salamone, to participate in this competition along side the men (woo hoo!! ;-).  Because there is no separate women's world championship this year, the organizers of the Forbes worlds are allowing teams of five men, plus two women.  So, Linda and I are going to Forbes along with the US men's team!!

As you can imagine, the expense of traveling to Australia with all of our hang gliding equipment is huge.  Linda and I are working on several fund raisers for the team, the first of which is the sale of these cool commemorative t-shirts.  We've had great support from Flytec USA (as always!) and expect some help from the Freeflight Foundation as well.  But we're hoping to offset some of the expense by selling these great shirts designed by Rick Brown (thanks Rick!!).  They're high quality shirts in two colors and styles (men's and women's) and they make the perfect gift for pilots, soon-to-be pilots, drivers, wives, girlfriends, mistresses, etc.  

So, please support your US girls team and click on the link below to order a shirt or two (or three).  Order early and often because when they run out....well....when they run out, I guess will just print up more ;-)  In exchange for your order, I promise to continue blogging and tweeting and Facebooking all the juicy gossip and details about the hang gliding world and specifically the world championships in Forbes.  

Thanks in advance for your support!  Click HERE to order.  

Monday, July 02, 2012

Peaceful Easy Feeling

I love waking up in a place where I'm a bit of an outsider.  I've always loved it and I can't really explain why.  Maybe it's because I feel like it's something of an adventure...I don't know.

For the first time in nearly ten years, it's summer in the northern hemisphere and I'm not in Europe.  It feels kind of odd sometimes when I hear about all the flying my friends are doing in the heart of the summer.  But, I'm not at home, I'm waking up each morning to winter in Australia, spending the short days riding the cool new bike Glen bought me, watching him catch lobsters then cooking them up for dinner, doing a bit of winter flying in the Hunter Valley, a lot of running along the hilly paths and just having a generally quiet and cozy time.

The last few days have particularly warm, so Glen had a little surf the other afternoon.  The waves are only slight bigger here than at home ;-)

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Yesterday I drove to the little central San Joaquin Valley town of Exeter for my niece's baptism.  The central valley of California reminds me so much of the landscape around Forbes, Australia.  It's primarily agricultural and pretty darn open and flat.  I've just always thought the Australian version was cooler though because the small towns tend to have some character.  By and large so many American small towns have lost their centers and consist of a spread of one strip mall after the next and of course, a giant Walmart.

Exeter was a brilliant throwback to the time when towns had a square in the enter - usually the town hall - with shops and restaurants on the surrounding streets....think Hill Vally in Back to the Future.  Exeter was Hill Valley, with a twist. Nearly every broadside (and some narrow sides) of a building had an agricultural or historical mural painted on it.  Matt and I cruised the streets in amazement.  Matt (being the amazing artist that he is) complained that some were slightly off perspective, but I generally just loved the color of everything and the fact that there wasn't a Walmart to be seen anywhere.  

Wondering how there came to be so many murals, I read up online a little about the town.  I didn't find the answer to the "why" question, but I did read that many of the murals have hidden objects in them - like the bear's face in the Gateway mural.  I also learned that there are many, many more paintings that we missed.  I think this might call for a trip back to Exeter next time I'm in California.  

Matt and I loved the sunglasses on this modern day cowboy. And NO, it's not a cougar!! ;-) It's a mountain lion!

I read that the little face peeking out of the orange tree is actually the artist's daughter.