Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hit or Miss

Tuesday we had another great day of flying at Tarkio. Conditions were looking a bit too strong in town for Sentinel so the decision was made to head West. Tarkio doesn't seem to be as effected by high winds and it is almost a guarantee to get a long flight.

Launch conditions were looking light and it was late out already, about 7:00. We were hoping to get the evening glass-off and Brother Bill was optimistic it would happen. When Brother Bill preaches the word, all should listen. By 8:00 Josh, Bill, and I launched and sure enough were going up in just about any direction we chose. Craig launched shortly after and was quick to join us in the air.

An ideal flight for me is one where I can practice all aspects of flying; launching, landing, thermaling/cross country, and of course aerobatics. This flight didn't let me down. Launch went well and while flying, Bill, josh, and I ran about a 20 mile triangle. Working lift with your friends is always a blast. It wasn't too windy out, but when I ran down wind back to the hill, my ground speed was reading 60 miles an hour. Its amazing how quickly you can cover ground at that speed.

The evening was coming to a close so I thought it would be time to burn some altitude and land. I pulled 3/4 rope and focused on everything Jeff had taught me. I mushed the glider then slowly pulled in to a dive. I tried to roll my shoulders over the bar to increase my pitch down and speed. After a count to 5 or 6, I slowly let the glider climb out. As the nose of the glider touched the horizon, I put a little role control in and felt the bar pressure for proper bar position. As I came over the top, I looked over my left should to spot the ground. I pulled in again to enter my next wing-over.

A few more lazy eights and I was coming in for landing. We have a bed sheet in the middle of the LZ to practice spot landing and on the way up the hill, I joked about the winner not paying for beer that night. There was no wind in the LZ to I planned on coming in hot to see if I could get remotely close to the spot. Due to my lack of experience, the chance of me coming close to a chosen spot to land are slim to none, but there I was screaming towards the spot. Suddenly my attention shifted from having a nice landing to hitting the spot (recipe for disaster). Images of a spot landing competition from Texas last year popped into my mind. I could do this! As expected the spot got the best of me. As I approached the spot, I flared hard, but it was too late. My feet hit the ground running fast and I tripped. Pushed the control bar out and landed on my knees saving myself from a whack. To my surprise though, the bed sheet was brushing against my leg. Almost a bulls-eye, ha, ha.

Sentinel burning

Wednesday sucked. Friends from San Francisco were in town so we tried flying Sentinel. Conditions were strong and splitting the ridge. No love, so we drove back down. As we unloaded gliders, Ben noticed the mountain was on fire. We headed to a bar for dinner and drinks and watched the fire over take the entire mountain within an hour. It was just a grass fire, but still out of control. I couldn't help but think, if we had flown I would have been sprinting back up the mountain to save my new truck before it burnt up. Thankfully the beer-suck got us before we even launched.

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