Saturday, March 31, 2007

There is a new blogspot for a great site that we fly in Alabama. It isn't too far from Birmingham. Philip Dabney has been maintaining the club for many years. It is a very fun & challenging site to fly. Here is the link:

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I know she doesn't look like much now......................

I have a new bike that is getting painted. Mountain Creek Harley Davidson has the best customer service of any type of business that I have ever dealt with.
These are some before pictures... Hopefully in a couple of weeks----she will be ready, and I can't wait.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The State Troopers, The City of Dade, and The Sheriffs department was all present in the LZ tonight at midnight. I know what you're thinking, and NOOO it had nothing to do with the hangglider pilots that live & party here!
There were three people that were involved in an accident, and were running from the law. They were heading down New England road, and apparently didn't know about the t-intersection at Creek Road. Opps ! They tried to straighten it out at Gordons house. Thankfully, there was this tree that stopped them in their tracks. Otherwise, they would have wound up in Gordons living room tonight.
After the crash, the perps exited the vehicle and ran down the road, unbeknownst to them,,, our Local community watch---(Joel & Kid Dave), saw them exiting the vehicle and followed them and pointed their hiding spot out to the brave men in uniform with flashlights. They were hiding behind Scott & Lia's house at the south end of the LZ. All three were apprehended, and put in the back of the squad cars. Apparently, no one was hurt, and only minor damage to the property. Nothing a chainsaw won't fix !

There's Never a dull moment in the LZ at night ! Just ask Gordon !

Sometimes, others can say things that we often can't. They see things in a different light, and from a different perspective. Thus, the reason for this post.

My name is Alan.
I have had an interest in aviation since I was a child. I took a hang gliding lesson in Oklahoma City in the fall of 1980. I skimmed just above the ground for a hundred feet or so leaving grass stains on my jeans and a grin on my face that still returns occasionally. I've always wanted to fly something, but I married young, had a bunch of kids and spent everything I made raising them. The kids are grown or nearly so, my career has been fairly successful and I'm married to a great lady.
I still want to fly.
I've spent the last six months or so researching my options: Private pilot, sport pilot, ultra light, paraglider, powered paraglider and hang glider. I've had to ask myself: Why do I want to fly? What do I want to do with it? Why do I need to fly? I still am working on the answer to that question. I spent Saturday afternoon hanging(pun intended) out with some really nice people on the sunny side of Buffalo mountain. Based on the four or five hours I spent there, I made some initial observations. It's not often that we can see ourselves the way others see us, so I thought I'd post this for you to see.
I'm not claiming any of this to be absolute truth, only my observation.

1. Hang glider pilots and paraglider pilots are a friendly bunch.I contacted Mike Kelsey by e-mail before I drove down. He e-mailed back and talked to me by phone to let me know about the area and the sport.Once I was on the mountain, all I had to do was ask a question and people told me all I could ever want to know. I felt welcome from the moment they realized I was interested in the sport. Once they found out I had taken a lesson in 1980 I was an honorary old-timer. Mel Hair spent hours educating me and trusted me with his truck before he knew my name. Ron Kohn, a visiting paraglider pilot, told me of his travels, the virtues of paragliders, a good place for lessons and the dangers of being a partially educated pilot.

2. Hang gliders are better than paragliders.The hang glider pilots told me all the ways that hang gliders are superior to paragliders. Performance, speed, glide ratio etc.

3. Paragliders are better than hang gliders.Portability, light winds, ability to catch thermals, short turning ratio, check it as luggage on airlines.Note: this is not a bad thing. We need to fly what we love. I believe that each mode of flight has its own unique charms.

4. You don't have to have a dog to fly, but it helps. Paraglider pilots have german shepards, hang glider pilots tend to have border collie or heeler mixes(based on my afternoon on the mountain).

5. You don't have to be single, but it helps.No comment.

6. The sport is not for cocky, young risk takers.
I really expected to be the old guy(I'm 45), but I was in the middle of the pack. Dave, who lives on the mountain came by to check things out (he's at least 46). He answered several of my questions. Bruce, who also lives on the mountain came by, with his dog. He told me about lenticular clouds. Dave, a retired member of the Army special forces was watching for favorable winds to fly his paraglider. A nice young couple from Texas was there, no dog. He had about a two hour flight from Buffalo reaching 4000 feet. Warren ? was the first to launch. His family was there to watch and support him. I've already mentioned Mel, who was very friendly and informative. Ron, the visiting paraglider filled me in on the advantages of paragliding and told me of his travels.

7. The pilots are mature, technical, competent, patient and cautious.I think the patience impressed me as much as anything. I waited for hours to see any action on the hill. Each pilot watched and waited for safe, optimum conditions. Some flew, others declined. Each pilot followed a routine as they had hundreds of times before, checking equipment and checking again. I listened to Mel talk about his kite and its history, hang gliding, thermals, equipment, progression through the various ratings, the history of the geographic features in front of us and anything else I asked about.
When I held the wires of his kite as he prepared to step off into the rising air currents in front of him I heard a different tone in his voice, that of a man preparing to face his fears. "Fears" may be the wrong word. It appeared to be a mix of fear, respect, and anticipation. After over twenty five years of hang gliding, each launch is still a step into the uncertain. His voice continued to explain what he was watching in front of him as he watched the cycles of air moving up the face of the mountain so that I could understand what he was waiting for. I watched his face for clues that he was ready and that the winds were right when I saw him take a couple of deep breaths. The breaths were those of a man doing what he loves with a huge dose of fear and respect.. And then he yelled "clear!", and stepped into the sky.I won't pretend to understand to understand why people hang glide. I suspect that the reasons are as varied as the people who do it. I suspect that for many, it feeds their souls in a way that nothing else can. To be extraordinary in a way that others can only imagine and experience the world in ways that only a bird can know.

Many people are prevented from doing things that appeal to them because they let their fears keep them from the attempt. The men that I met Saturday are not limited by those fears. Thank you for sharing your day with me.

Alan Wilson

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Watching the conditions before a great flight. Thanks to Wendy for the great shots !

This was a great launch. However, it is the strangest looking shot of a glider that I have ever seen. Click on the picture and you will see what I mean. If I saw this before I flew,, then I would be doing another pre-flight ! Don't look like it should even fly.

Okay guys, here is my report from Jenkins, Alabama for today.
On the way down to the site, that the wispys were materializing, which meant that the cummies weren't far away. The weather reports that I always look at was showing the direction was good, however I wasn't too keen on the mostly cloudy part. They really missed that part,,,thankfully. We arrived at the LZ to leave a vehicle or two there and shuttle up.
It was nice to see when a fly day is called, and to help save a site, so many pilots show up. If everyone knew how good it was going to be, more would have showed up. However, it was rodeo/ rock-n-roll air, and I love that kind of stuff. Others didn't. There was 8 pilots on deck today. John Furman, Don & Stacy, Mak, Philip Dabney, Keith Nunnley, Eric Carden, and myself. It was honkin' at times(15-26), so we waited awhile to see if the cycles would calm down, and fortunately it did for a while. John suited up first, and I was happy to let him be the wind dummy, and I followed shortly behind him. He picked a great cycle and launch off into a nice thermal and was over the tower before he got there. It looked great to me, and I got my hang check and walked it on out. We had plenty of people for experienced wire crew today. What a luxury. I picked a sweet lull to 10 right in my face, with movement on the trees in front & to the sides. I also launched into another thermal, and was over the cell tower by the time I got there. Apparently, it picked back up a few minutes after I launched. It was approx. 3pm when we took off.
No one else launched until 6pm. After the sun went behind a bunch of deep,dark cloud, it calmed down a bunch. It was still blowing 15+ on launch, but the thermals where history. Keith & Philip took to the skies and got a short extented sledder. Maybe 10 minutes. It was almost calm in the LZ when we landed.
Top altitude gain was by John, dang it. He birddogged off me most of the day. He was able to take a nice one that I was in to 3,450 over launch. Every time I found myself coring a nice one, I looked up and he was making a beeline to where I was at, haha! HOWEVER, I did get to see the top of his sail for about 30 minutes.My top altitude gain for the day was 2,200 over. He flew for 2hours & 30 minutes. Myself, I got 2 hours.
For my 3td flight on this most specktacular glider,,,,, I'll take it ! Just wait until I get wired in... then Maybe,,,, I'll do better.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! ! ! ! ! !

Monday, March 19, 2007

Another great sunset from the road home. Tic-Tac-Toe anyone??

I dont think that I have to put a caption for this one. There are way too many funny ones that could apply to it ! !

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Chris Starbuck was on deck for todays flying. I didn't know that he had been flying since 1973. No wonder he did such a great job on that low save he had at about 500'agl, to work it back over 3,100' over ! I know some pilots that didn't do that well, that aren't in wheelchairs~~ mainly~~ME!

Today was a fair fly day. Any day you have a great launch and no-stepper landing, it's a good day, tator! ! This was my second flight on my new toy, and it really has great potiential.The top altitude of the day was 3,150' over launch, and just a little over 4 miles. Henson's Gap is such a great site, and it was such a gorgious spring day, I didn't mind getting an extended sledder ! Considering that I had left my PTT,camelback, & Vario at the house, I was really hampered trying to go XC. Ollie, Eric, and Chris all soared. Tomorrow is another day! At least I was able to get some nice airtime.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I recieved this in an email from a friend. I have to agree with this,,well worth the watch. Anybody that has ever owned a dog, will love this one!

This video is 8:32 minutes, but worth the spent time. Incredible animal story.
You have got to check this one out (need volume to here and it takes a bit to down load)

If you have never seen this, you have to.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Here are just some of the pictures that I was able to take while I was in Washington State. What a gorgious place that it is. It's a photographer's paradise. Wish that I would have had a couple of weeks to spend there. While I was on the plane heading home, I was even able to see the Great Divide, and other spectacular sites. Hopefully, I will get to do some work there again!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Just when you think you have it all figured out,,,, you realize you can still forget things. I have been enjoying my new camera, and taking lots of pictures. Work has been slow in January, and February,,, so the "On the road" gear had gotten neglected. I left my docking station for my new camera at home, along with the charger. So here I am, first time in Washington state, and I might as well not have it with me. Which really bites, because this is one of the prettiest states I think that I have ever been to. I had to drive approximately 300 miles today. I salivated most of the trip. However, all is not lost. I was able to take some of the best shots, I believe I have ever taken. Of course, the credit must be given to the subject~this great state. Check back on Thursday, and I should have them posted. My Dad sent me an email saying that he had a virus, the C-nile virus. I am not over 50 yet, however, senility may be setting in.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A friend of mine sent this link to me,,, what an incredible ride it must be!
Check out this video!