Tuesday, May 29, 2007

This was written by the president of the Tennessee Tree Toppers, Steve Lee. Some really incredible flying in the Sequatchie Valley! ! It seems that it has been SE for weeks now, and the conditions couldn't have been better !

"The past couple of weeks have produced many personal records and new site records. Many pilots have flown multiple flights over 50 miles and closer to 100. These are the furthest flights from Whitwell in many years and conditions continue to improve.
If your into xc and haven't visited the Sequatchie valley lately, you better come on before it rains again some day. Congratulations to these pilots and I apologize if I missed someone or got the numbers wrong. Correct me if you can."

Ollie Gregory: 111 miles- new site record RW
Greg Heckman: 109 miles Sport 2
David Giles: 108 miles RW
Steve Lee: 93.5 miles RW
Kathy Lee: 86 miles RW
James Stinnet: 72 miles RW
Eric Donaldson: 70 miles Concept

Wayne Walker: Best driver you could ever have!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Happy Memorial Day to everyone. Especially to all the Vets & their families. I salute you, one and all !
Semper Fi !

Friday, May 25, 2007

This is the recap of the flight that broke the site record at Whitwell, Tn. Greg Heckman on a Sport 2 flew 109 miles, alot of which was flown over dinosaur country, and never really got low that day. The Tennessee Tree Toppers are a bunch of great people.
Thanks Greg for posting your recap!! It really encourages me to do great things on my Sport 2. Again, I feel that Wills Wing gliders have out done themselves with the design of this wing! I have never flown a more user friendly glider in my career. I'm not a comp pilot, however, I do love XC flying. And this wing allows me to have as much funn as I had back in the beginning with a Falcon.

"It never hit me to write about my flight but Ollie and several others mentioned that I should post it here. While in the air at Lookout on Monday I decided to go to Whitwell on Tuesday and couldn't get anyone in the LZ to commit to go except for Marc. I told him I would go if there were clouds. I called Ollie and the forecast for top of lift was 9000 MSL . So I decided to go with or without clouds and packed my harness with rope, water, food and lots of cash to secure a ride back toWhitwell.
I studied the maps for going over the back and it looked like there were fields along Hwy 111 on top but in a south wind it was 35 miles to get to the back side of the mountain and Hwy 111 is more to the north.I decided to leave work at noon and called Marc that we would meet at the church at 12:30 est. Eric Donaldson called me about 11 am and told me the tug crew at Lookout reported south at 20 mph on the tows and it was about 10 mph on the ground. Not good news but I didn't see any ground winds at work.I was about 5 minutes from the church when Marc called and reported that the ground winds at the church were NE and that was good to hear, since I knew that higher winds on a south cross would make it harder to get up. We arrived at launch and the wind was very light from the south. The sky was blue so I was not very excited and took my time in getting ready.
Marc sees some cummies over the back and I get very excited and take the glider out to launch. The valley is still blue but cycles are starting to come in, so I get dressed and decide to go. Then some mist forms to the north and it looks super high! I then decide to wait to see if anything forms near launch. It only takes about 15 minutes and mist starts to form about 1-2 miles north and then some more near launch so I decide to go. I don't feel very confidence with no birds in sight but my truck is in the LZ so I take off and turn left.Oh no…..no lift at all along the ridge and I lose about 200 feet and turn out to the LZ and hit light lift. There is not much drift and after about 20 turns with not much gain I widen my turns. Luckily there is no sink so I turn even wider and hit a core. I'm thankful for the chance to get up so I yell at myself to concentrate. This gets me above ridge and after about 200' over its 200-400 fpm and the thermal tops at 8000 MSL. The wind has picked up with altitude and I'm about 5 miles north of launch and about 3 miles over the back. I fly straight back to the valley but my GPS indicates 10 mph ground speed, this is not good! So I decide to fly at a 45º angle north to the valley but I don't see any clouds in the valley or along the ridge.Visibility is about 12 miles and I can see the fields along Hwy 111 on top but that is north of my track. I can see whispies on my track so I go for it knowing that if I get low I can turn cross wind and make the fields along Hwy 111. At the moment I take off downwind I see a large flume of smoke on top of the mountain that is blowing flat along the ground. There wasn't much wind at launch, but now I don't want to land on top with that much wind in the middle of the day with thermal activity.Heading for the next mist I decide to turn in all lift no matter how light and stay as high as possible. With no clouds in sight but lots of mist along my path I get to 9200 MSL and head for the next mist. There are lots of thermals along my path and I can see the back side of the mountain now and it's great to see farmland everywhere. I pass McMinnville and stay high working every thermal I find. About 5 miles into the valley I can see a vast wilderness area ahead and at this moment I realize I didn't study the maps far enough north. The farmlands only last 15 miles.Well this is the point I would ALWAYS chicken out but I was staying high and now was topping out at 10700 MSL. Something told me to go for it so it's off downwind under a very nice cloud street with well formed flat clouds. After 5 miles into this area (Center Hill Lake Area) I was getting to the point where if I continued straight ahead I would commit to landing in this area. I decided to cross cloud streets and headed NE along the edge of the wilderness area so I could bail out to the farmlands and study this wilderness area better for fields. This was the first time I hit major sink and lost 3000' crossing streets but got back to cloudbase.Now I can see the Cumberland River in the middle of this wilderness area and there are fields along the river but the entire area is very hilly but I don't see much wind on the lakes. So I commit this time to just go for it no matter what and I can land along the river. So it's off downwind to the next cloud which is about 10 miles away. I loose 4900' and arrive at the next cloud but it's just some scattered mist. I don't see any good LZs but off to the NE I see some very large fields along the river. With not much ground wind I feel OK about being here.I search under this mist area, this is my only chance as the next cloud is too far, I hit some very light lift and gain 500' in about 20 minutes. I'm looking overhead and I finally see an area to the SW starting to form so I leave my lift and head SW and I run into a very nice 400 fpm thermal that gets me to cloud base. Now I can see the end of the wilderness area and lots of farmland. I measured this area on my path and its 40 miles across. It's very hilly but has lots of fields with some big fields along the river. I would not want to land anywhere in this area in high ground winds though.I get to the beginning of the farmlands at 10300 MSL (9100 AGL) and it's perfect now with flat lands and large fields as far as I can see……all of 12 miles! Too bad it's now all blue sky ahead. I see some clouds off to the west but they don't look that great and knowing that I must be close to Kentucky, I take off on glide downwind to the north. The air is super smooth and the sink is 100-300 down. No more lift and I'm getting low over the ground but with large fields everywhere I just keep on gliding.I see a small town ahead with a nice LZ in the middle of town. Not knowing where the Kentucky border was I just keep on gliding with large fields everywhere. I see some smoke and it shows south at 1-2 mph on the ground. I go the end of my field and I don't think I can make it safety over the tree line so I make a 180 and glide into the super smooth air with a very nice no step landing.

I call Eric Donaldson to pick me up and then call Ollie with my coordinates so he can give directions to Eric. Just as Eric calls and says he heading my way a pickup truck stops and asks if I need a ride. I say Chattanooga and they say for gas and beer money they will take me. So now I don't have to wait 3-4 hours for Eric. "We'll be right back", I break down quickly. They come back with a very nice and very large Dodge pickup with 6 people who are ready for a road trip.The glider fits nicely of top and I use my rope to secure the glider. They were very excited about the road trip and called about 20 people on the way to tell them what was up. Besides the gas and beer money (the driver didn't drink!) I gave them some cash also.
The air was super smooth the entire flight. The lift was not very strong but lots of it. The flight was so easy and just so very pleasant. I dressed perfect for the 42º temps.
I was so happy that I did not take a sled run on such a great day!!!!!!
10,700 MSL
109 miles
4 hours 50 minutes (2-6:50 est)
90º on the ground42º at cloud base
Fountain Run, Kentucky
Greg Heckman

Saturday, May 19, 2007

These were the host for tonight's weekly party, Denny & Nydia. They were celebrating their 40Th wedding anniversary. He's a great pilot, and she's just great ! They had some really good Mexican food catered for us tonight, along with a keg of beer, and a GREAT Band! What a great couple. Good time was had by all. The food was tasty, the beer was cold, the music has us dancing all night, the bonfire warmed us, and we even got to watch the West Brow Volunteer Fire department put out a fire on the mountain. It is rumored that someone drove Another vehicle off the bluff,, however, that is just a rumor. I can't confirm it. Just hope no one was hurt, no matter the cause.

The story behind this shot is two-fold. One is apparent-the wedding pictures. However, the Lexus tin with some really good mint chocolate cookies may have you wondering. Well, if you buy a $40,000. Lexus,,, you too can get a tin of them, ha ha!

After 40 years---still dancing and singing to each other. What a great site to witness.

Here we see the band for the night. The "Just Reeves Band" performed their usual great variety of music, and rocked the house until close to 11:30. Their style gets everyone dancing, and they wont let up until they see us worn out, it seems, ha ha! They are great, and honored to call them friends. They are going to be performing at the Tennessee Tree Toppers next weekend, for Memorial day fly-in that they are having. Should be a Great time for all. The TTT is know for a lot of things. A couple of them are: The Team Challenge, The May Mayhem/Memorial day Fly-in, and their hospitality.

It was a very good fly day today. Both off the mountain, and for towing. Some of the pilots achieved altitude gains of over 4 grand over the mountain. No one went XC, that I heard about. Later in the day, even some first time mountain launches were made. A buddy of mine got his first, and second one, and was even heading back up for his third, however it got too late, and he had to settle for 2. Got to love the shine on new pilots faces ! Way to go Dan ! Much better landing the second time around. Watch those low turns from base to final !

What would our sport be, without Wuffo's??? Nothing ! We all were at one time, wondering about this fantastic sport called " Hang Gliding". So many yearning questions, that come from deep inside that has to be answered, and an unquenchable thirst has to be quenched. Little did we know, that that thirst would stay with us for the remainder of our days. Da Vinci was right! !

There was 3 tugs, and 3 tandem pilots today, going as hard as they could to get all the Discovery flights in before dark. Steve, one of the tandem instructor pilots extraordinaire, said that all 3 of them did about 20 tandems each today. Just another safe & wondrous day at the flight park !

Friday, May 18, 2007

Jerry Gillard, who resides in Memphis, took a look at my pics and saw a fellow bird-wanna-be, and shared his blog with me. I thought that I would share them with you. He has some specktacular pictures from Torrey Pines on it. You should see these great paragliding & hang gliding pics.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Shawn was taking his boat to get a hole fixed in the bottom of it. I don't think he was going to get it there like this,,, when I showed him this picture,,, we had a great laugh at it and loaded it on my van, ha ha!!
I haven't been posting much because I have been fervently working on our new house, and working some for Compass. I'm hoping that most of the house will be done this week, and life can get back to some sense of normalcy. And, some Much needed airtime.
On a more somber note, our sport had some bad news on May 13th. We lost a pilot in Oklahoma while scooter towing. While I had a school in Huntsville, Al., a similar situation occurred with a great friend and myself. While towing him up, the release failed and he started over flying the pulley. I saw what was happening, and that he didn't release. He started pulling tow line, and I jumped down to keep the spool from feeding too much out too fast and back lashing. He landed without incident. It could have gotten nasty, or worse, just read below. I'm glad Dub and I were frosty that day !
Here are a couple of links to the story :
Scooter towing is a great teaching method to get students into the air. It greatly accelerates their learning curve. However, like anything else, Murphy's Law still exists and demands training in all areas of the procedure. From beginning, until release, and beyond. It's the "beyond" that will get us.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Thought I would post a couple more pics from the great California site---Torrey Pines. The memory lingers still.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

I just posted a new music video down below, if you have a minute to watch it, it really has a strong message. This world needs more caring in it. I think that it would be a much better place to live. Pass it around ! ! Everyone needs a hug, and you just might brighten someones day ! ! ! ! !

Happy Cinco De Mayo Everyone! We had quite a spread of mexican food this evening for our weeky party. It wasn't a fly day today, so not as many people turned out as usual, however, it was still a good turn out. Doris had an unfortunate accident this last week, and is recooping now, so we had to make do without her expertise. She was missed by all.

Shawn was on hand to supervise the lighting of the bon-fire, shown here telling Daryll how to do it, haha!

There was a drum circle after the meal. Greg did a great job coordinating it. I know there was more than a dozen people joining in the music. And with a nice meal, cool evening air, great fire, good friends, and the sound of the drums, flutes and other percussion instruments, it was a very peaceful time !

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I copied this from an Australian Newspaper, The Daily Telegraph. I thought it was worth the read, since there are aLOT of hang glider pilots that own dogs, of all shapes and sizes.

Hang-gliding hound dog
May 02, 2007 12:00

BLUE heeler Patch is one old dog that can be taught new tricks.
Perched on a hang-glider, the eight-year-old looks every bit the seasoned pro he is.
But Patch isn't just a hang-gliding hound. The 12-flight veteran is also an accomplished motorcyclist and surfer, not to mention an old hand at the job he was bred for – rounding up cattle.
Hang-gliding instructor Greg Newnham has owned Patch since he was five weeks old, but waited until he turned two before his maiden flight.
"It's not where a dog should be. I think they're happier on the ground, but to come up with me and see what I do, I think that puts the world in a different perspective for him," Mr Newnham said.
After Patch passed his first aerial test with flying colours, Mr Newnham, from Cairns, set about equipping him with a set of skills usually reserved for Hollywood stuntmen.
"I taught him to ride on a surfboard and a motorbike and he's good on cattle as well – he's a jack-of-all-trades."
Patch is strapped into a training harness before taking to the skies.
The unflappable bluey is a better learner than a lot of his students, said Mr Newnham – a veteran of 23 years.
"He's easier to handle, less weight to carry and he doesn't talk as much," he said.