Thursday, February 28, 2008

This is the email that I recieved from Steve Lee, president of the BOD of the Tenneessee Tree Toppers. If you have ever wondered about the history & the construction of the famous radial ramp, there is a new article posted on the TTT site. Well worth the read.
This gives you an update on the happenings to date:

Steve writes:
I enjoyed reading the historical radial ramp history written by Denny Haldeman. Information was sent to my old address(tttxc1) that I had to change after that darn Dave Hopkins blew me away last year with his 135 miler. Rest assured and enjoy this project as it sails along on the smoothest lift. Read these updated facts and respond as neccessary.--S and H steel erectors will arrive any day to pour the neccessary footers needed under the existing ramp. They will utilize the rock for some of the leg supports and pour footers where needed.--Birmingham could not bend 3x3 angle so S and H will use 1 1/2 x 2 1/2 angle rolled to our same existing radius. This should be completed in about one more week. They will begin actual steel erection on a projected March 10th. We are in good hands and the steel frame is all systems go.--The projected decking party is March 14th-16th. Pressure treated 2x4's furnished by Ace hardware in Dunlap will be on the job site at our command. The Ohio flyers with Tom Primavera's lead donated the stainless steel carriage bolts and flanged lock nuts along with a Big financial donation. These guys know what the brotherhood is all about. We already have the hardware, drill bits and electric hole punch. There will be (2) carriage bolts on every truss for structural integrity of the deck and to prevent board warpage. We're gonna need some impact wrenches to zap these nuts or alot of ratchet action ahead, about 2400 nuts is all.--These are the facts as they stand today and only include the radial section of the ramp, not the flat deck. Once the radial re-vamp is completely finished, frame and decking, paid in full, the BOD will discuss improvements to the flat deck which already has a steel truss frame. Thanks to Tom Cheray for the re-vamp of the flat deck frame. Tom recommended replacing the rotten wood frame with steel and donated the straight steel trusses. Tom died of lung cancer shortly after this project was completed but he will never be forgotten as our wonderful friend. Thanks Tom Cheray! Get ready ya'll, March 14-16 and any time after to get that radial re-decked. See ya'll soon!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This is a call for some assistance from all the hang gliding pilots that has ever flown from, or intend to, fly from the famous radial ramp at Henson's Gap in Dunlap, Tennessee(Hang Gliding Capital of the East).
Most pilots, that has anytime under their belt, has flown from this great site. Like most things from years of use, and weather, it become mandatory to "ReVamp" it, for the safety and funn of every pilot that stands on that red board. The way that the ramp is going to be revamped, none of us will be around long enough to see the next time that this needs to be done.
There are links below where you can make donations, or order some Cool t-shirts to help out.
However, order you T-Shirts quickly. I just ordered mine, just a few days after becoming available, and there's only a few left.

This is a message from Steve Lee, Nate,and the whole Tennessee Tree Topper community.

These T-shirts are a part of the fundraiser for the new replacement for the worlds most recognizable radial ramp. All profit plus a percent of the profit will be matched by myself for the "Revamp The Ramp" project.
Join the Tennessee Tree Toppers by sporting one of these ramp fundraising T-shirts. "Revamp The Ramp – 2008" shirts captures a unique event in Tennessee Tree Toppers history. Purchase one for yourself, friends and family. These shirts are a grey ash ultra cotton heavyweight T-shirt. The design is applied via a 7 color screen printing process. Medium, large and extra large sizes available.
Don't be caught in your local LZ without one of these T-shirts. Available in "PILOT NEEDS RIDE" for both a flexie and rigid wing. These shirts are a sports grey gildan ultra cotton T-shirt. The design is applied via a 2 color screen printing process. Medium, large and extra large sizes available. Order an extra shirt to store in your harness for those fabulous XC adventures or landing out. Don't be seen as a bum carrying a large strange bag!
All orders will be placed via the fabulous online order form created by Jeff Nibler:

or directly from our homepage:

Supplies and sizes are limited, place your order as soon as possible to ensure you get the size and quantities you want.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I met the guy in the following pictures, when a group of handicap folks came up to take their first tandem flights. His name was Mark, shown here with his sister, Kathy. Can you tell this was after his flight?

This is some of the guys, with their friends & family.

As with any flight park, the paperwork must be done before the fun can start. Waivers all around guys & gals.

This is Mark hooked in with Rex for his flight. Trevor is manning the ground crew position here. It's hard to get him out of the tug for anything,,,,,,well, maybe a beer, ha ha. Just kidding
Mark won't have to worry about being hooked-in, helmet, or being uncomfortable anymore, he's free of these earthly bonds. He has his own wings now, of that I'm fairly certain. He passed away this last week. He was heading down the hall for his morning cup of coffee before work, and had a massive heart attack and left this world.
Just from the short time that I knew him, I can honestly say, we were kindred spirits.
My passions, flying & photography, allow me to meet a host of different people. And, if I feel that there is any excitement at all going on, my camera is assuredly capturing some of it. One of the benefits to it, as in this case, is to capture a new friends smile doing something that he really enjoyed doing. Please keep his family & great friends in your prayers. It's never easy loosing a loved one.
Rest in peace, my friend. Save me a spot. and a set of wings !
One of his best friends, John, made a tribute & put it on Youtube. Click the link below

Friday, February 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ned. This man's done a lot of things in his lifetime. I just hope that mine is as full. Good thing Lynn didn't put all the candles that was customary, haha.

The supper was good, at Lookout Mountain Cafe. A bunch of us pilots got together to wish him well for his birthday. The Bday Cake was spectacular !

The surroundings and ambiance of this restaurant was very peaceful !

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Took this one this evening from my deck. Spring is well on it's way ! ! ! ! ! WOOHOO!

My good friends, Dub & Cindy, have just sent their youngest son, Brandon, back across the pond again. He is back in Iraq now. Please keep him, and his family, in your prayers.
Below is a link for a great cause to help support our troops over there. Amazing how just a word from home helps out for a persons morale! !
I hope Brandon hurries back home. He has yet to finish with the training hills, and I cant wait to fly over a mountain with him. Dub's 2 other son's, Trey & David, have already proved to be chips off the ole' block. Dub's a great instructor. Trey is flying a Klassic, and David has just gotten a great new glider,,,Horizon.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Christopher & Mak. What a couple, and what a journey he is on right now. I bet they could both use a good soaring flight, about right now!

A couple of friends of mine, and the flight park, have been posting a dangerously liberal blogspot, while in Turkey. I think they care machineguns over there, if I'm not to badly mistaken. He had better be very careful over there. He's not the kind of person to watch what he says much. But, do any of us from the U.S.?

Please----Check out his blog, and maybe post a comment or two, words of wisdom, etc..... Always nice to get letters from back home !

This article was sent to me in an email. And, I have to admit, it chapped my buns! I researched it,,and it is true. And, unfortunately, this is just one case. This article has NOTHING to do with the color of someone's skin,,,, it has everything to do with laziness, which I have very little tolerance for. It also shows a couple of flaws in the system.
I am sharing it for one reason,,, that if we get enough people upset by this kind of thing, maybe, just maybe things will change. I wish I had the power to make everyone work, if they are able(not willing), for a living, and to pay their bills. I don't think that wish will ever be granted, but I can hope, and pray for some changes to take place.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

This is a funn little game when you need to take your mind off of everything else. One draw back,,,it is addictive!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Terry Presley flew in a WWII fly-in, and someone recorded it. They put it on YouTube for all to enjoy. This shot was taken last year in the LZ, here at Lookout Mtn. Flight Park, after He flew it in & landed. Great pilot. Whether He's flying commercially, hang gliders, or playing the Red Baron,,,he is tough to beat !

I am soooo past ready for some airtime of my own. Come on Springtime!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad ! ! !

This is the person that I admire most in the world. I am what I am today because of Him, and my Mom. He sets some high standards for me to live by. A code of living that not many people can live up to. I try hard, however, sometimes I fall short. Probably always will. I think the most important thing, is the trying the best that I can, part. I know he had doubts in me back in my drinking years, however, I think He is a believer now that He can see that I'm serious about my soberity and am enjoying a better life on that path. I know that He loves me because he has shown me some real Tough love, in the past. It made me a stronger person. Of course, at the time I was not at all happy about it, and I really didn't mean those words that I said, haha!

I credit him with my passion for flying. When I was but a lad, he would take me on trips with him in the company single engine Cessna airplane heading to a new site under construction. He would even let me fly it, sometimes. Then, high school came around, girls, band, drivers licenses, you know, more important things. Plus, the 40' chainlink swing we used to soar on. It all came rushing back to me, the first time that I saw hang gliding. Just had to at least try it. And, like most of us, that's all that it took. I was hooked the first time my feet left the ground. I hope someday soon, I can share my flying with him. At least once, I hope, He gets to see me fly.

This is a big birthday for him,,, he just broke into the 70's, and you would never know it to see, or talk with him. I'm really proud of him for working out,swimming, and keeping as fit as he does. That only means that He will probably outlive me ! I don't know if he could stand that or not, after loosing 2 children and a wife, at young ages, however, I'll hang- in there if you will Dad !!!
Love you much ! Your Son, Ray

Sunday, February 03, 2008

For Superbowl this year, since it's the off season for us hang glider pilots,,,we still flock together. In this picture, you see how Rick Sr. likes to party. In the middle of good looking ladies ! :^}

The superbowl crew. Rick spent 2 1/2 days preparing the food for our get together. Lasagna, brats, veggies, desserts, shrimp, etc.......

Here's some of the etc..... Lot of spirits during the game, or was that alot of team spirit? Don't remember, haha! Fun time had by all. If you left hungry,,,it was your own fault !
Most of us can't wait for what is just around the corner-----Springtime thermals, and nice bike riding weather. Hope that I can take off from work long enough to enjoy some of it !

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Great, Great email that I recieved from a good friend.

I was sitting alone in one of those loud, casual steak houses that you find all over the country. You know the type--a bucket of peanuts on every table, shells littering the floor, and a bunch of perky college kids racing around with long neck beers and sizzling platters.
Taking a sip of my iced tea, I studied the crowd over the rim of my glass. My gaze lingered on a group enjoying their meal. They wore no uniform to identify their branch of service, but they were definitely 'military' - clean shaven, cropped haircut, and that 'squared away' look that comes with pride. Smiling sadly, I glanced across my table to the empty seat where my husband usually sat. It had only been a few months since we sat in this very booth, talking about his upcoming deployment to the Middle East . That was when he made me promise to get a sitter for the kids, come back to this restaurant once a month and treat myself to a nice steak. In turn he would treasure the thought of me being here, thinking about him until he returned home. I fingered the little flag pin I constantly wear and wondered where he was at this very moment. Was he safe and warm? Was his cold any better? Were my letters getting through to him?
As I pondered these thoughts, high pitched female voices from the next booth broke into my thoughts. 'I don't know what Bush is thinking about. Invading Iraq . You'd think that man would learn from his old man's mistakes. Good Lord. What an idiot! I can't believe he is even in office. You do know, he stole the election.'
I cut into my steak and tried to ignore them as they began an endless tirade running down our president. I thought about the last night I spent with my husband, as he prepared to deploy. He had just returned from getting his smallpox and anthrax shots. The image of him standing in our kitchen packing his gas mask still gives me chills.
Once again the women's voices invaded my thoughts. 'It's all about oil, you know. Our soldiers will go in and rape and steal all the oil they can in the name of 'freedom'. Hmmm! I wonder how many innocent people they'll kill without giving it a thought. It's pure greed, you know.'
My chest tightened as I stared at my wedding ring. I could still see how handsome my husband looked in his 'mess dress' the day he slipped it on my finger I wondered what he was wearing now. Probably his desert uniform, affectionately dubbed 'coffee stains' with a heavy bulletproof vest over it.
'You know, we should just leave Iraq alone. I don't think they are hiding any weapons. In fact, I bet it's all a big act just to increase the president's popularity. That's all it is, padding the military budget at the expense of our social security and education. And, you know what else? We're just asking for another 9-11. I can't say when it happens again that we didn't deserve it.'
Their words brought to mind the war protesters I had watched gathering outside our base. Did no one even appreciate the sacrifice of brave men and women, who leave their homes and family to ensure our freedom? Do they even know what 'freedom' is? I glanced at the table where the young men were sitting, and saw their courageous faces change. They had stopped eating and looked at each other dejectedly, listening to the women talking.
'Well, I, for one, think it's just deplorable to invade Iraq , and I am certainly sick of our tax dollars going to train professional baby-killers we call a military.' Professional baby-killers. I thought about what a wonderful father my husband is, and of how long it would be before he would see our children again.
That's it! Indignation rose up inside me. Normally reserved, pride in my husband gave me a brassy boldness I never realized I had. Tonight one voice will answer on behalf of our military, and let her pride in our troops be known. Sliding out of my booth, I walked around to the adjoining booth and placed my hands flat on their table.
Lowering myself to eye level with them, smiling I said, 'I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. You see, I'm sitting here trying to enjoy my dinner alone. And, do you know why? Because my husband, whom I love with all my heart, is halfway around the world defending your right to say rotten things about him.' 'Yes, you have the right to your opinion, and what you think is none of my business.
However, what you say in public is something else, and I will not sit by and listen to you ridicule MY country, MY president, MY husband, and all the other fine American men and women who put their lives on the line, just so you can have the 'freedom' to complain. Freedom is an expensive commodity, ladies. Don't let your actions cheapen it.'
I must have been louder than I meant to be, because the manager came over to inquire if everything was all right 'Yes, thank you,' I replied. Then, turning back to the women, I said, 'Enjoy the rest of your meal.'
As I returned to my booth applause broke out. I was embarrassed for making a scene, and went back to my half eaten steak. The women picked up their check and scurried away. After finishing my meal, and while waiting for my check, the manager returned with a huge apple cobbler ala mode. 'Compliments of those soldiers,' he said. He also smiled and said the ladies tried to pay for my dinner, but that another couple had beaten them to it.
When I asked who, the manager said they had already left, but that the gentleman was a veteran, and wanted to take care of the wife of 'one of our boys.' With a lump in my throat, I gratefully turned to the soldiers and thanked them for the cobbler.
Grinning from ear to ear, they came over and surrounded the booth. 'We just wanted to thank you, ma'am. You know we can't get into confrontations with civilians, so we appreciate what you did.'
As I drove home, for the first time since my husband's deployment, I didn't feel quite so alone. My heart was filled with the warmth of the other diners who stopped by my table, to relate how they, too, were proud of my husband, and would keep him in their prayers. I knew their flags would fly a little higher the next day. Perhaps they would look for more tangible ways to show their pride in our country, and the military that protect her. And maybe, just maybe, the two women who were railing against our country would pause for a minute to appreciate all the freedom America offers, and the price it pays to maintain its freedom.
As for me, I have learned that one voice CAN make a difference. Maybe the next time protesters gather outside the gates of the base where I live, I will proudly stand on the opposite side with a sign of my own. It will simply say, 'Thank You!' To those who fought for our nation, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know. GOD BLESS AMERICA !
Please pray for God's protection of our troops and HIS wisdom for their commanders. Pass this on to as many as you think will respond.

'Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. I ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.'

When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our ground, air and navy personnel in every area of the middle east.
There is nothing attached.... This can be very powerful. Just send this to all the people in your address book.
Do not stop this prayer chain, please.... Of all the gifts you could give to anyone in the US Military, be it Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines or National Guard, prayer is the very best one....Amen. GOD BLESS AMERICA