Monday, September 29, 2008

I have, and hopefully always will, keep my posts & pictures positive. However, sometimes life happens, while your making other plans. I have been looking forward to flying in an annual event called the Tennessee Tree Toppers Team Challenge. I have been planning, paid the dues, and tried to make this week happen in my busy schedule. Well, guess what,,,,, it's not going to happen for me this year. Out of all the times for my company to get busy,,,it's now. I'm not the only one that this is/has happened/happening to. A great friend of mine David Giles, who I've flown with for over 10 years, had to drop as well. 10 years ago, nothing on this planet could stop us from tasting the air, and playing birdwannabes ! He has a lovely wife, and children, and I have a lovely lady & a house on the mountain that requires a lot of my time & money. As he so eloquently put it,,,, if we want to keep what we have,,,,we must do what it takes to ensure it. You know something, this growing up stuff sucks !
I've not been able to even get over there for some pictures. Lucas Ridley has been, tho'. He's flying in it, and is in 1st place right now. I hope that he continues his updating on a daily basis, and keeps us up to date.
Below is a link to his blogspot. Check it out.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

These were the Volunteers serving the catered meal last night. There was: Rick(taking the money), Toni, Nancy, Nydia, Debbie, and the lovely Wendy. The Meal was smoked chicken(white & dark), green beans, mac & cheese, baked ziti, salad, tomatoes, bread, and 2 desserts(blackberry & peach cobbler).
Priscilla & Little Rickie really rocked the house for the crowd ! Great band ! Lots of dancing going on !

These were the ladies that participated in the flying events on Saturday. They all received some nice gifts.
The crowd during the awards ceremony.
There was a silent auction, as well. Almost everything was bid on, and won by someone.
I call this one Solitude. After a long day of flying the tug plane, Kid Dave relaxing by the nice bonfire.

Thanks to Dan, all of the pictures should be posted in one spot for your viewing pleasure. In the index to the right of this pages is a link that says: Lots of Pictures. That will take you to his server index, and they are listed by days. Be sure to check out Thursday's pics, they are a hoot !

Claire designed the logo for the Women's Flying Festival this year. I am pleased to say, that I understand most of her art. In my opinion, this is one of her best pieces. Since this was about women learning to fly, this was very appropriately done.
Steve Pearson was on hand for Wills Wing, and had a great Demo couple of days, shown here with Matt Tabor(owner of Lookout Mountain Flight Park).
Another World Champion showed up for the party, Linda Salamone with her friend JB. They came all the way from New York to be a part of this. Linda competes with the Women's World Hang Gliding team, and does better than most men pilots that I know. Except her landings,,,Her words,,,not mine !
Dennis & Mike was around to chat, and answer questions after the meal. Judy Hildebrand is also a World Champion, shown here. We have some great talents around here !
This lovely bunch of coconuts, are the members of which were present during this time. Carmila traveled more than anyone at this meet,,,she's from California.

Sorry for the late post.

Friday, September 26, 2008

This was the first night of the Women's Flying Festival. "Kid Dave" Miller, professional comedian & aerotow pilot extraordinaire', was the MC for us. He started things out with his Top 10 reasons women love to fly here at Lookout Mountain Flight park. I would put some of them on here, however, I believe that minors may look at my blog, and I don't want to be accused of aiding to the delinquency of minors.
After his opening, it was open mic night. I would have never guess that our community had so much talent in our midst ! What a wonderfully great evening that it turned out to be. Plenty of food, Beer on tap, a stand-up comedian, and live entertainment, plus all the comeradiery,,,,priceless ! ! ! ! !

The crowd's reaction to some of Kid Dave's jokes.

Jen was interviewed by the press this evening. Her, and all the other ladies that's put this together, did a most excellent job. You can see Jens' & Lookout Mountain Flight parks website by clicking the Lookout index tab over on the right of this page. Then click on "blog", imagine that. This Festival was featured in the Chattanooga Times this last Sunday with pictures, and a great write up.
Some days it's good to be a World Champion, one of the best XC pilots in the world, and a great teacher. You know, some days I guess it's just great to be Mike Barber, shown here surrounded by lovely ladies.
I imagine every hang glider pilot out there, new & old, knows this guys name, Dennis Pagen. He wrote all the instructional material that I used as a student, and instructor. He is a great teacher, writer, a great pilot, a nice guy, and............
Can really jam on the guitar, and pleasing voice to listen to while tapping your feet !

Jen, Stacy, Lee, Annie, Rachael, and Christina looked like they were having a lot of fun singing this song. It sounded great, also! !
We even had a different kind of floor show. I dont think there was a dry eye in the house. Sum Ting Wong was the groups name,or was it The Mongoettes? They were dancing to the ever popular song..........It's raining men. Go figure. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The next 10 days are so, are going to be CRAZY around here. From Thursday, until Sunday evening here at Loookout, there's the Women's Flying Festival. They may have some professional photographers working on the pictures for it, however, I will be around taking some shots for them, if they can use them. Mine wont be as good as theirs,only because of their equipment,haha, but mine will have alot of new and old friends in them ! Jen has been doing a great job with Lookouts website/blog. Check it out,,,something's going on around here! !

On Saturday at 6pm, we have our first pilots meeting for the Tennessee Tree Toppers Team Challenge. I don't know about anyone else thats involved with these, but I'm stoked ! I'm glad that I don't know what may happening during that time. What a great journey this is going to be!
Here's an update email from Ollie.

TTT Team Challenge is being held September 28TH thru Oct 4TH.
All TTT members are welcome to attend the seminars that are scheduled every nite, starting with Saturday nite. We won't have a seminar Tuesday September 30TH cause we want everyone to come to the midweek party at Cancun Mexican Restaurant on Broadstreet.
Cancun has a great Karaoke set up! We have the whole place for our private party.
We'll have a hang gliding parody song competition! Some of my singing friends from work will come and stop the suffering with their great performances. If you are brave enough to sing, bring it on! Rick #2 we need you! This is a DON'T MISS IT!! event!
We have some great talks lined up. Mike Barber is going to give his great XC decision making talk. Dennis Pagen is going to give a 'Scratchin' talk and assist with the launch and landing video clinics. Kevin Carter is giving a 'Getting Ready to Race' talk. Mark Stump is giving his great 'Assess the Day Before You Launch. Fly for Fun' talk. Jim Yocum is giving a 'Flying the Big Mountains' talk. Terry Presley is giving a 'Restricted Landing Field Approaches' talk. The Jeff's, Nate and I will do a quick overview of 'Weather Workups.' Lindsey Chew and Stan Roberts are doing a "How to Use SeeYou and Google Maps to review your flights.
Free flying will be encouraged before and after the Team Challenge launch window opens. During the competition launch window, free flyer launches will be allowed when there is a lull in the launch activity.
Hope to see ya there! Ollie

Monday, September 22, 2008

This is the lead bikes of the Trail of Tears '08.
There was 2 different routes this year. We decided to take the older route thru Huntsville, for a couple of different reasons. The papers say there was about 75,000 bikes this year. The rides were down abou 20%. Maybe all the confusion, or maybe just because of the split. I have no way of knowing.
In the next couple of shots, trying to give you an idea of the magnitude & volume of riders that participated in this event.

What would a ride like this be like, without a couple of celebraties. I didn't recognize this guy at first. Guess time does march on. Peter Fonda, aka Captain America as he was called in the movie Easy Rider back in 1969. I reconized his co-star, but cant put a name with the face.
Righteous bikes used in the movie.
An Indian maiden, with her friend--a full blooded wolf Pup.
This I think, is a more natural pose for the beautiful animal. I think the rabbits in the pens might have been lunch, if they were in the wild.
I was dissappointed to see on 3-4 of us salute the colors as they went by.
This event wouldn't have been complete without some Native American Indians.
This was my view on the way back home, from a great day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tomorrow is a big day for me. I have always wanted to ride in the "Trail of Tears", and it looks like tomorrow is the day. Hope Wendy & I get some really good pics to share. In the mean time, thought I would share part of a great email that I got today about, What I've Learned.

I've learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things: a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I've learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.
I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a 'life...'
I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.
I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.
I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.
I've learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.
People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You know I love the unique, when it comes to pictures. A friend sent this one to me via email today. Just had to pass it on. If's from the UK.

'Upside down rainbow' caused by freak weather
By Jessica Salter

Freak atmospheric conditions rarely seen outside the polar regions have been credited with causing the formation of an "upside down rainbow".

Normal rainbows are made when light penetrates raindrops and re-emerges out the other side in the same direction but the inverted types, known as circumzenithal arcs, are caused when sunlight bounces off ice crystals high in the atmosphere, sending the light rays back up.
The "smiley faces in the sky" need extremely specific conditions not usually found above Britain.
This picture was reportedly captured on camera by astronomer Dr Jacqueline Mitton near her home in Cambridge last Sunday.
She said: "I've never seen anything like it before - and I'm 60.
"The conditions have to be just right: you need the right sort of ice crystals and the sky has to be clear.
"We're not sure how big an area it was visible over, but it was certainly very impressive."
A spokesman for the Met Office confirmed the inverted rainbows are occasionally spotted in British skies.
He said: "It is convex to the sun and is formed by refraction in suitably-oriented ice crystals and may show vivid rainbow colouring, as in this case."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just passing it on ~ ~

Women's Festival Updates

The following is an outline of the two clinics that Claire Vassort is teaching on Saturday September 27.
One is geared towards newer pilots, but both clinics are valuable information for all pilots. Because of weather and a busy schedule, we are staying a little flexible on the times of Saturday's clinics. Registrants, please be at the meet and greet for more info.

September 27, 2008 WOMEN’S FESTIVAL CLINIC
Why is hang gliding a great sport for women - An Introduction to the sport
1. Breaking the taboos--Why hang gliding is for women
2. What you will have to do to succeed
3. Be the boss--How to remain safe
4. Q & A--Practical Questions

How to improve your skills and be a safer pilot
1. Physical Strength--how to improve it
2. Mental strength--Building Confidence
3. Learning at One’s Own Pace--Motivation
4. Staying Safe--Build your knowledge Base
5. Q & A--Practical Questions
Also, I apologize but I gave the wrong email address for Stacy Murdoch. If you are playing for us during open mike night, please contactStacy at
If you haven't already registered, please do so at
We want to know if you'll be joining us and we need to get an accurate count on how many folks we'll be feeding. It's only $25 and includes the meet and greet festivities, mountain flying, clinics and the event tshirt.
Jen Richards

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Here's the schedule for the Wills Wing Demo days, during the Women's Festival later this month.
Talking about a fun filled time !

Wills Wing Demo Days - September 25-28

Thursday 25-Sep
4:00 - 7:00 pm
LZ - Orientation and Sign up
4:00 - 7:00 pm
LZ - Wine and cheese & crackers and sandwiches for registrants and their friends
5:00 PM - dark
LZ - *Reservation Required* Student Aerotow Tandems
8:00 PM
LZ - Open Mic night with Kid Dave Miller and You

Friday 26-Sep
7:45 AM
Training Hills - *Reservation Required* Small and Big Hill Classes
8:00 AM
Meet at Pro Shop - *Reservation Required* Ground school at Training Hills
9:00 - 10:00 AM
Aerotow Program - *Reservation Required* Student Aerotow Tandems
9:30 AM
Pro Shop - Pilot meeting to determine flight activities for the day
10:00 - 5:00 PM
Meet at Pro Shop - *Reservation Required* Discovery Tandem Flights
10:00 AM - dark
LZ - FREE Mini Ground Clinic
10:30 - 11:30
LZ - Seminar Claire Vassort
Pro Shop/LZ - Flying Tasks or Non-Fly activity
3:00 PM
Meet at pro shop - *Reservation Required* Ground school at Training Hills
4:00 PM
Training Hills - *Reservation Required* Small and Big Hill Classes
5:00 PM - dark
LZ - *Reservation Required* Student Aerotow Tandems
5:30 - 7:00 pm
LZ - Seminar Terry Presley
7:00 PM
LZ - Catered dinner, music, beer & bonfire - all for only $10

Saturday 27-Sep
7:45 AM
Training Hills - *Reservation Required* Small and Big Hill Classes
8:00 AM
Meet at pro shop - *Reservation Required* Ground School at Training Hills
9:00 - 10:00 AM
Aerotow Program - *Reservation Required* Student Aerotow Tandems
9:30 AM
Pro Shop - Pilot meeting to determine flight activities for the day
10:00 AM - dark
Meet at Pro Shop - *Reservation Required* Discovery Tandem Flights
10:00 AM - dark
LZ - FREE Mini Ground Clinic
10:30 - 11:30
LZ - Seminar Claire Vassort
Pro Shop/LZ - Flying Tasks or Non-Fly activity
3:00 PM
Meet at pro shop - *Reservation Required* Ground school at Training Hills
4:00 PM
Training Hills - *Reservation Required* Small and Big Hill Classes
5:00 PM - dark
LZ - *Reservation Required* Student Aerotow Tandems
5:30 - 7:00 pm
LZ - Seminar Terry Presley
7:00 PM
LZ - Catered dinner, music, beer & bonfire - all for only $10
9:00 PM
LZ - Band: Priscilla & Little Rickee
10:00 PM
LZ - Award ceremony

Sunday 28-Sep
7:45 AM
Training Hills - *Reservation Required* Small and Big Hill Classes
8:00 AM
Meet at pro shop - *Reservation Required* Ground School at Training Hills
9:00 - 10:00 AM
Aerotow Program - *Reservation Required* Student Aerotow Tandems
9:30 AM
Pro Shop - Pilot meeting to determine flight activities for the day
10:00 AM - dark
Meet at Pro Shop - *Reservation Required* Discovery Tandem Flights
11:00 AM
LZ - Birds of Prey Show
12 noon
LZ - Pizza
All Day
Fun Flying

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Happy birthday, Tom.
A group of us got together tonight at The Big River Grille,to throw him a surprise bday party tonight in downtown Chattanooga. However, the surprise was on us,,,,he was there when we got there. Plans for this sort of thing hardly ever work out. But, lots of fun was had by all.
There was only one candle on his piece of Oreo cookie ice cream bday cake. The reason for that? Simple really ~~~ the true amount of candles would have set the smoke alarm off in the restaurant, :^}
With our bunch,,,when you receive a present in a big white box,,,,,be afraid,,,very afraid. However, this time.........
He got a nice bday gift. A replacement for his 15 year old helmet. Some thing about his old one was ,,,,flaking, breaking down from the inside? He don't have to worry about that now.
He did complain about all the voices in his head, but I think that's a whole different problem.

I'm not 100% sure about this one, but I think He's signing up for AARP, using Linda's glasses.

Happy Birthday, Tom.

Monday, September 08, 2008

I thought there might be some people that read this, that don't actually fly hang gliders. I can't imagine it, but I have been told that there are those type of people around, ha ha.
Below, there are a couple of pictures that I took while flying over our great community. I'm was "only" flying about 2,500 feet over the mountain when I took them. Not near as high as a lot of us have been, from time to time. On Saturday, I was approximately at this altitude, however, I couldn't see much more than wispy's of the cloud under me.
Below the pictures is a new update about the Women's Festival. If you are one of those unfortunate people that has never tasted flight( as we have), then there is NO better time to join your fellow birdwannabes! Even if your unsure about it,,, then you don't have to participate at all, if you don't feel comfortable with it. BUT, What would it hurt just to come and watch all these female pilots doing what they love to do? Unless, your afraid that it might just wet-your-whistle, and you won't be able to help yourself and have to step outside the box, just a bit?!!?! After all,,, none of us are getting any younger. Wouldn't you hate to get to the end of life's journey without fulfilling all of your dreams, and desires, and goals? I'm not saying that this would do all of those, but it might a few?! Going to be a great few days of fellowship, adventure, food, and just plain fun !
Please, read below. Hope to see you then & there.

Women’s Hang Gliding Festival and WW Demo Days

Hello All-

The Women’s Hang Gliding Festival is less than three weeks away. It’s going to be an excellent weekend. We have over 40 pilots registered from around the country. We do still have some space available in our tandem program and in the training hill program, so bring your friends! Tell your friends to call 1-800-688-5637 to reserve their flights.

We have some exciting things happening:

1. Wills Wing’s Steve Pearson will be here with gliders for pilots to demo. Steve is one of Wills Wing’s glider designers. He’s bringing gliders and his expertise. We’re so glad he’ll be joining us.

2. There will be flying tasks available to all registrants. There will be different tasks available to different skill levels and tasks will take place from approximately 11am until dusk. If you haven’t registered, please do so. Visit
3. Registration also includes flying clinics. Check back with us for full details.
4. Plenty of night time activities are planned as well. Thursday night is open mike night. If you are interested in playing please contact Stacy Murdoch at On Friday there will be music, food and a keg for $5. On Saturday we will have live music, food and kegs for $10. and, oh, did I mention that Wills Wing will be here with gliders to fly?
5. Reduced prices on training and tandems for our non-flying friends (reservations required).
6. If you can volunteer your time, contact Dale at

Please plan to join us for this fabulous weekend. Bring your friends, fly your glider, demo a Wills Wing glider!

Please register, the festival is only $25 and includes a meet and greet dinner on Thursday night for registrants only, the event shirt (designed by Claire Vassort), clinics, and mountain flying.

Looking forward to flying with you!

Jen Richards

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Happy Birthday to Doris, our honorary Social Director of the Lookout Mountain Flight park. She does a lot for the Hang Gliding community here, and for the town of Trenton. Without her around here,,,mmm,, can't imagine that. It wouldn't be as much fun, to be sure. Just imagine this..... every Saturday we have a community get together where we talk about the flying that day, eat a good meal, most of the time there are kegs of beer, and a bonfire. Sounds like a fun place to be, huh! Thanks to Doris, it happens every weekend, come rain or come shine. And, let us not forget the volunteers that help hers either! It's a nice team effort. All of us pilots really appreciate all of them!

The weathermen hit it almost on the button today, with there forecast. Amazing, I know, but they were darn close. Cloud base was about 2,000 over, and I was to get to it 2-3 times. Actually, I got to 2,250 over but, not by choice. The cloud was sucking harder than I anticipated. The clouds started to dissipate at about 11 am, and the heat of the day(temp) was right on the mark.
I was able to spend the day in the fishbowl, play at cloud base, work some real ratty thermals, and pull off a good landing in my new harness. I did have to run it out, but next time maybe I will be able to lift my arms higher when it comes time to flair. I was worn out, but it was a great workout ! Hey Dub,,you missed it, hahha !

We shall see what tomorrow brings. It's suppose to be better than today! Maybe some good XC miles? Hope so. News at.......

Friday, September 05, 2008

John & Dale Stokes, owners of S.O.A.R. here at Lookout Mountain, put on 3 shows a day for the people that visit Rock City, Monday thru Friday's. They have a great blogspot also, and they are listed in my index to the right, Save our American Raptors. They did me a huge favor when Wendy's folks where in town for a visit, so to repay them I took some picture for them. I am still editing,cropping,etc... to make them the best that I can so that they may use some of them for their show. During the time that they are not here, they are very busy going all over the country doing shows for Schools, and other community activities. If you know of a school that needs something very entertaining, and a educational presentation,,, their show can't be beat !
Here are a couple of pictures of their bird friends.
Can you count the number of thermals that you have shared with this birds brothers & sisters? The red-tailed hawk is very hard to keep up with !
This picture is VERY deceitful. Looks like a normal Bald Eagle at first glance, huh?! !
Well, Atsa Yazhi is not. I really hope that the hunters that did this,,,,,is prosecuted to the full extent of the law(if not worse!) This is positively the saddest looking picture that I have ever taken. This is the second Eagle that I know of, that this has happened to. The first one that they had, Osceola, is now doing the shows at Dollywood. You should really read about that bird(Google it!). John even had a harness made for her, and took her hang gliding sometimes. Now that is a great sight to see !
They allowed me to hold her for a little while that day. What a majestic being. It was the first time for me to be this close to one of these great soaring machines. I have thermalled with a couple of them, just to be left in a puff of wispy cloud dust. Of course, their wing-loading is a little better than mine, so I have an excuse(not).
There was a little bit of clarity, and kinship while I was watching the show. It was quite windy that day, and partly cloudy, with cummies everywhere. I caught the hawk & the eagle doing exactly what I had been doing most of the morning. I had been looking at the sky and feeling the wind. I like to think that during those brief moments, we were of one mind. We were both wanting to Touch the Sky ! I have NO doubt that Di Vinci was correct.
Unfortunately, none of them will ever be able to feel free flight again.
I guess if I had one word that describes me best, it would have to be~~ birdwannabe !

While holding this beautiful creature,,one thought kept creeping into my head,,wonder if it's going to bite my face off? & I think my nose is bigger than his, gessshhhh

The next couple of days looks like it is going to be stellar, if it doesn't OD tomorrow afternoon. With it forecasting 51% humidity on Saturday, and 40% on Sunday,,,imho, it won't happen(keeping fingers crossed).

Saturday looks like a Lookout day (330 degrees, about 8 on the surface), and Sunday looks like a Henson's day (360 degrees, about 10-15).

Saturday should be a great day to stay in the fishbowl and play for a while. I need to get use to this new GT race harness. I just stepped up from an High Energy, which I've had for almost 15 years. Thank goodness for Dennis Pagan and his informative articles. You can always count on that guy to publish something for every need in our great sport. The article that he just had in the magazine about stepping up to a higher performance harness was right on time ! Thanks!

Sunday looks like a great day to try the run from Henson's back to Lookout, down the beautiful Sequatchie Valley ! I've never made it the whole way, who knows,,,,maybe on Sunday. 1st for everything.

News at 11

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The first time that I saw this site, it really BLEW me away. If I had kids, I assure you I would be checking this every week !

Do you know your neighbors? I mean, REALLY know your neighbors?

Well, the attached site will help you know the ones you need to know even better.
Just put in your address & your neighborhood map will pop up.
Every place you see a red balloon or thumb tact is the home of a convicted felon.
Just hover your mouse over an icon & not only will the name come up, but also the crime they were convicted of. You might be surprised.
Copy and paste this address

Monday, September 01, 2008

2008 Women's Hang Gliding Festival September 25-28 – More Updates

The WHF is just around the corner.

Preparations are in full swing and we need your help! Make sure you register for the event. Go to, click on Women’s Festival and click on register. (LMFP does not accept Amex)

If they are interested make sure they visit, click on Women’s Festival and click on register.

Whoever brings in (5) people or more that signed up for the weekend package will win a free LMFP life time membership!

Remind your friends and/or family to reserve their space for the training hills. Space is limited and it is filling up fast. You would like to volunteer? Contact Dale Stokes at .

Don’t forget to order the limited edition Women’s Hang Gliding T-shirt, designed by Claire Vassort, for only $15! Keep checking the web site for updates and schedule of events.

We are in need of KEG DONORS! Please contact Liz Fortanier at .

Do you have Hang Gliding movies we could use? Please contact Liz Fortanier at .

Do you want to learn more about safety, weather conditions, cliff launches, towing, XC flights, landing approaches? Don’t miss the seminars by world class pilots Terry Presley and Claire Vassort on Friday and Saturday!

We already have pilots from throughout the country register for the Festival. Connect and bond with other pilots on opening night, Thursday September 25th at 6:00 pm. Entertainment for the evening is Open Mic with Dave Miller! So join in on the fun and show your talent!

We need your participation and support, for more information contact Stacy Murdoch at .