Linda Salamone's Blog

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I was out of town for a bit- looks like I missed a snowstorm! It was 90 degrees in LA on Monday. I wasn't right in LA but in Long Beach- remember I had that one day to fly out in California and I was searching for a way to hook up and fly??? Well it worked out great!
My cousin who I ran into in Florida last week lives in Costa Mesa. He picked me up from the Long Beach airport on Friday night, fed me, then let me crash at his house. In the morning we drove to Temeculah and met up with Andy Cu. After a couple hours of driving in total, we met up with Tad Hurst, John Heiney, and some pilot named Bob. Near Julian, Ca, there is a mountain they call Laguna. It was blowing like stink at the lower launch so they all said go up to the higher launch where it's not blowing so hard (huh?). So we go to the higher launch and it's not cranking in so bad. The Santa Anna winds were moderate, that's why we were here instead of Torrey Pines. My cousin got driving directions to the LZ and the keys to Andy's SUV. He was thinking we were all nuts considering running off this mountain that was 3500' over the valley floor. We were at over 5K elevation in total and it felt high. The landscape was so different than what I am used to and my nerves kicked into overdrive. I was supposed to fly Andy's Falcon but the high winds had me hoping he would loan me the Sport2, which he very kindly did. John Heiney's queit and calm presence made me nervous as well!!!!
Tad Hurst is a P5, he decided to launch first. It was the most exciting launch I have ever seen for a PG. He got hoovered off after shaking a stick out of the lines in like 2 seconds. His plan was to top land and help with the hour plus retreive. Whatever, dude!
Seeing a PG in the air with not trouble penetrating was great! I set up, Andy launched the Falcon first, then me, then a big ass Dream with Bob on it, then John Heiney later. The PG got up 1500' over before I launched, then we all were around 3-500' over for the duration of my flight. It was fun being over Andy - in fact I was highest til John came out- well, the Dream was on top a while later- but I had the best view for a while! I was still pretty nervous in the air, every once in a while I had to remind myself to relax my grip and breathe. I'm not sure why, I guess just the unfamiliarity of the site and glider and my lack of recent flying.... I watched Andy get pretty low and then he made his way out to land. He barely made it to the spot we had picked. It was really really far away for a single surface. The PG top landed as promised after pulling Big Ears (which by the way is not as much fun to type as it is to say). My cousin was absolutely awed by all this. I waited for John to launch so I could say I flew with John Heiney. But I was cold by now, I had been in the air almost an hour. But I held on and finally he launched. I was following him around trying to get as high as he was. Suddenly he turned away from the rige in front of me and entered a HUGE dive and I knew what was coming next. My path would have put me just on top of him at the apex of his loop so I turned away but still watched. He was so close, I could hear his glider! Later in the LZ he asked why I turned away! He wanted to come up underneath me! Whatever! My landing was okay for the glider, bad for my harness- I belly flopped it when I tried to flare too late. But Andy was glad I didn't hurt his precious wing. He still hadn't broken down - he was the last to do so as usual! Our drivers arrived- my cousin said following Tad down the mountain was the scariest part of the whole ordeal.... We had dinner in Julian before we got our vehicles. The moon was full and rising the whole time we were breaking down and John had some critiques on my launch (be more aggressive) even though he said it was okay but he would have liked to see more power.
So the 2 plus hours back to Long Beach were mainly my cousin raving about the whole experience. He'll probably give it a go on a bunny hill soon. He was really impressed with John's skill. Even apparent from his perspective although he didn't see the loops.
What a nice bunch of people I met and flew with! And Andy said he will send some pics he took with his phone- I'll post them. I never got to Torrey, the weather didn't cooperate and oh yeah, I was actually supposed to be at meetings all day for the rest of my trip....


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