Linda Salamone's Blog

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Harris hill was pretty awesome yesterday- Tuesday. I've been missing the decent days lately so I made my mind up (with Ron's help) early enough to do something about it. I scrambled through some work and headed home to pick up Ron and my "good" glider. We got to Harris around 1:45 and Jack was just taking Louis and Ed up from the LZ. On top it looked pretty light but there were tons of hawks around so I set up the Litespeed.... slowly.. I didn't want to be the wind dummy and watch everyone soar from the LZ.... Ron launched first, sledded, then Jack sledded, then I launched. I had two hawks just in front of launch and one to the right on the ridge but hardly any wind blowing in so it was tough for me to make the decision to go- plus with Jack landing right then, it sorta seemed stupid. But I had a nice run, got out of the slot, and turned right, and started sinking. Shit! I went towards the saddle and started to get some beepings so I did a 360 below the ridge and gained 20 feet, then another, and another, and soon I was 600' over! I didn't drift towards the ridge at all, and I had a 2mph wind speed reading on my vario, and I struggled some to stay with this thing. I thought it was going to be over with soon so I went looking for the big cheese at 1000' over. I found it right over the sailport and linked some climbs together to get to cloudbase. On my way up I saw that Dan had launched and was having no luck. I got to 4600' over in a solid 600fpm climb trying to get zipped up the whole time. I tried with both hands over and over again, but things were just stuck firm. The funny thing was I put my glider in a turn to thermal while I worked on the zipper, and my glider just stayed right in that climb. Very cool! When I made a decision to go way to the ridge to the west, it was for fear of getting in the way of the airport runway. It looked so good out there, live clouds and close together.... but where I went instead, it was just not good and I lost 3K trying to find another good climb. A big sweeping circle to the NW and back over the cliffs and Harris launch still no luck. Back in front of the sailport I had a little bit but now I was low, too low. So I set upon landing for a 48 minute flight. But short as it was, it was way way sweet. I fall in love with my glider's handling every time I fly it. Dan was broke down and driving back up so I caught a ride right away. I figured I'd get the Sting put together in case it got nice. But I wasn't seeing anyone soaring so when Jack was talking about setting up his tandem, I asked for a ride. He said he would and while he was giving me the low-down, I found myself getting really nervous. Steve Houser had launched and got 100 feet over or so-briefly, but Jack said there was no way we'd soar, and no way he's let us launch in no wind. But we got ready anyways and after Louis backed off launch, we got into the slot. At this point I was gripping the handles on Jack's harness pretty hard, and remembering the first time I ever saw hang gliding. It was 1995 at Mingus Mountain and my sister was doing a side-by-side tandem with Rob. I have never done a foot launch tandem and even though Jamie and I were talking about it a few weeks ago, I never actually thought for real that I would be doing it. I was more afraid of screwing stuff up than anything else. Jack mentioned his girlfriend's 8 yr old taking a tandem this way and I figured if SHE could do it..... So he yells "clear" and I start running and off we go. Piece of cake! He tried the ridge but we were sinking like a stone and it went just fine until the very end when he went to flare. I guess I got a little freaked about how high I was in relation to the ground when he pushed out HARD. But I think it's just that I am used to a super-low final in ground effect- lower than most people. So it just felt like all that weight was going to come crashing down on me but that wasn't the case at all. We just stopped on a dime and that was that! So thanks to Jack for that, and thanks Ron for driving and being the wind dummy. Bob and Dave Perry flew too. Doug S and Ed didn't. I heard that Scott G was on launch but I never saw him. I think that's everyone.... Lots of pilots, sunshine, clouds....Way fun day for me. A great first flight and a great "first" of a flight!


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