Linda Salamone's Blog

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Saturday, March 29, 2008 Wallaby Ranch, Davenport, Fl
Another day in paradise- oh bummer. I got up early, too early, like a kid on Christmas morning, and couldn't convince my body to sleep anymore. The forecast was looking sweet and I had an XC flight planned. Instead of fighting to sleep, I packed the car with what I needed for the day and left Mark snoozing and went for a run to Wallaby. I don't run in Rochester in the winter at all, and I miss it, so this felt really good. Even my iPod was working for a change. When I arrived, I watched a few hot air balloons rise in the distance to the east, and then my friend and XC student, Mario Luppa, arrived to get an early morning tow. He had just come back from his home in Italy where he'd secured some lodging for the US Women's Team (me and Lisa Verzella and Team Leader Extraordinaire Jamie McGuire) and in return he wanted me to drag his ass XC for the first time. His first aerotow in a month looked okay, and Mark arrived in time so I could go back to the hotel and shower and get ready to fly. Mario and I got into the tow line a little early, but I saw there were a few gliders sticking high. After a weak link break (mine), a sink out (his), another sink out (his), and yet another sink out (mine), we got kicked off the radio frequency we were using (possibly because of some indecent language ;-)...) So we found another and finally got towed up and dumped into the exact same thermal. I immediately recognized Mark in the air even though he was flying a demo and using his new harness, but his flying style sure is unique. When we all topped out at around 6K, Mario and I headed north, cross wind to Quest- a reasonable flight (and the same as my first declared flight to goal 4 years ago). Only this time I was on a Pulse instead of my Litespeed, and someone else was looking at me to get them there! But the conditions were really pretty sweet, and after a couple of nail-biters in the beginning, we got a rhythm down that worked. Mario found a couple of climbs on his own, and glided really well. He readily ditched crappy climbs that he had stopped for and trusted there was something better ahead. Climbs were in the 800-1000fpm range at times, and solid from 3K to cloudbase- a pretty bulletproof day. After a while I started looking for our goal, but I didn't have a visual. When Mario asked where Quest was, I was tempted to say, "right there next to the lake" instead of admit I didn't know... But then Quest came into view and I told him that we'd need one more climb to make it safely. When he picked it out just in the distance, he said maybe he had it. Before I launched into an explanation about how it's better to come in high, check wind conditions and obstacles while setting up a nice DBF approach, I checked to see where he was. Well, this last glide (like every glide) had put me about 2000' below him! Of COURSE he had Quest made by a lot! His Sport2 looked like a little speck as he glided north and left me searching for another climb.... We had decent landings and got a ride from Mark secured pretty quickly when Derrek and Mike landed with us. I jumped into the pond and declared it the end of an incredibly successful flight for both of us. For Mario- obviously -his first XC flight to a declared goal- and he's only been flying hang gliders sporadically for several months. But for me- it was the first time anyone has consigned me to take them XC and despite my glider limitations, it all worked out great. I had to blast out of Wallaby right when we got back to get my friend Ellie from Sarasota, but she and I arrived for the tail end of the Wills Wing party Saturday night. Everyone was pretty trashed and the guest list was more than a little bit surprising..... Maybe I'll write more on that later... maybe not...
Oh yes and thanks, Lauren, for the use of your little Pulse!
Airtime: 1:45 (yes I realize it took a long time to go 22 miles!!! we took the scenic route!)
Alt above launch: 6600'
XC miles: 22?


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