Linda Salamone's Blog

Monday, September 29, 2008

Estrogen Fest 2008
Lookout Mountain, Georgia September 25th-28th
Wow, hang gliding is NOT dead! There actually ARE women who fly! And Lookout Mountain is a GREAT place to gather, fly, and have great parties. The last couple of times I had been to Lookout kind of sucked. I mean, the people were great, the food was good, and the parties were awesome, but the soaring was a little elusive, and I either had an irritable companion or a lower back muscle spasm (about equal in their “pain-in-the-ass-ruin-an-otherwise-fun-trip ability) or some other such downer happened. So after a 14 hour overnight drive on Thursday, Katrin Parsiegla, Caitlynn Johnson and I found Judy Hildebrand’s house at 6am- just in time to find out accommodations scammed by Jesse Fulkerstein and Dennis Pagan. So we barged in anyhow and slept for a few hours in makeshift beds in Judy’s beautiful house on the mountain. In the morning Dennis and I commiserated over our aching backs and the Turin World Air Games (Test Events), had some coffee and the we all headed to launch. At some point I was informed that I would be sitting on a panel of a roundtable discussion with Pagan, Mike Barber, and Steve Pearson at around 2pm. Since it didn’t look much like a soarable day (too windy), I had a hard time finding reasons to back out. But there were so many eager pilots (mostly WOMEN!) setting up on launch, I decided to stay on top and watch what surely would be carnage on the cross wind/windy day. Katrin was one of those eager pilots, and we saw her off with a nice strong launch and then we headed down bottom to retrieve. By the time I got back up top, I saw Rich Annis had arrived (I had been telling stories about Rich at Italy Valley a few years ago trying to spectacularly kill himself in front of me) and he was setting up. Knowing that he would only fly in “nice” air – and the fact that Mike Barber was setting up- got me scrambling for my glider. Mike informed me that the roundtable discussion was just going to have to wait til after the flying…. So some guy launches and catches a snarky thermal down low just before it was too late, Mike follows, but even though I was ready, I saw that they had nothing I wanted- the “Fun Factor” seemed a bit low, and Rich Annis wasn’t launching… well I decided I would wait or just live to fly another day. The two topless gliders got high and all, and it was killing me not to join them and prove something (?) to this crowd, but it just wasn’t any kind of air I wanted, especially on launch. So I waited. And waited, and waited… until finally it was blowing down the hill pretty good. Now I watched Rich and he still didn’t pack up. But I hadn’t showered since I left Rochester, so I was weighing all my options and bitching at Rich for the fact that I set up my glider while the sun got low in the sky. Mike and the other guy landed but I had sent Caitlynn down with the car. Just as I was headed to pack up, it started blowing in. Joe Gorrie launched and was maintaining out front level with launch. It looked so much smoother now that the cloud cover had moved in and it was after 5pm… so I launched. Now this ramp is pretty intimidating. Linda Presley gave me the most helpful advice when she said just look forward, not down, so that’s what I did and I had a nice one. I headed out to Joe and got a few beeps where he was turning, but he ran away so I tried to be less intrusive. I went north and got a little something that turned on and got me from 100 meters below launch to 100 meters above. And that’s all I ever got but it was good enough and I decided to land when the ridge got a little crowded. I had yet another “Italian landing” and put a divot in the LZ with my whack…. Oh yes, what fun it is to be flying my “good” glider…. I even made it down in time to do the roundtable discussion where I basically just added "yeah, what HE said" to the mix.
The Friday night party was a little subdued compared to what I heard about Thursday night- but I was just happy to get a shower and a full sized couch to sleep upon. Lots of people turning up from ALL over, lots of women, holy shit!
Stay tuned for part 2 of Estrogen Fest 2008… and some pics…
Airtime: 30 min
Alt2: 100m OL
Shitty landing but stayed on my feet…


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