Saturday, November 1, 2008

Prez-Sez - October 2008 by Beth Friesen

clip_image002[6]The prez-sez I need to say something for the ‘prez-sez’, quickly before October slips away. I have a few hours to go. And since I don’t have anything profound to say, the prez-sez just tell ‘your story’. Well alrighty then!

There I was just standing there…….. at the top of the Butte for the 14th (or there abouts) annual Women’s fly-in at Chelan, WA., when Jaro tells me I’ve set up my wing at a perfect place, angled in a prefect direction to do a forward launch! What?? Me do a forward Launch?? You kidding me?? I’ve flown for 10 years now and have probably done about that many forward launches, so I figured, maybe it was time for me to throw one in here. Okay, why not? The wind had died down, almost everyone had left for the day, conditions were perfect, even for the faint of heart, to attempt a forward launch. So, suddenly it became a worthy cause for myself, Jaro and Chris Amonson, to see if it could be done. Ooooops! First attempt…… good. Then after Jaro demonstrated the needed arm rotations to accomplish the job, I took a deep breath, counted down from three, put my head down and blasted forward between the rocks. Woohoo! Second attempt…….. worked, amazingly, and I was on my way to an unexpected adventure!

What I hadn’t stopped to think about was, why had the wind suddenly died down so completely? And WHY was there no lift anywhere along the ridge as I headed east toward the Chelan Falls LZ? Also, looking ahead, it looked like Jeff Spears just squeaked over the last ridge with the big pimple on it, on his way to the LZ. Wow, am I going to make it? “Oh, PLEASE God, help me make it over that ridge! Pleeeeeeease!” Well he did, but not I. I landed a mere 10-15 feet on the west side of the ridge. And wouldn’t you know it, there was a 5 – 10 mile hour wind coming from the NE right into my face as soon as I crested the ridge, carrying my wing. “Cool, I’ll just re-launch. All I have to do is find a place I can put my wing down without having my lines get stuck on the sage brush.” But now the wind was too strong, and too cross, and nearly dragged me back over the top of the ridge. So I stashed my wing as fast as I’ve ever done before, because I could see the sun was about to call it a day, and tried to radio someone I had just heard on the radio, but got no response. So, instead of calling Ernie on my cell phone at this point, I could see that the ridge I was on, was a fair bit steeper than it usually looked while flying over it, and decided to keep my helmet on in case I had a fall and started my climb down. Not only was the ridge steeper than I thought, it was also a fair bit higher and took a lot more steps to get down than I thought it would. But by now Ernie was calling me on my cell phone and it was beginning to actually get a bit dim as far as daylight was concerned. So when he asked for my co-ordinates, I told him I really just wanted to make use of every bit of light I could, and I’d give him the co-ordinates later. My only excuse for this oversight is that I was beginning to panic about having to hike in the dark before I would be able to get out of there. “So please just let me hike!” Then a stroke of genius hit me! I took all my instruments out of my harness, belted them around my waist, carried my radio in my hand, then kicked my 50 lb bag down the hill. It was just slowing me down, and threatening to make me lose my balance, so I figured I’d rather see it go down by itself than have me be attached to it! It would roll and jump with glee about 10 – 30 feet each time, then wait for me to catch up and give it another kick or shove. This helped me get down faster and soon I was crossing the flat (Rattlesnake flats) where the power lines are, with the bag on my back again.

Unfortunately, by now Ernie was getting rather exasperated about not having my co-ordinates, so he began to insist. “What if you fall down somewhere and we never hear from you again?” So I figured I’d better settle down and give them to him. But wouldn’t you know it, by now it was so dark, I couldn’t read what I thought were the co-ordinates, even while using my cell phone to light up the GPS page for me. I needed prescription glasses to read what I was looking at, and the only prescription glasses I had with me were my sunglasses! Well, for some reason they don’t work too well in the dark! “Oh dear, now I’m in trouble! How are they going to know where to find me when I get down?? Maybe I should have given them to Ernie way back there while it was still daylight. But why would anyone want them if I was going to put as much distance as I could between that spot and where I was going to?? Well, this is going to be interesting!” So I had looked ahead while it was still light enough, to determine where I was going to get down the last ridge. There were several gullies or canyons going down it which dropped down to the level of the orchards. So I picked one that seemed closest to a road between two of the orchards. By now it was getting so that I could only see about 50 – 100 feet ahead of me. But again decided the best way was to shove my wing bag ahead of me and see what happened to it and then follow. It turned out to be a good way of reading the slope of the gully. There was a split second or two when the hair on my skin stood on end, when it suddenly occurred to me that I might run into a snake there in the gully in the dark! Eeegadds! Not a pretty thought! But eventually I came out at the bottom relieved to see that it didn’t end with a steep waterfall type ending. So, with a fair bit of relief, I put my radio down to call Ernie on the cell phone and let him know I was down and could see trees rising up in front of me on my level, and tried to describe to him where I was, based on what we could both see on the highway on the far side of the river. After that I proceeded to cover the last part of the gully, not realizing I had left my radio behind, only to discover as I got to the edge of the orchard that I was behind a wire fence reaching from ½ an inch off the ground to about 10 or 12 feet high, with no end of it in site in either direction, with me between two hills. Okay, so what do I do now?

I sat down to rest, think and wait, and absent mindedly began to play with my GPS again. Ernie was still asking if there was any way I could possibly give him my co-ordinates. When lo and behold, I realized I had been on the wrong page before and there was another page on my GPS that had the co-ordinates in a bigger print size! Needless to say I was embarrassed, but relieved! I called him and explained what the deal was, and gave them to him. And I think it was less than 5 minutes after that, that he and Chris came over the hill with our Suburban to pick me up. But not before I had managed to climb over that foreboding fence and dig a hole underneath to pull my wing through! Thankfully the ground was loose, dry and sandy. They then hurried me over to Campbells, where Chris & Patricia were staying for the night with Murdoch & Jan and Pam & Delvin. They all took just one look at me and ordered me into the shower so that we could get over to the dinner at the airport. We got there just in time for me to unplug the chili crockpot, put it on the table for people to help themselves to, and be called upon to present Meredyth Malocsay with an NWPC trophy congratulating her for being NWPC’s Woman Pilot of the Year, as well as having won the Women’s US Paragliding Championship for 2008!! Congratulations to ‘our’ Meredyth!!!!!

It’s an understatement to say that Meredyth has been diligent, conscientious, and determined in learning absolutely EVERYTHING she can about this wonderful sport of flying! I have so much admiration for her aggressive, inquiring, humble spirit and attitude in honing her skills, gathering all the pertinent information she can, and then using every bit of it to make patient, wise, informed choices before, during and after each flight she makes! I would like to salute her and wish her many successful, truly enjoyable flights in each and every competition she ever enters, as well as for every one of the recreational flights she makes. Meredyth, thank you from us all, for being such an inspiration! Cheers to you, and may you have, and enjoy to the fullest, many prize winning safe and incredible flights!

PS - (Two days after my little adventure I realized my radio was nowhere to be found, so I drove all the way back to Chelan Falls, had to climb over the fence 2 more times, but found my radio on the ground right where I had left it. I was so happy I kissed it on the spot! And just last night I learned these fences have gates in them, every quarter mile, for people to walk through!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Baldy Fly-in Sept 27th/28th

Come one, come all, to the 3rd Annual BiWing Fling at the Baldy Butte Oktoberfest fly-in! Site details and directions can be found at under site guides.
This is a playful competition that pairs up a hang glider pilot with a paraglider pilot in scoring points. That’s okay if you don’t know a pilot of the other breed, we will match you up at the event.
Remember you need to be a NWPC and USHPA member to fly here and have signed a waiver and had site orientation by an approved member or you will be in hot water!. Its easy to do this so come and fly a new site and meet new people.
Here is how the competition will work:
Each pilot scores points for simple contests (really simple! – see below).
At the end of the day, both pilot’s scores are combined for a team score. Highest team score wins!
First and second place teams have their choice of prizes which include Flytec’s Windwatch Pro ($179 retail) and Flytec Sonic varios ($189 retail), and personalized BiWing Fling logo jackets, to name a few.
A few guidelines:
- Register early on Saturday!
- You don’t need to know the other pilot to participate. Your names are matched up when you register and your scores are combined at the end of the competition.
- Best scores from each pilot will be used for total combined points.
- The Speed Glide will be scored on Sunday (for those who don't stay up late draining the keg on Saturday)
- Prizes awarded at breakfast on Sunday.

Highest Altitude - GPS or Vario for validation.
1000+ foot gain            100 points
750+ foot gain                75 points
500+ foot gain                50 points
250+ foot gain                25 points
100+ foot gain                10 points

2) Longest Duration - GPS or Vario for validation.
3.0 hours                       180 points
2.5 hours                       150 points
2.0 hours                       120 points
1.5 hours                       90 points
1.0 hour                        60 points
1/2 hour                        30 points

3) Spot Landing Points
Bulls Eye                   100 Points
1st Circle                   75 Points
2nd Circle                  50 Points
Grass Field                10 Points

4) Landing Style Points
Great landing             100 points (safe, controlled)
Fair landing                50 points (unstable approach, whack)
Poor landing- 25 points (unsafe, out of control)
Crash landing             0 points (self explanatory)

5) Pylon Tag -    Spot the pylons, unscramble the letters and you have the secret code. “Drink your Ovaltine.”
Spotting and identifying:
3 Pylons                    75 Points
2 Pylons                    50 Points
1 Pylon                      25 Points
Unscrambling the letters to make a word or phrase        100 points
*Honor system applies.

6) Speed Gliding – Sunday Morning Leave the LZ early morning (check in Saturday night for departure time).
1st Place                   250 Points
2nd Place                  150 Points
3rd Place                   100 Points
4th Place                     50 Points
Just showing up             5 Points

Extra Credit Points: (These make a huge difference at the end of the day!)
7) Team Spirit
Team cheer                50 Points to the team
Team Name               25 Points to the team
Costume/decoration    25 Points to the pilot

8) Cross Pollination Points: 100 points
This is the most fun! If you’ve ever wanted to see what the other wing is like, DO IT HERE.
Let us know at registration you would like to CROSS POLINATE and we will match you up with a tandem pilot. It’s a WIN-WIN because each of you will score 100 points for your teams.
I’ll never forget para pilot Tom Allen flying tandem with hang pilot Sunny Jim in his Rastafarian costume, smoking a joint (not a real one of course!)
(We reserve the right to change any of the above to meet the needs of the judges.)
This is an excellent opportunity to meet other pilots and to learn more about how the two flying communities can play well together!
I am heading over early on Friday so email me, or call me with any questions before Friday.
Hope to see you there for all the fun!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Can-Am Fly-in Black Mountain


August 15, 16 & 17

The CAN-AM, or Canadian American, is a fly-in for Hang gliders and Paragliders originated by U.S. and Canadian hang glider pilots in the 1970's. Delvin Crabtree and his wife Pam were among the first paragliders to participate in the fly-in in the 1980's, making it one of the first bi-wingual events in the U.S.

Black Mountain is like a big foot with toes crossing the U.S/Canadian border a few miles east of the Sumas border crossing. Nestled in the instep is Silver Lake, where the Whatcom County Silver Lake Campground is located. The park maintains a huge mowed grass field LZ next to the beautiful group campground. Kids have a great time in the park as well so bring out the whole family!

The launch is about 3600' agl, reached by a gated but good logging road off the Mount Baker Highway. It is accessible for two-wheel drive vehicles, but 4-wheel drive is recommended as the last part is quite steep. You launch from the logging road, looking to the west with a spectacular view. Mt. Baker looms large over your left shoulder.

What a deal!

Registration Fee:  $35
Includes 2 Nights Camping

Breakfast: Both Sat & Sun morning (pancakes & eggs)
Dinner Saturday Night: Guy Smith’s Famous Pulled Pork Sandwiches

We are asking people to bring a side dish for Saturday night

Guy Smith, a paraglider pilot who lives near Ferndale, will be bringing his huge locomotive barbecue – aka the BARBECHOO – to the fly-in again this year and will be roasting the pulled pork all day on Saturday. YUMM!

Come on out Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, August 15, 16 & 17 to the Black Mountain, Can-Am bi-wingual Fly-In and help us celebrate another year keeping this fabulous, world class flying site open. The weather will be great and the pilot friends and soaring as good as it gets.


To get to Silver Lake Park from I-5, take the Mount Baker Highway (Exit 255) and drive east 28 miles to Maple Falls. Turn left on Silver Lake Road and follow the signs approximately 3 miles to the park. The group campground and LZ is the road on the right just before the main entrance to the park. There is a quarry directly across the road from the Group Camp entrance.

Prez-Sez July-Aug 2008

Apparently I was staring out the window at Cu's and not paying attention when they told me July was my turn to contribute to the blog and author a "Prez-sez" -- so you get this in August instead.

Chelan XC Classic (CXCC)
It's summer in the NorthWest and you know what that means - yes, competition season. First, our intrepid paraglider pilots flocked to beautiful Lake Chelan for the Chelan XC Classic. This is a competition with a unique format where there is no set task and you're free to make up your own task - straight line, out and back, or triangles. Paraglider participation was at an all time high and there was even talk of having to divide the PG class next year. Several of Tiger's finest flew in the CXCC with Matt Senior placing 3rd in the PG class. Brett Yeates (CAN) placed 1st, with Brian Webb (AUS) close behind.

The CXCC was not without its share of excitement. Read all about how thunderstorms and overdeveloped Cu-Nims made for a very interesting flight. This is a link to Brian Webb's blog that also has a note that Matt Senior posted to the NWPC mailing list.

Rat Race '08
This horde of pilots with too much time on their hands then moved South to Woodrat Mountain in Ruch, OR, home of the Rat Race. The Rat Race is an event tailored towards pilots taking part in their first comp, with designated mentors for all, a friendly, collegial atmosphere, superb logistics and weather/terrain oriented towards beginner XC pilots. This year the Rat Race was held later than it is typically held. As a result we had some really hot days (100+ F on launch) and the ensuing high-pressure did not make for great flying on a couple of days. 2 days were cancelled, but we had some good tasks on the other 5 days. Several Tiger pilots made it to RR08 for their first competition, including Iain Frew, Ashley Guberman, John Mann, and Konstantin Terentjev. Several of the Tiger regulars also competed and placed well - notable mentions being Meredith Malocsay (2nd in Womens) and Konstantin (5th in Masters). The mentoring program this year was top-notch with a lecture every evening focusing on various aspects including weather, speed-to-fly, attributes of a good comp. pilot, etc. Pilots performing well on a given task were rewarded with Beef Jerky the next morning and tree huggers were given their own "official RR08 mini poison oak tree" to take home.

Waterville Towfest '08
Ever stand on launch at the Chelan Butte and wonder how cool it would be to not have to deal with the Columbia river crossing before beginning that epic XC flight? Chris Santacroce/Nick Petersen/Cade read your mind and showed up with their tow rigs in the Chelan flats earlier this month to get people into the air. Less-experienced pilots towed early through late morning and again later in the day. XC desperados towed up mid-day to get high and cold. Several great flights over the weekend - Bill Hughes established SkyGod status with a monster triangle on Sat (Launch near Douglas->Bridgeport->Mansfield->Launch and landing not far from launch) and a flight on Sunday out past Leahy almost to Grand Coulee. Rob Heim and myself played catch-up to Bill on the triangle Saturday and landed near Mansfield after flying nearly 5 hours. John Patterson flew with Bill to Leahy Sunday. Marc Chirico showed it's possible to fly to Bridgeport on a beat-up old Bolero and Chris Santacroce took time off from towing to fly to Leahy. Several other pilots there for the weekend learning to thermal and go distance and I'm surely forgetting other highlights. Cheryl Cardwell did logistics and retrieves with help from Amy Heim, Gene and Nancy.

Tiger FlyIn
The annual Tiger Mountain Flyin was held on July 26. This is the NWPC's largest fundraising event and was very well attended this year. As has been the case with the last several flyins, it was a South Launch day with partly cloudy conditions. The club tandem pilots were hard at work all day cranking out tandem flights and even managed to take on a dozen walk-ons. Most of the tandem flights were pre-sold online. Tiger regulars and some not-so-regulars were present to be a part of the whole song-and-dance. Amy Heim and Steve Accord coordinated most aspects with help from several volunteers. Be there at the club meeting on Aug 12 when we will be thanking all those who helped make this a success.
Note: In keeping with tradition established last year, one van was injured in the making of this flyin.

Chelan XC Open
The comp. season continued with the Chelan XC Open. This was a pre-PWC and also the Canadian nationals (all 10 Canadian pilots in existence competed). The event lasted six days, however we lost three days to strong winds. Great tasks were called on the flyable days, including a 118K triangle on the last day of the comp. This last task had some pilots in the air for more than 7 hours. As the last few pilots came in to goal, they were just flopping down on the ground totally drained after their exhausting yet exhilirating flight.
Santiago Baeza (MEX), Matt Dadam (USA) and Eric Reed (USA) took the top three spots in the open class respectively. The Canadian honors went to Keith MacCullough (1st), Bernard Winkelmann (2nd) and Amir Izadi (3rd). The NWPC was well represented by Bill Hughes (12th,open), Gordon Grice (5th,serial), Stefan Mitrovich (8th, serial), Joe Sullivan (15th, serial) and Chris Amonson (16th, serial).
Details (including results and tracklogs of all pilots).


Bare Buns Run: Every so often, on a sinky South launch day, one of us drops in at the Fraternity Snoqualmie sans invitation. Starting last year, some pilots have been responding to an invitation to run sans clothing in the annual Bare Buns run. Rumor has it that this year it was a cold day to be running with it all out, but one of ours made it into the top 20. Full coverage (so to speak) at the club meeting on Tuesday. Maybe.

Brian's Blog: As an aside, if there's one paragliding blog you should read (in addition to the NWPC blog, of course), then read Brian Webb's blog. Brian is a paraglider pilot from Australia currently visiting the US. He gave a superb mentoring talk at RR08 and also set the Oregon state open-distance record on his way back from Woodrat. What amazes me is the fact that here's a guy who's been flying since forever, an Australian national team pilot who frequents world-class competitions and he still makes a note of lessons he learns on every flight.

In Memoriam
Eric Jansen, a veteran paraglider pilot , died in mid-air due to a heart attack. A memorial service was held at the New Hope Lutheran Church the following Saturday. Eric spent his final few moments in pursuit of one of his passions and he will remain in the thoughts of the Tiger community.

For what is it to die,
But to stand in the sun and melt into the wind? - Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Grouse Mountain Fly-in

The 31st annual Grouse Mountain Fly-In is scheduled to take place August 9-10th 2008

UPDATE: Pilots needing a hotel room can get the Grouse Mountain rate for the weekend of the event. The hotel is located just down the hill from Grouse Mountain at 1800 Capilano Road (604-987-4461).The rate is $119/nt and includes 2 queen beds, microwave/fridge, free Internet, continental breakfast, local calls and parking. Mention the Grouse Mountain Flying Team to get this rate.

Paraglider and hang-glider pilots are invited to soar the skies over spectacular Vancouver from the Grouse Mountain launch, located at an elevation of 4,100 feet above the city.

Pilot registration will start at 8:30 am in the Cleveland Park LZ and the mandatory pilots meeting will be at 9:00 each day. This is a fun flying event and the registration free
(less than $50 exact amount TBD) includes a Skyride pass for an unlimited number of flights over the weekend and food/beverage at a social event.

Please pass this invitation on to any other pilots you know.

If you are coming to the fly-in, please take a minute to visit the GMFT website at and download and read the Rules and Procedures and Guest Pilot Briefing PDF files. For information on Grouse Mountain Resort please visit

If you have any questions please call or e-mail:


Darren Kinley (604-980-5954)
Harry Siempelkamp (604-218-2169)

Hang Gliding:

Mark Tulloch (604-830-6932)

Flying in Slovenia by Stephanie Cone

Something spectacular for everyone. That’s how I’d sum up our recent two-week trip to Slovenia. Bit of background. I’m a Seattle-based P2 pilot with 100 post-training flights at 18 different sites over the last two years since my instruction from Aerial Paragliding. This was my first non-guided/instructor supported flying trip. My partner Matt and I chose Slovenia based on the initial advise of experienced traveling pilots Matty Senior and Heather St. Clair, the relative uniqueness of the location, varied, abundant and easily accessible flying sites, lack of crowds, relaxed and friendly local culture, natural beauty, and lower costs than Western Europe. Slovenia is about the size of New Jersey, population of two million, positioned south of Austria, east of Italy, north of Croatia and southwest of Hungary. There are 1,100 members in Slovenia’s paragliding association.

Matt and I arrived at Ljubljana Airport on June 27, gear in tow, a 4-day reservation at cozy and modern Apartma Gorjan in the town of Tolmin,   notes on the who, what, where, and how from Matty who had been to Slovenia a year earlier,  no llick of the local language (we usually prepare for trips abroad with at least the pleasantries, but alas we “were too busy” before the trip,) and most importantly…drum roll please!…big time positive go-with-the-flow attitudes of allowing the adventure to unfold as it may. Without fail, our favorite trips involve little planning to create space for spontaneous adventure. And unfold it did! We had a fantastic time. As we were waiting for our bus to take us to the train to take us to the taxi to take us to our apartment in Tolmin, we made a spontaneous decision to rent a car. We agreed the price was worth it as it gave us many more flying options. The topography of the Julian Alps is such that if its not working at one site you can drive an hour and fly some mighty fine air.

Since paragliding is so popular in Slovenia most pilots make use of parataxis to get to the more popular launches. The two parataxis services Matt and I took advantage of cost about 8-10 Euros per trip and involved an hour drive up, up, up winding, scenic, well-groomed roads. It was fun to listen to the banter of the local pilots, even if we didn’t understand a word of what they were talking about. Paragliding pilot banter is universal anyway, isn’t it? There was always someone who spoke some English to give us a site briefing.

Based on the varied weather conditions while we were there we were able to fly a different site or two nearly every day we intended to fly. TolminWe initially set up residence in Tolmin for 4 days and flew the Kobala site one day, the stunning Lake Bohinj site another, Lijek out of Lokve and finally Stol. All of these sites offered a splendid mix of ridge soaring and thermaling. I experienced my very first XC flight off Lokve – soaring and thermaling ridge to ridge, getting high to cross valleys, finally landing to the fairy tale sound of melodic church bells, in a freshly mowed field in front of a small family vineyard in a village dotted with quaint stucco houses, anchored by the ubiquitous white steepled church. Hitchhiking in the heat of the day back to the LZ I received a knowing offer by a down to business, heavily perspiring older man driving a flat bed truck. Our only communication through exaggerated hand gestures, nods, yeahs, and smiles made the journey all the more sweet. For me, the joy of paragliding comes largely from the process of getting there, getting up and now that I’m an XC pilot, getting back. Take the dramatically beautiful Lake Bohinj site as another example. Modes of transportation: car, followed by a car train where you drive your car up onto an old flat bed train simply engage the hand break, sit back and relax while you are transported through mountain pass tunnels, followed by cable car up the mountain resort, followed by chair lift to launch, followed by a pretty red, yellow and orange Ozone Buzz, followed by hitchhike with nice Dutch couple on holiday. Going with the flow, allowing for whatever, not tied to any particular outcome. It’s about the process.

While parawaiting at the Lokve launch one sunny afternoon Matt struck up conversation with Klavdij Rakuscek, a friendly local pilot who runs a parataxi service and lodge in the town of Dreznica just 30 kms north of Tolmin. This was great timing since our Tolmin apartment rental was expiring. We were unable to extend our stay with our warm and lovely hostess Vlasta due to the impending arrival of MetalCamp ‘08, the huge annual heavy metal festival that draws thousands from all over Europe and takes over the town for a week. Every other place in town was booked as well. The next day we called Klavdij and as luck would have it they had one room left for us. We ended up staying at Jelkin Hram, along with a group of 10 pilots from England, three pilots from Sweden, and three pilots from Japan. This place was paragliding central…local pilots were available in the morning for weather forecasts and would recommend which site looked best for flying that day and of course the use of the parataxis was made available to us. Klavdij introduced us to the Stol site one perfect day. Stol is down range from the outdoor adventure mecca of Kobarid. After an hour or so parataxi drive up, up, up to launch we were greeted with impossibly breathtaking views of the endless alps, valleys of contiguous hay fields, farm land and villages, and the brightest emerald green river you’ve ever seen…as clear and green as the actual gemstone. The flying was a fabulous blend of ridge soaring and thermals and valley crossings. I want to return to this place someday.

Klavdij and his business partner Paolo have a sweet set up in Dreznica. The terraced village sits serenely into the mountainside surrounded by several mountain peaks, the highest being Mt. Krn standing proudly at 2,245 m. I consistently found myself surprised that there were actual inhabited villages in these areas with modern infrastructure and all. Just as you were thinking the next place you would come to would be heaven, Bam! yet another perfectly quaint village with charming houses decked out with opulent window flower boxes, hay barns, and central water fountain. Ok, so it wasn’t so perfect, every morning at 6:00 the perfect looking ubiquitous village church would grandly announce its reminder to the world with a bell ringing cacophony that went on for nearly10 minutes. And those bells sounded so pretty at noon! Did I mention that said lovely church was so close to our lodge that when I arrived in our room and stuck my head out the window to look at the idyllic view and sneezed, I nearly sprayed something on the church’s big old door? I admit I’m not a morning person.

One morning,…at 6:00…we woke to dark skies and thunderstorms and not much hope that it would clear anytime soon so Matt and I decide to head to Italy based on a simple recommendation from Matty to stay at the “Rifugio” in Pieve D’Alpago where we could fly another spectacular range on the southern edge of the Dolomites. PieveD'Alpago After spending the rainy turned hot and sunny morning in Venice, we made our way to Pieve D’Alpago near Belluno and trustingly followed signs to Rifugio not really knowing what to expect except that Matty’s advice up until that point had worked for us. The Rifugio is an alpine bed & breakfast & dinner & lunch & much more conveniently located at launch a 45-minute drive up another perfectly paved narrow road into the mountains. The owner of the inn/paragliding instructor Mauro, and vivacious innkeeper Francesca took plenty good care of Matt and I with abundant and delicious food, wine, grappa, site briefings, conversation, vistas, and a comfortable bed. We spent two nights at the Rifugio, and felt like part of the family by the time we left. Gotta love Italian hospitality. We enjoyed a couple glorious flights during our stay. Mauro sent his right-hand man, Gigho to retrieve us both at the LZ after our first flight. For our second flight of the day, Matt top-landed, I suspect so he could gallantly retrieve me while I soaked in the stunning beauty of the mountain range, lake and villages during a sledder to the spacious and groomed LZ flanked by the local flying clubhouse. Our brief stay at the Rifugio was a fun cultural highlight for sure. I’d go back in a heartbeat.Rifugio

Not only was this trip chock full of personal firsts, and big time growth in skill and confidence: my first XC flight, my first flights over an hour, first time hitchhiking, etc. but more importantly this trip reaffirmed that the attraction and fun of flying contains the same spirit that propels me happily through my daily life. Part experience, part skill, part understanding that its about having fun, and a whole lot of positive attitude to take things as they come without attachment to landing anywhere in particular. Oh, and part knowing to pack the earplugs when traveling to places where you may end up sleeping within sneezing distance of an old church.


Steph Cone

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Prez-Sez June 2008

Ah the time has come for my turn to write up the goings on for the club this month and what goings on there has been! The absence of a Prez-Sez last month was down to the fact that our chirpy little Texas whirlwind Gordon has been too darn busy flying all over the place to be able to pen to paper or so it seems!. Hopefully I can make up here by jotting down some memorable moments of the last couple of months and praise some of his and other ilk's who have taken to the Badly passage and other wonderful XC tales.

The season has started very slowly this year as we all have witnessed. Of course,  there has been the occasional  gasps of "Wow, seriously, he went to North Bend with a cloud base of only 3500.." but yes it seems if you can time it right and get out during the weekday there have been some great flights.

Heather St. Clair flew a personal best to Coulee Dam launching from Chelan and even got into the top story for the local newspaper. coulee The hard XC crew of Chris, Conrad, Dave, Gordon, Joe, Matty, Mereydth, Randy and  Steve have been flying all over the place with personal bests for many of them. Most notable for me was Steve's 6hr 20 minute 114 Mile flight from Baldy....just love watching that flight in google earth to someday hope I might reach 100. A lot of new students like Lisa, Paul have also been setting some personal bests getting to 5500 ft cloud base on flight 6 and 17 respectively. Even our ever smiling Stephanie Hicks has been kicking butt with just 50 flights and has probably flown in more countries than many of our long standing pilots. The last 6 weeks has certainly seen some great moments and I am sure there are many to come. I even managed to land out South at Hobart for the first time in 2 years flying and that was my personal best flying south.

Following on from that, The West Coast Paragliding Championships have just finished down at Woodrat and the North West pilots once again showed their muster with Andrei, Meredyth and Dave being placed 11th, 19th (4th) and 22nd (10th) from a top class field of 46 in the overall open class and being placed much higher in the serial class, shown in parenthesis. And for those that haven't heard, Meredyth won the woman's class, awesome!  Congrats all around to those that competed and hopefully the new rats going to Medford in July can learn from some of these great pilots we have in our local community and keep up the strong presence the NW pilots are showing in comps.

Back on the home front, at long last work has started on Tiger road repairs. There have only been some minimal disruption to Mike's shuttle service during the week when new culverts were being installed under the road in the areas where we we have all witnessed washout. Hopefully when these are done we may see some grading on the rougher areas.

For those that didn't fly yesterday (20th June), it was the longest day of the year. Summer officially has started!!!  As I arrived at the LZ I saw Kiro tv trucks in the parking lot and more people in the LZ than I can remember for some time. Families were also playing in the park and having a good time. My first thought was who has gone in the trees this time! Funnily enough at that point in time no one had so what was all the commotion about? Turns out that some families in the local neighborhood have been getting annoyed at the amount of congestion on the road. They believe this is due to our paragliding activities where rubbernecking during busy summer days holds up traffic and causes potential safety issues. Later after landing I had a good conversation with one of the protesters (his term not mine). He is part of the family that owns the large property out at Highway 18 where the big red barn is. Apart from his issue with traffic, he reinforced the point that their family doesn't like folks landing out there. Another incident happened a week ago which seemingly was the catalyst for the organized event yesterday.

So folks, if you do need to land out and have planned going XC please be aware of all the local landmarks where paragliders are not welcomed. Yes we all know you can land anywhere in an emergency, but we don't have to antagonize folks unnecessarily . The club did start pulling a map together of these areas but I am sure many folks have forgotten where they are since last year. I will bring this up at the next club meeting as something we should remind folks about.

Finally to finish with, I believe we had our first two tree incidents of the year? New student Ryan went into one off off launch just last night, wasn't injured but had to leave his wing up there for the night.

And Gator a new student made it all the way to Kiro Tv last weekend. . For those that want to see some smiling faces just look at the video.

Until next time, Safe and Happy Flying

Iain Frew

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Plums and Cherries by Stefan Mitrovich

Best day of the year so far...
Lift-6.4 m/s
Flight-Open dist.

As the stats show it was a plum kinda day (Monday, March 24th 2008), this time maybe more of a cherry even. We just had to be a little patient on launch since it was shady most of the time. When that sun did eventually shine it was going off and up! I climbed out to over 5000ft just off launch and drifted around a bit and over to Squak Mtn to wait and take a few photos. This gave me some time to wait and see if anyone else was going to get off launch and go xc. Randy and Jabe finally were climbing back in the bowl so I transitioned back to Tiger and we all hooked up. They were climbing in some kinda weak lift so I kept going further in and hooked a big one. Randy came in with me and we boosted up to just under 6000ft trying to glide out of there before we hit the ceiling, leaving with the maximum height. Jabe chose to go back in to wind and we lost him after leaving. Randy and I followed the cloud street to the North more and worked some really nice climbs to between Sammamish and Fall City area before heading North to Carnation area. Eventually Randy went on glide a little early and I stayed and got back up over 5000ft and pointed it to Monroe, or I was hoping. Randy ended up landing in Carnation shortly after. I was in a good position except to where I had to glide to, the street always seems to break up just before Duvall and/or always going further Northwest. Ending up making the crossing to the plateau I found weak climbs and then not much of anything. Monroe and the Skykomish were still on my radar but I was looking at my options for landing now. I landed in a cattle pasture next to the highway just before the stop light in Duvall. Where I was promptly escorted out of there onto the highway. There is no shoulder to walk on making it a lot scarier walking with a bunched up paraglider next to cars going 60mph. Eventually, they let me pack up on their property across the highway. Turns out this guy has a big ranch and owns property on both sides of the highway. Just didnt like it when I "flew" over the livestock. After I apologized profusely for flying over there and then landing, they started getting friendlier and asked where I came from?

Meredyth broke her personal record of hiking twice with her bag back up Tiger. Punishment for the first short flight. The second flight she was able to climb out and get away to land at Snoqualmie Ridge. She launched at 4:45pm and got to almost 6000ft, so there is no excuses, there was lift all day!
Since cloudbase is slowly getting higher these days. I have been watching that the mountains looked a lot better too. Still looks cold and dark up there but its only a matter of time before it will look good enough to head in that way...
More boring cloudbase images
Peace. SM

Prez-Sez, April 1, 2008

As Tom said in last month’s Prez-Sez, this year we are having all the member of the board take a turn with the monthly newsletter. This month, that responsibility falls to me.

During our last board meeting, there were a significant number of issues discussed that will be of importance to almost all of the pilots in the local community, regardless of whether you are a club member or not. In the interest of brevity, they are being listed out below in no particular order.

* * *

Recently, an official from the Parks & Recreation department came to visit the LZ and to inspect the trail. While everything is fine on the lower part of the trail, he identified a number of areas where the trail does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It will therefore be required that much of the trail be re-graded and smoothed over so that it will be wheelchair accessible. We argued with the official that his request was absurd for a number of reasons, including that there is no way to change the net altitude gain, even if the trail were smoother and wider. The official would not budge.

Fortunately, it was Tom who came up with a viable solution. If Parks & Recreation would fund the trail maintenance project, then with only minor modification, an electric wheelchair equipped with eight 12-volt batteries from Interstate Batteries would be capable of taking a 50 pound person (or one wing) to the top. P&R said that was inadequate, but Tom convinced them that the the weight of additional batteries would require a 4-wheel-drive wheelchair to keep from destroying the trail. P&R agreed, and the project is slated to begin in June.

* * *

During the winter months, on those occasions when the shuttle is unable to run up the mountain due to snow, there are still a number of people who choose to hike up the mountain. In recent weeks, there has been as many as 10 hikers up top standing in the snow for hours just waiting for conditions to improve. In one case, when the winds were actually way too strong to fly, some of the smaller pilots began to show signs of hypothermia. This prompted discussions about the possibility of erecting some form of emergency shelter on launch. Initially, the barriers were the fact that the club does not own the land, and that in a real emergency, one can go hang out in the latrine on North. While that was fine for one or two people, it reportedly got a bit awkward with larger groups when somebody needed to use the latrine for its originally intended purposes.

Therefore, the board is now in discussions with Starbucks about the possibility of setting up a small (5’ x 8’) structure on South launch from which they may sell more coffee and snacks, and which can also be used as an emergency shelter. The critical factor in making this a workable solution for all parties is that Starbucks will be operating the shelter/coffee-shop during the spring through fall months, when there is more traffic, and access to the shelter during the colder winter months will be provided to club members who have one of the electronic keys.

* * *

Some folks may be aware that Seattle Paragliding is in the process of setting up an environment for the rehabilitation of hawks. There is a detailed training program being set up to certify various people in the care and handling of the birds, geared primarily towards rehabilitating them back into the wild. While most people in the area see this as a fantastic opportunity for tandem pilots to take “handlers” as passengers to work with the birds, others have expressed concerns about certain parts of the bird’s training regimen. In an official press release, Seattle Paragliding stated that it could neither confirm nor deny rumors that the birds were being specifically trained to recognize Gin gliders, nor would they say what the birds would do to non-Gin gliders.

* * *

As we draw closer to the summer months, when we can expect additional traffic in the LZ from both pilots and hikers, the club will again be bringing in a second port-a-potty. However, in the past we have received several complaints from people who were not sure which was the men’s and which was the women’s potty. In all honesty, given that both units were single-seaters, it never occurred to us that this would be a problem. This is all the more true given that it was never intended to have one for men and one for women. This year, in order to be more clear about the intended purpose of the second unit, we will be keeping on in the South, and one in the North end of the parking lot.

* * *

In recent years, with all of the practice that they got, some local pilots have become so good at their tree-landing techniques that they have actually managed to extract themselves before news crews were able to arrive on scene. In an effort to not deprive the greater Seattle area of their evening entertainment, both KING-5 and KOMO-4 have posted hotline numbers on the kiosk in the LZ, and have asked to be notified immediately upon any tree landing. However, recognizing the possibility that pilots might actually land in trees during those rare moments when there is ACTUAL news going on somewhere else (thus preventing the news crew from filming the event) a new solution has been proposed. Effective immediately all tree landings must be scheduled at least two days in advance. We will be adding a page to the club website that will permit pilots to register for tree-landing permits. For safety reasons, no more than one tree-landing permit will be issued per day.

* * *

The issue of helmets has been beaten to death in recent posts, so I will not belabor it here any more than absolutely necessary. The purpose of bringing it up here is to let the club know that we have secured five “El Diablo Emergency Helmets” which are being stored under the outhouse on North Launch. El Diablo requested that the helmets be stored IN the outhouse rather than UNDER it, but later agreed that storing them under the outhouse was the only way that the helmets could preserve their fresh cigar smell.

* * *

Among other things, April also signifies the start of the 2008 season for Tiger Tag. In recent conversations with Dave Wheeler, this year’s competition is going to be all about having a good time learning to fly cross-country. In support of that mission, Dave said that he’s going to relax the rules a bit this year and will not be focusing on air-space violations smaller than 5 inches.

* * *

More than once, people have discussed putting a “Do Not Enter” sign on the South end of the Tiger parking lot. In recent discussions with the Department of Transportation, they argued that because nothing makes one end any more dangerous than the other, there is no way to justify putting the sign on just one end. Therefore, a compromise has been reached wherein we will be placing “Do Not Enter” signs on both ends of the parking lot.

* * *

Lastly, for the technically inclined pilot, there is a downloadable software package that exposes a new feature with the latest integrated GPS-Variometers from FlyTec. The 6030, for example, has Bluetooth technology built right into the device. This allows the device to communicate directly with an iPhone. Initially, I had no idea what information would be communicated between the devices, until I looked under the “settings” menu and found the switch for “Airplane Mode”. When the iPhone is bound to the FlyTec 6030 by Bluetooth, enabling Airplane mode actually alters the iPhone’s built in accelerometer to provide an attitude indicator.

The addition of this instrument now makes it possible to fly in the clouds while still ensuring straight and level flight.

I showed this feature to Iain last week and he was literally speechless.

- Ashley Guberman

Sunday, March 23, 2008


For those of us who go to Whidbey Island to fly at the Fort, and there are a lot of us out there, you may be interested in this event. It's only next weekend so I wanted to give you a heads up. It was suggested to me that maybe we give something back to the Island and start to get more support from the locals for  our paragliding activities. Even maybe even get Ebey Landing opened to us again! I thought that was a good idea. Attraversiamo

So why not stop by this event next weekend on the Island and savor the delights of the Italian language, art, food, wine and music!

Saturday, March 29th 10:00 - 8:00 

A weekend of Italian language, art, music, wine and food at Bayview Corner, Whidbey Island

Learn useful cultural tips, improve your Italian at any level, take a virtual tour of Italy’s art treasures with Rick Steves co-author Gene Openshaw, and enjoy regional Italian wines  and antipasti with live music at Attraversiamo!

Continue the fun with an Italian cooking class and luncheon on Sunday.


Saturday, March 29

10 am - 12 Italian Language Cafe©, Part 1 & Italian Conversation Tables

1 pm - 4 Italian Language Cafe©, Part 2 & Italian Conversation Tables

4:30 pm - 5:30 Italys Art Treasures, with author- tour guide Gene Openshaw, from Rick Steves.

6 pm - 8:00 Regional wines of Italy, antipasti, and live music with Joe Euro, the Wine Seller, and local musicians and guests.

Sunday, March 30

11 am – 1:30 pm: Primavera Toscana cooking demonstration and luncheon with Maggie from Ovations.

COSTS:  just $70 for the entire day of Saturday's activities!

            Or attend a la carte:

Language seminars $50 each.

Art lecture $10,

            Wine tasting & antipasti  & music $25.

Sunday’s cooking class is an additional $45.

Reserve today! Places are limited.

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Contact NWLA (360)914-0391 or,

LOCATION: The Bayview Cash Store is located at 5603 Bayview Road, just 7 miles from the Clinton ferry dock on Whidbey Island.  Take Highway 525 to Bayview Road. Make a right onto Bayview Road and Bayview Corner is located at the next intersections of Marshview and Bayview.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Flying Costa Rica - Mostly True Tales of Our Winter Trip

By Joanne Blanchard:

A February flying trip to the “Pura Vida” of Costa Rica – was what our group of 11 found to be the Great Winter Escape. Besides warm, beautiful landscape, we discovered a warm, relaxed and welcoming culture. We soared daily in humid, sweet sunshine and summed up the experience with sunset ocean swims, scuba diving, fishing, and botanical gardens.
The group: Rick and Jeannie Hubbard, Greg and Laurie Newhall, Joe Parr and Sharon Strobel, Doug and Janet Paeth, Mike Freeman, Tom Allen, Joanne Blanchard. The journey: Seattle to LAX and then another 5 ½ hours to San Jose, Costa Rica. Followed was a two-hour drive south, to our home base of Jaco on the Pacific side. There, we rented vehicles (get full insurance coverage!) and two beautiful homes in a gated, guarded community.Our own Rick Hubbard did a fantastic, thorough job of making all arrangements.

Local paragliding instructors acted as our site guides the first two days. These guys, Rodney and Daniel, really made the trip exceptional for us. They led us to four flying sites, gave orientations, provided launch assist, and introduced us to others who manage sites with private launches of restricted access.costa-beach

From driveway to launch in Jaco was a l0 minute trip, barely enough time to apply the sunscreen. At about 900’, one could climb out and take off in several directions. LZs were abundant. Greg Newhall set the site distance record here by reaching the beach. And not to be out done, Tom Allen pushed on a bit further to a lovely beach resort, for its congratulatory margaritas.

We’d been warned about landing areas at other sites and saw firsthand there certainly are 12-15’ crocodiles in them riverscosts-croc. Compelled to learn more about poisonous snakes, spiders and frogs, we visited a culture center. It was not necessary to learn about coral snakes by wrapping them around your neck, but most in the group did.

Mike had already flown X/C out of Parrita, then removed his helmet to find he’d taken a tandem passenger. A tarantula the size of a tostada was gripping the foam inside. He probably deserves a rating for that.

Soon after, Mike developed an urge to build a web and eat ants but counteracted it by spending a late night in a local club where, for not too much local currency, a man can feel like a real caballero.

This tropical area of the country is lush with greenery, abundant in kiskadees, macaws, buzzard companions, and laughing falcons. Hundreds of magnificent frigate birds passed launch at Caldera, the ridge soaring site we enjoyed above its coast. Storm activity that so often loomed close by never moved in.

Landing on the beach below was celebrated with $3 tropical drinks and plenty of fresh seafood at the outdoor seating.
After a day of soaring, a sunset rinse in the balmy sea was in order. costa-jaco The orange dirt (high iron content), remains permanently on our clothing and gear. The stories, brags, many laughs, and fabulous food highlighted the evenings.
Beaches are not safe at night and we were even warned after leaving the water one evening that a crocodile was “grazing” out there. But hey, we’d already survived the Brahma bull LZ where Tom couldn’t resist leading a meeting, and several of us had been dragged six or eight times across launch in high winds. I personally did not mind being hucked off launch by the small army of American and Costa Rican amigos. Mucho gusto.

We all got by with minimal Spanish speaking skills. We learned immediately that our guides were not kidding about “trust no one”. Sharon literally lost her shorts, with house keys and Rx glasses, the very first evening on the beach. However, we appreciated the “Pura Vida”.

The flying sites were suitable for everyone from a P-2 to a P-4. Our advanced pilots were happy to assist the whole group in launching and having as many flights as wanted each day, usually one to three. The locals fly mostly weekends so we often had the air to ourselves. costa-tom It was interesting to note that only two of 60 local pilots are women, and of the 60 total we saw only a handful in our 12-day visit covering four flying sites.

Joe, having met his hero the Costa Rican sloth, was ready to call it a trip. We filed out of town, Joe stopping to hand the house guard a beer, and will look forward to sharing detailed trip information with interested pilots. Talk to Rick – seems he never sleeps

Monday, March 10, 2008

Atlas Shrugged - Nestucca Spit

By John Kraske:

From a high point of the sand ridge that runs from Cape Kiwanda south to the mouth of Nestucca Bay my wind meter was gauging a slightly cross wind from the north average of 12.2 mph, but predominantly from the west. Gusts were sporadic maxing at 16.7 mph. Just barely enough to fly this shallow of a ridge. Haystack Rock, bathed in dismal gray, loomed a half mile off shore. Cape Kiwanda pointed west about a mile north of me. The summer beach homes set back along the ridge, all looked deserted. Other than a few seagulls and one eagle soaring by from south to north, I was alone. I guess that’s the way it is on an early Monday afternoon on the 3rd day of March. Gray to say the least. But what the hell, like Aynd Rand’s Atlas, I shrugged and thought at least I could kite and it didn’t look like rain would be coming my way anytime too soon, just gray, no tell tale vertical textures on the western horizon, at least none that I could see. I hiked back to my van and retrieved my beach wing.


I’d started my morning in Oceanside with a little breakfast at the Breaking…oops, that’s Brewing-In-The-Wind CafĂ©, waiting for the morning air to warm and the torrential rains to back off. By eleven a.m. the sky had lightened up. I bolted for the launch on Maxwell Mountain. Another lonely landscape void of all the brightly colored hang gliders and paragliders I’ve experienced here in the past. Only a doe and fawn leisurely grazing the launch seemed just slightly concerned that this two legged, winged wannabe had arrived. They ambled by, not twenty feet away, stopping to nibble on the fresh pre-spring sprouts announcing, spring on the rise.

Not much in the way of wind from the right direction. I bolted back to the beach to check the wind in the vacant lot next to Rosanna’s. Here the winds were slightly cross from the north and blowing at 20 mph plus. With this direction I thought Terra Del Mar would be my best bet and pushed my aging Westfalia south, stopping at Anderson where the winds were cranking in with way too much velocity, from a perfect direction. I parked long enough for a cell phone call or two, but couldn’t roust out any of the local pilots. I pushed on to the south where I found the perfect wind direction at Tierra Del Mar. My wind meter showed a 17.7 average with a plus 22 maximum, and who knew what the wind would be 20 feet off the ground. I was alone and feeling a little timid after having broken some bones and bruising a kidney two months ago. I opted to head south to Pacific City for lunch.

Map image

There was some road construction on the west end of the bridge that leads into town. I turned west, parked and check out the west facing sand ridge. I wasn’t all that hungry so opted to give this 20 to 30 foot high ridge a try. To me, the ridge looked like it had been piled high by Winter’s bullying winds and violent waves. The beach was practically void of driftwood that can sometimes pose a problem for high wind kiting. My greatest concern would be being draggged through a plate-glass window of one of the seasonally abandoned beach homes along this stretch of beach. The beach was empty as far as I could see to the south with no activity to the north. Just a brisk westerly wind, gray ocean, gray sky and clean white sand forever, and shortly, my purple paraglider.

The 3 foot to 30 foot high ridge on Nestucca Spit runs just less than four miles from Cape Kiwanda south to the entrance of Nestucca Bay. There are breaks and variable slopes here and there between higher peaks. Golden beach grasses whip in the wind, perfect wind indicators. Further to the south the spit becomes the Nestucca National Wildlife Refuge and there are no beach homes, just the barren dunes with a scattering of wind tortured beach pines and scotch broom separating Nestucca Bay from the pounding Pacific Ocean.cape lookout1

I laid out my purple beach wing on the forty-five degree sand slope, placing hands full of sand on the trailing edge, about a foot apart, a technique that keeps the trailing edge of the wing from being lifted by the wind. I stretched out the lines so I was standing on the beach at the base of the ridge and clipped in. Leaning into my harness with knees bent, I lifted my A-risers and my wing was flying in very laminar air. I kited to the north and let my wing assist me to the top of the ridge. At about twenty feet above the beach I tested the pressure in my wing and determined that I might be able to maintain a semblance of altitude above the ridge. At worst I’d glide to the beach. I launched myself forward and to my right. Skimming the ridge face I flew towards Cape Kiwanda, gaining a slight bit of altitude above the highest points where I executed a one-eighty and headed south, with the ridge now on my left, my ground speed was just slightly greater than it was going north. I soon found myself kiting on the beach, having lost the advantage of the slight headwind I had experienced in my northward track. This was fun, and I wasn’t about to give in. I kited across the wide sloped gap to the south and found greater lift against a slightly higher ridge than the one I had originally launched from. This was getting to be really great fun. I continued zipping further and further south and away from the summer beach home lined stretch of ridge I had started at. The wind seemed to be picking up and I was soon maintaining flight above the ridge in all directions. Keeping my eye on the horizon for squall lines or vertical streaks of rain, I worked my wing back and forth, working my way further and further to the south then back again with each turn to the north. With each pass I used my speed system more and more. Finally, at one point, I could no longer penetrate to the west and had to utilize full speed bar, wingovers and ears to get back down to the flat beach. A squall was rapidly approaching, pushing high winds in front of it, and I was just beginning to feel a fine mist of rain. As I finally touched down on the beach, I released my right control and pulled in on my left risers, disabling my wing in twenty plus mph winds. I bundled up and stuffed my wing just as the rains began to hammer down against Nestucca Spit.

Flying alone in these conditions is probably not the wisest thing to do, but to justify my decision I chose a comparably safe location considering what my options had been on this particular day. I suppose the bottom line is that flying solo is nowhere near as much fun as flying with friends.

With the upcoming Oceanside Open Fly-In being held April 19 and 20 there will be lots of bright wings and many options of places to fly. Lots of friends. Even if Oceanside is forecast to be blown out or rain is predicted there are lots of options to fly along the Coast of Tillamook County. Saturday was epic at Cape Lookout’s Anderson Point. Sunday I didn’t fly, but saw several wings at least 1,000 feet over Kilchis in the Tillamook Valley. Monday’s the day I flew the Nestucca Spit at Pacific City. Tuesday I was in traffic court while one of my Tillamook friends was 1,400 feet above Cape Lookout.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Prez-Sez, March, 2008


Thank goodness the flying season has finally arrived. I have three subjects to cover and will try to be concise.

First: The NWPC has a working copy of the Land Use License that DNR wants any commercial operators using their land to sign. DNR is the owner of the property at North and South launch, as well as the Road to Launch. Heather Cole, the DNR area manager, has really worked at making this an agreement that will not be too burdensome on the instructors and the shuttle operator at Tiger Mountain . She has also procured a $100,000 grant for upgrading the logging road to launch. The work on that road should take place this summer.

One of the changes DNR has asked for is two million dollars insurance for any commercial operators. We will cover questions on what that includes at the March 11 NWPC meeting.

DNR also asks that beyond the maintenance we perform at the Poo Poo point outhouse and maintaining launches, that we also maintain the road after the upgrading has been done. That has been estimated at $3000 to $5000 per year by the engineer that is putting together the bid for contractors to bid on the road improvements. How we handle that will be discussed at the meeting also, and I’m sure by other users of the road. The current thought is that a good portion of that cost should be handled by the key holders for the road.

Any time there is change, I’m sure there will be mixed feelings and even controversy. The BOD will try to incorporate as much of the flying community’s ideas as possible. We also realize that the land owner, DNR, has the final say on what is acceptable on the land they are charged with caring for.

Second: I would like to change the subject, to the friends and personalities that make this sport special for most of us. Not just our local super heroes like Tom McCune and Aaron Swepston, or the wonderful personalities like El Diablo, Kiel, Hannah, James of the North and how could I not mention Chirico. The many up and coming younger pilots whose skill levels quickly surpass old guys like myself, and who will soon be those that set the standards.

Each of us has a group of pilots / friends that make this sport special. I encourage you to let them know they are special and to enlarge that group in the flying season ahead.

I want to express to two such pilots, Murdoch and Jan, that they are special. Both have given to this sport much more than they seem to realize. Murdoch’s contributions to our e Fly and, with Ernie Friesen as editor, the paper moved from the memo graphed area into a Web published paper. This work was recognized in 2001 as the best of its kind in USHPA. Jan and Murdoch have been instrumental in too many fly-ins to count They have spearheaded fund raising to save sites when insurance requirements threatened to shut them down. The two have been a voice of giving when our leadership -myself included - needed to hear their message. If you have been a person in need, they’ve always been the first to volunteer help.

Both are recovering from ailments, but sometimes recognition and friendship offered will do more than rest and medicines to help the sprit recover. Get well soon. We miss you both.

Last and about time, each of our board members will be writing a Prez says this year so you will find out what is important to them and their priorities for our club. We will start in April with our VP Ashley Guberman, one of those up and coming pilots I mentioned earlier.

Do your pre-launch checks and I will see you at the Club meeting March 11th..


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Beginner Speed Flying. My 60 seconds of simple bliss

By Steph Cone:

If you were anywhere near Seattle on MLK Day, no matter what you were doing you will remember it was one of those crisp, sunny days that we Seattleites consider a fragile gift in the month of January. Chances are, if you were fortunate enough to see off in the distance to the east, west or south you stopped for a moment and said “WOW!” as those stunning mountains presented themselves in all their magnificent glory. I’ll never forget what I was doing that day. Under that crystal clear blue sky, surrounded by the idyllic snow covered rolling hills, breathing in the fresh cold air, bright sunshine kissing my face. I had the opportunity to try speed flying at “The Ranch” in Cashmere, WA.

Apparently there are only a few folks speed flying in the US and an even smaller handful of women. I’ve never done anything to be just one of a few doing it…although for some reason lately, that is happening more and more. Under the tutelage of paragliding instructors Doug Stroop and Denise Reed, I felt safe and confident that this was going to be one of the most fun things I’d ever done. Along with two other speed flying newbies, Sinead Pollom and my life adventure partner Matt Cone I set out for an afternoon of pure, unadulterated fun in the sun, snow and air.

Two at a time, we get pulled up to the top of Glory on our skis, holding onto a rope behind a snowmobile water ski style. Heck, this was exhilarating in itself. Here you have one of those situations where you just hold on and trust that you can do this. We needed some decent speed on the incline to breakthrough the fresh powder. Once at the top, I unpacked my crinkly blue, green and white, 12 meter Ozone Bullet, harnessed up, hooked in, set up for a forward launch, gawked at breathtaking view, and waited for instruction. I’d never actually seen speed flying in person, just on youtube, and well, you have to start somewhere. The set up process certainly felt familiar, and being a competent skier and a P2 pilot with about a hundred flights, I was by far more excited than nervous. Sinead went first as she had done this before, and its usually a good idea to watch someone else go first when you’ve never ski-hucked yourself off a hill under a 12 meter canopy.
Ozone Bullet

Site briefing. Light to no wind. Soaking it all in, my senses nearly on overload. Doug gives me the pre-flight once over, some useful advice and asks me if I’m ready. Some helpful instructions from Denise, and I am ready. Since our launch begins on a slight slope, Doug gives me a little extra umpf by pulling me forward by the harness, skis pointed straight, canopy comes up fast and I’m on my way down the hill. Under the canopy, making ever so slight brake adjustments, or at least trying to, getting a feel for the wing overhead, still on the ground, picking up speed, the swoosh and crunch of my skis on the hard packed snow, picking up more speed, hearing the secure steady sound of the air moving through my canopy, hill slopes into a dip, I’m off the ground a few inches for a few seconds, skis touch down, picking up more speed, edge of the hill approaching, slight left turn, once final audible swoosh and then only the sound of air.

Once I feel that everything is technically working and ok, absolutely all I’m thinking is how fun this all feels. Time stands still. I am. Purely, I simply am. Weightless under my skis, flying through the air. Flying. I am. Heading towards the LZ I am flying and descending at a pretty good clip, the ground comes up much faster than with my Ozone Buzz…but that’s just fine, ‘cuz I’ve got skis on! A few feet off the ground, a bit of a flare of the brakes and I ride it out as my skis touch down at a brisk ground speed of about 20mph. My flight time off the hill was about a minute, maybe 50 feet off the ground max, but I’d embraced every second, allowing the sensations fully surf my body and soul. Whether a minute, hours, days or years, might as well enjoy every single moment of the ride, no matter what mode of allegorical transport takes me there. And now, visions of the big hills twirling in my mind. Whether or not I ever speed fly Baker or the Eiger, I’ll enjoy those visions just as they are.To glimpse a view of what it was like take a look at the You Tube video

Friday, January 25, 2008

2007 Media Award Winners

The results are in!!!! 111 entries were received plus 5 videos.

In Air: 1st - Chasing the Sun - I. Starikova, 2nd - Smooth as Glass - D. Decker, 3rd - Heather on top..again - I. Frew

People: 1st - Pre-Flight Checklist - L. Moore, 2nd - Balsa Man - E. Friesen, 3rd - Reflections - P. Sharpe

Manipulated: 1st - Get your own - S. Acord, 2nd - Tricky Launch - P. Sharpe, 3rd - Touchdown - I. Frew

Weather/Nature: 1st - Eva…She likes clouds - J. Wilson, 2nd Glory Rainbow - J. Clifford, 3rd - Which Way is the wind blowing - C. Kreick

Classic: 1st - The Start Gaggle - C. Kreick, 2nd - Little Red Trees - C. Amonson, 3rd Michael “Snuffy” Smith - R. Leonard

Media - 1st Let me entertain you - I. Frew

Go check out the winning pictures and videos. Winners receive a mounted print of their winning entry and a hardback book of all the photos submitted. Winners can collect their prizes at the next club meeting on the 12th February.

Many thanks to those who took the time and effort to submit and especially to our judges:

Stephanie Hicks (Photographer & studio consultant)
Rob Resing (Photographer & president of Seattle Professional Photographer’s Association)
Chris Podwin (Videographer & media graduate)
Jared Lyman
Christopher Throop


Iain Frew

Monday, January 14, 2008

Prez-Sez, January 2008

Greetings from your incoming president, Tom Allen.

At the December club meeting and the Gala, our new board of directors was announced. I would like to make sure all our club membership knows who their representatives are as we move toward the flying season in 2008.

Our Directors at Large are Gordon Grice, Beth Friesen, and Arun Moorthy. Both Gordon and Beth bring valued experience, and Arum needed energy. Newsletter Editor is the irrepressible Iain Frew, again with boundless energy. Secretary is a succinct and positive Joanne Blanchard, and Treasurer is our own conservative banker, Jared Lyman. Ashley Guberman fills VP with a conciliatory no nonsense style, bringing experience running our elections in the past and our web page.

They will all work to keep me in line this year as we move into a more structured relationship with the Department of Natural Resources at Tiger Mountain.

I feel lucky to have such a talented group of pilots to work with. It’s a group that I think represents all the interests of our club and who, based on our first meeting, are not hesitant to bring those ideas into play.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the NWPC and Kingsley for the President’s Award for contributions to the community. I feel I gain much more than I give to the NWPC and the flying community, both in the friendships I enjoy and the freedom of flight that brings us all together. Thanks to all of you for the friendships and to many of you that have tried to help me become a more proficient pilot.

I encourage you all to post details of your flights, accounts of your winter flying trips, and your opinions.

And lastly, this year we will have each board member write a Prez Sez or monthly message. This allows each to put into writing what is important to them, and for our membership to gain insight into your representatives for the year.
Call me if you see some sun.