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..