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