Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Flying Bear

John Kraske

Sunday, September 27, 2009 was magic at Saddle Mountain. The winds were strong from the north with gusts up to 19 mph. As the morning advanced into early afternoon the wind shifted a little more northeast and dialed down to a reasonable level and more and more of the Baldi Mountain Fly-In pilots started to arrive.

I hadn’t planned on attending the Baldi Fly-In this year but after looking at the Ephrata weather forecasts after an epic Tiger Saturday of flying tandems, I called up a bunch of my former students and we got an early start from Issaquah, meeting at the North Bend Safeway parking lot to stock up on eats and organize our car pool. I arrived in North Bend with a new friend.

On my way up the Sunset on-ramp to I-90 east, a wizardly looking fellow stepped off the curb and stuck out his thumb. He looked Asian, but might have been Native American. He lacked a staff, but carried his airline style pile blanket and a water bottle stuffed in a small white plastic bag. He probably just needed a short lift to North Bend, I thought. He was somewhat excited, in a gracious and regal manner and started telling me about the black bear that woke him from his night under the overpass. The bear had apparently been fishing in Issaquah Creek and had a nice freshly caught salmon that he left behind for my new wizardly friend to have for breakfast. ‘Okay’, I thought, this is going to be an interesting day.

Right away I liked the guy and was curious about his origins. Turned out he was both Asian and Native American. I started thinking of him as “Bear”.

On his way to his home in Rolla, North Dakota from California he had encountered a few challenges and I knew his company would fill up the two and a half hour drive to my destination flying site near the agricultural town of Matawa on the Columbia River. At the Safeway roundup in North Bend we stocked up on lunch supplies, carvanned up in three vehicles and headed east.

By the time we crossed the Columbia River Bear had decided to stay the night at Crab Creek. His words, “I’ve got lots of time.” And, he did seem to be enjoying the scenery. Then it came to me…sometimes I’m a little slow: If a black bear could gift this guy with a salmon breakfast, why couldn’t I gift him a tandem flight. He didn’t argue. But first I was committed to flying Michael, Jim Cecil’s fourteen year old son. Bear understood and, as he stated earlier, he wasn’t in a hurry.

At launch several pilots were hanging about waiting for the conditions to soften a little. At least for the on launch wind velocity to back off. It’s absolutely no fun being drug on Saddle – nasty rocks. Greg Wong and Mike Brandt were the first off launch after a few failed launch attempts. I was next with Michael clipped in on my small tandem. We set up with several pilots assisting and Jim Cecil reading off wind velocity fluxuations. Seemed like there was a lot of fourteens, eighteens and very few quick nines and tens. With Rob Hine and Dave Pugh lending launch assistance, Michael and I were up and away. Our combined weight was a little over the top end but we were maintaining in ridge lift. In several spots along the ridge it felt like we would slam into a hard edged wall and get thrust upward. We flew around like this for quite awhile then got a sink cycle and headed down to Crab Creek, landing in a nice steady head-wind.

The north winds were a little strong early, but after numerous attempts Mike Brandt gets away from the launch on a down cycle while Jim Cecil gages and calls out wind velocities.

We caught a ride back up with a couple of frustrated Canadian pilots who were lost trying to find their way to launch. They were driving an overloaded small Mazda but managed to squeeze me and my gear in. We met Nick Becker where the gravel meets the pavement in Matawa and transferred me and my gear into Nick’s four by, and headed up with our Canadian friends following. At some point up the backside of Saddle Mountain I became separated from my car and house keys. Somewhere on the way up our Canadian friends got stuck in the sand and we lost them as well. On top I talked with another Canadian pilot who knew them and we tried to radio them. No luck. Eventually they made it up but we couldn’t find my keys in their car. Oh well, I have a hide-a-key.

Bear contemplating his initial taste of foot launch aviation at Saddle Mountain in Eastern Washington.

Bear, the wizardly hitcher, had been observing pilots blowing launches and wings soaring during our return shuttle. I got him signed up and trained, hooked in and we were off in very laminar air. This time under my large tandem. There wasn’t enough wind for ridge lift, but the air was really boaty. We boated around a bit admiring the rocky cliffs and scenery below. It seemed as though we would soon be heading for the landing zone. Bear had my camera and was fiddling with it as best he could. As we slowly descended towards our destination with terra firma, flying in a northwest direction, toward the river. All of a sudden we hooked into a thermal that seemed to be tracking to the northwest. There were seed blooms and spider web floating in the same direction, away from the mountain, pushing at about a ninety degree angle across the northeast wind. After years of studying Theodore Schwenk’s Sensitive Chaos , it dawned on me what was happening. The Southwest sloped sun had been warming the ground north of Saddle all day and as the afternoon air cooled and the accumulated heat started rising - thermals if you will – the light prevailing northeast wind was pushing the thermals against the shadowed north face of the ridge at an angle where they were deflecting and tracking to the northwest; as Bob Seger sings, “Against The Wind”. Once I figured that out we dialed up about 500 over the ridge, set a course for the launch and found just a perfect amount of sink over the shadowed north face of Saddle that let us settle in to a perfect top landing. Flying Bear got a lot of bazaar pictures of his knees, the spreader bars and some interesting ground shots. He was pretty thrilled and probably a little nervous. He did get a few pictures worthy of posting.

Flying Bear the hitching wizard of Rolla, North Dakota and his pilot escort in flight at Saddle Mountain, WA on September 27, 2009

Bear drove Nick’s pickup down to the landing zone. I launched on a large Sky Walk Cayenne. I’m slightly under the weight range of this wing but the air was smooth. I got a pretty good soaring flight, finally got a little cold and spiraled down to land. We loaded four of us for the shuttle up in my little Honda civic. Where the paved road meets the gravel on R Street I pulled over for a look around for my missing keys. Chris Roberts found them in a blink of the eye.

Night was closing in as we arrived in the landing zone where we left Dave Pugh and Flying Bear watching our equipment. On our way home we dropped Flying Bear at the I-90 bridge where he planned to spend the night before heading east in the morning. A magic day!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oceanside Open 2009

By John Kraske
With Contributions from Deanna Hutchison, Casey Veranth, Kevin Lee, Jim Cecil

The lower number on this wind gage is 82.1 mph – Photo by James Lee on May 2, 2009

Scheduled for Saturday, May 2nd, this year’s coastal flying event just wasn’t destined to be. Almost all the computer based weather forecasts predicted gloom and doom, and for once it seemed they were right. We got lots of rain and lots of wind, mostly from the wrong directions. Oceanside generally works on a southwest to west-northwest wind direction, and of course, a wind velocity in a manageable range of 8 to 15 mph. More for hangs, less when it’s colder (air density).

Stay’n low on the south face of Cape Kiwanda on May 2nd – Photo by Jim Cecil

Saturday morning dawned with a low overcast and wet windows, the winds were from the south. A few of us opted to give the south face of Cape Kiwanda a try and hit the road for the 20 mile drive south. As we crossed over Cape Lookout the rain had quit and we were hopeful. We laid out our wings and tried some high wind sand soaring in dry air. After about an hour of play it seemed the winds were shifting to a more southwest direction and slacking off a little. We booked on back to Oceanside were the winds were still from the south, with a little east in it as well. Back to Kiwanda we chased, where we again set up for some kiting. Squalls were looming on the approaching horizon, then the entire horizon became one large squall, and sure enough, the winds and rains arrived with a vengeance. All hell broke loose with 40 plus mph winds pummeling the living daylights out the beach and everybody on it. Wet sand was blowing across the cape, looking a whole lot like the sand storm scene from the movie Hidalgo, only wet – real wet. The rains were blowing in horizontal sheets. We took shelter behind large drift logs until the rains quit. The winds didn’t. We left.

Back in Oceanside James Lee clocked the wind at 82.1 mph on top of Maxwell Mountain. Awed by the forces of nature I took shelter in the Vista House and surveyed my eyelids for leakage while several in our party went to tour the Tillamook Air Museum.

I detected no eye lid leakage and as soon as I knew it mid day had turned to late afternoon, the winds slackened. At about 5 p.m. a couple Tiger pilots set up for some kiting on the beach in front of Rosanna’s and pretty soon there was a gaggle of us kiting in 15 to 20 mph south-southwest winds.

Matt Becker and Casey Veranth Kiting at Oceanside – Photo by John Kraske on May 2, 2009

Saturday night’s event dinner at the Tillamook Elks was fit for…well; I hate to be negative and critical…as one person put it, “comparable to grade school cafeteria food.” I’m glad I hadn’t gone to school in her neighborhood, and, personally, I wouldn’t have rated it that highly. The auction, raffle and the awesome Oregon pilot hospitality made up for the bad food. I’d like to recommend that the organizers contract the little Mexican Food wagon in Netarts to cater next year’s event. Killer good grub and a hell of a lot less expensive. Not just fiscally, but gastronomically as well. “Funky butt odor”. The Elks weren’t totally remiss; they had a great bar tender and open bar. The drinks were priced really reasonably.

Sunday morning we awoke to blue sky and lots of sunshine. The glass fronted house we rented is about 300 feet above the beach and 200 feet below the launch. It was turning into a beautiful day. While we ate breakfast and cleaned up several pilots launched for sledders to the beach and the spot landing competition was underway. By eleven there were several bags and one hang soaring above launch.

Eleven a.m. on launch at Maxwell Mountain, Oceanside, OR – Photo by John Kraske on May 3, 2009

On top of Maxwell, it was busy with not a lot of room to set up. It wasn’t long before I was in the air and going up. Lift was abundant, smooth, and easily found. Matt Becker followed George McPhearson south to Happy Camp and back. I climbed as high as I could get right off Maxwell and was following, but from a higher altitude. Since last years event I have often thought about jumping out over the Pacific and working the west facing dunes of Netarts Spit, south to Cape Lookout, but figured it would take a pretty strong west wind to fly these low dunes and the westerlies weren’t that strong on Sunday. At the highest point of the dunes between Oceanside and Happy Camp, just north of Netarts Bay I broke to the west-northwest and flew out over the ocean. I was hoping the forecast of stronger winds would kick in. Never did. I knew the tide was on the way out and looking down at the opening of the bay, only the narrow channel of Netarts Bay lay between a broad expanse of tidal barren sands between Happy Camp and the north end of Netarts Spit. The channel was surrounded by sand bars and shoals. If I lost too much altitude, I could land on a sand bar and hope for a boat rescue. Or I could opt for the spit and a really long and lonely hike to Cape Lookout. Some people travel from all parts of the globe just to hike along the beaches of the Oregon Coast and the ocean facing side of Netarts Spit is a pretty spectacular and abandoned 5 mile stretch of scenic wonder. From my altitude that I estimate was about 250 to 300 feet, I made a cross wind run for the spit, tacked across the sand point where I spooked a crowd of sun basking seals into a legless, fin flapping stampede. What was funny is how only about half the group rushed into the bay while the other half looked around, seemingly wondering what spooked their friends. By the sounds of these belching, grunting, basking critters you’d have thought they’d eaten at the Elks the previous evening. After a few grunts of wonder, a few looked up and reacted. That sent the remaining sunbathers rushing for deep water. Beeg Bird over beeg watta. From over the point of the spit, I put the wind on my tail and made a fast downwind run across Netarts Bay channel to Happy Camp where I found lift on the cliffs above the beach and worked my way cross wind back to Oceanside, benched up and over launch and flew for awhile more then attempted my first spot landing.

With an abundance of shuttle vehicles provided by our very gracious hosts, I was soon back on top and took Matt Becker’s younger brother Nick for a tandem flight.

High above Maxwell Mt., Oceanside, OR – Photo by Deanna Hutchison, May 3, 2009

Deanna Hutchison is a relatively new pilot who got some amazing photos and several firsts for her budding career as a bag pilot. See Paragliding Results.
Deanna Hutchison’s Glory Hole Photo from High over Oceanside – May 3, 2009

Here’s Deanna’s experience: The air on Sunday morning was nice and smooth with good lift. From launch I noted clouds forming as air was pushed over the ridge, and planned to stay below them. However, after getting into the air I noticed the clouds were forming cyclically and there was plenty of lift out in front of them so I started working my way up during a clear cycle. This was my first time above the clouds, and I experienced it with a bit of childlike wonder. I was fascinated watching the clouds form, starting as wisps and occasionally condensing into soft blankets. I had a neat moment when my view of cloud, ocean, and sky gave the illusion of being much higher up than I actually was – the phrase “on top of the world” came to mind. I worked the lift, and as the next cycle of clouds began to form I started catching incomplete images of the optical phenomenon “Glory of the Pilot” in the cloud wisps. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what a glory is (also known as Buddha’s Light), it’s a multi-layered rainbow ring that surrounds the silhouette of the observer. I had heard about this phenomena from a flying buddy who experienced it to his complete wonder, and shortly afterwards I got the chance to see it far below me during a commercial airline flight. Seeing it in free flight gave me a surge of joy. What a special treat! My thoughts went to my camera, but I was surrounded by enough traffic I wasn’t comfortable with trying to take pictures. So I set myself to the task of climbing as high as possible in the hopes that I would get another glimpse of pilot’s glory away from the heavy traffic. The air cooperated with me and the clouds continued to form below me as I worked my way up so that my next view of glory was solid and brilliant. Seeing myself in full glory for the first time I realized with some surprise that there was more than one ring of rainbows spreading out from around my shadow. This time I had my camera ready, so after a bit of gawking I snapped off a few shots with my little point-and-shoot and crossed my fingers that I had actually managed to capture the image. Apparently my luck held because I got a couple of decent pictures. Sadly, that was the last I saw of glory. I eventually decided to make my first attempt at long distance flying and headed south to Happy Camp. I didn’t go very far (2 miles and back), but I had a great time making the attempt and then scratching my way back up the coast to the main landing zone. All in all, it was an awesome flight of firsts for me.

Former Cascade Paragliding Club President Dan Wells did a phenomenal job of compiling the results.

That’s Former CPC Club President Dan Wells standing on the far right of this photo
– Photo by Casey Veranth

Here are the Paragliding results by category:

Pilot Distance in Feet Rank
Harris, Toby 0 1
Linton, Kirk 0 2
Wells, Dan 0 3
Briller, Noah 0 4
Stephens, Rob 0 5
Kellar, Kelly 1 6
Walsh, Tim 1 7
Kraske, John 4 8
Woolen, Lance 8.5 9

Pilot Minutes Rank
Hutchinson, Deanna 107 1
Brinskey, Bill 105 2
Linton, Kirk 75 3
Wells, Dan 61 4
Cantrell, Dave 60 5
Anderson, Paul 37 6


Pilot Miles Rank
Cantrell, Dave* 6 1
Kraske, John 3 2
McPhearson, George 2.3 3
Brinskey, Bill 2.2 4
Wells, Dan 2.15 5
Anderson, Paul 2 6
Hutchinson, Deanna 2 6
Harris, Toby 1.5 8
Linton, Kirk 0.9 9

*Dave flew at Sollie in Tillamook Valley. Flying from Sollie out to the Tillamook Cheese Factory and back again. He reported, “It was hard to stay down”.

Here are the Hang Gliding Results by category

Pilot Distance in feet Rank
Culler, Chris 3 1
Jenson, Bill 5 2
Maier, Roone 25 3
Brown, Larry 33 4
Berger, Ray 40 5


Pilot Duration in Minutes Rank
Brown, Larry 128 1
Stephens, Rob 103 2
Culler, Chris 90 3
Nidd, Christine 89 4
Berger, Ray 66 5
Kurp, Konrad 42 6


Pilot Miles Rank
Berger, Ray 5.4 1
Culler, Chris 2.2 2
Kurp, Konrad 2.05 3
Brown, Larry 2 4
Nidd, Christine 1.7 5

Every year that I’ve attended the Oceanside Open a good number of pilots choose to forgo this event because of what the computer weather models forecast. I’m wondering what it is that they don’t understand about springtime Oregon Coast weather patterns. You just can’t put’m in a box, especially if that box is a computer. This year I saw 100% rain forecast for both Saturday and Sunday. Some models forecast less; depends on where you look. The typical springtime weather patterns on the Oregon Coast often defy all logic of mankind’s oft lame attempts to put mother-nature in a box. 100% rain in a given 24 hours can be a pretty good guestiment and certainly satisfies our ego. That 100% rain might happen in just a fraction of that 24 hour period, or how history has proven; it might not rain at all. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to have 100% rain 100% of that 24 hour period. It’s springtime on the Oregon Coast and every Oceanside event I’ve attended over the years; I’ve flown despite the forecasts, if not at Oceanside, at one of the other numerous sites that surround the area.

Once again, the Oceanside Open has successfully kicked off my annual flying season. I’d like to extend a thank you to all those CPC and OHGA members for hosting this event, and a special thanks to Reed Gleason, CPC pilot extraordinaire, for saving the Oceanside launch from developers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Another Good Rick Hubbard Tour, by John Kraske

Sunday, 12 Apr 2009, Marina, California

Ross J., Cort M., Mike F., myself and, of course Rick H. arrived in Marina Thursday afternoon. You'd have thought we were still in Seattle with the drizzle coming down. We were all jacked up to fly the dunes that stretch from Seaside (just north of Monterey), past the former Army post of Fort Ord, to Marina. We checked in the Holiday Express Motel in Marina and booked for the beach. It was drizzling and Ross was right, it was too light for my extra small Ozone Addict. A bit wet as well. Ross and Cort got a little soaring in and I sunk to the beach.

Back at the motel we stretched our wings out to dry. At least I didn't soak my medium Nivuik Artik. The weather forecasts for Friday were calling for more rain so we were quite surprised to awaken to blue sky. We all were under wing by 10 a.m. We parked at the far north end of the dunes where all pilots are required to register. Ross took off kiting his wing to the south and was air born - it was quite a task sustaining lift against these lower lying dunes with only about 8 to 10 mph winds. Cort was next to raise his wing overhead and I was soon to follow, wanting to get away from Rick's, "we should have gone to the regular launch...", bitching. Actually we should have listened to that Hubbard wisdom as I was huffing and puffing by the time I got into the air at some higher dunes, quite a kiting jaunt south. I was soon flying with Ross and another unknown pilot above the regular launch. The unknown pilot top landed and got drug into a large expanse of ice plants in the gully north of the launch. I flew around investigating the varying lift patterns before deciding to top land and talk to the guy who I assumed was a local.

Not. Dean, his wife and daughter were visiting from Colorado. Dean helped disable my wing as I was getting drug across the top of the dunes in an easterly direction. It was pretty obvious that then winds were picking up. We opted for the beach. By now Mike F. had driven our rental van to the normal launch. Did I mention we should have listened to Rick?

Ross took off towards Sand City, to the south where he had a close encounter with a well decayed, fly infested sea-lion on the beach. I launched from half way down the dune and made my way south about a mile and a half before turning back at the camera towers. I believe the two cameras are there to monitor anyone violating the fenced off cliff faces. Signs along these fences warn everyone to not disturb the bird nesting areas. Something new since my last visit and certainly a detriment to launching from beach level in the majority of this nine miles of dune.
Rich Parawaiting.

By noon it was well apparent that the winds were going to be nuking. Out on the bay white caps were becoming more and more active. We hung low, launching from beach level and staying low and out front. This is one of the few stretches that is open and not fenced. At one point we witnessed Cort lifting rapidly and being blown back where he was rescued by the resident ice-plant in the venturi gully north of the launch. He lived.

Later Cort got on my x-small Ozone and soon was ripping up the wind, keeping low and fast. Very sporty flying that little thing. A real hoot, like flying a racy little sports car instead of a boaty pickup truck. This "beach wing" I bought from Meridith a few months ago.
Cort takes to the air on John's x-small Ozone Addict.

We had a ball on Friday and were all pretty much worn out by the time the winds got too strong, even down at beach level. At the top of the dunes in must have been blowing 30 knots. We were well sand blasted on our way to the van.

Saturday we were a little more optimistic as the winds were forecast to be less than they were on Friday. We packed our guts at the motel free breakfast feast. Not too bad for eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy...and of course our packed lunch of bananas, bagels, cream cheese, sausage. Look out LDL, you're on the rise!

A quick stop at a local espresso, Coffee Mia I believe it was called, where the barista wanted to know what happened to the other guy. "Ross? Oh, he got para-dragged into a fly infested sea-lion and we had to leave him on the beach." I reported.

"I don't want to know the details!", responded another espresso customer.

"It was a very intimate moment for him." I countered. "We don't like him anymore...ah...but we'll miss him."

This time we listened to Rick and drove to the regular launch. Actually we didn't listen to Rick so much as Rick was driving and not listening to us. All of us were soon in the air. Immediately I took off for the south, hoping to get out and back before the winds came up too strong. No one followed and it was a long and lonely flight to Sand City. I could see whitecaps on Monterey Bay so kept testing my forward penetration to the west, being cautious to not get too high. When I felt too much lift I would fly out over the surf, lose some altitude then fly back downwind to the dune faces and recapture the ridge lift. I continued my zig-zag course to the south and finally lost all my lift at Sand City where I went for a vigorous dragging up the shallow sloped dune before gaining control of my wing. My boots and every orifice was packed with sand. The winds were now too strong to attempt much of anything. I untangled seaweed and ice-plant from my lines, emptied sand from my wing.

I was considering packing up and hitchhiking back to launch when I noticed a couple paragliders flying the dunes in the far distance from where I had come. Looked like Ross and Cort. So much for packing up. I took to the air at the base of a shallow dune and proceeded to work my way back, cautiously staying low and out front.

Mike prepares as Cort and Ross soar.

Ross staying low and out front.
A shallow ridge of sand, created by the punishing surf created some interesting lift off the shallow beach, about 20 to 100 yards west of the dune faces. This ridge helped my ride home. Because the wind velocity was fluctuating from 15 to 20 plus, it was an interesting 2-hour struggle. In a few places along the expanse of sand dunes there are some canyons with gaping hungry looking mouths. These venturi monsters are like giant vacuum cleaners that want to suck you in and back. Been there before. I think Ross was snacked upon three or four times on his attempts to fly south the day before. I kept recalling the Lust Lizards of Melencoly Cove*. It's best to stay clear of these by either fly high over them or way out in front of them. Landing in front of them is like offering up yourself as a snack.

About half way back I began seeing the hangies. They were coming out in force, sleek fast devils that they are. Some of them would just stay put hanging suspended in the air above a certain dune; parked in winds much too strong for bags.

I continued kiting my wing when I could, being careful to not violate the fenced bird nesting areas, the watchful cameras from the dune tops threatening my compliance. Sometimes I was able to let my wing and strong winds sand surf me along in the direction I dictated. Like making first tracks.

Ross kiting from north launch.

A few times I wasn't so lucky. A couple times I wrapped my wing on the bird fence. Finally I reached an unrestricted dune face and was able to get up in the air. By the time I reached my destination, Rick, Ross, Cort and Mike were all sand lounging and the wind had dissipated to a manageable level. Time to have fun. The boys joined me and we had about a half hour before the wind picked up again. We played our butts off. The winds switched to a manageable cross from the south which made me a little skeptical about horizontal rotor. I landed and folded up. By the time we had all packed up the wind had switched back to the west and began nuking. Nice to have a little help from the wind as we climbed up the steep faced dune, up and over the top. At the top it must have been 30-40 knots.

We headed back into Monterey for dinner. Our second go at the Italian Trattoria Parimiso. Pretty busy, relatively affordable and some pretty good eats. Their famous $2 shrimp cocktails are pretty good. If you order off the local menu you get several courses and much more than I can eat. Our first night, Thursday, we went to a place we remembered in Marina. We thought of it as the Cowboy bar. I recalled their calamari steaks as being "the best". Well they're under new management and it's now some kind of Hawaiian place. They were busy, but we all found the cuisine to be expensive, and lacking at best.

Ross and Cort are off for some morning flying at the beach. They just got back as I sit here pecking away. "How was the flying, light, strong?" It was guise to find Ross' lost camera. "Didn't find no camera.", said Ross. "Got a couple in.", said Cort.

My synopsis: First I'm concerned that I maybe over the Alaska Airline weight restrictions with all the sand I picked up in my gear. We all are tan, stiff and sore. We all are wearing smiles and ready to take off on Rick's next flying mini-vacation. Ross still has that rotting sea-lion ambiance about him.

*THE LUST LIZARD OF MELENCOLY COVE, by Christopher Moore (a must read)

All photos courtesy of John Kraske. Maybe someone will take HIS picture next time??

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Going Bi-wingual: A Revolutionary New Paraglider Design

by David Byrne and Kingsley Wood

The week after the Chelan XC competition in Washington last August, a group of paraglider designers from South Korea met with a team of Boeing’s aeronautical engineers and some software specialists from Microsoft to create the next generation of high performance paraglider designs. This meeting was a landmark event which brought together the top talent from each industry for the sole purpose of advancing paraglider evolution. Their surprising conclusion is that the past informs our future, and that we may all be gliding around on modified bi-plane type gliders in the not to distant future!

Microsoft’s programmers created a genetic algorithm to optimize the airfoil and ran over 500 million mutations on the “cloud” computers at Amazon Web Services. Next, they tweaked the lines of code in Boeing’s Aeronautical CAD program and preloaded the resultant algorithms into the menu selections so designers could easily edit all the individual parts of the glider and then simulate those changes in a virtual environment to achieve the best flight characteristics. Working with the Boeing’s Joint Strike Fighter jet engineers led the paraglider designers to consider the use of a canard wing as part of the overall design to help stabilize the gilder in flight, particularly at high speeds and in turbulence.


The new glider is made with Porcher Skytex, and uses classic diagonal segment construction on both wing surfaces. The lower canopy acts to provide additional bracing between the segments of the upper canopy. This distributes load and power evenly throughout the upper canopy, thus, the two wing sections act in tandem to provide a high level of stability, particularly when climbing in thermals. There are four risers, each with three main lines. What is unusual is that the top surface of the lower, or “canard” wing, provides most, but not all, of the attachments for the upper wing. The third line on the fourth, or “D” riser is attached directly to the trailing edge of the main canopy. This allows designers to build both wings with higher aspect ratios than would normally be considered for single wing gliders. It also provides the pilot with a direct means of control over the upper canopy and is vital for precise turning and landing. Because the canard canopy is smaller, similar to a speed glider, it has only 41 cells while the upper canopy has 61. Additional Edelrid “cross lines” are used between the additional cells in the upper canopy and are routed internally so they have no negative impact on the aerodynamics of the upper wing.


Gliders with a high aspect ratio are generally tricky to launch. This is not the case with a canard design. Shorter line lengths to the first canopy give the pilot an unprecedented amount of control when inflating the glider, wing reactions are immediate and precise. As the canard wing inflates, it provides an equal amount of tension on the lines leading to the upper canopy, steering it evenly across the entire span and cleanly over the pilot.

In flight the new glider is a pilot’s dream come true. The canard design allows the construction of a glider with a very high aspect ratio and significantly better glide performance. The canard wing also provides sufficient lift to negate the line drag found on standard gliders. The cell openings of both wings have been optimized by the addition of a vector band on the lower surface to add rigidity to the leading edges and provide stability at high speed.

Because the two wings are inherently more stable, this glider turns flatter in rising air and thermals more efficiently. High bank angles were not easily achieved on the solo or tandems wings because of the inherent stability, so the team has altered the original design on the acro prototype shown below.

Turkish test pilot Epril Faloul throwing down at sunset

With a top speed of 65 km/h, and a glide ratio of 10.5:1, this wing should appeal to competition and cross country pilots alike. Test pilots who have flown the prototypes remarked that they no longer feel at home on mono-wing designs. One of the Turkish test pilots, Epril Faloul, had this to say: “Once this technology reaches the rest of the paragliding community, our sport will never be the same”.

Tandem prototype on scenic mountain flight

Technical Data: Click for larger view.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Road Clean-Up by Tom Allen

Saturday March 28, 2009 the NWPC performed the road clean-up Locator #767 the Tiger Mountain Road.

The Team headed up by Jared Lyman, with team members Chris Roberts, Matt Amend, Nate Rowe, John Mann, Rob Eilers, Arun Moortly , Chris Amonson, and Tom Allen.

We met at the LZ in a mix of rain and snow showers, Heather St Clair drank coffee and encouraged us, while we developed our plan.

The Road clean-up netted 29, 45-gallon bags of garbage, 2 mail boxes that had seen better days, a child’s merry go round, and a lamp shade. We also found at least 50 phone books, and one partial set of yet to be determined bones, has to be close to a record.

Matt noted that only one hypodermic needle was found, and there was a drastic reduction of wine bottles, something we attributed to the economic down turn. Clearly the wine drinking community needs a bail out. Beer cans and bottles seemed to still be going strong with a smattering of lower end whisky bottles. Fast food wrappers and cups where down slightly, but did see an increase in sports energy drink and vitamin drink bottles, brings one to the conclusion that those that want to take care of their health don’t always believe taking care of the environment is also important.

Thanks to all those that helped and it always leaves at least me feeling better after sloshing through a few ditches with my friends.

Tom Allen
For the NWPC

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bound by Sky, By Buddy B. Brain

Friday, March 6th. Its cold at five grand and I’m so bundled up I can hardly move. My fingers are like ice cycles and ache all the way to my elbows. It’s just barely March; not even spring. Mount Rainer looms large on the southern horizon. The expansive evergreen forests below are dusted in white. Spread around the icy blue sky are more than a dozen other paragliders in all directions, including above me. There are wings high over the southwest corner of Squak and a couple wings high above me, a couple to the southeast.

I’m not just cold, but feeling a bit claustrophobic from being bundled in my flight suit, layered beneath in more than just my winter down coat. I’m seriously thinking of shedding altitude so I can thaw out, but wonder if I’ll be able to move while bound like I am in my winterized isometric suit. Maybe this is why I prefer coastal flying; flying with ease of movement, free to make quick unrestricted changes in posturing.

Sure is pretty from up here tho, and I’m still going up. Sure is cold. And, I sure am feeling restricted. Should I head out and attempt my first XC of two-zero-zero-nine? ‘ Beep……beep…beep’ goes my vario. Cold and I have a date I can’t be late for. Lame excuse. ‘Beep...beep...beep...beep.’ FLIPPIN, FRIGGIN COLD! Big ears. ‘Beep…..beep…..beep’. I’m still going up. Bigger ears. ‘Beep…..’ Now my pop cycle fingers are being gnawed at by my outer A-lines. This hurts. Maybe it’s time to spiral. ‘Beep….beep…….beep’. Pump out ears and surprise, vario is silent. Lean hard left, lean hard right….back to left and hold. Round and round and round I go. Stop watching the forest below and keep my eyes on my wing. I level out at a grand above south launch.

What the hell I’ll try a top landing. The wind sock is barely moving from the west and with this cold dense air I doubt there’s any rotor. Setting up to approach from north and west of the sock I would normally have lots of room to touch down. Nope. The air is way too dense and even on ears I pass directly over launch with nary a semblance of descent, and I’m not about to b-line. Oh well. Damn, sure wish I hadn’t gotten cold and descended. What a whimp. I coulda been up and away. Oh, yeah, I’ve got a date and what the heck; I’ll be on time for once.

“So Bud, how’d the date go?”

“Excuse me? Oh yeah, the date. Well I tried to listen and engage but my mind kept wandering to my earlier flight. Really, I kept hearing her say, ‘beep…beep….beep.’ and I guess I just sorta blew it.”

The End

By the way, in case you haven't figured it out B. is for "Bird"

Photo up top is courtesy of Stefan Mitrovich, but he is NOT the author.

Tiger Surprise, By John Kraske

February 27, 2009

With my business completed in Seattle and a nice high cloud base out over the Olympic Mountains I thought I might get a sledder in at Tiger on my way to my 5:45 client in Snoqualmie. I could make the two o’clock shuttle. Who knows it might just be one of those lucky days you might just pull out a nice soaring flight. It was warming up and the winds were predicted to pick up from the south. Might be some good ridge soaring in the bowl left of launch.

A few hardy souls had hiked up earlier and were launching south by the time I arrived at the Tiger LZ. The ground winds were light and variable. I watched as Conrad had a pretty good flight across the valley and over Squak’s east flank. He was getting worked and cut his flight short due to “weird air”.

Photo courtesy of Stefan Mitrovich

The two-o’clock shuttle departed at two-thirty with Bob Hannah providing his driving expertise. Several pilots opted out of the ride up so there were only three of us onboard. Nearing launch we could see a wing high above launch. Heather looked to be having a fine time approaching cloud base. I was enthused.

At launch we were quick to layout and clip in. Heather was at cloud base and soaring to the north. The 8 mph south wind disappeared just as I was set to go. The wind sock above south launch was displaying what might be thermal influence, indicating west, then northwest, then nothing at all. Maybe the wind direction was getting ready to change. What happened to the forecast of strong south? I finally choose to pull up in a barely discernable trickle of air coming up the south face. I dove into my chest straps and glided away to the south, leaned to the left and my vario began “beep…beep…beeping” as I slowly ascended into a right-banked turn toward the west ridge. As I approached the ridge the beeping of my vario steadily began a higher frequencied scream. “Oooooh, this is good.” I thought. Scanning the north I looked for Heather but she was not to be seen. “Probably landed”, I thought. There was lots of open blue with broad flat cummies forming over the valley at about four grand and I was going up at an amazingly rate of climb, getting awfully close to an IFR situation. I chose to run for the blue to the north, between couples of broad forming cummies, on ears to slow my ascent. Even on ears and in the blue I was still going up faster than I wanted. Glancing down at launch the other two pilots were still laid out and it looked like the wind sock was indicating east wind. I wanted down, being somewhat concerned about rotor forming in the valley. Lift seemed to be everywhere. I reversed my course to the south hoping to break free of the valley’s up influence. Other than two aerobatic ravens displaying their far superior and raucously good fun in the rising air, I was the only wing in the sky and glad of it. I kept nervously glancing to the north and east imagining a FedEx or UPS inbound flight on death mission and wondered how visible I would be this close to the rapidly forming clouds. The wind sock still looked to be poking straight out from the east and I was still going up. I pulled in bigger ears and my shoulders were starting to ache and my outside A-lines were stressing my gloved fingers. Just a little southeast and high above Fraternity Snoqualmie, I began to experience some down. I leaned into my turns and was soon no more than a couple hundred feet above launch, but experiencing some of the “weird air’ Conrad had early reported. I let out ears and continued my descent to the LZ, staying closer to Squak than Tiger, paying close attention to keeping my wing inflated. The wind socks and streamers in the landing zone were all over the place with not much definitive wind direction. I came in high and banked my touch down from north to southwest. I was happy to be on the ground and pretty darned satisfied at having had a successful soaring flight despite being challenged and downright concerned - a very humbling experience.

As I folded up and prepared to depart Conrad pulled into the parking lot. He had gone on fetch and picked Heather up who had landed in the soccer field at Lake Sammamish. She too was all giddy and smiles. It was definitely nice to have had a soaring flight after such a long arduous winter off. In retrospect, Heather’s choice of an lz was probably a much wiser decision than landing in the valley considering what the wind sock at launch was displaying.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tim Walsh's Valle de Bravo video

Check out Tim's photographic video journey from a group of friends recent flying trip to Valle. Who's up for next year?!
Sorry, link not active. Copy and paste into your browser until active.

CJ Brockway doing her thing above Valle

Thursday, February 12, 2009

2008 NWPC Media Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2008 NWPC Media Award winners for their spectacular shots! The recipients were honored at the NWPC Gala on January 23, 2009 at the Issaquah Holiday Inn.

And the winners are...

Best In-Air Photo by Ernie Friesen, “Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling.”
Blanchard, looking toward Port Townsend

Best Manipulated Photo by Suhas Kelkar
Kamshet, India at the flying site known as Tower Hill

Best Weather/Nature Photo by Heather St.Clair, "Perfect Timing for Retrieve."
Eastern Washington, after XC flights many miles SW from Saddle Mt.

Best Classic Photo by Patricia Hooper
2008 Rat Race, Woodrat Mountain, Jacksonville, Oregon

Best People Photo, by Ernie Friesen, “Look Ma, no hands!”
Pilot Chris Amonson flying Blanchard

Best Video by Sharon Strobel/Parr coming soon...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The 2009 Oceanside Open Fly-In, By John Kraske

It’s January. We’re over the hump. Days are getting longer and it’s time to start thinking about the Annual Oceanside Open Fly-In. This is what I mark as the true beginning of the Northwest flying season. This year’s event is scheduled for the weekend of May 2, 2009, a little later in the spring than previous years.

Last year a lot of my flying compatriots checked the weather forecasts and opted out because of what they saw on the computer weather models as 60% chance of rain. They missed some fine flying.

The northern most seventy miles of Oregon’s coastline are my favorite haunts throughout the year; winter, spring, summer or fall. I absolutely love this area and all it has to offer. From the mouth of the Columbia River to the mouth of Nestucca Bay the scenery is breathtaking. Of course this coastline is longer than seventy miles by road, the seventy miles I refer to are “as the crow flies” - a straight line of longitude from Astoria south, a line of flight. I fly.

Unfortunately I don’t fly as efficiently as that proverbial crow or any other winged creature. Paragliding is my passion and this upper reach of the Oregon Coast offers multitudes of opportunities for the pursuit of my favorite way to dance with mother nature, especially when the weather forecasters predict southwest to northwest winds and, as often as not, somewhere in the range of sixty percent chance of rain. The rain usually arrives in cells known to mariners as squalls. These wind driven clusters of rain often push high winds in front of them. Once on-beach they dump their load, often stilling the effects of wind then move inland leaving behind lighter winds that are flyable. I refer to this as “squall surfing”. Of course, with approaching squalls, it is important to time one’s descent to beach before the squall driven wind arrives. I carry a large garbage bag I can stuff my wing in to keep it dry. If I feel a significant increase in the wind velocity, I know it’s time to “beach and bag”.

In my seventy mile haunt of coastline, Oceanside is roughly three quarters of the way south from the Columbia River. Last year on the first day of the Fly-In the winds were a bit too strong for Oceanside. I booked south to Tierra Del Mar, a seventy foot west facing launch that can access hundred foot high dunes that run about a mile and three-quarters south to Cape Kiwanda.

Soaring Cape Kiwanda. About a half hour drive south of Oceanside. Photo by John Kraske

Steve Forslund flying north towards Oceanside from Cape Lookout. You can see 3 Arches in the distance which is just offshore of Oceanside. Netarts Bay is to the right of the sand spit that separates the bay from the Ocean. The mouth of the bay is to the north. Across the spit is Happy Camp, an out and back destination from Oceanside. Cape Meares lighthouse is about 2 miles north of Oceanside and is also an out and back destination. Last year Joe Evans flew his Hang Glider from Oceanside to Cape Lookout and Back. With strong west winds and the right approach I think it can be done on a bag. The low west facing dunes run from the mouth of Netarts Bay approximately 5 miles to Cape Lookout. That’s a total of 8 miles from Oceanside. Photo by John Kraske

Tierra Del Mar. A half hour drive south of Oceanside. Photo by John Kraske

The winds were too strong there as well. I continued south to Bob Straub State Park where some lower dunes span south for four miles from Cape Kiwanda along Nestucca Spit. We “squall surfed” for several hours before heading back to Oceanside. The westerlies were dialing down and Oceanside was on. Several pilots were soaring high over launch, pushing north to Cape Meares and south to Happy Camp. One hang glider flew south to Cape Lookout, approximately ten miles.

Soaring above the Three Arches at Oceanside. Photo by Debi Hoffman

If the conditions this year are similar to last year, my goal is to cross the mouth of Netarts Bay from north of Happy Camp and scratch the west facing dunes on Netarts Spit to Cape Lookout. There are some significantly larger dunes at Bay Ocean, 5 miles north of Oceanside that are awful inviting on a west wind day as well. Bay Ocean is a 4.5 mile spit of land that makes Tillamook Bay a bay.

To my friends who missed last year at Oceanside: “Don’t let those computer weather models fool you. West winds with sixty and even a higher percentage of predicted rain can still produce some really fine flying on the Oregon Coast. There are lots of options.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Launching Into The New Year. By John Kraske

Other than ending 2008 with a speeding ticket from a Montesano City Cop on my standard route to the North Oregon Coast, last year ended up not too bad. My 2009 started out with some great flying fun on the Oregon Coast on January 2nd, having just sort of vegged away on the 1st, recovering from the mad I had going over being bagged by what I thought was a pretty deceptive way to raise funds for the municipality of Montesano, Washington. Heading down to Oregon to bring in the New Year, I exited highway 12 at Montesano. You come off of the highway 12 off ramp to get on hwy 107 (the Montesano Cut), stop at the stop sign then accelerate across the north bound lane to get in the south bound lane. Turns out the speed limit there is 25 mph, even though it is outside the main part of the town and almost immediately turns into a 55 mph zone. A modern form of highway robbery, sanctioned by the city of Montesano. A word of warning to all of you who might take the 107 cut to destinations south along the coast. Beware of the Montesano Municiple Bandits.

From my perch in a small cabin in Manzanita, January 1st was looking like a rainy, blustery day not fit for flying. Even the pelicans were hunkering down, earth bound. So, rather than chase around for some dry air and less chaotic winds, I chose to stay in and tap into my creative inner resources and produced a cream of watercress and pumpkin seed soup. It turned out pretty good and took the edge off my Montesano Mad-On.

Friday, the Second, looked a little more promising. The weather forecasts called for relatively light northwest winds. Just right for Cape Lookout, (also known as Andersons). I packed my gear and headed south. I drove my little civic thru several areas of high water over the road. At Tillamook I was detoured around a closed portion of highway 101 and got to the launch at Cape Lookout as 3 hang gliders were setting up. The western horizon looked pretty ominous and the wind was coming in a little cross from the southwest. One hang launched and was up and over Netarts Bay to the south and east in no time flat. It looked to me like he had taken a little left wing tip dip on his way off launch which made me a little concerned about cross rotor from the south. I waited with the other two hang pilots. One took off and the third just decided not to. I was hoping one of the local bag pilots would show up and show me the way. Brad and Maren finally arrived and collectively we decided to jam south to Kiwanda. The wind at Kiwanda was a little too light and cross from the west/northwest. We mulled around a bit and Brad set up on the west facing slope just south of the beach access road. Sledder. A definite launch for a west wind though. I had a wild hair to give Tierra Del Mar a chance and scratched my way back up that knarley-
assed-access road in my low riding civic.  

At Tierra I got my wing out and ready just in case. The western horizon was filled with squall lines that seemed to be hovering on the verge of a shoreline assault. I’d guess these ominous looking beasts were at least fifteen to twenty miles off shore. It was much darker to the southwest and you could see some blue, just a little, to the northwest. It looked to me like we would be getting some wind soon. I watched the trees and bushes to the east above the highway and they seemed to be moving in the winds a little more as time ticked on. I got on my phone and called Brad and Maren and suggested they come on back to Tierra. They were picking up Joe, one of the local hang pilots, who had launched from Cape Lookout earlier and had just landed south of Cape Kiwanda at the Pelican Brewery. Joe was just finishing up his first beer. I set up and hooked in just as KC and Dave arrived. I pulled my wing up and kited just to feel what I perceived was an increasing wind and a somewhat solid lift. Brad and Maren arrived so I opted to wind dummy. It felt to me like the lift was just right there on the border of ‘sink to the beach’ and ‘maybe scratch and up’. I got lucky and was soon soaring up and over the road, around the corner to the northwest facing bowl above the wetlands. I scratched around the corner hoping to find enough lift to achieve an altitude equal to the highest houses above in Nantucket-Shores development. I didn’t quite make my goal and swung back around the point and came into land just as everyone else was clipping in. A couple more CPC pilots showed up and pretty soon there were six to eight wings in the air.

Tierra Del Mar is just a mile or so north of Cape Kiwanda with a west facing pine tree shrouded sand cliff that varies in height and direction as it runs south to Cape Kiwanda. This ridge, I’d guess, is anywhere from sixty to a hundred plus feet in height. The launch at TDM is about thirty or forty feet above the beach. Normally TDM works on a west wind, but due to the cold dense air on this day it worked with a Northwest wind.

Soaring south along this ridge there’s a Northwest facing bowl just north of the beach access road to Kiwanda, and a little rock cape that sticks out to the west. Flying from the north I could see the pine trees whipping at the top of the ridge and knew there’d be lift. It was like hitting a brick wall. The lift band stopped my downwind momentum dead and shot me vertical like a rocket. A little decerning but way fun once I got used to it, and a great place to get some altitude. From several hundred feet above the beach I attempted to run south to Kiwanda but kept turning back to check my penetration. A couple of the CPCers flew down to the Cape and back again. Because the wind was fluxuating in velocity and those ever threatening squalls loomed large on the western horizon I didn’t get all the way down to the Cape. I did cross the access road a couple of times but before I got too far away from Tierra I would check my forward penetration back to the north. At one point I just about didn’t make it. I guess I’m getting lazy and didn’t want to hike off the beach. Especially after flipping Brad sh_ _ for sinking out, after he gave me the raspberries about putting my Niviuk wing in a garbage-bag (my technique for protection from rain squalls during squall surfing days). Brad suggesting that Niviuk are garbage wings, I couldn’t help by respond with, “we’ll see.” Brad flies Ozone (to the beach, I might add). Just good fun banter with flying friends. Still I didn’t want to eat any of that stuff I had fed to Brad earlier. I did get some nice photos of Brad on the beach though. Besides, I’d never presume to be a better beach pilot than Brad, so it must be the wing. Or, maybe it was just my lucky garbage bag.

I’d say we had well over an hour of flying time before the winds picked up. Out on the western horizon I’d watched numerous squalls build into what looked suspiciously like forming cyclones. These little virga monsters would dance along the horizon, looking like they were anxious for an attack on any foolish two-leggeds attempting to be flying creatures. Once the wind became too threatening I headed in to land. Dave on his higher performance wing landed after me coming in deep on full speed bar. Tierra Del Mar is a slightly sloped bench that drops vertically about thirty to forty feet to the beach. The horizontal bench that serves as the launch runs from the west/northwest facing cliff face back about a hundred yards and is covered with waist to shoulder deep Scotch Broom. Dave’s approach was a little dicey and he took a pretty large frontal but pulled out of it just as he hit the tangle weeds. Brad suggested that he come in on “ears” instead. A reduced angle of attack in rotor will almost certainly make a wing more vulnerable to a frontal colapse. Obviously.

With the wind amping up everyone decided to head for Kiwanda and some sand soaring. I opted to head north and give Joe the hang pilot a ride back to his rig at Cape Lookout. On our way north there were a bunch of emergency vehicles with lights flashing just north of Tierra Del Mar. Apparently they were responding to a hang glider that had gone down in the woods east of TDM. Joe got on his radio. The downed pilot was okay and was hiking out. Tomorrow was another day, forecast to be southwest winds with a ten to twenty percent less chance of rain than this day. I was thinking Neahkahnie or Ecola.

The morning of January 3 waxed blue with beautifully feathered waves breaking along the beach at Manzanita. My inner surfer wished I had brought along my surfboard or surf shoe. The winds were blowing offshore but were forecast to switch to southwest. I bundled up and walked the beach to the base of Neahkahnie. A beautiful morning. After my hike I touched base by phone with several of the local pilots. It turned out I was the site scout designee. Several Portland pilots were opting for Oceanside. Ancil’s car was in the shop and he wouldn’t be coming. I called Brad and Maren who were possibly going to hit Ecola or maybe Neahkahnie, depending on my reports. Kim Smith had called me earlier and was on his way down with Cathy, but were opting for Oceanside. We’d be in touch. By eleven o’clock I was at Neahkahnie with wind blowing directly into launch, but cranking at over 14 mph. I rushed up to Ecola. The wind was a great direction, but nuking at up to 20 mph. I made my phone reports to everybody. Kim Smith reported light south winds at Oceanside with Reed setting up to launch. I made the hour plus long drive south. The flood waters from the day before had subsided and it was a clean shot all the way to Oceanside. Just as I rounded the curves and came into view of Maxwell Mountain (the launch) two yellow wings were descending to the beach. Too south and maybe too light, I thought. I parked at launch and walked out to watch Sarge launch and lift on his bright orange Airwave. I dashed back to my little civic and pulled my garbaged-bagged Niviuk Artik out and was in hot pursuit of Sarge. Pretty soon there were about ten wings in the air. Sarge got cold and headed for the beach. I came in and top landed which was a piece of cake in the laminar six to ten mph south wind. Cathy Smith was setting up to launch but was feeling a little “new site anxiety” and taking her time. She let me go ahead of her and I was soon soaring once again. What a beautiful day! I cranked out one more top landing and launched again. By now I was the only wing in the air. I soared around for awhile, enjoying the view then decided to head for the beach. I was beginning to feel the catabatic influence setting up. I landed on the beach and bummed a seat with the CPC pilots back up to fetch my little civic. Only about an hour long window of flying on Saturday, but hey, it doesn’t get any better than that on the second and third days of a new year.

Sunday the Cascade Paragliding Club pilots had an hour long window flying at Cliffside on the Columbia River. I had a ten hour road trip adventure in the pounding snow. Driving up the Washington side of the Columbia to Willapa Bay I was turned back at Raymond by the county cops. Highway 101 was closed going north. I opted for State Route 6, a dark and windy stretch between Raymond and Chehalis. I creeped along at 25 mph in the driving snow. Just another adventure to cap off the beginning of 2009. By all accounts, it looks like its going to be a good year.

Photos courtesy of John Kraske
[Pelicans hunkering down]
[Jim Baldo above Nantucket Shores development]
[Neahkahnie from the beach]
[Hang Glider launching at Cape Lookout]

PREZ SEZ Year End – 2008

PREZ SEZ Year End – 2008
By President Tom Allen

It’s been a year of great flights, the loss of two friends and fellow pilots, and many challenges that were met by the help of our members.

We have several members that have put in a tremendous amount of time for the NWPC and/or improving our sites this year.Ashley Guberman is one that put in countless hours on the key initiative, upgrading our website, doing the leg work that allowed the club to vote on issues, standing up for the membership’s financial interests and giving time at most of the events that required volunteers.

Amy Heim has put in hours and money organizing events that helped the club earn the funds that have been spent maintaining and improving Tiger and other several other sites. She isn't even a pilot. We thank Rick Hubbard for the tremendous amount of time involved in finding and installing the expansion of the Astroturf on North launch, and maintaining the Poo Poo Pt. outhouse with some other low life help. Rick is also the one that did the repairs on the trailer when the tongue was broken. Paying for that would have been several hundred dollars. Rick has also done almost every welding job on Mike’s trucks when they start to come apart.

Kevin White has put in time repairing shuttle vehicles, in less than ideal conditions, in a time frame that usually requires lots of cash to be paid out. He did a wonderful job organizing and making the Women's fly-in at Chelan one of the best. Steve Accord’s invaluable help at the Tiger fly-in, his help with the Tiger Shuttle communications and his timely updates from his window at Costco are much appreciated. Chirico gave the club at least $1,500 dollars worth of tandems and also flew all day at our fly-in, as did several other tandem pilots. Marc and Lan also provide power, chairs and shade at the Tiger fly-in, along with many of the tools for the work parties.

Greg Newhall found us at least a $1,000 dollars worth of tires and rims as a donation from Shuttle Express when Mike’s tires where slashed. Bob Hannah has certainly stepped up this year and helped Mike Miller on several occasions and allowed the shuttle to operate. He also helped with maintaining the Tiger logging road. James Bender cleared the Tiger logging road for us during last winter’s wind storms and has provided us with the south launch relief station, much appreciated by many. And I still look at our kiosk as something that could only be a gift - we sure couldn’t have purchased a piece of art like that.

Kurt, Bob, Marc and all the others that drove the shuttle and gave up their flights during Mike’s absence. Sid Lindquist made a tremendous upgrade of parking at Tom Wake’s place or the Blanchard LZ. He not only spearheaded the project, provided the expertise and equipment, performed the work with the help of many of the Boundary Bay pilots, “North Guys”, but also fronted the money for the project. I’m not sure he isn’t still holding the bag on the money issue. Lynn Bentley organized the Baldy Fly-in again this year, building it into a major event with assistance from Bob Bunger, Naomi and Peter Gray, and of course Rich Hass. Lynn has also spent many hours in her continued work trying to secure McDonald as a site.

Rich Hass has spent many hours and dollars representing us at the national level with USHPA. He also has dealt with many of the operational and personality issues in the NW. And he got into this for enjoyment? Special thanks to the Flying Scotsman and Flying Pastor - Iain Frew and David Norwood - for their continued communications and promotion of the sport in such a positive manner.

I know I’ve missed contributors. Please let our community know those that made a difference to you in 2008.

May the thermals be large and the ridge lift abundant for your flights in 2009. I would also ask that you please join us for the NWPC Awards Gala January 23 for memories of flights, friends and a few deserved awards.

Tom Allen for the NWPC