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?!

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CJ Brockway doing her thing above Valle