Thursday, December 22, 2011

President's End of Year Report

Northwest Paragliding Club
President’s End of Year Report
December 22, 2011

It’s been a remarkable year for paragliding in the Northwest.  In many ways, particularly for cross-country flying, it has been a terrific year.  Records were set and broken and many pilots had new personal bests.  If you saw Dave Norwood’s posting of the results of the North West Paragliding League, you have a feel for what a great year it has been for XC flying.  And while we are used to seeing big XC flights from Baldy and Chelan, many of the really fine XC flights this year originated at Tiger, Blanchard, Saddle and even Kiona. 
In past years, a good day at Tiger meant you got up, flew around the towers, maybe over to Squak and landed back at the LZ or maybe on the Sammamish Plateau after a couple hours.  This year a good day meant many pilots flying to Fall City, Carnation, Redmond, or North Bend; or south to Covington, Black Diamond or Enumclaw.  On those days a few pilots might get to Monroe.  Matty Senior’s flight from Tiger to the Blanchard LZ, 78 miles away, was possibly the highlight of the year; although Matty and Steve Pieniak’s dual-flights from Tiger across Snoqualmie Pass to Cle Elum were huge accomplishments.  Unquestionably, 2011 produced an inordinate number of long, memorable flights.  Improved wing technology has made some of this possible, but pilot attitude – the willingness to go for it – may have resulted in many of the great flights. 
In some ways 2011 has been a frustrating year.   Many of our plans to improve Tiger have been on hold pending the completion of land-use-license (LUL) agreements with DNR.  For months it seems we have been a signature or two away from being able to improve the Cut, drive directly to launch from the LZ, and install a container and improve instrumentation on north launch.  Despite the Herculean efforts of Rich Hass to deal with DNR, we still do not have the necessary LUL agreements. 
And it has been a tragic year, with the loss of Ken Blanchard in the first-ever fatal accident at Tiger. 
We have had our successes in 2011 as well.  Just keeping our sites open and flyable by maintaining good relationships with their owners and managers was a major accomplishment.  The parking lot at Tiger was expanded, and we were able to trim many of the trees around the Tiger LZ and around both launches.  Although not our doing, construction is underway at Blanchard which promises to improve the launches and provide additional parking.   We also dealt with Mike Miller’s accident which totaled the van and left us short of shuttle vehicles.  Bob Hannah helped secure a new shuttle van for Michael and the Club stepped up to help Michael financially. 
As usual, the Club sponsored several fly-ins this year.  The Tandem fly-in at Tiger raised about $9,200 in revenue for the Club while providing a great flying experience for about 80 non-pilots.  The Baldy Butte Fly-in was not blessed with the best weather but still, many pilots had good flights.  By all accounts the Women’s fly-in at Chelan included good weather, fun flights and a great Saturday night party.   Many of our pilots also enjoyed the Beach-N-Fly and the Bike-and-Fly at Chelan, the CAN-AM Fly-in at Black Mountain and Rat Race. 
The Holiday Party at Pogacha’s on December 13, 2011 was a great success, as more than 75 of our friends and family members enjoyed each other’s company and a very good Italian Buffet.  Tom Allen announced the following awards for 2011:

·         Two Rookie of the Year awards: to Travis LaMance and Ken Swenson;
·         Two Flight of the Year awards, to:  Chris Amonson for his 143K flight, and Conrad Kreick for his flight from Saddle to Oregon;
·         Pilot of the Year: Matty Senior who had a number of awesome flights, including Tiger to Blanchard and Tiger to Cle Elum;
·         Presidents Award: Rich Hass, for his relentless efforts to advance the Club’s interests with the Washington State DNR and King County;
·         Two Volunteer of the Year awards, to: Roger Brock for his work with DNR and numerous landowners in developing and maintaining flying sites in Skagit and Whatcom counties.  And Rick Hubbard for his work maintaining and improving our flying sites.
·         Tech Mentor of the Year award, to: David Wheeler for his efforts with the north launch camera, airspace education, and the fantastic Spot page for tracking pilots.
·         NWPC Ambassador: Meredyth Malocsay, She knows and is known by pilots all over the world. 
·         Perpetual Poo Poo Point Outhouse Trainee:  Marc Chirico – few people realize how much they should appreciate Marc’s efforts, and
·         NWPC Old-Timer and Mr. Fix-It: Wally Adams, another behind-the-scenes worker who improves our flying world. 
In a surprise appearance, Matty Senior’s award was presented by Tom McCune, a Tiger Mountain pilot once ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and winner of several international flying competitions.
Club Officers
In November, a new board of directors was elected to serve for 2012.  The new officers include the old officers with two exceptions.  Scott Stabbert replaced Beth Friesen as treasurer and Keith Papenthien replaced John Schnebeck as secretary.  Beth asked to step down after three years as club treasurer.  Beth did a fine job keeping track of the Club’s finances and paying its bills, and we greatly appreciate her efforts.   John was reelected to the Board in a director-at-large position, replacing Rob Leonard, who had served us well in 2011.  Keith and Scott are new to the club, but both bring welcome enthusiasm and expertise. 
The NWPC Club’ officers for 2012 are:
Ralph Boirum - President; Lawrence Wallman – Vice President; Keith Papenthien – Secretary; Scott Stabbert – Treasurer; and Directors Paulo Escobar, John Schnebeck and Ken Swenson.   Andy Wood remains our Webmaster, and Chris Amonson will continue his fine work as the Club’s Blog Editor. 
The Board meets monthly, generally on the second Monday of the month. 

Status of the Club’s projects:
·         We have received the proposed LUL agreements from DNR.  (There are three.) The agreements appear to give us permission for most of the improvements we want to make; however, we have concerns about the insurance requirements demanded by DNR.  Rich is attempting to get DNR to revise the insurance requirements.  Once the LULs are completed, the Club will proceed with the improvements for which funding has been approved by the Club’s membership. They include widening and paving the entrance to the Cut at Tiger Mountain Road, installing a new gate, and grading and placing gravel on the road, and placing a steel container near north launch. 
·         These improvements will make the Cut a legal entrance to the interior Tiger Mountain road system, allowing emergency vehicles and the Shuttle to drive through.  The agreements and improvements will not allow commercial pilots or others to drive through the cut, but the Club will be able to lease keys for a new lock at the Highway 18 gate. 
·         Funding for the purchase and installation of a steel container near north launch has been approved by the Club’s membership, and completion of the LULs will allow that project to proceed. 
·         The LUL will also provide DNR’s permission for us to erect a tower on north launch.  A used tower has been purchased and re-conditioned by the club.  We hope to install the tower on Tiger’s north launch.  It would allow us to fly a windsock well above the 65-foot-tall trees on north launch so that it will indicate wind from any direction.  We also plan to install web cams on the tower and move Wind Talker to the tower, improving its usefulness.  Funding for installation of the tower has not yet been approved. 
·         The floor of Class B airspace ceiling at Tiger was recently lowered from 6,000 to 5,000 feet.  Lowering the ceiling forces hang and paragliders at Tiger and general aviation aircraft passing through the area into reduced airspace, greatly increasing the potential for dangerous encounters.  The Club and USHPA formally opposed lowering of the airspace; however, our cries went unheeded.   We now may not fly higher than 5,000 feet until we are about 2,000 feet east of the Tiger launches. 
·         Thanks in large part to Chris Amonson, the Club’s blog editor, there are several new articles and great photos on the club’s blog.  Chris has kept the blog active and it is a good place to go to read about other pilot’s experiences.  Feel free to write up your flying experience and share it with the rest of us. 
·         Andy Wood continues a good job of keeping the Club’s website up to date.  It is a great source of information about the Club’s flying sites and activities.  It also has links to weather information, USHPA, Leonardo and other useful sites.  Andy also makes voting on-line on club issues possible. 
·         The AED (defibrillator) has been temporarily located under the outhouse at north launch.  It will probably be moved to the container if and when the container is installed. 
·         The Club is awaiting a decision by the Washington State Parks Department which may open up Ebey’s Landing (on Whidbey Island) to paragliding.    
·         Paulo Escobar continues to represent the Club in efforts to develop a recreational site near McDonald Mountain.  By our participation, we hope to have a designated landing zone included in the park.  If we are able to acquire access to a landing zone, DNR will allow us to use launch sites on the mountain, opening up McDonald Mountain to hang and paragliding. 
·         The Club has been looking into placing carpet on the upper slope of Tiger’s north launch.  Improving that area could significantly shorten your wait by providing a better secondary launch site. 
·         The Club is also considering the possibility of sponsoring an USHPS-sanctioned paragliding competition this summer at Chelan.  This proposal is still in its infancy and is waiting for a few volunteers who are willing to put it together. 
Looking Ahead to 2012
This coming year we plan to change the monthly meetings to have greater emphasis on flying and less on the Club’s business issues.  Each month we will devote most of the meetings to topics like understanding the weather, using a GPS, and mountain and flatland cross-country flying.  We will have technical talks on thermaling, flying etiquette and techniques to improve your flying; and we will have orientation-type discussions about each of the sites we fly.   More photos, videos and discussions about flying should make the meetings more interesting and informative. 
Your Club officers are always ready to hear new ideas to improve our flying experiences.  Please feel free to share your thoughts with me or any of the other Club officers. 

Thanks, and have a great 2012. 

Ralph Boirum
President, NWPC

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tiger to Blanchard

by Matty Senior

Ask any Seattle pilot and they will tell you, “Tiger Mountain’s an afternoon site. No body flies there before noon in fact the 1st shuttle to launch doesn’t leave until 12:30, you have to wait until the day heats up and the sun moves around to light up the hill”. For years I subscribed to this same view I just assumed that years of experience from other pilots and the fact no body ever launched before lunch time were a pretty good indication that it was in fact an afternoon site. 

Some days especially in the spring you can find perfect looking cumulus clouds peppered across the sky sometimes as early as 8-9am I’ve always stared at those clouds wondering why no one was in the air taking advantage of these perfect looking clouds. Why wasn’t I in the air? So few weeks ago I picked a good day and hiked up at 9:30 excited about the possibilities of maximizing the day and trying to fly as far as I could. The forecast was predicting cloud base to be around 6500feet, a south west wind at 5-10knots and from what I could see there was a slight chance of overdevelopment. So I had figured if I can get in the air by 11am and fly north with a light tail wind try and stay under the clouds it should be possible to make it to  Sumas at the Canadian Border before the lift ends sometime after 6pm. 

At the trail head the sky was 95% blue with the only four small cumulus clouds dotted down wind from the West Tiger summit. After emerging from trees on the south launch I was stunned to see that things had developed quickly in the 45 minutes it took me to hike the trail. The sky had changed to 80% cloud cover reinforcing the need to get off the hill as quickly as I could to avoid getting caught on the ground, all shaded out. 

Launching into a good cycle I climbed straight to base gliding off down wind under some clouds towards the only sunny patch available within glide. Arriving there low I found only light broken lift that alluded me putting me on the ground in less than 30 minutes 7km into my big plan.
Frustrated and excited at the same time I packed up quickly and was retrieved by good friend Drew McNabb on his way to Tiger so I could catch the 12:30 shuttle and have another crack at it. I was frustrated at that fact I’d dirted so early, but excited to confirm my suspicions that those lovely looking AM cumulus clouds do in fact indicate good lift just like their afternoon cousins. 

On Launch for the second time the sky had changed once again, now with 40% cloud cover and big fat wide streets running downwind.  Launching into a blue hole at 1:20 I didn’t have the success I did on the 1st attempt. I took me 30 minutes to climb to base and get in position to head off. Once I did I found the blue hole that was around launch extended down wind for a long way. 

It was super frustrating to have such a painstakingly slow climb out while the rest of the sky looked so amazing. As I reached base my gut feeling about dirting again by going down wind just got stronger and stronger so I decided to quarter the wind to the west and try and link up with a great looking cloud that had broken off the top a Squak Mt. about a mile west of Tiger. Finding only light lift under the cloud as it drifted downwind of its source I found my self Thermalling above down town Issaquah for another 20 minutes before I had the height to link up with my 1st cloud street of the day. 

Once I reached the leading edge of the cloud street and the lift became more organized is started to get super excited. Excited to finally be in a position that I’d always dreamed of. 

As I climbed to base I could see in the distance my street had a slight curve in it ending in Everett about 40km to the NW of Tiger, seeing this I knew if I wanted to fly further than Everett I would at some point have to switch streets to the one running parallel to mine about 5km to the east. 

As I glided off under the clouds I found my self looking at some pretty cool numbers 17:1, 54km/hr and 5000 feet. This was going to be a good day! 

Loosing a little height switching over cloud streets I promptly found the lift line that took me to Monroe and pretty much the most northern point we had flown to before from Tiger. Everything beyond Monroe was unexplored terrain with the exception of Tom McCune’s flight some years ago to Arlington. Just north of Monroe base lifted as I connected up with my 3rd cloud street of the day. Now with more than 6000 feet of terrain clearance a 15-20km tail wind and a cloud street running off in the distance as far as the eye could see I cruised along snapping a few shots with a huge smile on my face with out really worrying about anything at all. 

After another 20km my cloud street finished and this time I had to jump about a mile to the west to pick up the end of cloud street number 4 and the best one of the day. Hooking a climb to base at the downwind edge of the street to ensure I got loftiest line under the cloud street I flew another 40km barely turning hauling ass doing 60km/hr lossing hardly any height. 

30km north of  anything familiar I was stoked to see Arlington written in giant letters on the airports runway. After Arlington things just started to go off getting better and better, again base lifted a little and my instruments started to go from showing 15:1-25:1 to showing 25:1-35:1 this is where I started to laugh aloud in the air, taking more pictures as I followed my cloud street north towards Sedro Woolley at the head of the Skagit Valley. 

As I approached the Skagit my tail wind started to increase from 15-20km to 25km+ and the cloud street I was under continued past the opening of the Skagit valley over the top of Lyman Hill and all the way up to the Canadian boarder and my original goal for the day. 

At around the same time I noticed my tail wind increase another smaller cloud street veered off to the north west aimed directly toward Blanchard Mountain my favorite flying site in Washington. Knowing there would be friends  flying there, beer and possibly a ride home I changed my goal from the boarder to the Blanchard LZ . 

After taking one more climb over Burlington to again reach for a cloud street I changed my radio to the Blanchard frequency and radioed in to see who was flying. To my surprise I got good friend and fly buddy Roger Brock on the radio who immediately said “they were expecting me“. What the? Expecting me? How did he know I was on my way? I thought I was lost, alone in my own little adventure. Little did I know people had been sitting in their offices watching my spot page and posting updates.

Talking to Roger on the Radio and finding fellow pilots in the air at the end of such an amazing flight was super special. It was also very convenient as Roger arranged with a random Photographer taking pictures on launch to meet me at the LZ and give me a ride back to Seattle. By the time I was packed and half way through one off Murdochs beers my ride back had arrived. Thank you random photographer dude!

One thing I learned from this whole experience is that the tracking function on a spot device actually serves more functions than I imagined when I bought it. I thought a spot was just for safety and for efficiency in retrieves when flying with friends. In addition to these 2 very helpful functions it also allows others to follow your flights while they‘re at work. It was hard to believe that by the time I landed I had dozens of voicemails, text messages, emails and face book posts congratulating me on a great flight. Many thanks to everyone that messaged me that day. 

A week or so after this flight I had people asking me why I didn’t keep going to the border. At first I thought my decision to fly to Blanchard was the beer, convenience, a ride, friends and to pee. But after some thought I think my gut feeling was telling me “you’ve just flown from down town Issaquah to Blanchard Mt 120km in 3 hours and 10 minutes in the most pleasant conditions without taking any risks why fly into the mountains with 25km/hr of wind that’s increasing to squeeze out another 40km“. 
Every February with the help of Brad Sander I organise and guide paragliding tours to Nepal. If flying XC in the Himilayas with huge vultures is something you’ve dreamed off please check out my web site for more info

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


As first published in the August 2011 issue of Hang Gliding & Paraglidingmagazine

click on each page to enlarge

Monday, October 31, 2011


by Shannon Moyle

Seattle to Bali flight path.
Everybody loves vacation. Imagine a place with beaches and sun, a fabulous exchange rate and a lack of large buildings blocking the view of an islands natural beauty. Now add a community of friendly people, a deeply interesting culture with new traditions and foods, and massages at roughly $5-6 per hour. And the icing: add our favorite pastime, a highly experienced guide committed to showing you an enjoyable time, pilots gathering from all over the globe and consistent winds and weather that make every day a flying day.  This is a rare example of a place that has it all. 

Bali tour 2011 group photo at Uluwatu Temple
On September 25th 2011, 7 Wash-i-tonians traveled the 8152 miles (7083 nautical miles) from Seattle to Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. Some went through Taipei, others Hong Kong, but all were amazed at the beautiful surroundings and friendly people as they stepped off of the plane. Matty Senior has been hosting paragliding tours to Bali for the last 6 years, planning activities for all those who are willing to make the journey and share his love for the island, paragliding and experiencing all that Bali has to offer.

Jason coming in for a top-landing duringa Timbis sunset flight.  Picture by Shannon Moyle

Tish flying over Timbis. Picture by Matt Senior

We arrived to our first location in Nusa Dua where we stayed in a new villa just 10 minutes from launch. It was a true surfer and pilot community, even the villa owner, who is currently learning with the local flying club, had her first solo while we were there. For the next 5 days, we spent mornings exploring the area, tasting new foods and seeing the sights in the area. Then, each afternoon we would head out to Timbis, the first coastal flying site, to spend the afternoon in the air. It was perfect: top landing and beach landing options, 6+ miles of coastline to explore, plus when the wind is really right, a flight down to the “high cliffs”, which offers sights not usually seen by Earth-bound mortals.  The flying was spectacular. You could stay up for as long as you like and fly above hotels, houses and seaweed farms until your hearts’ content. In addition, a few of the locals have set up shop on launch: beer, food, t-shirts were all within immediate reach.

Aerial view of Candi Dasa.  Photo by Matt Senior

Curious fish at Talumban dive site.  Photo by
Jason Douglas.
After a magnificent week of flying and exploring, the troop then jumped in the car and spent four days in Candi Dasa where we soared a magnificent coastal mountain site. The beach offered multiple landing options and endless drool-worthy sights as you fly toward the Indian ocean or over the thousands of palm trees that line the beaches below. The lower launch provided terraced steps for launching the glider and benching up the mountain, where as the upper launch provided sky access when the wind was light.  While in Candi Dasa we also visited a traditional village, went scuba diving / snorkeling at an amazing shipwreck site,  visted several beaches and a fire dancing ceremony which helped us understand the tranditional island lore.  We headed back to Nusa Dua for our final three days of flying where we spent time exploring new restaurants that we had missed the first time, spending more time at our favories and soaking up as much sunshine and island attitude as we could.

While there are thousands of memories we could share during this post, here are a selected  few that will highlight the experiences that the group encountered on this magical adventure:

Tish makes new friends.

Monkeys are EVERYWHERE: On launch, at the temple and in the monkey forest where we felt hugely outnumbered. They are smart little fellas who will take anything that they can!

The accomodations are perfect: Both sites in Nusa Dua and Candi Dasa were postcard perfect complete with pools and easy access to launch.

View from our breakfast nook
in Candi Dasa.

Traffic: For us drivers who are used to lanes and signals, DON’T DRIVE THERE. The Balinese drive by physics only. Huge thanks to Matty for including “transport” in the tour.

Relaxation: Massages can be arranged in your hotel room or just across the street. The best were in Nusa Dua  for about $50,000RP (That’s about $6).

Balinese offering to help us pack
our gliders to the truck.
Expedited wing services: There were people everywhere who would help pack or carry your wing for ~$2. For $6 some would hike down to the beach, help you pack it, then hike it up for you!

Bali is for everyone: Whether you are new, a tandem passenger or an experienced pilot, Bali has offerings to please everyone.

Andy, Jason, and Iain soaring at Timbis.

A dining extravaganza: From road side soup bikes to fresh grilled fish on the beach and even fancy three course meals in Kuta, Matty knows where to go to show off all the island has to offer.

Examples of culture and tradition are everywhere: from the traditional Bali dances to daily offerings, you will find thousands of things to learn and experience while immersed in paradise. 

The flying is unbeatable. Hours and hours in the warm air. Sea breeze on your face. Eagle rays swimming below and Sea Eagles soaring beside. Cold beverages, friends and friendly locals waiting below.

Thanks to Matty Senior for showing all of us such a great time and allowing us to experience this perfect place from the land, sea and air. . It was truly two weeks in paradise full of flying, good laughs, new experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. Contact Matt Senior for more information on his Bali and Nepal Paragliding tours

Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Tiger Tandem Fly-in

By Shannon Moyle
We all remember our first tandem flight. The excitement of what lies ahead, the thrill of the shuttle, the feeling just before launch. This year’s annual Tiger Mountain Fly-In provided this experience for dozens of thrill seekers. The mountain, pilots and support crew did not disappoint.
The crisp morning started with the set up crew, led by our fearless president, unfolding the day’s required equipment and briefing the launch and landing zone teams on what the day had in store. Michael showed up bright and early and by 11am, the first of many shuttles were off.
The August 28th weather provided a perfect backdrop for what turned out to be an action packed day, much more suitable than the originally scheduled date. “It was worth the wait”, mentioned one onlooker after describing their disappointment in the announcement of the postponed flying day. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and in one case, a whole family lined up to take their first step off of the ground and into the air. One woman, Betty, and her husband had waited years for this occasion. They were all smiles at the check-in tent, gathering as much information as they could before taking their first flight. Betty was gung-ho, ready for the open air. She trusted the check-in team with her favorite gardening hat for safe keeping. Her flight was one of the longer ones in the afternoon and upon landing, she had the classic “I’ve just flown and I can’t believe it” smile stretched from ear to ear. Recovering her beloved hat from the team, she and her husband vowed that they would be back and were already planning their next flight.
The anxious onlookers and loved-ones watched from the LZ as 77+ friends and family members launched with our crew, floated above Tiger and landed peacefully back on Earth. Five of these onlookers were enticed into flight after witnessing their friends' flights, while an additional dozen more walkedon after hearing of the event that day. “Which one is my friend in?” was the favorite question asked below, to which the team responded with a process to let onlookers know when their friends were launching and what color glider they were on.
Tiger’s annual fly-in raises money for the club which helps pay site insurance at our favorite flying sites as well as various site enhancement projects at Tiger. The day could not have happened without the hard working volunteer tandem pilots and support crew.  Pilots from all around the area pitched in to support the day, some volunteering up to 5 back-to-back flights. Jesse Saylor set up his BBQ stand and provided the hordes with fuel for the busy day. A small team of tiger pilots manned the check-in desk and managed the logistics from below, while a launch team did the same from above.
 All in all, the day was a huge success. The event succesfully provided funds for the club and, maybe more importantly, allowed another small percentage of Earth bound humans to enjoy the experience of flight for the first time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NWPC Club meeting

If you missed the club meeting, here is a shot of the crowd.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

From the archives

This declassified document was just released by the archivists.  Back in the fall of 2000 our newsletter was delivered via the US postage service, stamps were 33 cents, and a small group of pilots ventured into the mountains.  
(click to enlarge the pages)

As you can see the Department of Homeland Censorship has had a heyday with this sensitive document.  Vital information has been lost forever however the core of the story has survived.  To dig deeper or... higher, intrepid pilots must venture into the woods themselves and possibly encounter a woodchuck on the trail.

The Editor

Thursday, August 25, 2011

President’s Second Quarterly Report

Northwest Paragliding Club
President’s Second Quarterly Report
August, 2011

Despite what seems like a summer that never came, flying in the Northwest has been good and sometimes great.  Flights from Tiger to Enumclaw, Black Diamond, Carnation, North Bend, and Fall City have become almost routine.  There have also been flights to Monroe, Redmond, Sultan, and of course Matty Senior’s remarkable 78-mile flight to Blanchard.  On many days paragliders have been able to stay in the air until their bladders gave out.  This summer has also seen the first flying-related fatality in Tiger’s 30 years of flying when Ken Blanchard lost his life while trying to land near his home on the south slope of Squak Mountain.  The shock is wearing off, but the loss is permanent. 

The Shuttle - Michael Miller’s blue shuttle van and trailer was involved in an accident on Tiger Mountain Road in July, in which both the van and the trailer were totaled.  Michael was alone in the vehicle and fortunately was not seriously injured.  Within a few days, Bob Hannah helped Michael purchase a new vehicle to get the Shuttle back in operation.  Michael expects to receive some money (perhaps $4,000 to $7,000) from an insurance settlement from the other vehicle; however, it will not completely cover the loss.  Bob’s out of pocket costs are about $ 12,900.  Michael has approached the club asking for financial assistance to help him reimburse Bob for his expenditures.  This issue has been discussed by the Board of Directors and was the main topic of discussion at the August membership meeting. 
The membership meeting was a very lively, friendly and open discussion and brain-storming session.  It was acknowledged that Michael’s shuttle service is a huge asset to our flying community.  Michael has a vested interest and business in the flying community.  He attended the meeting and contributed to the discussion and helped us try to find a fair and reasonable solution.  
At the meeting, a motion was made and seconded on a Board proposal to give Michael 75 percent of the net proceeds from this year’s Tandem Fly-in in exchange for an agreement that ownership of the shuttle vehicles would revert to the Club in the event Michael ceased to provide the shuttle service.  This motion received unanimous support from those present, including Michael, and will be further discussed and voted on in September. 
At this time, the Board has advanced Michael $2,000 for Shuttle services at the Tandem Fly-in, and given him $875 to help pay for the insurance necessary to run the shuttle on DNR property.  

Status of the Club’s Projects:
·     About 25 volunteers spent a Saturday morning in July mowing and trimming vegetation on both north and south launches.  The improvement to both launches was remarkable. 
·       The Club is hours, days or weeks away from getting the go-ahead to make the proposed improvements to the Cut.  Up to $6,000 has been authorized for the work, and we have everything ready to go on the project except a signed LUL.  The LUL has been promised repeatedly by DNR, but we expect the go-ahead in a few days.  The improvements will include widening and paving the entrance to the Cut at Tiger Mountain Road, installing a new gate, and grading and placing gravel on the road.  It will make the Cut a legal entrance to the interior Tiger Mountain road system, allowing emergency vehicles and the Shuttle to drive through.  Private vehicles will not be authorized to use the Cut. 
·       Volunteers have replaced the cables and bearings on the Club’s Rohn tower, and it has been mostly painted.  A design for the tower’s foundation has been completed and its proposed location approved by DNR.  We hope to install the tower on Tiger’s north launch.  If we are able to install it as planned, it will allow us to fly a windsock well above the 65-foot-tall trees on north launch, so that it will indicate wind from any direction.  We plan to install web cams on the tower and move Wind Talker to the tower, improving its accuracy.  About $3,800 is needed to complete installation of the tower.  That cost does not include webcams.  Funding for installation of the tower has not yet been approved. 
·        The Club sent a letter to the FAA requesting reconsideration of an FAA proposal which would lower the airspace ceiling at Tiger from 6,000 to 5,000 feet.  Lowering the ceiling would force hang and paragliders at Tiger and general aviation aircraft passing through the area into reduced airspace, greatly increasing the potential for dangerous encounters.  The FAA has yet to respond to our letter. 
·        Thanks in large part to Chris Amonson, the Club’s blog editor; there are several new articles and great photos on the club’s blog.  Chris has kept the blog active and it is a good place to go to read about other pilot’s experiences.  Feel free to write up your flying experience and share it with the rest of us. 
·       Andy Wood continues a good job of keeping the Club’s website up to date.  It is a great source of information about the Club’s flying sites and activities.  It also has links to weather information, USHPA, Leonardo and other useful sites. 
·        The AED (defibrillator) has been temporarily located under the outhouse at north launch.  Patti Fujii is arranging for a class to show us how to use it. 
·        King County placed crushed rock on the east side of the LZ parking lot, completing the enlarged parking area.  Rich Hass has been meeting with King County about additional improvements to the parking lot and the LZ. 
·        Club VP Lawrence Wallman and others participated in a meeting with Washington State Parks to get flying rights restored at Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island.  The Parks Department is now reviewing comments from the various interested parties.  We hope that paragliding will be restored at Ebey’s landing, at least on a trial basis.    
·       The club is participating in efforts to develop recreational property which could become a landing zone for flights from McDonald Mountain.  If we are able to acquire access to a landing zone, DNR will allow us to use launch sites on the mountain, opening up the mountain to hang gliding and paragliding.  Rich Hass, Paulo Escobar, John Schnebeck and Lawrence Wallman participated in a trip to McDonald Mountain to access possible sites for an LZ. 
·        The Club had a third Porta-Potty placed on the Tiger LZ to accommodate the heavy usage. 
·        Anti-Dog Poop signs have been posted on the Tiger LZ, advertising the County’s leash law and our desire not to have the property fouled with feces and urine. 
Updates to the Club Calendar:
·        The Tandem Fly-In was rained out on July 17 and is now scheduled for August 28.  
·        The Saddle fly-in was canceled, in part because of it’s proximity to Ken’s death, services, etc. 
·        The Baldy fly-in is tentatively scheduled for September 17-18, pending authorization from the land owner. 
·        The Women’s Fly-In at Chelan is scheduled for October 22 – 23.  If you have not attended it before, this fly-in usually starts with a get-together at Campbell’s on Friday night, and includes a costume party Saturday night at the Chelan airport pilot’s lounge.  Saturday night’s festivities include a pot-luck dinner, home-made chili, pie and costume contests, music, dancing and lots of fun. 
Club Finances:
Club Treasurer Beth Friesen reports that we currently have about $38,500 in the bank, not including receipts from Tandem Fly-In sales.   We have committed up to $6,000 for work on the cut. 

Our monthly meetings are enjoyable and informative and the food at Pogacha’s is very good.  Come out and enjoy the evening with your fellow pilots on the third Tuesday of the month. 
If you have an idea that might make flying at one of our sites safer or more enjoyable, please contact me or another of the board members.  We are always open to new ideas.   Our email addresses are on the club web site. 
Thanks, and have a great flight. 

Ralph Boirum
President, NWPC

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Still Life with Paraglider.

By Dave Masuda

Some months back when Chris asked me to write a NWPG blog post on photography my initial reaction was "Seriously? Take a look at the work you see each month in Cross Country. I think you're asking the wrong guy." But he's a persistent fellow, and so I committed to the assignment. The question then became, how do I approach this?

What I didn't want to do is browse through 12,000-plus images in my database (yes, yes, I am entirely inconsistent in editing metadata as I add photos) finding the couple dozen that might make me look like I know what I am doing. So plan B became, "Quickly skim my catalog, instinctively pick those that speak to you in some way and then retrospectively try to figure out why."

Here are the results. No particular order and likely no definable logic. And very possibly no broad appeal...

Paragliding photography as:
We are aviators, I suppose, and there is a plethora of aviation metaphors one might seek in capturing images. This ITV Saphir (circa 1990) was, at the time, believed to be one of the few wings capable of leaving a contrail. BTW, I still have this glider and fly it on New Year's Eve.

Curious that when we take paragliding images we tend to focus on the glider. But very often there is something far more interesting going on when you look for the human underneath the glider.

I really like these images. Perhaps gives you some insight into my sensibilities - for better or worse.

Go back and look at the last couple year's of cover photos of Cross Country. For me what makes these images stunning is not the glider - it's what behind the glider. In essence, great paragliding photos are great landscape photos that just happen to have a paraglider in them. Often tiny, and in the corner.

Given that the sky is commonly the canvas upon which we paint, taking advantage of the H20 phase change can be rewarding. sense.
If left to my own devices, I’d likely dress like this all the time:

Fortunately, my beautiful wife, Sarah, has volunteered to oversee my wardrobe. But on occasion I do have, I think, some sense of color. Blue sky, white clouds, black/yellow limestone? Capture a blue, white and black/yellow glider.

In the end, it’s why we fly, no?

Some shots just fall into your lap. Be ready for them.

... back-lighting
 Can be technically tricky, but rewarding.

Seeing a cedar forest from the hiking trail is an everyday experience. Seeing a cedar forest from the osprey’s viewpoint is entirely different.

…what you come home to...
Sure, gratuitously self-indulgent. Can’t help myself...

Take-aways? Here are mine:
1. Learn your camera. Auto-ISO can save many a shot - so can a tripod.
2. Learn from your photos. Why did this composition work but not that one?
3. Beware of the ruts. 95% of paragliding photos are essentially the same shot. Try something different.
4. Learn the software (I use Lightroom). No one - at least no one I know - captures an image that is not vastly improved with post-processing.
5. Finally, it’s not about the glider. It’s about the people and the places we cherish.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Northwest Paragliding Club Meeting

Location:Pogachas in Issaquah

Can-Am Black Mtn Flyin

The North Cascades Soaring Club is gearing up again to throw another great bi-wing fly-in. If you have never/ever attended this event you owe it to yourself to make the short drive up the Mt Baker highway just east of Bellingham to fly one of our best sites. Black Mt is a 4500' site with amazing views of the Mt Baker, the Cascades, the Fraser Valley, and the San Juans. Camping is adjacent to the park like landing zone next to beautiful Silver Lake so bring your wing, your family and get read to have fun! This year is a special event as it marks the 35th annual Can Am which was started as a friendly competition between American and Canadian glider pilots in 1976. We want to make this years event as competitive as the first so show your Canadian pride and come try to win the trophy back if you can!

Hiking with Dogs

Hiking with Dogs
By Dan Nelson

Through the last decade, the population of the United States—particularly the western states—has exhibited remarkable growth in two areas: hiking and dog ownership. Today, there are more hikers than ever before, and there are also more dog owners than at any time in history. That means the intersection of those two population segments—hikers with dogs—is booming, too.

Despite this growing affinity for dogs as pets, canines on trails continue to be a contentious issue. Some hikers feel domestic dogs have no place in the wilderness, citing cases of dogs attacking or molesting other hikers, harassing wildlife, and fouling trails and campsites. Yet, as with any trail user group, a small segment of the group creates the problems. With some care, understanding, and education, dogs can be tremendous trail users.

The key is education not only for the dogs and the dog owners but also for the general hiking public who will surely, at some time or another, encounter dogs on trails. People with sentiments against dogs on trails will successfully push for dog bans if dog owners continue to let their canines run freely up the trails, chasing wildlife (which, depending on the species pursued, could be a state or federal offense, punishable by sizable fines and/or jail time for dog owners) and harassing other hikers. Any unwanted approach of a hiker by a dog can be considered harassment.

Yet hikers create a dangerous precedent when they start advocating for the ban of some users—even canine trail users—merely because some of those users are behaving badly. With dogs already banned from some trails, trail “purists” are setting their sights on other bothersome uses. There are calls to outlaw trail runners on some trails, to ban certain styles of climbing (e.g., eliminate the use of fixed anchors anywhere in designated wilderness, and limit the amount of chalk used on big wall routes), and to severely limit the number of day hikers in some wildernesses.

The question is whether dogs are harmful to the natural environment, and the answer clearly is “no more so than hikers.” Just as there are responsible and irresponsible hikers, there are responsible and irresponsible dog owners. Dogs who are well controlled by their owners and picked up after by their owners can be among the least intrusive types of trail users. Animals restrained by leash or by good training stay on the trail, and they do no damage to the hard-packed tread (at least, far less than their two-legged friends). They don’t trample vegetation at campsites (to the degree humans tend to do). They are no more of a threat to water quality than other hikers (dogs should be led at least 200 feet from water sources when they need to defecate, and their waste should be buried—in other words, dogs should adhere to the same guidelines as humans). Done right, dogs can actually help hikers see more wildlife with less impact to those wild critters.

That has been my own experience hiking with dogs. A well-trained dog—one who doesn’t bark, who stays at heel or walks calmly on a short (less than ten feet) leash, and who obeys my vocal and hand-signal commands—increases my wildlife viewing opportunities substantially. That is, after all, why many dog breeds were created: to increase the likelihood of seeing animals during a hunt. That’s not to say dog owners should just rush out and hit the trail. Indeed, some wild areas are off limits by regulation to dogs, such as national parks and monuments. Know the land management rules before you set out. The hikes in this book were chosen because dogs are allowed. Best Hikes with Dogs However, trail regulations and trail conditions can change. Hikers should contact the land manager before every hike to find out the current regulation status and condition of the route. But what I would like to focus upon here are special considerations that dog owners must always bear in mind when traveling with their four-legged friends. Hiking in the Cascades is one of the most enjoyable pursuits you’ll ever experience, but it can also be one of the most deadly. All that beautiful, natural wilderness poses great danger to ill-prepared and unsuspecting hikers and their canines. A stroll through a sunny wildflower meadow at 6000 feet in the North Cascades can become a nightmare struggle through a slippery, sodden field of mud in a matter of moments. Thunderstorms can develop and blow in with little or no advance warning.

Hikers who plan to spend a day on the trail may twist an ankle while crossing a talus slope and end up having to the spend the night, waiting while someone makes the long hike out, summons medical personnel, and then leads them back to you. Dogs many sprain a knee or elbow, tear a pad, encounter a porcupine, or fall off a ledge.

The key to having an enjoyable and safe hike is being prepared—both you and the dog—not just for the conditions you expect to encounter but for the unexpected conditions, as well.