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.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ken Blanchard

Tribute to a great guy who left too soon.

Submitted by Dave Norwood

Submitted by Gene Beaver

submitted by Frewsy  

submitted by Gilead Almosnino