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.