The summer of 09 finished with a flourish...
I'm sitting at my desk... in the shop with the garage door open listening to a huge "Big Drop" rainstorm. The air is cooling and I think our string of perfect days is about to be broken. Wow... 14 flights at 5 different sites in 12 days and except for a couple they were 40 minutes or more. In the last week, I've reunited with guys I haven't seen in years and flown with some new guys just getting started. We have lost LZ's and gained new ones and even reclaimed an old favorite that everybody thought was lost forever.
This morning I was at Titan before civil twilight, like yesterday it was very calm and built slowly as the sun came up. When it was light enough to launch the wind was blowing 8mph from the SW. This is the first time I have flown the Eden since I busted some lines ant Vance Brand. I took off with John Sieb spotting to make sure the buggy would roll out properly. It did but the wing swung to the left with a nasty cravat in the tip. I got it overhead and taxied for a good 100 feet until I was able to pumped it out. I remember the same thing happining at the Salton Sea, I think it had something to do with the chevron set up and the lightness of the fabric. Next time I'll pay mor attention to the tips during the set-up.
The winds aloft were very different from the surface, not so much bouncy as switchy. I was being swung and pulled by errant currents. I tried changing altitude but found it was the same everywhere I went. So...after 20 minutes of being played like a puppet I decided to land and wait a bit.
Twenty minutes later it seemed to mellow so I went up again and this time it was bad in the first 100 feet. I stayed maybe 10 minutes and called it good for the day. Meanwhile John had taken off to the East and was going counter clockwise around the lake. Greg showed up, took off and didn't return for an hour and three quarters. I have to relearn this site. When the wind is SW or W it is best to go east over the open fields then turn in to the park. The west end of the park is going to be calm normally and expect it to get ratty returning west of the LZ. If I'd paid attention I think I could have found smoother air.
While I was waiting for him to return I wandered around the field and thought about my early days here. The first really great launch after the first Salton Sea. I'd run harder than ever before and when I launched it was like a rocket. Two Hundred feet a minute right off the ground! The time I let off the throttle getting into my seat and dived to the earth only to power up and swoop back up from 10 feet. The time I took off with the wing oscillating and how I swung back under and almost clipped the earth at high speed sideways. While I was walking around I stumbled into the site of my last footlaunch and found a big piece of prop from the crash. I brought it home as a keepsake and am looking at it now.
At 9:30 Greg came in, landing vertically in 15 mph winds. While we packed up a pick-up came into the field and Greg & I thought for sure we were busted. Until I saw that there was a paramotor on the back. It was Steve the firefighter who lives across from Titan. We stood around for a long time and caught up. The best news was that Rush Soccer had sold the field and it was now part of the Shay Home development that is 7 years off. We might be flying here for a long long time!!