Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Wednesday turned out pretty good.  We had two H2s fly from Zirks for the first time.  Congrats to Dave Gills and Ghassan Shaanon, aka, G-Man for their maiden flights at Mountaineer sites.  We'll make hillbillies out of them in no time.  Brad Barkley also made a rare appearance and rounded out the quartet of pilots.  The sky looked great and the winds at launch were mostly straight in around 10 mph with occasional gusts to 15 mph.  Dave launched first at about 3:30 PM and showed everyone it was soarable.  He chose to land after 20 minutes or so as he felt the air was a little bumpy for his tastes.  Ghassan launched next and also soared with the greatest of ease. He ended up getting almost an hour (his longest flight ever!).  Brad went next and got up without problem, but ended up getting scraped off the ridge after about 35 minutes,  I self-launched last and almost got scraped off with Brad, but found a ripping thermal at 400' below launch and was able to climb to 2700' msl (1200' over launch) getting about 45 minutes.  Everyone had reasonably good launches and good landings in the new (old) LZ with the only complication being that they were replacing the railroad crossing by Charlie's house so we had to hump our gliders and gear out of the LZ.  It was a fun day!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Big Butte

Hi Guys,

Attached is a small snippet of the beginning of my flight, and it goes some way to confirming that there was a remarkable change in wind direction, one that presumably accounted for the weird turbulence some of us encountered.  It shows my climb early in the flight when Jeff and I were at first together.  You will see how the climb began drifting to the NNW/N but at about 1,000 over launch it abruptly began drifting to the NE, having suddenly switched direction by about sixty degrees.  I don't know if I have ever seen a thermal change direction that abruptly before.

After leaving Arco I drove to Rock Springs, spent the night there with my friend Richard and then today drove to Steamboat Springs in hopes of flying there.  I met up with Kenny Grubbs in the lz, but the weather went to hell and we never went up the hill.  I hope you had better luck at King Mt.  I'll go to JZ's place tomorrow.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Aspen Mountain - Pete

Pete and Johnny foot launched from Aspen Mt, south of Rock Springs.  Johnny landed near where he did the other day (which I have since learned is right by a "secret" Scientologist's bunker for storing their records)  and as we had only gone to the hill late Pete decided to keep retrieval easy by trying to fly back to town against the strong cross/headwind.

 Eventually getting to 16K Pete made it easily and landed at his beloved grass golf course.  Pete reports it was a considerably turbulent flight, and he had gotten badly low off the mountain so, was quite tired by what was in fact a pretty quick flight of 1:13.   
Pete then came home to his friends Richard and Gabi for a very fine barbecue dinner.


July 9 Big Southern Butte  1:45 -  12,156 msl  34.7 straight; 37.1 holc

A truly great new site.  It’s an old volcanic cone sticking up two thousand feet out of the desert south of King Fucking Mountain.  Tip Rogers, Jeff Laughery and I bailed on the official meet to go flying.  Neither Tip nor I could stand the idea of waiting around for dithering group decision-making about when/where to fly.  So we went out into the desert to the  Butte where we hoped to avoid the predicted over-development at King.  After a long drive into the desert and then up to launch on a good, but steep dirt road we arrived at a beautifully rounded series of slope launches.  Tip started the day with an easy one-hop launch after which he sunk out quite far below launch before finally getting back up.  Jeff followed, with me going last.  I pretty quickly climbed out in somewhat trashy lift that abruptly shifted direction from SSE to SW at about 1,000 feet over launch.  At the start of the climb I was with Jeff but he missed the directional shift and I climbed out and left.  I would have been happy but for the fact that my damn harness’ zipper wouldn’t zip up and I was quite uncomfortable with the unzipped harness.

After that I never got low, in part due to the early reliability of the clouds, and in part due to my general conservatism. Flying cross-country from the Butte had two tactical difficulties: First, there really aren’t many roads out there.  One simply can’t afford to get low.  Second, the Idaho National Lab’s no-land-zone and Restricted airspace is just north of the Butte.  As we headed east we were confronted with bad retrieves, and the necessity of not allowing ourselves to be blown into the INL.   Adding to the difficulty was the fact that there was an airmass boundary that roughly paralleled the no-land zone to the south.  Staying clear of the INL meant that we were flying under bizarrely turbulent (and sometimes scarily so) shredded clouds beyond which it was blue.  In the INL airspace to the north the clouds were fat and normal, but one didn’t dare fly there to take advantage of them. 

In the end, Jeff landed at the Atomic City airstrip (12 miles) after having run out of roads and having had to head back to the airport and the nearby road.  Tipper landed on US 20 (18 miles) in the INL and was busted by the cops for having done so.  I was by then well in front of them and had finally gotten past the airspace and made it to the gap through the other tactical problem: the dangerous large lava flows in which one absolutely does not want to land.  But with Tip and Jeff on the ground and my with my damn harness’ stuck-open zipper I was happy to land.  Of course, Jeff and Tip had told me that they had experienced east winds upon landing, so that’s how I set up my landing…and had a light tailwind from the southwest, fortunately resulting in only a dropped basetube.  All in all it was an interesting day: a great new site, and a tactically challenging and rewarding flight. Had the friggin’ harness not screwed up I would have continued a bit farther, but as it was I was quite happy to land after a good flight. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ben and Motorcycle v Deer

A bit off topic, but Ben was hit by a deer while riding his Motorcycle up Hwy 32 in Tucker County WV.  Ben has 4 broken ribs, broken scapula,  and clavicle; and, punctured lung.  While in Hospital, he got an infection and pneumonia.  pulmonary embolism, and ARDS.

The deer is dead.

The motorcycle, a cute Yamaha TW 200, has bent handle bars.

The deer was crossing the road and Ben slowed up a bit to let her pass.  The deer then turned and rammed him.  Head butting him off the Motorcycle and breaking her legs.  They all landed in a heap, with the deer thrashing about as two drivers rounded the curve and stopped at the scene.

The two men approached and the first pulled a pistol out of his pocket and shot the deer, the second was an Emergency Responder (Stan).  He took charge of Ben, sorting him and recognizing him when he removed the helmet.   (Ben is also an Emergency Responder).

Life Flight to Trauma Center.  Expect everything to be resolved 100% in a few months.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

High Point

NNW 5 – 10 mph;  LE, Larry H, and JR get in another mid-week flight.  JR got briefly above the ridge, but was scraped off after about 20 minutes while LE said she got near cloud base, but didn’t mention a specific altitude.  Larry made it to 3600’ at one point.  Both got approx. one hour and everyone landed at the Fairgrounds LZ.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

High Point

WNW 5 – 15 mph;  Larryboy, John “Homer” McAllsiter (U2), Gardinator, Greg Beyer (Sport 2), JR, Ben, LE, and Shimmy Shimrock (PG) take a mid-week flight that works out well for everyone.  The day started a little strong which meant the PG pilots had to watch the hangies flying around until conditions mellowed enough for everyone to join in the fun.  Larryboy had the altitude gain of the day to 4700’ and ended up flying down the ridge to Zirks and then out for a landing at Barton’s LZ after an hour.  Greg bailed OTB to land at the Cumberland airport after getting an hour to avoid the complication of landing in the Fairgrounds LZ.  Homer soon followed Greg’s lead and opted for a nice landing at the airport after an hour.  Gardinator and JR were close to getting scraped off the ridge to the main LZ, but found a climb on the West Face with JR then bailing OTB to join Greg and Homer at the airport for 1.5 hours.  Ben, LE, and Shimmy were eventually able to get off the hill in the mellowing conditions with Ben and Le landing at the airport after 45 minutes.  Both Gardinator (two hours) and Shimmy (an hour) landed at the main Fairgrounds LZ.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

High Point

NNW 5 – 10 mph;  Pat H, JR, and Johan Ohlson (Icaro Laminar) experience the best Saturday conditions we’ve seen in a few years with strong climbs (500+ fpm) to almost 9000’.  The lack of a driver kept everyone local, but Pat and JR did venture south down the ridge to Zirks and then on to Pinnacle on a tour of the local sites.  After 1.5 hours, JR opted to land at Barton’s LZ while Pat flew back to the Fairgrounds in search of Johan who had not been heard on the radio for a while.  As it turned out, Johan opted to land at the Fairgrounds where his vehicle was parked and Pat chose to join him there, although that required a sacrifice to gods of aluminum.  Meanwhile, Larry H, Pete, and Larryboy Ball (T2) were aerotowing from a site near Columbus, Ohio called Wesmar and they experienced similar outstanding conditions, but actually did something with them.  Pete landed near Mineral Wells, WV for 98.7 miles, Larry Ball flew back to his farm near Coolville, Ohio for approx. 80 miles, and Larry Huffman got away from the airfield and landed after approx. 35 miles.  One other amazing thing about this day is that we had radio contact with Pete and Larry over a straight line distance of probably 175 miles.  Those two-meter handheld radios can really push a signal when everyone is transmitting from 9000’!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

High Point

High Pt;  NNW 5 – 10 mph;  Gardinator, JR, LE, Ben Herrick (UP Katana), and Krista Auchenbach (U-Turn Blacklight) arrive at launch to find reasonable conditions on a mostly blue day where the PGs outnumber the HGs for a change.  Everyone got up and soared although LE and Krista ended up getting low at the West Face where LE eventually succumbed to the pull of gravity after 45 minutes.  Krista was able to claw here way back above the ridge where she stayed for the remainder of the flight.  The climb rates started out pretty good (3 – 500 fpm) and folks were getting to 4500’, but as the day progressed, the sky got milkier as cloud cover moved in and conditions began to soften. Everyone landed at the Fairgounds LZ after getting between one and two hours of airtime.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Pinnacle;  ENE 5 – 8 mph;  Pete, Pat, Larry H, JR, and Mark Gardner (Talon) watch as the light and cross winds show little signs of improvement.  Eventually, Pete leads the lemmings off launch with Gardinator having the most exciting take-off, followed by Pat, Larry, and JR.  Everyone had sleds except for Larry who got about 50’ over launch for about five seconds.