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.