Monday, April 30, 2007

The Baptism

It seemed like an ordinary Sunday, I drove to Makapuu to find Nick assymetric spiralling down to a landing, he saw me off Crazy's and headed off. The conditions were moderate and I was just feeling like a relaxing flight, so I buzzed around hoping the clouds would lift so I might venture downrange.

I could hear on the radio Don, Russell and the gang down in Hauula and Reaper back at Kahana. I was thinking it might be fun to fly there, but cloudbase only went from 1800' to 2200' in the hour or so I was airborne, hardly enough for a downranger in fairly strong conditions. I got cold and went in and landed.

Once warmed up at the LZ, I got to thinking that my flying was getting a bit stale, with nothing too new lately. So I decided that I would work on my stalls and spins in order to progress ultimately to helicopters. I also realized that I had never actually stalled the G-Force, which at 18m2 is quite dynamic.

So I fly out over Black Island and stall the glider at about 1200', it stalls easily enough but everytime I attempt an exit it shoots out diagnally and starts to spin, so about on my fourth attempted exit, and about 600' were are flying normally again. Not pretty but I didn't get wet either.

I fly back to the hill to lick my wounds, or count my blessings, and ponder what I was doing wrong, I decide that I am over controlling such a sensitive little glider. Out I go again to put the demons to rest. At 1400' and even further out I stall the glider and get it out on the first try, so I stall it again and do it right again, let out a shout and even do a little victory SAT.

I figure I got them out first crack, but more on luck than on a sense of control, so even though it is getting late I figure I will go one more time. I have to admit that I actually enjoy flailing around up there, though slightly frustrated that I haven't got the exit to feel right.

So at 1100' and not so far out I stall it again, I try to exit and the glider shoots out diagnally and starts to spin, I stall it again to keep it from really getting bad and exit again. Needless to say at least two times when it shoots it looks like I will fly off only to collapse and send me spinning the other way. So after six or seven attempts and no exit I start to seriously consider the parachute as the water is now a lot closer.

I think I try two more spinning exits until I can't ignore the water much longer. I actually contemplate going into the water like this, but decide against it. I pass my right brake to my left hand and reach down and yank the handle, I look down and there is that bright yellow parachute hanging below me, up it goes on my right side, I pull in my right arm so it doesn't snag on the bridle, and "poof" we have a nice parachute. I look back at my glider and it a going around in kind of a low pressure SAT, except for the fact that is flying backwards. I yank on some back lines and the glider arcs down underneath me fully inflated, but before it climbs back up it collapses and I am blasted with colored spaghetti from below. The lines trying to cinch up around my feet bother me most since I will be swimming momentarily.

Into the water I splash down, forty yards from the edge of the rocks in front of the tide pools by the LZ. The parachute is still inflated and pulling me gently up the rocks, the problem is the glider behind me is starting to snag the coral heads. I climb my bridle and pull down the apex to kill the parachute for good. I unzip my chect pocket to see if my cellphone is still working to call of the fire guys, I stand up on a coral head and pump two fists in the air to cheers from the thirty or so people on the beach, and to get the message across that I am okay and don't need Fire.

Being in the surf now I figure I should probably get out of the harness, and now the glider is really starting to snag so I disconnect the risers. I start hauling that wet mess up onto the rocks and Nightshift's buddy Darrell walks out on the reef to give me a hand. Shortly after Billy, from Kaneohe, strolls out with three beers and insists I must drink to my good fortune. Thanks Billy. We get the mess back to the parking lot and I fetch my van from Crazy's and take it all to the pool.

I have a rip in the glider and snapped a few lines. Ruined another cellphone. As for myself, not a scratch. The thing is I never felt any panic, just perfect focus, I almost enjoyed the ride.

Someone let me know who to go for for quality glider repairs as the G-force needs some TLC.

I was talking to my friend Tracy, a fireman, tonight. He reminded me that I told him yesterday that that if they get a call for a paraglider in the water at Makapuu than it is probably me. I guess my sense of humor gets the best of me sometimes. Enjoy.


Anonymous said...

....and the coral gives it's life for you... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Call Bill Anderson at Rising Air for quality. He's in Idaho, so it can take two weeks or so to get it back.

Otherwise check with Skydive Chris, as there is a Rigger on the North shore who could probably do it... Maybe Jimmie knows him?

All I can say is "Luck of the Irish, Dave"

Was that your 1st reserve ride?


Suicide said...

Aloha, this is Suicide . . . this damned thing is not letting me post . . . AGAIN . . . even though I just updated my Google account yesterday.

Dave . . . I am sooooooo glad that you are OK.

George Rivera is the rigger that Reaper is talking about. He is a "Master Rigger."

He fixed my Volcan . . . it was in pretty bad shape, but the repair looks perfect. It flys very well as a result of his work.

I spoke with the folks at Rising Air before I took it up to Dillingham. They seemed confident that he would do a good job.

He finished the job in just over one week (it would have been done sooner, but he was very busy at the time) and he only charged me $180.00 for the repair; I saved $140.00 worth of shipping charges.

Overall . . . a very positive experience.

Here is George's telephone numeber:(808) 342-3484


Nick said...


Glad you're alright! Really Dave, I believed you when you told me that it was no problem getting that reserve out, you didn't have to go and prove it! I hope I didn't jinx you with our extended conversation about deploying your reserve. If you need any help with your stall exits, let me know...I read about them somewhere and occasionally I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express.

Brazilian Ray said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing!
glad you're ok!!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info guys, I think I will give Bill at Rising Air a call since it is my favorite glider, when inflated that is.

It is kind of ironic about all that talk about reserves beforehand. I will probably stick to highway rest stops to work on my stall exit, thanks Nick.

Also, Jorge warned me about stall sensitivity and the need to control odd angle exits on the small gliders, I guess I know what he was talking about now.

That was my second reserve toss in a year, the last one was at Kahana trying something stupid as well. I do believe in repacking annually, I guess. DAVE

paliglydr said...

Geeze, Fireman. Glad to hear you didn't damage your pelt. Glider are easy to fix, and I'm sure you'll soon have your little friend sorted out. I heard you Makapuu lads from Kahana, but nobody answered me when I called. Figger'd it musta been sumthin' I said....

C U aloft,


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,
Just so you know. Mine is doing the same thing. I no longer use the deep stall as an upset recovery procedure with this wing.
Stall recovery is unpredicable as hell. I let the wing fly right at the bottom of the first post stall pendulum in an effort to keep it somewhat controlable. It is the only way I have found to stop the cravats, spins and surges. Substantially different than the Ganster. Fly safe. Don't get hurt.

firedave said...

Thanks Ray! It is good to hear from someone doing the same, and yours is only 15m2.

Interesting, my glider suffered only one tear, unlike my lines, which I assumed was from getting snagged on the reef hauling it out. But the lone tear is from the leading edge back, on the underside of the glider,in the seam of the center cell, about 2 ft. long, along with a cross strap. In other words, between the center "A"'s. This happens to be the highest stress area of a glider, and I was stressing it that day.
There is no way to say if it happened in the water or the air, but if it did happen in the air the blownout cell might hamper reinflation.

firedave said...

As a final bit of CSI, Bill Anderson at Rising Air fixed the glider. He told me all the attachment points and cross tapes were torn inside the center cell of the glider. Also on to the center A and B lines were snapped. That explains why I couldn't get the glider to recover.

Would anyone like to buy a slightly used G-Force?

I didn't think so!