Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year's Day at Tantalus

Jim and Nick flew at Tantalus for the first time this New Year's Day, in strong easterly ridge lift. Jorge launched first, followed by me and the two first-timers. Getting back down to land on top was the hard part. Jim was last to make it down, showing off Scrappy's lawn mowing maneuver, just before the lift died off. Frank, Harris and Berndt shared the day with us up there. What a great way to start the new year!


Nick said...

It was a great way to get back into the saddle after 7 weeks of no flying! When I read on Windlines that there was a possibility of flying Tantalus, I jumped on it...remembering the painful feelings of withdrawl I had as I sat in Montgomery, AL in 40F temps, reading stories of people enjoying Tantalus! I'm really glad that Alex and Jorge were there to give me the prodding I needed to get off the ground. I felt a bit nervous to explore the mysterious nature of thermals with no good LZ to bail out to.

Jim looked lonely up there so I decide to provide him some company. After a not so graceful takeoff, I was up, up and away in familar ridge soaring conditions...apparently not a Tantalus norm. I felt immediately at home under the trusty mustang, which have served me so well in the past. My first order of business was to try to top land just to make sure I could do it. After all it's difficult to enjoy your flight when landing does not rank high amoung your various skills. It took many passes, each one lower and lower. It kind of reminded me of a childish, but funny game we used to play when flying in the AF. I called it "how low can you go?". It had nothing to do with flying, but the copilot and I would take turns talking to ATC using progressively lower baratone voices. Okay, you had to be there...

Back to the story: On my last pass I thought I was going to shack a landing in the middle of the LZ, but the wind started to pick me up and I almost aborted the landing. I saw Bernt running towards me and thought that maybe he could grab me so I headed towards him. Luckily that was all that was needed to get me the foot or so down. As I basked in the cheers of the onlookers, some of which got the privlege of feeling my Mustang, I contemplated my next flight. Jim made another bid to come down and validated the combined cushion/airbag concept of Prodesign's Mitos Air harness. After Jim's landing, we all stood around debating the merits of another flight since the winds had significantly died down. When Jim offer some tasty beverages as an alternative, the idea of another flight, at least at that moment, seemed quite silly. It's unfair that a $1 beverage can trump $4000 of paragliding equipment, but who says life is fair? Thanks for the carbonated refreshments Jim!

Inevitabily we felt a few promising gusts our scalps (more so on Alex's...less so on Jim's) and decided to give another go. Unfortunately, the wind gods were teasing us and we were not willing to trust the semblance of a "glass off" on this particular day.

A great way to start the New Year.

Alex said...

Great story, Nick! I landed shortly after I got in the air as well, mainly because one of my risers was pretty badly twisted, but also because I like to make sure I can topland before I relax in the air up there. And I just like toplanding anyway. Thanks to everyone there for a memorable day. Young photojournalist Ian sent a link to the pictures he took that day: