Monday, September 14, 2009

Inspiration to All

I started flying at the age of 45, and when I got addicted, as many of us have, I started to ponder my life span as a paraglider pilot and an active member of the Oahu Flying Monkeys. Ken Berry, I believe, might be the oldest active paraglider pilot of our team. I have not yet had a chance to fly with him, but still I have hopes that he will venture back to the islands. (Hint, hint, hint - I know you read these stories occasionally.) But Monday, September 14, 2009 will be a day I will never forget.

Dave Taratko's Dad, age 85, flew out of Crazy Man's launch connected to our Fireman Dave, his son, and it was not easy.

The launch there has the worst footing around, so Jim, Big Island Chris and I aided this hero of pilots in his record flight. We eased him down the hill toward launch position and he was slightly taken aback at the help he was receiving. I told him everyone falls getting into position here, so I reminded him of Joey's little butt slide and he just laughed. He was eager to get off the ground.

On the first launch attempt, the wing did not stay up, and they landed just below the foot pad, with no injuries other than pride and a scrape on Dad's knee. He got up to his feet and was still eager to fly. Now I know where Dave gets his hiking ability from - I actually had to tell this 85 year old guy to slow down while we edged back to the foot position so I could catch up. He again was eager to go.

Second time's a charm - they took off with ease and soared for over an hour. I did not see the landing, so others can comment on that, but we all heard that he did not want to land, he just wanted to fly … damn Sky-alis is still addictive at that age … ain't it GREAT!

Dave gave me a call on the way to dinner to say thanks for helping launch his dad. I said it was an honor and an inspiration: your dad has now set the standard for all of us to aspire to, and has extended the shelf life of our infamous addiction.

We all start flying in the front and that is what gets us hooked, and so we should fly until we are in the front again. To all good Monkeys: keep flying and teaching the upcoming chimps, we will need them for the epic flights in our Golden years.

I raise a Torpedo now and will raise many in the future to the eldest of the Oahu Flying Monkeys. Congrats, and we will see you next year for your 86th Birthday flight.


8 comments:

Thom said...

Alex if you have some other pics feel add them in.

Anonymous said...

Thom, I have also had the opportunity to meet Dave's father when he flew with him sometime last year. I now know where Dave gets his get up and go from! I also started flying relatively late (39), and if I can keep from messing up any ACRO, plan to fly for a very very long time.

See all you cats when I come back for ten days in November!

Jon

kenberry said...

Nice post! Hey, I'm a young fellow, enrolled in college, again! What a hoot, to stop by and seeing me maligned as as old futz like Reaper! Thom, I remember you as a novice! Way to go! I visited while on assignment, critiquing web sites and this one is outstanding, thanks to Alex! So much better than other PG web sites! I don't visit often, though, because it makes me homesick! Flapper called yesterday to urge me over there next month! Hope I can join him!!!

Thom said...

Sorry about the age thing Ken it is just a number after all and Gene on the Big Island has you beat he is 72 years old and still does running backward launches off Kealakekua. Hope to fly with you soon.

Alex said...

Nice writeup, Thom! I added my picture to the story just now.

firedave said...

Great write up Thom.
I just want to say thanks again for all the help, and all you guys made my father's flight possible.
He flew last year, but I think he wasn't as relaxed as this time. He was super stoked to be in the air, but was just as stoked to be around all you guys and girls. It is to step back and look around at our gang when we are doing our thing. I am impressed with all of you and am proud to share my addiction with you.
After about 30 minutes at the cooling altitudes, I asked my Dad if we should land. He asked my why, we have nowhere else we want to go. I flew him until almost dark.

I told him to keep his feet up on landing, and did a nice flare onto my feet. Unfortunately, he had 2 feet more until the ground and bumped on his butt.

He was telling everyone, that we crashed on takeoff and crashed on landing, and it seems he had more fun because of it (we must be related).

On the way home he told me that he wanted to take up paragliding for himself, I think he was serious. You guys better start lifting weights and I am going have to buy a truckload of beer.

Thanks all.

firedave said...

Oh, and his name is Bill.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Bill. That was awesome. And yea we will keep on teaching the young fellas as long as I can..

Reaper