Monday, November 14, 2011

Briar Patch

Forced by the TFR to limit our flight operations to a 4 nm radius around Dillingham Airfield on Monday, four intrepid pilots headed out there to investigate the remote possibility of scoring some airtime on a trade wind day. We figured if we could actually get some airtime at that fickle site on a random day like this, it would be our small way of sticking it to the man. We'd show the powers that be that we actually like it out there! Oh, no, please don't throw us in the briar patch!

Dillingham is a briar patch in more ways than one. We always seem to emerge from that launch bleeding. Usually from our shins. I have scars from all the times I've paid those dues. Today, it was Bill's turn to pay.

Also, the light and cross airflow up there has produced a lot of launch carnage in the past. And today was no different. JK dove through the gulch to the left of launch and broke five lines on a sharp rock as he plunged through, turning a quarter of his canopy into a flapping streamer, and the rest of it into an unhappy undulating mess. It looked pretty bad, but he calmly and carefully flew the damaged aircraft safely across the highway and power lines, and brought it down for a soft landing on the beach. That's the guy I want flying my 747! Here is the raw video of JK's death defying flight:

Denise launched next, and scratched for a while before heading to the beach. Bill graciously declined my offer to go next, so I launched, and caught some nice thermals to boost me up above the ridgeline, and then proceeded to explore in both directions. I played it safe and stayed within about 2 or 3 nm of the airfield both ways. Here is my video of the whole day, with photos and footage set to music:

Bill launched last, with help from JK and Denise, who had hiked back up to offer assistance. It really sucks to be the last guy launching up there. He finally got a nice inflation and got out of there, only to find a little piece of straw binding his B and C lines together, so he headed in to land right away. I waited until JK and Denise had hiked back down before landing, so JK could shoot a video. Here is JK's video of my landing:


Anonymous said...

great story short and video too!
nice job, I miss the dill.


Thom said...

Yup, I have missed the Dill too! every time I've been there. Many times hiking down, 1 scratch to sledder, I equipment failure ride to the beach, NOTE: now way near as bad as JK's.

That was an unbeleivable testement to gliders being able to fly in duress. JK that was great piloting to be able to make that landing. I know there is no time up there to kite and look at you wing so you go with what you got if you can get it over your head.

Congrats Alex on yet another taming of the Dill. She must like you, she has spit so many of the rest of us out.

I will not be defeated. I plan to sweet talk her into letting me fly her ridges. BUT if anyone offers to help me off that launch, I will never say no again. Right Bill!

Alex said...

I forgot to include this in my story: we saw whales breaching out there while we were on launch, the first ones I've seen this season. Welcome back, you beauties! I look forward to watching you for the next few months!