Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tryin' the Zion

The forecast for yesterday was for continued strong trades, but it looked surprisingly flyable most of the day outside my window. I headed out to meet Maui Doug at Kahana in the afternoon. Which wing would I fly, though: my normal sized wing, or the tiny demo wing Scrappy had loaned me, the Zion 17? It was actually feeling light on the beach, with no whitecaps in the bay, and the readings were dipping down to average 11 mph on the sensor - so we both thought bigger wings were the best choice. We even had dreams of going downrange!

We hiked up with our bigger wings. From low launch I could see tons of texture out on the water, but it just wasn't quite reaching the hill or the beach, or even the sensor, apparently. But it wasn't a good sign for big wings. At this point I suspected I'd made a mistake. As soon as I launched, my suspicions were confirmed. I was practically parked. It was nuking. Darn it - I'd hiked up with the wrong wing! That's why I never want to own multiple wings! When you only have one, it's never the wrong wing, only the wrong conditions or the wrong day.

So I landed right away, packed up, and hiked to upper north launch with the Zion 17 demo wing. JeffMc showed up and hiked the east ridge, in hopes of a lull to try out his new Factor 2, but he ended up hiking down to wait for a nicer day for that virgin flight. Thom, Duck and Harvey were down at the LZ, but because of time constraints and other issues they were all just hanging out and watching the fun.

I only have one working harness right now, which is my XC pod harness, but Scrappy had also loaned me an old acro harness he got from Dave, with no reserve in it, in case I wanted to try a more minimal setup. So another choice had to be made. This time I think I made the right one the first time! I decided to try the pod, because it had a reserve, and because of the comfort factor of already being dialed into it. Of course it might be a little awkward to fly a mini wing with an XC harness. I've only ever tried Scot's miniwing and harness, which is a barely a harness at all.

But after an easy launch I was soon darting comfortably around above the north ridge. The sensor had climbed to average 16, and it was definitely feeling strong. These conditions were probably just about as much as I'd ever want to play in. I moved the trimmers to the middle position, which seemed about right. I'm more curious about the lower end of what's soarable for this wing, but it was good to try a strong day for the first flight, so I didn't risk sinking out. Another nice thing about flying the pod on this day: it was freezing up there! It was a chilly day to begin with, and on top of that, I was racing around at 30 mph. My ears were practically icing up! But at least my lower body was warm!

By this time Maui Doug had landed and was hiking back up with his tiniest wing, just in time to shoot some video of my flight before I headed in for refreshments. The landing was fun - I came screaming down the beach right in front of Thom and Duck and hooked it into the wind at the last moment. Probably should have tried something more conservative, but I'm glad it worked out for me this time! I hollered out loud for sheer joy. Thom said, wow, you must have really enjoyed that flight! I said, the flight was okay, but mostly I'm just happy to have survived it! I always feel that way after flying these tiny wings in strong conditions! Thanks to Thom for the ride to launch and for the lovely refreshments. Looks like today and tomorrow might be strong again, so hopefully I'll get a few more chances to fly this little toy. I can definitely see why Frank likes his so much! Thanks to Scrappy for sharing.


Stalker said...

Alex - sorry so late with the footage, but FWIW, here it is: http://vimeo.com/32543721

frank said...

Yeah Alex, after originally flying the Zion in strong conditions I find I enjoy it best in mellow conditions launching at Cactus when it's a tad too strong for regular wings. The landings are are easier and not as fast as I thought they would be. It looks pretty good with a pod. It's a fun ride when you know you're just going to stay local.

Thom said...

Great, like I didn't have enough wings already. Looks like it's going to be mini wing year, La Nina, or whatever you call it.

Starting Jan 1, 2012 would like to see a count of how many days flown. as a little counter on top of chat.
Not who but just a number
"Day 365/364 Flown"