Tuesday, March 27, 2012


First, I gotta say, "Free flight my a**". No such thing! That hike up to north launch like to kill me! But I made it. I didn't die … just felt like it, that's all. I finally arrived at launch and found Nick patiently waiting for me. After a few minutes' rest, I finally realized the hike didn't kill me, and decided to lay out my gear.

Nick helped me make sure I was hooked in right, and its a good thing, because shortly thereafter, I made my first mistake of the day. I went to pop Tequil up a little to re-check my lines and build my wall, and I gave her way too much As and nowhere near enough Cs. Tequil came straight up, taking me with her. I did manage to get a few steps up the hill and get partially turned around before getting yanked skyward. I could hear Nick yelling "Fly it, fly it", and I did not think that I had any real choice at that point.

I got into my harness and banked left. Lift was no problem, and on Nick's word, I turned back to the right, at which point I must have flown into some mean rotor, cause I heard Tequil groan. She banked hard right straight towards the mountain, moving super fast. I pulled left brake, and she responded immediately with a comforting turn back to the right and a big reduction in speed. "WHEW!" Later I found out according to Nick that groan Tequil made was the sound of a 30% collapse. I heard it and felt it but it happened too fast for me to look up and actually see what the wing was doing.

Things calmed down after that, and Tequil and I had a nice "getting to know you better" session. It was during this session that I made my second mistake. I noticed an Iwa bird. (Is that right? Iwa??) Anyways, a bird was soaring with me for a little while, and I totally focused on him, and lost track of where I was at. When I did look down, I realized I was in a place I wasn't supposed to be: back in the valley. I started to push out, and sure enough, right about then someone radioed me to warn me to get back out front. No problem with Tequil. I didn't even need speed bar -- just hands up.

A little while after that, Scrappy called me in, and did a great job talking me down. I made my third mistake on landing, and landed slightly off balance, as you can all see by Bonnie's video. Mcstalker was kind enough to make a similar landing, so that I wouldn't feel so bad. What a great guy!

Okay. 3 Mistakes Made … 4 Lessons Learned.
  1. Never hook into a wing on launch until you are absolutely ready fly.
  2. Never lose track of where you are or where you are headed.
  3. On landing into the wind, lean forward and be ready for the wing to try and pull you back. Maybe I should have let up on the brakes after landing to reduce the backwards pull?
  4. Tequil is NOT like the Makalu. Things happpen a lot quicker on her and she responds to a lot less input.
Lookin' forward to #40. See you monkeys in the air soon!


Mike F said...

Big Mike, congratulations on your first flight off KNA. 5-0 Mike

Joey said...

Way to go Mike..now the addiction sets in ;) hahaha

Its good to see you are learning your own lessons, just don't repeat them is the key. As for you falling on your arse, just let your hands up after your flare, turn around and kite the wing..you got it.
also, if you look at Mcstalkers landing in the vid, he actually had too much flare and stalled his wing just before touch down, another good lesson for ya..
You are gonna make some mistakes man, just listen to others, learn from theirs and your mistakes and fly safe brother.. See ya up there :)


Bon Bon said...

Congrats on your flight, Big Mike! It was nice of Nikki and Scrappy to take you into their hands and help you out; that's a lot of pressure on a person. It was getting in the late evening and the tide was coming up, which left you with a lot less beach to land on. We were all standing by, just in case, ready to go in the water after you, in case you landed a bit too long.

You did a good job, but you are still pretty new and it's probably a good idea to keep flyin' with Reaper for a while.

I feel sorry for Scrappy, everyone was yellin' in his ear "tell him to 'do this', tell him to 'do that.'" Their hands were nervously on their heads, teeth cringed. I wish I could have gotten that on film, it was rather hysterical - the back seat radio driving. (I have about 17,000 (subtract a zero) pictures on my phone and ran out of space to film that part.) Needless to say, we were a bit nervous watching you come in.

Keep up the good work, see you up there!

Thom said...

Yo, Mike, congrats and you owe Scrappy and Nikki.

I was never allowed to launch without an instructor present, I hiked up many times to get turned around and sent back down. So if your thinking hiking up is a killer going down is not so fun either, but better than launching and getting into trouble.

Your new machine looks great in the air. As Bonnie said better to be flying the first few with Reaper on your shoulder.

Fly Safe and Smart and you'll fly long time.

congrats on 39 and many more.

Stalker said...

Trying hard not to sound defensive here, but I can't help but to provide a little context on my landing in that video... OK, I AM being defensive but still, if you're going to take away a lesson from something, it should be the right one... :)

That was my first flight after tearing ligaments in my foot last month. In that last moment before touching down, I just didn't have the confidence to plant my foot and I bailed into an improvised PLF sort of thing - it was only sand after all. When you see me burying the brakes, that was just my little moment of panic as I realized it wasn't going to be the tip-toe landing I had hoped for. With a healthy foot, the landing speed would have been no issue and I would never have buried the brakes like that. Hell, with a healthy foot, I wouldn't have come to the beach at all, I would have just top landed. I was coming in after only 10 minutes because of rain drops and very north wind.

In my opinion, my error was actually in my approach. When it started to sprinkle and the wind went VERY north, I had to head to the beach (I actually started to set up a top landing but thought better of it). I was chased from north ridge to the beach by a cat's paw (so the wind had briefly swung due N or NNW). I went "long" on purpose to hit the far side of the LZ and avoid the landfall of the cat's paw. But, I never really turned completely back into the wind on that final little hook turn and just sort of slid/crabbed sideways, coming in only a litte faster than I thought my tender foot could handle.

There's a few ways I could have set it up better so that my final turn was directly into the wind and my landing slower. But honestly, before that last few feet of altitude when I panicked, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't be able handle landing on some nice soft sand, even if it wasn't quite at tip-toe speed.


Alex said...

Jeff, don't worry about it. It's not like we don't all occasionally have an awkward landing, even with two healthy feet. We just hope no one captures it on video! But anyway, you know what they say: the best revenge is landing well. I know after your foot heals you will show off plenty of good landings, and hopefully at least one will make it onto youtube! :-)

Bon Bon said...

Im glad you cleared that up, Jeff. I knew that's why you landed like that, and i sure as heck didnt mean to cause such a commotion by posting it. I didnt think it was that big of deal, I mean, you did land safely.

Stalker said...

It wasn't a big deal or a commotion - sorry for getting all emo. Just a stupid pride thing :) Yup - we all have the occasional bad launch or landing and, at this stage, I'm not ashamed of those - nothing a band-aid and Torpedo won't cure ;) But in this particular case, it wasn't a skills thing or pilot error, IMO - for all intents and purposes, that landing was mostly intentional, as ugly as it was.

Anyways - really, not that big of a deal, sorry for whining.

MauiDoug said...

Nice flight Mike on a very challenging wind direction! The PUN sensor was 22 degees when you launched into rotor. Always remember to crab or lean away from the terain while you are scratching. That way if you get a rotor induced collapse you will hopefully still fly straight and not do a 90 degree turn into the rocks or trees. Your new wing looks awesome! See you in the air!
Fly safe! Mdoug