Sunday, February 26, 2006
Not much to mention today. Went to Beechmont. I was the first to arrive. Jay and his student Mark met me 20 minutes later. Jay asked if i could throw Mark off whilst he talked him into the bombout. His last landing was pretty disastorous with a broken upright. Mark hadnt flown since before Christmas and if he was nervouse it didnt show.
Anyway Jay drove the 40 minute drive to the bombout, once there i gave Mark a hang check and assisted him out. A few last words of advice and he took off. Nice Launch. He flew straight down in lttle over 10 minutes and was set up nicely for an approach by Jay. Unfortunately he waited a bit long and ended up on his wheels. Although he almost got it right i was later told.
I was joined in the meantime by Lee, Josh (who wasnt happy i hadnt called him to let him know i was coming), Kenny, Ben, Warrick, his beautiful partner Cathy, Jonny and a few other Punters (paragliders). Most of us set up. Kenny was first in line with me second. A paraglider pilot with an old pink glider asked if he could launch before us, yep go right ahead we all said with the thought of a free wind teck on our minds.
So the Pink Punter set up and seemed to wait for ages before he took off. Once he did we were all shocked to see his radical flying behaviour. This knob flew straight for the right hand ridge. We thought he was going to change course before getting to low but he just kept going. He cleared the trees by only a meter or less and at one stage had to lift his legs to make it over some others. Once he was settled his flying manner didnt improve much at all and we all held our breath on quite a few occassions thinking he was going to die.
Anyway whilst waiting for him to launch i think we missed alot of the best lift. I to was a little to keen by this stage and probably payed the price for asking Kenny if he minded if i launced.
Kenny was more than happy with my decision to run off. I launched well and headed for the bowl. I instantly hit lift but only for a few seconds. From that point on i scratched and ended up bombing after only 20 minutes.
Most of the other eager pilots stood their ground after seeing me fly without success. Once i flew to the bombout i hit a nice therlmal which at around 6-7 hundred feet saw me gain a bit more height. I thought id be a legend and pull of a miracle recovery but unfortunately the damage had been done. I found the wind socks and noticed they were hardly blowing at all. I decided to land straight up the guts of the paddock and once in hang pulled heaps of speed on. The speed helped big time considering i hit a huge wind gradient and hit a last second sink pocket. I flew in fast with the ground flying past my knees. I chose my time and pushed as hard as i could. My arms were'nt up overly high but i still found myself landing well. I ran with the glider for about 4-5 steps to bleed of speed. I was extreemly happy with my landing in almost cross wind conditions and walked my glider to the far fence and collapsed in its shade while fumbling for my water.
I looked up to see Josh had launched with Kenny and Ben. I watched with envy as they ridge soared a while before seeing Josh loose the lift as well and head to the bombout. Josh landed well, although he flew quite a ways up the north paddock. He blammed it on a nil wind gradient. He flared quite early however and he parachuted up a meter or two. Luckily thats all that happened. Josh has stupidly stopped using his wheels and i now dislike being in the bombout whilst he lands in case he hurts himfelf. Ill definitely be the one taking him to hospital.
Josh immediately radiod Jay and asked if he could send Jonny down to pick us up. I cant believe he did that! but then if anyone was to be so bold it would be Josh. Jay radiod back saying Jonny picked him up yesterday and wasnt driving down again. His last words were " how good are you at oral sex?"
We both started packing whilst watching Kenny eventually glide towards the bomout with a tandem passenger. We both secretly desired him to bomb because we new we would get a free ride up if he did. Jonny alway picks Kenny up if he bombs. I was actually content with the thought of climbing the mountain. Luckily Kenny Bombed and Jonny started down to pick us up. Ten minutes later and Ben flew in nicely with a landing that mirrored my own.
We all started packing up when we noticed the pink punter maniack land way off in the distance well beyond the bombout boundaries. Jonny drove in and we loaded the Toyota dual cab 4wd ute with our harnesses and 4 hanggliders before noticing the pink punter running or hobbling quickly (he wasnt that fit and carried a few extra poundage) towards us in a frenzied fit. Once he reached us he asked if we could fit him in. Unfortunately we were totally packed and appologised saying there was no way. This wasnt what he wanted to hear however and he asked again and again. In the end we had to all get in the ute to show him there was definitley no room. Kenny did offer to take his glider and harness up, but he would have to start walking.
We arrived up top 45 minutes later with no guilt what so ever. Serve him right we thought. Maybe the walk would serve as a reflection period for his crazy eratic flying. We did mention to him he was a bit wreckless but it was water off a ducks back.
Anyway Josh decided to fly again and after launching battled endlessly to stay in the air. He automatically assumed id be picking him up and seemed a little put out when i said "not likely." "Hey!" if i wanted to go to the bombout again then id risk another flight" i said. As it turned out he scratched like he had never scratched before. In the end Jonny Jnr (worlds number 4 and Australias number 1) talked him into a few bits of lift that saw him eventually reach a descent height where he took over and got high enough to top land. Once up he immediately flew to the top landing field but not before being joined by a family of 3 huge wedge tailed eagles. They flew right next to him, a nice reward for such a grueling effort. His miraculous save reminded me of my save a couple of months ago (Hmmm... blog entry). Anyway even with Jonny's remote helping he did extreemly well to get up. Its the best flying ive seen him do to date.
By this time about 3 hours had passed since we sent the pink punter on his way. It was only as we were all getting ready to go that we noticed him walk down the road. He was absolutely coveres it cobler pegs, thorns and other seed bits and pieces. He looked absolutely knackered. He said he knew his way but he had to have gotten lost. Anyway serves himself right.
All up 20 minutes