Texas 2000 XC Log
May 25 May 26 May 27 May 28 May 29 May 30 June 6 June 7 June 8 June 17
June 22 Last: July 1
Kim Csizmazia, and I are back in Hobbs chasing distance again, conditions are good as it has been a very, very dry spring here unlike last year when we could about water start on tow. Check last year's stories by clicking here.
What to do in Hobbs: click on this line. Hobbs is actually pretty cool, great Mexican food, pool, gym, running trails, etc.
May 25th: Arrived in Hobbs, good to be back with Crossroads! Staying at the Sixpence Inn, $135 for a double per week. Mike Foster is down for a week or so, good to have him. Kim and I did a quick tandem tow in the evening, as did Mike, who hadn't towed much before. Curt is a pro, I really like towing with him.
May 26th: Light winds, high pressure, I flew 15 miles early, dirted, went back to the airport and flew an afternoon 55 miles. Mike got out of the airport and landed at a local dairy farm twice, getting rides back to the hanger with the same guy both times. Locals are friendly.
May 27th: There are lots of hang pilots down here, so Curt proposes an XC challenge, $10 per pilot, winner take all. I'm fired up for it, the winds aloft are too light to really go far, but with some cash on the line it's a good incentive to stay in the air... Today we had light north winds, unusual for Hobbs, so I flew south in New Mexico, crossed into Texas and managed to scrabble across the Pecos River to land near the town of Pecos for 89 miles. Landed at 7:00 p.m. NM time after launching at 1:30! Kim and Mike chased, I was glad for it as I got quite low but was inspired by Mike's words of, "We have 4WD, go for it!" Beautiful flying, light but consistent climbs, got to 14,000 once, the flying here is so damn enjoyable, just work the sky and the ground. I'm flying a Gin Boomerang, this wing just makes me grin... I'll wait and reserve judgement on stability and performance, but my Graphics Comp says it goes really well, it just cuts through the air, no major whacks.
May 28th: The winds are high on the ground and light aloft, so we launch at about 12:00. Mike lands about 15 miles out to the NW and gets back to the hanger on his own, while Kim chases me as I drift due north. It's odd, there's a sheer at about 9,000 (five thousand agl) where the drift goes from North to South, but I have a very long (seven hour!) flight before landing near Portales for 104 miles. I was at 10,000 feet at 106 miles, but the retrieve options were dubious at best, so I glided back up wind to land just as Kim pulled up. Immediately several locals showed, one convinced that I'd jumped from a defective plane. Landed at about 7:00 again, so the days are shaping up well, we were always landing by 6:00 last year, I think the dryer fields are working a lot better later in the day. I found a really good dusty at about 500 agl to climb out in at 5:30! The Boomerang is definitely the most stable comp glider I've flown, plus it thermals beyond well, staying really coordinated and on-track even when I'm getting tossed about a bit. I look forward to learning this wing! The farthest hang flights are about 50 miles, so I'm hanging in first place in the XC challenge... A hang pilot asked me today if I was doing a lot of floating like in a hot air balloon, I had to say nope, sorry, these PGs are good but not quite zero sink... Kurt and Cheree throw a big old barbecue with lots of food and recreation including learning to windsurf on a giant skateboard in the dark, dangerous but fun. The vibe is good, we're all pilots chasing the same idea of long flights.
May 29th: The wind are again strong on the ground but light aloft, not ideal record conditions but good flying. The winds are strong enough on the ground that after watching me get sideways on tow Mike wisely bags it, so he and Kim chase me north over some serious tiger country. At one point I get down to within 100 feet of the ground, but am saved by a couple of crows who take me on a very low upwind glide into some light lift that goes back to 10,000! One of the coolest low saves I've ever had, the crows knew, I just followed along behind them way out in the middle of nowhere until we hit the lift. Kim did some nice four wheeling action to keep me in sight, I was glad as there was absolutely no chance for thumb retrieveal where I was... I end up with another 100 mile flight, and land going slightly backwards in smooth but strong wind. In three days I've gone three different directions. The XC challenge is in the bag.
May 30th: Mike knocks out a 15 mile flight, but I'm too wrecked from all the flying of the last three days and drive. Kim gets in one really nice tow but then gets worked and has a hard landing after a very short flight...No damage done but a few rasberrys, which Mike also has after a kiting excursion also resulted in a short flight. He wasn't wearing anything but a t shirt and shorts, but the road rash will most likely heal cleanly.
June 6th: We're back flying after a weekend business trip (Kim to Salt Lake, me to Boulder). Mike Foster flew in our absence, but not epic conditions. It's rained a fair amount in the last few days, but things are drying out. Today Mike Carr and Ross Robinson arrived, we towed up early this morning under some "moisture balls" that look like clouds but only have very weak lift under them. I think they happen when moisture cooks off the ground and condenses at relatively low altitudes, which makes for very frustrating flying as the sky looks great but the lift sucks. Mike Carr launched on his first tow at Hobbs, climbed out, then drifted and worked past Lovington for 30 miles. That's the way to start an XC trip! I had my worst launch of the trip and broke a vario, which I didn't figure out until on tow, so I landed and fixed a few things then re-towed, dirted early. My mind wasn't strong today. Ross landed near me. Good crew down here again, it's fun to fly with people.
June 7th: Windy would be the word for today, the cumies were getting blown to bits as they formed. Curt described the sky as "fast," that would be accurate. Bill Miller arrived last night, we're going to try and finish up our video on distance flying in Hobbs over the next two weeks, then edit it up and sell it for millions. Not. Bruce Wilson drove 22 hours from San Francisco, so we're back at full strength after losing Mike to his desk. He may be back.
I recently bought a Sony DSR PD100A, which is a trick three-chip video camera. It also has a "memory stick" that allows rapid transfer of still images to the computer, so I'll try that feature out as soon as I figure it out. My old digital bit it, so that's why there are no new pictures this year...
June 8th: Also windy today, but an afternoon lull suckered us out onto the runway. I launched first, and hit a boomer that broke my weak link after an excellent 2000+ tow. Bruce Wilson launched shortly afterword, and remained about five miles behind me as cruised from cloud to cloud. It was odd, winds on the ground were 15-25, but only about 5 at base; low we were hauling ass, but at base it was quite slow. We didn't launch until almost 2:00. The flying was brilliant, just crusing from cloud to cloud, some of the best I've had down here this year. The wind picked back up on the ground after Bruce and I launched, so Mike Carr wisely elected not to take off after getting drug around a bit. Bruce and I both got very low at about 4:00, but I managed to scrape out. Bruce wasn't lucky and didn't. At base a cloud I'd been keeping on eye on starting developing very, very quickly and dropping out along one edge, so I glided away from it but it was developing towards me faster than I could glide, so I decided to spiral down. It was about 15-20 miles away, but about 1000 feet above the ground my downwind speed was 50+. I was going to land backwards. I continued spiraling until about 500 over, then started setting up my landing over my shoulder. The air was very turbulent, the storm was now having an impact. About 300 AGL I took a really healthy frontal despite my best efforts. I thought about chucking, but the Boomerang was obviously coming back clean and I wasn't excited to go drifting downwind at 30... I'm quite impressed with the Boomerang, it seems to return to form relatively quickly; I took a few big whacks today inside a white thermal, each time the wing inspired confidence. Anyhow I landed safely going backwards about 10-15, collapsing the glider and doing the usual tuck and roll then run toward the glider. Exciting, but I had a mammoth soft field at my back. I balled the glider and immediately unclipped not wanting the real gust front to come through and work me... Bruce went about 75, me about 90. I definitely had well over 100 on glide, but with the cell developing so rapidly I think I made the right decision to land, I just wish I had made it earlier. This place can get real in a hurry. I think we pushed a bit today, but after a few days of no air your judgement may get impaired. Winds are forecast as high for tomorrow, then mellowing Saturday.
June 17, a week later.
Conditions have fully sucked for the last week. There is no other way to describe it; if the wind isn't blowing a hoolie then it's so stable that even the hawks are flapping. I had hoped to have some good news to report before updating this site, but I don't. We've managed a few evening flights, and there's a new cast of characters down ehre including Gordon Griese from Seattle and Tin from the Bay area, but they are not being rewarded at all for their patience in the last week. In short, frustration is high. The forecast changes about every 30 minutes, I don't think they have a clue what's happening for anything more than the next hour, and half the time that's wrong the weather channel... We're going to hang in here until Wednesday, when we go east to fly there for the weekend. Hope it's better wherever you are!
The last two days have been reasonable flying; Kim went XC a few miles every day, Dave and John also. Yesterday I toured around over the airport for a few hours shooting video, got some nice air to air of Tigne and Kim. Light winds meant no real distance possibilities, but conditions seem to be improving. Bruce Wilson left, Mike Foster came down for the weekend and was rewarded by some OK flying. We're flying today then heading to Hearne and Packsaddle for the XC clinic, perhaps stop in Hobbs on the way back through if conditions look good...
We have broken many records on this trip: most mexican food eaten in 30 days, most miles driven for flying, probably the most long flights in the US this year. But the big days simply haven't been big enough, and without them nothing works. I'm happy that we flew safely, flew well and generally had a good time. If you can do that on a paragliding trip then it's a success.
One consolation is that we visited Austin Airsports in Hearne, TX, for an XC Clinic, and had a good time. If I ever learn to fly hang gliders I think I'll do it there, did a tandem HG tug with Steve behind Neil in his Dragonfly, very cool way to rack up 1500 foot of vert in a hurry. Great people at Hearne, nice setting, thanks for having us! The next day we went to Hill Country Paragliding near Llanno, TX, and tried to fly packsaddle but were blown out. Hill Country Paragliding has a great facility built off the English model where you stay at a bed and breakfast for a week while learning to fly--civilized! They have their own training hill, Scooter tow, guest house, pro shop, etc. Of course, the day after we left someone went 65 miles from Pack. It's obvious this is a good XC site, I look forward to flying there in the future. Thanks to everyone who took the XC clinic, I hope ya fly FAR this year!
I'm now back in Canmore, running, climbing and even flying some, it's good to be home. I hope your spring is going well, happy flights.