Ah. Another Saturday, another 5:30AM alarm, another drive to Lookout Mountain Flight Park. Today is supposed to be a big day. Pat will re-clear for his mountain flight, we will each do a tandem flight with a real hang gliding pilot, and then I will try to set aside my fears enough to play photographer while Pat jumps, I mean, flies off the mountain.
The gate to the training hills is already open at 7:40AM. When we get to the parking lot, it’s nearly full. Between the crowd and the newly formed stream running through the breakdown area, nearly every semi-dry area for set up is occupied with a glider in some stage of assembly. We feel like we’re behind schedule.
Once my glider is assembled, I decide to carry it up to the top of the big hill instead of riding up on the trailer–I need to warm up my legs. It’s quite a warm up! I’m sweating and out of breath by the time I get to the top of the hill.
I do not fly well today. I manage to do a 90 degree turn successfully and start working on reversing 45 degree turns (you turn 45 degrees to the right and then 45 degrees to the left in one 10 second flight). I keep messing up my landings and end up banging my head a couple of times. Thank goodness for the helmet.
Pat re-clears in three flights. By mid-morning, I’m spent and have only passed 3 tests. I don’t know who’s more tired, me or Tisen. He’s been running up and down the hills all day and both of us are gimping.
We head up to the office to check in and see if Pat will be able to fly. They send us down for our tandem flights immediately because the wind is picking up. By the time we get there, the wind has a mind of its own. A lone pilot bounces around in the wind, trying to land. She gets dropped and picked up by the wind, creating the impression the glider is on an invisible string and someone up on the mountain is playing with it like a yo-yo. We won’t be doing any tandem flights and Pat won’t be flying off the mountain today. We head on home, me relieved. I’m not sure I’m ready to watch Pat go off the mountain launch.
When I review the videos from today, I have to laugh. On several flights, the helmet cam tipped over and filmed my face. Because of the stabilization in the camera, it gives the appearance that my head is perfectly still and everything is moving around it. For some reason, you can’t see when I hit my head, but these are funny enough (at least to me) I thought I would share a couple of rough landings from this view. I also threw in a regular video just for good measure. Enjoy!