Thursday Jun 26, 2008

Trying hang gliding again

A few years after I joined Sun I took up a sport I'd long been interested in - hang gliding. But then after two years of it - learning the basics of flying and actually managing to find a thermal or two and gain a modest amount of altitude - I found myself frustrated with the speed of my progress, the flight characteristics of my glider. And then I had to deal with some major life changes (loosing first one parent, then the second), and the years passed by with my glider gathering dust and mildew in the garage.

As part of a major house cleaning, I decide I needed to either finally sell it all, or give it one last go. I'm giving it one last go.

So I hooked back up with Pat Denevan of Mission Soaring Center in Milpitas, who suggested I try out their new-since-I-was-in-the-sport winch towing setup at their Hollister lesson site (Google Map's satellite view shows hang gliders on the ground there).

So a couple of weekends ago, I packed up my Wills Wing 195 Falcon, harness, helmet, gloves, and knee-pads, and headed down to Hollister for my first bit of hang-gliding in 7 years. I strapped my Canon Powershot G9 digicam to the tail of the glider, and took some videos to share with y'all. First up is a 30 second video of my first flight in 7 years - from the 40 foot bunny hill in Hollister. Next is a 4 and a half minute video of my first tow, up to 866 feet. My Flytec 4020 Vario captured the altitude data and variometer data of the flight. [Note: see the Theora FAQ for info on how to play the video files if you are unfamiliar with open source Ogg Theora video format]

As to whether I will stick with hang gliding this time... the jury is still out. These towed flights (both in this first weekend, and again a weekend later) have helped me regain my flight skills, and reminded me of both the things I like and dislike about the sport. Trying a more modern Falcon 2 glider gave me a taste of what better performance can give me. I hope to soon try flying the Wills Wing Sport 2 glider, to have a few longer flights off of Ed Levin, and see if I can't fulfill the remaining requirements for the Hang 3 rating so I can try ridge soaring at Fort Funston.

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Peter Korn

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