This story sent by Craig Shelton to the CHGPA listserv on 6/10/97.

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I am a mountain pilot!!

Passed the Hang 2 test Friday night, June 6, then on Saturday the 7th, John Middleton took me to Bill's HIll. Spent the afternoon watching {jealously} almost everyone soar the ridge..overcast, a little cool, and great air. Dan Tomlinson set a new personal record with 1:35 in the air. Mark Fink took his paraglider higher than many of the hang gliders. I watched Kelly soaring back and forth along the ridge for a major part of the afternoon, too. Even Eddie Miller abandoned his back yard site at High Rock to come soar Bill's..and spent all afternoon in the air.

Shortly after 5:00. John landed his RamAir so he could push me off in the gentler evening breeze. About that time most of the rest of the gliders in the air settled out, too. John and Judy McCarty wired me off into very smooth, light wind straight in. I took a LONG time at launch getting the nerve to go, but once in the air it was great! I was able to make about four passes along the ridge in front of launch. Never got above launch, but was holding altitude nicely. Once I started settling a little, John had me point to the LZ. Picked up a little lift over the trees, so he told me to try a 360 .. my first! It was great to have enough room to really work on these turns. Went on out to the LZ and did a figure 8 setup over the north end, landing with a gentle plop in the 4' grass. I wish I had nailed my flare, but was on the ground safely. Total time of this extended sled was about six minutes. I was pumped up!

We went back up to launch, and I did it all over again, launching about 7:05! This time I was able to go off launch must faster ..knowing that I really could. Thanks a 2d time to John and Judy for wiring me off. This was another extended sled, about 5 minutes, only 2 passes along the ridge, and no 360's, but some fun turn practice over the edge of the LZ. Blew the flare again (dammit), but it was another safe, easy landing. John followed me down in his paraglider, so he got a dual flight day. Life is great.

It was back to the training hill Sunday at Oregon Ridge to work on those landings. I WILL get my landings in shape! Many thanks to John for two years of getting me ready and pushing me off the hill, to Dan for a lot of advice and moral support, as well as the celebratory beers, and to Judy for being on that wire at launch.

Craig Shelton