There i was the week before at woodstock, sunday 11-15-98, my birthday, my lucky day i was telling myself, as i pulled into the parking lot at the lz. Ed reno and dave johnson were there. So, who is your observer, ed asked? Not fully knowing the hang 2 observer protocol: "Ah..well..ah..see,i..ah....talked to matthew before he lefted, and he said everyone was going to woodstock, then i tried to call joe gregor, but he had allready gone so i lefted him a message." Ed basically said, don't expect to fly, but there might be a chance for an afternoon flight if i could find an observer, so he walked the lz with me, thanks ed.
When we got to launch, half of me was relieved that my chances didn't seem to good. I hadn't flown for a couple months and this was a bit different than bill's hill. As the day progressed, and i set up my glider, i talked myself into wanting to fly, after all it was my birthday, and i ran three touchdowns in pee wee football, it was my lucky day. I guess my luck ran out, eventually i was told that i couldn't fly that day. I was pretty disapointed, but as i look back now, i understand why, and glad i didn't actually.
The next weekend, sat. 11/21/98, i contacted tom mcgowan as an observer. He was allready there and said it was looking good for an afternoon flight, and to come on out. I arrived at the lz and met mark cavanaugh, he walked the lz with me. Thanks mark. The conditions at launch were perfect for an hour or so, but tom was already soaring. It started picking up and becoming gusty, and i was hoping it wasn't going to keep building, as the forecast for the day had called for 15-25. Tom and mike came back up to launch, tom and i talked about my flight plan, and i was ready to be "THROWN OFF", as tom says.
The wind was coming straight up the slot, smooth and light. After a hang check and untangling a shoulder line i picked up the glider to see how it felt. It was perfect. Within seconds i launched. It happened so fast, i don't even remember saying clear. I always yelled out CLEAR, on the training hills. Somehow it didn't come out quite so bold this time. The launch felt good, straight out of the slot with no turbulance, I made sure i flew out a good distance, probably too far, before turning down the ridge. I started getting lift right away, it felt very natural and there wasn't any fear. I was finally soaring, back and forth staying between the two fingers, steadily climbing.
I seemed to be pretty high so I practiced turning, doing 360's figure eights, and stalls. The stalls were a bit of a surprise, it kind of takes the breath away. The sun was getting low and the view to the east was magical. I was in another world. I could have flown longer but I didn't know how long it would take me to get down, and the sun was sinking. I really had to stuff the bar and hold it in to get out over and past the lz to lose altitude. I came in high over the lz and circled it until I thought I should set up for final. As I got down pretty low I also got nervous. Everything was happening much faster than it was when I was way up high. I managed to end up toward the bottom of the lz, and turned it in and landed on my feet. I was calm and cool on the outside but on the inside I was overjoyed. Matthew and Karen were in the lz breaking down, no pun intended, and figured out that I had flown an hour and got about l000 feet above launch. I felt pretty lucky as it was only my fourth mountain flight. The three others were sled rides at Bill's Hill one day.
Thank you GOD,