Tuesday, June 25, 2013


No flying - friends abound.

Without question the weather has played her hand with a Royal Flush. There will be no beating her in the showdown. The only wise move is to fold and wait for the next hand. In the mean time as the hand plays out we sit at the table and banter about with good friends, old friends and new friends. It can be a bit much for some but they will go to the hills to hide for a while or retreat to their tents and chill. But after a while a bit of boredom sets in and they reemerge to take sustenance and conversation.

Yesterday I found myself in the Crash Pad space for the first time. A lovely dal energy: flowers and mint, so many birds, humming, song, scavenger. Matt and I  had our mind meld moment for mutual downloads and then moved to the eating. When you are invited to eat Nepalese from the hand of Matt Cone please do not say no or you will miss a wonderful experience. Thanks good friend for the food.
Back home in the Sam and Roxanne's luxury motor home mutual mentoring, story telling and poking fun continues through the morning in anticipation of Tai food for lunch.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rat Race - Arrival

The weather is great and we are rocking it out. - but Whooooh - hang on - First day on the hill and a bit of carnage. - One tree rescue, minor with a hungdog pilot realizing his special launch skills, and a second who took a very very big tumble/attempt to fly without having a fully loaded wing - off North Launch. He flew off Woodrat in the end but via Helicopter. (He is doing well and is expected back to fly by the weekend, we will see.)  Details will appear but as my local friends are saying - Whooooh slow it down and get back to the basics. - Preflight check, weather and check your mental state.

Are you ready to fly????
Make sure

Monday, June 17, 2013

Rat Race - It is comming - Early Weather

I'm leaving here on Wednesday

It is almost here. The Rat starts at the end of the week and based on initial weather projections we should have some great flying. - Monday looks like it might be a little soggy but the long range forecast shows clearing.

For those thinking about going down a day or two early Wednesday looks like wet and cloudy but Thursday will be a fly day.

Looking forward to seeing everyone and blogging it up.  I missed Dunlap so this is my week for swinging in the sky with the crew.  Good luck and thank you to all the volunteers. Thanks in advance.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Baldy spring begins

Eastern Washington has turned on. The season is here. - Mer, Dave and others have been rocking it. - Monday Tue and Wed. No question Wheels took the ring.:
Not that anyone is watching.
Today we had a crew of 4 with two support at Baldy and at least 2 or 3 at Chelan Wednesday. - Top of lift 10,500 at Chelan and 8,500 or better off Baldy.

 At Baldy I launched at quarter to 2 and found very disorganized thermals to 4,500. It was so challenging to find a clean climb that I pushed to the N lz hopping for clean climb but found nothing and had to go for a re-launch. By then Jeff Speer, Conrad, and Frank were in route. - One at Menastash, one at the Boylstons and one pushing toward Quincy. Nice flight Frank. 

I tried a N line and pinched out on the NE tip of the Pocket. http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/750845-
Nice flight and all - good day had by all - - A little video as a flight/conditions report: 4.5 minutes for two 360s. I know you should make them in 16 seconds, but....  well you will see: http://youtu.be/Ja1anJLTLcQ

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quick post to introduce a couple of videos.

Monarca 2013. - Great flying - great first 3 days but 4th day was a high pressure day and I didn't get lucky.
Anyway -
1. Jeff Smith reserve ride
2. Goal made day 3
3. Low save and climb at el Pinon - with cloud surfing.

Monday, November 5, 2012

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Birds of a Feather

Going through last years pictures.
Steve, Chris, Doc and Conrad at Saddle. Lots of air time in this pic.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Down Time

October, November and December are down time for flying. We will get a few good North days for Saddle and Kiona if we are lucky but most of the time is spent on the computer. -

For those who are dreaming of January fun make sure you check out leonardo for flight logs and youtube for lots of videos. - I have been going through my 300 some videos to make some play lists for general consumption . - Edit out the redundant and highlight my favorites.

I am still up in the air regarding plans for this winter. - Suggestions?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ok I didn't quit

I didn't quit but the hot air of early August has been giving me fits. - I gave up on a mother load on Chelan on Saturday and have been having a hard time getting my mind in the game.

Today was better with a sweet little flight to the west on the North Side of Lake Chelan.

Later this week maybe a big flight in the Cascades.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Holy S.....

And then there is the Holy S.....

Pardon the French but the mix beer and oxi's are taking effect. So just a note for those who are watching - I quit paragliding today! - It happened at about 5 grand over Baldy. - It has been fun but I'm done!

Mer, Dave, Jeff Smith and I attacked the hill with confidence and solid team work. - We found a down driver who left early, so we were stuck on the hill or hike down.  - Conditions were obviously strong. - Yesterday report was of massive up in sweet smooth thermals. - Would today should be more of the same!.

Conditions on launch were solid N with the promise of a switch to the SW when the bowl started to cook. - Smith and Gene were late,  Gene so late that he bailed. - It was all their fault. - LOL - so anyway N with lulls at 12:15 - Clouded out as the big CU builds above the Butte. - It is going to switch. - And like a clock it does - the CU moves NE ant the SW flow starts but it does so with a series of  mega dusties that run up and over the W ridge. - Multiple jump on wings to keep them down.

 Where to set up. - Dave asked  "If this were a comp where would you set up?" my answer - W launch.  - so....  15 minutes later there I was in the heart of the beast!

Cycles were, well not cycles anymore just thermic flow with periodic lulls. - Jeff was watching as I set for launch. - LULL where are you.  I made two pull up attempts in lulls but the wing just spun, once to the West and once to the East. - OK no lull launch - lets try an end of cycle launch. - (this is not at P2 game), up over, stable, drive, and pluck, and 300 ft vertical in 2.5 seconds! - Wham bam thank you mam. - Series of 8s and I was coring up to 5k.

I made a quick call to Jeff recommending he do it different, like S launch which was firming up. I skied and found myself at 5200 in what felt to be the strongest Baldy Bullet I have ever encountered - the vario tape doesn't agree but I was convinced at the time and pushed out.

The others, intrepid or dense, launched without event. As they were launching I had determined that I was done. - I found a bit of nice sink just NE of the S LZ and lazily cored sink till my feet were on the ground.

Wheels landed in the N LZ  unwilling to do battle either. - Jeff and Mer finally had their fill at the end of the canyon landing near the truck stop. -

VERY BIG AIR TODAY -  ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK! - my hats off to the other three, well done and well quit!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sky High

Dateline Chelan: Hot, Hot, very Hot. After a reasonable practice day the Open was underway today.

This year I have the honor and the anxiety of being “boy weather.” Calling the weather for a comp is more stressful than I had imagined. It is quite important to get many elements right so that the task committee can make a good task call. They have done their own weather but I had to dig deep to make wind calls and lift calls that help the task committee make their task call.

As the day progressed things were not working out. – Lift on launch was just not there. – It was hot and stable with winds out of the NE – The NE had been discussed as a likely dynamic but the stable nature of the day was a bit of a surprise. Top of usable lift was right on at about 12,000 ft on the flats but the lift was very slow at the Butte and didn’t top much above 7,500 which was meager at best for the river crossing.
Stinking High! - view from 12,000ft

A great deal of effort and skill was expended by those who made it up and onto the flats. Once established the reward of solid and enjoyable climbs to between 10,500 and 12,000 ft were common but not universal.

The challenge of launch was predicted and came to pass. – Many were challenged by the light and switchy cycles. – Hot and switchy – some spent more that an hour and a half trying to get off launch.

I determined to wait for the best of the day, likely just a bit late but I did climb out to 6,700 without much effort and then with a lifty line got deep on the rim above some very good friends who had found a little squeeker that was working. – I was able to center on them and boost out to well over 10,000 and slide up north and inland on a fine track that took me to lift gaining and passing 12,000ft. – Just lovely high.

I didn’t find the house thermal SW of Bridgeport so I ended on a terminal glide to a landing about 45k short of goal. – 2.75 hrs of nice clean work – much less effort than most. I made up by working hard at retrieve but from inside of the AC cooled van. Apologies’ to those who had to wait for us – it was a mega hot wait / hike for some.

All in all the weather turned out to be just about as predicted, (except the stable Butte climb) max altitude was dead on and the NE winds were challenging as expected on launch although the Strong S at altitude and late didn’t really quite manifest itself, though we did get a very nice task with 5 in goal and a good distribution over the coarse. – I scored 21st or so which is great for me. Much better than my stellar 60th at the Rat race.

Storms tomorrow?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Paul -- what were you thinking

In an effort to get his restricted lz sign off Paul Moyes makes a strategic blunder followed by a luckier than shit, stupidly planned, skillfully executed, we are happy he made it, landing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What a Whack

Wow that was a whack!

Just behind the lead gaggle at Isabella about 12 k on course Frank and I linked up in a strong thermal at about 5,000ft. We were just in the process of finding the center. He was 90 degrees off my right wing tip 200 feet away when he took a massive outside asymmetric. It was well over 75% with the tip half way down his lines. The wing created enough drag that he lost most all his forward momentum and as he dropped the wing popped open but it was parachutal with a 10 to 20% tip cravat.

The wing now began a snake dance above his head. I saw one big surge and one partial to full twist up but then the wing was back over head. I don’t know if this was before or after Frank stalled the wing in an effort to restart. My bet is that his twist up was while he was stalling the wing and the surge followed the release of his intentional stall.

It was at this point I got my camera around to pick up a few shots of his recovery effort and reserve opening.

In any event after his stall and surge the wing was back over head and horseshoed. The tips almost touched then the wing opened again and snaked. A total of 30 to 35 seconds passed between the asymmetric and his deployment. It is hard to say but it looked to me that the wing had just started to fly as the reserve bag was fully out. Frank indicated that he felt the same.

The deployment was very strong, the bag went straight out and it opened quickly. He tossed with enough height that his reserve ride was 7 to 10 seconds depending on whose clock you use.

The landing was safe for frank but not for his wing. – Check out the tree! Photo by Reaper.  

Quick post from the Rat Race

A silly little noisy video to prove I was in the air.

Sorry for the delay in getting a Blog post up for the Rat Race.  As usual there is more to do down here than fits in a day and it is a bit of a challenge to do the blog and everything else. I also got a minor bug and a corisponding sore thoat/cough. Even when I had a moment I was not feeling up to “working.”

Great weather so far for the racing. Day two and three in particular. We were skied out with opportunity to touch the clouds. Yesterday I got to 8,800ft or so and was happy with my flight. – Happy that is until I saw the results. The task was a big push out to Grant’s Pass area, about 26k, and then up I5 to the Medford valley and Jacksonville then back into the Applegate with a run towards the dam. A big flight but a good number made it. Lots of pilots made it farther than I, 57 in fact.

My cumulative score for the first 3 days of competition is 57 out of 86. This was not the results I was hoping for but the tape is the tape. Yesterday I learned that I must push harder faster. Reviewing video I spent way too much time tanking up on the way to the pass and not enough time pushing speed bar and flying fast.

The best part of the day was the start. I was at cloud base and right on the edge of the start cylinder at go time but because of 400fpm lift I hung around at 7,000 ft for 3 or 4 turns and the whole pack just left me. – Go figure.

The crew here is doing a great job dealing with the large number of pilots and I haven’t heard many complaints. But there is a saying in paragliding. “If the weather is good the pilots won’t complain.”

Today I hope to do much better but we will have to see. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Packing begins today. Still up in air regarding travel day, either Friday or Saturday.
Slipped into a slot at Fiasco's camping so I am pumped about being closer to the action this year. - I am sure I will be visiting Buckley Cantrell but it will be great to hang with Dave and the guys.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Rat Begins

This year the there are two concerns as we get closer to the Rat. - 1. Weather, it isn't looking that grand at the moment. - 2. Pilot Pile up, 175 in the air + maybe more. - A number of pilots are taking a wait and see attitude or just not planning on flying. - Too many wings for safety is the thought. - We will see how it all shakes out.

As for me, I am looking at going down late and missing practice day flying. - I am pulling a trailer for Brian Webb, which I pick up today. - As for the late take off, it has to do with the fact that Flying looks great on Friday here and I will watch and see - we may have mega flights at Chelan - A great warm up and start to a month of flying. -

Yesterday I had my best North flight at Tiger a 20k or so flight towards Duval/Carnation. Learned importance of wave surfing compression thermals.  - More on that later.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Kiona (Benton City, WA) to Boardman OR

It doesn't happen very often but every once in a while the conditions set up for a nice flight from the North to the South. Those days are often hard to predict so I don't always make the call broadly. Thursday was that kind of day.

Early in the week the lift profile for Thursday along with projected light winds made it the one to plan for. I put out some ticklers for the sky gods but didn't get much action on my rod. The day before still no takers and in the AM even my close buds decided the chance of OD/Wet was too great to make the trip from the Wet Side.

Undeterred I tweeted my plans for 11:30 at the Rock and headed for Baldy. - I didn'teven entered the canyon. From the Selah cut I could see launch was already shaded over in ODing skies and it was only 11:15.

I turned around and headed for Bob's Bump figuring: maybe the run away from clouds, North to South could start there. On launch I made this little pondering video:

My call was to pass on Bob's

Thinking about how the fast the clouds were growing and how large they were so early reminded me of Gordon Grice's comment on having made a similar run in possibly similar conditions:" I should have died! "

Timidity being the better part of valor I headed South for Kiona figuring the lower Columbia might be lest developed. This was a good call.

The drive took just over an hour and as I went the sky filled from North to South. On launch at Kiona I looked out at filling skies, the run from Bob's Bump would have been great but I just didn't want to risk running scared all day.

By the time I was set up on HG launch Doug Hoffman had arrived and we were off. Doug and I took turns heading out but he had the better day from my perspective. I pimped a fair chunk. We were together until we made the Columbia. He headed East and I went West and just ducked under the 3,500ft MOA at Boardmen as I crossed the Columbia into Oregon.

One more item checked off on my bucket list. And another site record, that is till Doc breaks it, which won't take long. - The video is a little over 10 minutes long. - Enjoy the clouds.


P.S. My second clinic is full and the list has starting for clinic #3 to be held in August, likely the weekend of the 11th. e-mail dnorwoodxx@gmail.com if interested in Thermal Theroy and XC flying. 8 hrs of classroom and two days on the hill and in the air - $220. - Max 5-6 Pilots. New personal best this season guaranteed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Winatchee Reprise - take 4

While it is not a cake walk the Colockum is becoming more familiar territory. - Monday brought great skies, though it was a surprise. Winds were forecast to be outside the viable range but that was not the case. We had fine lift and nice winds with a great convergence line set up just West of the Columbia.  - Flight level to 10,700 ft MSL. 4hr 11 minutes, 75k.

Flight Video
Leonardo Flight Track

Hope you enjoy the video and flight information. - Keep on Flying High.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


In my first flight report on last Saturday I indicated what a great day we had. Good flying and periods of good wind. - This post is THE REST OF THE STORY.

My initial weather predictions indicated a great day was on the way. However, Saturday morning the winds both observed and predicted began to show a more troubling trend. I posted these revelations indicating a bit more concern along with the prediction of "strong" conditions. If pilots received both weather reports or not I don't know but I will say that Saturday morning I was more concerned about conditions than I was Friday afternoon.

When Steve Thibault and I arrived at launch winds were gusty and clearly out of the North West. The flag at Mattawa indicated strong West winds. Winds I observed near Yakima were strong North and winds in route to the hill varied from calm to strong. Most troubling for me was the measured winds on the top of Rattlesnake: North at 53. The combination of very strong upper level winds with quite variable observations on the surface suggested potentially challenging conditions at Saddle.

A note on winds. - Observed winds at Saddle launch are notoriously unreliable. The only way to know if you have prevailing NW, N or NE conditions is to be out in front and in the air. For this reason if NW winds are suspected I suggest Saddle be treated as a P3-P4 site until someone has launched and you can tell wind are not strong NW through the observation of the wind dummies penetration to the West. The most enjoyable winds for Saddle are N to NNE. Strong NE to ENE and strong NW to WNW can be difficult to dangerious.

I took a fair amount of time on the hill before launching. During that time I experienced a number of squirrelly collapses in kiting configuration, this was from the NW induced rotor. I even packed it in for 20 minutes or so to wait for the West to die off or to switch more North. When I finally did launch I told those on launch that I though the winds were squirrelly. Launch was fine but as soon as I got out in front, just a bit, the West induced side hill rotor became significant and the sharp edges of the strong lift didn't help matters. I pushed out to clear from the turbulence and found slightly better conditions. - For future reference: If I don't come back to top land and report nice conditions following an initial launch at Saddle newer pilots might want to think twice about launching.

Unfortunately I had not performed a radio check prior to launch so my calls back to the hill recommending that people wait went either unheard or unheeded. I called 3 or 4 people on my cell but didn't get through, they were either in the air or were not answering. Steve joined me about 10 minutes into my flight and watched as I got plucked by unseen forces at a rate of 5 mps straight up. That is 1000 fpm vertical for our friends in Reo Linda. At one moment we were 200 feet from each other and the next I we had 1,200 feet of vertical seperation.

The combination of very strong lift - West winds and spring conditions was enough for me, and as it turned out it enough for Steve as well. We both headed way out front, away from the hill, and eventually to the LZ.

When it comes to rowdy conditions both Steve and I have been there and done that and tend to only invest in such conditions when there is something to be gained. Saturday was not one of those days and we both cashed it in while we had a bit of change in our pockets.

Unreported till now was the fight we both had to battle setting up for our landings. Saddle, on strong days, 14-20mph N, can create a very large and deep lift band. This is due to the size of the hill. - The wind has nowhere to go and bunches up, vertical lift can be found low as 150 feet AGL and as far out as Crab Creek Rd., 1/4 mile from the hill. If you add spring thermic conditions, lots of little fast sharp thermals it can be very difficult to get down to set up to land. - There can be significant turbulence when trying to get through and below the lift boundary layer 150 to 250 feet above the LZ.

Above this layer you can find yourself parked in lift and unable to penetrate. I know one pilot who quit flying paragliders after descending through and experiencing this condition/effect. The best solution when faced with this low level inability to descend is to either execute nicely pressurized spirals or use big ears if spirals are not in your tool kit. Both Steve and I were very happy to be safe on the ground and not very happy or at least a little concerned to see that 6 pilots were now in the air.

Fortunately after we landed the winds shifted more to the N and NE making both conditions on top and in the LZ better than when we had launched. Most experienced pilots were able to top land near mid day without incident but there was one serious low level collapse (photo above) near launch and one reported landing very deep in the rotor zone behind the saddle between launch and the East towers. I assume that the first pilot had not be briefed about West rotor from the bowl associated with NW winds and the second pilot got pushed back setting up too high and deep for a standard East approach to top landing and couldn't penetrate. He had a good landing but the last pilot havign a similar penetration issues there took a total collapes at 30 feet and was very lucky and very sore for several weeks.

As a responce to these two, fortunately non-injury events, I made a short video/site orientation that I hope will be helpful. It doesn't contain rocket science but it may help all of us make wise and informed flight decisions in the future.

For what it is worth: Spring is here, conditions can be very strong and change very rapidly. Fly cautiously rather than aggressively at least until you have be frightened once or twice.

Your Chicken Hearted Preacher, Dave.

P.S. Put the weekend of May 18-20th on your calandar. I will be presenting a Weather, Thermal and XC clinic. We will have class room theory along with guided Eastern Washington XC fun. It will be pay to play but I hope it will provide a good value and help us all become better pilots.

Thursday, March 22, 2012