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A truck full of WW Falcons and Sport 2's

Had the pleasure of heading out to the "Big A" (Alberton) with a truck full of recent and past students for a late evening fly down. Alberton is a launch located 45 miles west of Missoula and overlooks the Alberton Gorge, our local kayakers play zone. It's almost twice as high as the other beginner launches close to town and provides up to a 20 minute fly down. Two of the "boys" had only 3 altitude flights to this point and were both excited and nervous about their first flight from this site. It's a bit of a slot in the trees and a little intimidating in comparison to the open launches they were used to but with good conditions, it's straight forward and offers a chance for the new pilots to overcome their fears and doubts.

Here are some shots that were taken by our driver. The wind was a little strong when we arrived on top but it worked out well because flying down at sunset was both beautiful and memorable.

It's really cool to see new faces in the flying community. The smiles and energy in the LZ while breaking down reminded me of my early days in this sport. Life is good and continues to be so.

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The video is a little slow on the cuts, but I thought a fairly thorough view of some test flying procedures might be educational.

The WW Crew headed out to the San Bernardino hills to put a dozen new ships through their paces Wednesday.

We began the morning with a round of Falcons from the 750. It was my first day as a WW "test pilot" and I wanted to make sure nothing was overlooked. We chatted about procedure most of the ride to the site, quirks and things to watch out for with each model, and I had Mike and Steve talk me through the first couple of pre-flights.

After a boaty ride down in early morning air, we went up to the Regionals launch for a round of Sport 2's. Mike and Steve thermalled up, and I took my S2 175 down to the LZ early to take some photos and get ahead as it was taking me longer to do everything.

Next, I got a hop on a T2C 154. We all thermalled up and ran over to Crestline, then Pine. I followed Mike, also on a T2. I think I fell back in love with the large race glider during my 40 minute flight. Seriously contemplating the big one again next season.

Our final round for the day, Mike and I took U2's up for a round. I flew the 160 and loved it. The glider initiates turns before you think about it. It has some glide and plenty of speed.

It was over 100F by the time we ended our test flying day, but what a pleasure to get a hop on each of WW's models. Extreme diversity and fun.

Airtime: 1:40. Flights:4.

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Over the weekend, a few of the locals got together and Owen took me on an excursion. OWEN'S WEBSITE HERE Peter was super cool to offer to drive and fly his PG. We shuttled up the hill, Peter assisted Dexa in setting up and getting her off the hill and Owen and I followed as she specked out.

Owen's got the out and return run 15 miles or so to the east dialed, and after a quick climb in 700fpm, he led out to Crestline ridge and east. The run follows a prominent ridge, but there are low sloping foothills out front with thin landings and it's mostly roadless. Not a place to make too many mistakes. I was thankful to have the guide.

Owen's got altitude benchmarks memorized and reliable thermal triggers along the way, and he led me toward Keller peak. At one point, I did get quite low for my taste next to the trees on the main ridge. Found 4-500fpm that got me back in the game.

The air was rough at times, and we took a couple of tight climbs over Keller peak up to around 9000ft. Cloud base was another 1000ft. higher, but we couldn't quite get into the wispys.

Owen had a great run from Keller maybe 20 miles to the Cahon pass without making a turn. I had to stop low over the high school for three circles, and used Owen ahead of me as incentive to catch up.

Near the antennas by the pass, I was smartly turned over past 90 degrees by turbulence. As I turned over and fell toward the ground, I saw Owen get slapped by the same anomaly and pitched way over. As the purple flight suit PG boys? at Torrey like to exclaim, "The thermals really had some teeth."

Owen suggested we push south to get on a bigger range, and I was game, so I led out. The wind proved to be too much to push into and after fully committing to the south, I landed around the base of the foothills west of I-15. Owen attempted to run downwind back to the LZ and his car, but landed short. Bruce Barmakian (sp?) was kind enough to come out and fetch us.

Good camaraderie racing down and back with Owen. Fun to try to make a jump and land out.

Airtime: 1:55. Flights: 1. Miles: 30.

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WW Crew test flying AJX 8.19.9

After sleeping in the desert after an all day drive from Colorado, I met the WW crew at the Andy Jackson Airpark for some test flying.

The local pilot community not only has little contention between HG vs. PG pilots, but they do an amazing job of site upkeep. It's a great community effort.

Setting up for the first round of flying from the "750" launch.

Meier getting ready to launch the BIG boaty Condor.

Rob McKenzie testing a new falcon bound for ???

Steve looking to nail the spot on a customer's new Sport 2.

A weeks worth of gliders test flown and ready for shipping. I had an uneventful extended sledrun with a camera attached. Got moderately good photos. Overshot my landing by a bit. No worries and enjoyable as always. Happy to be at Wills Wing for a few weeks.

Airtime: 20. Flights: 1.

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We have several great flying sites surrounding Missoula but Mt Sentinel is our "local" site. It's distinctively different from the others (and from most other sites around the country) because of the fact that it overlooks town with the designated LZ right in the middle of town. You can arrive on top of Mt Sentinel from most anywhere in Missoula in a matter of 25 minutes. This makes it one of the main reasons why most of the HG and PG pilots live here. There's something great about being able to see the wind sock from your deck.

We have the luxury of breaking down after a good flight in perfectly mowed and manicured grass and can (after loading the gliders up) be home or anywhere else in town in a matter of minutes. The only issue is that the LZ is surrounded by homes, businesses and a tree lined golf course which makes it "sporty" on windy days. It has been decided for years that it is a designated H-4 site because of the restricted nature and high visibility of the LZ. H-3s can fly there accompanied by H-4s or above but we have until recently not allowed H-2s to fly from Sentinel because of the LZ and tenuous nature of the site.

Thankfully, we have recently voted as a club to allow our H-2's to fly on appropriate days accompanied by some of the H-4s or H-5s in town. I think it's great because it increases the newer pilots ability to gain airtime and experience exponentially. One of my students from last year, Ian, got to take his first flight from Mt Sentinel a couple of days ago and I was lucky enough to get to be there with him to watch and fly with him. Ian is a really cool guy and brings a lot of positive energy to the club and to hang gliding in general. Luckily, here in Missoula, most of my students have been college age. Ian is 23 and along with a few others here is the future of our sport. Pretty cool. His smile in the LZ was beaming.

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In the mood for a treasure hunt? On your way to Vegas and need to get the party started right? Look no further friend. Here are the details...

Waiting out in the desert, along I-15 is a ready made party in a can for your upcoming Vegas weekend. You'll have to be traveling from Utah cuz them Mormons "sin to win."

Included in the party pack:

Dustin Martin's sunglasses - There's little inherent mojo to them, but they attract men as well as women. BTW - If women take interest in you while wearing them, you may want to inquire, "how much?"

A vintage thrift store shirt from yours truly - A bit of pheromone grease around the collar should have you rooting for your slut swatting stick.

Disco ball beads

A dollar - For sniffer's row.

Where is this "can o worms" located? I thought I marked them there treasure with my GPS unit, but can't retrieve the coordinates... not to worry, you can find it even without a map.

Stop at mile post 96 on your way south from Utah to Vegas on I-15. Why #96? Because why 69 when you can 96 ???

Walk 19.5 paces perpendicular to the highway away from the mile marker. Look down. Dig.

There you'll find the artifacts I'm talking about. ONE RULE... If you claim the treasure, you have to replace it with something of equal sentimental value, write a note, and leave it for the next person. Geo-cashing so to speak ;) - Go get um pardner.

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Our second prototype is showing great promise. I'm intent on designing a "first generation" race/xc harness that outperforms the instant you hook in. Soon, Wills WIng will be able to offer a harness that, combined with the T2C, will provide a "top of the stack system" to help you meet all of your hang gliding goals. Stay tuned;-)

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Brasilia was quite nice this year. The air was smooth, climbs were still strong to 10000 feet most days, winds were lighter than usual.
Half the comp was flown through a fog of food poisoned agony, but that half was where I was winning. Once I popped the pills, Jonny slipped by with a 23 point lead going into the last day. Unfortunately the last day was stopped halfway through the task due to storms.
Landing in the Esplanada every day was a pleasure as usual. This year the closing ceremony was held there after packing up the gliders, and the atmosphere was strong.
The curiosity of the locals here always surprises me coming from the states and they were out in force every day this year. I'm guessing there will be some new pilots here this time next year.
Special thanks to the organization this year and the local private hospital. When I was doubled over and without a great deal of money, the organizer of the comp and one of the partners in the hospital both arranged for free treatment and took me past a day-long ER line to get immediate help. Awesome.
Anyway, pics..

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Peak to Valley - one wavelength

My Niece Wednesday morning.

My Niece Tuesday night.

I traveled from Texas to Colorado to fetch my truck. Spent a couple of sweet days in the peaks visiting family.

Wednesday I struck off or the basin... Los Angeles. Enjoyed the expanse of the desert. Utah is gorgeous.

Bananas are versatile!

Drove until fatigue and stopped in the desert to rest before a morning meeting at the flying site with the WW crew for a test flying session.

Parts of the west are going up in smoke.

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I'll strip down if you call me Augustus Gloop and splash me with a bucket of chocolate...

Maybe this weekend I'll get to the posts waiting in the wings, but when a new prototype gets set up in the factory, the Augustus Gloop in me takes over. The new carbon/kevlar sail material feels so nice against my skin I might squirrel away enough for a sleeping blankie.

I've decided that "carbon" is a hang glider pilot's platinum.

I'm off to prance and pirouette around the proto... Anyone have a flute?

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