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Photo by Ken Howells - Peter Swanson landing a T2C after a successful test flight. The crew was out a couple of days ago test flying 23 new customer wings before shipment.

A couple new photo additions to the Wills Wing facebook page today as well. Head over and check them out.

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Remember what your first few training hill flights were like? I was in an alfalfa field with a rolling hill in Wisconsin. I hooked into a Wills Wing Falcon 225. After a few running steps down the slope into the breeze, suddenly my feet were no longer on the ground. I was being carried 10ft. off the hill and floating down the slope. It was magic. It still is. (nevermind the flight ended in a groundloop)

Remember your first "solo" if you had one? Mine was at sunset. Aerotowed to 3000ft. Audibly reminded myself to take in every precious moment. I yelled aloud joyfully a couple of times. The sunset aerotows are still special.

Dana Nelson (22), daughter of Linda Salamone has been on the scene for some time, but she hasn't been into flying, until now. I had the opportunity to observe her full of stoke go through tandem aerotow training and take her first few solos. It was cool to see her overloaded with emotion after her training flights and first solos and remember back to when everything was so intensely special about every flight. It's good to remember how special and rewarding and lucky we are to hang glide.

Dana after her first solo aerotow.

The sentiment was summed up when she landed and quietly exclaimed, "I flew with a bird!" Doesn't have to be a bald eagle to be worthy.

I asked her to put some of her thoughts of her training and first flights down. This is her perspective:

I’ve been a peripheral member of the hang gliding world for a long time. Well, long by my standards as a 22 year old. My mom, Linda Salamone, dragged my siblings and I into the sport thirteen years ago. And we HATED it. “Going flying” was, by our standards, not cool. It meant that we’d be stranded atop some lame mountain site in Upstate New York with the worst company ever, each other.

As everyone got a bit older a wiser (or so we’d all like to think), mom began flying competitively. And doing well. Not even just for a chick, she was doing well even for a dude. By 2007, I’d been asked whether I flew at least 1000 times. No joke. And the response was getting old: “No no no—I’m just a retrieve driver at these insane comps she does” was my usual. The spring after my sophomore year at the university, I decided it was time. I’d learn how to fly.

I spent two months foot launching Eaglets off of a training hill just outside of Rochester. On the second day, I had a meltdown. I had run down the lower half of the slope what felt like thirty times, and could NOT get my feet off of the ground. I wasn’t trusting the glider, or myself. Most importantly, my mom was watching—perfectly aware of my thinking “Damn, the shoes I have to fill are just way too big.”

Soon enough, she stopped coming to training. Inevitably, I started improving. I would get home around 10pm on weeknight evenings absolutely exhausted. In spite of this, I could feel excitement and pride surging through me. I’d bounce in the front door teeming with energy and babble on and on about my ten-second flights from the top of the training hill to Mom and Mark.

This went on until July, when I relocated to Vermont, and then Spain for autumn. Flying evaporated from my life with ease, as I had a multitude of other things to fill the void with. I continued going to comps as a driver, and would scheme my way into the air via Dragon Fly or a tandem. Each time I landed, I’d kick myself for letting my training slip through my fingers so easily.

Dana with Mark Fruitiger taking a 'tourist' tandem.

This April was different. I was hanging out at the Ridge throwing a Frisbee around with a few comp pilots, noticing how smooth the air was and how gorgeous the sunset was about to be. James Tindell approached me and asked if I was inclined to fly. My response: “Hell yes, James.” After some discussion of my experience flying, I got into the bottom of the tandem and we took two breathtakingly beautiful flights. When I landed, I raced over to my mom thinking “this is it, this is, it this is it---I’m going to learn to fly.”

Flights continued daily, and each time we landed, I felt like I’d learned something new. I’d fly in the morning, and would bop around for the rest of the morning basking in my pride. Here I was, surrounded by the world’s best competition pilots, and I’m just beaming because I could keep the tandem behind the tug. Rather than going on about my flights, I tried to internalize what I had learned and experienced that morning. I feel like mom asked me “So, how’d the flight go” about ten times daily, but I never really wanted to get psyched about it in front of her. I wanted it to be my own. Just for myself. “Eh, it was good. I need to let the tug really pull me around turns though” was a standard, blasé response. Meanwhile, I’d be teeming with excitement on the inside. And I could be seen blabbering like a lunatic to the likes of Jeff O’Brien, pretending my energy was contagious and that it’d secure the comp pilots a long, safe, and fast flight. At some point, I started imagining that the intense flying-related energy surrounding the Ridge was feeding my learning process and helping get my feet off of the ground—propelling me upward.

On one of the last mornings of the comp, I woke up and flew with Eric, another wonderful tandem instructor. We had a great launch and tow, and the entire time he kept on saying “Oh yeah, you’re ready girl.” And finally I had to say “Eric if you’re going to say that, you better mean it! You know how much I want to solo!” We pinned off and went through the motions of boating down, setting up my landing and getting us to solid ground safely. Once we stopped rolling, Eric started climbing out of his harness and said “Alright hun, hop out.” Immediately I said “Well, damn. I really wanted to take another flight.” Eric laughed and said “Yeah, Dana. You’re going to get another flight. In the solo glider. Now get out!”

Shakily, I somehow made my way over to the nearby Falcon. I took in my surroundings before climbing in and noticed that my mom was thankfully out of sight. James Tindell knelt in front of me and ran me through the basics of what I was about to experience and, as far as I was concerned, how to stay alive. I’m sure I just nodded through the entire thing, because all that I remember about that jittery pre-launch situation was how violently my calves were shaking as my toes pressed into the foot bar of the harness. I. Was. So. Nervous. But I knew what was about to happen. I’d seen literally thousands of launches before. It was merely a change of perspective---my role had changed to that of a participant, rather than an observer. And a vital participant at that.

Next thing I know, I’m flying off of the cart and laughing hysterically. Hysterically. I couldn’t believe it. I was doing this alone. I wasn’t in the tandem, and I damn well wasn’t with anyone else in the air. I was finally flying. Alone. In what felt like a Ferrari. I laughed for my entire flight. I pulled in and pinned off once Carrie waved me away, tucked in my bridle, and it hit me all over again. Now that the tug was gone, I realized how alone I was in the air. As I watched him sink away and make it back to the field, I started talking to myself. Laughing, talking, singing. (Appropriately, M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” was the song that came to mind.) Like an absolutely insane person. Before I knew it, I was setting up my landing and on the ground. Safely. I realize now that I was still laughing hysterically as my mom ran at me shrieking “I can’t believe you just soloed---- and you didn’t tell me you were going to!” I got back onto the cart and flew again. Things went smoothly---- maybe because I had 4000 feet of glass to work my way down in.

Linda congratulating her daughter.

The rest of the day I floated along. I did a few more solos before my time at the Florida Ridge was over and the Race and Rally took us northward. By the end, I was landing soundly on my feet and ridiculously proud.

Dana on final during her first solo.

About a week after my first solo, I was having some deep conversations with Mike and Sean Glennon. At one point, Mike mentioned that his son is a pilot and asked what took me so long to get into flying after so many years of exposure. When I told him I thought that I may have previously been doing it for my mom, he admitted that he also wonders if his son has pursued flight to “make his father proud.” I told him that this time around, I had a few more years of knowledge of myself under my belt and was ready to take to the sky for me. My motivation had evolved into something much more intrinsic than it had been previously.

So, my “Summer of Flight” is underway, and I literally could not be more thrilled. While I obviously have an enormous amount of learning ahead of me, I can definitively say one thing: independent of what it is that gets us into the air in the first place, what matters is what keeps us there.

Dana taking off... solo these days.

She's going to try the lifestyle at Quest Air for the next few months to see how things feel. We wish her very well.

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Light "reading" for your entertainment today



Gyro Hang Glider - The funniest videos are a click away


Above are a couple of acquaintances from Utah - wing suit pilot strafing a PG pilot... Imagine the closing speed.

A photo I took of a photo on the wall at the resort in Lakeview, OR. A tight shot with timeless quality.

Another "Uh Oh" moment from Facebook. Unknown pilot and place. Go Pro is catching more and more "Holy SH*T" moments.

Seppi Salvenmoser on his first T2C flight a few months ago. We're stoked to have Seppi and his high energy flying displayed on the C.

A sweet photo of a rigid from Eric Proulix's Facebook page. Check out Wills Wing on Facebook and become a crew member - CLICK HERE

In case you missed it on the OZ Report:

Zippy and Jonny throwing down (Thanks John Wright):

World Class Pilots Having Fun from knumbknuts on Vimeo.

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Kara and I drove down to Wills Wing toward the end of last week to get a large supply of harness components cut. It is great to continue the learning process and I must say, after cutting several harnesses by hand, operating the cutter and being mesmerized by how fast and accurate it accomplishes the same task that takes me 20 times longer is a good start to getting new harnesses to pilots efficiently.

It was, as always, great to see the whole crew and although OB had to make it a quick trip, Zippy and Erin drove down for a flight on Saturday. The skies above Marshall and Crestline were full of clouds with reliable lift everywhere. Late in the flight, Jonny D and Craig showed up to test fly a couple of Lightspeeds. Always a better trip when I get to see those guys.

Kara and I stopped by the LZ on the way out of town and I got to squeak another quick flight in before the long drive back to Montucky. Bummer was that I didn't have a camera with me because as the clouds built into the evening, the wind picked up and I was able to soar up in front of the cloud line and get above base. It was beautiful looking back at dark mountains under a sun lit cloud bank. Being above cloud base in a hang glider always feels pretty special.

Back to work;-) I should have some harnesses, etc. to post on soon.

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A weekend at Bebe's farm in Paraguay: cold night sipping wine around the fire next to the hacienda followed by a day in the sky with 4 m/s thermals to cloudbase on a great out and return. All flights thanks to Bebe's farmer - who has learned to fly the dragonfly.

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The story was lost in translation, but Jorge Patiño Cuadrado sent me some nice approach shots from Mexico. Is this Valle'? Looks like an approach Wolfi would dig :)

All photos by Jorge Patiño Cuadrado

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What's up at the Chocolate Factory today?

Harness Gimp... Let me tell you a secret. Shapiro giving dummy instructions on how to pull massive G's. The Crew has sewn up a 180lb. dummy to do harness testing. Initial static tests have been excellent and dynamic testing is up next before component testing of the harness. All data is very positive thus far.

The dummy is packed with weight and filler, has a plywood spine and ribs to simulate the structure of a human body.

Dummy likes to lounge around, sniff carbon resin, and look at Men's magazines.

The latest Covert fashion - Hypercell neck gaskets. This stuff blows neoprene out of the water for durability and performance. (it costs a lot more too) It is able to be thermo-formed, has excellent resistance to compression set, and stretch properties are superior. It's durable as hell, and as Shapiro just expressed to me from across the table, "Dude, it's the shit."

I'm having my old Rotor refurbished before I sell it, and found another bent slider bar when I took the backplate out. I replaced the original bent bar with a supposedly stronger stainless bar. This one bent too. The carbon backplate is intact though, no cracks. That's heartening.

Gary has been working on the CNC all day cutting out the second side of the billet chips that are installed in the Covert's backplate. One by one the gems are pulled shiny from the machine.

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Ryan Voight edited Dangerous Dave Gibson's expression session at Randolph, Utah. Solid work boys.


"Dangerous" Dave Gibson at Randolph, UT from Ryan Voight on Vimeo.

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The Cloudbase Foundation Part 2

Father Frank and the Mill Hill Mission - FATHER FRANK'S BLOG

Cloud Base Foundation website HERE or

Father Frank needs $500 a month to supply his clinic with medicines and nutritional supplements. The clinic is in a mission compound with a school, daycare, and church that services the people in one of the largest slums around Guayaquil. We pledged to raise $500 a month for Father Frank for a year and Ricker Goldsborough was able to find a partner church to fund the obligation. Here is an excerpt from the latest correspondence with Father Frank:




The work Father Frank is doing benefits the poorest and most malnourished in the slums. It was heartbreaking to see the poorest and heartening to see Father Frank's mission sanctuary. He's making a difference.

Nick Greece, USHPA magazine editor and PG comp pilot is organizing a water tank project for a water tank for The Children Orphanage in Ghana, South Africa. The tank will cost approximately $3000 and there will also be an effort to raise a few hundred dollars extra for the school fees the students are required to pay. This project will help ensure the students of the Children's orphanage are getting water from a quality supply.

Belinda Boulter and others are also working on charities in the Big Spring, Texas area and Valle de Bravo, Mexico. More on these in the coming months.

It's our hope that the PG community will continue to add support and provide the inspiration for future worthy charities where we fly. The flying community isn't rich in resource, and we're not expecting these financial obligations be met solely by pilots. What we are asking for is publicity. These are worthy causes that are relatively small in scope and 100% of donations is going directly to what it's intended. Passing the word to a few friends might just be the tipping point toward a charitable goal.

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What's up with The Cloudbase Foundation...? (Part 1)

A LOT...

You don't have to donate, all you have to do is spread the word...

Cloud Base Foundation website HERE or

Ricker Goldsborough and Belinda Boulter along with more and more individuals from the HG and PG community are following through with goals and finding worthy causes near places we fly around the world.

Moya Foley - School Administrator and Jimmy Byrd - Non-Profit Founder standing by the framed structure of the new "Davis and Belinda Hombres Pajaro" schoolhouse.

The Cloudbase Foundation has paid for a teacher's salary for a year - $3000 and Davis Straub and Belinda Boulter graciously donated $6000 for a new school house.

Here's the schoolhouse being framed.

What a lovely setting for a school! BTW - the cliffside behind offers EPIC soaring ;)

It's done!

Looks great!


Belinda has kept in close touch with Moya, the school administrator and gets regular updates:

On saturday 7th, we organized the first activity to raise funds for the School: the Flea Market.

Thank to all the donations we got, we had a game "THE TOMBOLA" with 260 prizes,(all donated) and we filled 2 classrooms with clothes, shoes and other items.

We collected $1000 approximatly, with that money we cover half month salaries, to us is a success, considering that the most expensive item was $5,00.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH for your support.

I'm attaching pictures of it before we opened to the public.

I'll keep you informed about our progress.

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