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Author: Jeff O'Brien Created: 5/13/2009 2:45 PM
Jeff O'Brien revolutionized his life when he learned to hang glide in 1998. He dropped most other interests and promptly moved to Utah to fly full time. He's flown hang gliders on five continents and began competing in 2005. Jeff is probably most known for his wing mounted photography which can be seen in hang gliding publications and press worldwide.


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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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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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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Flights exist so much in the moment, if they aren't chronicled the day of, it's hard to piece together a flight just a few days after. What I remember from the last day's task is we finally had true Texas racing conditions for a portion of the flight. I raged from cloud to cloud hitting 800+ under almost every one. Skipping climbs and racing as fast as possible.

Photo by Ben Dunn

There was a spot landing contest Saturday morning. High winds gave me the advantage and with my south side experience, I took first.


I remember Davis finding the smoothest 900+fpm in memory.

I remember Eric Donaldson, who left before the start gates, way above me running under clouds. I'd catch him two climbs later, and go diving a few feet over him on the way between climbs. After I found our next climb, he found the meat of it, and we pirouetted together.

We raced toward an approaching thunder storm trying to catch the leaders. I'd come in over the top of Jeff, Davis, Zippy, Glen and others, only to squander my extra altitude just after the turnpoint diving toward another thunderstorm thinking I was going to get sucked up and continue on my way. Those that ran in the shade went the furthest.

Larry Bunner flew super well in the meet. Looking forward to seeing him at more comps.

Had a festive time at the awards party. Rolled with Shapiro north until after 4am before sleep was necessary. One party segues into another.

Airtime: 3:15. Flights: 1. Miles: 73.

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Back in Colorado briefly getting my Rocky Mountain high on, before arriving in the LA basin tomorrow for a month at the chocolate factory. The last couple of days of the meet were too busy I guess to make blog posts. Gotta catch up.

Trend setter - Dave Gibson (right) schools Zippy (left) on the finer points of wearing your shorts above your belly button. Even after ample ribbing, Dave undaunted, remains a belt line over the belly button kind of guy. Gotta respect his aversion to good fashion :) kidding - 3D can still throw down. Looking forward to seeing him in Santa Cruz.

Day six a 95 mile dog leg was called. All of the usual suspects gaggled up for the start and headed east to try and avoid the overcast. It was slow going over the shaded ground, and almost 50 miles out we ran into Bob Filipchuk - an 18 year old kid on a kingpost from the east coast. We all commented on the radio it was cool to see Bob out so far and fast on course. It's great when you see pilots new to competition doing well and having a good time.

outlandings in Texas can be prickly.

Speaking of pilots new to competition, Ricker Goldsborough went from having his first solo outlanding on the first day of the meet to playing the start game with the big boys by the fifth day or so. I think competitions are a GREAT place to learn loads and hone new skills. Wish more people would realize this and begin competing regardless of their gear or skill set.

It was enjoyable watching the old moon rise late at night around the campsight.

The second half of the day went well and I ended up third for the day.

Airtime: 3:40. Flights: 1. Miles: 95.

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From Amber yesterday in Utah.

"Where's my plastic sheets? I just shit the bed."

Dealing with some personal disappointment this morning after a poor finish yesterday. Dug myself a hole I couldn't get out of, and landed way short. It was a day almost everyone made goal, so the penalty was large. There's a lesson to be learned from yesterday, I'm having trouble discerning it currently.

Every time my feet leave the ground, I just give it my best. In comparison to others, my best didn't stack up yesterday. The sun has risen on a new day. Yesterday no longer exists.

Airtime:3:00. Flights:2. Miles: 47.

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