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Author: Dustin Martin Created: 5/20/2009 5:42 PM
Dustin Martin began his flying career in sailplanes at the age of 14! He made the transition to hang gliders at age 16. While he calls the skies over Arizona "home", he's mostly nomadic making competition forays down to Ecuador and Brazil every few months. In 2008, Dustin cracked off the third longest XC flight ever - 410 miles narrowly missing the world record mark.

Didn't quite make it due to the daily storm line convergence but got some cool shots. Went there anyway by car and it is the nicest beach I've seen in Florida. This is over Groveland heading northeast:

The route is tight and interesting weaving under and between some class b and c, some bombing ranges then a very tight final glide to the beach wedged between New Smyrna airspace and the space shuttle restricted area.

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..the elusive water devil

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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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Here is a photo log of a classic route from a very infrequently flown hill near Foz do Iguaçu in southwestern Brasil. The altitude from the manicured grass launch to the freshly cut lz is 100 meters. You dont launch until you see birds climbing out front, but if you get a good cycle its full on.

"Free flight club - West SIDE"

The view from launch. The hill isn't as low as it looks - it's lower.

Finally getting high enough to look downwind for a minute.

All good at cloudbase.

Epic scenery.

Loooong glides and loooong cloud shadows late in the day with amazing views ahead...

Sexy curves meet steel hard lines..

Goal, Aeroleve Airpark in Cascavel, the end of another classic route...

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Quick update from Brasil:

Jack Simmons and I flew down here for the first stage of the nationals in Sapiranga. Most locals don't like it for the lack of big distances and powerful air but I think it's heaven. Jack agrees. Out of 9 days we flew 7, probably around 3 hours average each day. Unfortunately the comp committee only thought 2 days were suitable for a task. The tasks were slightly overcalled given the fact that we were running over saturated ground, mostly rice fields. Goal was never made but the flying was still moderately fast and fairly tactical. Ferro is the current Brasilian champ and walked all over everyone else, winning both days. He wasn't gliding the best and he wasn't climbing the best (nearly), but he was clearly making the best decisions of anyone and walked away with the trophy.

The day after the comp we headed north with Eduardo from Mato Grosso and his awesome driver Flavia. We were intent on bagging a site on the precipice of the Atlantic range overlooking the ocean 50km distant. We arrived a day and a half later to find three wile e. coyote concrete ramps hanging over the edge of a cliff completely socked in by cloud. Long story short, we all flew, it was epic, and I consider it one of my best flights ever. About three hours after launching I landed just short of the beach in a beautiful field in a tiny village.

Next stop Betinho's chalet in Garopaba. Betinho Schmidt was good enough to lend us his chalet overlooking a lake next to the beach Praia do Rosa. We spent a day hiking the coastal cliffs and soaking up the sun. Betinho is doing great and planning a stand-up paddle from Floripa to Garopaba...too much open ocean for me. Good luck man.

Then Floripa - I had planned to show Jack some great island flying at some of the best beaches of Brasil. The wind swung too north after a frontal passage and left us stranded on Praia Mole, nothing to do but soak up the sun, sand, and surf for a day. I made a go at the PG launch above the beach but by the time I got up there it was simply unlaunchable. The guy up there saw me shouldering the wing on to the launch and questioned the wisdom of flying a hang glider there. He told me in all his years there he had only ever seen one hang glider fly there.. about two years ago.. gray top, yellow bottom with blue stripe? Yeah. Looping out over the surf for a couple hours? Yeah.. Ahh those were good times..

The group had to split up at that point. I headed due west to Foz do Iguaçu, and currently Jack and Eduardo are near the Pantanal and planning to fly Corumbá tomorrow.

Back in one week to Quest to take care of tandems and harness back plates. Deep in materials research right now, and after several protos the harness appears to be nearing production.

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Stepped out of the house this morning and the next step was 6 feet lower - where I landed on my side after slipping on ice covered steps. Busted the guard rail out with my leg and slid to a stop, pinned down by the rusty pointed end of the rail, with another 6 feet to go if I went any further. The only sharp pain was my ground down knuckle, grated by the diamond plate stair surface. This is the most significant crash since the mountain bike wipe out that wrecked the same shoulder years ago. Good thing nothing is broken...

Because I'm heading off to Brasil next Thursday - fully loaded. Glider, harness, backpacking gear, and a bike.. Jack Simmons is joining me for the 3 week trip. First week will be at the competition near Porto Alegre, then we'll head north up the coast at a leisurely pace, checking out site after site and meeting up with old friends along the way. Uruguay and the Pantanal may find their way into my itinerary as well, but plans are still in the air and funds are limited. At some point I hope to slip away on the bike with my backpack and get a closer look at one of my favorite areas for a while - the high plains just behind the coastal mountain range at the RS/SC border. I've only sped through in a car a couple times and I'm sure there is a lot more to it.

Here is Morro do Ferrabraz in Sapiranga, site of the nationals last year, and again this year. Just perfect:

photo by Manu Sanches

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6500 feet just northwest of Caguas, PR

View of San Juan looking to the northeast

North shore with the deserted landing strip in the upper left of the photo

A few more pics from the last week in Puerto Rico. The dragonfly had to be flown back to Arecibo from Humacao and I ended up flying it over the edge of San Juan and out to the north shore for a quick swim at a deserted beach before hopping back in for the last leg to the Arecibo airport. Flew past a two lane drag strip lined on both sides with bleachers and completely blackened by burned rubber. I couldn't resist one quick run before heading home.
For who hasn't been down there, it has some great flying and is a really cheap roundtrip ticket from anywhere in the states. I will probably be back at some point now that we have the dragonfly available, to attempt a true end to end crossing of the island - towing up over the east shore and landing on the western beaches.

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On Thursday I set the new Puerto Rican distance record as I passed the 52 mile mark, over the west end of Ponce - a town named after the first governor of the island (de Leon) - elected just barely 500 years before my overflight.

After meeting a local Puerto Rican pilot in the process of buying a Dragonfly, I decided to go and help out with the set up of his new flight park. He decided I needed to break the long-standing XC record to maximize publicity of the grand opening.

Just about five hours after getting off a plane and taking a nap, we were on the morning sports radio show speaking prophetically of my still unflown record. It seemed like dangerous shit talk to me, considering the extremely small chance of encountering the necessary conditions to complete the task. For the rest of the week the station would advertise our upcoming event - and air my shit talk.

Five days later, after sorting the tandem glider, tug, accessories, potential tow sites, etc - a couple of locals felt like flying Cubuy and I figured I should give it a try. After all, if I flew a record that day I wouldn't have to worry about it on the weekend of the grand opening.

We headed up a little late to the sweet grassy launch overlooking the east shore. Clouds were streeting and it was definitely go time if I wanted to make the west coast before sunset. Conditions were (apparently) epic, because 3.5 hours later with little trouble I was in a farm field a short distance from the southwestern corner of the island, with 84 miles in the bag. It felt about like an 84 mile comp task normally feels - about a dozen thermals from 3-600 up, long flat glides, and great clouds.

Below is the photo-tour, tracklog coming..

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Tool of the trade:

On Tuesday I came back from lunch and decided I didn't feel like working on pods, so I hopped in the T2 without my wallet, phone, or packup gear. The lines worked so well that after a few minutes I was on my way to Wallaby. I just couldn't give up such a good day this late in the year. On my way down an Atos passed under me heading the opposite direction. After turning at Wallaby I soon found myself on a 15 mile final from about 4700 feet into a light headwind. My wing ate that for lunch and had about 500 feet to spare.
Joe Bostik came over Wednesday and took my glider out for a test fly and didn't come back until late in the day after doing basically the same exact flight with a similar late day long final. Two days of out and back about 45 miles each time in late November. That's pretty sweet.

Here's the pink Dragonfly being packed into a 53 foot sea container for it's journey to Puerto Rico. Jamie, Ricker, and I are going to down there next month to do some tandems, freeflying, charity work, and party. This is just the beginning:

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Coming back from Ecuador is typically a letdown, but this was my view on my first night back.. a good way to ease back into the states.

Former US champ Joe Bostik is jumping back into the game this season and his first stop is Australia for the comp series starting this winter. I've got a 6030/Geko pod on rush for him and took some pics of the process. I popped it out of the mold this evening and when I get another 4 or 5 layed up and popped out, they're going to the clearcoater. When I can find the time I will begin the plug for next season's pod... bliNG BLING

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