Thursday, October 30, 2008

30 Seconds to Landing

Above, a recent low-res clip of a landing in W. Oregon (if you don't see it, it's because I'm reloading this with a much higher-quality clip than the original). This is the end of a 12-minute flight with a maximum altitude of about 1,800 feet. I come in a little fast, but the landing is safe. At the beginning you can see power lines under me; don't worry, I had an eagle eye on them and knew that I was well above and clearing them. Any lower, however, and I would already have made a hard turn to land in an alternate field, but I was not too concerned about them. On the radio another pilot, not my instructor, pleads for me to turn right, into the wind, at the end...which I was planning on doing before he started worrying.

The important thing: the beauty of unpowered shot at takeoff, one shot at landing. There's no engine to help out, you have to get it right. This concentrates the mind wonderfully!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Flight Checklist

Above, a checklist I keep on my left arm during paraglider flights (the image is stiched together from two video frames taken duing a recent flight; I'm at about 800 feet over the desert terrain of Eastern Oregon). The items will change with my experience and the circumstances; for example, in the Arctic, this coming winter, a few items will be added, and many of these removed.

'7-point check'; before takeoff, check both leg straps buckled (1,2), torso buckle (3), both riser carabiners attached and locked (4,5), helmet strap buckled (6) and proper kind of helmet on head (7); to this I've added 'reserve handle' (check I can reach emergency parachute deployment handle and that it is unobstructed), radio (be sure it's on, and on correct channel), and variometer (be sure it's on; this device uses and audio signal to give me information about climb and descent rates).

'No Seat on TO'
means to stabilize my flight just after takeoff, rather than worry about comfort and getting straight into the proper, seated position.

'Clear Turns'
means to look where I'm going to turn, both to avoid collision with other paragliders and to signal my intention to nearby pilots.

'Fly Actively'
means to always be aware of what the wing is doing, and to be 'trimming' it with weight shift and brake control as eneded.

'Let Wing Fly'
is, in a way, counter to 'Fly Actively'; it means that while I want to be sensing the wing's actions and what that means about the wind, I don't want to overdo it; if the wing is flying well, let it be.

'T-Approach 45 degrees'
refers to my final approach and landing setup.

'PLF Ready'
reminds me to be prepared for a Parachute Landing Fall in case I come in too fast. Although a paraglider isn't a parachute, some aspects of landing one have similarities to landing a parachute.

And below, a photo (by Chris Barton), of me flying my ITV "Nunki"; it's an ancient wing (1992) but it flies and for the moment, that's all that matters.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Without Visible Means of Support

In his quirky, ramshackle, and very human book on the history of gliding aviation (I would call it "A Folk History of Aviation"), Richard Miller wrote that while powered aviation might best describe the technicalities of flight, "gliding is its eloquence."

Above, a unique (hair-raising!) way to launch; take-off of the flying machine of one Mr. Cloyd Artman, who, in the 1930's, built and tested his own gliders in the high deserts of the Pacific Northwest. Surprisingly, he survived these experiments and had a long gliding career.

The book is "Without Visible Means of Support" by Richard Miller (1967).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Night Glide

A photo (by Chris Barton) of a low-flight training session on the Oregon coast. I've 'negated' it to simulate appearance of Winter flights coming up on Alaska's north slope, around mid-December. The dark sky and bright snowy shore / sea ice won't look too different from this image, in which a pilot is 'skimming' the surface. I'm following, flying the wing in the background.

Of darkness, aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote;

"Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree."

-- "Night Flight" ("Vol de nuit"), 1931.