Flight Day #1158

Flew with Rob Norland. No drama.. stayed on the A’s during inflation and that helped. The poles have taken out the largest roads but there are going to be plenty of places to launch and land for the foreseeable future.

There was plenty of ground fog which made for a picturesque launch. After I watched Rob launch and the “parting of the fog”, I set up and followed him into the sky. Despite his reluctance to go out to the island, Rob made a beeline for Gasparilla Marina. Twenty minutes later he was back and we danced around each other for another 20 minutes.

It’s all good.

Flight Day #1157

It won’t be the last time I fly The Meadows but it’s coming.

Dear God….It’s been over a month since my last confession, flight #1156. I did penance by sailing a boat at walking pace from South America to Key West. So….I’ve got that going for me. Right?

The first thing I noticed, driving out to the LZ, was power poles. Hundreds of 50 footers sprouting up like a giant Punji Trap for Paragliders. Soon, they would be connected with power lines, dividing my patch into a web of city blocks where the, “low and slow”, would be, “dead and gone”.

My favorite intersection had become a “no go”. The poles closed off any escape to the North and the numerous copse of trees to the South were just too close together for comfort. I could still launch here and ninety nine times out of a hundred it would be flawless. But….

I’ve lost landing zones before. Some I flew for years before civilization pushed me out. Some were short term opportunities where developers had cleared the land and created a space that I could exploit for a few weeks. Some became home base where I could hang with my buddies and share our passion.

Eventually each one dissolved into the mist of the, “Good Ol Days”. It’s the way of a Paragliders life. Enjoy it while you’ve got it and when they kick you out … find someplace else.

But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go

There’s always someone, don’tcha know

Hanging around and sayin, we’ll I told ya so

Back in The Goodle days

And the Goodle Days

Are past and gone

A lot of good people have done gone on

And that’s my life when I sing this song

About back in the goodle days.

Credit: John Hartford

Flight #1156

After a long spell of weather I got a quick one in. The first attempt was a bust when the wing came up crooked . The breeze was very light on the surface but …I didn’t have a windsock … and it’s possible there was a decent crosswind 10ft above the prop wash.

The light red wind jacket was a help but it was cool. I chose to stay low and enjoy some low passes over the patch. The last several flights have been all about getting video of the carnage at the marinas. I was staying high to avoid any chance of a difficult recovery. A beeline for the Marina and spiral down for video.

Flying low, I could get a good look at the groves of trees that had been out in the open when the eye wall passed over. Without exception they were stripped to the bark. Groups of forty footers still standing proud…. but naked. I don’t know if they will come back. Time will tell. There was also a runabout buried in the mud next to a pond that looked like it was already sprouting fresh leaves. Flying over a lost Kayak I was reminded of the Texas WingNut’s Flying on Galveston Island.

Flight #1155

Nice flight. No Drama. Flew over to Gasparilla Marina and low and slow around the golf course.

I goofed, the wind died and the wing fell into the weeds. It came down like a wet nose rag. I spent 10 minutes untangling it and somehow in the process the wing cam detached from the inside magnet.

My 86 year young buddy Otis rode by to congratulate me for cheating death …. Again. I told him he was my hero for cheating it every day.

It’s all good.

Flight #1153

Arrived at the field 15 minutes before dawn. There was a low cloud cover and it was very dark. One patch of lightness was visible showing the only opening in the clouds. I had decided to bag it and drove almost back to Gasparilla Rd when I noticed that the clouds were starting to lift and break up.

Ten minutes later I was back at the launch where it was looking much better. There were a couple of blue holes I could use to get above the clouds and I could see that it would be possible to get glimpses to the surface good enough to keep my bearings.

The launch was normal and I enjoyed a nice cloud flight finishing with a beautiful glory that was captured very nicely by the wing cam. The landing was soft and witnessed by my cycling friend , 87 year old Otis.