Yesterday morning’s wind forecast looked promising but conditions became too wild to go out. The forecast for the afternoon, meanwhile, looked extremely weak and so I set about taking care of tasks at home but then later looked at the historical wind and face-palmed at the realization that FPS had ended up with really nice and stable wind for a good portion of the afternoon. Alas.
This morning looked poised to be too strong for flying up top but I came anyway on the thought that I could practice in the shelter of the training hill. As I was arriving I saw Joe’s jeep leaving the bottom to head up top. I stopped at the bottom briefly, somewhat incredulous, and ran into Asher who remarked that the wind seemed to be attenuating, and so we headed upward. Upon arriving at the top, however, I retained my incredulity but hung out with Joe long enough that he came around to my opinion (it did not take long).
Once at the bottom I set up with the intention of doing some uphill kiting and… Ariel came over and said he had contrived to lock himself out of his car and wondered if I might apply my brain to helping him figure out the situation. As it turned out what the circumstances required was more brawn than brain. He had told his car to enter a mode that would ignore the smart key being in the cabin and instead open only upon entering a code at the trunk. Sadly when closing the trunk a dangling strap prevented full closure which resulted in the locking mechanism engaging but the trunk keypad not activating. FAIL. I set about testing the hypothesis that I could apply enough weight to the hatch it might activate the keypad. Eventually I hung off the hatch’s lip as if it were a crimpy rock climbing hold, Ariel found that the keypad had activated, and… fat-fingered the code. GAH! He tried the keypad again and… it wasn’t working. “Well,” I said, “maybe you had one chance and you blew it”. I hung myself off the hatch in a few different positions and eventually the pad came to life again, he got the code to work, and there was much rejoicing. WHEW.
One of the big takeaways from my uphill kiting work was that I was starting out too low out of an excessive concern about strong wind. After that the other was that I needed to be using raw brake inputs versus employing the brake toggles. The former provides not only a greater range of inputs, which is critical for light and variable wind conditions, but also makes it easier to jump back on the As to lift the wing if it starts collapsing. Making this switch-up I found myself able to make much quicker and more reliable progress up the hill. I got in a couple of short and direct-to-bottom flights of no particular interest except that they set me up to practice my uphill kiting again.
As the day played out the wind stayed locked into a strong but smooth and southerly configuration and so I returned to FPS around 1600 for an evening session. Mostly this proved frustrating. At the outset I had a messy deflation, having again started too low, and in the process stepped through the lines and “corrected” in a way that did not reverse things but rather exacerbated them, as well as apparently threaded the wing through the lines. I gave up on trying to reverse things and instead unclipped the wing from my harness and set about starting from scratch. UGH. Pretty much the opposite of glamorous and glorious. I eventually managed to get in a moderate amount of kiting and a single baby flight but overall the experience was more illustrative of the work I need to do to close various skill gaps that directly/immediately satisfying.
Today was a reminder that getting my P2 rating was just the beginning. Now that I am out fooling around in a much wider range of conditions it is evident that I have my work cut out for me. Ben gave me a very solid foundation but now I’ve got a lot of building to do atop that.