When I arrived at FPS this morning the wind was running hot and so I pulled into the parking lot at the bottom of the hill and worked on uphill kiting toward a protected launch. I ascended roughly to the shelf and made a go of it but regrettably sunk out fairly quickly. I should have pushed a little higher before committing to a flight. Alas. Back at the bottom I opted to pack up and drive to the top on the thought that this would afford me the opportunity to use the toilet up there and then I would hike down partway from the top to do another sidehill launch.
After hiking down a little ways I took the time to capture some hi-rez proof of another of Joe’s knee rehab milestones as he went flying on his 16m glider for the first time since returning to the sport…
Subsequently I hiked down a little more, began unpacking my wing, and UGH… I had not hiked down adequately and the wing got veritably sucked out of the bag, making it screamingly obvious that the wind was still too strong where I was. As another pilot buzzed me he shouted down “is that a full wing?” to which I replied “yeah, I need to hike down further…”. I awkwardly carried both the wing and the harness farther down the hill, laid things out, took a moment to ponder the circumstances, and began to think that this was maybe more than a little bit stupid. The wind was still crack-a-lackin (because while I was hiking down it was amping up), my wing’s lines were a mess, and a scan of my surroundings indicated that by this point the only aircraft aloft was a sole hang-glider. I also heard what I thought might have been a hallucinated “don’t fly!” which had actually been Ariel shouting down from the top of the hill. In frustration I packed up my wing and slogged my way back to the top. Bleh. Better to be annoyed than injured or killed.
I drove back to the bottom and returned to the pattern with which I had started the morning. I kited up the hill for three short and not particularly satisfying flights. I kept finding myself in a situation where the wind was tugging me up off the hill but after I spun around to fly the wind proved grossly inadequate. I guess this means the conditions were fairly thermic.
I returned to FPS in the evening ~1600 and had a less eventful but equally blasé evening. Strong wind had me setting up at the bottom once again and as soon as I inflated I saw a worrisome amount of pebbles in my three center cells. Since flying with this encumbrance felt reckless and stupid I focused on resolving this issue first as sunlight and wind slipped between my fingers. Eventually I figured out that my seemingly best option was to inflate the wing, force it to do a half rotation, and then build an inverted wall to have gravity force the junk to slide out of the wing.
After getting my wing to a safe state the wind had attenuated sufficiently that I switched from uphill kiting to simply hiking. Slightly above the shelf I set up for a reverse inflation, thinking that I would kite a little higher, but the wind was continuing to weaken and I was tired, so once I got the wing up I muttered “fuck it”, spun around, began sprinting down the hill, and flew back to my car uneventfully.
Some days are better than others. No magical flights, but also no injuries, plenty of practice kiting, getting to see a friend hit a sweet injury rehab milestone, and also some beautiful light effects at sunset… I can’t really complain.