The morning offered southerly wind that initially appeared ideal but quickly strengthened. Arriving at FPS ~0900 I opted to pull into the bottom parking lot, rig up in the shelter thereof, and kite my way upward to two side-hill launches.
On the first pass I kited my way about half the distance to my launch point. There were many students at the hill and circumstances quickly became uncomfortably congested. With pilots launching every which way I regularly found myself jumping on my brakes and rears to prevent a surprise inflation as they sailed directly over me at low altitude. I eventually decided to rosette my wing and hike the latter half of my ascent.
During this hike I watched another pilot near my destination turn the wrong way after a reverse inflation, thereby creating a full riser twist, and subsequently slam into the ground, giving me serious worry that I had witnessed a severe back injury, except that he quickly got up and began fighting with an unruly wing until an instructor ran over and rescued him.
Eventually I would perform a reverse inflation that forced my hand and I launched a little lower than I would have liked. I wish I had run toward the wing to depower it and continue my ascent a little longer. I unsurprisingly sunk out after a couple of back-and-forths of the hill.
By my second ascent the students had cleared out and I could kite my way all the way up to the shelf without safety concerns. On this circuit I was hyper-vigilant about exploiting body motions to make the wing do my bidding. As it powered up I would both jog toward it as well as shuffle laterally to maintain moderate powering and deliberate directional progression. When I found myself in middling and variable wind I preferred an As-and-Cs technique to alternate rapidly between adding and removing power with hand inputs. As I got higher and thus into more consistently strong wind I opted for brake-toggle holds that had me ready to fly at a moment’s notice lest the wind unexpectedly pluck me.
Eventually I reached a height where I felt I ought launch, though frustratingly cravat’d the wing just before I wanted to go, and so reeled in asymmetric brakes and rears to creep up alongside the wing to sort it out. After this I was able to build a good looking wall and let’er rip. This flight was again on the short side and I regretted that I did not kite up just a little bit higher. Alas. I had been hesitant to push my luck as by this point the pilots aloft were limited to a couple of mini-wings, a sure sign that conditions has become spicy.
My two flights were less than excellent duration-wise but I executed them safely and left satisfied with having gotten some really quality practice with ground handling generally and uphill kiting specifically.