29 September 2005

3 Days Later

The gliders needed more time than expected to prepare, mostly because the frames for the sail replacements needed a lot of work.

But we did hit the road, and of course, right in the middle of Rio rush-hour traffic. The 3 hour drive into the mountains, Serra da Mantiqueira, took 6 hours. Stayed at a friend´s hotel overnight, Casa Alpina. Was cool up in the mountains, but 2 blankets made for a cozy sleep.

Reached Andradas around 3pm the following day, and we drove straight up the hill. What a beautiful site, with a grass North and South launch, and facilities.

The North launch faces a higher plateau so only has 250m vertical, the South side has heaps of height. It was a North launch day, and standing at edge of the hill, the LZ sure looked close. Some paragliders were sitting around on launch, not looking too inspired, but I decided to give it a go. The air was so smooth as I launched, that I couldn´t help but drag my fingers through the golf course like groomed grass... gotta stop doing that.

Light air but do-able. The plan was to land at a polo club owned by a pilot, about 70km away. I was way late getting to launch so it was looking too late to make the 70km before the 5pm deadline. Apparently it´s difficult to stay in the air past 5pm.

A few 2.5m/s (5min average) thermals along the way but the rest were 1m/s. It has rained for the last couple days so that might explain the softness; the forecast is good, though.

Didnt´t have the chance to fly with anybody today, but the many urubus (vultures) bailed me out every so often.

Of course I got low a couple of times, and it took a second try on my final glide to get it right. The numbers fell apart but then a slow climb-out over a 100m hill with some urubus brought me back to the glide line.

Was way cool to come in diving at a polo field. As I approached I could see there was a really nice pool, and someone practicing. More nice grass to breakdown on, and my glider is down with that.

This flight put me in a good mood and since my glider is flying just nice... all is cool in Brett town.

Just caught up with Betinho and met his little boy... too cute.

Dina time.

28 September 2005

Adeus Argentina

Taking off from Buenos Aires

The strike was resolved within a day, so the next morning I was back at the airport trying to get on a flight to Rio. Managed to find space for my half-ton of baggage but not myself; at least not until the following day. So my gear spent a day in a storage room in Rio and I had the chance to check out Buenos Aires a little more.

A busy city, like most, punctuated by historical landmarks. Smiling faces and laughter everywhere! Makes me feel so embarrassed to be a citizen of Canada and Australia, where every opportunity is available, to fly around the World racing hanggliders, and yet still manage to find time to be unhappy.

Found some of the most profound statues that I've ever seen. A God, surrounded by rearing horses, appeared to be in static motion. Refusing to allow time to dampen, erode, degrade the intensity of the moment. He stands high above the city floor, unwilling to surrender eternity, as 2005 moves on real-time.

Got on the flight to Rio... as we approached Brazil, the clear weather was replaced by an expansive cold front. Lots of rain, so no in-flight pics. It only took 3 hours to get the gliders through customs- that's fast by the way. It was a 50/50 mix of talking with customs agents and maneuvering hanggliders through the crowds, doors, and other obstacles. When every last glider was safely on the roof of the two trucks that came for me, I wanted to pop open a bottle of champagne... or more like a bottle of Gatorade.

Headed over to Nixon's new mansion, with a detour for some pizza- the real kind. One had 4 types of mushrooms with cheese, the other had chocolate and strawberries... yeah that's it.

Nixon's place is awesome; still being finished, but has a lot of potential. About half the glider storage space as the Moyes factory, a repair shop and a setup area. A pool with a waterslide seals the deal. Customers can wait for their gliders to be fixed while having a swim or sipping on a café in the open-air lower floor. Nixon has employed an ex Brazilian hangglider manufacturer, Carlos (AKA Casperzinho), to service gliders, so the work will be professional.

Tomorrow we're going to build some gliders, replace some sails, and do some performance tuning. The day after we'll head for Andradas, in the state of Minas Gerais, to explore the interior with our gliders. Hmmm... that's a great idea!

Back on schedule.

23 September 2005

Pilots On Strike!

Landed in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the last connecting flight to Rio de Janeiro, and immediately I noticed that something was strange.

Despite being in transit, the officers insisted that I go through immigration and customs. Then the reality started to leak out into the crowds... the pilots where not going to fly! Apparently a crew did show up for my flight to Rio, but finally withdrew due to pressure from the union.

It was an ugly scene. Every area of the small airport, packed with frustrated passengers. "CANCELADO" flashing in red across every screen. Camera crews showed up to film the action. Every time someone lost their temper , the whole crowd starting applauding and whistling. One guy was so mad, he broke the glass window at a counter... that's when the national police showed up.

Other arguments broke out spontaneously in the crowds, between passengers and the ground crew that could do nothing to solve the problem. They would stand nose to nose, shouting and gesturing with their hands past each others' shoulders. If they were any closer, they'd be beating each other.

After 10 hours of sitting on the floor waiting for something to happen, finally Aerolineas Argentinas put me in a bus to a hotel downtown. There was a huge storm outside, but it was a welcome relief from the heat and frustration inside.

Rolled up to a 5-star hotel and after a long jacuzzi bath and some fine dining, I was feeling much closer to forgiving Aerolineas Argentinas than I could have imagined a few hours prior.

I don't know what's going to happen now, I'll know more in the morning. Time to sleep.

Mind Play

All 450kg of gear made it on the plane... lucky lucky. After loading all that through the airport I was happy to find showers there. Felt brand new and ready for a long, long plane ride.

When you know you're going to be in the same seat for 24 hours, it kind of forces you to relax, doesn't it? I mean what the hell are you going to do or fix during the flight... jack squat! You can't do nothing about nothing so you may as well work something out in your head. It's the perfect time to findify some answertude.

My mindplay on this flight was glider tuning. After mess'n around with some ideas in Sydney, I still had more to try. It's surprising how many questions you can answer with a few hours of undistracted focus. Sure, testflying is essential, but all the pre-thought prepares you to notice the most subtle but critical clues during the sensory flood of a flight.

I'm waiting in transit in Auckland, New Zealand at the moment. Looking around me at the hundreds of passengers wandering aimlessly, staring at their duty-free receipts and listening to the way-loud boarding announcements... my head is filled with a singular thought... Hanggliders are awesome!

21 September 2005

Mad Rush

Sunrise at Bronte Beach

Amazing how quickly a week can pass when you're busy and having fun. It's a real treat to stay with Bill Moyes at his beachhouse at Bronte. Molly's gourmet cuisine makes me not want to leave the house!

I've been jetlagged and waking up at sunrise around 5am. After going for a run in the wet sand and then a swim in the surf, I'm left feeling... Could a day start any better?

In the evenings I've been tired but still motivated to hit the gym or go for a run. The narrow streets through the rolling coastal hills make it interesting. This is a beautiful city.

With a day to go it looks like all the gear will be ready.

19 September 2005

Cathay Pacific Airtime

Moyes Headquarters

On Approach to Sydney

Transit in Hong Kong

Ya know, I don't mind long plane rides. Lack of sleep, unfamiliar airports, miscellaneous time zones that you just can't keep track of, anonymous people that you don't have to talk to (bonus); you never really know what time it really is or where you are... is the sun rising or setting?

It puts you into a kind of alternate state. You're in transition, neither here nor there. Wandering along endless transit hallways, brightly lit and largely devoid of people reminds me of that hallway leading to the Source in the Matrix. That portal where you are confused about where you've been and where you are going, maybe even if it happens in that order.

Lots of time to think... about anything. You can ponder the significance of your existence, or figure out how to use the self timer on your camera and take pictures or yourself. I did both.

Result: Lots of pics, no luck on the significance part.

Got to the Moyes Factory and Steve Moyes had just left to go testflying on the coast at Stanwell Park. So I just chill'd today, but I'll be ready for some action tomorrow. Ten gliders to testfly so it may be a long one!

The Day Before

With a day to go before leaving I decided to hang with some friends on the hill at Woodside.

Bob Krider needed some help tune'n his LSS4.5 so I spent the day in light overcast conditions getting it flying nice and peachy.

It was one of those quiet lazy days... friends, wings, and the mountain. That's the way it should always be.

14 September 2005

Monsta Trip

After a few weeks of only local airtime, I'm ready for some real flying!

Just accepted a Moyes mission to compete in the last stage of the Brazilian Hanggliding Nationals.

The first stop from Vancouver is the Moyes glider factory in Sydney, Australia, to build a new secret weapon. Well, that and surfing. Then to Rio... and a long drive to Andradas.

The comp is in a part of Brazil that I haven't flown yet; I'm looking forward to the adventure of this new playground. From what I've heard, it's a semi-arid part of the interior, with rolling hills.

The Brazilians are fast and super-confident in their own country; it's going to be an intense time!

Check out this itinerary: Vancouver-->Hong Kong-->Sydney-->Auckland-->Buenos Aires-->Rio de Janeiro

About 60h just to get there... lots of time to think. It'll leave me smelling of Eau de Boeing, for sure.

Still have a couple of days to pack.

[VLOG] A Walk in the Garden II

Do we need a reason to fly?