Showing posts from 2006

Flight Club

What an awesome game!

It truly captures the dynamics of cross country racing, with an elegantly simple graphical interface.

So good is the game, that I feel similar mind processes going on while playing the game and while racing in the real sky. The basics, at least.

I'd go so far as to say that if you can reach the 100km goal in less than 100min, you have a working understanding of XC racing.

My best time is 89min. If you beat that, I'd love to hear how you did it!

Making equivalent 'real sky' decisions, with the sensory overload and fear that comes with real flying, is another story.

Pre World Hang Gliding Championship 2006

Results are here!

Gerolf reaches for base

Gerolf and Jonny talk tech in goal

On the road again... this time to the Pre Worlds in Big Spring, Texas.

Man, it's good to be here with so many elite pilots who are also my friends, to hang out and go racing. Comparing our latest gear and tactics is cool but what's special is that we understand each other and 'get' why we do this stuff.

Task 1

A 120km task with a 20km/h tailwind, base of 3000m and 3-4m/s climbs.

What an awesome day of flying! After 2 days of prep-ing gear, a good day of racing was just what I needed.

There were 3 startgates, 15min apart. Most took the middle start, and looking back it seems to have been the best choice.

Gerolf Heinrichs won the day with 1h 41min, followed closely by myself and Attila Bertok. When I saw Attila to my side, diving to goal, I was like 'it's on baby'... we kept trying to fly just a little faster than each other until it looked like we'd both land short. In the last 800m, I w…

UP Fast 2

Went into the valley to check out the Bridal Falls Air Races. Pretty cool... kinda like a flying festival atmosphere, lots of pilots, spectators and activities.

It was also a chance to get some more time on my new UP Fast 2 harness. I've had a crush on this harness from when I was still only flying hanggliders. Then they came out with the 2. I did some mods to it, to make it really skinny and more like a comp hanggliding harness. I'm pretty much there now and lov'n it! It's lite, tite and clean!

At lower launch it was blowing down and cloud was spreading-out over the back and putting us in shade. Lots of waiting and then Byron and I launched into a cycle that could be felt around the corner. Hit base before my first iPod track was over and did a bit of a tour of the valley before landing at the Golf course. It was really pleasant packing up on the clean grass, in the warm summer breeze, with so much colour on the ground and in the air. A brief flight 'cause I had to …

2006 Canadian National Hang Gliding Championship

Launching from Mount 7

Guess why it's called Mount 7 (hint: snow)

Scores and animated tracks

Golden, British Columbia, known for big mountains and big air, was the site for this year's Nationals.

We had unstable air and thunderstorms during the first few days, but were able to fly tasks between 5 and 8pm- usually out-and-returns of 50-70km.

The final 2 days were booming with 13,000ft bases and 4m/s climbs. A 104km task done in less than 2h and finally a 108km out-and-return on the last day.

Final Standings:

1st Brett Hazlett (Litespeed S4.5 carbon)
2nd Jon Orders AKA Spike (Litespeed S4- Jonny's 05 Texas glider)
3rd Jeff Rempel (Airborne Climax)

It was kinda cool to win for the 6th year in a row... a couple of guys are motivated and have been listening to want I've been telling them. They're starting to figure out what racing really is, so I might have to try harder next year!


West Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver

East into the Fraser Valley

Pull'n Strings

UP Targa 2- one kickass wing

Back before dark

Tons of hangtime on my flexy recently so I've been enjoying some quality time with my paraglider. A fun 35km XC flight in the Fraser Valley and some airtime over Grouse Mountain (over 4000ft)- 3 blocks from my place.

I'll never get over this flying thing!

Ground Effect

After my journey through the unfamiliar, it was cool to be back at my home site, Woodside, where every thermal is an old friend.

My buddy Tyler came out for the first time since his shoulder surgery. He was sore afterwards but had a big smile!

It was a really light day so I'd climb as high as possible, then spin down to a height that I could just climb back up from. I was trying out a new profile so it took a while to get dialed in again. A couple of times it was a little tense finding lift to climb back up.

When we had outlasted the last wave of paragliders, we landed at FlyBC's beautiful field. No wind and glassy smooth air makes for fun landings!

You'd think 4 hours of thermalling would've been enough but I rushed back up to fly my paraglider. Too late for lift and it was already blowing down so I had to double-speed run off the mountain. I held on to my risers and pulled myself upright to look down to the farmers' fields passing by... suddenly I felt like I was sit…



Spent a day in São Paulo, waiting for my flight, which gave me time to bullet-proof pack my carbon S4.5 and help Marcelo tune his paramotors.

Going for lunch was fun... speeding through downtown São Paulo on the back of his motorcycle, weaving through rush-hour traffic, had me closing my eyes for most of it.

It was sad to say good-bye to my friends, after spending the last 2 weeks together and sharing so many cool adventures, but I'm sure we'll meet again soon, somewhere.

The fairly long flight back to Canada was the perfect time to unwind, sip on a drink, and reflect over how awesome (used correctly) the last 5 weeks had been.

As we flew over the snowy peaked mountains of the Cascades, I was reminded that home was near... and just in time for Spring flying!

São Paulo State Championship

Feeling good in goal

The São Paulo State Championship or Campeonato Paulista, a 2-day competition, started on 6 May. Most of the best Brazilian pilots are from São Paulo so this felt more like a mini Worlds or something. Plus Brazil has some solid pilots that the rest of the World hasn't heard about because they never leave Brazil. And why would they... they developed within a country with the most varied flying conditions that I know of, and are influenced/inspired by some of the best pilots in the World: Betinho Schmitz, Nenê Rotor, Andre Wolf, and the Niemeyer brothers, to name a few.

Task 1

A light blue day encouraged the task committee to call a 55km straight-line task to an airport, with an expected initial tailwind and final headwind near goal.

With the light conditions nobody wanted to launch first. I had been ready on the North (low) side for more than 10min, waiting and watching. Some of the top guys came up to me and said that we should all launch together, but nobody wante…

Echoes and Reflections

This is Flytec country

Tickling spectators' bellies with my VG cord

It was awesome to be back in Andradas again; that place has come into my mind every so often since I first went there, last September. I was in the mood for some play flying, so I took the opportunity to practise my spins and do some relative work (me relative to spectators, bushes, paragliders, etc.) Made a paraglider friend on launch and soon we were doing syncro wing-overs just above launch, in the light lift. Touched his sail a few times too on fly-bys... when you get really close to a paraglider wing in-flight you realize how there is quite a steep angle to the aerofoil (high angle of attack). I noticed that as I flew past to touch the wing with my fingers, I had to dive below him slightly and then climb upwards as I flew pass, to contour the wing surface. A little tense, but fun.

Later I did some low passes along launch... soon there was a line of 5 people lying in the grass, side by side on their backs, waitin…

Let Live

The comps have ended. My friend is still gone. Every so often I think of him and my heart goes into momentary freefall. Gotta keep moving…

For a little change of feel, I decided on an adventure-rally-style flying trip in the South of Brazil with some long time pilot friends. No pilot meetings, controversy, or GPS timed finishes. Out here in this –World-, does a second mean 10 points lost? It means absolutely nothing, not even the word itself.

Packed my glider with foam sufficient for a parachute drop, to protect my all-carbon frame, and rode with the Colombians down to Miami to catch my flight to São Paulo. First a night in Miami, which is always nice.

Strange… suddenly I was in São Paulo at 11pm and dragging my 100lb glider through the airport. My friends were waiting, we loaded, and were doing 120km/h into the interior in 10min flat. Along the way we drove over a part of a truck transmission and it tore up our ride. Looked like Godzilla had gone to town on the chassis. Nothing that a l…

Flytec Task 5

The Winners

Rock On

A 100km out-and-return task that turns ugly as a massive apocalyptic thunderstorm blackens the sky and puts the whole field on the deck. A lone pilot, Jack Slocum (AKA Slow Come) started the course late and cruises in light lift kicked up by the gust front to be the only pilot in goal.

The following day, the chance of tornados in the forecast convinces the task committee to cancel the day.

Final Standings:

1st Oleg Bondarchuk
2nd Brett Hazlett
3rd Jonny Durand Jr.
4th Robin Hamilton

Flytec Task 4

Chris Smith goes for a evening flight after making goal

A 120km course surrounding the Green Swamp in classic Quest weather. The convergence setup over the swamp, creating an isolated area of buoyant air, light winds, and towering cumulus. We raced the course in just under 3h, with Oleg taking the day once again.

Flytec Task 3

Crossing goal last year

Some real Florida flying today with conditions that accelerated from 1m/s and 1000m to 4m/s and 1400m towards the end of the 100km task. It was like an explosion of atmospheric energy. The converging sea breezes created this warm compression zone with super buoyant air and towering cumulus. With each glide, the bar moved slightly more rearward as interthermal speeds begun at 60km/h and increased to 80km/h.

The usual match race during the last 20km was fun to watch and be a part of. Oleg and I raced side by side to the goal line, seconds apart, at 120km/h. Oleg got me by a couple of seconds as we skimmed the tree line into Quest, but it was a fair fight.

Flytec Task 2

Quest Air

Yo from the Master Jim Lee

On Course

At Base

Boys At Goal

After losing a day to wind, all of us were ready for a big day of flying. A cross tail 108km task to Avon Park would be our task.

Lots of puffy liar clouds to confuse us, all the more difficult with the initial 900m cloudbase. Conditions continued to get weaker for the first half of the course, ending with Jonny, Oleg, and I drifting for 5km while slowly losing 100m of height. Oleg said he was down to 260m AGL at one point. A bit tense at times but most of it was just a test of patience. As I drifted across a large lake, and watched Oleg's glider juxtaposed against the ripples of the water's surface, I was reminded how cool it was to be here and now exploring Florida's waterscape from the air.

The last part of the task contained a little convergence, as a small gift for our hard work thus far. Still we climbed fully and glided only a little faster than best glide to finally over-fly the developed urban terrain pr…

Flytec Championship Task 1

A 30km/h Westerly made the task call difficult, with Orlando airspace close downwind of Quest. The 102km crosswind out-and-return task was never completed. Myself, Oleg, Curt, and Bruno landed together to tie for first for the day.

It was one of those challenging days, where 5h of rough windy conditions drain your physical and mental energy. But once you're through it, you're glad you put in the effort.

The last little bit of the flight was really cool... a low save at 500ft near a forest but we had to follow it way downwind before getting any height. Then we were fighting straight upwind for the rest of the flight. Drifted over a couple of turqoise lakes; having something pretty to look at made the exhausting flight a little more pleasant.


Aerotowing at the US Nats

The wind finally weakened for the last day, so we flew an 82km task, starting with a difficult 15km upwind leg to the edge of the startgate. It took about 1.5h just to get in position for the start and required lots of patience and planning to fight the 30km/h headwind.

A blimp crossed our course line, which was interesting to see. Goal was a large airport on the west coast. The view of the ocean was spectacular.

Oleg, myself, and Jonny crossed goal, with a bit of a time gap before the next wave of pilots came in. The overall positions for the comp were:

1st Oleg
2nd Brett
3rd Curt
4th Jonny

Day 2,3,4,5,6 of the US Nats... wind and more wind. Too much for a picnic, too much for the beach.

Some went canoeing in the swamp, looking for gators, others went on fan boat tours of the glades. Bruce, Rob (crazy Dutch bastard), and I found a gym in La Belle to kill some time. Then we played with a blow cart (windsurfer and a 3-wheeled cart) at the airport, each of us nearly kil…