Sunday, May 20, 2007

Fly Ranch

I finished my flying in the USA and was heading to Argentina to meet my connecting flight to Australia. Unfortunately I was going to spend 16 hours at the airport waiting for my flight. So I had this bright idea that I would send Falvio from Fly Ranch a email to see if it was possible to come out and see his flight park.

Just before I boarded the flight he had already replied and said he would be at the airport waiting for me. After some long hours sitting on the plane I was greeted with a big smile and a hug. This was going to be my first time that I had really been out of the airport and I was looking forward to it.

Here is the van he picked me up in at the airport.

It was Sunday morning which meant it was a busy day at the airpark so we headed straight there. Well I few minor stops to pick up the tug pilot and get fuel so that we would make it there. After about one good hour of driving we finally reached Fly Ranch which is located just off one of the main highways south of the city.

This place is a shared property with the hang gliding school and a sky diving center that seems to operate flawlessly. There was no action yet as it was theory day and all the students were learning about 20 of them before they could go flying. I met them all and then had a quick tour around the flight park to check out all the facilities.

I was very impressed with place it has a café, bar, swimming pool, camping, club house and a very big hangar that was all built by Flavio in the last 10 years. The theory finished and now it was time for them all to go flying and have some fun.

Here is the parachute repacking place in the hangar.

I am amazed on how well the sky divers and the towing works here operating and landing in the same spot. I spoke with Flavio and he told me that he has done 1500 tandems from this flight park and more than 4000 tows without an incident. I was now about to witness this operation up close and see how they all tow.

They towed all day long maybe 30+ tows with beginners and tandems and I was very impressed with the quality that I saw. I did not see one single person get out of control or even have a bad landing. There were sky divers and hang gliders landing at the same time within 50 meters of each other and it looked like an every day practice.

This sky diver got so close that he decided to extend his freefall!!!

Due to very little sleep the last 2 nights and having my harness cut open by USA security I was not able to fly. Well of course I could borrow gear but I was happy to just be there helping out instead of sitting by myself at the airport all day long.

Flavio took me back to the airport and along the way we ended up in a protest blocking the 4 lane highway. Some guys had blocked the road with their cars and made a line of branches across the road and lit them on fire. The police were there but did not seem to do much apart from keep the peace between the angry motorist and the protestors.

Apperently he was not able to hang on for too long so continued to freefall!!

Eventually we got the airport only to find out that my flight had been cancelled. The next flight will not be for 2 days so I am now stuck in Buenos Aires. I am staying right in the middle of the city at a nice hotel and I get food 4 meals a day and transport back to the airport.

I would suggest that if you are ever in this area you stop in here and fly or at least say hello to all the friendly locals. They tell me November and December are the best months to fly here with thermals to 3,000 meters and the longest flight set 5 years ago was 200kms. Does not look like they try to hard for long distance flights but I am sure they are all satisfied enough with just the essence of free flight. It seems that they focus more on training than anything else which is very nice to see for a change.

For more information you can visit there website at
Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Santa Cruz flats results!!

Santa Cruz flats results click Here.
Friday, May 11, 2007

Day 3

Well I am not sure how much better this place can get but we are all really enjoying the flying here. Today we had a vote on who wanted to come back here or land away and nearly everyone wanted to land back at paradise. We ended up calling a 107kms box task with 3 turn points progressively getting harder toward the end. Today was the first day that everyone had the chance of making the start and all but 3 pilots did the first start. Dustin, Jeff and I waited for the last start and I was able to catch up to the field by the 2nd turn point. The conditions here change dramatically on the first leg I was getting strong climbs to 11,000ft and then we had also some good climbs on the 2nd leg. When we got to the 3rd leg we had a headwind and the climbs were not as good and we were having troubles getting back through 6,000ft. I pushed low along this leg which proved to be a mistake as they guys that hung back in light lift got high and sailed over me. I rounded the last turn point about 1,000ft below Dustin and Dave and was forced to go down wind to look for lift. They headed straight crosswind for goal and were rewarded with a climb on the other side of the green fields. I hit a climb and then pushed low to try and catch up with Dustin and when I got there to his thermal I was really low. I saw a huge dust devil form just in front of me and I dove in there with my hands firmly wrapped around my carbon basebar. It is amazing the thoughts that go through your head at a time like this especially after hearing that Phil tumbled the day before in California. I was thinking I was high enough to get my chute out if I got into trouble but it turned out to be not so bad. Because it is so dusty here just about every thermal is a dust devil which makes it easy to see unlike the invisible ones that we are used too. I topped out to around 9,000ft 24kms from goal and then went on final glide. Dustin was much higher than me and out in front getting good air and I could tell he was going to make it easy. I got drilled and had to take another climb 15kms out to make sure that I would get in with a safe height. 5 Pilots will make goal with Dustin winning the day in 2hrs 22 minutes followed by me then Dave Cameron. The 2 Marks will come in a little later with a few pilots landing just short. I have flown 340kms in 3 days and have not packed my glider up yet how much better can it get? To find out you had better come here next year for a first hand experience.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Other Blogs

For more photos and stories check out Jamies and Jeff's blogs who are also covering this event. Jeffs Jamies

Day 2

Today was looking like another good day with light winds a 105kms bow tie task was called. We started about 30 mins earlier today and again I was the first to tow up. I struggled for the first 45 minutes to get up but eventually was able to start at 7,500ft.

I started with Chris, Jeff and Davis to the right of course line and we had the best start out of the field. The next few climbs are not great but once we get within 15kms from the turn point we hit a strong climb to just over 10,000ft. I was on top and pushed onto the turn point getting another 800 up I hit the turn point at 10,500ft then headed back to the 2nd turn point.

I hit another great climb about 12kms from the 2nd and will top out to 12,000ft with Davis, Chris and Jeff below me. We all hit the turn point and Chris was climbing in about 200 up below and decided to glide to the 3rd turn point. I did a 25km glide without hitting anything and will end up low 5kms before the last turn point. I hit a light climb and drift slowly toward the turn point then I see the others coming over me much higher.

They had topped out behind me in that light thermal to over 11,000 ft which will give them a 35km final glide. Dustin was behind us the whole day but managed to get some good climbs and came in above Chris, Davis and Jeff at the 2nd turn point. I will get low just after the last turn point and have to find a climb to get to goal whilst the others are on final.

I find a dust devil and enter low and climb out until I get my numbers for final. Dustin will win the day 3 seconds ahead of Chris and Jeff will be 1 second behind him. Davis will be a couple minutes behind Jeff then I will be 1 minute behind Davis. Scott Gravelle was the last one to make goal about 1 hour later.

After we landed we had a huge dust storm that came ripping through the resort. The winds reached 40 mph and we were all covered in dust as we spent the whole time baby sitting our gliders so they did not blow away.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Santa Cruz Flats Day 1

Well a good day today with a 130km triangle task returning to this paradise in the desert. The winds were not to strong but there seemed to be a headwind on every leg which made it difficult for many people. There were reports of pilots getting over 14,000ft but it was so cold that I had to pull out at 12,000ft. The land here is amazing and I really enjoyed the flight today despite the rough conditions. Only 5 pilots made goal with me in 1st Chris 2nd and Jeff 3rd. Everyone here is really enjoying themselves and we hope to continue getting this great weather all week.

Winners are grinners especially when there are margaritas at goal waiting for you..

Monday, May 07, 2007

Paradise in the desert!!

Here are some photos I took today of our Golf resort that we are staying at in Casa Grande. This feels like we are living in a good dream and that we are not really competing in the middle of the desert..

You can see the runway on the right hand side of the picture when you double click on it. If your not here your missing out and I can guarentee after the week is over this comp will become popular.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Cinco De Mayo

We arrived here at our resort just in time for Cinco De Mayo.
There is no better way than to celebrate the Mexican holiday than sitting here drinking margaritas by the pool at our new club med. I am excited about the comp here and it looks like there is only about 15 pilots so it will be a small meet but should have some great flying. Today cloud base was around 10,000ft but the wind was around 30 knts so there was no flying.
The picture below is of our little club Med and if you look close enough the airstrip is behind the resort.

Road Trip

Day 6

Today was going to be our longest day of driving as we need to be in Phoenix by midday staurday. After a quick visit to david's new house that he is renovating we hit the road for the 14 hour trip to Flagstaff Airzona.
There was not a lot to see a long the way but we did have time to stop and check these cars out. Not sure if they got picked up and dumped here by a tornado as they seemed to be just in a farmers field on the side of the road. I found some spray paint and left us a little tag behind to show we had been there.

Day 5

After a nice relaxing few days in Columbus it was time to start driving again. Our first stop was only a couple of hours up the road at Graceland. This town is the home of Elvis and apparently we could not drive by without checking his place out.

Here we are standing in front of Elvis's house in Graceland.

We did the Elvis tour through his house which was kind of cool to see how bad of taste he really had. I guess he was so popular he could have done anything he wanted and still he would have a house full of girls.

After some lunch it was time to get back on th road and continue our drive to Oklahoma City where we would be spending the night at David Glover's parents house.
About 7 hours later we arrived at Hyla and Toms house with a big warm welcome.

This is a storm that we drove through just before we arrived.

We had some dinner there and learned some more interesting things about david that we did not know. Tom is an architect and their house was really nice almost as nice as their hospitality. We had a great night and I will be sure to return whenever I am in the area.

Here is a picture of Tom,Jamie,Hyla and I at their house..
Thursday, May 03, 2007

Day 4

The sky the last few days here has been awesome looking with puffy clouds around 10,000ftagl.It is killing us not having our gliders here and having no way to get in the air. We have to find things to do to keep our mind off the sky.
We decided to go looking for shark teeth in the banks of the river today. We put the boat in the water out at the farm and went upstream in search of shark teeth. As we were cruising up the river I could not help but notice how this river would also be perfect for a boat towing operation.

We found a spot in the river where Chris used to go looking for sharks teeth so we pulle dup on the shore and began hunting. It was like going treasure hunting looking for teeth buried in amongst the river banks. I was the first one to find one and jamie said that we would not leave untill she had found one. About 15 minutes later Chris found one and Jamie was still empty handed.

After searching for about 1 hour we were convinced (well Jamie was anyway) that there was no more shark teeth left here. So we left with only 2 teeth as it was starting to get late. We did a little more cruising around the river before returning to the farm.

Here we are cruising down the river!!!

Here I am standing on the bow about to fall in the river!!

Here are the teeth that Chris and I found but we are still missing one...

Jon Laws Jr

Chris's relative Jon Jr is a super nice guy that is in his late 70's and every year on his birthday he still gets out behind the boat and goes barefoot skiing. We also found out that in the old days he used to do some boat towing here in the river. Jon Jr showed us this picture of him flying his wing behind the ski boat here in Mississippi.

The farm

Here is a picture of the farm where we have been riding the motorbikes and launching the boat from to go up the river and look for shark's teeth.
On the bottom right you can see the houses and the rest of the place is full of lakes and bushland to terrorize.

Day 3

After sleeping in a liitle we had some lunch then went out to the farm to ride some quad bikes. This place has everything and Jon Jnr who is one of Chris's relative is more than happy to let us use all his toys.
Here are some pictures of us having fun out on the farm.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Eating lunch in the south!!

We went out for lunch today at the kountry kitchen. I had some fried green tomatoes,mashed potato, corn bread and squash and onion stew.

Here is a picture of jamie and I in the southern restuarant.

On our way home we pulled up behind this truck at the traffic lights. With bumper bar stickers like this one you truly know that you are in a different part of the world!! You can click on any of these photo's for a bigger version.

Austrian Nationals

Well the 3 day comp has finished and yet again it appears the moyes boys dominated the field. the first day saw a 217kms out and return task with only Elio and Thomas making goal. Day 2 seemed to be a shorter flatlands task of around 100kms. I believe no one made goal and Robert won the day landing around the 60km mark. Day 3 The weather looks as if it was getting worse as they called for a 64km task. Not sure how many made goal buut Robert won the day again followed closely by Michi and Elio with our very own Dave seib in 5th. Elio was flying the Litespeed RS 4 in Australia last season and now he has donwsized to the RS3.5 and seems to be doing very well. Overall results: 1) Elio Cataldi- Litespeed RS 3.5 2) Thomas Weissenberger- Litespeed RS 4 3) Robert Reisinger- Litespeed RS 4 4) Michael Friesenbichler- Litespeed RS 3.5 5) Dave Seib- Litespeed RS 4 6) Seppi Salvenmoser- Litespeed RS 3.5 7) Manfred Trimmel 8) Dietmar Tschabrunn


This is a picture of the mansion we are staying in here in Culumbus Mississippi. The river is just accross the road and a few kms south is Chris's family farm. They have ski boats their own private beach lots of motorbikes and plenty of land to go adventuring on.