I would like to tell you about a story that happened some time ago. I don’t know why I didn’t post it before… In May, I was working in Wendover, UT. I told you a little story about the lake I swam in but flying…. I somehow missed
I wanted to have an SIV clinic… sometimes called a maneuvers clinic. It is a training event that you learn to react properly to an adverse event in the air…. Collapses, frontal deflations, spins etc.. My confidence had been somewhat damaged by the wreck in Colombia. I have flown a few times at the Point of the Mountain Utah. It’s a fairly easy, ridge soaring and thermal flying site.. one of the reasons it is so awesome a place to learn.. Beautiful, laminar air blows in the afternoon from the Great Salt Lake or from the South, which also produces strong, smooth reliable ridge lift in the early morning.
I bring Scout with me today.. actually, every time here. He loves it and nearly all the pilots love him back. He is thrilled to be free to roam the windy ridge while I play. Its blowing pretty hard right now.. maybe around eighteen mph or more. Seems like a good time to practice my high wind kiting skills.
I notice a lot of people are having a tough time and worry a little but feel determined to at least get the wing laid out.
I pull my helmet on, buckle into my harness and grab the reigns. I lean into my seat and pull up on my A’s… the wing comes up fast. I pull my brakes and bring it back down but have to run full speed toward the wing because there is a great deal of energy in it.
WHAM! It slams down into the ground. My heart is pounding…. I hurt myself badly a few years ago doing the same thing. I have to gather myself.
I focus and practice in my mind twice. I have to have A’s, C’s and brakes. I need to get it up, over my head and under it as fast as possible.
I lay my wing back out, position my hands, take a half step back, and lift. Whoosh! The wing snaps up, I again put my weight into my seat, I let my feet scrape forward, and pendulum swing under my wing.
I balance it over my head and turn.
I am on my toes like an astronaut… I am held in the air… all except the maybe twenty pounds in my tip toes. I shove my chest forward and put my hands up behind me. I moonwalk bounce toward the edge of the ridge…. And I’m flying… sort of…. I’m parked about five feet up in the air.
A little right brake and I’m crabbing right, still facing forward.
This is fun! There is only one other person flying with me. The ridge is ours. We do a few slow laps and I practice touching down and taking off again in this robust wind. A few more people show up and I land. I’m happy for the early morning I’ve had. It has satisfied the deep need I have now for flight.
I watch some tiny speed wings playing in the strong air for a while.. I love watching. I love the colors and seeing them swoop the ridge. It is hypnotic.
My stomach growls and suddenly I remember that I haven’t had breakfast yet. Or coffee. I fold up my wing and as I head back to the parking lot I see the Superfly van. I stop a tall skinny fellow that looks like a pilot and ask about getting an SIV and he recommends a guy, Chris Santacroce…The owner of Superfly. . I’m warned not to call it an SIV though. “just ask him for a throwdown.” he says.
OK! I don’t care what the hell he calls it.
I’ve heard his name a few times before but don’t know much else. I also learn that it is $100 a tow. WOW! That’s expensive!
I screw down my reluctance to spend that kind of money and decide to phone him later in the afternoon.
He’s friendly, but sounds busy. We connect and come up with an idea he thinks is going to work. He’s mostly booked for clinics but if I come down, I might be able to get a shot if the weather is good. Count me in!
It is at Bear Lake, UT.. hm. Never heard of it, but I’m happy to give anything a chance..