Posted by: cokenias | November 4, 2011

Target Fixation

Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 13-16 mph WNW

Reverse launch from mid-Lemmings. The wing came up easily and I turned forward, with still a fair amount of launch in front of me. Instead of slow, powerful pushing torpedo steps, I ran quickly, resulting in a short swoop up, touchdown, up, touchdown. I felt the wing loading change on the second touchdown and I looked up, stopping forward motion and dropping the glider like a newb. Almost recovered it turning into reverse position and pulling brakes, but the lines were fouled in the GoPro so I focused clearing them instead.

Working with the glider where it fell, I kited it into a wall and started a second launch. Reviewing the video, I see I didn’t check for air traffic or yell Clear! before pulling it up. It had been a while since I looked behind me, even. No consequences. I turned forward and again launched with a bit too much ground speed, touching down twice but at least without unloading the wing this time.

Turned north over the Steps and cleared old Hwy 1 with plenty of height. Proceeded along the cliffs, turning back at the big slide, above the houses and well away from the ridge on this strong day. Moseyed around the park at about 900′ for a few minutes.

Used a few steep turns over the Plateau and set up an L approach first headed inland, then NNW into the wind. In a classic demonstration of target fixation, I landed gently one step in front of the most prominent bush in the LZ. The one with all the nothing all around it.

  • Launched with bad AoA by accelerating too quickly.
  • Unloaded wing by looking up at it forward kiting.
  • Target fixation while landing.

20 minutes
Mussel Rock (Lemmings), reverse launch.

Posted by: cokenias | October 19, 2011

Do it Again! Again!

Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 15-17 mph NW, Overcast, 12:45pm

One more before I gotta go to work. Set up downhill of Lemmings with my wing on the edge. Brought it up cleanly but had to chase it to mid-launch. Turned forward and found it a little difficult to penetrate. Launched into the wind and headed north over the Steps. AGAIN! Some fidgeting and risers grabbing (!) required to get properly comfortable. Definitely need to get harness settings dialed in.

Easily got up, turning back after the first slide (the tide is coming in, I want to stay near the main park while I’m low). Second pass in front of the slide pulls me up to cruising altitude about 100 feet above the cliffs.

Did two (distinct) steep 360 over the Steps and Plateau. Big ears to come down, let them out one at a time at about 75′ and 50′ behind the top road. Long smooth descent parallel to the road (north) turning directly into the WNW wind at the large gravel area by Lemmings. Final turn was at about 8 feet AGL, very gentle and without much bank.


  • Again, harness maladjustment made it difficult to get seated.
  • Let out big ears relatively low.
  • Landing plan included last minute, low-level turn.

0:13 minutes
Mussel Rock (Lemmings), reverse launch.

Posted by: cokenias | October 19, 2011


Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 15-17 mph W, Overcast, 11:00am

Set up a reverse launch with the wing on the edge of Lemmings and myself down the hill. I like launching this way in strong wind because it’s easy (and fun) to keep the wing weighted as it pulls me to the top of launch. A quick check of the lines and sky and I took off with good control and speed, turning north once airborne. I noticed a twig caught in the lines near my right wing tip and tried to clear it with a sharp tug on the stabilo. No luck, but it was an inconsequential twig, not worth my attention.

Easily ascended above the cliff tops (970′) where I put a bit more effort into shaking the twig free by stabbing the right brake and pulling the stabilo. No luck, oh well. At no time did this fiddling pull me off course. I was not changing the shape of the wing very much or for very long.

Ventured north until the Stables. I chose a less lifty (but prettier) path where the ridge line pulls back creating the mid-cliff plateau. Better lift is expected closer the ridge. Returned south, this time closer in, regaining most of the height I lost. I chose this route for the camera’s sake, but I wasn’t “flying the camera”. I never strayed far from the lift and had an appropriate altitude cushion (hundreds of feet). I wasn’t distracted, I was following a plan and focused on the flying.

Returned to the main park, lost height with lazy passes over the plateau, out of the lift band. Set up a classic DBF landing on the back gravel road. Touched down on target, but then popped back up and drifted laterally a second or two until coming down for good. Nothing holds a wing down like Star Thistle! (grrrrrrr! It took more than 10 minutes to extract the wing, and felt lucky.)

Great flight up until the wing landed in the thistle.


  • Didn’t notice twig in lines before launching.

0:28 minutes
Mussel Rock (Lemmings), reverse launch.

Posted by: cokenias | October 19, 2011

Cure for the Jones

Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 13-16 mph WSW-WNW, Overcast, 10:30am

Forgive me, Skygods, it has been fifty days since my last flight.

Conscious of the fact I haven’t flown in 8 weeks, I was particularly deliberate during my preflight and I spent longer than usual watching conditions before launch. Conditions were on the stronger side of normal and the air was thick and cold. But no whitecaps and the direction was perfect. I noticed two very small holes in the bottom surface about 1cm from the trailing edge. The holes were less than 1cm in diameter, absolutely nothing to worry about. Time to get some patch tape…

Set up in the middle of Lemmings, brought up the wing, turned and ran several steps into the wind. Before reaching the edge of launch, I was temporarily lifted a few feet (I ran too fast for the amount of brake I was pulling so the wing fell behind me, pitched up). I eased off the brakes a bit to let the wing catch up, touched down and gave one more kick to get properly airborne (though with a bit of a pendulum-induced swoop). I turned north towards the bowl, finding lots of lift. Once above the cliff tops I flew one handed for a bit to fidget with my harness. The straps which set the depth the the seat were tight, which kept me literally on the edge of my seat. It took a minute or so to figure out exactly what needed to be done, but I was able to resolve the problem without going off course or taking my eyes off the road. Not the first time I’ve been annoyed to discover a harness misconfiguration in flight. I need to spend some quality time hanging from a tree limb, get all the straps dialed in, and then tack the straps in place with a few stitches of weak thread. Not sure how the harness got out of tune, but it seems to happen from time to time. A better preflight routine is also in order.

While heading south in the lift in front of the cliffs, at about 800′, I neglected to clear a 180° turn (at about 7:30). Perhaps I was complacent because I “knew” there was only one other glider in the sky and he was far in front of and below me? Maybe I just forgot. There were no consequences for this mistake as I did, in fact, pretty much own the sky.

After several more minutes of flying, I decided to land. It’s been almost as long since my last landing as my last launch and I wanted to approach it with full energy and attention. Lost height with a few steep figure 8 turns over the Plateau, final approach following the top gravel road’s curve (first bearing north east toward the hill, turning through north north west. Landed one step off the pathway, only slightly cross to the wind. In retrospect, this approach was not the best choice available, I could have been further out front. I made my final turns relatively low (starting at about 50′ AGL) and I was deep in the Plateau, with a lot of vegetation upwind. Although I didn’t experience any rough air, it was more likely to occur here than near the front of the ridge. It would have been unfortunate had I hit sink, a thermal or rotor while in a banked turn near the ground.


  • Launched with bad AoA by accelerating too quickly.
  • Failed to clear a turn.
  • Landing setup and final approach too low to ground.
  • Better landing options available.
  • 0:17 minutes
    Mussel Rock (Lemmings), reverse launch.

    Posted by: cokenias | August 29, 2011

    Last Flight of Summer

    Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 11-13 mph WNW. Clear Skies 3:00pm

    Reverse launch from Lemmings with good kiting and control. Immediately turned north and rode the escalator to the cliff tops in one long pass to the Slide and back. Flew around the park for a few minutes, enjoying the sunshine.

    Figure 8s over the Steps to get down, then a long straight-in approach on the Plateau behind the top road, facing south. Landed with a few steps and kited to a cleaner spot to finally drop the wing. (Which ended up in the bushes, anyway…)

    A beautiful, safe flight with several other gliders in the air.

    0:15 Mussel Rock (Lemmings), reverse launch.

    Posted by: cokenias | August 29, 2011

    Eyes Front!

    Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 11-13 mph WNW. 2:00pm

    Reverse launch from Lemmings. I got started fairly far back and fumbled a bit kiting to the front of launch. Dropped it when I unloaded (looking up just after turning forward). Launched cleanly on my second go, turned north low over the Steps and found a bit of lift but turned back as I was a little low. Returned to the Steps higher than I left so I headed north again. Ventured further this time and found lots of lift in front of the NW-facing slide. A few more passes and topped out about fifty feet above the cliffs.

    After 15 mintues or so, headed back south and flew in front of Walker ridge for a bit. Shared the sky with four to six paragliders and a couple of hanggies.

    At 48:45 I head slightly away from the ridge intending to lose height with a high banked 360. There is a blue glider significantly lower (100′?) and well behind me. At 48:50 I look left, right and left again. At 49:06 I check left and notice the blue glider is still well below me and inland, near Walker ridge. At 49:11 I pull the right brake deeply and weightshift into a tight turn. My eyes are mostly on the ground. About 270 degrees through the turn I see the blue glider is much closer to me in altitude and we are now facing each other, about 100 yards apart. The other pilot turned sharply to his left, away from me and I applied left brake while slowly releasing the right to come out of my turn. I was still high enough that had our paths crossed I would have cleared him vertically. But I was startled to find him there but only have myself to blame. If my eyes had been looking where I was going to be instead of at the ground, I would have aborted the turn earlier. And, in hindsight, the air was too crowded for me to be making dramatic moves. I decided it was time to land.

    I did some steep figure 8s over the plateau and landed gently just off the top gravel road, facing south.


    • Unloaded the wing while kiting looking up at it.
    • Lost track of gliders in the air as I watched the ground, ended up on dangerous heading.

    0:52 Mussel Rock (Lemmings), reverse launch.

    Posted by: cokenias | August 16, 2011


    Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 13 mph SSW. 2:45pm

    Set up on the north side of Walker ramp and (forward) kited to the south-facing cliff top. Almost dropped it from unloading the wing while looking up at at. Recovered with a sharp dig on the brakes. Took off facing SW.

    Really? Really?! AGAIN I had trouble getting in to the harness, my butt below the seatplate. And after just going through this! I turned away from the ridge, ready to start a landing if I had to. Tried knees-to-chest once and managed to get just a bit of seat under me. A pullup and some wiggling solved the problem. I intended on landing had those attempts failed. Comfortably seated, I returned to the ridge for a pleasant half hour under the fog. Used a few sharp turns to lose altitude and set up an in-wind landing just north of the gravel.


    • Upright ground handling posture and misadjusted harness made it difficult to get seated; this has happened before.

    0:30 Mussel Rock (Walker), reverse launch.

    Posted by: cokenias | August 16, 2011


    Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 13 mph SSW. 2:20pm

    Set up on the north side of Walker ramp and (forward) kited to the south-facing cliff top. I was pulled off the path just a bit, but managed to maintain control. The wind was stronger at the top, I easily took off facing SW a few feet from the edge.

    Aw, crap, it happened again! The harness rode up while I was ground handling and I was flying by my nads with the seat plate flat against my lower back and loops riding ALL the way up. I tried (and failed) several times to get in the seat. Knees-to-chest did not work, my tailbone was too far below the seat hinge to scootch in. I tried a few riser pull ups, which did take the weight off my leg loops, but I still wasn’t able to get above the seat, the harness just moved with me as I struggled. Tugging on the risers like that causes the wing to move around a bit, but I was able to correct my course between fits of writhing and kicking. I continued flying the glider along Walker ridge, aiming to get higher so I’d have more wiggle room for wiggling. I tried catching the speed bar with my heel, but given my position, it was impossible, I kept kicking my reserve. A stirrup or two-step bar probably would have helped a lot. At one point I did a riser pull up and swung my legs all the way above my head, between and behind the risers, similar to the unbuckled leg loops recovery technique. I considered completing the maneuver by hooking my legs around the risers like a trapeze artist and fixing the harness with my hands. But, as I have never actually practiced the technique, and since it wasn’t an emergency, I decided not to get too fancy. Tired and out of ideas, I gave up.

    I landed without incident, in the Saddle, facing the wind. On examination, I decided my leg loops were too loose and possibly my shoulder straps as well.


    • Upright ground handling posture and misadjusted harness made it impossible to get seated; this has happened before.
    • “I can fix this.” Trying to creatively fix a non-emergency in-flight added risk.

    0:05 Mussel Rock (Walker), reverse launch.

    Posted by: cokenias | August 15, 2011

    Take It When I Can Get It

    Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 14 mph SW 3:40pm.

    From the top of Walker ramp, launched west and turned south to work the ridge. After several passes, ventured north to the big slide. Turned back and used two S turns to set up an easy landing in the gravel.

    15 minutes. No video. Altimeter mis-callibrated, part of this flight is “underground”.

    Posted by: cokenias | August 13, 2011

    Paying Attention

    Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 14 mph SSW 4:40pm.

    Top of Walker ramp, launched west and swung gracefully south to work the ridge. Cruised back and forth in front of Walker ridge for about 30 minutes, never getting higher than the cliff tops. Did a tight 720 over the ocean to lose height and landed in-wind on the back road.

    40 minutes. No video.

    Posted by: cokenias | August 13, 2011

    Pay Attention!

    Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 14 mph SSW 3:20pm.

    Top of Walker ramp, launched WSW and nearly clipped the ridge coming around the corner. Got up with a few beats in front of Walker ridge, then headed north to the Slide. It was south and strong, no one was going much higher than cliff tops so it was rather crowded. At one point, I was headed south along the Steps, crossing in front of Walker as someone was preparing to launch. I wasn’t sure if he knew our paths might cross, so I kept looking to my left to keep an eye on him. I heard a yell in front of me, “pay attention!” I was headed for a potential head-on collision. I quickly cleared and executed a 90 degree right turn. We had been maybe five or six seconds from a serious situation, the oncoming pilot was pinned between my path and the ridge (with the potentially launching third pilot). Oops! Shortly after, two other pilots were waving at me in the air and pointing down. I took it as a recommendation to land, though I didn’t know why. All my gear seemed fine. I landed gently in the wind in the Saddle. It turns out they saw my air speed sensor dangling from my harness and thought it was a problem– no, it works that way. Apologized to the pilot whose path I blocked, no hard feelings.


    • Distracted by one hazard, I didn’t see another: an oncoming glider.

    20 minutes. No video.

    Posted by: cokenias | August 2, 2011

    Afternoon Quickkie

    Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 10-12 mph WSW 4:20pm.

    Reverse launched from Walker ramp and headed north to the cliffs. A few beats maintaining altitude and then I lost the lift and headed south for a landing on the second-lowest road. Landed crosswind with a few running steps.

    10 minutes
    No video.

    Posted by: cokenias | July 30, 2011

    Top View

    Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 13 mph WSW. 4:30pm

    80 minutes
    13 mph WSW, 4:30pm

    Easy launch from Walker ramp, immediately turning south to gain height in front of the ridge. After a few passes, headed north along the cliffs almost to the Stables. Practiced a few 360s and returned for a gentle landing in the Saddle. Wing-mounted camera worked out very well, though there was some severe shaking at times.

    1:20 Mussel Rock (Walker), reverse launch.

    Posted by: cokenias | July 28, 2011

    Wingcam 2

    Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 12 mph SW. 6:55pm

    Launched from Lemmings with wing in the middle of launch. Headed north over the middle steps and reached the first slide a little lower than I had hoped. Turned back over the slide hoping for lots of lift but only got a little (not the best position and I think I was turning too sharply). I turned back for a landing on the road below Lemmings. The magnet holding the camera to the wing failed and made for some exciting video as the GoPro spun around on its safety line. It did not seem to interfere with flight in any way. Landed without incident.

    0:02 Mussel Rock (Lemmings), reverse launch.

    Posted by: cokenias | July 28, 2011


    Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 14 mph SW. 6:30pm

    Launched from Lemmings with wing in the middle of launch. A few seconds of kiting, then I took off and turned north. Flew over the middle step crossing over the center of the first slide where there was lots of lift. Several figure 8s over the slide and I was near the clouds (500 feet). Played over the Steps and Walker for a while, then figure 8s over Lemmings to come down. In-wind landing in the gravel by Lemmings. First flight with the GoPro wing-mounted, very pleased with the result.

    0:15 Mussel Rock (Lemmings), reverse launch.

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