October 04, 2012

One week of California Airsports



Evening flight over Canmore with Ha Ling in the background. The wing is a Gin Yeti 19 that weighs 2.5 kgs and is super fun to fly. I am also using a reversible Gin Speedride harness that weighs just over 2 kgs and a Sup Air Extralite Reserve (medium) with the Extralite Container. This set-up is perfect for the hike-and-huck peaks around town.

I've been accused of being impulsive and well, what can I say? A few weeks back, I was sitting at home with a few days off. The sky was grey. Rain was falling. And the untouched Ozone Firefly that I'd recently purchased was begging to be released from it's stuff sack and put in it's proper place - the sky.

So I booked one week trip to southern California, rented a car, and signed up for a day of speed-flying instruction at Speed Fly Soboba. For those who aren't sure, speed-flying is much like paragliding only the wing is smaller and faster and you can fly closer to terrain. Technically, the 16 meter Ozone Firefly is a hybrid wing, but these days it seems like anything smaller than 18 meters gets lumped in the speed-wing category. Okay.

Flying is an amazing sport but it is not forgiving. In most activities, people can make mistakes and walk away. In flying, and especially speed-flying, rookie mistakes can have long lasting consequences. So it seemed like a good idea to have an instructor watch over me during the first flights. 

I met Jerome D at 9 am at the Soboba Flight Park. He pulled up in a 2010 Corvette with 450 hp under the shiny red hood and I thought wow, this guy must get tipped really well. We did some ground-handling and a few short flights on a Spitfire 18, and then I transitioned  to the 16 meter Firefly. Between my scant 70 kgs and the 15 km/h headwind, the wing came up fast and easy and I was away from the slope in a flash. I got in many more flights that week and even got a few on the school's Ozone Fazer 14 - which was fast, precise, rock solid and a ton of fun to fly.

And since I was already in the area, I signed up for an AFF Course at the Perris Valley Drop Zone. The AFF ie: Accelerated Free Fall is a basic skydiving course comprised of a series of eight jumps. Once I got over the sensory overload of the first few jumps, I can say that this was probably the most type-1 fun thing I have ever done. The staff and instructors at Perris Valley were awesome and it was a pleasure learning from them. 


The Soboba Flight Park is not too far from J-Tree.


The instructor Jerome D - a retired electrical engineer who runs the informative paragliding website http://www.expandingknowledge.com/  


The ride to launch.


 I wasn't doing a good job of flying close to the terrain.


Batman


After a day on the Firefly, I got to fly the school's brand new Fazer 14


Coming in hot.


After seeing this, I started thinking that I was safer in the air.


Mom, if you're reading this, you might not want to watch. This was jump 6 out of 8. The fun starts at the 40 second mark.

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Back home in the Rockies.

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