Archive for May, 2010

Florida 2010 in review.

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

As we slung up the last pilot over lake Jackson on Sunday we could see a large cu-nim dropping rain to our s.w. i knew the spring season was coming to an end and a return to the summer pattern of afternoon rain showers was already in progress.

The Flying: This spring Florida held true to form, despite the El Nino weather that has brought a heavy winter to the S.W. USA and even Mexico. Florida had the best flying the USA had to offer April thru mid-May. The proof is Andy’s 115 mile flight a new Florida state record and the east coast record flight, not only that but possible a even longer flight than any Hangglider flight this spring in Florida. We had three SIV sessions and each one had perfect weather, going 3 for 3 each time.

The weather: Over the 1.5 month session we had only about 8 days of nonflyable weather, which was due to high winds and two days of rain. overall this spring we saw much wetter conditions then we have seen in many years with many swamps filling up with water and making for some very mellow thermals and low cloudbases. The triangle of doom became a place to be concerned as landing out there would mean wading thru several swamp areas to get out and the gators were moving about after a few years of being consolidated with much less water. many of the lakes were much higher then the last three years and that means alot less beach area to heat and produce lift. But we did get some great days with amazing cloud streets and abundant lift and cloudbase near 6,000 ft.

The Scene: Florida is about to explode with PG free flight activity. I had contact with several groups of pilots from different locations around Florida and by this time next year there will be at least three new tow groups flying the Florida skies.

The Comps: This year was the first time i held both the Spring Fling and the ECPC and it was a success, We had several things come into play that really helped out our comps and the future of Florida comps and east coast comps. I wanted to say thanks again to all those who helped make this years Florida comp scene possible. 

THANKS!!!!!!! go out to

First off Steve S from SDI paragliding drove all the way from Minn to be our chief tow operator and to demonstrate his (histerus brake?) payout tow system. it’s as smooth as a hydraulic rig but no fluid required. He also had his son Jon and band mate Bragita who were his tow assitants.

Nathan and Ester Grimes: drove all the way from Wyoming to get certified as a tow operators with one year old baby girl in tow. they both got certified then operated their Quantum tow rig for the Spring Fling.

Maria Bono: who learned how to score during the Spring Fling and then without a glitch scored the ECPC.  Also thanks to Bill Hughes who’s help and guidance was crucial to Maria’s learning the scoring software.

James Tindle: the owner of the Forida ridge flight park who has welcomed paragliders into his flight park since day one and provided us bag wingers a place to call “homebase”

Rasa Lila: giving a new meaning to multi tasking, as she was watching our son SKY, being a main tow operator and retrieve coordinator.

Michael Henderson,Charlie Geres: who gave their time to help retrieve other pilots who landed in the tow paddock.   

Chris A: from Georgia who was our retrieve driver for the ECPC

Ben and Chris P: new p2’s who were our launch coordinators for the Spring Fling.

Terry B and Andy M for the great video’s and blog reports.

Our sponsors:  Flytec USA and Mojo’s gear who donated great prizes for our competitors.

I look forward to next year’s spring session in Florida it’s great to be there and see it transforming into the flying mecca it is.

See you there.

More soon,

David Prentice

ECPC: Final Results

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

ECPC: Day 6 Task 6 results

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

ECPC 2010: Day 6,task 6 72km out and return.

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

The forecast was showing we would have light winds and less chances of O.D. then the day before and the blip map was showing the best lift over the center of the state and to our north.

We called a out and return up to Hendri which is 37 kms north of the start. Then we would come back to the junction of Hwy 27 and 29  then to goal at the Florida ridge flight park. There was some concern about flying over the triangle of doom late in the day so we added US27ND TP to make pilots fly along the road instead of over the triangle of doom where you might face a 3 mile walk out.

WE tried to get an earlier start but the sky was not working so good at first as we had a huge blue hole on course line to our north, so pilots were waiting for that to fill in and by 1:00 a few pilots started to stick and then we got on it and soon we had five pilots  hovering in the same thermal.

I took a tow to 1,100 ft and pinned off in 300 fpm lift which took me to 2,500 ft where i hit an inversion and lost my thermal but some birds helped me find the next climb and soon i was at base in good posistion for a start. I had Bubba already out on course a few Kms in front of me and i surfed under two clouds and soon had a long glide to Bubba was starting to circle up form low so i figured i would give it a go but as i got there he was above me and i got pinched so at 2,500 ft i started to search and i could not find the lift and eventually at 1,200 ft i headed downwind i hopes of finding something and at 750 ft i hit a burble and started to circle in light lift, it took awhile to climb up but as i did Bubba flew in over head but was not in the lift but he waited for me to bring it up to him.

We got almost all the way to base and then glided over the north tip of the trianlge of doom, the sink was light at first and then below 3,000 ft it got worse and soon we were in need of another thermal, Bubba and i spread out to search but nothing was to be found i was about to head downwind again to cover alot of ground but Bubba wanted to head for a safer landing option to our east toward 27 but i thought it was a bad idea i turned downwind for a few seconds then decided to head back and search with Bubba although i thought it was going to mean the end of the flight for me and we slowly sunk down as we headed intot he wind toward the road and Bubba seemed to burble twice as we glided to my right and then he said there might be something here and then he turned and as he did he turned wide to allow me to get into the thermal but as i went forward i pushed forward about three seconds furthre and then turned and that was the difference between me getting out from 400 ft and Bubba landing below me. If he had’nt turned wide for me he would have got it and maybe not me. Thanks Bubba!

I climbed out to 2,000 ft and then the thermal pooped out so i headed downwind and about 1 km later i found a better core then before and soon i was back over 4,000 ft and cruising toward TP1 as i got near i heard ANdy and Luis were on the ground but Terry B was still airborne and i really needed to win this day so i tried to slow down and stay high but the gap between thermals was far and the sink strong. At TP 1 i found broad lift and was in and out of Tp1 quickily leaving back on course line at base 4,500 ft and followed my same line into goal back out but as i got back to the same place i made the low save from i got low again but scrathed out from 1,200 ft and got high enough to glide into TP2 at 27 and 29 to win the day. Terry landed just on his way back from the TP1.

Today day 7: task :7 We will have a medium to short task probably a nice downwind with a dogleg, maybe to the Belleglade park or the edge of the big cypress indian reservation, with W- NW flow at 10 knots.

More soon,


ECPC: Day 5 Task 5 results

Friday, May 7th, 2010

ECPC 2010: day 5,task 5, 56 km triangle

Friday, May 7th, 2010

The weather forecast was for light and variable winds so we went for a trianlge course around the triangle of doom going to the N.E. first then over to the junction of hwy 27 and hwy 29 before heading south to La Belle and then to goal at the Florida ridge. We set three start gates at 1:30, 1:45 and 2:00. We tried to get started towing earlier but the it was not working so good and the first two pilots who got away tried to glide back upwind and sank out.

I was third off and hit a good thermal in front of the trees on the west tow road and i was climbing at 500 fpm on hte avg and i had Scotty G climbing below me, we were in great position for a 1:45 start but we were the only ones up so i decided to take the last start time and i was at cloudbase 1.2 km from the exit cyl of 5 km and i left right on time and the first leg to US27ND was very easy and then the next leg was more headwind but i was high and had Scotty g chasing behind. i was in and out of the TP cyl of 1 km quickily and high and on the way to TP2 i hit two good thermals but as i got to within 5 kms of TP 2 i glided under three clouds that appeared to be forming but i di’nt find anything more than a weak burble and eventually got down to 1,000 ft and decided to glide back downwind in hopes that burble now was something better and i found it and twice climbed up a few hundred feet but it was not strong enough to get me out of there and i landed 6 km short of TP 2 but i should get distance made good to 5 kms. About 30 minutes later Scotty G came over me high and then 10 minutes later Luis R flew over but both of them also got shut down by the west coast sea breeze and landed at the TP.

Andy M who sank out and had to get retrieved and then tow up again did get high and started to head out on course line but ran into a wall of rain and so he tried to run downwind around the light shower but only found more rain and eventually had to keep running to get away from any potential gust front and soon he saw better conditions and so he continued on east and landed past Belle Glade.

So we have a delima, do we stop the task? at the point Andy flew into the rain and had to alter his course, or do we cancel the whole task?  Or do we score it? I am the fall back safety director, but since i am competing and i was in the lead when we should have stopped the task and i did’nt want to make that call, it was safe for me where i was.

My thought is it will be up to Andy and Bubba who were most affected by the rain.

After we got retrieved the cu-nimbs towered tall maybe around 15,000 ft and then a major rain dump to our east spewed a gust front that was something fierce.


ECPC 2010, Day 4 overall results

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

ECPC 2010: day 4,task 4 120 kms

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Most of the pilots wanted to fly in a different direction after three days of fighting a crosswind heading up over hwy 27, so we called a goal in Hibiscus park just S.W. of Vero beach. I tried to explain how profound the lake effect is on the north shore of lake Okeechobee but until you’ve experienced it i guess it’s just hard to believe.

The forecast showed the best lift south and north of our location but the winds aloft were from the S.W. heading straight for our goal in Vero beach. We started towing up at 1:00 and Bubba G was first up and after a good tow to 1,200 ft he glided back over the start and was setting up to land downwind of us but he hit a burble at 200 ft and slowly climbed up to 1,000 ft and then it got better and soon he was at cloudbase,  Next Luis R towed up and he hooked aboomer and was at base in no time at all, i was up next and i hit some 300 fpm off tow at 1,100 and i had 4.4 avg all the way to base at 4,000 ft agl. I flew under a awesome cloud street hoping cloud to cloud without turning at all just flying straight and slowing down in the lift but i had gone a bit too far downwind and could see that i now had to fight crosswind to make it around the N.W. shore line of Okeechobee which is where i have typicaly landed due to lake effect shutting down the lift, by the time to got to the N.W, shore line i had caught up to Luis R and i had a better line going so i did’nt wait to stay with him which later was a mistake. I climbed up to cloudbase but 1.5 kms out over the lake and on my next glide i was trying to go crosswind to get further north to a good looking cloud but as i arrived under it it started to fizzle, i stayed on glide all the way to the dirt and i landed in the same field where i have landed before shut down by the same lake effect. Luis stayed high under some clouds that formed over the lake and about 10 minutes after i landed he glided over but he too got shut down by lake effect but he mangaged a few extra kms. Andy M went down 10 kms before i did.

So now everyone understands how massive the lake is and how the lake effect will quickly end a nice flight but all the pilots agreed it was a very fun flight too.

I think Luis ended with about 40 kms.

Today day 5:task 5 we will have ultra light winds and our plan is to try a out and return or triangle. but our goal of flying a 100km everyday is now over. but we will try for 100km again today.



ECPC 2010: First three tasks: Provisional results

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

ECPC 2010 day 3: task 3 130 km

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Day three, the forecast was for slightly lighter but more southerly winds swithcing to S.W. higher and later in the day, we decided that we would try one more time to go big up the center of the state but with  a slightly more attainable goal. We chose a new waypoint at the BOK tower(highest point in Florida) which was 130 km from our start.

The cloudstreets early looked amazing all lined up in rows and stretching as far as you can see, then around 11:00 they started to raise and break up a bit but they were still present by 12:00, we started launching at 12:45 with me and Andy again trying to tow up together but just before we started there was a big crash on hwy 80 and the trafic that was backing up started to be diverted thru the housing development where were towing which complicated things to say the least, i was about to tow up first but We saw a helicopter inbound so i waited for several minutes while the chopper circled to find a landing spot, when he touched down i launched and got a 1,100 ft  but had to stay on the line to avoid dropping my line on a passing car and when i did pin off i had to go back and search for the light thermal but i was not able to find it again and was dribbling downwind when the chopper launched again but i was clear of his path and then i landed back at the start, Andy had towed up and found lift and Luis had gotten up and they climbed out together before crossing the triangle of doom.

I had to wait my turn again in the tow line which was only a few minutes but in that time another helicopter flew in to the accident scene, after he had landed Scotty G and Terry B got towed up and Scotty G stuck and Terry B did’nt and i was next up and i pinned off at 750 ft into a light thermal but i just did’nt want to miss it again but my thermal took forever to turn on and get my high meanwhile Scotty G was at base hovering over 4,000 ft. I finally got high just at the south edge of the Triangle of doom and i was chasing after Scotty who had glided N.W. to avoid the the long glide over the center of the triangle. I glided straight to the next cloud but got drilled along the way and had to take 150 fpm lift to get back up with a thick inversion below 2,000 ft. so all my racing tactic was not working as Scotty G was just staying high and going slow but was able to easily hang with me as i took light lift to get back high.

Luis R had landed just north of the triangle and Bubba G was still in the air getting near the south end of lake placid it was now 3:00 and Andy had landed south of Sebring while trying to fight crosswind to stay on courseline but as i got to lake Placid the clouds were much better to the east so i followed and it paid off as i flew over Bubba and Andy with Scotty G on my tail but getting low, i now had to fight crosswind to still have a chance to make the 10 km goal cyl at BOK tower. It was a lucky line i chose as i had clouds forming in blue holes just as i got there.

Once i had the day won i lost my motivation to care about actually making goal and i was mostly just enjoying the flight as i got to my high point at 5,400 agl but soon i was only 40km out and with a 10 k cyl i only had 30 kms to go when i got low by the same spot i landed at the day before but this time i hooked at 300 fpm core at 700 ft agl and it took me to 4,000 i was 20 km form the goal cyl and i went on glide and i flew thru some 200 fpm but did’nt stop as i just had 600fpm and i figuered that in 20 km i’d hit something but NO not a burble all the way to 300 ft where it was about to break off and i burbled a bit but not good enough to climb out so i landed 1.4 kms from the goal cyl as i could see the tower 6 miles away.

So  i finally won a day in my own comp, which should be good enough for a 1,000 point score and will tighten the race between me,Luis and Andy. We had a good spread of pilots across the courseline.

Today the winds are forecast S.W. or even West so we will get to check out some new terrian but as the guys want to fly to the beach we will have to fight around the north edge of lake Okeechobee and that is never an easy task, there could be some rain showers in the afternoon with 30% chance but the front that is approaching is stalling out and might not get here, although they are forecasting north winds on Thursday.

more soon,