Archive for January, 2011

Colombian weekend adventures!

Monday, January 31st, 2011

We had quite the weekend of adventure here in Colombia.

 First we made another flight from Matosanos on friday which again did not hold great conditions but i still managed to make it half way back to San Felix.

Don was not able to get up offr launch but did manage an hour long flight working a small ridge that was facing into the wind at 800 ft agl.

I found that the clouds that were formign were forming in the back and then drifting out over the ridge but i was not agle to get to them and it was also more turbulant the the previous day.

Saturday we made a plan to launch at San Felix and then fly X-C over the San Jeronimo which is only about 15 miles but requires flying over a high mountain range and then descending into another valley. The clouds at luanch we thinck and not very high and a few locals who were thinking about joining us decided not o as theey thought cloudbase was not high enough, we had our bags packed and were going to give it a go no matter what. I launched about 12:00 and had a slow time climbing out to cloudbase but eventually Don and i were there and together so we made the first glide over the back to where another pilot was working some lift and i was able to get back to base but Don had faultered a bit and lost the core and he had to search for another core and made a bad choice in going way back upwind instead of downwind. I was able to hang at base for while and then i saw another cloud forming  so i flew crosswind and got under the next cloud where i had seen some birds going up and there i hit a nice 500 fpm thermal and i climbed up inside the cloud about 500 ft before gliding on. Don had radioes that he had landed just a bit downwind from where i left on glide, I saw a good cloud forming to the north of me but i also had a smaller cloud forming closer to me and it was on the high mtn range i needed to cross so i just went for it and there i climbed again into the cloud and i followed the GPS arrow till i was in clear air and then i could see that i had a easy glide to San Jeronimo as it is 4,000 ft lower then the launch in San Felix but i had to cross the range and cloudbase was right at mtn top so i headed northwest till i had more clearance over the ridge and then i dove over it.

Jorge had warned me about the wind shear that you fly thru ont he way donw to S.J. so i was prepared, but i never hit anything all the way down to S.J. I flew to what i had sen onthe google earth zoom that Jorge’s brother had shown me the night before but the L.Z. looked a bit too small and so i had to look around for naother spot and found a open slot in a small housing development and i slowly worked my way down, but at 600 ft agl i hit a rowdy thermal so i worked it back up and was just trying to wait till i had a good smooth cycle to land in, at 1,000 ft i flew out the edge of the thermal and took a massive full frontal that then gave me a 40% right asymetrical whack i pumped that out and then hit massive sink and was soon making my tunr onto final i had a small space to use and some workers were directing me to land near them and i tried but i had my right wing tip about 1 ft off the front edge of two houses and some poles on my left side i had a fast landing on the road between two rows of houses. Turned out the wind was at my back but only in the last 50 ft.

Today we flew at a place called Sopatran a great site that over looks the rio Cauca river and the towns of Sopatran,Santa Fe, and San Jeronimo, Antioquia.

We had to wait for a few hours for the conditions to get better but eventually we got what we wanted and i was able to sky out over launch and then make a long glide to las Floridas, I had a good gaggle of gliders high with me but they decided to wait longer before heading out and i was all alone and as i gto near the famous wood bridge i was not able to reconnect with another thermal and ended up dirting in las Floridas.

Mateo and family retrieved me and we were off to Santa Fe for a late lunch. These sites we have been flying are each one breath taking in it’s scenery and there generally has been abundant lift with rather small numbers of pilots.

I got some raw video shot today and i hope we can get some of it uplaoded for you all to see.

More soon,

David.

Medellin, Colombia. Cuervo vs Motorcycle: Cuervo wins!

Friday, January 28th, 2011

I was walking downtown yesterday afternoon and i was waiting for about 10 minutes for the traffic to clear and finally the cars started to back up for the stop light a few streets down and at some point i saw my chance to cross the street and i went by the first car then the second car which was a panel van and i was in front of it when it started to move forward toward me so i started to move quicker and i had my eyes on the front of the car making sure i was’nt about to get hit, i could’nt see thru the panel van to see any other approaching traffic and i needed to finish crossing one more lane of traffic and the next car across was stopped but i did’nt expect a motorcycle to be halling ass in between cars and as i stepped out i caught a fast approaching motorcycle out of the corner of my eye so i raised my hands up in a defensive posture and i caught the guy right in the side of his helmet knocking him to the ground at about 20 mph. I landed on top of him and got a nasty burn from his muffler and a big bruise on my upper thigh and a few bruises on my chest. So they we were sprwled out on the street with all of his stuff strewn every where cell phone,wallet,backpack. I helped him up, gathered his stuff and lifted his bike up said Disculpe (sorry) He was dazed and thought i might have been trying to rob him as he was grabbing for his things i had.

His wrist was messed up and he limped as he rolled his bike off to the side of the road. 

I gave back his things and made a get away as i did’nt want to wait around to see what might come from the incident.

My leg bruise and ankle burn are still hurting a bit but not bad for a Cuervo vs motorcycle collision.

I”m sure the guy is wondering what the hell i was attacked by a gringo, ninja master.

Note to self, must cross at teh cross walks with the green light.

D.

Matosanos, Colombia

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Today we trekked over to Matosanos, another launch about 30 minute drive from Medellin to the north.

From there the plan was to fly back to San Felix about 19 miles south. We were on launch at the perfect time but a local Sebastian was meeting us there so we were slowly getting ready. It was about 11:30 and i was first off after getting a briefing about the route and local thermals, i followed the plan and was at cloudbase 1,000 ft over in about two minutes. I surfed the front edge of the cloud and headed downwind along the ridge as another cloud was forming over the next spine, i hit the thermal with about 30 vultures and was back at base in a minute. I glided for the nest ridge but it was in shade and i did’nt find any lift so pushed on and from there it was jsut a shaded slow sink fest but i did manage to finds another burble along the way and that got me back up but i was unable to connect to a better part of the core the birds had up the hill from me and as the thermal weaned off i just pointed down range and headed for the next ridge . As i arrived there some birds had a small core but i could’nt seem to gain anything and i was feeling the winds increasing i got pinned there for about 20 minutes as i slowly pushed back upwind to some sun where i saw some birds turning in lift but it was jsut light broken thermals but i did finally get a burble that got me enought o glide over the ridge and i thought i would find something in the lee and as i sunk lower i could see strong valley winds but as i got near a L.Z. i saw a gaggle of birds climb out and i raced under them and hit a rasty thermal and was getting tossed about but i was climbing with some strong drift and i could’nt see any good L.Z. options downwind of me, just powerlines,builidings, trees, so i pulled out of the lift and put on my big ears to stabilize the glider for descent and had a good landing about half way to  the San Felix launch.

Mateo, nephew of Jorge the famed voice of Colombia, and resident Phoenix pilot was there within a few minutes to retrieve me.

Don and Sebastian did’nt have so much luck, i kept looking for them thinking they might have stayed higher and had a easier time but reality was they too had lots of shade and winds increasing, Don said he had a glorified sled ride and he and Sebastian had top landed some other launch and waited for things to get better and then flew agian but were not able to get anywhere.

I arrived back to El poblado around 1:45 and about ten minutes later it started to thunder and lightening followed by some good rain the first time in a month.

This place is amazing, it loks like there are about a few thousand flying sties waiting to be developed, top landable most places and plenty of retrieve options. Plush green enviornment but no shortage of strong thermals, ridge lines and birds marking lift. It’s not butt smooth either i had several wackes today and going over the ridges was plenty trashy.

More soon,

David.

Medellin, Colombia

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

that’s right folks, today was my first day here in Medellin, Colombia. and i now know why, this is all of a sudden the new hot spot for PG flying.

We had nice flights today at San Felix, amazing smooth lift over steep mtns with lots of birds marking the lift and a huge grassy launch and top landing zone, you could’nt sink out if you tried.

I’ll try to get some pictures up here for you all to see.

Tomorrow we will go to a new place Mato Sanos where we can fly x-c back to San Felix.

We have 9 more days here to explore what there is to offer but i can tell you know we will be bringing tours back here next Jan for sure.

more soon,

David.

epic Valle!

Friday, January 14th, 2011

First thing this morning i noticed the east wind blowing inthe trees and i told my crew it was a Sacamacate day and so we started the hike at 9:45 and it took me and Bob 12 minutes but we were racing, i won by a few minutes.

Bob was first off and just had bad timing dirting in Pinitas in just a few minutes but Rick was second off and he hit a nice thermal and climbed over launch where he hit some 2,300 fpm lift and was stinking high in no time, then it was Chandler and he too skied out next was Brad but he had bad timing sinking out quickily, next was Mitch and i thought he was going down as well but he hit a nice thermal and soon was 3,000 ft over, Charlie was next and he worked it hard on the ledft face of the hill but was getting great lift but was hanging in there when i lofted my glider into a nice cycle and got sucked off the launch and hit good lift so i made three S turns before i had enough to 360 and from there i hit some 1,400 fpm lift and i was rocketed out and it was not long till i saw the first cloud of the day cracking right over my head and as i wisped out i headed west toward San Agustina nd got more good lift as other clouds formed and i had Chandler and Charlie in tow and Mitch had made a glide to Jovans. We played in the clouds for about an hour befroe heading to town as we had to pick up some t-shirts i had made for the crew.

The afternoon flight was an amazing one i had to get back to town to meet some people and i took off at 3:45 and i barely could make it out to the house thermal point before i was screaming out like a home sick angel, i had 9.4 on the 30 sec average i saw spikes of over 1,200 fpm lift and i topped out at 10,600 ft msla nd i then i glided to Sacamacate where i had two other gliders below me and i found a good core back to 10,600 and from there it was a easy glide under clouds to town where i had a hard time to get down flying to the north side of the lake before gliding back over town stinking high, so there it was the first time all year i made two flights to town in one day. I saw more gliders flying into town for the evening flight then ever before with some pilots arriving to town nearly at cloudbase.

Today was EPIC!!! her ein Valle and tomorrow looks to be a repeat!

More soon,

David.

Full Casa de Cuervo!

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

The house is full now here in Valle with 6 pilots from Colorado and Arizona and we made the best of the high pressure conditions. We all struggled to get high over launch but it was difficult to say the least.

Finally around 12:00 we got to 1,800 ft over launch and i lead a group of about 10 gliders over the back and we hit some light lift over hte half moon house and burbled for a while but it was not going to get us out and Rick B from G.J. dove into the guts between the two pinitas and was at tree top level and then Bob from g.J, did the same, iu was not stoked to follow them as it did not look good for that type of move but i decided to follow and we got a trashy thermal at tree top level and slowly climbed out and then about 500 ft agl it turned on and we sended it high over Sacamacate and then i made a glide to San Agustin finding light sink and tailwind conditions and at the top of S.A. i hit a boomer and went to 11,000 ft msl and i had a nice tailwind glide to Valle and Bob was the only one to follow my move to S.A. but he was late and did not get the good climb as i did so he headed to the stairs but did not get much lift and then he made a death glide to town wiht just enough room for four turns before landing. Chandler and Rick dirted in pinitas and Charlie and Mitch went down in the piano.

We are hoping for some better conditions as these days have been some of the worst conditions i’ve seen here in Valle for Jan with full sunshine.

The evening flight was amazing thought it was very easy to get high but no x-c was to be had.

More soon,

David.

High Pressure and Pinata madness week in valle!

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

This whole week has been mostly high pressure here in Valle with some days just plain hard to get high enough to make it to the convergence line over Sacamcate. I´ve had Bob,Mitch and Rick from G.J. Colo and Mitch who only had two 360´s in thermal lift ever in his life before this trip has really stepped up and is flying like a champ given the traffic that is here now with 100 pilots flying Penon every day.

Yesterday was the three kings day and we had a great fiesta in the piano L.Z. my whole group bought Pinitas and stuffed them with candy and toys for the kids then we launched for the evening flight with them attached to our harnesses it was hilarous seeing Rick with his orange monster, Bob with his one eyed green monster and Mitch had El Toro! i launched last with my Cuervito chiquito bonito a gold/black crow and i also had Andy Macrae strapped on the back of me tandem for his first D-bag drop ever. We had a great launch but did not get any lift so we headed straight for the L.Z. arriving about as low as you would ever want to do a d-bag but lucky for Andy my pack technique and d-bag have been prefected over many years of R and D andhis deployment was flawless with symetrical opening and enought ime for a few turns before he landed and then i hucked Cuervito from 400 ft and the kids swarmed to get teh bird and it nearly whacked a kid, nothing like a pinata in freefall to get the kids all fired up.

Today was a better day with some great clouds in the convergence although it was hard to get into it once there it was going up every where.

Hopefully tomorrow gets better still

More soon,

David.

more Valle greatness!

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Today was another awesome day in Valle with cloudbase up over 11,000 ft and getting there was about as easy at it ever gets here in Valle, we took a nice thermal out front of launch and it topped out at 10,800 ft msl and then we glided to Sacamacte area and hit another boomer that topped out at cloudbase then it was over to the stairs and as expected we went to the moon there before heading over the lake for  a grand tour.

the flight was uneventful until landed when the L.:Z. area got clogged with pilots trying to land and this Norwaygo chick decides to burn off her altitude way off to the south and just puts her in a posistion to have a long final glide over the lake into a crowed pattern and of course i happen to be in my final set-up off north of the L.Z. like everyone does and as i make my final turn she has no choice but to either land in the water or push me against the trees, well i guess you can imagine what choice she made, so as i´m getting pushed against the trees, her glider is a 1-2 so she sank a bit faster, then lands right in front of me at the very edge of the water and she tries to kite her glider as she runs further into the L.Z. directly blocking my approach path, so i had to scream at her to get her wing down, Clueless which is about par for the course.

The next few  days should only get better and by Friday we expect epic pre-frontal conditions

I´ll try to get some pics up here spo you can see for yourselves.

Peace out,

D.

Valle sweetness!

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Today dawned with bright sunshine but strong east catabatic flow, i knew it would be a slow starter and i even thought about giving Sacamacate a go as it usually works great there with east morning flow but it was just too easy to gt a taxi to Penon and there we waited for the norwaygo madness to clear out and then it was off to the races and about 5 minutes after launch i was top of the stack and then led about 10 gliders over the back to Sacamacate getting a great thermal just before the hill that took us all up to 10,500 ft msl and then it was off to San Agustin where we found broadlilft int eh convergence and then over the stairs we hit some great lift that boomed to 11,000 ft msl and then i flew with a tailwind over the lake past La Pena and then back to the L.Z. in a headwind till i got below the height of La Torre launch where the normal west winds were light.

Eric was flying my tandem and reported goetting to over 13,000 ft msl and landed on the west side of the lake.

Should be more of the smae in store for this next week for htose who are coming down, remember to bring warm gloves it´s bound to be cold at 13,000 ft.

More soon,

David.

New year, with thick clouds and some light rain.

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

The new year rang in here in Valle with lots of explosives and drunkeness.

We awoke to super smoggy skies as eveyone was setting off the globals which are small paper hot air ballons powered by sterno cans and they float off into the sky, then fall down into the forest and start forest fires that usually only get put out a few days later.

As the day progressed a thick layer of high clouds moved in and shut down most of the heating although i did see one pilot flying into town, i took the day off since i was up most of the night celebrating.

As i was heading out for some late lunch around 5:00 the skies got even thicker and then it started to spit some light rain.

Not sure what the next few days will hold as for the weather but usually it gets better after a rain and we sure could use some moisture to put down those forest fires and freshen up the skies.

More soon,

David.