Hang Glider Pilot Gets Stoked!
by Marc Whisman
I have lately gotten into this ritual of taking Wednesdays
off to run out to the Lake Elsinore Soaring Club for a little sailplane action.
Last Wednesday was very rewarding but today was...Well, it was just superb!
The first thing that happened when I got there was that my
friend Curly who owns a Cessna 140 asked me if I wanted to fly it. Gulp, "Well
sure Curly, if you don't mind" I said in as unexcited voice as I could while
trying not to grin. The take off was normal taildragger stuff, but once we were
up on the mountain, he had me start reducing power until the throttle was all the
way off. We then commenced to soar. That's right, this 1946 Cessna would actully
stay up in the lift! Way cool!
After a short flight and a rather good 3 point landing (if
I do say so myself) I jumped in the Schweizer 1-36 Sprite and got towed up to where
I pinned off and immediately found a 1000 up bullet that took me to 7500 msl. I
only got off the elevator to keep with the cloud clearance requirements.
Looking to the North the clouds were lined up all the way to
Saddleback. Hmmm, been there several times in a hangglider, why not? I nosed down
a bit and started running the Ortega mountains. The view was spectacular. I could
see all the way to Catalina and beyond. The air was clear, and the visability was
easily 50 miles. Along the way I stopped to circle twice, then reached the antennas
1000' over 5700 foot Santiago peak. Beep beep beep beep beep back up to over 7000
ft 800 FPM. Sheesh, I haven't seen it this good in a while.
Glancing at my watch I see I'm running short of time as another
club member had the Sprite scheduled after me so kicking myself for using my glider
time to fly the 140, I leave good lift over the mountain and point the nose home,
some 20 miles away from my position North of Santiago. 50, 55, 60 mph, Ok this is
good, looks like I'm making good time. Beep beep beep beep beep hmmm, a little lift,
I'll just speed up... 70, 75, Beep beep beep, 80, 85, Beep beep 90, 100 and finally
I'm through the lift and smokin'! I was able to hold 100 MPH all the way back to
1/2 mile from the airport when I had to open the spoilers and execute a forward
slip to get down on the runway.
Rolling out in front of the office I flipped the canopy open
in time to see the next pilot walking out and looking at his watch. It only took
8 minutes to get back from Saddleback which coincided with the amout of time I was
late. I assured him he would have fun as the clouds hadn't moved and the whole valley
was just going off. The strange thing is I didn't see one hangglider out there on
such an awesome day. -Marc