Landing Last Sunday

Here’s a short clip, thanks to John Morse, of my first hang glider landing in 2016.  It’s great to be alive! 🙂

Last Sunday was a decent flyable day at Ellenville.  Not the first of the year, but probably the most friendly air I’ve had yet this year.

My first couple flying days of the year I elected to paraglide rather than hang glide.  Lots of reasons, laziness being a big one (paragliders are just so convenient before and after the actual flying).  When the conditions don’t look that great, or that I won’t be in the air that long, I’ll opt for the lazy wing and it’s not an issue that once I manage to climb up I feel almost stationary, and get bored after a while of sitting around.  Plus my fingers freeze, since the typical PG body position is hands at or above heart level.

I also have permission to (carefully) apply my Point-Rat skills and top land at Ellenville, which is much less intimidating than in the hang glider.  Top landing brings a little slice of what I left in Utah back to NY with me, let’s me hop in the car to warm up, or gets me home in time for dinner and bed time snuggles with my girls.

But my yearning to hang glide has been brewing.  Sunday, I decided to paraglide FIRST… and if I felt like hang gliding, I would top land and fly the hangie.  It got a little windy and cross from the right for a while, so I ended up flying the PG longer than I had planned… but it mellowed enough to sneak in on top and so I did.  As I packed up conditions looked as perfect as they’ve been all year, and I could not resist the urge to go for the double header even though it was getting late in the day!

It was only marginally soarable by the time I launched… I got maybe a half dozen or more passes at about eye level with launch before things shut off completely.  Flying out toward the LZ I passed through the traditional Ellenville “mixing layer” between the wind that flows over the valley and the low level valley flow late in the day.  I was glad to be on the hang glider… not because I don’t think I could have actively flown the para through that air, but because of how casual it was to glide- no, float- down through this layer without needing to do much except enjoy the ride.

The thing about hang gliding, for me, is that the wing sits OVER the pilot- with my back to the wing.  I pretty much don’t see the wing.  Steering is COMPLETELY by weight shift.  It does not feel like I am manipulating a wing in order to maneuver… it just feels like I am intuitively flying my body wherever my mind asks to go (except for cloud base, on this day LOL).

Anyway- it was a fun day, albeit pretty uneventful.  And yet, I feel as though I just fell in love with hang gliding all over again.  It’s going to be a loooong winter…