I’d brought my wing with me during Blues and Brews last September, and even went to launch, but conditions didn’t cooperate. The view from the 12.2ft launch is unbelievable. Telluride has been the place I’ve wanted to fly most since I started flying 5 or 6 years ago.
So, on Friday, the stars aligned and we took a shot at it. Kevin and Leo, the 2 local HG pilots took me and a Penn guy named Pat to launch. The club there has their own big dodge to drive to launch. We used my truck instead, but it’s a pretty cool set-up they have going here. We headed up the hill at 3 and took the shortcut. This road is STEEP! One waterbar tickled Gertrude’s belly somehow, and the switchbacks make you feel like your flying already when all you can see is sky going around/up them.
Today, forecast was for a 20% chance of rain but the sky stayed partly cloudy all day with no O/Ding. We all launched into a great looking sky. I just made a couple passes and was delivered to cloudbase pretty quickly.
We launch just left of the lift.
After a good 5 or 6 circles, I was getting the video camera turned on and only had one hand on the basetube. It wasn’t like just going “over the falls” when you leave a thermal, it felt like a rotor (just saying), because my feet kicked the keel. It was over super quick and not that bad, but with only one hand on the control frame it was a new experience. At 5 or later, it’s wild how this place can punch like that. I think it was pretty unstable b/c a front or disturbance was coming.
Anyway, after riding a different freight train to cloudbase, here’s what things looked like. Base was 16.5k The town is in the bottom left/middle.
It was super cold up there. We had been sleeted on during a bike ride the day before at 12 and 13kft. At cloudbase, I lifted my new visor I just got from Mark Windsheimer and I thought my face was going to freeze off. Here’s a cool shot of it:
Ok, so from here I went to the left in that picture to do the “valley tour” and run over the box canyon and Bridal Veil falls. That was just icing on the cake. Didn’t get good video/pictures of that part, but here it is in Google Earth:
So I cruised over that kinda low trying to warm up and then did a low pass back in front of launch. This Atos VR really really goes. Cause then I went upwind out near the airport and back for a good landing on the valley floor. Here’s a picture of the town from a long downwind leg:
I’m right over the big “Leisure” LZ so you can’t see it here. The grass in front of the town is the PG LZ and the LZ that was used during the valley floor litigation. Leo was telling us that no one’s ever regretted flaring early here. It’s great advice. I tried to err on the early side and had a great one in a late day 0-2mph. Thank goodness. I was worried all the windy landings at 2kft in Texas would make this difficult. It was noticable how much ground I was covering here, right up to flare time.
What a place to respect. The base wind wasn’t that strong. Maybe 10mph max with thermals pushing it up to 15ish? The air felt pretty active to me and I can only imagine flying mid-day on a windyish day. I’d think twice about it. But Kevin said the air was strange and felt disturbing sometimes to him too, so maybe it was just a weird day. Either way, it was a dream come true. Next time I’m wearing more clothes! I dilly dallied and was breaking down the glider and a squall of heavy rain and hail drenched everything for 5 minutes. Que Lastima.
I’ve got a bunch of HD video from the flight that I’ll work towards getting at least a youtube video out in the next month. I’ll be writing about the world record breaking in Texas soon here too. Just been too busy and I want to get something nice together for that one to send to the USHPA magazine.
Thanks Kevin for all your support getting us introduced to the coolest place I know.