Posted by: quienessupa | September 29, 2008

Flying Lookout, CO all weekend

2 personal bests, 4 sessions of ice/heat, 1 bandage, and a whole lot of incredibly offensive jokes made an almost perfect weekend.  Steve called Saturday morning, waking me up btw, to go fly Steamboat.  Looked like the entire state was going to go BOOM in the early afternoon b/c of an influx of mid-level moisture and a shortwave coming over.  So we chose to stay local and go early at Lookout instead.  Man, the sky got nasty too!  Believe it or not, this is before it got bad.  This was a Sunday Picture, but they both had the same slow blow-up in the afternoon.  The mammata in this picture was cool to look at…

Lookout 9-28-08-mammata

(Don’t ever fly near or around clouds that look like this.  Even tho we think we had it all figured out, and the virga isn’t busting down through the inversion yet, and the cloud itself was small and short, and the cloud cycles were slow, it doesn’t really mean we won’t get a wild ride when flying next to this crap.  We were ready to run or land when the bigger clouds to the west started piercing the inversion layer.  The inversion layer was sooo strong so it took till around 4 or 5pm for gust fronts to start blowing over the back.)

OK, back on topic!  Here’s the HG contingent getting ready to launch.

Lookout 9-28-08 prelaunch HG pic

Airhog extrordinaire SeanO (above) is getting his helmet on, approaching defcon 4.  Steve’s Litespeed keel looks bent from the heat of his afterburner which is stuck in the ON position after his Guiness dinner last night.  I’m feeling queasy at this point.  You can see the clouds in the background trying to anvil up back there.  It’s a day to watch close!

Here’s another picture(Steve walking to launch and flying):

Lookout Steve walking to launch

Lookout 9-28-08-Steve gliding over towers

So, the personal bests of the w/e are the 2 best top landings I’ve had here.  Here’s a snapshot from my first perfect approach:

Lookout 9-27-08 top landing

And a view from different time below.  NOTE, the below is way too low to think about top landing approach.. Which is a new discovery for me… Since it’s downwind to get back behind launch, I’d think I could make it back there and turn into the wind to land, but it’s super sinky back there and by the time I pulled on the speed for a good uphill landing, I would be in the tall scrub oak about where the word “approach” is below and that’s a sh1t sandwich:

Lookout 9-27-8 top land illustration

Lessons learned so far…, It’s pretty important to be shooting uphill as opposed to trying to face into the wind.  Because “into the wind” usually means landing across the hill and when I try to flare while the uphill wing is closer to the ground, that wing doesn’t stall as soon as the other.  So what happens, is it’s time to flare, and when I push the bar out, the wing by the ground is still flying b/c of ground effect, and shoots up as it’s got more lift stuck to it… so as it lifts and the other one stops flying and falls, I look like a dog chasing it’s tail (In ground loop city).  I was turned mostly down hill with my flare earlier this year because of this.  However, that falcon 225 let me settle into the ground and get on my feet in spite of her facing downhill at the end.  That could be ugly if I wasn’t a lucky SOB.

Below is a video of the top landing on Saturday….note though, on this one I didn’t take this advice so much, but got away with it.  You can see my carabiner (weight) move way over to the right as I’m stalling to keep that uphill (right) wing down!

VIDEO LINK: Top Landing Hang Glider at Lookout, CO from bj herring on Vimeo.

Here’s different perspective of my other top landing on Sunday…Hard to see much this time, but I land more uphill and a little lower on the back of the hill this time;


Both days, I played around for 30 minutes or so before top landing and then taking 10-15 minute sledders for the 2nd flights each day.  Steve got hours in the air both days cruising South to I-70 (5 miles?) and back.  On Sunday, we all got up and all at the same time went to search and sink mode.  Nobody was going up and the 8 or so of us were covering 5-8 square miles.  Right after I landed with most of the PG’s, Steve and 2 PG’s got the thermal of the day that took them twice as high as we’d been getting, to 10.6k.  I was on launch debating taking off after just 2 minutes, but wasn’t sure I could get under them before they pulled the ladder up.  When we all finally took off, the OD’ing was shading much of the ground and MR, Kiernan, ?,? and I worked our butts off to make a 5 minute sledder last 15 minutes.  I landed in a 5-7mph tailwind.  But the Sport2 lets me stop all forward momentum, even though I think I flared at the last possible time of the flare window.  Unfortunately, when I put my first foot down, the ankle rolled over and I got the sprain of my life.  Many thanks to SeanO for carrying the glider/gear for me and to Ross the resident 1st aid guru.  The ice hurt so bad, but I know I’m way better off than I should be right now!  The medication in his cooler was as cold as usual and after ice packs and several yellow bellies , I was good to break down and get moving.  Thanks for all the fun ya’ll.

Sounds like they’re going to put on a Lookout launch and landing clinic this coming w/e.  Stay tuned.


  1. And sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky
    A human being that was given to fly
    Pearl Jam -“Given to Fly”
    That was you they were talking about!

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