Wednesday, October 7, 2009

2009 Jonathan Livingston Seagull Cup

Jonathan Livingston Seagull Cup is annual paragliding competition (since 2005) organized by ROSTO, Moscow (similar to US USHPA) and PARAPLAN.RU team. It's open to all ex-USSR citizens regardless of where they live right now, time frame from April until end of September and there is no entry fee. There are 4 type of tasks:
  • Open distance
  • Out and return
  • Open distance via turn point
  • FAI triangle
Winner is a pilot who has minimum sum of places in 3 (out of 4) categories. There is also totalizator for how many kilometers will be flown by all participants. This year 148 pilots from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Canada and USA took part in competition and flown 18820 km (11694 miles). Winner is Maxim Tatarinov from Russia, who placed second in "Out and Return" and "Open distance via turn point" categories and first in "FAI triangle" with total score 5. I took 6th place overall with score 24. Results: There are also
  • XC category - sum of your 4 longest flights where I took 3rd place (428 km)
  • Vendors category - sum of all flights on vendor's wings. AXIS took second place (2112 km) with my contribution of 714 km
Thanks a lot to organizers for excellent competition!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Walt's to Nevada, 103 miles flight

May and September are probably the best time to fly in Owens valley, so I keep looking for weather forecast and actual wind last few weeks. There were a lot of pilots from Santa Barbara, Crestline, Sylmar and other places interested to fly here during Labor Day weekend (mostly HGs).
Forecast was for 10 knots SSE and base at 13K, not perfect, but still good. There was another 3 PGs: Roger, Steve and Ron. When we arrived to launch around 9:30 am wind was blowing from the back (not good), but at 10:00 it switch to up slope, however Roger and Steve opted not to fly because of this. Ron was first to launch and climb well with birds, then Jonathan and me. I headed downrange first, but Jonathan and then other HGs overtake me easily.
I try to stay below 3000 m to avoid turbulence caused by west wind. Worst place was Onion valley where west wind was so strong that it almost pushes me toward the valley. I made transition across this valley heading almost directly to the mountains and still ended quite far from next ridge. To avoid rotor I stay out of mountains for a while, but then near Big Pine headed back to get enough altitude to cross the valley.
I choose a good line and stop for lift over Big Pine. Next difficult part was after Back Mountain because of strong WNW wind. Speed dropped to 15 km/h almost on full bar. But after a climb to 4000+ I got pretty good south tail wind and try to stay between 3500-4500 m the rest of the flight.
Jonathan, Greg and Dusty already landed at this point and chase me. After Boundary Peak I probably could glide farther, but 7 hours in flight, lost communication with chase and doubtful terrain for landing help me to decide that this is enough for today.
103 miles total distance (personal best). Chase was on radio immediately after I landed and was there in a 5 minutes. Greg thanks a lot for retrieve. After dinner in Bishop we got back to Lone Pine at 10 pm and home 1:30 am. Thanks to Jonathan for driving.

GPS track:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inspo - Salt Lake City, Utah

Second round of US Paragliding Nationals was held at
Inspo near Salt Lake City, Utah. I did not had enough time to compete, but went there for two days just to check out place. It took me 10 hours to drive from LA plus 2 hours in traffic jam, but Inspo was worth the driving. 5.5 hours flight at Friday took us south first along the ridge, then north to SLC and the south west to Point of the Mountain. Here is GPS track:

Forcast for Saturday was even better, but it did not come true. Day started late base was lower, more wind and less spectacular flight, but still more then 3 hours, so no complains. GPS track:

Other Photos:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mt Whitney day hike

Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m). Its a 22 miles (35 km) round trip with an elevation gain of over 6,100 feet (1,900 m) from Whitney Portal. You have to apply to the Mt. Whitney Lottery in February to reserve a wilderness permit for summer hike. I was lucky to win permit for Sunday July 5th.

We arrived to Lone Pine at Friday to get actual permit and some acclimatization before hike. Spent night in Horseshoe Meadow, elevation 10000 feet (3,048 m) and hiked to Cottonwood lakes at Saturday. Then moved to Whitney Portal, elevation 8,360 feet (2,550 m) to get some sleep before long day. I want to have some extra hours just in case things will go slow. So, we started our journey at 1:30 am. We catch the sunrise near Trail Camp, 12000 ft (3,657 m).
Looking back to Trail Camp and Consolation Lake from switchbacks

Acclimatization helped me and Ivan a lot. I did slow down just after Trail Camp, but in the middle of switchbacks regained my normal speed. Our third companion Igor refused from acclimatization and arrived to trailhead just before hike, which cost him a lot of time to deal with hypoxia and finally he was short of summit by few miles.
Arriving at Trail Crest

Looking to Hitchcock Lakes from Trail Crest

In the middle of Trail Crest looking back

From this point trail is quite flat and walking is easier. I noticed that following somebody I can move much faster then walking by myself. Ivan was ahead of me and arrived to summit about 15 minutes earlier, Igor was behind and did not made summit.
View from the summit toward Lone Pine

Looking south from the summit

It took me 10 hours to reach summit. I rest for awhile, sign the register, take photos and we start our way back at 12:00 pm. Going down is always easy, but still it was long long way back. At least we could enjoy by beautiful lakes and meadows, which we did not saw on the way up.
Trailside meadow

Mirror Lake

We was back at trailhead at 7:40 pm (17:10 total hike time) and back home at 1 am. In terms of equipment the most important are comfortable boots, jacket to protect from wind and cold, headlamp and water. I used 2.5 litters of water, 2 apples and 5 powerbars. This is my longest and highest hike so far.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


We arrived to launch at 11:20 and wind was already too strong, abound 15 mph average, gusting to 24+. I and another two PGs opted not to fly. When first HG was in the air, barely moving forward, we was very happy to be on the gound.

Jeff and John ready to go

Tony waiting for better moment

Going down

Car after ride through salt mine

Results. Tony Deleo: Quayle Lake ~115 miles; Bob Anderson: Neenach 108 miles; Chris Smith/Jeff Chipman: Kagel 91 miles; NMERider Start Circle.

Discussion on SB forum

Thursday, June 18, 2009

First flight from Pine Mt.

I was three times on Pine Mt. launch during last 3 years, but never fly before. Today was different, light wind, good cycles become more consistent and I launched at 12:16. Straight up to could base and went east, following ridge. Convergence line, marked by nice cumulus, was deep in the terrain. I try to follow it, but did not find any lift and have to move back for a safe landing.

Did not quite make it to the road, but landed on a huge grassy plateau and hike down to the road. Jonathan landed close to me, but near the road and Tony made it to Quail lake. Fast Eddie justifies his nickname and provided excellent retrieve for everybody. After flight we stop by in Tony's house and I finally saw famous map:

My GPS track:

Monday, June 15, 2009

XC League meet in Dunlap

Adventure started at Friday when I was not allowed to camp in our usual camp site, next to launch, because of "reunion" private party there. So, I camp in forest. Saturday was excellent day for Cross Country flying with massive cloud development, good lift, but a little bit turbulent. Task was DNLNCH -> 49917 -> GRNY -> SAMPSO -> SQV508 (4 km) -> WOODLA. I had a good start, was a second until SAMPSO:

Small white dot under the cloud is Josh heading to 49917. At SAMPSO Timo catch up and we flew together until SQV508:

At Ruth hill he decide to stay with a thermal and drift back toward GRNY, but I push forward and continue south.

One glide from TUCKER I noticed Steve and waited for him, but he was very low and finally landed near Sand Creak rd. After TUCKER I also start getting low and there was no clouds in flats at that time. After low save near CURTIS I made my final glide to the next valley and landed. Maybe 15 minutes later nice clouds start to forming everywhere:

Only Josh made GOAL. Thanks to Jay for retrieve.

My GPS track:

At Sunday Josh was kind enough to wait for most of us, so we had small gaggle with easier flying for everybody. Task was challenging as usual: DNLNCH -> ORO117 (4 km) -> 63LZ -> SAMPSO -> RNGSTN. For me everything was good until TUCKER where I lost Josh and Timo and wait for good climb with Steve. I found one, but made same mistake and instead of waiting for few other pilots try to catch up with Josh and Timo, race to the ground and landed. Arnold and Steve also landed on the same field, Shad and Josh was able to get out from this hole, but only Josh made GOAL. Thanks to David for retrieve.

My GPS track:

NCXC League website
Timo's blog about this weekend

Monday, May 25, 2009

Flight from Walt's to Big Pine in Owens valley

This was my first flight from Walt's point in the Owens valley. There is a tradition that hang gliders meet there on Memorial Day weekend, so I was hoping to join them at least for one day. Forecast was bad and promise overdevelopment by 2:00 pm at Saturday and I did not had a lot of expectations, but still want to had a short flight. I left car near bailout LZ and some HGs give me a ride to launch (Thanks!). Launch was already full of HGs assembling their gliders at 9:00 am and I was able to reserve only a small space, just enough to lay down my PG. I launched second at 10:14, got up quickly and start my journey. Beautiful snow peaks, lakes, amazing terrain and, of course, I forgot camera at home. I try to stay high all the flight and monitor clouds development and wind velocity. At 12:00 clouds was OK on the west side of valley and OD on east and north of Bishop. Wind velocity began to increase significantly, flying on trim speed, my ground speed occasionally reach 70-75 km/h, which mean that it equals to my air speed. I headed toward highway 395 to land, but catch a thermal just a mile short of highway and decided to made a last leg to Big Pine for easier retrieve. Landing was spectacular, almost with zero ground speed going through thermal bubbles I miss my intended LZ, clear of bushes, by few meters and spend about 20 minutes retrieving my wing from bushes and cactuses on 30+ km/h gusty wind. Unforgettable experience. Another HGs give me a ride to my car (Thanks again!), but first we stopped at grocery store to get some food and visited thermal springs near Bishop. Rain started around 3 pm. Total flight distance 74 km (45 miles), duration 2:22.

GPS track on Leonardo:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

US Paragliding Nats, Dunlap

We had Northern California XC League meets in Dunlap for many years, but most of tasks was in the Dunlap and Squaw valleyes and full potential of site was undiscovered. Jug did a really good job bringing top pilots to this place and pushing the boundaries. Unfortunately most of the tasks was similar to each other, we go west to flats and then south using the same route. Good thing about tasks is that we did not spend a lot of time in the Dunlap valley and I hope we can keep this in following league meets as well. Most of pilots stay in St Nichols Ranch, which was a great place to stay. I definitely enjoyed this comp., learn something new, had fun and want to say big thank you to Jug. Great job!


Results and other info:
Official site

Timo's video

Monday, April 20, 2009

Marshal to Palmdale flight 99.7 km

The plan was to go west from Marshal with light east winds. I join RebarDan to try back side of the San Gabriel mountains and Jonathan try to go in front of it. I was lucky to met RebarDan and Wally on LZ and they give me a ride to launch. I launched 10 minutes after Dan and got high quickly. I flew to west towers and catch up with Dan there. Cajon pass was a most tricky part in the whole flight and I was not sure I could connect after crossing. But I got lucky one more time and find thermal after pass. Then I made a big mistake going on glide without getting all altitude. I follow road to Wrightwood and terrain is going up, so after second glide I almost land, but try to ridge soar and finally catch thermal and never got that low in the rest of the flight. After Wrightwood flight becomes easier and I was able to enjoy by scenic views of San Gabriels snow peaks. I had a radio contact with Dan and Wally and keep going west. After Palmdale I got lower again and did not stay over ridge, because there were a lot of power lines back there and I have to stay in front. There were no thermals for a while and I also start feeling light head wind, and 10 miles after Palmdale I landed. Flight distance: 99.7 km (61.9 miles). Dan made 132 miles to Central valley and Jonathan 66.8 to Kagel. After 4 hours Dan and Wally pick me up, we had a quick dinner in Palmdale and headed back to Marshal LZ. I got home about 1 am. And it's my personal best so far!

GPS track:


Related Crestline forum topic:
Overview of April 20th & 21st

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kagel to Mt. Lukens flight

Day before Faiz ask me if we can fly to Pasadena from Kagel. Forecast was ok, so we try. But, as it typically happened forecast is forecast and reality is reality. After launch I could not get more that few hundred meters over the top of the mountain. However I keep following few HG's and made it to the west side of Mt. Lukens. Cloud base was so low, that I did not try to fly toward the peak and just land on river wash. I should probably try to come back, which was absolutely possible and all HG's made it back to Kagel LZ. Ok, next time.
GPS track:


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Two XC flights from Marshal

Prediction was for good chance to fly west from Marshal to Kagel and beyond, so this time I did not join XC League and fly by myself, actually with Jerome most of the time.

First flight. I launched at 12:46, just after Rebardan and few other HGs flew away quite high. Easily got 1 km over launch and first try to join Jerome for heading east toward Dam, but it was too much east wind (well, as expected), so we took another climb and head east. The most critical part was to cross Cajon Pass (about 10 km). I start gliding from near Pine Mt. and first half went just fine. Over I-15 I try to hook into weak thermal and noticed significant drift from north. All my attempts to connect with Cucamonga mountain range fail and strong north wind flush me out from the mountain to the valley. There was quite windy, I landed almost vertically. Jerome made it to over mountain, but ended with same result. When we finish packing gliders retrieve was already there.
GPS track:

Second flight: Launched at 3:51 pm and could not get up for awhile, but eventually did. Go back to Crestline, then took a boomer near Billboard to 10196 ft and go to Pine Mt. Just before Pine I noticed how fast my ground speed increasing (+10km/h within one minute), which means that east wind was still there, so I turn around and fly back. Jerome was already over Arrowhead peak and fly toward Dam. Then he got low near McKinley and this allow me to catch up with him. After two thermal we had enough altitude to make Harrison, so we did. Then split again. I flew directly toward Dam over sunny mountains and he over shaded foothills. Just before Mentone was good thermal, which could allow me continue fly down range, but I choose to land (retrieve was already there and time was >6pm).
GPS track:
Thanks a lot to Lisa and Jerome for fast retrieve!


Zippy (HG) made 96.5 miles from Marshall to Santa Paula, CA. He also was flushed from mountains after Cajon pass, but just keep going over the valley and made it back to mountains later:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SoCal XC League, Marshall

John Scott (HG) predicted good weather to try Kagel to Marshall flight, but Dean call SoCal XC meet at Marshal, so I was in doubt until 8 am at Saturday and finally went to Marshal. It was north wind (not flyable) until 2:30 pm, but then we launch and go on course. I had slow start and did not care about time, task was easy and only trouble was strong west wind. I made few mistakes:
1. Forget start time (3:45 or 3:50?), so lost 5 minutes.
2. Did not pay attention for sink rate and thermal instead of following Dean using nice convergence line with almost zero sink.
3. Forget that its 1 km radius (not 0.4 km) over last CVS turn point, so did not go directly to it from Towers and flew upwind to Cloud first, which cost another 10 minutes.
After task flew another 2 hours for fun, got to 7+K. Good training before National in Dunlap. I should write down the task.

GPS track:

As for Kagel to Marshal flight 9 HGs try to do it, 4 made it to goal, 2 within 2 miles, 1 landed below Cuc and 2 near San Dimas.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Santa Barbara Flight

At Saturday I had my first thermal flight on the new wing Axis Venus 2. Weather was good except of light east wind. Launched at 11:00 and hang out between R&R and Antenna Farm for about one hour. Then follow Tony Deleo on his Atos and another hang glider. They go low and fast. I try to be conservative and get all altitude that I can before each transition. After Montecito peak there was no clouds and base was just little bit higher then top of the ridge. I made it to power lines then east wind become stronger and I turn around and fly back. On the way back I join Dean & Co. for Santa Claus Ln beach landing. Nice flight except of one nasty frontal collapse.
GPS track log

Friday, February 27, 2009

SoCal Airspace Map

Getting ready for new Cross Country season I put together PG/HG launches in South California and Airspace map including A, B, C, D, restricted areas and MOA:

Reference info:
PG/HG launches: Paragliding Earth (California)

Airspace map:

You can upload airspace map (or part of it) into your Vario (Flytec 5030/6020/6030 or Brauniger IQ Compeo+/Competino+) using this site:

Comments about restricted areas in Mojave desert from hang/paraglider pilot and military test pilot Mark Stucky (Forger):
Edwards AFB, R-2515, R-2524, R-2502, R-2505, R-2506

Fly safe, stay away from big brothers and restricted areas. :)