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Old Jul 10, 2003, 06:33 PM
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heli on the brain
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Apple Valley/Victorville, Ca
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Red Tail Hawk slopes with us!!!, it was sooo fricken cool, the other day while doing a little free flying action down at the local slope, an unexpected guest came floating over toward us. i noticed a mature red tail coming closer inching its way down the slope checking things out. we always see ravens on the slope, sometimes even mimicking us, but this was a first. a red tail. i gingerly pulled up and back, taking my wing (which is a local made kingwing btw that absolutely rocks!) and flying up towards it. usually when any birds come by they quickly dash away when they spot a wing, but not this one! we started to hover right next to another as the wind began to pick up. it was almost like it was showing me where the lift really was, as in a matter of a few seconds, we were easily a few hundred feet higher. dancing in the air, almost like a choriographed musical. i couldnt believe my eyes as i swayed underneath it so close it had to pull up its claws for me to pass!unbelievable! ive never seen anything like it. it lasted about a minute or two, and when it was over we just stood there , mouths open, in awe of what just happened. has anyone else ever had a red tail or anyother bird of prey actually peacefully fly with them??? one things for sure, if i still had my zagi, i would of never been able to float up to even greet it. thanks to my bros at kingwings for making it possible!......

....if u get a chance check em out at
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Old Jul 10, 2003, 10:10 PM
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Not peacefully!
I was flying my Moth the other day and after about 5 min I heard the resident red tail scream. I looked over and he was coming up out of his tree. In a few min he was flying over my head and about 50' higher than my glider. Another scream and he tucked in his wings and with his claws out he dove for my plane. I held my line and he cleared the plane by a few inches and screamed again. He made 3 dives total. On the third one I yanked up elevator when he was 15' away to show him that the glider was not afraid of him and he hit the brakes and took off. The attack did not suprise me as a few weeks ago he dove on my 60" EPP racer though he did not get as close due to the bigger plane. Any way 5 min later I heard him scream again and he was a small speck in the sky and I was still scraping along the hill. DOH!!! out flown again.

It is an awsome experience to watch these professionals fly. Last winter I got to go falconing with a redtail. Let me tell you, those birds have skills and having one fly 10' over your head after a rabbit is something to behold. If you ever get a chance to do this I highly suggest it.
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Old Jul 10, 2003, 11:27 PM
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San Fernando Valley, California, United States
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At my local slope, there is always 2-3 hawks in hover mode looking for prey. They are so used to gliders that they pay no attention unless you get real close. It's awesome watching them hover so effortlessly.
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Old Jul 11, 2003, 09:42 PM
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If you're above them, they'll generally leave you alone. Below, and coming up, they can hardly resist going after you. I've flown with them, around them, looped over them, away from them, and toward them on many occasions. I find that one hawk alone is usually ok with gliders, but if they're showing off for a mate, or competing with another male, they'll get aggressive toward the gliders, and they particularly like Moth/Gulp/JW/Electron shaped wings, because I think they're perceived as more birdlike.

A few of my encounters..
Scooter.. after it made contact with the glider (its fault, not mine.. I just held my line coming straight up), and I got back up to altitude first so it flew formation.

JW being intimidated.. (I'm not intimidated by them at all)

A redtail parked 40 feet up, half a dozen gliders flying below it..

They're pretty much hard wired to investigate circling, so you can draw them over by finding a thermal and making a few turns in it. Alternately I psyched a couple out with the Nemesis once, by doing a few DS turns punching the glider up high, and then making a few turns *as though* I had found a thermal.. They come over.. and then flap off in disgust.

They don't seem to appreciate the fact that most gliders have less drag and higher energy retention. They'll come over close to investigate.. stick their talons out tentatively... follow you into a shallow dive, and then you pull up do a loop and end up above them, and they find that un-amusing. Handy if they won't leave you alone though, because they really do respect whatever's highest in the sky.

The ultimate compliment I've ever had was this one. I was flying my hand launch.. managed to catch a boomer of a thermal took it up, and on the way collected 3 turkey vultures, a gull or two and one red tailed hawk. We all road it downwind slowly and I managed to keep it above *all* the birds for a good 5 minutes, and I started to notice that one of the turkey vultures seemed to be sticking with me, but from 50-70 feet below, matching my every turn. The thermal finally petered out, and all the birds headed off in different directions. I figured, heck.. I've got a huge amount of altitude, I'll just punch straight upwind and try to find the next thermal coming, so I book straight upwind at best cruise speed, and sure enough, that one Turkey Vulture stayed right below me.. I caught the thermal, the vulture caught it below me, we both rode up another 500+ feet, while the other birds finally caught on and trickled in from various directions only to find cruft 1000 feet below us. I felt it was a great compliment that the vulture recognized that I was doing a better job of catching the thermals that day, and stuck with me the whole time.

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Old Jul 14, 2003, 03:05 PM
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...great pics daemon!! i guess its a little more common than i had expected, albeit, theyre just a few replies to this thread. the thing that strikes me as strange is that when i was flying with the hawk, the entire time i was beneath it, and it made no attempt whatsoever to initiate any offensive maneuvers. i guess thats a good thing though!!!but it sure was cool , none the less, just being a part of something like that. ah, the joys of sloping, being one with the sky and sometimes its inhabitants!
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Old Jul 14, 2003, 06:03 PM
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ahh the fun of flying with birds of prey

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Old Jul 14, 2003, 07:01 PM
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Wizzle and Friend.
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 04:01 AM
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That's so cool!

I know this isn't the right forum as it's for sailplanes but I had a similar encounter with a Red Kite in the UK, I was flying my Graupner Tipsy into the wind just about hovering right above me at about 80' Then very slowly and gracefully, a red kite soars across facing into wind and comes right up to my Tipsy! I couldn't believe it! The bird really dwarfed my plane, it wasn't aggresive at all just very inquisitive! I could see its head panning left and right following the plane as I drifted side to side to get some sort of reaction. After 30 sec's or so it got bored and carried on crabbing in the direction it was going. I told everyone in the pub after that, I couldn't contain my excitement!
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Old Aug 01, 2003, 02:39 PM
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Hi Folks:

This happened about 10 years ago while flying on the 400 ft slopes found in the Qu'Appelle Valley north of Broadview, Saskatchewan, Canada.

The pair of Red Tailed Hawks had a full nest of fledglings in a tree which was a few hundred yards from our prime slope site and were always very interested in our activities and protective of their airspace near the nest. It was not at all unusual to have them strike an airplane during the nesting season and I still have a few claw marks in some of my planes.

What was very unusual was the time I had them rather stirred up and after a lot of airborne warning screeches and a few fake attacks followed by several serious attacks sinking their claws into the model, they seemed to disappear.

I brought my plane in close for some aerobatics right out in front of myself .... maybe 50 feet in front and started doing consecutive loops at low level and high speed.

I hear a fraction of a second of noise and look over my right shoulder to see a hawk with fully folded wings screaming past me at lightning bolt speed about 3 feet off my right shoulder!!! If I had extended my arm, I'm certain I could have touched it.

My eyes followed it as the bird made an attack on the model and missed. Maybe 5 seconds later, the second hawk did the same thing on my left side!! The second one got a strike as it corrected for my avoidance of the first one's attack.....pretty good fighter pilot teamwork.

It was one of the most impressive displays of nature I have ever experienced and will always remember it.....especially the sound of those birds in a very high speed dive on both sides of me.

I decided that if they were that upset, maybe I'd move off a little further away from their nest before they decided to give my scalp a little taste of their talons.

Quite an experience!

Regards to all,
Lee Smith
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