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Posted by PLA0242 | Jun 27, 2007 @ 01:53 AM | 3,066 Views
I recall years ago when I was working at UCSB, I would look out my office window periodically throughout the day to see if the winds were blowing. There was a row of tall eucalyptus trees along the campus lagoon that I could easily see from my office. I could always tell what the wind was doing just by watching the tops of these trees. At times, when the wind was really blowing, it would be hard to concentrate on my work knowing that my fully charged plane was waiting for me in the back seat of my car. I could almost hear it calling to me…”Paige, come out and play.” “Come on, you can get away.”

Of course, my plane wasn’t really calling out to me, but it felt like it at times.

As the boss at my work, I could break away at any time and be gone for a couple of hours. Lord knows I had accumulated enough overtime. The University owed me more than they would ever be willing to pay. You see, my passion for slope soaring was comparable to my passion for my work. Both identified me. Both fought for my attention.

Of course, when I was on the slope there was nothing calling me back to work. I mean, I don’t recall ever hearing my computer call to me…”Paige, come back to work.” “Come on, you can finish that report ahead of schedule.” I never looked back towards the University while slope soaring looking for indicators that would draw me back to my desk. It just never happened.

On those times when I would break away during a work day and head out to Ellwood...Continue Reading
Posted by PLA0242 | Jun 05, 2007 @ 11:45 AM | 3,387 Views
I recall the first time I had ever seen any kind of foam slope plane. I’m pretty sure that it was a Zagi. It was a typical Saturday at Ellwood Shores. The wind was decent and there were probably 4 or 5 slope pilots out that day. I had brought along my typical array of slope machines including a Talon and Turbo wingeron. I was the kind of pilot who typically brought out three planes. If I didn’t go home with at least two that were broken, I wasn’t pressing the envelope.

The pilot with the Zagi was pretty young; I’d say high school age. The rest of us always welcomed new pilots, especially if they brought out something we hadn’t seen before. We were all pretty impressed with this flying wing. What we were most impressed with was the fact that the pilot could crash this thing hard into the ground with hardly any damage. Most importantly, more times than not, you could immediately throw the Zagi off the cliff again without any repair work. Pretty cool. We all got a chance at the stick with this new-fangled plane and all of us agreed that it was a pretty stable and a lot of fun to fly. Okay, so it didn’t roll worth beans and it didn’t look like much in the air. But hey, it was a fun. And after all, that IS what it’s all about.

As the weeks passed, more and more of these foam wings were showing up at the slopes. It was always great to have more pilots out. It’s a time to share ideas and exchange building methods. But there was something different with these...Continue Reading
Posted by PLA0242 | Dec 12, 2006 @ 12:40 AM | 4,045 Views
Those that know me understand that I don’t question fate. It happens, like karma. As much as karma and fate are not always easy to understand, they both have a tendency to make themselves known in the strangest ways. It’s almost as if the gods are playing a joke on all of us, making us believe that we are in control.

So, I sat out to test fly this prototype that I decided to market sometime in the future. I have built six prior prototypes, each an improvement over previous attempts. I was particularly excited to fly on this day not only because the winds were strong promising a valid test period. But I was also excited because I honestly thought that this was last prototype before going into production.

I arrived at the launch site to see the windsock standing out straight as if it had an overdose of Viagra. South, southwest at 36 mph. The sloper, a 32” flying wing that weighed only 6 oz. I knew that it would take at least 2 more ounces of ballast to keep this bird in the air.

I opened the back of my 4Runner. In front of me were all the tools and in-field repair items I might need. Just behind these items, my radio, small camera and then, the prototype. I slapped two ounces of lead to the CG, grabbed my gear and headed to the slope.

I carried the prototype behind my body as I leaned into the wind. Once at the launch point, I fired up the radio. The servos chattered into place…perfect neutral. I double-checked the vertical stab to make sure it...Continue Reading
Posted by PLA0242 | Jun 08, 2006 @ 01:15 AM | 4,574 Views
7 June, 2006
"If I have to explain it to you..."

I think that most people are fascinated by flight. At one time or another, we have all stopped to watch a plane as it made its final approach and subsequent landing. And who hasn't paused to watch an eagle aloft a ridgeline, riding on rising air?

Having said that, I think that while most are fascinated by flight, there are some of us that are experiencing something deeper. It's almost like the sitting next to a camp fire at night. For whatever reason, it is hard not to find yourself gazing into the flames as they leap from crackling logs. There is an attraction there. One that is not easily explained or understood. For some of us, no matter how many times we see something in flight, it feels like we're seeing it for the first time.

I think that the person that coined the term the "miracle of flight" was one of these people. To the author and to many of us, flight is somewhat a "miracle." At the least, it seems like magic. For me, flight is the only phenomenon that seems like it could not have existed. That is to say, the idea of floating through the air seems so far beyond any other phenomenon that it catches the imagination every time it is seen or experienced. As a result, it also seems like it could have never it was too good to be true. But it is.

For some of us, flight draws something inexplicable from our soul. Perhaps it is a longing to be free. Free from fences and boarders. And free from the trappings of our everyday lives. It is that rare opportunity to escape to a place that shouldn't exist at all, but does.

I've often heard people say, "If I have to explain it to you, then you wouldn't understand." Out of all that this statement could apply to, I can think of no other as great as the recurring cathartic feelings that arise from the phenomenon of flight.

I fly slope.

Posted by PLA0242 | Jun 07, 2006 @ 03:18 AM | 4,665 Views
6 June, 2006
"When Planes Go Out To Sea"

So, I got to thinking more about my days flying with John at Ellwood those many years ago. Remember John? He was the anal retentive slope pilot who while never took risks in the flying department, built these "perfect" kit planes that were always trimmed to perfection.

Anyway, John and I met early at Ellwood. This was back in the day before we dedicated ourselves to strictly building slope planes. All we had with us were a couple of 72" floaters designed more for thermals than they were for slope soaring. We were still in that phase where the magic of staying aloft as long as your batteries lasted was somehow still a miracle to us. We had been used to the 'ol hi-start, three minute flights and back to the hi-start again looking for those elusive thermals.

I believe that John brought out a perfectly built Oly 650. I remember it was finished in green transparent Monokote with white trim...not a wrinkle to be had on the entire plane. I brought out my Segitta 600...somewhat heavier and not nearly as pristine as John's offering.

The wind was a gentle 12-15 mph coming directly on shore and neither one of us could wait to get or ships in the air. John, being somewhat more anxious to get in the air than I, picked up his plane, turned his radio on and threw that beautiful green and white Oly straight off the cliff.

Meanwhile I was turning my radio and plane on getting ready to follow him out when I...Continue Reading
Posted by PLA0242 | May 25, 2006 @ 12:14 PM | 4,427 Views
21 May, 2006

I have given a lot of thought to the notion of starting a blog or journal for my web site. I wasn't going to pursue a venture like this until I realized that the chances that anyone actually reading it is remote at best. Once I realized this fact, I decided to go for it.

This blog is supposed to about slope soaring. But I'm sure that it will go far beyond that. There are too many aspects of slope soaring that relate to life in general that it would be impossible not to comment on them. For example...I think a person's style of flying is a reflection of their personality...and sometimes, their character.

This is definitely true of people who fly "power" and those of us that choose to fly slope. I have found over the years that power people tend to be somewhat more aggressive in their approach to flying and life in general. Does this mean that there are no "introverted" power people? Of course not. However, I tend to think of them as power people who simply haven't yet discovered the joys of slope soaring. I suppose one can ask if there are "aggressive" slopers...Oh, yes there are. They tend to be the one's DSing on the backside...or what I call the "dark side." But, that's another subject for another day.

I had a friend once who flew slope. For a couple of years we flew together off the cliffs in Santa Barbara. He was great guy...a transplant from the Big Apple. You could sort of see the whole New York thing...Continue Reading