My Slope's Bigger Than Your Slope. (Video) - RC Groups
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Sep 12, 2005, 10:08 AM
Throw Caution to the Wind
Lavawing's Avatar

My Slope's Bigger Than Your Slope. (Video)

I met up with occasional RC Groupie Kona Joe, and he drove us up Grand Mesa, to Lands End. Grand Mesa is supposed to be the world's highest flat topped mountain. I'm not sure if that makes it the world's highest flat topped mountain Slope or not. But 5,000 feet above the surrounding landscape, and topping out 10,000 feet or so above sea level with a sharp cliff, it's pretty big. With the wind blowing -- we thought -- it would make a killer slope. And today, the wind was blowing.

My gauge read 41.9 mph coming up the edge. The mountain top stretched away behind us, a low prairie dotted with distant patches of trees and sprinkled with lakes. A small stream meandered across toward us, quiet and unaware, then flung itself off the edge of the cliff, where some of it blew right back upward and fell across the road like rain. About 3-and-a-half feet behind the lip, a vicious rotor pummeled us behind the knees and buffeted our hats outward, toward the edge.

Joe threw out his unballasted Super Scooter and hit the lift. Pow! Plane went up like fire. He pointed the nose down, took a frightening dive through the rotor, and was moving! Lift was huge, and everywhere. He scooted over the whole sky, not finding any limits to the lift zone except the turbulent edge -- which he had to stay well forward of. Flying fast, forward, and furious, he burned it up. I was shooting photos and video, and I was already getting an adrenaline buzz. He kept shouting into the wind. Something like, "Heaven..." and "Never before..." He even had to take some serious evasive action as one, two, then three falcons pursued the plane, diving in with wings reefed in tight.

After about 20 long minutes, his brain was pretty well saturated and he was ready to land. He came back over the lip, did a quick downwind leg and his turn over the road, the plane buffeted by the rotor, but wasn't quite coming down. He skimmed low toward the edge, hoping for another go-around, but the rotor slammed one wing into a protruding rock and tore the it loose. Smack! The momentum and the air carried the the wreck out, back into the lift, where it blew up and over and plopped sadly down in the road. Ouch.

We surveyed the damage. Torn EPP. Very fixable, but not very field fixable. I got out the Moth. Started to cut out the ballast hatch, but then thought better of it, since I've never filled it and checked the CG -- NOT a good time to be doing much dialing-in of a plane. Too much air, and too far to fall. If it ain't fixed, don't broke it.

I checked the elevon motions, then checked them again. Standing 5 feet back from the lip, my antenna streamer was blowing OUTward at about 15mph (I measured it.) I checked the elevon motion one more time, gulped, then threw.

That first launch went totally inverted as it left my hand, then hit the lift. Pow! Up like fire. I pointed the Moth into it and Ripped! HUGE lift zone! No limits except the back. Not much good for fly close fly-bys; The rotor was Nasty! But I tried anyway. Ten minutes and one falcon attack later, my brain was fried and I landed -- taking my cue from Joe's misfortune, I landed a hundred feet or so behind the edge, past the road and the barbwire fence, plopping down "firmly" in a field of rocks.

WHOO! Had to shake off the jitters and calm down. Then, since Joe wasn't flying again, I threw out a second time and lasted about 15 minutes.

Highly epic. Joe's been soaring since he was a teenager, and he's nearly 100 years old now. (I'm not a good judge of age. He might be half that.) He kept stuttering "epiphany" and claiming that the day had totally expanded his whole view of slope soaring. I've never flown in lift like that in my much shorter experience. We HAVE to go back.

There's so much cliff, there are options for lots of different wind directions, and I'm sure it doesn't have to be blowing as hard as it was to make it go off. Oh yes. We'll be back...
One Big Slope.

As usual, please download before viewing. Two size choices. The big one is huge, but the Moth was very small in the video, and you can't see much of it in the more compressed (smaller) version. The small one will still give you a great view of the slope.
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Sep 12, 2005, 10:23 AM
racing fool
Elmer's Avatar
What a slope.

You need a lead sled for that air.

High altitude? Thin air? Landings are tough I bet.
Sep 12, 2005, 10:40 AM
All times are GMT
wackyd's Avatar
Wow!! Very very cool!! Your mad vid skills never cease to amaze me. Keep them coming,....
Sep 12, 2005, 12:33 PM
screamin' eagle's Avatar
Awesome site! Sounds like a good place to fly some real heavies - except for the dicey landing approach.
Sep 12, 2005, 12:58 PM
Vitruvian JART
Reed's Avatar
Ye have seen the Holy High Lift of Compression and it is good. Very cool video.

FWIW, one suggestion on launching in that kind of air: grab the plane firmly and hold it out into the air. Then all you need is a firm little nudge. That gets the plane flying before it leaves your hand and gives you much greater control of the launch. The plane will fly away clean and give you plenty of time to move your hand back to the sticks. Flicking it out there from the rotor into the lift is really asking to have the plane flipped over and wiped all over the terrain. It all turned out fine but if you start flying sites like that consistently you'll want a more controlled launch.

Again, great video and great site. Thanks for sharing it. Hmmmm, now who can I beg for a ride to Colorado?
Sep 12, 2005, 01:30 PM
Registered User
Daemon's Avatar
Originally Posted by Reed
FWIW, one suggestion on launching in that kind of air: grab the plane firmly and hold it out into the air.
This isn't always possible. I can't speak for Grand Mesa, but up at Roan cliffs
a few days ago we couldn't get out to the edge of the cliff far enough to
feel the wind at all. The ground sloped slightly downhill within about 6
feet of the lip, and was covered with small flat sheets of sandstone
which gave you the impression that there was a point of no return beyond
which you'd just slide off. Combine that with the fact that the cliff is
undercut, so the wind was actually blowing up and *out* at the lip,
and the 800-1000 foot vertical drop, and it was a very scary place to
be. Wind/rotor always blowing at our backs. I couldn't bring myself to throw
out off the cliff itself so we moved to a spot where there was just a very
steep slope and some vegetation and the cliff didn't drop off for a hundred
feet down or so.

Sep 12, 2005, 01:44 PM
Vitruvian JART
Reed's Avatar
Not sure I understand your comment, Daemon. I wasn't talking about the situation you've described, I was trying to help with the situation shown in the video. The experience you had was very different, wouldn't you agree?
Sep 12, 2005, 02:10 PM
It could happen...
InTheLift's Avatar
Originally Posted by Lavawing
He scooted over the whole sky
Let me get this say his Scooter was scooting?!?

Beautiful site and insane lift! Sounds like I need to make a ROAD TRIP!!! LOL!
Last edited by InTheLift; Sep 12, 2005 at 02:27 PM.
Sep 12, 2005, 02:18 PM
Life is Good!
Tank52's Avatar
Great vids on your site. You guys have some skills, in the air and with the camera. Keep them coming.

Sep 12, 2005, 02:22 PM
characters welcome!
Mark Wood's Avatar
My bestest friend through four years in the USN lived in Delta and when we got out the same day I helped him drive home. For the next month we just about lived up on the Grand Mesa as Mark reacquainted himself with his old haunts. Although RC flight was about the furthest from my mind in those days ('77) I have though about the place from time to time. I can IMAGINE what it would be like as a slope fiend. Great account of the experience!

mw (remembers 30 years ago but doesn't know what was for for lunch yesterday)
Sep 12, 2005, 02:50 PM
Breaker of wind and wings
Konajoe's Avatar
Almost 24 hours later and I STILL have the jitters. The Super Scooter will be repaired and ready to go tonight but I have to wait until another HS125MG wing servo comes in the mail - I stripped the gears trying to punch a hole in that rock.

Here's my account of the day...

And Im correcting myself here - the rock was Basalt not Granite - like it mattered heeh !

Lavawing - Awesome editing, and the perfect soundtrack !!! - Thanks

We hope you enjoy the video and also hope to see other slopers up there.
Sep 12, 2005, 03:00 PM
Ninja of the Nasty
KingOfTheHill's Avatar
good god that was awesome... i LOVED the water blowing up the hill... too cool.

makes me jealous.... come on SANTA ANA'S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sep 12, 2005, 03:03 PM
Registered User
slopejocky's Avatar

This the Place

Here's a Google Earth view of where I think your talking about. Looks like you could find a lot of places to fly on that Mesa. What major airport is closest?

Sep 12, 2005, 03:08 PM
Breaker of wind and wings
Konajoe's Avatar
That be the spot ! - Grand Junction is the closest commercial airport with Montrose being the second closest.

We flew just to the right ( looking at the google pic ) of the spot marked "Land's End" and between the lake and cliffs.
Sep 12, 2005, 03:38 PM
Registered User
Daemon's Avatar
Originally Posted by Reed
Not sure I understand your comment, Daemon. I wasn't talking about the situation you've described, I was trying to help with the situation shown in the video. The experience you had was very different, wouldn't you agree?
It was not clear from the video just how close to the edge they could
get. My point was that you can't always reach out into the wind
to launch. Also sometimes when you can reach into the wind on a cliff
it's *so* roudy that you can't hold the wings level (even pointed
straight down into the wind). I've had that situation up at North Table
Mountain a lot.


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