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Ridge Soaring

Ridge Soaring Clinic, Winter '01

When Deb and I crossed the Bay Bridge In San Francisco, An alert for terrorist attacks was in place. A lone soldier with an assault rifle stood next to a hummer, halfway across the bridge. What exactly he was going to do, if a plane rammed into the bridge, was a little unclear to me. All the same, I was glad the bridge survived. it's a nice bridge. Never caused no one no harm.

We had been driving like maniacs, hoping to arrive in Pacifica for an afternoon flight. Finally, at long last, we crested the hill on Highway 1 and got our first sight of the ocean and the flying site there. Flat assed and shaky legged I crawled out of the car, after two days of driving in the fancy SUV designed for midgets. I walked up to the local pilot sitting in a car crammed full of gear. "It hasn't been flyable here for ten days" he declared. I wondered to myself whether that meant he'd been sitting in that car for nine days. (note to self: Check for signs of falling into depravity, it may be contagious!). After this summers' trip with its' ten flawless days of flying, I had been firmly telling myself, and everyone else, to lower our expectations. So I was prepared to miss a few days of flying due to bad weather. Hey! Just like Home!

Ridge SoaringOur first stop was setting up camp at my folks' house. We had one day to fly before the troops showed up. Ignoring the weather report, which was never, ever right, we headed out to check the flying site at Sand City. At first it was a questionable day, kind of cross, gusty and switching around. Soon however, the wind smoothed out and become perfect. I had an excellent day. The kind of day that is the exact reason you come to fly here, with hours of flying, a huge lift band, and miles of coast to cruise over.

The next day the weather report called for a south wind so of course it was north. I ended up soaring the side of the largest dune. It was very surgical flying, close and technical. Greg made it in that morning and got to warm up, after his long break from flying, with some kiting and a few sleds to the beach. Eugene was the next to show up. The weather turned on and off throughout the week. We would get a great day, then a down day. Greg, who had the tightest time restrictions, would start to twitch during the down days. The flying days were classic beach days. Eugene doubled his flying time, putting in more than four hours. Midweek the rest of the gang showed up. Scott, Pierre, Murray and Bruce came by for parts of the trip. Friday was a dud so we headed off to the Big Sur site in Pacific Valley. Pacific Valley is one one of most beautiful places I've ever flown.

There is a 3300 foot launch there, which makes for a great flight, even if it's a sledder. It was dark by the time we got there. Somehow we managed to herd everyone up the long twisty road to the campsite at launch. It wasn't until morning that we got to see the incredible scenery of this area. It was cross on the first day but Pierre, Eugene and I got in a flight by hiking down to the 2400 foot launch. From the upper launch you must follow a long ridge out to the front of the mountain. You can't always fly to it as the glide is quite far. By hiking out to the front we still had a 2400 foot launch and there the wind was straight in. We soon bailed off for a great sled with an incredible view of the ocean. Eugene, who I had to talk into coming down, had a terrific flight.

That night we got up after midnight for the meteor shower. It was billed as the best meteor shower in a hundred years. It certainly lived up to the hype. There we were, lined up on a tarp like a bunch of sardines in sleeping bags, watching the show. The shooting stars were huge, making great arcs across the sky, their trails lingering for a half a minute after their passing.

FlyingWe flew more on Sunday, then the trip wound down as people headed home. I headed north to have Thanksgiving with the folks. I also got in a couple more great days at Sand City. So now I'm back home, looking at the snow. I'm already thinking about next year's trip. How's June sound?

See Ya!

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