RMHPA Meeting Minutes for 26 Aug 2018 (11:30am – 1:00 pm)
Bellyache and Nottingham Park in Avon Colorado
What we think was the first RMHPA Meeting to be held in the Vail/Edwards/Wolcott area occurred yesterday. Thanks to Adam, event coordinator extraordinaire, for putting the meeting and mini fly-in together.
A group of about 25 pilots, many who had never flown Bellyache, met at the LZ at 0700 and Greg Kelley with backup from Jack Rossman provided a site intro and welcome. After an LZ walk through the caravan to launch commenced and we arrived to beautiful morning views of Colorado with classic Bellyache conditions. Light cycles were rolling up the hill and lots of pilots got to test out their forward launching skills in the smooth but buoyant morning air. Over the course of about two and a half flyable hours about 50 pilots flew and many of the early risers were rewarded with two flights. The LZ winds were out of the east as the valley drained for most of the flyable portion of the morning. There were a few tandems and we had one hang glider fly. Tavo found a little lift with his hang glider and as fate would have it the LZ winds went to nil just as he started his final approach. Those of us in the LZ were treated to a perfect, no wind, standup hang glider landing. As Greg predicted, we had to stop flying about 10:30 as the west winds broke through and came over the back of launch. It was a good lesson in how quickly conditions can change and how invaluable local site knowledge can be. The last paraglider to land got caught in some strong west winds and had many observers concerned—glad to be on the ground and not in the air. The pilot, not wanting to be too close to the west side of the LZ and potential rotor and turbulence off the ridge to the west, took his downwind a little too far for the conditions and ended up east/short of the LZ, being pushed backward by the strong winds toward a powerline. The pilot recognized the predicament and made a quick turn downwind with enough altitude to get to the far side of the powerlines and turn back into the wind. He landed “uneventfully” near the railroad tracks. The road to the LZ was too crowded with cars to use as an alternative LZ. Within 30 minutes the LZ winds were gusting to 25+ and kicking up dust and sand on the road.
A couple of possible lessons from this experienced Bellyache pilot’s exciting landing.
- Conditions can and do change rapidly. There is no substitute for local knowledge. Always consult with the local flyers before flying a site. If no one is flying, there is usually a reason.
- Always fly with a radio on the site’s common frequency. Other pilots can provide radio updates on the rapidly changing conditions. This pilot landed about 25 minutes after everyone else and might have chosen to land sooner if he had heard some of the radio chatter.
- After this pilot was pinned by the wind short of the LZ with a powerline behind him, he realized that his best landing option was behind him and bailed out while he had the altitude to make it happen. If you are fighting a headwind to get to a safe landing area there may be better options behind you. You can cover lots of ground with a 20 mph tailwind and some altitude. There may be lots of safer landing zones within easier glide downwind than the LZ you are fighting a headwind to reach. Your best landing option, the “nearest exit”, may be behind you.
It was a great morning of flying with somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 flights. A big thank you to Greg and Jack for the excellent intro to the site and for monitoring launch and the weather to help keep us all safe.
At our meeting, after the flying, Greg Kelley stressed that they love having pilots come up to fly. They meet at the Bellyache LZ almost every morning at 8 am. Call to get the latest info and some local weather expertise before making the drive. The prime fall season for Wolcott flying is almost here—typically local pilots meet at about 4 pm for the drive to launch. The road requires true 4-wheel drive and there are two locked gates. You definitely need to call ahead for Wolcott to connect with the local flyers.
After the flying ended, we met in Notingham Park in Avon for our RMHPA meeting. Thanks to Adam and Emily for reserving the park and picking up lunch—the fire ban prevented the barbequing that had been planned.
Will Stites (RMHPA Vice–President) convened the meeting. There were 35+ pilots in attendance. Six new members introduced themselves and were welcomed. Because of the meeting location seven other long time members were attending their first RMHPA Meeting. Based on the great day and turnout we’ll have to make this an annual tradition.
Will stressed the purpose of RMHPA. The club exists solely to protect and ensure access to free flight in Colorado. RMHPA, with the help of USHPA, insures and develops risk mitigation plans for seven Colorado sites. Without this work and insurance, the site owners would not allow paragliding and our free flight options in Colorado would be much more limited. Your efforts and support as RMHPA members makes it possible. Our club is doing well with membership numbers at record levels, we have over 200 members. The club isn’t about making and enforcing rules, generally the local fliers set standards and make sure individual actions don’t threaten the free flight access for the rest of the group. The exception is that we need all fliers at our insured sites to be RMHPA and USHPA members (guests must be USHPA members and can get a temporary RMHPA membership and sign required waivers on our website). All instructors teaching at our insured sites also have to be USHPA approved and insured—expect Boulder Authorities to randomly check instructor paperwork. Instructors teaching without the necessary certification and insurance could have equipment confiscated. We are not talking about mentoring, we are talking about running a school and instructing with paying students at our insured sites.
Will also formally nominated Adam to be next year’s vice president. A nomination that I think will be unanimously supported. We want turnover and new blood in the club’s officer ranks so let someone know if you would like to be more involved in RMHPA’s governance.
One of the highlights of the meeting was an intro to hang gliding from our Hang Gliding Flight Director Mike Badely.
You really needed to be there for this one so I’ll just hit the highlights. Mike started hang gliding in California 32 years ago and has an incredible amount of knowledge about the sport and I am sure he would happily share more details with you one on one.
Some of the highlights (hit up Mike for more details):
Pioneers: Da Vinci, Otto Lilienthal, Octave Chanute, the Wright Brothers, Francis Rogallo
Development: wing warping, wind tunnels, camber, 90 degree nose angle, fixed crossbar, home-builts (bamboo, plastic, rip stop nylon), early gliders 3 or 4 to 1 glide ratio and a 360 degree turn was an advanced maneuver—tendency to tuck over in a dive and tailslide in a stall, the advice of the day was, “Never fly higher than you are willing to fall”, the floating crossbar increased safety and glide ratio, 120 degree nose angle, longer thinner wings, flat battens to curved battens to reduce tail flutter, luff lines and king post to self-right dives and prevent tuck, wing tip curvature to prevent tail slides, harness types (pod, seated, supine), sailcloth materials Dacron/Kevlar weaves (UV degradation), different glider types, ATOS , spoilers, flaps, drag devices, topless gliders.
Records: the current distance record is 475 miles flown from Zapata, TX. Our very own Larry Tudor, now a paraglider pilot, set records of 221.5 miles in 1983 and 303 miles in 1990—a legend.
Tips for Paragliders flying with Hang Gliders:
- Hang Gliders are flying faster with larger turn circles in thermals.
- Make eye contact so the other pilots know you are aware of their presence. Have your head on a swivel and constantly clear the airspace and your turns.
- A hang glider that is banking toward you has the view of where they are going obstructed by the wing.
- If you see a topless glider (no king post), they are higher performance and will probably have pretty good situational awareness. If you see a glider with big wheels, it’s probably a student—watch out.
- When ridge flying, hang gliders will normally pass to the outside when overtaking—clear your turn so you don’t turn into a hang glider overtaking you.
- Hang gliders like speed on landing and this equates to long glides in ground effect before the final flare. Try to time your approach to not be on final with a hang glider but if a hang glider is overtaking you, try to minimize S-turns and clear the straight-in final approach course for the hang glider. Some busy LZs will divide the LZ and fly opposite downwind, base and final patterns for hang gliders and paragliders.
- Clear the landing area quickly while watching for gliders on final.
- Be predictable on the ground and in the air.
There was also a brief discussion of wind gradients, small LZs, and mechanical turbulence. Talk with an instructor or experienced pilot about insight into these topics. Speed is life—flying slow, in deep brakes is almost never the answer.
On the “There I Was” safety front we briefly discussed Bryan’s serious accident in Boulder. A couple of takeaways (Bryan approved this message):
- Bryan’s number one takeaway was don’t be in a rush, slow down. Bryan was excited to fly that day and didn’t take as much time as he usually does to observe conditions. He recommends sitting on launch observing the weather, other pilots, the birds—get a feel for the day and take your time before taking flight.
- Throw your reserve. Bryan said if he had thrown his reserve he probably would have walked away. “If in doubt throw it out.”
- Get to a SIV clinic. If you are doing more than sledders, plan to fly in Colorado thermals and/or want to go cross country you should attend a SIV clinic. The clinics are a great way to gain confidence in your wing and know what to do when the unexpected happens. Bryan had attended a SIV clinic but it was cut short because of mechanical trouble with the boat.
Bryan will be at the “Gardens on Quail Rehabilitation Center” in Arvada (6447 Quail St.) as he continues his recovery. He welcomes visitors and good fresh natural food from the outside world—stop by for a visit.
Tom Vail from Glenwood Springs discussed a current issue they are having with the launch (west facing site) at Lookout Mountain in Glenwood Springs. The launch is currently unusable due to some construction but the pilots are working to make sure it is available and usable in the future. The bottom line is there may be a need for some funds to help offset the cost—they are still in the early stages of figuring things out and the Foundation for Free Flight may be an option. We’ll keep you updated on the progress and let you know if you can help.
A few other takeaways from the meeting:
- If you see an accident or are involved in an accident and there is any doubt as to the extent of injuries or the need for medical/rescue assistance, call 911.
- Life Insurance usually does not cover many aviation sports related accidents. Check your policy and purchase a rider if required.
- The CORSAR card is not insurance and will not cover a helicopter. InReach, Spot and other travel insurance policies usually exclude paragliding and hang gliding—buyer beware—read the policy.
- Insurance that might cover a helicopter may only cover to the nearest facility and only if determined to be medically necessary. If they take you to their facility which is further the extra distance may not be covered.
- We are trying to find good insurance solutions and will let you know if we find something that may provide good coverage at a good value. If you know of some viable insurance solutions add the info/links to this post on the forum.
- We may try to set up a SIV clinic close by (Lake McConaughy, Neb.?). Details when, and if, planning moves forward.
I couldn’t capture every detail of the meeting so try to be there next time—we missed you. If something needs to be corrected or expanded on, just respond and add it on to this post.
Lift and cloud streets…Drinks