Friday, February 23, 2018

Atlantic Sunrise

Left home at 4:00am to fly on the eastern shores of Cape Cod at sunrise today.

A couple hang glider pilots were rigging at White Crest Beach, while Jon was getting his paraglider ready when I arrived before 7:00am.  I quickly changed into warmer clothes, unpacked my paraglider, and walked over to launch.  Jon originally told me the winds were 13 mph (21 kph) but it was obvious the winds were stronger, probably closer to 16 mph (26 kph) with higher gusts.  We both decided to launch from the beach below where the winds were lighter.  Jon pulled up, backed up the walkway, and was soon up and away.  I had it even easier; I pulled up, and with the careful use of my brakes, managed to fly up the dune to the top.

It was easy to stay up but also easy to get pushed too far back in the strong wind.  I wanted to use my speed bar, but it just would not work.  After slowly inching out in front of the dunes I checked my gear and discovered the problem, I connected the speed bar lines through the inside of the shoulder strap and the friction was making it nearly impossible to use.  I disconnected the brummel hooks, rerouted the line, and reconnected it without dropping my gloves.  Whew.  Now I could continue to play.

The winds were forecasted to quickly shift to the southeast so I headed to the northern Highland Light before the wind became too cross.  I had never successfully crossed the larger gaps in a paraglider so I was prepared to land if necessary.  I barely crossed both, at times only a couple feet above the beach.  The initial progress was slow, but as the cape curves to the northwest and the wind became a crossing tailwind, I soon arrived at my first destination.

Highland Light

I played around the lighthouse before heading back in a strengthening cross wind.  I was using full bar to make progress towards the south.  I knew crossing the gaps would be more difficult in a headwind so I wasn't surprised when I ran out of altitude just short of the southern side of the first gap.  I landed with no forward speed and tried to walk forward to "float" up the dune on the other side.  However, the wind blowing through the gap was too much and I started drifting backwards.  I made the mistake of turning around and soon found myself being dragged across the sand for about 50 yards, laughing the entire way.  What a dope!

After emptying buckets of sand out of my harness I tried several times to relaunch but it was just too windy, too cross, and too environmentally sensitive for me to be successful.

Jim gave me a ride back to launch where a couple pilots were still hanging on in the strong crosswind.  Instead of doing the smart thing and leaving my packed glider in the car, I gave it another shot.  I managed maybe a minute of airtime before floating to the beach.  I took the opportunity to do some high wind kiting and practice cobra inflations.

A group of us had lunch at a nearby restaurant before heading home.

Flights: 2, Duration: 0:59