Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One Leg to Fly On - Short Film

The film I was shooting for today, yesterday and tomorrow is for a very short (<5 minutes) video about Tip Rogers who is a fantastic and enthusiastic hang glider pilot who happens to have lost one of his legs in a boating accident many years back. It is great to get to hang around him with his very outgoing and fun personality. Stay tuned to see the short film on him.

Until then check out this sick video of Jonny flying the Morning Glory - Congrats Jonny, that looks awesome!

Road Again

I just found a new contest last night, first night back, and now I'm filming like a mad man to get it done before the deadline. Stay tuned! It's another hang gliding related one.

I'm going to Henson's tomorrow to fly with all the Team Challenge people, as well as, filming for this project. Karaoke was tonight (Tues.) at the Mexican place for all the Team Challenge people and it was a great time. Regional Director Dick Heckman had some raunchy sailor tunes he belched out acapella, lyrics too R rated to mention here...

(Picture is of sunset from Hensons ramp tonight - Tues)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Home Again

First photo taken with iphone (it's random but wanted to post it here at some point) - that is a dog in the back with a raincoat, helmet, and glasses

Google Earth view of my track log from thermaling in the start circle, and then looking on towards the first turnpoint.

In 5 days of competition flying at the Santa Cruz Flats race I flew about 272 miles and had about 18 hours in the air.

I just got done spending about 32 hours in a car non-stop driving all the way back from Arizona. Now that I'm back home it's time to start working again.

As mentioned earlier I'm probably going to be starting my own business, buying a new desktop computer and a DSLR, maybe the Canon 5d Mark2 (any thoughts or suggestions on that?).

Then I'm going to try and keep cranking out some videos and try a little more still photography.

I will probably also be heading over to Hensons to free fly with the Team Challenge people over there in the next couple of days.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Last day pics

Sending these from from phone so sry for the short post. I totally
messed up the start, missed going with the good guys, caught up with
Eric and Ricker, not sure where Ricker ended up but Eric and I had a
hard time after the first turnpoint. I landed about 8 mi short of the
second turnpoint (finishing half the course).

This was a great meet and I learned a lot and got to know some folks a
lot better, looking forward to the next one! I landed at like a
garbage dumpster cemetary today. Enjoy the pics. When I landed I had
about 150 emails of notification about comments on the hp video. I
still can't believe there's a link to it from youtubes home page!

I've got to fill out a w9 to recieve the prize too, once I get the
laptop I'll post pics and a short review too.

Here's a link to my track log from today:,-111.85237121582031&q=

AZ Flats Day 6

The HP contest is on the main page of Youtube with a link to my video!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just wanted to give a quick thanks to all the people making such encouraging remarks on my HP youtube video - I've gotten like 20 comments a day on that video since I won the grand prize. Thanks again everyone - and stay tuned for more! I plan on buying some better equipment and devoting more time to photography and video work, which I will continue to post up on this blog.

Eric walking towards the launch line, past the driving range to the right of the image (that's where I landed today)

My glider is still set up and ready for tomorrow since I made goal!

SO today (results HERE) was the second to last day of the Santa Cruz hang gliding competition and I'm in 9th right now overall! I came in 11th for the day today as well. I hope I can hold on and finish the meet in the top 10. It was a 91km triangle task today.

I almost lost it today though, the resort was acting like a beer-magnet during the start circle. I had been thermaling for an hour and a half in tight gaggles and was only at 4,000'. I was really thinking about landing and going and start drinking some beer at the resort and give up on the day.

But about 10 minutes after that thought the day turned on, and I was up to about 8,000' and so I was high enough to start the course, albeit behind the lead guys, but I caught them after the first glide, but then they left me again after the first turn point. I got slow at the last turnpoint, but managed to get into goal. Several people landed just short of goal today - I feel their pain but did not want to be one of them, so I slowed down a little to make sure I could make it in, took a slow climb until my 6030 told me I had goal made by 1,200' and I burned it in.

Below is my track log (feel free to zoom and pan around to check it out) - Sorry no inflight photos from today, too busy racing!

View Larger Map

Tomorrow is the last day of the competition and we've got a 27 hr drive home, not including losing 3 hours to time change to make. So I've filled up my new iPhone (my present to myself for winning the HP contest) with some tv shows and games to pass the time in the car (so far I really like JellyCar and Doodle Jump - they're games).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Win some and you lose some | Day 4 pics

Just recieved an email that I did not win the Stella Artois Short Film contest . . . you can't win them all I guess (and I don't know who did win yet) . That one was a great learning experience and I know I have improved since completing that project only a few months ago. It was an accomplishment just to make the top 10 and I'm very happy about that.

I really appreciate everyone's effort and help on that one from everyone in the film (especially Eric), to the musical composer, to everyone who took the time to figure out how that confounded voting system worked. It was a great experience and I would do it again even knowing the outcome now.

Today, as mentioned in my last post, was blown out (wind is too strong) - so Dustin, Jeff, and I headed off to Picacho Peak for a little hike (pictured below with some other photos). It was a good quick hike and once on top we watched three peregine falcons cruise around, once there was two of them spiraling down together, very cool to see.
The top left peak is where we hiked to

Trevor gets serious during our paper airplane competition today

A little desert dust on the national organizations bumpersticker

Too windy | Day 4

Too windy to fly, maybe going for a hike. Tomorrow is looking better,
stay tuned...

Monday, September 21, 2009

I WON the HP Contest!!!! | AZ Flats Day 2

Edit: Results for the day are up here - I matched my best day placement at 8th for the day, and am 10th overall - there's a lot of comp left though...
Okay so this is going to be a long post. A lot has happened today.

I won $40,000 and flew 70 miles to complete the task for today, maybe even finished in the top 10 or 15 for the day.

Here is the video I took at goal today and twittered it:

First I wanted say thank you to everyone who participated in the HP contest (HERE is their official press release). I know a lot of people really helped circulate this video and garner many more votes than I could by myself. This is a really overwhelming experience but wanted everyone to know their efforts are incredibly appreciated!

I hope not to fall prey to the stereotype of lottery winners where they spend all the money and get into debt and wish they had never recieved it. I do plan to donate some of the money to organizations to be determined, but mainly let it help fuel my passion of film and starting my own business. I'm still quite speechless with the whole thing...

Here's an update about today's flying with pictures (click on them for larger versions and captions are beneath).

View Larger Map
Above is my track log. It was a 70 mile task with 3 turnpoints. My track log says I went 142 mi since it counts all the turning in thermals and things - also an average speed of 33 mph and maxed out at 81 mph (on final glide) - also I reached 9,800' ft in altitude today. (The task was mainly downwind - maybe 12-18 mph - with a crosswing leg, the hardest one, in the middle on the route.)

I was one of two people who took the first start clock and then I flew by myself for about 50 miles until Dustin, Zippy, Dereck, Kraig, and some others caught up to me (so now I'm 15 minutes behind the leaders since the two start times were 15 minutes apart and they took the second one after me). Three guys from this lead group that caught me and were just a little below me and driving hard towards goal, but we didn't have it made so I slowed down and found another climb at only about 1,500' off the ground and had been falling fast! I got back up to over 5,000' about 4 or 5 miles from goal and went in! I was maybe 7th or 8th to land (but probably finished well lower than that because of the two different start times).

I took the first start time because I knew I wanted to get on in front and have the fast guys chasing me so I could try and hang with them later in the day, and that's exactly how it worked out.

Some of the highlights from today are climbing at about 1,000 fpm (feet per minute) above a dust devil (pictured below), cruising above the mountians with a peregrine falcon, and flying fast into goal! I really enjoyed the scenery and having a chance to fly by myself for a while.
Click for larger versions!

Dust devil in bottom left corner with white glider next to it

Close up of dust devil and pilot (Charles on Icaro)

Jeff O'Brien in start cirlce

Beautiful scenery! (this is at the end of the crosswind leg at turnpoint 2)

Eric Donaldson landing at goal


Stay tuned for more!

AZ Flats | Day 1

Click on pictures for larger versions (captions are below each picture).

Between turnpoints one and two

Resort and take off (its the V in bottom right)

Desert vs. mylar

Dustin Martin

Launch Line

Landing Short . . .

Jeff O'Brien making goal

The misquitos are bad.

Today was a blue day (no clouds to mark thermals) - everyone took the last (second) start time since it was kind of a later day. There was a HUGE gaggle in the start circle - all 32 pilots where in one thermal together at one point.

After the first start everyone went for it and it was a great time - going on glide with a ton of people at like 7,000' overlooking the desert and mountains of Arizona - beautiful!

Today's task was a box with goal back at start - 5 people made goal with the last leg being pretty difficult since it seemed to be a lighter day and in to the wind on the last leg. Results are HERE.

Of the Treetoppers that flew - Stinnet kicked butt (8th for the day) as well as Ricker (12th) who came in later behind Eric (19th) and I (17th), we already landed and Ricker edged us out a by a few miles - Trevor (25th) landed after the first or second turnpoint, and Stinnet had made it with the front guys when everything slowed down after the last turnpoint.

Overall a good day - I had been flying with the lead guys (the few who made it into goal, until I made one wrong decision that landed me 25 miles short of the 68 mile task).

Tomorrow I find out about the HP Video Contest - stay tuned - I could be $40,000 richer tomorrow (before taxes ;) ).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Practice day

Some people flew today and had good flights then a dust storm came in
later (pictured). Tomorrow is the first day of the comp, it looks like
we should have good weather. It feels good to be back in the
atmosphere of fun and flying. The resort is nice and I look forward
drinking some margaritas poolside after a good day of flying.

Check the Twitter updates to the right for the most recent happenings.

Road Trip to AZ

Only 1.5 hrs left! And then we arrive at the resort in Arizona where
us and 40 or 50 other pilots will be stationed at for a hang gliding

I left my laptop at home this trip and will be using my new iPhone 3gs
for most everything - for example I'm using it to write this post
right now and took the pictures below with it. I'm also going to be
twittering so check me out on Twitter or see the Twitter posts in the
right side bar on this blog.

I hear on Monday if I am one of the top 3 winners for the HP contest-
which I'll hear about before the Stella Artois contest which ended
weeks before the HP one, oh well.

What would you do if you won $40,000? (of course after paying taxes on
it) - make comments to this post.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Last Day to Vote! | Sunrise

Sunrise this morning (click for a larger image)

Today is the last day to vote for the HP contest. They will announce the results "on or around" the 21st of September.

Also getting geared up for the Santa Cruz Flats Race comp in Arizona, leaving next week. Hopefully will increase my national standing by a little bit with this comp. Stay tuned as I will be updating this blog and twittering during the comp.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

First Tweet | Day 6 of Voting

Yesterday I set up a Twitter account (, mainly to use for the Santa Cruz Flats race coming up so I can provide updates more frequently.

On the right sidebar of this blog there is a window for the tweets so you can come here to see them too, and not go straight to twitter.
Today and tomorrow are the last days to vote for my HP video.
I also set up a Google Reader account yesterday, which was intimidating at first, but it is going to save me a lot of time and make things easier, I recommend people give it a try. It is especially useful for blogs like mine.

Check out the video below, but its basically one place to go to get updates from all different websites that you choose to be updated about, only when there is new content. So no more going to a many websites, wasting time, just to be dissapointed there's nothing new to look at. You can go to one place, Google Reader, and see what's new. To subscribe to my blog with it, just choose the Google option under "Subscribe To" in the top right sidebar of this blog, a new window will open and choose the Add to Google Reader option.

Friday, September 11, 2009

EPA Video | HP day 5 vote

Here's a video I've been working on for the past couple of days. It is in a contest, but this one doesn't involve any voting from the public.

But my HP Video is still alive and kicking in the contest and needs your vote each day. I'm not sure how they do it, but about half of the other videos in the contest have twice as many views as my video, like upwards of 20,000 views with me at 11,000 - so keep getting the word out, there's still a few days to catch up!

I also updated the background on my youtube channel.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rainbow | Day 4 Voting

Here's a stitched together panoramic photo I took of the LZ yesterday after if finished raining (click it to see a larger version). Notice the rainbow on the left side.

Day 4 for the HP contest - a big thanks to everyone who is going the extra mile and passing this on to their friends and family - that helps by an exponential factor!

My video has gotten a lot of comments too, some are kind of funny because they try to knock it. One guy started with "This is so gay..." - I could remove these kinds of comments but I think they're funny when people show what an a** they are (then again that last comment probably came from a 12 year old, so maybe they'll grow out of it). Another one last night just said how mine is so unoriginal and not creative and if I wanted to see that I should come and watch and vote for his - not the best strategy to garner more votes if you ask me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 3 Voting

Got a 45 minute flight yesterday, it was tough to get up, worked maybe 50 fpm for a while, but then it became easier, but cloud base was low, maybe around 4,000'.

Above is a picture of the sky yesterday, it looked like it would over develop and I needed to get back to work on another video - possibly will be viewable in a few days. So I landed after some wingovers.

Today is the third day of voting for the HP contest.
I still haven't heard anything from the Stella contest.

Thanks for everyone's continued support and spreading the word about these contests, I think that's what is going to make the difference in the outcome!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mammatus | Healthy Community

Some nice little mammatus clouds were at sunset yesterday as some of us were hanging out.

This place, the flight park and surrounding area and it's community, reminds me of a passage I just heard (got the audio book) from Malcolm Gladwell's 'Outliers.'

In it, he describes a town that has no heart attacks, everyone is relatively healthy, although most get little to no excersize and even suffer from obesity, but that people were dieing from nothing but old age. What was discovered there was the importance of community and its health benefits. Here's a passage:

The townspeople in Roseta had built a “powerful protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world. The Rosetans were healthy because of where they were from, because of the world they had created for themselves in their tiny little town in the hills.”

Sounds like the place I live.

Monday, September 7, 2009


What a coincidence: I found out I was in the finals and I wanted to raise my hands up and shout for joy and at that same moment happened to be flying my hang glider and needed to flare to land anyways - WOOHOO!!! ;)


I made the HP finals!!!!!!!!!!

What this means is: as a finalist I have won $2,500!!!

But now I have the chance at the top 3 prizes which are determined by YOUR VOTES! (1st $40,000, 2nd $25,000, and 3rd $15,000)

PLEASE vote once a day, starting today (labor day, 7th) until this coming Sunday (13th).

>>You can vote by going to HP's page or by going straight to the video and use the little pop-up voting window that comes up after several seconds in to watching the video

Friday, September 4, 2009

Day 5 Voting


Day 5 of voting: Don't forget you can vote once a day - and if I make it past this round, then voting resets, and I start all over on my votes for the final round that should start next week.

No word on Stella contest yet.

Got a short flight in today, worked below ridge height for about 30 minutes before flying and landing near the drive-in, not as good of a day as I was hoping for, but very fun to have to work hard for altitude and get outside the flight park!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Flytec 6030

For a little while now I've been working on an instructional DVD for the Flytec 6030 GPS/Vario instrument.

Mine has been an incredible device to give me as much information as is possible so I can make the most informed decisions - then its up to me to try and make the right one. It's really a geeks dream come true for flying, but that's not to say that it's overly complicated.

Also check out Eric's new hang gliding artwork that's going off to raffle this weekend HERE.

Today is day 4 of voting for the HP Contest.

Also I took a commenter's advice from yesterday's post about a better attitude and so I began the day with THIS, which is a good alternative to THIS.

Also there's a petition going around, you can sign it here for a vote of no confindence in how USHPA handles competition, 92 pilots have signed it so far.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Just wanted to say thanks for everyone's support of my HP contest video. Don't forget you can vote once a day, and feel free to email it around to your friends too! Especially if I make it past this round after Sunday - for the final round of voting.

There were one thousand views in just one day yesterday - and a lot of positive feedback. This one is looking good so far!

Unfortunately, I still have not heard anything about the Stella contest and they have yet to update their website as of this morning (even though its 7am there right now).

The contest rules (for Stella) stated they would notify the winner "on or around" the 31st, so I have basically written this one off as a loss, but would still like to see who won if they would update their website. Thanks for everyone's support of that documentary, top 10 for me was a huge accomplishment!