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tom truax, aka the sundowner or sd

before 2 meter radios, we flew with cbs (citizen band) radios.  we would typically mount a $40 car unit to the side of our harness with a 107" trailing wire antenna, and lug a large 12 volt battery pack that would last for a month of daily flying.  we "owned" channel 34.  keeping with good buddy lingo, most pilots had "handles".

when i moved to california in june of 81, i looked up hang gliding in the yellow pages, phoned jim woods and drove to his shop in casitas springs (jim's still there, but it's now woods machine and welding rather than the hang gliding shop).  at the time i was a licensed commercial pilot with a multi-engine and instrument rating as well as a full time a&p mechanic (airframe & powerplant) by vocation (jim was also an ex a&p).  i was mostly into skydiving, but had done a little flat land sailplane fling back in florida.   i didn't need much of a sales pitch, and wrote the $180 check for his 5 day course.  fresh from of the oil fields of grand isle louisiana (no women), i also took note of janet, 20ish, clear bronze skin in shorts, sporting erect nipples protruding from her proportioned round breast under a braless tank top (janet was a pilot, but has since moved on to drumming).

i remember my first day on the training hill.  leaving cars in ventura and carpooling to sb in the back of jim's little toyota pickup with janet and the other students.  i had a good first day, but was grounded after an unintentional wing over distorted jim's trainer (jim made and repaired all his own gliders, and janet had worked for him as a sail maker).  at the end of the day, the master took a flight off the top (we carried the gliders up back then).  i was sitting at the half way mark, and was awed as jim flew by on a down wind leg with his tip just off the weeds.  i told myself that i would try to fly every day, and within a few years i would be a capable pilot.

i did try to fly every day, rain or shine.  my local hill was the avenue.  cleaned it up park like with a mower on a string (i'm sure i was the only guy in my apartment complex who owned a mower).  had multiple launches from the cross, the stretcher, and several up top.  i flew mostly after work, and would frequently fly into the sunset.  i've watched hundreds of sunsets under my wing over the avenue...

 aka
 the sundowner