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Flight Articles from Saturday, 3/4/06 (in order of posting time stamp)
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Mike Preston
Saturday, 3/4/06
Skyport Brush

Hell's the word for it depending on your viewpoint.  Last year a friend told me "... nothing worse then being in the bushes watching your buddies fly over".
Except for gettin' OUT of the bushes!

Gained 300+ feet after launching then lost that and more over the canyon to the left of launch, moved back out front into lift so I turned to crab back up towards launch.  I came out of the lift into sinking air and the bushes started coming up fast.  It was going to be close, so I decided not to flare hoping I could skim off them, momentum being the key word.  Well I guess if you weigh 128 lbs there isn't a lot of kinetic energy, so instead of "skimming" I "plowed".

I was sitting rather comfortably actually.  A nice way to spend a Saturday sittin' in a swing under a shady tree.  Looking at a thicket that doesn't seem to have a cubic foot of space is the only drawback.  My vario says -120'.  Time: 11:00.

That's when the 128 lbs started working for me.  My wing was fifteen feet over me in a canopy of manzanitas, so I had to go out on some small limbs to get to it.  I fell a few times when they broke but never hit the ground.  From my sometimes precarious perch I looked down to see a wing in the trees at the Snake Pit and another on the way in.  A lot of instructional talk during all the action, but slowly the chatter died away as the pilots moved downrange and the radio finally fell silent.

Retrieving the wing took three hours. Then it was on to a lesson in tunneling.  Make a twenty foot long hole, go back for the rig, drag it up, clear another ten to twenty feet of branches and sticks, and so on.  Turns out having a flight suit, helmet, glasses, and gloves aren't just for flying.  They're also great for wing-retrieval and clawing your way through dense underbrush!  And having a full 100oz CamelBak came in handy during the five-hour workout also.

I finally got to the spine and was able to get the rig on my back.  Working my way up I started to see encouraging signs: beer bottles and other litter, sawed-off branches.  Knew I was gettin' close.  Around 4:00 I found myself walking back out onto launch.

Flight time: ten minutes
Distance: 289 feet