Dune Goons - Soaring the Dunes

Discussion in 'War Zone' started by Rocketman, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. Rocketman

    Rocketman Rockets Up

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    I've got many hours of ridge soaring under my belt but never did anything like this at the beach.

    When I was flying hang gliders it was a pain in the ass to try and mount a still camera much less a video rig so I have a few stills but no cool video.

    Cameras like GoPro make fantastic video clips easy. If you want to see and imagine what true bird-like flight is like check it out at about 3:00, 4:40 and 5:40).......For the record what they are doing is not much more difficult than riding a bike. You just add a 3rd dimension and off you go.

  2. scoolbubba

    scoolbubba Well-Known Member None

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    How much steady state wind does it take to pull that off?
  3. Rocketman

    Rocketman Rockets Up

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    Like anything else it depends on lots of variables. The type of wing, wing loading, the type of terrain, the angle of the slope and of course the wind velocity. The wings they are flying are Airborne Fun's (or similar) and they are designed for this kind of flying. That and for beginners. These guys aren't beginners but what they are doing isn't really an advanced skill. Lot's of older and just plain old guys like me are flying gliders like this more and more.

    The Fun (as well as most other similar types like the Wills Wing Falcon) comes in three basic sizes, 160 sq ft, 190 and 220 sq ft. Most will stall at an airspeed of 25 mph or less at their maximum wing loading. If you are flying near the min wing loading I'd guess they are stalling closer to 18 mph.

    So in smooth winds, and coastal winds over dunes are very smooth, it doesn't take as much wind as you might think. 20 mph of wind and a couple of lazy steps and aviation occurs. When launching into smooth 25 mph winds you just keep the wing at a neutral angle of attack until you are ready to fly and then you feed in a bit of positive pitch and you levitate. VNE in these types is probably around 45-50 mph. Going that "fast" comes at a pretty high sink rate though so generally you just boat around.

    Bottom line is that these guys can play around in this kind of lift for hours....until they get tired or until it gets too dark to fly. My longest mountain ridge soaring flight is almost 6 hours in a hang glider. That's an hour and a half longer than my longest sailplane flight. I haven't flown a hang glider in 4 years but I'd launch that glider in those conditions right now without a second thought. A mountain flight into a tight LZ flying a high performance glider?....not so much.
  4. Swanee

    Swanee Samsonite?! I was way off! None

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    Are there hang-gliding clubs out there like there are soaring clubs?It's something I'd like to get into.

    I've had a few 5+ hour flights (one in Pensacola of all places) in sailplanes- the distance/time stuff is doable but you probably need more stronger conditions that what a hangglider would need.
  5. Rocketman

    Rocketman Rockets Up

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    Yes most states/areas have clubs. You can find them via google or thru the United States Hang Gliding Assoc. Some clubs are very similar to their sailplane counterparts in that they use aero towing to get aloft. Others just fly mountains. There is also some fixed winch and boat towing going too. To me there is nothing like mountain flying but towing makes things so much easier. The ability to aero tow pretty much changed everything because it eliminates chasing the wind and opens up some fantastic flat land flying. It also makes it easier to instruct via flying tandem with a certified instructor. When I learned we just bought a ragged out glider from a "friend" and ran up and down a steep cow pasture until we could talk ourselves off a real mountain. The fact that we all used to carry climbing ropes on our first mountain flights pretty much says it all. Yea I used mine too. Big ass unclimbable poplar tree. I got down without falling out and went back to running thru cow patties until I got brave enough to hit the mountains again. That kind of thing never happens now.

    Aero towing is the way to go when learning. That and the dunes. Get out to Torrey Pines if you can....that's cool flying too.

  6. Rocketman

    Rocketman Rockets Up

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    Swanee this is for you since you asked about clubs above. The first clip was taken at a club in central FL called The Florida Ridge ( http://www.thefloridaridge.com/pages/about.php ) . Neat place, my daughter took some tandem flights there last year. She and one of the tug pilots got in a good bit of flying too. There is another place I like even better nearby called Wallaby Ranch ( http://www.wallaby.com/ ). Wallaby is a great place with club house, outdoor dining, pool, hot tub, fishing lake, camp ground with hook-ups, bunk house, condos for rent etc. Fantastic flying at both places.

    Second clip is of a 100 year old woman going up with Malcolm.



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  7. PropAddict

    PropAddict Now with even more awesome! None

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    Always wanted to do the hang gliding lessons at OBX when I've been sent on det to Oceana. Never was able to make it happen yet, though.

    Got a tandem paraglider ride last spring, which was pretty sweet. Was supposed to fly with one of my old buddies at Torrey Pines last weekend, but ended up flying P-3's in San Dog instead (it's a rough life).

    From a total cost per flight hour perspective, I can't imagine any better way to fly. Although, I suspect it is heavily dependent on location. Hawaii and California = great. North Florida? Probably not so much. . .
  8. Rocketman

    Rocketman Rockets Up

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    I did my first lessons at OBX back in the early 80's. That's not a bad way to get started but frankly the dune there isn't long enough to do much if any soaring. It's strictly a foot launch training and tourist type site. I think they may still have a towing operation working out of the northern outerbanks though.

    Torrey is great for foot launched tandem rides in both rag wings and hang gliders not to mention day to day solo flying. Tandem foot launching hang gliders and rag wings can get a bit dicey at most mountain sites. Torrey is an exception and as you already know, boating around in that glassy smooth air over those multi-millon dollar estates is a hoot.

    Aero towing changed everything for the better for both tandem training and solo flying. You don't need to be close to the mountains anymore. You can use the same wing you fly in the mountains and just launch it off a cart behind a tug. I'd be surprised if someone in North Florida isn't running a tow operation within easy driving distance of JAX. Both of the videos above were filmed at 2 different commercial operations no more that 30 min out of Orlando.

    Hawaii. Hell yea it's nice but so is a hundred miler that started in the flatlands via aero-towing.

    The first time I ever saw a hang glider fly was in Hawaii. It launched from Makapuu.....yea cool stuff. You start with an extream angle of attack when launching at Makapuu because the relative wind is so vertial. Both of these guys are flying beginner/intermediate equipment and appear to be just average weekend flyers.



    ....book'em Dano
  9. Gatordev

    Gatordev Well-Known Member None

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    Ah, Makapu.... Just watch out for the occasional noisy thing with spinning blades cruising along the cliffs. Sometimes their gray, sometimes they're not.
  10. PropAddict

    PropAddict Now with even more awesome! None

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    The best was when I was doing a tandem at Makapu'u at about 800 feet and a C-17 burned through BELOW me. . .
  11. Rocketman

    Rocketman Rockets Up

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    Yup I know that feeling from experience as well. I don't have a sectional to look at but there used to be an MTR in Western NC that ran through the valley in front our favorite mountain site. We called it Tater Hill but the mountain's name is Rich Mountain. It's not as active now but in the 80's and 90's it wasn't unusual to see 20+ gliders soaring that ridgeline. It's between Mountain City TN and Boone NC. We all knew the MTR was there and planned for it to the extent we could. For several years some of us flew with 3D tin foil covered cardboard cubes and triangles in our sails. We hoped it might make us more visable on radar but who knows if it did. I was told "they" knew we were there and that there was a hang glider symbol on the chart but never looked to see if that was true.

    I had two kinda close and very stimulating encounters with military aircraft while flying there. The most stimulating was a Buff that passed about 2000 feet below and maybe 1/2 mile infront of me. It was a clear fall day and I saw his smoke from maybe 4 - 5 miles out. It didn't look like he was going to hit me unless he decided to leave the deck and climb. All I could do was show him as much wing as I could and check my chute handle to be sure I knew where it was without looking. I'll never forget watching his wings flex in the turbulance as he came down the valley. I could clearly hear him as he passed below me. That dude was LOW.

    The second time I was standing on launch with some out of town friends. We had our gliders set up and were waiting for the wind to turn. It was an iffy day with lot's of clouds around and we didn't see this one coming. He (B-1B) flashed by directly overhead, splitting the ridge maybe 3-4 hundred feet above the launch. He wasn't supersonic of course be he was fast as hell with his wings all the way back. Awsome sight....I don't think any of us ended up flying that day.

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