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jlatorre
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Joined: 21 Oct 2007
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Location: Sacramento, CA USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:27 pm    Post subject: A ghostly figure from the past ... Reply with quote #1   
Hi, folks.

I'm John LaTorre (AKA JLT). I haven't flown in over twenty years, but I was a more or less regular pilot from 1975 to 1995, starting in the Maryland area and moving on to New Mexico and finally northern California.

During that time, hang gliding was also my bread and butter. I've worked for Electra Flyer, Flight Designs, Pacific Windcraft, and Pacific Airwave, among other smaller enterprises, mostly as a sailmaker. (Talk about ghosts from the past ...) I also taught hang gliding for a little while, back at the start.

I'm trying to get in touch with some of the people I used to know back then. I know that Red, Briggs Christie, and some other folks have been known to post on the forum, but I'm sure that there are many others I've lost track of over the years.

Y'all who knew me also might remember that I drove VW buses back then. I've written a book about them called On the Bus: Four Buses, Forty Years, and 400,000 Miles, which has been pretty well received. I've decided that my next book will be about how I encountered hang gliding at a point in my life where I desperately needed a focus, and how hang gliding became the focus. I'm hoping that you might help me jog some memories here and there.

I look forward to meeting you all (most for the first time), and sharing in the dialog.

Peace, and good air.


Last edited by jlatorre on Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:51 am; edited 1 time in total
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Fletcher
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Joined: 13 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #2   
Hi JLT
Welcome back
We probably never met but we might have some gliders in common.
My first glider was an Electra Flyer Floater and my second was a Vision Eclipse.
Boy I guess that says something about how old I am.
Hope you find some of the people you're looking for.
Fletcher
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jlatorre
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Joined: 21 Oct 2007
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Location: Sacramento, CA USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #3   
Fletcher wrote:
Hi JLT
Welcome back

Hope you find some of the people you're looking for.
Fletcher


Thanks for the reply. We'll have to see.

I never flew a Floater, but I did own a Spirit which flew much like it. And flew dozens of Eclipses while working for PWC. They didn't have much of a speed range, but I still think that they were the best "scratching" gliders ever made. They'd stay up when everybody else had landed, shuddering on the ragged edge of a stall but never quitting.
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peanuts
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Location: virginia

PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #4   
hello JLT. i sorta kinda remember some long haired hippie complaining of knee pain back in the day. we'll have to stop in at Sadie's for lunch sometime and talk things over. how'd you like that C5B?
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waltspoint
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #5   
Cool! Electraflyer put out the Olympos, right? I didn't own one, but I remember really liking that glider. I had two PacAir gliders, a K2 and a K5. Maybe you stitched those sails? If so, thanks you did a good job. Cheers! /jd
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jlatorre
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Location: Sacramento, CA USA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #6   
peanuts wrote:
hello JLT. i sorta kinda remember some long haired hippie complaining of knee pain back in the day. we'll have to stop in at Sadie's for lunch sometime and talk things over. how'd you like that C5B?


Well, you obviously remember me, but I can't place the nickname "Peanuts" ... you'll have to PM me and jog my memory. (Can't remember Sadie's, either, unless I knew it from some other name ... Dean's? High Rock Burger Bar?

You know, I still have the C5B. It's hanging in my garage now ... the only glider I've kept of all the ones I've owned. It was my first diver, which is one reason I've kept it. The other was that I wouldn't want to inflict it on anybody else. It flew great, but was tip-stally and very tail-heavy until you got it flying. People trained on modern gliders would have a nasty shock ...
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jlatorre
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #7   
waltspoint wrote:
Cool! Electraflyer put out the Olympos, right? I didn't own one, but I remember really liking that glider. I had two PacAir gliders, a K2 and a K5. Maybe you stitched those sails? If so, thanks you did a good job. Cheers! /jd


Yup. The Olympus. Or the "Oly" or the "Slowly" ... its speed range was, shall we say modest? But it handled well, although later gliders like the Atlas and the Eclipse would out-do it only a few years later. I only flew one once, but I worked on tons of sails for them.

By the time the K2 and K5 came out, I was mostly doing management stuff (shop foreman, purchasing agent) for PacAir, but would help out in the sail loft from time to time if they were short-handed. So I might have had a hand in them. I built the prototype sails for them, but those wouldn't have ended up on the market, having been destroyed in the certification process. (We did really bad things to those poor gliders.)
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red
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:16 am    Post subject: A ghostly figure from the past ... Reply with quote #8   
Hi, John!

Good to hear from you on the .ORG! Cool Campers, this guy personally built my Magic IV sail, and gotta say, it served me well. We go back many years beyond that, but one day I needed a sail, so I called Pacific Airwaves, and got a real surprise when an old friend answered the phone. This guy is the real deal, and I'm happy to call him a friend.

Give me a call sometime when it's quiet, John, I got a million tales to tell. Laughing

What a long, strange trip it's been . . . Jerry Garcia

Mr. Green

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........Red.........................
Pssst! New pilot? Free advice, maybe worth the price,
http://www.xmission.com/~red/
H4, Moyes X2, Falcon Tandem, HES Tracer, Quantum 'chute
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kukailimoku
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #9   
Hello stranger, your name sure brings back a lot of great memories from the way-back machine!

Caesar's ladder attached to the ceiling and his clipped-wing flight during the Loma Prieta quake comes to mind...I think you were still at the house for that.

I wish I knew how many sails you made that I slid onto frames and took flying. I suspect it's a massive number. They were always works of art.

Are you still building tents for the SCA folks?

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jlatorre
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #10   
kukailimoku wrote:
Hello stranger, your name sure brings back a lot of great memories from the way-back machine!

Caesar's ladder attached to the ceiling and his clipped-wing flight during the Loma Prieta quake comes to mind...I think you were still at the house for that.


I was living there, but wasn't home. I remember you saying that it was the first time you saw whitecaps in a hot tub...

Quote:
I wish I knew how many sails you made that I slid onto frames and took flying. I suspect it's a massive number. They were always works of art.


Why, thank you!

Quote:
Are you still building tents for the SCA folks?


No, I closed that business a few years ago. Now I'm mostly writing, building musical instruments, and enjoying retirement. I do miss hang gliding, though. No convenient places to fly around here ... not like the coast.
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kukailimoku
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #11   
Yeah, me and all the water in the tub did a quick spin and then landed on the lawn!

One of my least flattering landings ever.

I miss hang gliding, too. It comes to mind literally every day but the old arthritic bones just won't allow it. I scratch the itch island-hopping in airplanes these days.

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In the event of decompression oxygen masks will deploy from the the ceiling above your seat.

Untangling them will annoy you as you lose consciousness.
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jlatorre
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #12   
peanuts wrote:
hello JLT. i sorta kinda remember some long haired hippie complaining of knee pain back in the day. we'll have to stop in at Sadie's for lunch sometime and talk things over. how'd you like that C5B?


Did you just hear a nickel drop?

I think I know who you are. And if you happen to have some dim memory of losing a deck shoe over some godforsaken canyon in the Sandias and having to land an Olympus on one foot, I know exactly who you are.
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moyesdriver



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #13   
Sadie's was much better when it was in the bowling alley. Over and out.
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jlatorre
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #14   
moyesdriver wrote:
Sadie's was much better when it was in the bowling alley. Over and out.


If you're talking about Sadie's on 4th Street in Albuquerque, I don't remember it being over a bowling alley. But that may have been before my time (I got there in 1978).

Anyway, most of my gang there used to eat at the Mexican Kitchen. I don't know if exists anymore, unless it's where Garcia's Kitchen is now, on 4th Street. On Google Maps, the location looks about right.

Were you part of the Electra Flyer scene then?

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peanuts
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #15   
yep, i'm me. landing in cactus patches, at altitude, taught fair landing skillz. still usually fly in deck shoes, when i fly. (don't see as well nowadays and added 50lbs) i remember the Kitchen as well as Indian Oven. i thought you heeded Mr Greely's advice a year or so prior to 78. as to the present moniker, my house is surrounded by a bunch of peanut fields.

you got to make it out to the Splat-tacular on the OBX sometime soon.

signed,
an ex-roomie
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jlatorre
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #16   
peanuts wrote:
yep, i'm me. landing in cactus patches, at altitude, taught fair landing skillz. still usually fly in deck shoes, when i fly. (don't see as well nowadays and added 50lbs)


You and me both. To quote Chief Brody, "We're gonna need a bigger boat."

Quote:

i remember the Kitchen as well as Indian Oven. i thought you heeded Mr Greely's advice a year or so prior to 78.


No, I headed out on April, 1978, right after the hang gliding school I worked for folded. After you left EF, I stayed around Albuquerque until the fall of 1980, when I quit EF and started working for Flight Designs.

Stay well, my friend, and give my regards to Captain Hall next time you see him.

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