Saville's Blog

Post-flight Report. :D

Sat Jul 31, 2010 6:42 pm

[ Listening to For Today - Seraphim Currently: Listening to For Today - Seraphim ]

Well, here it is. The long-awaited report of my first time. (cue the crude jokes...)

It's D-Day. 8:30am and I'm up and ready to go. Can you tell I'm excited?

(Yeah! I'm putting pictures in this one! But hey, I never said they'd be flattering.) I woke up, got dressed, plugged the address into the GPS, and took off in that '04 Toyota Corolla. (Yeah, that detail's important for later on in the story, I promise.) After a brief stop at the local McDonalds, we were on our way!

We drove up 44, paid a toll, exited off of 44 six feet after the toll booth (stupidest buck fifty I've ever spent...) and then began the 'gravel/anti-Corolla roads' segment of the journey. Let me tell you, that was a nightmare. Foot-deep ruts and paint-chipping rocks for 30 minutes? Not cool. But finally, when we saw the blue and white Falcon 3 in the driveway of the property up ahead, we knew we had reached our destination.

We were early. Tom said be there by noon, and we left in time to get there by 10:45 so we could have time to miss exits and get lost and whatnot... I'll spare you the awkward details of chilling over there and waiting for the other pilots, but I will say that I don't know how the conversation got to feral cats and then to komodo dragons. Not even kidding. But there was a student pilot there named Boyd (with the Falcon) who introduced Andrew and I to the glider and let us kite with it in the wind. big grin

It was a whole lot heavier and more uncomfortable to carry than I was expecting! It was plenty big for me, which I guess counted for something, but I still wasn't expecting it to be that hard to ground handle. My hands, sweaty with anticipation, had a hard time gripping the down tubes and my shoulders didn't like having metal tubes crushed into them, but it was AWESOME.

After a while, we packed up the tandem bird we were going to be flying in (lovingly dubbed The Beast) and drove out to the launch point. I got to assemble the entire left side! mosh I was terribly proud of that, too.

I got chosen to go first (probably because of the birthday thing, but I'd like to believe it's because everyone knew I was the ballsiest, most daring, scared-of-nothin' guy there. Don't you dare tell me otherwise, my fragile self-esteem can't handle it...) so I donned my harness and helmet and got strapped in. Who knew I looked so good in a helmet? I sure didn't.

See, I wasn't kidding! Anyways, the conditions were perfect: 105 degrees on the ground with steady, moderate winds. Joe (my tandem pilot) and I strapped in, called out "Cruise and accelerate" and the truck took off. The horn honked twice to signal for release and Joe pulled the cable. Aaaand... nothing. "Release fail, release fail, abort launch!" The driver then proceeded to slam on his brakes, perhaps forgetting the two poor saps suspended in the back of his truck. We shot forward, our hang strap parallel to the ground, our heads narrowly missing the metal bars securing the glider. Final verdict on helmets: fashionable AND functional.

However, surprisingly, it was at that moment that all the butterflies in my stomach went away. I was no longer even in the slightest bit afraid. See, being a Saville, something's always bound to go wrong. And now that I got the problem out of the way on the ground, I figured that I'd be set once we're in the air. Flawless logic, I know.

Reverse, stop, hook back up, and let's give this another shot...

Take 2! "Cruise and accelerate!" Gravel spat out from under the tires as we sped along that road towards my dream... (you should be imagining inspiring music, artistic camera angles, and slow motion photography at this point. Like that time in the battle scene in The Gladiator.) The horn honked twice.

We released.

We shot up into the air and I watched the Earth rush out from under me, quickly growing ever smaller as we tore through the sky. A hawk soaring BENEATH me looked up in envy, and I stared back and shouted, "Neener, neener" as I took my place above him in the pecking order. I was screaming and cheering as loud as I could, grinning from ear to ear, and clutching the handles on Joe's harness for dear life. "Hey, looks like we're going to catch a thermal," he says. "Climbing steady at about 450fpm..."

At the top of the line, we pulled the release cord and the feeling was unlike anything else I've ever experienced. I felt like I was hanging motionless, just pivoting around a central point without any forward or backward movement at all. Unless I looked down or to my sides, I would have believed him if he told me we were stationary. Joe told me to switch him positions so I could have control of the wing.

The vario was warbling as the wind began to buffet us. "Center, Mitch! Center!" Joe yelled into the wind. And to the ground crew: "We're getting some hellacious thermals up here, guys." The wind rocked us some more and I could feel us being yanked upwards faster than was probably healthy. The bar was all the way black above the center line on the vario showing we were climbing as fast as it could measure, and the pitch was still getting higher and faster. "Holy crap, we just capped off at 1,450fpm climbing. THAT was a thermal! Woohoo!" yelled Joe.

Then, the wind slowed down very suddenly and we started to fall. the right wing dipped and the nose pointed downwards, and even though we were both steering to correct it, we kept falling. I could feel the hang strap loosen behind me as we fell. "We just left the thermal, now the air outside it is sinking just as fast as it was moving up inside. Just wait it out." He said. At least, I think that's what he said... I was laughing and cheering too loudly to fully understand him. Finally, the glider leveled off and my face was stained with tears of giddiness. (I wasn't scared, I swear! mosh )

We flew around for about five minutes before he realized we were pushing 2,000 feet and still climbing. He told the ground crew "Jeez, guys, I'm going to have to seriously work to get this thing down. We're still climbing. We could ride this thermal all the way to Oklahoma City if we wanted to!" More airtime? That's okay with me! popcorn

We did corkscrew-type turns to bleed off altitude, and after about the 20th one (still had a LONG ways to go, too...) I started feeling a little nauseous.

Now, I'm not prone to carsickness or seasickness, but I have puked in cessnas a few times. I was a little bummed that I felt like this, but I was determined to stick it out; I wasn't going to make him rush! I was going to stay up as long as I could, darn it!

It was at about 500 feet that the dry heaves started.

Aaaand... I puked. It really wasn't much, but I DID upchuck a little. However, after this fluid ounce of liquid nausea left my body, I was good to go! Laughing and smiling again, I wanted to skip the landing part and stay up for hours. However, since there were other people waiting their turn, I had to go down. Crying or Very sad

We aimed for our landing point and pulled the bar in close. It looked textbook; a perfect approach. But then the ground started to shrink away from us again as Joe roared, "Aww, no, no, NO! Thermal, THERMAL! punch" I laughed and released my leg strap for landing (in our NEW landing point a hundred yards from our original). The ground was coming at us a LOT faster than I thought it would be, and as we flared to touch down, it sucked my feet out from under me. Joe was yelling for me to stand up, and I think that as I was being dragged, God may have yanked me up and dropped me back on my feet, because I sure couldn't do it. But we did end up landing relatively softly, so I'm not complaining. Razz

The flight was amazing, and I'm definitely hooked; I'll be doing that again, no matter what gets in my way. There's no way I'll forget about today and I thank my parents, Tom, and Joe for making it possible. I really and truly appreciate it. Smile

After we landed, my dad and Andrew ran out to meet us and we loaded back into the truck and headed off to the launch point for Andrew's run.

Turns out, the thermals just quit right after we landed, and Andrew's flight only lasted about 10 minutes. Neener, neener, Andrew. ;)

Well, that's about it. That's the unabridged account of my first ever flight. I hope you enjoyed it, and I also hope you'll forgive me for my incessant rambling. I'm working on that. This'll probably be the last you hear from me for a while; I'll post the occasional "This is what's going on in my life" entry (I PROMISE they won't be as long as this... ;) ) but I won't have to opportunity to go back up for a while.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

-Mitch Saville

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:14 pm    Post subject:    

That was the best read I have ever seen on the org.
Welcome to hang gliding brother.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:41 pm    Post subject:    

Aaaaw man that brings back memories. You'll never forget mosh
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Paul H
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:15 pm    Post subject:    

Awesome report. You're hooked now for sure.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:22 pm    Post subject:    

Good on ya thumbsup
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:59 am    Post subject:    

Great Post Mitch thumbsup

What a great Life altering moment that will change you forever Mr. Green
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