Wills Wing

Oz Report

topic: Dragonfly

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It's Christmas Time

Fri, Dec 24 2021, 6:13:49 pm MST

And we are flying here in Florida

Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly|Mick Howard|Richard "Ric" Caylor|Wilotree Park|

The soaring forecast looked great:

Soaring forecast for Friday December 24th, 2021 at Wilotree Park



Sunny, with a high near 74°F. North northeast wind around 5 mph becoming southeast in the afternoon.

Hourly forecast east southeast wind 6 mph after noon, cloud cover 7%, no chance of rain.


1 PM:

Surface wind: east southeast 4 mph
Updraft velocity: 420 fpm
TOL: 4,600'
Cu: 3,800'
B/S: 8.1

3 PM:

Updraft velocity: 480 fpm
TOL: 4,800'
Cu: RAP shows 4,800'
B/S: 10.0

This is what the sky looked like at 2 PM:


Quest - 3 km
LIVOAK - 1 km
BAYLK - 1 km
Quest - 400 m
34 km

Hard to imagine a better forecast for near the end of December (unless you are in Forbes).

The flight:

I took off behind Bobby Bailey after Ric Caylor and Mick Howard. Bobby found lift smack dab over the field so that he immediately started turning and I could see that we were going up at about 700 fpm, or 300 fpm faster than his Dragonfly climbs.

I hung in the lift for while as Bobby spun around and then pinned off at 1,600' AGL and found lift but it wasn't 300 fpm. It averaged 85 fpm to 2,800' so I finally decided to head south east toward a good looking cu.

Yes, the lift was much better averaging 200 fpm and then 300 fpm as I climbed up to 4,500' on the downwind side of the dark bottomed cu's. It was blue heading directly down the course line so I veered off to the east to get under some more cu's. But, they didn't produce any lift.

Down to 1,400' AGL no longer down wind of the lake I found 300 fpm that got me to 4,800'. Mick was a few km south of me in the turnpoint cylinder at 1,600' AGL searching for lift which he finally found under the dark cloud that I had used to get high.

Having nicked LIVOAK (Live Oak) I headed west toward more good looking cu's and the turnpoint at BAYLK (Bay Lake). About a third of the way there I found 250+ fpm and climbed to 5,000'. My Blade vario / flight instrument said I was on final glide, so I went on final glide, around the BAKLK turnpoint and back to Wilotree Park with 900' to spare.

It was a bit hard to get down as I was again back under nice looking cu's when I got back to the park. It had been blue ever since I made the BAYLK turnpoint (although there were nice cu's just to its north northwest).

All the other pilots (see above) made it back a bit later also. Just an hour and a half flight, but we got a task in and got back in time for Christmas dinner having flown in the best part of the day.

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On the way to Big Spring

Wed, Dec 22 2021, 7:15:13 am MST

A hangar full

Dragonfly|general aviation|Lawrence "Pete" Lehmann|movie

"Pete Lehmann" «lplehmann» writes:

This video (below) was made by AOPA, the US general aviation association, and is honoring their retiring chief photographer/videographer. The whole thing is interesting to me, but there is a specific eight-minute section that you all might like. It goes from 5:21 to 13:30 and deals with the videographer's assignment to interview an eccentric but very interesting Texas character that I once ran into in Big Spring, Texas, the site of a major hang gliding event.

A couple of days prior, I had been ferrying a Dragonfly ultralight 400 miles from Zapata, TX north to Big Spring and having to refuel the thing about every 75 miles along the way. As the plane uses normal automobile pump gas, not Avgas, I was flying with plastic five-gallon canisters strapped to the plane. Refueling required finding either a ranch landing strip, field, or unobstructed stretch of road on which to transfer fuel.

As I was approaching the end of my journey to Big Spring, I was getting a bit low on fuel and needed to decide if I could make the last leg without refueling. Ten miles short of my destination, but a mile or two off to my left was a private "ranch" airport (32.07644230223772, -101.56459700045029) with a five-thousand-foot paved runway and owned by a man who I had previously been told was a "character" who had hangars full of interesting airplanes. I was curious to see the place, but had been flying all day in the world's worst cross-country aircraft, and with the tailwind I determined I could make my destination without that last refueling. I have regretted the decision ever since.

A few days later, as the day's hang-gliding event was getting underway, a wonderfully restored amphibious Grumman Albatross landed and taxied into the ramp to fuel for its trip north to the Oshkosh fly-in.

The two pilots climbed out, and while the younger one went to supervise the refueling, I went up to the older guy, Connie Edwards, to ask about the plane. It turned out that this man was the owner of that airstrip which I had passed up on the way to Big Spring, and this Albatross was just one of the planes he kept there. As you will learn from the video, his hangars were stuffed with old Spanish-built Messerschmitt 109s, Spitfires, Mustangs, and all manner of engines and the like. When I told him that I'd nearly dropped in the other day to fuel, he responded that, "We don't normally welcome visitors, but for pilots in need, it'd be OK". Obviously, I'd missed my one and only chance to visit.

The guy had a fascinating background, and we talked for quite a while during which he told me that the ME-109s and Spitfires had come from the 1967 Battle of Britain movie for which he had been the chief pilot and organizer of all the WW2 battles extraordinarily realistic air combat sequences. At the end of the movie the producers had owed him a lot of money, and rather than take an IOU, he negotiated a settlement that left him with a small air force's worth of WW2 fighters and spares.

At another point in his adventurous life, he said he'd been working as a CIA pilot in Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua) at a time when several of those air forces still had WW2 Corsairs, Mustangs and P-47s and which he later bought for a song when they were finally retired. I'm not sure how many of those planes were still in the big hangars, unsold, but I greatly regret that I did not land at his ranch. The video clip will give you the flavor of the crusty old guy and a brief look at his hangars.

In the video mention is made of his son's death (in a car accident). That son was the young guy fueling the Albatross on the Big Spring ramp. If I am remembering correctly, years before the son had done his private pilot check ride in the Albatross

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2022 Green Swamp Klassic »

Sun, Dec 12 2021, 8:39:33 am MST

Registration is open

Airtribune|competition|Green Swamp Klassic 2022|Ken Millard|Richard "Ric" Caylor|Sport Class|Tavo Gutierrez

"Ken Millard" «kengineer09» writes:

The Green Swamp Sport Klassic is now live on Airtribune at

The Green Swamp, or GSSK, is a non-sanctioned hang gliding competition designed to give intermediate pilots their first experience in competition in a supportive, coached environment. Seen another way, it is a clinic for pilots wanting to expand from local flying into cross country flying, structured to use a competition format with daily declared tasks. The event is mentored, grouping pilots into small teams and assigning each team a senior pilot “mentor” to coach and guide them.

Either way you look at it, it is a tremendously influential event in the hang gliding community. It connects senior pilots with the next generation of developing pilots, draws pilots into networking nationally and internationally outside of their local clubs, builds skills and confidence, and indoctrinates and normalizes safety practices.

To give you a sense of the impact Green Swamp has, look at this year’s meet director. Ric Caylor first attended the Green Swamp in 2018. Ric had been flying recreationally for years but had only logged two cross country flights. Green Swamp added five more cross country flights to his logbook. With the GSSK as his springboard, Ric went on to compete in Texas, Arizona, Mexico, and again in Florida. Ric is now a highly ranked Sport Class pilot and is the organizer for the 2022 event. The GSSK doesn’t just teach cross country skills; it catalyzes leadership.

I can’t think of a single event which is more influential in promoting and supporting hang gliding in the USA.

GSSK is usually scheduled just before the two-week Hang Gliding Nationals series. This makes world-class pilots available to serve as mentors. The event will represent a slice of the hang gliding community with intermediate, advanced-intermediate, and world-class pilots all flying together and gathering in the clubhouse for billiards and beer.

Rather than going easy on himself as a first-time organizer, Ric is trying to raise the bar for next year’s event. In true camp counselor style, we’re going to make 2022 the best Green Swamp ever! At past events, senior pilots created ad-hoc seminars to fill the time on rain days. Rather than wait for rain days, we are creating YouTube content to coach developing pilots on the basics of gear management, flight line operations, and cross country performance and strategy. We have established a scholarship fund to offset tow fees for pilots on a tight budget. This is noted on the “Details” tab of the Airtribune page. The “Preparation Blog” tab on the Blog page contains a collection of personal testimonials from Green Swamp alumni. It’s great reading for anyone who wants to get a feel for the event. Questions may be directed to Ric at «rmcaylor» or Ken Millard at «kengineer09».

Para consultas en español, contacte Tavo Gutierrez «tavo.gutierrez».

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Paul Harrison

July 12, 2021, 1:29:26 pm MDT

A Dragonfly crash at Morningside


An experienced, very skilled, and well loved tug pilot has died when the Dragonfly that he was flying in with another pilot clipped a tree on landing and spun in. The other pilot is in the hospital.

The pilots were doing touch and goes and Paul was assisting the other pilot from the rear seat. The approach was apparently too low and slow.

We send our consolations to Paul's friends and family.

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The 49th Hang Gliding Spectacular

Fri, Jun 25 2021, 8:57:15 pm MDT

More than hitting the spot

Campbell Bowen|Daniel Guido|Dragonfly|Johnny Thompson|Kitty Hawk Kites Spectacular 2021|Russell "Russ" Brown

"Daniel Guido" «flyboy5131» writes:

Spring in the northeast is a busy time at my flight park but I finally make it to the Spectacular.

The FUN meet started with a couple rounds of towing with great views over the ocean. Oranges were used as a bomb drop in one field and spot landings happen in another field. It was very well organized by Johnny Thompson and no oranges hit the tug.

Then two days on the dunes with challenging slalom courses followed by spot landings. It was good to see old friends like Russell Brown, who I think gave me my first tow at Arts farm, and Campbell Bowen who instructed me in a Dragonfly. Both were inducted into the Rogallo Hall of Fame.

Also G W Meadows whose articles are still being used here as student reference material. Eric Williams and Victoria of Paradise Air Sports attended as well.

Thanks to Wolf, Billy and Willy for organizing the dune comp and helping us "seasoned" pilots carry the gliders up. A special thanks to John Harris and his staff at Kitty Hawk Kites for hosting the fun event. A large white tent with a " red carpet" led to great food, cold beverages and live music.

Next year will be the big one. Number 50 to be held on May 12-15 2022. I heard rumors of putting together teams from clubs and flight parks. If so, I will try to put together a team from Susquehanna. Any challengers?

The Highland Challenge Mini Competition 2021, Chestertown, MD

Fri, Jun 18 2021, 3:35:12 pm MDT

Task 7 at The Eastern Shore

Adam Elchin|cart|Dragonfly|John Simon|Lawrence "Pete" Lehmann|Mike Barber|Pete Lehmann|Highland Challenge Mini Competition 2021

«Ric Caylor» writes:

This was my first competition flying in the open class. It has been an eventful week of flying so far, with a task attempted on seven of the eight possible days. I have been flying my new wing, the Moyes RX 5 Pro LightSpeed. Prior to this time, I had only flown it eight times but with great success. I respect this glider’s high performance but even more, the challenges that may be thrown at me if I am not careful and focused.

The last day of the comp dawned after a day and a half of rainfall which left behind 5+ inches of water. The sky was starting to dry up. Task 6 had ended early for me at the start of the rain period. I had been in the air trying to avoid the rain, but it forced me to the ground because I was not able to escape it; but that’s another story.

On the morning of Task 7 I half set up my glider to dry it out while the sky was still overcast. The ponds and flowing streams of water I had witnessed yesterday were gone. But the wet ground was still soft. Reeds and sediment remained as debris on our airfield. I thought to myself, “If I flew, landing out would be complicated by the mud and swampy areas from the previous day’s deluge”. And that did not excite me on my last day of the competition. Pete Lehmann walked over and said to me “Today is looking like it could be a good day. Charlie has called a task to BALTCH and back.” Reluctantly, I finished assembling my glider and packed my harness for another day of flying above the Eastern Shore.

The field where we cart launch was not too soggy, but pilots needed to be mindful of the path when taking off. I watched as Doug Rogers first took flight to test the air for us. He was staying up and that was a good sign. Adam Elchin, the Dragonfly tug pilot said, it was good, and lift was to be had. Pete was the first of us to start the day, then Jimmy Messina. I was third, followed by John Simon. Knut Ryerson and Ric Niehaus who flew earlier in the comp had other obligations and were not present. Charlie Allen had hurt his shoulder prior to the comp and had flown every day but chose to skip this task. Today was John’s first and only day of flying with us during the mini comp.

On previous days, while on tow most of us were fooled. We would release early, only to struggle to get up. On my second day, I made three tows before successfully finding my way to the goal. Adam towed me towards Jimmy who was circling under a blanket of gray overcast. By the time I made it to his area, lift was light. After a few turns I suddenly spied a mature bald eagle below, climbing. I knew at the point things were going to get better.

We left at nearly the same time at the top of the lift near 3,100’ MSL, which wasn’t quite to cloudbase. An excessively big smile spread across my face as I pulled VG. I led the way out on course line towards the BALTCT waypoint which was 18.3km from the start circle perimeter. The task for today was an out and back to Bens for a total of 36.3 km. All week Jimmy was the dominator, winning every day except for one. Today I wanted to win.

Currently, I was a bit higher, and leading. Excitement coursed through my veins racing with Jimmy. I kept my lead for two more climbs and, reaching the turn point first, I quickly tagged it and turned back towards goal at Ben’s. Having a light tailwind was my advantage. I expected to find Jimmy still climbing, which would have been to my advantage, putting me further in the lead, but he had disappeared! I had burned up much of my altitude by this point and I needed another climb.

I started looking for ground sources, thermal generators and triggers. There was a large chicken farm on the other side of a small, forested area with large dark fields adjacent to it. “There were birds, lots of birds,” I exclaimed to myself. By the time I got there I found myself at 590’ MSL which meant I was less than 500’ AGL. I unzipped my harness in case I needed to land but I was determined not to land. There was a large field under me above which I could scratch as much as I needed in order to save my flight and stay in the air. The lift was small, strong and punchy. I would fly into the core and then push out and whip into the turn again and again. With each attempt I managed to climb a little bit more. I would constantly check my altitude numbers on my Blade flight instrument. I gained twenty feet, fifteen feet, thirty feet as I watched the ground get further away. Finally, at about 1,000 feet I could make a complete circle in lift.

Charlie and Doug were the retrieval drivers and had been following us on the ground and they were parked close by, watching me scratch my way out of my predicament. Charlie coached me into a better climb rate over the radio. Finally, I could relax some and look around for Jimmy who was off in the distance climbing back at the turn point. I radioed him, hoping he would leave his climb and join me. He did, and I started to smile once again.

The tables started turning, in favor of Jimmy, but I was still in the race. Pete and John had landed just outside of the start circle. I knew at that point I had at least second place even if I did not make goal. However, making goal could improve my overall standings in the comp. Yes, I was thinking about that too.

While I was able to climb back to nearly cloud base, I struggled to out climb or top Jimmy. He now had the upper hand, and he was not going to give it up without a fight. Jimmy started pulling away from me and advanced to the next thermal which dramatically increased his lead. It basically took three climbs to get to the turn point, and three more to get home (goal). Cloud base was only around 3,500’.

Jimmy topped out the last climb before he relayed over our 2-meter HAM frequency that he had the glide numbers and that he was proceeding to goal. Meanwhile I was near 2,000’ halfway back, scratching and praying that I could core this climb and inch my way closer to goal. Suddenly, the angels sang while a redtail hawk came from nowhere and began circling below me. “Yes!” All I needed was one more thermal after this gas up, and I knew where to find it.

Mike Barber says that when you’re circling in zero lift you are waiting for the bus to pick you up. And after gliding from my last climb, I found myself waiting for the bus. I just hoped that I wasn’t too late. I was now so close to victory. I really needed to focus. As John Simon says, “Be patient, shift gears and slow down.” It is one thing to know and yet another thing to do. So many times, in other comps I would leave an area hoping to find something better. Not this time! No, I am going to make it home. I kept telling myself over and over. My focus was on two things: finding a climb and watching my arrival altitude at goal. I was just over 5k away with a slight tailwind. There was no need to squeak it in. I kept watching as I gained height and increased my arrival altitude. It had gone from -230ft to 1200ft! That was way more than I needed but there was no room for uncertainty.

By this time Jimmy had arrived at goal. He told me that the wind direction had changed to SE back at the field. I buried the base bar and headed home. Yes, that smile came back once again. This would be my third day of making goal out of six flights. Making goal on the last day is like icing on the cake. I arrived at 600’ AGL and eager to land. With the help of Jimmy from the air and John on the ground they coached me with wind direction in the field. After flying for 2 hours and 2 minutes I landed on my feet and carried my glider 50 yards back to the hanger. My approach had been a bit low and slow when I turned from base to final such that I needed to change my spot. John reminded me that after a long flight one should remember to “not get sloppy.” You need to focus even more because you are exhausted, emotional, and easily distracted. I owned my mistake and I got away with it this time, but I will not let it happen again.

I cannot say enough about my gratitude to have been a part of this Highland Challenge Mini Comp., to fly with the “Big Dogs” who have a tremendous number of hours and years under their wings, it is humbling and yet an honor to have flown with them. I appreciate their wisdom, mentoring and encouragement. For me, the opportunity to finally get off the porch was a long time coming. The lessons I have learned and put into practice are starting to gel, but I know that I have only just begun my journey. I’ll finish with one of my favorite quotes, "Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is only the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

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2021 Wilotree Park Nationals »

April 24, 2021, 7:11:15 pm EDT

2021 Wilotree Park Nationals

We don't go that great up wind when it is windy

Dragonfly|Larry Bunner|PG|Wilotree Park Nationals 2021

Dragonfly|Larry Bunner|Naviter Blade|PG|Wilotree Park Nationals 2021

Replay of the task:

On Friday, after a delay to move the start box to the west side of the east/west runway we had the first start window at 3 PM. Launch went smoothly for the open class, but there were further delays for the Sport Class.

I had a galloping tow behind Mick Howard in his 582 2-cycle powered (under powered) Dragonfly and when the rope went completely slack at 1,600' and we both went sideways, him to the right, me to the left, I pulled the release, but the weaklink (200 lbs.) broke at the same time and the bridle went for an unexpected flight into a small pond. We had just been in 400 fpm so it was easy to turn around and start climbing.

Half a dozen pilots were soon at cloud base which was over 4,000'. There were plenty of cu's and they were all working and you just had to be careful about the 11 mph southeast wind and not let it blow you too far outside the 5 km start cylinder. I was able to start at 3:04 PM as I watched the count down on the Naviter Blade and listen to its messages about when to get to the edge of the start window. It seemed to know exactly when to go.

With a strong southeast wind we were racing over the ground at almost 50 mph. There were multiple cu's ahead so little worry about finding lift. The first turnpoint was downwind to Center Hill.

With everyone in the first thermal along the course line we were going up at 400 fpm on average to 4,900'. After touching the turnpoint at Center Hill we headed north toward the 15 km turnpoint cylinder around Dallas, a waypoint at the northwest corner of the Villages. The waypoint had been expanded to account for the delay at launch.

It was 12 km to the next thermal from the previous one with a 17:1 glide ratio. A 300 fpm climb rate and then the next thermal just northwest of the prisons and south of the Turnpike at 400+ fpm to 4,900' before heading for and tagging the Dallas turnpoint just on the south edge of the Villages.

Now we had to turn into the wind and things did not go as well. The lift miraculously got much weaker with a climb of 100 fpm and then a little less than 200 fpm over a lake on the north side of the Turnpike with a 13 mph east southeast wind. About a dozen pilots were all in the lead gaggle just north of the Turnpike.

I left the thermal at 3,800'. We were getting to almost 5,000' just a few minutes earlier. Now we weren't getting as high as we would like heading into the east southeast wind. The half dozen gliders above me headed a little more southerly as I headed right down the Turnpike trying to get upwind of the course line back to Wilotree Park. Zac was heading that way also as there were good looking clouds in that direction and a lot fewer clouds south of the Turnpike.

The back and forth had begun. I found 230 fpm 4 km to the east and climbed to 4,300', then went east again and climbed to 4,500' at 150fpm with Larry Bunner. Heading toward the better looking clouds north of the Turnpike I was able to gain a total of 8 km to the east and get upwind of the course line but I was now down to 2,700' and not finding anything.

I saw Larry turning back behind me and turned around to see if I could get up in that thermal. That cost me half the distance I had gained and I found only weak lift that I'm able to use to climb to 2,500'. Larry got to 4,000' and flew to the south southeast landing soon there after.

I hooked up with Maria Garcia in the light lift and after topping out we headed south east toward the east west road for a safe landing with good retrieval. Down to 900' AGL we found a little spot of lift and started turning in an extremely pleasant climb. We climbed at 80 fpm and then I noticed Tavo Gutierrez circling below us just south of the highway and went over to him to find almost 200 fpm. I climbed to 3,800' over the prisons losing 4 km.

Topping out I headed east down the highway toward highway 48 and along the Turnpike toward a good looking cloud but found a net pf no gain at 1,000'. I should have just kept going, but I turned around and landed in a friendly field to the west. The lift was negative on the upwind side of the cloud. Retrieval from the Turnpike was not as easy as from the surface roads, but it was possible.

Pilots were scattered about in this area except for Bruce, Zac and Robin who while also had to do back and forths were able to get further south and a lot closer to Wilotree Park.

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Freezing in Florida

April 6, 2021, 9:21:58 EDT

Freezing in Florida

Seven layers were not enough at over 6,000'


Here's the forecast and task for Monday:



Sunny, with a high near 79. Calm wind becoming east southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Hourly in the afternoon: Northeast surface wind 5 mph, 25% cloud cover

East southeast launch conditions at noon.


11 AM:

Southeast surface wind at 11 AM: 4 mph

TOL at 11 AM: 6,200'

Updraft Velocity at 11 AM: 600 fpm

CB at 11 AM: 5,600'

B/S at 11 AM: 10.0

Cloud cover at 11 AM: 26%

1 PM:

East surface wind at 1 PM: 1 mph, 2000' 1 mph, 4000' 1 mph, 6000' 1 mph

TOL at 1 PM: 8,200'

Updraft Velocity at 1 pm: 700 fpm

CB at 1 PM: 7,200'

B/S at 1 PM: 10.0

Cloud cover at 1 PM: 31%

Temperature at CB: again 35 degrees (dress warmly)

6 PM:

TOL: 7.900'

Updraft velocity: 480 fpm

CB: 7,900'

B/S: 10.0

Cloud cover 54%


Quest 3 km
Gilbert 3 km
Baron 4 km
Quest 400 m

153.7 km

With a forecast for better lift at 11 AM than on Sunday we get ready to launch right after 11 AM. I remember when I would launch at 9 AM from Wallaby Ranch to try to fly to Georgia, so 11 AM isn't all that unreasonable.

We are ready to launch at 11:05 but it takes a few minutes to get the tugs out there. It's Bobby who tows up Larry then me at 11:27. As always with Bobby he starts twirling around in lift in order to climb faster in his two stroke Dragonfly and I fortunately am able to hold on in the rough air before pinning off in lift.

He towed Larry to 400 fpm lift but I didn't find that for a few minutes. I didn't want Larry to leave me behind. Bruce Barmakian also joined us.

The sky was packed full of cu's starting at 10:30 AM so we had lots of good looking black bottomed, not too thick, cu's to choose from and we were working together although Bruce didn't appear to be on the radio.

We continue to all work together until just north of Dean Still, Larry loses about 1,500' on us as we climb under a cu and watch Larry struggling low to our east. We climb to cloud base but don't notice that Larry also climbs behind us to cloud base.

Larry finds better lift to our east and gets ahead of Bruce and I just north of I4. I'm hearing where Larry is headed and how well he's doing and choose to take the line of clouds further to the east where Larry is and closer to the course line. Bruce chooses the cloud street to the west further off the course line.

The cloud street I chose wasn't that great and I have to come under Larry just inside the turnpoint cylinder. As I climb up here comes Bruce at my altitude just as we get set to head out at 4,700' with Larry to our north.

Bruce and I separate again as I go to where Larry got up but it takes a while to find the lift east of the juvenile prison. Bruce gets high further to my east and I lose track of him.

I am jumping from one good looking cu to the next one and go to the west of highway 33 to get under one which is only producing weak broken lift. I search around and then lose a bunch and spy a good looking cloud to the north, but it looks like poor landing options below it and it seems to be too far away. I back track to where I was with the cloud I'm under when I was getting weak lift and find much better (over 400 fpm) and climb to 6,100'. Now I can see the clouds ahead from an altitude that is level with their cloud bases.

Larry is 16 to 18 km ahead almost back at Wilotree Park while I'm south of 474, but he gets low and I'm high. He's only 6 km ahead by the time I get near Wilotree.

I climb to over 6,000' over Osborn field while Larry struggles near Grass Roots. Larry tells me that it is weak north of highway 50 so I find a thick cu' just north of Mascotte and climb to 6,500'. There has been a lot of cloud suck all day so I'm continually putting on the VG as I get close to cloud base and then pulling in hard to avoid getting sucked up.

I stay high getting up to 6,900'. My whole body is shaking from the cold despite having seven layers on. My hands are warm with the thick bicycle gloves that Larry gave me last year.

Larry finds lift at 700 fpm 3.5 km from the edge of the Baron turnpoint cylinder. I come in under him and climb but only at 460 fpm. We both leave the thermal at 6,400, Larry just ahead of me.

I turn back to the south and go back to the previous thermal which is still working. I think I see Larry working it at my altitude, but no it's Bruce heading north and stopping for this same thermal.

I climb to 6,200' and head south following Larry. I stay high and he gets low finding a thermal just north of Grass Roots. I'm 1 kilometer behind him and have 1,300' on him. We both go on final glide and I come in 1:30 minutes behind him. A few minutes later Bruce makes to back also.

John, Pedro and Mick all take a shortened version of the task stopping at Wilotree instead of going north to Baron.,cat:2,class:all,xctype:all,club:all

Forbes Fly-In

September 29, 2020, 6:21:17 pm MDT

Forbes Fly-In

Saturday 3rd, Sunday 4th and Monday 5th.


Vicki writes:

Fly in at Forbes this October long weekend Saturday 3rd, Sunday 4th and Monday 5th. Three Dragonfly's flying with Steve, Marco and Blaino. Camping available at the Aeroclub. Looks to be a great weekend with a great crew. All welcome! Email <moyes> to book your place. See you there.

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Aerotowing near ⁢Monterey, Mexico

Thu, Jun 4 2020, 7:17:09 pm MDT

Rudy Gotes and Erick Salgado

Dragonfly|Erick Salgado|Facebook

If you want to learn how to do aerotowing with Dragonfly Erick Salgado Ribera and Free Flight Mexico, we are starting an operation to continue promoting flight in hang gliders. We will be giving courses, foot launch flights and aerotowing clinics.

I hope you can join us.

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Bring Back a Dragonfly

May 20, 2020, 9:03:49 MDT

Bring Back a Dragonfly

Bo broke it


As many of you know, in early-March one of our pilots was solo-flying our tow-plane in a reckless manner, and totaled our airplane doing an unauthorized high-risk maneuver. No customers or community members were involved in the accident, and the pilot has been treated for his injuries and is in recovery. Our backup tow plane was currently being serviced at the time, so business operations were halted when our only airplane was out of commission. With this accident occurring right at the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic, our business took a huge hit not only from loss of income but the costs of repairing one plane and replacing another. It costs almost $30,000 to replace a tow plane specifically designed for hang gliding. We are trying to get back on our feet amidst this struggling time, and we would greatly appreciate any and all help our community can provide for us. We are hoping to raise these funds by the end of June so we are open and ready for business when the community is ready to fly.

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Fantasy Flying

March 31, 2020, 10:15:25 EDT

Fantasy Flying

The task on Monday was out and return to Fantasy of Flight


Keeping with our regime of social distancing we called an out and return task south to the Fantasy of Flight thereby eliminating (hopefully) putting pilots together in a retrieval vehicle.

The forecast was for light winds but few if any cu's. The cu forecast was much better than the two previous days, but there was still this layer of dry air above 4,000' that would mean as the inversion rose the cu's would thin out. Their depth would already be quite minimal.

The cu's did form in the morning encouraging a task, but the winds were a little higher than expected and from our least favorite direction, from the west.

I let Larry go first and that turned out to be a big mistake as Eric Williams asked me if I wanted a tow behind a trike. A couple of trike pilots have been here practicing towing. After getting some reassurances I said okay.

The ride was one of the three worst trike tows I've ever had. The pilot is too inexperienced and did not pull in when climbing (while I'm in the sinking air behind him). After barely hanging on and forced to do large maneuvers to stay level and behind the trike and after large increases and decreases in airspeed I finally pinned off at about 1,000' feeling that I had risked my life enough times.

I came back to be towed behind Tim on the Dragonfly and that's when you appreciate having a skilled pilot. These things just don't fly themselves. I wasn't able to stay up after the first experience (I guess) but Mick, John, and Larry were able to get up and get going.

The cu's did slowly die as I forecast and only John was able to make it all the way back though Larry and Mick landed nearby.

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How best to deal with the Worlds and the coronavirus

Fri, Mar 13 2020, 7:43:22 am EDT

Would we be Italy soon?

Charles Allen|COVID|Dragonfly|Facebook

Here are some of the things that we are thinking about:

The coronavirus is coming to you.
It’s coming at an exponential speed: gradually, and then suddenly.
It’s a matter of days. Maybe a week or two.
When it does, your healthcare system will be overwhelmed.
Your fellow citizens will be treated in the hallways.
Exhausted healthcare workers will break down. Some will die.
They will have to decide which patient gets the oxygen and which one dies.
The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today.
That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting now.

Federally funded tests conducted by scientists from several major institutions indicated that the novel form of coronavirus behind a worldwide outbreak can survive in the air for several hours.

A study awaiting peer review from scientists at Princeton University, the University of California-Los Angeles and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) posted online Wednesday indicated that the COVID-19 virus could remain viable in the air "up to 3 hours post aerosolization," while remaining alive on plastic and other surfaces for up to three days.

DIAMOND: Well, in his remarks, the president didn't address the biggest problem - that our domestic health infrastructure is not ready for this, partly because of his administration. We're still wildly behind on testing that was botched by the Centers for Disease Control. We don't have enough supplies, like respirators. Our hospitals and doctors are almost certainly going to face real challenges as demand spikes. And I think listeners should be clear-eyed that what's happening in Italy, in Spain, with their hospitals and ICUs totally slammed, that could happen here, too, in the next two weeks.

Sasha writes:

Current situation makes it very difficult to plan anything, I have a feeling it won't be easy to get a ticket for the days straight after the 30-days long ban. Supposed it won't last longer than that.

Apart from that, it's extremely difficult to find any solution for bringing the glider from Europe to the US at the moment. So far I couldn't as my flying tickets got cancelled.

I was considering driving 2200 km from Austria to Moscow and to fly from there (if there was a ticket) but they are closing the borders between the countries now, so this option won't have too much chance probably.

We are very sorry to announce that the "Lake County Balloon Festival" is being cancelled along with every other event of this size or larger at request from Governor De Santis.

We know many of you planned your vacations around this event. We are all going through the same thing together. Looking ahead the weather looks spectacular so we are staying open and offering ½ price flights to anyone who wants to come out and experience hang gliding or dragonfly rides. We are taking steps to make sure everyone in a clean and safe environment to experience flying or just sit back by the lake or under a tree and watch the show. If you would like to book a flight just give us a call or send us a message. We look forward to seeing you all soon.

Philippe Michaud from Canada writes:

We will see how it goes in the next few weeks, but the fact that there is a mandatory quarantine if I go abroad, might affect my decision to come down.

Charles Allen writes:

Glad you guys are on top of this. Some guidance on procedures while at park during comp will be very helpful, especially if posted in advance. I’ll likely have to make a case to family regarding risk of coming and that would help, also can’t imagine I’ll be only one needing to make case to others.

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Dragonfly Instruction

October 28, 2019, 8:12:30 PDT

Dragonfly Instruction

At Wilotree Park

Dragonfly|Wilotree Park

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Tow Plane Operating Considerations

May 1, 2019, 7:38:23 EDT

Tow Plane Operating Considerations

What is entailed in getting us in the air


Michael Howard <<mickhoward100>> writes:

Those of us who attend aerotow events such as Cross Country Clinics and Competitions love what we do. Organizers, hang glider pilots, tow pilots, mentors, event hosts and the many volunteers form a community bonded by our common goal of helping each other to fly safe, have fun, achieve personal bests and enjoy the company of likeminded people.  These reoccurring events bring people together reuniting distant friends and continues to develop and strengthen our community each year.

Aerotow events are particularly special because it takes an entire team or community to make it work, however we are all sensitive to the rising costs making aerotow events increasingly more expensive for pilots to attend, so we wanted to explain what it takes to operate and transport Dragonfly Tow Plane.

If only we could attract sponsors similar to commercial sports such as motor cross racing etc. who attract sponsorship to cover part or all of the costs. Even if we could get sponsorship for transporting tugs or accommodation etc. it would go a long way towards lowering the expenses and making events more affordable to participants.

The Aircraft

Tow planes are very specialized as they are designed for slow flight which makes them less desirable for general aviation/recreational use because most pilots want faster cruise speeds to fly cross country, so while there are a few exceptions, many tow plane owners mostly use their aircraft specifically for towing hang gliders. Since these planes are specialized they are also very expensive. The current price for a new Dragonfly from Pitman Air that is allowed to be used for towing is $53,452.80 plus $400.00 for the tow kit plus $400.00 for paint plus sales taxes. However there are a number of older tow planes in service that were grandfathered in to the FAA Light Sport rules in 2007, but those aircraft rarely appear on the market and because they are rare they hold their value, either way tow plane owners have a significant investment in their aircraft.

Maintenance and Condition Inspections

Tow planes are subjected to high frequency of take-offs and landings and are typically flown in much more challenging conditions (cross winds, thermal cycles etc.) compared to aircraft used for recreational purposes. This creates higher than normal stress and wear and tear to the airframe and undercarriage etc. Tow plane engines are run at full power for the take off and entire duration of the tow, which imposes higher than normal operating stress on the engine. Once the glider releases the tow line, the plane is descended rapidly to fetch the next hang glider. This means the engine is run at full power and then dropped to idle during the descent, therefore rapidly cooling the engine and causing significant and rapid temperature cycles which ultimately reducing engine life. 

There’s extensive scheduled/routine maintenance required for the entire aircraft including replacing life limited parts, such as spark plugs, carburetor parts, fuel lines, hoses, fuel pump, cables, tires, brakes etc. plus the engine has a TBO (Time Between Overhaul) set at 300 hours which includes replacing the crankshaft and pistons etc. This means removing the engine and removing exhaust, radiator etc. and shipping he engine to a Rotax Repair facility and reinstalling the engine after rebuild.

The total cost is typically around $3500. Some aircraft owners carry a spare engine which is around $5500 without the gearbox and without electric starter kit etc. and not including sales tax and shipping.

Unscheduled maintenance may include a seized engine, damaged gearbox, failed stator or something less serious such as corroded exhaust or stone damaged propeller, the point is that maintenance costs vary and can be very significant.

In addition to scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, Tow planes require an annual condition inspection and 100 hour condition inspection, whichever comes first, which is only performed by persons holding an FAA Aircraft Mechanic (A&P/AI Mechanic – Airframe and Power-plant Mechanic with Inspector certificate) or FAA LSRM (Light Sport Repairman Maintenance) certificate.

Annual/100 Hour Condition Inspections costs start around $400 depending on the service provider, location, complexity of the aircraft and work needed which also depends on the condition and quality of records (logbook entries) and condition of the aircraft – more time spent, more cost.

Hangar Rent/Ownership/Maintenance/Utilities/Pilots

Towing hang gliders in Light Sport Aircraft such as a Trike or Dragonfly requires a FAA Private Pilot Certificate and an FAA Medical, plus FAA biannual flight reviews with an instructor to maintain the flying privileges. Obtaining a private pilot certificate today from scratch start around $6750 plus travel and accommodation. Example cost of courses are Freeway Aviation, Kingsky Flight Academy and AFIT which meets the minimum allowed flight time to qualify for a private pilot certificate, but does not include additional time and training that may be required. Also note that in order to tow hang gliders, the a pilot must have 100 hours PIC (Pilot in Command) time in the category of aircraft used for towing, which adds additional time and cost to meet this FAA requirement. The biannual medical is $100 to $150 and the flight review is around $200- $300 depending on the FAA instructor/examiner excluding the cost of the aircraft which is yet another expense.

Aircraft have to be protected from the elements to prevent damage from wind and rain which means renting or owning hangar space. The cost of hangar rental is very dependent on the area and type of hangar and facilities. Hangars in rural locations are much cheaper than populated areas but hangar space can be from around $80 to $600 per month. Typically utility costs, property taxes and hangar maintenance are included in the rent but these expenses should be considered for privately owned hangars.

Transporting Tow Planes

Unless a sufficient number of tow planes are available at a competition event location those planes and pilots have to be transported from around the country. 

A trailer for transporting a dragonfly needs to be 8’ tall to avoid having to dissemble the tail section of the plane. Most standard trailers are 6’6” so this means buying a special trailer, or disassembling more parts from the aircraft, and also equipping the trailer with wing supports and tie downs etc. A cargo trailer recently bought for a Dragonfly was over $8600.00, plus the cost of installing wing supports, additional tie downs and annual license and maintenance, plus wear and tear.

Disassembling a Dragonfly and loading it in a trailer is at least two person task and it takes a lot of time. Preparing a trailer for a road trip is typically at least two days work depending on the amount of ancillary equipment, spares and help.  The wings have to be removed and we typically remove the propeller and the engine (includes disconnecting the wiring), plus remove the tow mast and disconnect support wires and fold and secure the horizontal stabilizer to the upright position.

The trailer is also loaded with spares, fuel cans, tow lines and launch carts and tools etc. and the cost of these items is not insignificant. Depending on space, launch carts are disassembled for transporting, which again takes valuable time.

Hauling a tall cargo trailer means poor gas mileage which can be as low as 5 mpg leading to multiple fuel stops. This means several nights in motels to reach a distant destination, e.g. to travel from Central Florida to Northwest Texas, the cost of motels and meals must be considered.

There’s also wear and tear on the vehicle (we had a transmission rebuilt for $3600) and trailer and a risk of damaging the planes during disassembly, loading, transporting and assembly.

At the destination the cargo trailer is unloaded and equipment and planes assembled, which must be completed at least one day prior to the practice day – again, the is at least a two person task.

This entire process must be repeated to return the aircraft to the home base so the total cost above is doubled. Note that I have only counted 1 day for disassembling the tow plane and loading the trailer but realistically it can take almost a week of preparation especially when adding some pre-trip maintenance.

For situations where two planes are transported in the same trailer we need another tow pilot often from out of state which means travel (airfare, airport drop-off and pick-up etc.) plus tow pilots need motels for the duration of the competition and of course compensation for their services.

Meet organizers aim to have 1 tow plane for every 10 hang glider pilots, and base the tow fees on the costs of the planes such as expenses disassembling/assembling planes, transporting planes and tow pilots, motels and meals for tow pilots, gas and 2-cycle oil for tow planes, the use of the planes and al the tow equipment such as launch carts and tow lines etc.

Using the Big Spring Texas Competitions as an example, $1584 X 2 = $3168

The tow fee posted for the 2019 Big Spring Nationals is $600.00.

600 X 10 = $6000

600 X 10 = $6000 – 3168 = $2832 to compensate tow pilots, tow pilot travel expenses, aircraft owners, gas and oil, tow equipment, motels and meals etc. and to cover the costs of maintenance and annual inspections etc…

So how do we managed to operate? Just like the other volunteers such as the launch crew, a lot of the work is done for zero or very little financial compensation. We do it for the love of the sport and for each other. Moreover we help each other as much as we can such as helping each other with maintenance and inspections, those who have the knowledge, skills or ratings donate their time to someone in need. We help each other with disassembling aircraft and loading trailers or repairing stuff.

We hope this summary explains the typical tow plane operating costs and work involved in supporting competition events. Tow operators and pilots couldn’t do this without the help and support of others, thank you for that.

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Tiki on how she gets to a one person business

Tue, Mar 5 2019, 8:05:33 am EST

She's raising funds pretty quickly

Christopher LeFay|Dragonfly|Makbule Baldik Le Fay|Tiki Mashy|video

She's still got the Dragonfly to tow up solo pilots. The tow fee has been raised to $35/tow at Paradise Airsports and Wallaby Ranch in Florida.

$32,235 of $49,000 goal

Christopher LeFay writes:

The folks who run Go Fund Me were so moved by my friend Tiki Mashy's plight that they donated a $1000. The staff talked amongst themselves, took a vote, took action. Consider convening your own personal committee of one. I predict all votes will be in favor. $1,000 GoFundMe Team 5 days ago.

Support the Dutch Dragonfly pilot Rinus after burglary and damaging his towing plane

Fri, Jan 25 2019, 8:20:29 am EST


p class="sum">It's flat in Holland

Sander van Schaik «Sander van Schaik» writes:

Last Monday night burglars broke into the hangar where the Dragonfly of Rinus in’t Groen is stored.

There were a lot of planes damaged.

Rinus’ Dragonfly, his motor was taken off the plane with force and the parachute was stolen. The total damage is 3600 euro.

We have setup a gofundme campaign for all those that know Rinus from the various places he has been towing all over the world (Forbes, Altes Lager, Mailen, Stadskanaal, etc.) and want to support him:

More information about the burglary:

At national Dutch television:


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Joel Froehlich is a new Sport Class CFI

January 14, 2019, 8:15:28 EST

Joe Froehlich is a new Sport Class CFI

Commercial Flight Instuctor

Dragonfly|Gregg "Kim" Ludwig

Gregg Ludwig, FAA Pilot Examiner, <<gregg.ludwig.cfi>> writes:

I am please to report that Joel Froehlich earned his CFI-SP-Airplane certificate with an excellent check ride here at Wilowtree Park. Joel has become a master at the controls of a Dragonfly and is well versed with the flight training requirements. Congratulations Joel.

Wilotree Park at 15,000'

December 31, 2018, 9:13:35 pm EST

Wilotree Park at 15,000'

Mitch gets high on his new Dragonfly

Dragonfly|Facebook|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Mitch Shipley|video|Wilotree Park

Dragonfly|Facebook|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|video|Wilotree Park

Dragonfly|Facebook|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|video|Wilotree Park

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Scott Barrett's big flight from Dalby

December 14, 2018, 7:42:54 EST

Scott Barrett's big flight from Dalby

For the Oceana record

Dragonfly|record|Scott Barrett|weather

Bruce the tug pilot writes:

On the 8th December 2018 Scott Barrett on an Airborne C4, Michael (Jako) Jackson on a Moyes 5S, Viv Clements (Dalby President), on a Icaro Laminar 14.1 along with six of our regular local pilots came to Dalby with the possibility of a good flight according to the Met forecast.

I launched Viv for a test flight at 8.45am. "I will come back and land," he said, "I only need five minutes to check her out as it is not my glider, it's Swendo's"." I landed and towed Scott, then Jako. Around 9.00 am Viv came back, did not land but hooked up with Scott who had flown east to his start circle, then drifted back to Jako. They drifted out of town at about only 2300 feet above ground.

I don't worry much about wind under 35 kph so I don't really know what the actual velocity was. I let the boys estimate that. If anyone but Scott Barrett, or one or two others, had rung me and said, "I would like to launch at around 8.30 am", I may have stayed in bed a little longer, but Annie's dad and I hit the road at 4.45 am. Towing my Dragonfly trailer we arrived at Dalby at 8.06 am and ran out some ropes.

Smokey arrived at 9.00 am and we then towed the other six. The rest is history. Scott's 500k nominated goal with paper work. Jako (Michael Jackson) 500k, no paperwork, Viv Clements (Dalby President) 400.8k. Congratulations to all, you are incredible athletes. Now Viv is a Kiwi and we all know that bird can't fly, but this one can. As Boof always said, "How good is Dalby!"

The HGFA sends out:

A Lismore pilot and member of the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia, has set an Australian Hang Gliding record, soaring 500km to a declared goal over the spectacular Queensland outback – a total of 10 hours in the air.

Reaching ground speeds of over 100km/hr, Scott Barrett from Northern NSW flew sky high, taking off in an unpowered hang glider from the Dalby Hang Gliding Club and landing in Charleville on December 8.

The 10-hour flight has broken the previous record by 150km. Scott made the record flight by starting out being towed up behind an ultralight aircraft.

“I released from the tow at 2000ft above the Dalby airport and made my way alone over the big open Queensland skies - over the cotton fields, the gas fields, the scrublands and huge cattle stations,” he said.

“It’s wide open and dry and perfect for an awesome flight - it gets a little remote but it is beautiful country to fly over.”

Three pilots flew independently on the day; Viv Clements of Brisbane made a 400km flight, Michael Jackson of Brisbane also made a great unprecedented flight to the same declared goal at Charleville, but with a different start point, making his distance just a little shorter.

“I had a number of encounters with Wedge Tailed Eagles who made an effort to come and fly inquisitively and cooperatively with me,” said Scott.

“It’s amazing what is out there and how big the stations are.  I was not following any roads, just looking where I needed to find the next rising air or plotting a course to get past forests and maintaining a focus on getting to goal safely. This has been a most memorable experience.

“I had a lot of water, oxygen and survival equipment for the flight.  I was carrying CB and airband radios, a spot tracker, EPIRB, parachutes, food, blankets and other essentials.  But in the end, I landed at the goal and retrieval was easy.  I had steered a hang glider around for 10 hours, but it had also taken a year of waiting for the right weather and I was happy and tired.

“I’ve enjoyed going and flying the record, and the terrain that I flew over. I will always remember it was really spectacular.  Watching the sunset from just under a 10,000 ft cloud base late in the day and gliding the last 40km to goal, was a special moment. I could not yet see my goal as it was too hazy that late in the day, but my instruments told me I would make it as I glided slowly and silently through beautiful smooth air and enjoyed the view.  An Australian record was awaiting and I had time to enjoy just being there alone in the air.”

Information on record attempt:

Record type - distance to a declared goal, for a class 1 (flexwing) hang glider

Distance achieved – 500km, previous record was 343km set in Victoria

Aircraft - unpowered hang glider, a class 1 flexwing hang glider. Make: Airborne Wind sports C4-13

Start - Dalby Hang Gliding Club, Dalby Airfield in Darling Downs QLD.

Finish - Charleville QLD

Launch method: aero tow (using 90m of rope behind an Ultralight aircraft)

Maximum height 10,000ft

Average speed 50km/hr, maximum ground speed - over 100kph.

Time in the air 10 hours.

There is no previous record.

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Quest Air may be closed but Wilotree Park is open and towing

December 10, 2018, 10:40:53 EST

Quest Air may be closed but Wilotree Park is open and towing

We're still here and operating

Belinda Boulter|Dragonfly|Facebook|photo|Quest Air|Rob Clarkson|Wilotree Park

Belinda Boulter|Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly|Facebook|photo|Quest Air|Rob Clarkson|Wilotree Park

There is no need to be patient. There is not yet a new name for the aerotowing business at Wilotree Park, the site of the former Quest Air Soaring Center, but the aerotowing business continues while the owners of the flight park come up with a new name for that business separate from the landownership.

Russell and Lori Brown are no longer running their aerotow business, but their legacy of a great aerotow flight park lives on. The new landowners ( Eric Williams. David Lopez, and Alex Trochez) are making massive improvements to the flight park (we really really appreciate the new deep well with its superb water). Everyone other than the Browns are here and working hard with lots of help.

Rob Clarkson is down from Calgary and rewiring and re plumbing the place. Jeremie and Allyson have moved here. Belinda and I are here getting ready for the competition season. April is back from movie work, dog training. Bobby Bailey and Connie are here. Bobby just rebuilt his Dragonfly. Mitch's new Dragonfly is here and Mitch himself is here. Ed Pittman showed up. Don Spratt is here. Tony Mercado is here. Jim Prahl is here. Eric Williams is here, seemingly full time, as he digs up and moves trees into new locations. Spinner is here. And that's not all.

Photos soon.

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Dragonfly across the US

November 26, 2018, 7:19:18 PST

Dragonfly across the US

In five days


Three nights in cheapest hotels I could find close to airport (~ $200 total) and $630 in 100LL avgas (no airports had the premium auto fuel the engine is certified to also use). Good weather (tailwinds, no headwinds and clear) made the five day crossing possible. I was also limited by daylight - takeoff near sunrise and landing at sunset gave me only about 8.5 hours in the seat with brief stops. Summer crossing would add 4 hours each day to that. Could cross in fewer days or more likely the same with longer day breaks.

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Mitch Shipley heading east

November 16, 2018, 12:29:02 pm PST GMT-0800

Mitch Shipley heading east

In his new Bailey-Moyes Dragonfly with a 912S engine

Dragonfly|Facebook|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Mitch Shipley

Dragonfly|Facebook|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley

Dragonfly|Facebook|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley

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2018 Santa Cruz Flats Race »

September 18, 2018, 9:09:35 pm MST

2018 Santa Cruz Flats Race

Day 3

Dragonfly|dust devil|Dustin Martin|Santa Cruz Flats Race 2018|weather

Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly|dust devil|Dustin Martin|Santa Cruz Flats Race 2018|weather

The task committee scrapped the original task that would have brought us home into a 17 mph head wind according to the NAM 3 weather model. They instead sent us crisscrossing downwind to a little airfield south southeast of Coolidge.

Pilots were reluctant to start launching after the early birds, but I was ready so off I went. I got Bobby Bailey to tow me again and sure enough he just went right to the first thermal he could find as he always does to help him climb in his 2-stroke Dragonfly and I pinned off early again as I do when he tows me at 1,500' and climbed right out to 3,800' and a bit later to 4,700'.

Unfortunately 4,700' was the limit. Whenever I would go looking for lift in other locations I would lose 1,000' and have to go back to the main gaggle. Fifteen minutes before the start window opened at 2 PM, and at 4,500' I  headed for the north northeast to get lined up at the optimum start point and fell like a rock down to 1,200' AGL.

The west wind pushed me out of the start cylinder as I struggled to stay up.  I ignored the start gate time and just concentrated on climbing no matter how far out side the start cylinder I drifted. The next start gate was 2:20 PM.

I clawed my way back up to 4,600', two kilometers outside the five kilometer start cylinder. With seven minutes to go before the start gate and with the help of a light thermal I was able to make the second start time at 4,000' five minutes late.

The start is about 50 percent of a task. If you have a good start you are high and you're with the other pilots who did well in the start cylinder. You'll be able to fly with them during the task and they should be relatively fast. I was in a deep hole.

Speaking of deep holes I glided about 6 kilometers and was down to 700' AGL when I finally found something. That thermal at 155 fpm got me to 3,800' and I drifted to the east in a 12 mph wind with David Aldrich flying in the Sport Class (and winning the day). The next turnpoint was to the north northeast. I was way downwind of the course line.

I headed due north to try to get myself in a position where I could not have to fly upwind to get the turnpoint of Signal Peak. Fortunately I hit 360 fpm that got me to 6,900' (David joined me there also). Finally I was not scraping along the ground just holding on.

I glided straight north with a 13 mph west  wind, tagged the turnpoint and came right back to the same spot for more lift, 340 fpm to 6,300'.

I got on the radio and heard from Larry that he and Dustin were just south of me heading for the second turnpoint. Larry and Dustin also took the second start clock. As I was much higher than they were I raced south toward the turnpoint at the intersection of I8 and I10.

I passed them but found only 150 fpm lift at 4,200' so I chased a dust devil being blown downwind. That proved to be futile so I grabbed the turnpoint and headed north northeast down to 1,100' AGL before finding 100 fpm. Larry came after me as we were communicating on the radio and found better lift just behind me. I came in under him and it averaged 200 fpm for me but he found much better just above me.

I was able to get to 4,000' with Dustin and Larry out in front of me. They spotted the next thermal for me and at 240 fpm over a feed lot I was able to get to 4,700' as they pressed on.

At 20 kilometers from the next turnpoint to the north northeast they were climbing. I found a dust devil that just formed one kilometer behind them and stuck with it. It was only 180 fpm, but as it was after 4 PM I figured that this might be the last thermal. I took it to 6,000'. I would be proved wrong about how long the soaring would last.

Larry radioed that he was climbing at 300 fpm 13 kilometers to my north again with Dustin. I headed off and found his lift at about 4:45 PM, at 1,500' in a 11 mph west wind. It averaged 200 fpm to 4,000'. He was able to leave this thermal, as I entered it at 4,800'. It topped out too early for me.

The edge of the turnpoint cylinder was seven kilometers to the north. The area around the edge of the cylinder was shaded by high clouds. I got within 1.7 kilometers of it and down to 700' AGL over a hill side when I decided to head out downwind to the east for a better spot to land if needed. I was already downwind of the optimum point of the turnpoint.

Larry and Dustin made the turnpoint and Larry came in low over me as I landed. There were a couple of other pilots with him also low. He was in light lift. He kept turning and both he and Dustin made the goal, Larry fifteen minutes before 6 PM and half an hour before sunset.

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For Bobby Bailey

August 22, 2018, 9:36:08 MDT

For Bobby Bailey

Found here in McCall, Idaho


Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly

Click picture to see location on Google Maps.

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Flying the third task in the 2018 Big Spring Nationals

August 9, 2018, 9:24:27 pm CDT

Flying the third task in the 2018 Big Spring Nationals

A strong head wind into goal


Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly

Wednesday task was setup to avoid going to the north where there was a forecast of thunderstorms. They would in fact show up later down south in Big Spring so it was good that we did not fly to northeast o Lubbock as originally planned.

Bobby Bailey pulled me up with his 583 2-stroke powered Dragonfly and because it is under powered he turns as soon as he finds lift. He started turning at about 600' AGL I held on to about 1,500', which took a total of two turns and then pinned off. It is great to have Bobby towing you because he shows you right where the thermal is, because he has to.

The wind was 6 mph at 147 degrees, so much lighter than the previous two days and much more from the east.

We launched at 1:30 PM and the start window opened at 2:45 PM.  I climbed out at 300 fpm. After seven thermals I took the first clock at 2:45 at 9,500'. I was  4 kilometers east of the course line. The wind was 12 mph at 124 degrees. I was happy to be upwind of the course line once again.

The sky was full of cu's that didn't get too high and shade out the ground. It was a 20 kilometer glide to the first thermal outside the start cylinder. It averaged 340 fpm and the next one close by averaged 540 fpm so in 27 minutes I was at Ackerly, 36 kilometers from the Big Spring airfield.

There were pilots in the vicinity but I rarely followed them. I would push out expecting that the cu's were good enough thermal indicators. I was hitting mostly 500 to 600 fpm thermals under the cu's.

The turnpoint was a 25 kilometer radius cylinder around Gains to the west. I hit it close to the optimum point and then headed upwind south southeast to get up at 400 fpm to 9,000'. I circled north of the course line in this thermal, but not too far north.

Attila who took the second clock had caught up with me although I didn't know that was him as I hadn't see his glider before. I took three 500 - 600 fpm thermals just north of the course line before heading due east to get under a good looking cloud. half a dozen pilots were now following me.

I drifted with the thermal that was being blown back at 24 mph at 142 degrees. I almost nicked the 12 km radius turnpoint at this point but had forgotten how big the radius was supposed to be. I went a little further to the east northeast before drifting back into it in a thermal.

I then faced a 17 mph head wind getting into goal starting from 8,800' and 15 km out. Goal was at 3,000'. I could see cu's ahead of me so I was pretty confident that I  could make it. Attila was maybe a few hundred yards in front of me and heading for goal at my altitude.

I was getting about 9 to one gliding toward the goal. This was almost enough to make it. I saw plenty of 6:1 gliding and my numbers for the altitude above goal were low about 600'. At 7 km out I found 360 fpm and took it to 8,200' and then headed again for goal.

I was able to average 11:1 gliding from now over 9 kilometers out to the 1 kilometer goal radius cylinder and arrive 2,500' over the ground. If I had just followed Attila in to goal I would have arrived a lot sooner.

After I arrived at goal a bank of cirrus clouds came over from the north and reduced the lift. Only a few pilots made it in after me and many landed just short. Those clouds were the precursors of the lighting and thunder that would soon show up and cause damage at our goal at La Mesa, but after we had arrived back at Big Spring.

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Let's support the one town in the US that actively supports hang gliding

May 9, 2018, 11:04:20 pm EDT

Let's support the one town in the US that actively supports hang gliding

Especially competition hang gliding

Belinda Boulter|Dragonfly|video

We've been going to Big Spring to run the Big Spring Nationals for 16 years. Now the airport is open to hang gliding year round as long as someone wants to operate out of it. Bring your trike or Dragonfly.

The town of Big Spring goes all out to help us put on a competition. They supplied $20,000 worth of services for the 2007 World Championships. They let us use their taxiways for launching. They put up a spectator viewing stand next to the launch for shade. They have Belinda come and speak to both their Rotary club meetings. They give us water. They give us ice cream. The give us the use of their terminal building and board room. They supply all the chairs for out pilot meetings.

We get to use a hangar to set up gliders and tugs. We use their Flat Screen TV for presentations. We can store gliders there in advance of the competition. They received packages for the Brazilian pilots who want to buy US goods.

They rent four golf carts for our use. They chase and retrieve the launch carts. The setup the launch. They let us park inside the airport fence near the launch. They keep the prison authorities from harassing us. They mollify the air ambulance people so that we can get along at the airport. They feed us a welcome dinner. We get a reduced motel room rate (and it's inexpensive). We can have a party at the Plaza Inn.

They provide sponsorship (the only sponsorship that we get outside of hang gliding) from the local oil refinery. They send out the NOTAMs. They keep us in good graces with the Midland-Odessa tower. They get the support of the community behind us. We put us on the radio every morning. The town's people follow the competition and know who the pilots are. They bring in a group to serve us breakfast and lunch. The provide volunteers for launching and help with us getting drivers.

They bring in local politicians and community members to celebrate our welcome dinner with us.

They do all this without asking for anything in return other that we come back and do it again next year.

So we'd like to give back to them to show how much we appreciate their support. We support a local charity, the Rainbow Room, which helps out kids in foster care. We want you to help us out to show how much we, the hang gliding community, appreciates the community support for hang gliding. It's time to give back.

The Cloudbase Foundation asked us to set up a campaign for the Rainbow Room. They CBF board has approved our campaign, and it is now up on their web site. You can find it and help us out with a donation here:

Please read what we have written there about this campaign. The please donate here:

The web site for the competition is here: Check out the videos, especially:

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Whitewater ready to reopen for 2018

April 5, 2018, 8:16:02 EDT

Whitewater ready to reopen for 2018

Well, if you like snow

Dragonfly|Risk Retention Group|USHPA|weather

Danny writes:

We will be flying out of Whitewater this season.

Marcus Tincher, the new land owner, has found a source for insurance at a reasonable rate, so we are good to go.

Because the deal with Tincher is on a year-to-year basis, we will also be testing the waters (air) at Palmyra, and maybe a couple other places as well, in search of a viable alternative.

I've attached a Membership form, reflecting the agreed upon dues increase. Please include your USHPA information, the insurance included with it may be a requirement to fly here.

Last fall, Mark bought the yellow tug, so I could afford to buy a more powerful Dragonfly from Tracy at Cloud 9 in Michigan. I'll be ferrying it home as soon as the weather breaks. I'll be renting Hangar 3, instead of Mark as previously thought, and will have space for several set-up gliders. Previous occupants and hang gliders will have priority over motorized aircraft. Rent is the same as last year, $300 for the season.

The interesting story is the insurance. Previously, like most flight parks, Whitewater did not carry liability insurance. But, the new land owner required adequate liability insurance for the airfield. He and his lawyer found that insurance (not from the USHPA or the RRRG) that was adequate as far as they were concerned. I hope to hear more soon.

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A little flight in summer like conditions

April 3, 2018, 8:42:22 EDT

A little flight in summer like conditions

With higher than normal temperatures

Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly|Evgeniya "Zhenya" Laritskaya|John Simon

Comes the threat of local cumulo-nimbus development. There was a forecasted 30% chance of rain under a high pressure and no front coming through. On Sunday the first convergence OD of the season didn't happen until after 6 PM and it was a beautiful flying day, so Monday could prove to be the same.

Lots of cu's and lots of pilots ready to fly. But high above there were bands of thick whiteness periodically shading vast areas below. The day looked iffy early unlike the previous wide open day, so we changed the task for this light wind forecasted day to up and down highway 33 instead of the more extreme around the Green Swamp.

With Joel Froehlich, Bobby Bailey, and Evgeniya Laritskaya towing we had plenty of resources to get the dozen or more pilots in the air around the tandem operation. Mick was up early. I got Joel to take me up five or so minutes later.

Joel found lift at the end of the runway and banked up the Dragonfly. Not as much as Bobby would, but enough to let you know he was going to hang in the thermal. After a few seconds I pinned off at less than 1,000' which Joel appreciated. It was going up and there's no reason to hang on to torture the tug pilot.

The climbs were slow until I saw John Simon far below to the east climbing up at 600 fpm. A few turns in that and I was off to the north. John got to 4,500' went on glide without looking to the north to see what was up and glided to the ground at Grass Roots airfield not stopping for weak stuff. What was happening to the north? Nothing. Blue area devoid of cu's. Cu's to the east and west of the course line. High white stuff over head.

I stopped for the weak stuff because I had experienced it off tow and John was taken in by the 600 fpm that he had found. I had to go back and forth under cu's just north of Groveland before finally finding better lift to 4,100'.  There were a few cu's ahead combined with large areas of shaded ground.

Three of us climbed out on the south side of Grass Roots as we watched John move his glider around at the airfield. That lift was weak as was the next thermal, but looking at the sky you were happy to stay up at all. There was gray every where and the cu's were flimsy.

Mick was ahead and we could here him calling out 200 fpm at the turnpoint so we knew that it was possible to continue on. Four kilometers from the turnpoint (the intersection of the Florida Turnpike and highway 33) I found 400 fpm on average to 4,600'. Mick came and joined in on his way south back toward Quest. He had topped out at 4,500' at the turnpoint.

Making the turnpoint and coming back to the same area worked out but only to 3,800'. Looking ahead there were again very few cu's and lots of shading. I chased the few cu's to find weak lift off the course line and tried to stay up as Mick worked up at the chicken coops. At this point Mick and I decided that going down to Deen Still and 33 was not in the cards. The day was too weak. So he would head back to Quest once he got up.

I found 180 fpm north west of Grass Roots that got me back up to 3,700'. Then 100 fpm west of Grass Roots with Rich Cizaukas who was below me working it also. Leaving at 3,500' I headed for a set of small cu's, mere wisps,  to the south east, but there was nothing there.

Down to 1,900' eight kilometers north of Quest over swamps with few good landing areas ahead and thick white clouds high overhead blocking the sun I decided to turn and go west to better prospects for landing than downtown Groveland. There were some nice fields near the chicken coops.

As I headed west the high overhead clouds moved to the east, and the sun came out west of highway 33. Down over the best looking field at 900'AGL with the pod bay doors open. I saw the sun light hitting the ground and felt the air lifting. I stayed with it even though it meant zero sink for four and a half minutes. Rich came in under soon after I arrived at about 500' to 700' AGL.

Finally we both found where it was actually going up and instead of landing out we both got up at 200 to 300 fpm. I climbed to 4,300' as Rich continued to climb below me. I had Quest easily from that altitude and came in with plenty. Mick had made it back. Rich would continue on course and land out not too far south of Quest.

The sky had opened up and there was sunlight on the ground every where in the neighborhood, but not to the northwest where there was a cu-nimb. Good thing we cut it short.

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Getting caught in the ⁢cart⁣ by your wheel »

Wed, Mar 28 2018, 7:54:07 am EDT

Tipped up and over

Bob "Skydog" Grant|cart|Dragonfly|Mark Dowsett|photo|USHPA|video

A sequence of shots for a incident on launch:

The right wing has been lifted. The pilot appears to be holding onto the hose on the right side and lifting the cart. The cart is heading off to the pilot's left side and not on the track that the cart should be taking behind the Dragonfly. The tow rope is pulling the pilot to the right. The prevailing wind had actually been a little bit from the left, but thermals can come through the field.

Two or more seconds (nine photos) later the pilot is no longer holding on to the hose on the right hand side (and doesn't appear to be holding on the left hand side either) as the cart has been dropped:

The glider is also now tipped forward as you can see by the fact that the tail is high off the back cradle. The pilot is pulled by the tow rope all the way over to the right in the control frame. You can see the tow rope still connected to him. The cart has gone way off to the left. The base tube appears to have slid off the left front cradle.

If you look at the left side of his base tube you can see that the left white wheel is below the height of the front tube of the cart. It may be caught under the tube. The glider is tipped up, and the base tube is just above the front cradles on the left (and quite a ways above on the right). This allows the left wheel to drop down to the side of the left cradle to below the front tube of the cart. If the wheel is caught under this tube, the pilot has no chance to recover.

The photos are being taken at a rate of 3 to 4 a second. This is the next photo. The glider's control frame is still jammed on the left side on the cart with the white wheel below the cart tubes. The glider and the cart are going in different directions. The pilot is reaching out to break his fall. He fractures his elbow with a dislocation and fractures his wrist.

Two photos later. The left white base tube wheel is jammed into the left corner of the cart. with the base tube on top of the front cart tube.

If the angle on the cart was too high, he would have been stalled before he was able to be pulled forward and had the keel raised up to get out of the stalled angle.

Photos by Bob Grant.

The pilot writes:

The right wing was lifted early on tow. By holding on to the cart, the added weight of the cart and with weight shift, I tried to get the right wing down and get the glider back in line with the tow. The desired result never happened. The glider continued to turn left and I considered my release but felt that with the glider banked as it was, removing my hand from the base tube would accelerate the turn, possibly spinning the glider. With everything happening so fast, I wasn't aware until later that my wheel had hooked under the launch cart while the glider was turning left.

My injuries upon initial medical examination indicate a fractured left elbow and fractured left wrist.

The keel of the glider was bent at the control frame attachment point and broken in two behind the control frame attachment. Mark Dowsett can confirm this as he helped me pack up my glider. Any other damage to the glider will require a more detailed inspection which I'm unable to do. I will contact Mark to request his assistance with this.

I haven't downloaded the video from my glider camera yet but will do so, and I'll also ask my brother for his phone video.

I agree to sharing information USHPA safety coordinator for the purpose of improving safety in the sport of hang gliding.

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Angle of Attack Indicator for Aerotow Tugs

January 25, 2018, 7:40:13 EST

No time to stall

Doug DuBois|Dragonfly|James-Donald "Don" "Plummet" Carslaw|record

Angle of Attack Indicator for Aerotow Tugs

Doug DuBois, Adventure AirSports Tug Pilot writes:

Aerotow tug pilots spend roughly ¾ of their airtime in very close proximity to their aircraft's "stall speed", and much of this time is done in windy/gusty/turbulent conditions. Hang gliding's remarkably good aerotowing safety record speaks very highly of the skill of our tug pilots, as ultra-light aircraft combined with "stall speed" proximity in gusty conditions could easily amount to a recipe for disaster, especially when you add to the mix a glider on tow! Please note the quotes used around the term "stall speed", as it is somewhat of a misnomer for reasons discussed below.

I'm still a rather new tug driver myself, having started my ATP training less than 3 years ago and having conducted fewer than 300 tows so far. When I first began towing in rowdy midday conditions, I was uneasy with the narrow airspeed margin and also noticed that the normal airspeed cues (airspeed indicator, the feel and sound of the wind, etc.) didn't always seem to give an accurate sense of the tow plane's proximity to a stalled condition. Since we're generally trying to keep the airspeed very low (within manageable limits for the glider and pilot), and a stall/spin under tow could spell disaster, I decided to investigate the use of an angle of attack indicator on our Dragonfly tug.

"A wing can stall at any airspeed or attitude, but it will always stall at the same angle of attack." This axiom is drilled into the heads of new pilots, and with good reason. If we let complacency lull us into the practice of avoiding stalls simply by attempting to maintain a minimum airspeed, that practice can fail us someday. Maintaining an appropriate angle of attack (AOA) for the current conditions is the true key to stall-free flight, and this observance is relevant to any flying machine that creates lift by pushing an airfoil through the air. I can think of no flying activity in which AOA management is more critical to safety than in our low-speed aerotowing.

In theory, AOA is easy to understand. It is simply the angle between the chord of your wing's airfoil and the relative wind. In practice, the path of the relative wind is easy to observe by attaching a piece of yarn to the aircraft in the passing airstream, taking care to locate it in air that is undisturbed by the aircraft. Go one step further and install a reference line for the yarn to register against (relative to the aircraft) and voila, you have an AOA indicator.

This photo shows the first AOA indicator I made for the Adventure AirSports tug. A piece of ⅛" music wire has been attached to the tug's mirror, holding the yarn about 12" above the mirror. This separation is important to keep the yarn out of the disturbed air around the mirror. A metal scale was fitted behind the yarn and calibrated with black tape on the bottom and red tape on top. In flight, when the yarn is in the black, you have a low angle of attack or a "lift reserve". When the yarn is above the black, the critical angle of attack has been reached or exceeded (the wing is "stalled"). For someone getting used to the AOA indicator, the mnemonic "red is dead" might be helpful. In this photo the yarn is in the upper half of the black, indicating a low lift reserve. This is as close to a stall as I care to get while on tow. Having your lift reserve status always available at a glance is very instructional and comforting, especially in turbulence.

The yarn is also quite useful as a traditional yaw indicator. If you look at the above photo carefully you'll see that the yarn has drifted right of the scale, indicating a subtle, uncoordinated yaw to the right. In normal 3-axis flying (no towed glider in the mix), it would be appropriate to add some left rudder or right aileron (or a little of both) to get the aircraft re-coordinated with the relative wind and your desired attitude and/or path. With a glider on tow, however, safe and appropriate technique will not always result in coordinated flight.

Under tow, we primarily use the rudder for yaw/roll control and try to minimize aileron excursions to avoid stalling a wing while flying so close to the critical AOA. In this case "stalling a wing" means asymmetrically exceeding the critical AOA, which can drop either the left or right wing panel and possibly result in a spin. When an aileron is deflected downward, it effectively increases its corresponding wing panel's AOA. When you're flying at an already high AOA — especially in turbulence — an inappropriate aileron input has the potential to ruin your whole day.

During those high "pucker factor" moments when turbulence pops a wing up hard, or you feel the tug "sliding off the edge" into a steep bank, a yaw string can save your bacon by preventing you from reflexively applying opposite aileron and "crossing the controls". This is an unfortunately common cause of stall/spin accidents in light aviation, and something you definitely want to avoid during a tow.

A yaw string will also point out the normal effects of a towed glider on the tug's yaw attitude. Obviously, an out-of-position glider will tend to pull the tug's tail out of place, both in yaw and pitch. But even during turns with the glider tracking properly on the same arc as the tug, the glider tends to induce a bit of "adverse yaw" into the tug's path by pulling its tail into the turn. To maintain a turn under tow, it may be necessary for the tug pilot to hold rudder input throughout the turn to counter this influence from the glider. But outside of the realm of towing, holding rudder throughout a turn is considered bad technique. My ATP instructor yelled at me for holding rudder in turns, but it wasn't until after I started flying with the string that I was able to make the distinction between "good" rudder holding during a tow and "bad" rudder holding when off tow.

In this photo, the glider has released and the tug has begun its descent. Notice that the yarn is well below the black now, indicating a very low AOA or a large lift reserve. Time to chill out and enjoy a beautiful sunset glide to the LZ.

This is the new, deceptively simple version of the AOA/yaw indicator that we're using now. The scale has been removed, leaving only a simple length of bent wire with the upper/forward end flattened where it is drilled for the attachment of the yarn. The horizontal portion of the wire is the key to its function as an AOA indicator. When the yarn is below this horizontal portion, your wing is flying (as shown in the photo). When the yarn is parallel to the wire or higher, your wing is stalled (if you haven't already noticed!). Obviously it is important to calibrate the instrument by bending the wire until it is parallel to the yarn at the break of a stall.

This new version also features a length of miniature streamline tubing over the vertical portion of the wire support, to both streamline and stiffen the device. One weakness of this prototype is that it shakes, rattles and rolls badly when the tug is taxied over rough terrain. Sometimes I'll take off and discover that the yarn has tied itself into a knot from the previous taxiing. Perhaps a carbon fiber arrow shaft or some other rigid but light tube would make a better upright for future iterations, although that will increase the design and fabrication complexity. (If anyone out there comes up with a better version, please contact me through to share your improvements.)

I recommend the use of an AOA indicator for beginning and seasoned tug pilots alike. Sometimes when the tug flies out of strong lift and into sink, your airspeed will seem to plummet. If you're managing your AOA by airspeed alone, the natural and safe response is to shove the nose down quick and hard to prevent a stall. It's very reassuring in this kind of situation to have the yarn to glance at to see what's really happening AOA-wise. In my experience with this indicator, that sudden sinking feeling rarely requires aggressive elevator correction, and by avoiding that I'm not diving away from the glider and slacking the rope as much as I might otherwise. Although I prefer to have the indicator when I'm towing, when I do fly without it my senses, instincts and reactions will be much better informed from all this experience with it. Seasoned ATP pilots will also probably learn some subtle lessons about lift reserve and coordinated flight in a Dragonfly, I'll wager!

Doug DuBois is a GA/UL/HG pilot with a background in aircraft building, machining, engineering and industrial design. He is a partner in Adventure AirSports, LLC, and was the group's first tug pilot.

Newly certified aerotowing Dragonfly pilot

January 17, 2018, 8:06:32 EST

Newly certified aerotowing Dragonfly pilot

Evgeniya Laritskaya

Dragonfly|Evgeniya "Zhenya" Laritskaya|Gary Osoba|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Mitch Shipley|PG|sailplane

Dragonfly|Evgeniya "Zhenya" Laritskaya|Gary Osoba|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|PG|sailplane

Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly|Evgeniya "Zhenya" Laritskaya|Gary Osoba|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Mitch Shipley|PG|sailplane

Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly|Evgeniya "Zhenya" Laritskaya|Gary Osoba|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|PG|sailplane

She was certified on Tuesday. She will likely be doing some of the towing (and scorekeeping and pilot retrieval at the flight park) at the upcoming competitions.

Evgeniya Laritskaya towing Bobby Bailey

She writes:

In the USA, in order to become a tug pilot and tow hang gliders and/or sailplanes, a private pilot has to receive the Tow Endorsement, which in turn requires to have a minimum of 100 hours of airtime as a pilot in command in the same category aircraft used for towing plus receive ground and flight trainings from an authorized instructor. I've got the hours and I've received a lot of training. Now I am officially a tug pilot.

Andrey and I are really lucky here at Quest: Many of the best US Dragonfly instructors and tug pilots are here now: Bob Bailey, Jon Thompson, Rhett Redford, Jim Prahl, Mitch Shipley plus there are many experienced hang glider pilots I could practice on.

Towing is easy, but still there are so many nuances, which make it all so interesting! I want to tow during some hang gliding comps. This is where the fun begins.

In the photo I am towing Bobby Bailey. Nine years ago he towed me here for the first time. Yes, Bobby still flies hang gliders, and after release he rocks with aerobatics and lands in the spot right in front of the admiring spectators.

Gary Osoba writes:

When the FAA decided to create the Light Sport Aircraft category (where the Dragonfly resides) they invited private sector input via an industry working committee who would recommend the nature of regulation and actively work with the FAA to effect reasonable regulations. There was no longer a choice of no regulation, so the best option was to make sure the regulation properly reflected real world conditions and safety concerns without undue government interference.

There were a handful of us invited to participate on the working committee - originally chaired by Charles Pate, who was then chief of single engine production for Cessna, now retired. One of the things I chose to work on specifically as the only member doing so was the towing arrangements, because in the original FAA proposal there were not regulations that would allow the interface of newly regulated LSA aircraft with non-regulated aircraft (hang gliders and paragliders) as in a towing operation.

I pushed hard for this, wrote and rewrote sensible requirements, and the FAA finally allowed it after much interchange, debate, and difficulty. If it had not gone that way, the towing of hang gliders would have ended with the adoption of the LSA criteria.

On a related note, I recently offered to help Bobby Bailey design a version of the Dragonfly which could tow both hang gliders and paragliders. This would open up paraglider flight to existing aerotow flight parks and no doubt create many new ones as well. It would take someone with a monetary stake in paragliding to sponsor Bobby's build in this regard. I like Bobby very much and would enjoy working with him.

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Sport class Russian pilot, Andrey Solomykin

January 11, 2018, 9:05:11 EST

Sport class Russian pilot, Andrey Solomykin

Here relaxing and on a flying vacation

Andrey Solomykin|Dragonfly|Quest Air|video|weather

Andrey Solomykin|cart|Dragonfly|Quest Air|video|weather

Andrey Solomykin is here at Quest taking time off from his demanding job to get ready for the upcoming competition season. He will be flying in the 2018 Green Swamp Sport Klassic and the 2018 Quest Air National Series. I asked Andrey to give us a little of his background. He writes:

I'm 45 years old. I live in Moscow, at north-west part of the city, close to Moscow River and Silver Forest park.

I finished the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) in 1996 as a flight-dynamics engineer. Today I'm a lead programmer-engineer in a game development company, and I have been working on video games like flight simulators for personal computers for more than 18 years. I develop realistic flight models (FMs), and do all the stuff about airplane physics, flight dynamics, aerodynamics, engines, props, airplane systems and equipment, instruments, weapon, damage models, atmosphere and weather conditions, and whatever about "how does it fly."

The project I work on when in Moscow on is "IL-2 Sturmovik: The Great Battles" which is the second series of the very popular and legendary game in 20XX "Il-2 Sturmovik." This is a very realistic virtual reconstruction of WWII airplanes. You can see the link:

Also, I'm a creator of the flight model for the project "Rise of Flight" which is about WWI:

Moreover I developed the new advanced flight model for the 1st series of "Lock On: Modern Air Combat" more than ten years ago. Now that company has already released the 3rd series of this product:

Also I had been working on some flight models for add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator in early 20XX.

I have been a hang glider pilot since 1990. I have a FAA private pilot's license for airplanes and also I fly trikes. I like to do an aerobatics, to fly in close formation and do other fun stuff like a sky-diving, scuba-diving, go-cart, or ride mountain skies.

Here at Quest I enjoy the nice weather conditions for hang gliding, and also fly a lot on the Dragonfly for a pleasure, and of course enjoy to have many cool and nice people around here.

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2018 Forbes Flatlands »

December 28, 2017, 7:26:54 EST

2018 Forbes Flatlands

Starts Friday

Dragonfly|Forbes Flatlands 2018|record|Steve McCarthy|Vicki Cain

Dragonfly|Forbes Flatlands 2018|Moyes Litespeed RX|record|Steve McCarthy|Vicki Cain

Dragonfly|Forbes Flatlands 2018|Moyes Litespeed RX|record|Steve McCarthy|Vicki Cain

Vicki Cain <<Vicki>> writes:

Everyone is rolling into Forbes for the 12th consecutive Forbes Flatlands Hang Gliding Championships. Yesterday was the first practice day, towing started about 1 pm and went well into the afternoon with many pilots flying. Conditions looked awesome and they were! Sasha has declared a Female World Record!

The comp is shaping up nicely, we have about 60 pilots from 10 countries and 6 Dragonfly’s.

Bill owns 4 of the Dragonfly’s, the tug pilots will be Steve McCarthy, Marco Carelli, Blaino and Matt Olive. Bruce Crerar has bought his Dragonfly down from QLD in the trailer and Peter Holloway has flown his Dragonfly up from Melbourne, Vic.

Today is the 2nd practice day ahead of our welcome party tonight.

Sasha writes:

“One would think that was just a preparation day before the competition. Well, this is how good is Forbes! Just hot from the oven - an observed, declared and completed FEMALE WORLD RECORD attempt for an FAI triangle. Declared distance of 210.4 km, flown with 37.8 km/h on a Moyes Litespeed RX3.

Tomorrow is another day in the paradise.

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Dragonfly Washeteria Video

December 17, 2017, 7:34:32 pm EST

Dragonfly Washeteria Video

Evgeniya Lartiskaya

Dragonfly|Evgeniya "Zhenya" Laritskaya|video

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World Record Dragonfly Spins

December 1, 2017, 8:04:38 pm MST

World Record Dragonfly Spins

I wonder if Bobby or Rhett know about this

Dragonfly|Evgeniya "Zhenya" Laritskaya|record|video

Zhenya <<laritskaya.evgeniya>> writes:

Our Russian Dragonfly pilot Leonid Kulesh got in the Guinness World Records book with the "Most flat spins in an aircraft" record after doing 100 spins on his Dragonfly.

Here is the link to Guinness World Records book:

Here is the video of spinning:

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November 17, 2017, 9:22:32 PST


By a Dragonfly


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Cross Country Bohl

September 26, 2017, 10:27:18 MST GMT-0600

Cross Country Bohl

At Cowboy Up in Wharton, Texas, October 7th through 9th.

Dragonfly|Dustin Martin|Facebook

Dragonfly|Dustin Martin|Facebook|Robin Hamilton

Dragonfly|Dustin Martin|Facebook|Jeffrey "Jeff" Lawrence Bohl|Robin Hamilton

Tiki at <<fly>> writes:

We haven’t done much advertising for the XC Bohl outside of Texas because, as you know, unless we get RSVPs, we won’t know how many pilots to plan for - hence how many tugs we would need - we are limited on tugs here. We do not have access to Mick’s Dragonfly, so we have only one Dragonfly and one trike. I am going to try and recruit other trikes in the area to see if they would like to help.

This is just a fun memorial Flyin’ where we honor Jeff’s memory. This year we are honoring Robin Hamilton for his contribution to Texas hang gliding, his excellent showing in Brasilia and particularly his help with the local pilots in our area.

Robin will be giving his two day cross country lecture as usual and setting a task each day, but this is mainly an easy-breezy affair.

Zack, Majo, Wolfi and Dustin are coming, so that will make it special. It’s also a fundraiser for our local charity.

People from out-of-state need to RSVP and space will be limited for out-of-state folks. Last year we had 25 pilots. It all may sound harsh but at the moment we are just not set up for a large group and I’m afraid that is what we will get if we open it to everyone.

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Hang Gliding Roller Coaster

August 23, 2017, 9:01:57 MST GMT-0600

Hang Gliding Roller Coaster

Thrilling the passengers

Dragonfly|Mark Dowsett|video

Mark Dowsett <<mark>> writes:

I captured a great tandem experience a couple weekends ago. I had a mic rigged on the passenger's shoulder for some great, crystal-clear reactions.

Here is just the roller-coaster ride down:

But also here is the full flight which shows step-towing in action. I know it's a rare towing method, especially in North America so I am sure your readers will find the process interesting:

We tow hundreds of tandems a year up in this method and there are two other operations within 100km of us that do as well. We start with about 2200' of rope out and once we get a couple steps in, we can stretch out all 2km of rope we have on the winch. We have towed tandems up to over 3000' in this method and solos up to just shy of 4000' in stronger winds. Fuel costs us about $2 a flight (if that).

People that know me know that I'm not a well-built guy but I have piloted 18 tandems in one day max, as you can see while we are towing, it doesn't take much effort to pilot. I can only last about four aero-towing tandems behind our club's 582 Dragonfly and I am spent.

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And now the video

August 11, 2017, 12:41:40 pm MST GMT-0600

And now the video

Not just the picture that we already published

Dragonfly|Evgeniya "Zhenya" Laritskaya|video

Zhenya <<laritskaya.evgeniya>> writes:

I saw you published photo of Leonid and his Dragonfly with LED lights. Watch to the end: there will be some cool fireworks fired from the sky. It was Leonid's Birthday :)

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Leonid and his Dragonfly

August 7, 2017, 7:36:28 MST GMT-0600

Leonid and his Dragonfly

Lit up


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2017 Midwest, the organizers' thoughts

June 12, 2017, 6:14:35 CST GMT-0500

2017 Midwest, the organizers' thoughts

At least Greg Dinauer's

Dragonfly|Facebook|Greg Dinauer|Jamie Shelden|Midwest Championships 2017|weather

Greg Dinauer <<gdinauer>> writes:

Organizing a major sanctioned hang gliding competition is something that Larry, Kris and I have always talked about and, indeed have attempted in the past. Plagued by low turnouts, and of course, the always dubious weather up here in the Midwest, we just lost interest.

This year we finally decided to give it another go. With the lack of sanctioned competitions, due to the complexity of negotiating the minefield of insurance imperatives, and the huge gap in years of having any large scale events like this, we agreed it was a perfect storm of wide open doors.

In October we started drawing up plans. Since then every door has opened, even though the insurance hurtle almost discouraged us out of it. We always had the back-up plan that if only 20-25 pilots signed up and we skimped on everything, we could just pull it off without having to dig too deeply into our new glider funds.

So when after merely five days of the event registration being open, I received a late night call from Larry and Kris confirming that we had 60 registered pilots, I felt like the co-inventor of some unique product that just went nationwide overnight.

Of course we had to have another meeting at Larry’s home (the geographical midpoint) to access what to do about the monster we created. We wanted to limit it to 60, but before we knew it there were 80 pilots registered. So we had to draw a sharp line in the form of strict deadlines to control every ones flying sickness for this event. The glee we shared with the break in the really gloomy weather in the upper Midwest over the prior month well; it was just another of those open doors which seemed as inexplicable as Kris’s “need” to schedule during a full moon. If he is silently gloating, he deserves to be.

In as much as we considered every contingency, now that the competition is over, there were weak places; places that we could have better addressed, had we not also been competitors ourselves. Better communication with the launch process volunteer staff, management of civilities like: the portable bathrooms and waste containers, and the damp condition of the ground, particularly on the first day, are among them.

With all that, the pilots’ response was overwhelmingly positive, and while the soaring was not particularly epic, we did have one or two good days along with some challenging ones.

I really want to say that the three of us never scuffled with each other over decisions or ideas (often done over Larry’s favorite beer), in spite of the daunting insurance mitigation forms that Larry labored endlessly over. Our individual tasks in this came about more or less naturally; just three flying buddies cooperating to make a bigger dream happen.

We want to again thank everyone including the pilots, tug pilots, all the selfless volunteers, and the (more than patient) local pilot community for participating in what we feel was a bit more like what these events use to be. I, for one, while watching Rhett’s vivid green dragonfly depart this morning couldn’t help but feel a bit sad to see it end.

Will we do it again next year? We’ll see. A lot of the busy work is done and as with Jamie, Davis and other organizers in the past, we have learned a lot.

2017 Midwest, day 1

Mon, Jun 5 2017, 6:23:59 am MDT

The Results

André Wolfe|Bart Weghorst|competition|Dragonfly|Glen Volk|James Stinnett|John Simon|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Krzysztof "Krys/Kris" Grzyb|Midwest Championships 2017|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Moyes Litespeed RX|Phill Bloom|Robin Hamilton|Sara Weaver|Steve Rewolinski

Most pilots got minimum distance:

# Name Glider Time Total
1 Steve Rewolinski Icaro Z9 01:16:19 711
2 Andre Wolf Moyes Litespeed RX 3,5 Pro 01:22:13 663
3 Glen Volk Moyes RX 3.5 01:26:22 638
4 Phill Bloom Moyes RX 3.5 01:26:40 633
5 John Simon Aeros Combat C 12.7 01:31:55 603
6 Alvaro Figueiredo Sandoli Ww T2C144C 01:32:15 598
7 Jonny Durand Moyes Lsrx 3.5 Pro 01:39:36 571
8 James Stinnett Wills Wing T2C 01:43:28 557
9 Robin Hamilton Moyes RX3.5 01:54:53 523
10 Krzysztof Grzyb Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 01:55:14 521
11 Linda Salamone Wills Wing T2C 01:58:55 510
12 Ollie Chitty Moyes RX5 02:02:08 501
13 Mitch Shipley Wills Wing T2C 144 02:17:24 464
14 Bart Weghorst Wills Wing 154 T2C 02:22:27 452

Jonny is flying the Moyes Gecko for the first two days as he gave Andre his glider. Andre's was damaged in shipping. Art's should arrive today.

Mitch Shipley is also towing, flying a Dragonfly. Linda Salamone did well.

There were five start times. All the pilots who made goal got the last start time which was very likely long before they actually made their start.

Jonny landing back at launch
Jonny landing back at launch.

Zac helping Majo with her glider
Zac helping Majo with her glider.

Sara Weaver ready to launch
Sara Weaver ready to launch.

2017 Quest Air Re-Open »

April 26, 2017, 9:44:04 pm EST GMT-0400

2017 Quest Air Re- Open

Working upwind in the start cylinder

Dragonfly|Flytec 6030|John Simon|Quest Air|Quest Air Re-Open 2017|Russell "Russ" Brown|weather

The forecast:

2017 Quest Air Open and Re-Open, Wednesday April 26th

National Weather Service forecast:

Sunny, with a high near 85. Light south wind becoming south southwest 5 to 10 mph in the morning.

Hourly forecast shows surface winds south southwest 7 mph.

NAM forecast:

2 PM
1100 - 1200 fpm lift
6,000' - 7,000' top of lift
Nu cu's or 6,000' - 7,000'
9 mph south southwest wind at 2000'
6 mph south southwest wind at 30'

5 PM
600 - 700 fpm (much lower to the north and south)
5,000' - 7,000' top of lift
No cu's
14 mph southwest at 2000'

RAP forecast:

2 PM
800 - 900 fpm lift
5,000' - 6,000' top of lift
Nu cu's
11 mph south southwest wind at 2000'
11 mph south southwest wind at 30'

5 PM
600 - 700 fpm
6,000' - 7,000' top of lift
No cu's
13 mph southwest at 2000'

Op40 at 2 PM shows top of lift at 6,500' at 55 degrees, south west wind at 10 knots, a chance of cu's.

You'll notice the forecast for reasonably strong southwest winds. But on the ground we were experiencing first strong west winds, then strong northwest winds, then strong southwest winds. Russell Brown took a Dragonfly up and saw winds straight west winds on the lakes.

Given the greatly varying and strong surface winds we had already experienced here and the likelihood of rotor off the west side trees if we launched from the northwest corner of the north runway, I had already postponed the launch from 1 PM to 1:40 PM.

With the report from Russell we moved the launch to the east end of the east/west runway. He felt that the varying wind was to due to thermals and that the primary wind was west. Assuming that the forecast was wrong and that we had a west wind all the way up I changed the task at the same time to an out and return to the Turnpike and highway 33 intersection to the north.

I chose a short task given that the next two days (and more) look like long task days going downwind with strong tail winds. Also the sky did not look promising and with the conflicting signals from the wind it appeared at the time that there was great uncertainty and difficulty if the winds were indeed as strong as they appeared to be.

Still it turned out to be a mistake to call so short a task. Given how the wind turned out I should have called a longer out and return task. The original task went cross wind and down wind. This task was better because we came back against a strong head wind and still got to goal. Or at least most pilots did.

Launch went very smoothly and quickly. Jim Prahl took me toward a cu straight upwind (assuming a west wind, which is what we had at launch) and I pinned off short of the cumulus cloud but headed upwind for half a kilometer to get to the lift. I called out to the other pilots on the frequency that I was climbing at 600 fpm. The wind was 9 mph out of the southwest.

Giovani, Larry, Mick and Fabiano joined me as I climbed to cloud base at 5,900'. We still had 24 minutes to go before the first window opened. There were small cu's forming just to our west and north. All the cu's were less than 100' thick. They formed and dissipated quickly.

The lift and cu's kept happening and we worked our way easily upwind to the west spreading out and finding lift and cu's until we got 5 kilometers out where we were able to stay and keep in the lift. There were other pilots four or five kilometers back downwind near cloud base also as we took the 1:30 PM start. I was in the prime spot and got the start first and led out.

It was 8 km before we found lift that was worth turning in. We had a 12 mph south tail wind and we were only down to 4,500' before we started climbing back to 5,900'. There were half a dozen of the pilots in the vicinity.

The pilots from the downwind gaggle were racing to join us. We headed north and down to 3,700' found 515 fpm right at the turnpoint. I stayed in the 500 fpm a little longer than most others and climbed to 6,100'. Such a fortunate placement of a thermal. The wind was 10 mph out of the southwest. So two thermals from the start cylinder to the turnpoint.

Now the upwind leg began. Four kilometers south southeast I joined John Simon as few others came along and we climbed in 400 fpm to 6,500'. We were 16 kilometers from goal with a 10 mph headwind and the Flytec 6030 said I had goal at 8 to 1. Unfortunately I was sure that I would be getting lots of 4 to 1 fighting the headwind.

Six kilometers later the thermal was also 400 fpm to 5,300' as I pulled out early when goal was less than 8 to 1 away. My glide to it had been 8.5 to 1. Apparently John Simon ignored this thermal. The wind was 9 mph out of the south southeast.

I found that pulling in all the way I couldn't going more than 42 mph. I've since made a few adjustments to the glider.

Again the glide was 8.5 to 1 getting to goal with lots of periods with less than 4:1.

Lots of pilots making goal very quickly and then some much later. Given the short distance and the quick flying the day was greatly devalued. All my fault.

2017 Quest Air Re-Open »

April 25, 2017, 10:10:57 pm EST GMT-0400

2017 Quest Air Re- Open

Was it really that rough?

Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly|Quest Air|Quest Air Re-Open 2017|Russell "Russ" Brown|weather

The forecast was for 11 mph - 12 mph west wind:

2017 Quest Air Open and Re-Open, Tuesday April 25th

National Weather Service forecast:

Sunny, with a high near 80. West wind 5 to 10 mph.

Hourly forecast shows surface winds west 10 mph.

NAM forecast:

11 AM
900 - 1000 fpm lift
5,000' - 6,000' top of lift
4,000' - 6,000' cloudbase
16 mph west wind at top of lift
11 mph west wind at 30'

2 PM
800 - 900 fpm lift (higher to the south)
5,000' - 6,000' top of lift
No cu's or 5,000' - 6,000' cloudbase
15 mph west wind at top of lift
13 mph west wind at 30'

5 PM
800 - 900 fpm
5,000' - 6,000' top of lift
No cu's
13 mph west at at top of lift

RAP forecast:

11 AM
700 - 800 fpm lift
4,000' - 5,000' top of lift
No cu's or 4,000' - 5,000' cloudbase
14 mph west northwest wind at top of lift
10 mph west northwest wind at 30'

2 PM
800 - 900 fpm lift
5,000' - 6,000' top of lift
No cu's or 5,000' - 6,000' cloudbase
13 mph west wind at top of lift
11 mph west wind at 30'

5 PM
700 - 800 fpm
5,000' - 6,000' top of lift
No cu's
11 mph west at at top of lift

Op40 at 2 PM shows cloudbase at 5,300' at 53 degrees, west wind from 11 mph to 13 mph.

A west wind, if we went downwind, would pin us up against Class B airspace in Orlando. So I set up an out and return task along highway 33, 80 km to Fantasy of Flight and back.

I got pulled up by April and unceremoniously dropped in 400 fpm sink at 2,100' despite my frantic gestures to get her to turn in the direction that I wanted. Apparently the tug pilots though the air was too rough and they wanted to get out of there. I had a reflight behind Bobby Bailey. After falling quickly to the ground I was fortunate enough last week to always get behind Jim Prahl or even more likely Russell Brown. They always towed me to lift.

Bobby tows with a weak Dragonfly and I was amazed how low he was pulling me over the trees to the west. We were going down fast. I pinned off at 1,800' when we hit 700 fpm. The climb was 230 fpm to 4,800'.

We had postponed the launch twenty minutes as the sky was completely covered with cumulus development. Now there were widely scattered very thin cu's around. I had already seen a number of relaunches including my own so it was clear that conditions were weak.

Because of the poor first tow I was not able to make the first start clock. Now I waited at cloudbase working weak lift and positioning myself for the second clock at 2:10 PM. Hopping from thin cu to thin cu I was able to get to 5,200' and take the second clock high.

Having experienced only weak lift I worked more weak lift to stay high as I headed south. But when I got to the third thermal a little north of the glider port I found almost 500 fpm to 6,000'. I now was ready to search for stronger lift and ignore the weak stuff.

After a few short-lived weak thermals I found 400+ fpm back to 5,700'. I charged toward the turnpoint from 5,200' and 7 km out. There was a cloud coming from the southwest over the turnpoint and I was planning on using it to get back up and head north.

The lift at the turnpoint didn't work out, slightly off-timed so I headed back and had to work weak lift to the northwest. I saw a pilot ahead and joined him in 415 fpm to 5,200'.

Ten kilometers further north and down to 2,000' I had to take weak lift again and lost it at 2,700'. Heading northwest toward large fields that looked like they would be landable I was also on the search for the lift I needed to get out of this hole.  At 1,200' I found 350 fpm to 4,500'. That wasn't quite enough to make the next jump crosswind to the glider port and the nearby cu's.

I proceeded northwest against the wind and to 350+ fpm. Still it took twenty minutes to dig out of this sport drifting back toward where I started and climbing in three different thermals to 5,100'. Now I just had to stay high and I could make it back to Quest.

I found good lift north of the glider port and came in high to Quest.

Slow overall because of the weak lift in the start cylinder and then getting low at the turnpoint and on the way back and having to settle for whatever was available just to stay in the race.

Pilots complained that the air was rough but I didn't notice that. I got bounced around a lot but I was concentrating and just wasn't that aware of the turbulence. When I'm in a competition the turbulence just doesn't seem to bother me that much, most of the time.

With the strong west wind this was no easy task. Pilots had to fight for every foot to the west to stay on course. Some pilots ended up way downwind to the east.

2017 Forbes Flatlands - day 2 »

December 31, 2016, 8:19:14 EST

2017 Forbes Flatlands - day 2

Straight to Wellington

André Wolfe|André Wolfe|Dragonfly|Forbes Flatlands 2017|John Smith|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Moyes Litespeed RX|Niki Longshore|Steve Blenkinsop|Yoko Isomoto

Vicki writes:

We started late to allow more time for the paddock to dry out. The entrance to the paddock was still boggy at noon so only four wheel drives were allowed in. Parking was by the fence so no cars on the airfield. We had 15 pilots in the early bird launch that towed 15 minutes before the ordered launch started at 2. We have 69 pilots entered in the Open class and 7 in the Sport Class with 6 Dragonflys. We got the whole field away in just under 1.5 hours with about 6 reflys on each line. Launch conditions made everything run smoothly.

Tyler in first, Jonas third. Yoko, Niki, Alexandra short.

# Name Glider Time Total
1 Tyler Borrdaile   02:13:36 1000
2 Lukas Bader Moyes Litespeed RS4 02:13:56 986
3 Jonas Lobitz   02:13:59 985
4 Steve Blenkinsop Moyes Litespeed RX3.5 Technora 02:14:27 975
5 John Smith   02:18:46 916
6 Nils Vesk   02:22:06 882
7 Jonny Durand   02:24:43 859
7 Josh Woods   02:24:44 859
9 Michael Jackson   02:25:12 855
10 Andre Wolf   02:25:42 851

Rain on day 3 and task cancelled.

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Christmas in Forbes

December 25, 2016, 8:42:49 EST

Christmas in Forbes

Away from the mountain (of food) in Grong Grong

Alexandra "Sasha" Serebrennikova|Dragonfly|Facebook|Tullio Gervasoni|Yoko Isomoto

Tullio Gervasoni sends:

Couldn't have been a better Christmas day: race to goal to Grong Grong, 186 km, cloudbase 2700 meters with Yoko, Gerolf, Alexandra Serebrennikova.

Far away from the useless mountain of food and Panettoni, from the last minute gift and all the related bullshit. Special thanks to Marco Carelli for having delayed his Christmas lunch and doing the right job with the Dragonfly.

Merry Christmas, my friends

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Quadcopters hauling us up?

December 23, 2016, 8:39:38 EST

Quadcopters hauling us up?

In response to the video of the snowboarder flying and being towed


Carson Capaul <<justfly25>> writes:

I've been waiting for years to propose this: I think it's finally time that the hang gliding community can start to ponder being towed by a multicopter. While it might be possible to get a "tow" from a multicopter just like a dragonfly, prop wash may be an issue. Even if prop wash isn't an issue it's more technically challenging to tow a hang glider up, rather than vertically lift it into the air like a hot air balloon then doing a balloon drop.

So I envision the multicopter doing a "multicopter drop". The standard functions that are already available to quadcopters like "fly a predetermined path" and "return to home" would eliminate the need for a tow pilot to be involved in the tow. Just before the multicopter releases the hang glider from tow it could engage in a mild descent to help the hang glider transition to flying and reduce the tendency for the tow line to spring back into the rotors of the multicopter. A half pound weight at the hang glider end of the line might fix this "spring back" if it turned out to be a problem or maybe a tow line needs to evolve into a flexible tow tube?

Several years ago I knew I'd be dismissed as a crack pot for an idea like this. But if you watch the video below it no longer takes much imagination to see what I believe is the future of hang gliding...

The benefits are big and could compound into making hang gliding more accessible in a time of lost flying sites and reduced membership.

1. Small groups of pilots could probably afford a multicopter tug for their local club

2. Only the pilot being towed needs to show up at the field that day.

3. No tug pilot means that only one person risks life and limb instead of two. Imagine getting even just one tow pilot back that we've lost over the years.

4. The electricity for tows would be very cheap.

5. Maintenance would be dirt simple, fast and less costly than a dragonfly.

6. Safer. No lock out. Increased reliability through many electric motors.

7. Because a small group of pilots could operate out of an unmanicured field on the cheap then it would be reasonable to postulate that small clubs would crop up all over the place and make hang gliding more accessible than it ever has been. This along with less dependency on wind direction and speed for launching just might be what hang gliding has needed all of these years to actually increase membership.

8. It's also hard to deny how the "cool factor" of a multicoptor tow would impress onlookers and boost membership.

My goal is to stimulate conversation within the hang gliding community so that maybe a person (or group of people) with the right talent and money can bring hang gliding into the future that it's inevitably already heading for, and do this sooner rather than later.

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2017 Forbes Flatlands »

December 2, 2016, 8:20:29 PST

2017 Forbes Flatlands

Sixty nine pilots signed up

Dragonfly|Forbes Flatlands 2017

Vicki writes:

We have sixty nine confirmed entries for Forbes. We have six confirmed Dragonfly's. If you are thinking of coming please register, so we know if we need to organise more tugs, plus the entry fee increases to $400 from Wednesday, so get in and register.

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Dragonfly accident

December 1, 2016, 9:37:54 PST

Dragonfly accident


Dragonfly|George Sychrovsky|video

“Preliminary investigation shows that the ultra-light aircraft lost its balance and crashed after a rope tied to a hang-glider snapped while being pulled by the aircraft,” informed Inspector Mohanmani Adhikari of Baidam Police Post, adding that massive amount of blood loss due to head injury ultimately led to the death of the pilot.

Thanks to George Sychrovsky.

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July 6, 2016, 8:09:22 MST GMT-0600


Your location

David Glover|Dragonfly

David Glover <<Davidhglover>> writes:



Interesting what the three word location for the Zapata county airport.

To display this location, enter the 3 words into the search bar on or you can click the link above.

To get directions to this location, choose a mapping website from the "share" buttons on the what3words website or app.

If you don't yet have the what3words app, we currently have apps for both Android and iOS devices which you can download for free from Google Play or the App Store.

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2016 World Record Encampment »

June 20, 2016, 8:49:44 MST GMT-0600

2016 World Record Encampment

It has started

Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly|Dustin Martin|Gary Osoba|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|record|weather|World Record Encampment 2016

Jonny Durand's attempt to break Dustin Martin's 475 mile world record for flex wing open distance is on in Zapata. Jonny is there. Bobby Bailey is there. Mick Howard with his Dragonfly and trike is there. The Red Bull filming crew is there.

They apparently don't have the liability insurance issue dealt with completely yet. But hopefully by Wednesday, when the conditions look good, it'll all the taken care of.

The Weather Channel filming crew isn't there yet. Maybe they are just going to rely on the Red Bull crew.

On or soon after Monday (June 20), Jonny Durand will attempt to glide from Zapata, in southern Texas, to Lorenzo, in northern Texas, a distance of about 475 miles (764 kilometers). Aiding him on his journey — on (or around) the summer solstice, the longest day of the year — are what may be the most ideal atmospheric conditions for long-distance hang-gliding on Earth.

Zapata is also home to winds "that blow in a pretty straight line for a long distance," Durand said. "It's why world hang-gliding records have been set here for the past 15, 16 years."

"[At] most places on Earth, weather systems change every few hundred miles or so, but by Zapata, the winds are very strong and steady for 500 miles or more in a straight line," said Gary Osoba, an aerospace engineer and atmospheric physicist who recently retired from Google. Osoba previously set numerous world gliding records himself.

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Bobby spinning on the Dragonfly

May 12, 2016, 10:45:05 EST GMT-0400

Bobby spinning on the Dragonfly

Bill got a ride

Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly|spin|video

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Dragonfly training

March 31, 2016, 9:14:50 EST GMT-0400

Dragonfly training

The Russians trade work for training

Dragonfly|Evgeniya "Zhenya" Laritskaya|Facebook

Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly|Evgeniya "Zhenya" Laritskaya|Facebook

Evgeniya Laritskaya with Andrey Solomyki and Bobby Bailey.

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Excess equipment sale

March 23, 2016, 8:47:07 EST GMT-0400

Excess equipment sale

Cloud Nine also needs to offload scooter towing and more

Dragonfly|Facebook|Risk Retention Group|scooter tow|Tracy Tillman

Dr. Tracy Tillman, <Cloud9SA> writes:

We have a complete scooter tow system for sale, including six gliders, training harnesses, etc. $15000. It includes everything needed to start a scooter tow business/school. We also have a Dragonfly tug engine for sale. See our Cloud 9 For Sale Facebook page at:

We are just selling the scooter tow system. We have used it in the past to teach foot launch/foot landing, but it really isn't any better for that than the small hill we have on the property. And with this new RRG/PASA insurance system, we will need to pay incremental insurance to insure the scooter tow system if we are planning to use it. We don't use it enough to justify the incremental cost of the insurance, so we are going to sell it. We're like the other major aerotow operations, and don't find scooter towing all that helpful.

With respect to the 912S for sale, we have gone to using exclusively to using 914's (and makes maintenance easier when both tugs are configured in the same way), and we have this 912S that we aren't using, so we are selling that as well.

Kate Griffin goes solo

February 17, 2016, 8:26:35 EST

Kate Griffin goes solo

A new tug pilot


Congratulations to Kate Griffin who soloed the Dragonfly for the first time this evening! She's been at Quest for hang gliding and Dragonfly instruction and looking forward to returning to Wisconsin as a fully qualified tug pilot.

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Highland Aerosports⁣ wants to hire a Dragonfly pilot

Mon, Feb 15 2016, 8:01:41 am EST

Fly in Beautiful Maryland this Spring, Summer and Fall

Dragonfly|Highland Aerosports Flight Park

We wanted to give everyone an update on Highland’s current situation. We’re currently still searching for a tug pilot for the 2016 season. In the event that we cannot find someone to tow for us, we will be unable to operate. We will continue searching throughout this month, but if we don’t find someone that can commit, we will be forced to shut down. With our current rent situation, we cannot afford to stay located at RJD without flight operations. If anyone has any leads on a qualified pilot looking for work, please let us know.

As some of you may have heard, the sale of the Ridgely airport closed at the end of January. With the change of owners, we’ve had a very substantial increase in rent and decrease in hangar space. This means we will unfortunately need to increase some prices if we are able to continue operations. We will have more news on that after we finalize our tug pilot situation.

We’ve also been exploring locations for a new base of operations without much success. We will continue to look for more affordable accommodations throughout the coming weeks. If we can’t continue our operations at RJD or another location, we will unfortunately be forced to liquidate our assets and cease operations.

If anyone has any questions at this time, please refrain from calling us as we’re still away from the phone for the winter. Please send us an email to «hanglide» and we’ll try to respond in a timely manner. We will also keep a more active eye on the forum and respond accordingly. We will update you with information as it becomes available.

Cowboy Up in Texas

December 29, 2015, 8:07:42 EST

Cowboy Up in Texas

Their new home hangar


We are so excited about moving into our new BIG hangar at the Wharton Airport. We have been working to get is up to speed; the glider storage racks are almost complete with room for 40 gliders, and we are just about at max now.

It'll hold the two Dragonfly planes, two tandem gliders, the trike, along with a complete work bench, a comfortable office area, with refrigerator, welcome desk, seating, carpeting, restroom facility and a big flat screen smart tv.

What's really great is our big hangar doors open directly onto our field. We'll give you peek inside once it's all complete - we've been putting the final touches on it for the past two weeks.

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Hang Glide Miami⁣ is Expanding »

Thu, Dec 3 2015, 7:41:45 am MST

Dragonfly near Miaimi.

Dragonfly|Hang Glide Miami

Eric Williams, the owner of Hang Glide Miami, writes:

Well after two great years Hang Glide Miami is expanding. Aero towing is coming to south Florida.

I dropped the plane at Quest last night for engine swapping and complete go through. Russell is quite busy but I've got my fingers trying to work some magic. To put new 912s.

Between Rhett and Joel and Russell. Hoping we can knock it out but not pushing. Just can't wait to fly it.

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Tandem Hang Gliding Flights In Nepal

November 19, 2015, 8:50:34 PST

Tandem Hang Gliding Flights In Nepal

Towing in high mountains


Sujan Puri, Pilot of Avia Club Nepal, <<e.sujanpuri>> writes:

We are happy to inform you that we have started our hang glider towing operation and also glad to inform you that we have added a new Dragonfly by Bailey Moyes to our fleet, especially for the hang glider towing. We had the privilege to work with Bob Bailey the chief designer of Dragonfly on assembling the aircraft and test flight. After completing, he was kind enough to train some of our pilots on the machine.

We became the first and only one company in Nepal, which provides hang gliding tandem flights.

We invite solo pilots to experience the beauty of Himalaya flights!

Here are the video link of Dragonfly and hang gliding operation:

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Bobby in the Dragonfly

September 4, 2015, 1:56:50 pm MDT

Bobby in the Dragonfly

A Rhythm

Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly|Facebook|video

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Thinking about flying

August 12, 2015, 2:59:22 pm MDT

Thinking about flying

Lessons provided by Big Spring

Dragonfly|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr

1. I need to go back to bare feet. Even with Vibram Five Fingers my feet hurt in the harness. Maybe I can just adjust the shoulder straps for a little more room. If I can bend my knees the feet don't hurt. The pain is a great distraction and I isolate it, but I'm sure that it makes for impatience and cuts down on the enjoyment.

2. I've often flown near (enough) to cu-nimbs and rain. Flying near one near Ridgely at the 2015 ECC unnerved me because the air was rocking, just a little, but enough to spook me. Made me think that something bad would happen a bit later.

I flew much closer to the one on the first day of the 2015 Big Spring Nationals, in fact I flew into the rain. The air was smooth and it felt fine as I got closer and closer, as I attempted to get to the turnpoint, but as I went passed the point where I was climbing 600 fpm in light rain as I started to drift downwind from the turnpoint to the north on the east side of the turnpoint I turned and raced toward it and deeper into the rain. That's when the air turned very turbulent, but I was on a mission.

Seems the lesson is that you can turn in rain and go up if the air feels solid and smooth but you might consider not pushing that too much.

3. On the second day towing behind Bobby in a 583 Dragonfly I was disappointed to be circling with him in 100 fpm (with his climb rate of 400 fpm, that means 300 fpm down air). I saw a guy a bit further off circling under the only nearby cloud but Bobby wouldn't go to him even when I twanged the rope.

I got off lower than 2,000' and headed straight for the turning pilot to find no lift. Never did find lift. Landed in the start cylinder.

Now it was a day that most everyone did poorly but perhaps I should give Bobby the benefit of the doubt and stay with him. Perhaps on such a day (I knew it was weak) I should stay near the launch in case I needed another chance.

4. Towed up by Tiki on the third day. I felt that she was flying too slow and therefore I was flying too slow. To get her to speed up I should have pulled in and gotten below her to signal to her to speed up.

We hit some funky air, the line bellied, and for the first time ever I snapped a 200 pound weak link.

5. I went up again this time behind Jonny in a 914. It was a windy day with poor thermals and I didn't find one. I've just got to be a lot more diligent on windy days. Got up a third time.

6. Excellent pilots have excellent eye sight. I don't. 20/20, not 20/10, with glasses (bifocals for reading the instruments). If I could see more lift indicators (say pilots further away) that would help.

7. I'll check the VG to be sure that I can pull it in all the way. On the last day it seemed to be that I couldn't. Maybe a little Sailkote is in order on the keel.

8. Have the task committee call tasks over drier ground.

9. I am much better at flying in strong conditions by climbing fast and then gliding at 45 to 55 mph instead of 35 to 40 mph. On the sixth day I flew very fast averaging with climbs 75 kph for the first hour and forty minutes until the lift shut down. But it was the next hour and a half that was the most memorable.

I had a strategy for the first part of the flight staying upwind of the course line but I abandoned that strategy when it looked like I was flying into a blue hole. I saw little wispies down wind and flew to them as my best chance of getting up high enough to get to goal.

I was able to get up and get a lot closer to goal even though I didn't make it all the way. I really enjoyed the very light lift conditions and dealing with the fact that I was being blown away from the goal at 19 mph. Of course, the air was smooth (which it really always is in Big Spring, but in this case especially so).

10. On the last day I was doing great until I missed the best part of the core that my compatriots found without me noticing for a couple of minutes (no one was below me). That left me alone and working weak lift as I watched my fellow pilots head off.

I followed when the lift decreased and watched to see if they would find something. When I didn't see anything promising I was thinking about the time a few days earlier when six of us in the lead just flew until we hit the ground. All spread out but going no where.

I took a different route than the five pilots ahead of me, downwind again, but toward more promising ground features (a pond to disrupt the wind flow). It was only 94 fpm and I was only 1,500' AGL but that worked well enough to get me back to all my buds on the ground short of goal. Also that marked a thermal for Larry so he could win the day.

Peter Kelley, among others, points out that again we flew every day that we were there, in this case eight days out of eight. Even when Big Spring isn't at its best we fly.

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Leaving Big Spring

August 11, 2015, 7:18:18 MDT

Leaving Big Spring

A few photos

competition|Dragonfly|Gary Osoba|photo|Russell "Russ" Brown

Gary Osoba fueling Russell Brown's Dragonfly, final day's launch sequence.

2015 Flytec Race and Rally - day 7 »

May 23, 2015, 5:13:36 pm EDT

2015 Flytec Race and Rally - day 7

A little bit too gusty at the Souther field

Davis Straub|Dragonfly|Dustin Martin|Flytec Race and Rally 2015|James Stinnett|Jeff Shapiro|John Simon|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Moyes Litespeed RX|Oleg Bondarchuk|Quest Air|Wills Wing T2C

Mitch Shipley, the meet director, called the day after taking the Dragonfly up and finding the wind a bit too gusty below 2,000'. Hot with no cu's did not entice us into the sky either. Pilots have had a great couple of comps and had no crying need to get into the air again given the uninviting conditions.

Final results:

1 Jonny Durand Moyes Litespeed RX3.5 4,404.584
2 Oleg Bondarchuk Aeros Combat-12.7 C 4,213.46
3 Pedro Garcia Wills Wing T2C 144 3,949.843
4 Davis Straub Wills Wing T2C 144 3,845.49
5 Jonas Lobitz Moyes Litespeed RS3.5 3,813.288
6 Jeff Shapiro Wills Wing T2C 144 3,712.532
7 James Stinnett Wills Wing T2C 3,645.832
8 John Simon Aeros Combat L15 3,573.952
9 Malcolm Brown Wills Wing T2C 144 3,554.819
10 Dustin Martin Wills Wing T2C 144 3,546.051

On Thursday night Naviter changed the Soaring Spot and SeeYou with an upgrade that caused problems for scoring. Mitch had to stay up until three in the morning to get things working. It was all okay by 7 AM on Saturday morning

Jonny and Oleg changed spots from the Quest Air Open National Championships. Pedro from Spain entered this competition but not the Quest Air Open. The top three US pilots were: Davis Straub, Jeff Shapiro, and James Stinnett. John Simon, who we often see at the ECC, was fourth in the US.

Bent Dragonfly

April 4, 2015, 11:06:21 EDT

Bent Dragonfly

Jonny has a darn hard landing

Dragonfly|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Quest Air

Yesterday Jonny Thompson collapsed the landing gear on one of the Quest Air Dragonflies and put the plane on its nose. Jonny was "okay" but he is pretty sore today.

Jonny was towing a kingposted pilot south in 5 to 10 mph winds down the north south long runway when the engine coughed. He was drifting to the east and thought that the pilot had released behind him after he waved him off). He was low and attempted a 180 degree turn and didn't quite make it around. The pilot had not released (it in up to the tow pilot to released the towee when the tow plane has a problem and Jonny failed to do this) and Jonny felt the tug of the hang glider pilot just when he least expected it.

Coming around (I watched the whole thing), the left wheel dug into the ground and the landing gear collapsed on that side. As the wheel came down to the ground I thought that he was going to be able to do a one wheel landing as I've seen many times here, but the rod holding the wheel collapsed. The other wheel hit the ground as did the nose of the Dragonfly.

The cage around the pilot did not collapse and Jonny was immediately out of the plane and walking. I was the first one there on my bike but within a second others were there on motorized craft, including Mark Frutiger in the club car and Jim Prahl in another Dragonfly.

Jonny is quite sore but nothing was broke. He came in slow from not very high.

Russell will have the Dragonfly rebuilt over the next couple of weeks. It has already been torn down to small pieces (with two hours after the incident).

Didn't want to report on this yesterday as Jonny asked everyone not to until he spoke with Linda, his wife.

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The pilot's story

March 31, 2015, 8:23:29 EDT

The pilot's story

We get more details of the minor accident at Quest Air

cart|Dragonfly|Quest Air

Pablo Miller <<pozablo>> writes:

That I had never flown or towed with a Sport 2 is true. It is also true (and horrifying to me) that I was out of control as a result of misjudging my skill and the conditions. The stitches in my chin, the soreness in my neck, and a broken down tube are irrefutable evidence. And true that I'd had only a few solos in the last 20 years, the first was 18 months ago at Valle del Bravo after a single check-out tandem with Rudy Gotes. Some months later I had about 3 tandem aerotows in Texas but didn’t solo due to strong winds. Last May I had about 5 tandems at QuestAir with Spinner. Then 3 solo aerotows there.

But, please allow me to correct some misinformation/misunderstanding in your report of my behavior.

I have racked my brain to figure out how anybody could say that I have ever been anything but humble in my conversations with other pilots, or how anyone could say that I had to be talked out of flying on Saturday.

Out of all the conversations with other more experience pilots, two come back to me as possibilities.

The first conversation took place on Saturday. The winds were strong, about 15 mph at ground level as I recall, but right down the runway and did not seem gusty. I was asking a couple pilots what made that dangerous. I repeatedly stated that I was not arguing, or contesting their opinion. I just wanted to fully understand. Of course, when they reminded me that A) if it did get gusty while I was up, it would be really nasty, and B) the wind gradient could be strong, and C) at altitude the Dragonfly probably wouldn’t even be able to pull me upwind of the field.




How anybody could interpret that as “had to be talked out of flying” is beyond me. I never even pulled my glider out of the container on Saturday.

In the other conversation, I had mentioned to another pilot that when I soloed almost a year ago at QuestAir, the only glider they had for me was the Falcon 195. I related that I found it too large, and was not much fun to fly. I live in Mexico, and purchased a Falcon 170 believing that after a long time away from flying I needed something really easy. I told him it was very fun but, as you no doubt know, flying at Valle del Bravo felt a bit unsafe with the low penetration of the Falcon. Then he told me he was flying a Falcon, and I thought “way to go, Pablo. Foot in mouth”. Maybe he interpreted it as arrogant.

By the way, the first thing I did after releasing on my first flight in the 195 was to practice getting upright and steering from there. It was very difficult, and I chose to actually land on the wheels.

Before the next flight I asked several people about it. Spinner hung me from the static set-up, and he adjusted my harness properly. The next two flights I made very nice foot landings, with only a couple steps. After that, I did feel confident that I could safely handle a slightly more advanced wing. My previous glider, albeit years ago, was a heavy clunky Moyes GTR which I flew with the original DragginFlyers before we lost the ranch in Wildwood, Florida.

I truly believe that it would not be possible to find anyone who knows or has known me or even spoken briefly with me who would say that I am arrogant, or that I think that I can "handle anything”. While many pilots protect their confidence by saying, when somebody screws up, “that could never happen to me because _____ and _____ and ____” . I assure you that whether it’s fuel mismanagement, downwind stall, or CFIT, I have never ever even thought that, much less said it.

The reason I didn’t get off in the morning yesterday was that I took a very long time carefully setting up my glider. After preflighting, I asked two other more experienced Sport 2 owners, plus Jim Prahl, to look it over to check whether I had done so correctly. By that time, the wind had picked up indeed.

Before that flight yesterday, I expressed to at least four other pilots that I was more nervous about this flight than any other flight in my life. Just before the tow, the tug pilot did say that it was getting a bit rough, but absolutely nobody I spoke with tried to dissuade me from launching. Please do not interpret this as my blaming them, or saying they should have. As PIC, I absolutely accept full absolute responsibility for my poor decision.

Per the manual, I had the VG at ½ on the cart, but on the tug-pilot’s advice reduced it to about 1/3. Not long after leaving the cart, I realized I was a bit high, and pulled in so as not to adversely affect the tug. I then felt a wing pick up and bumped to that side to get level. The glider did not react as I expected, and I bumped again. That was the beginning of the PIO. About 50-75’ above the trees, I pinned off. PIO continued, but seemed to be dampening, and the last thing I remember was A) trying unsuccessfully to release the VG in order to improve responsiveness, and B) thinking “damn, I gonna have to start getting upright”.

I have no memory after that until seeing the EMTs. Perhaps I tried a wheel -landing, but if you look at how the wheels on that glider are mounted, you can see this would have been really stupid. So I'm truly puzzled.

Clearly I should have focussed on aviating rather than messing with the VG, but I had tested it on hang-check and it didn’t seem to be a problem.

Davis, I ask you to think about how it would affect my family if I had died, and the published was the only account of how it happened.

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Dragonfly Airsports

March 17, 2015, 8:16:57 EDT

Dragonfly Airsports

Learn to be a tug pilot

Dragonfly|Quest Air|video

Or take a discovery flight:

You can take flight with one of our Certified Flight Instructors and see what all the fun is about. It's open cockpit allows for incredible views, and if you like to take in air videos there are very few obstructions.

Originally designed and built in Florida as a hang glider tow plane, the Dragonfly started a new era in the sport. More flight parks opened and took advantage of the convenience of aerotowing.

The slow speeds at take-off and landing make this plane an excellent trainer. If you always wanted to fly a tail-wheel aircraft, this is the plane to start with.

Due to the slow flying speed, the Dragonfly is the world’s most favored hang gliding towing aircraft and has been sold to 12 different countries.

Dragonfly Airsports provides training for new pilots who would like to lean to tow gliders and provide advance instruction to new tow pilots.

Anyone can take a flight with one of our three onsite advance tow pilot instructors and enjoy the open cockpit view.

There has been so much instruction going on here lately with three pilots learning to be tug pilots (in addition to Tim) and two more learning to be tandem 3 pilots.

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Mark Knight - a tribute »

February 23, 2015, 9:59:49 EST

Mark Knight - a tribute

One year ago

Dragonfly|Mark Knight|video

Mark passed away a year ago tomorrow in an accident while flying his Dragonfly aircraft. I combed my videos and other sources for footage of him. It is great to remember the wonderful person and great friend he was to so many. Best wishes to Marla and to Mark's extended family. Hopefully they and many others will enjoy seeing him and hearing his voice once again. We miss you buddy.

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2015 Green Swamp Sport Klassic »

January 12, 2015, 8:57:42 EST

2015 Green Swamp Sport Klassic

Pay by February 15th for the least cost

Dragonfly|Green Swamp Sport Klassic 2015|Quest Air

The first deadline is only a month away.

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Dolores soloed officially in the Dragonfly

December 19, 2014, 7:01:17 pm EST

Dolores soloed officially in the Dragonfly

Going for her private pilot's license

Dragonfly|Quest Air|Timothy Ettridge

Timothy Ettridge writes:

It's official! Dolores has been soloed in the Dragonfly by CFII Jason Almeter from Apopka Aviation and Flight Services. Next up: working towards her Private Pilot's License with Jason in a Cessna 150.

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2015 US competitions open for registration

2015 US competitions open for registration

As of noon EST December 15th

competition|Dragonfly|Quest Air

Dragonfly AeroSports

December 15, 2014, 7:35:32 EST

Dragonfly AeroSports

Learn to fly the Dragonfly

Bobby Bailey|Campbell Bowen|Dragonfly|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Quest Air|Rhett Radford

Jim Prahl and Jonny Thompson <<seaswept>> write:

Dragonfly Aerosports is again offering intro flights, Sport Pilot training and Tug Pilot training in the Pittman Air Dragonfly. This is the airplane that has been towing hang gliders into the sky since Bobby Bailey and Campbell Bowen first designed and built the Dragonfly here in Florida, but with a Special Light Sport Airworthiness Certificate which makes it legal to use for training and tours or introductory flights.

Our Instructors, Bobby Bailey, Jim Prahl, and Jonny Thompson are three of the most experienced Dragonfly pilots, south of Rhett Radford, who teaches in Massachusetts.

We are open seven days a week and operate at the premier hang gliding flight park, Quest Air Soaring Center in Groveland Florida. Foreign pilots are welcome. Two of our instructors are registered with AFSP and cleared to train students who are not US citizens. It takes two or three weeks for foreign applicants to clear the requirements, please call if you have any questions.

Come take a lesson, a ride, or begin a new career as a hang gliding tug pilot or refine you towing skills to become the best tug pilot you can. For further information or to schedule a flight call: Jim Prahl at (352) 516-8618 or Jonny Thompson at (252) 207-9597 The Dragonfly AeroSports web site is under construction. Feel free to e-mail: Jim Prahl <jim> or Jonny Thompson <seaswept>.

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2014 Big Spring Nationals

August 10, 2014, 9:49:40 CDT

2014 Big Spring Nationals

Day seven, task seven

Bruce Barmakian|Dragonfly|Greg Kendall|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Moyes Litespeed RX|Robin Hamilton|US Nationals 2014|Wills Wing|Wills Wing T2C|Zac Majors!day_7


With the scores very tight after six days of flying the task committee had to call a real and difficult task while still making the retrieves reasonably quick to get us back in time for the closing awards at 11 PM.

They decided on a zig and a zag up to Lamesa:

This is how tight things were:

The totals after six tasks:

1. Turner Derreck USA Moyes Litespeed S5 4969.05
2. Majors Zac USA Wills Wing T2C 144 4813.33
3. Bilyk Michael USA Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 4761.94
4. Barmakian Bruce USA Wills Wing T2C 136 4719.77
5. Hamilton Robin USA Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 4709.43
6. Straub Davis USA Wills Wing T2 - 144 4693.75
7. Opsanger Olav NOR Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 4579.74

I held on on tow and Jonny Thompson dragged me to a 400 fpm thermal to the west of the airport. Later he would thermal the Dragonfly with the engine off from 2,000' to 10,000' where he had to get down because he was not dressed for 42 degrees. (I wore 6 layers each day and had the hood from the Flytec speed sleeves on).

The wind was 16 to 18 mph out of the south southeast so the last leg would prove to be a bit difficult. Of course, the point was to find strong lift, get high and overcome the wind.

We were able to start again near cloud base. Zac, again was a little higher and soon got out in front of me. There wasn't much good lift until we got close to Ackerly, the first turnpoint, twenty nine kilometers past the edge of the start cylinder. Zac and Greg Kendall were circling above me and although the lift was not as strong as I expected (it averaged 400 fpm) we had a good reason to stay there waiting to get high enough to make it to the next widely spaced cu. Derreck and Bruce came in under me and we hung there until I left first at 10,000'.

I wasn't at all concerned with flying with any one as there were plenty of cu's ahead and I wanted a chance to catch Zippy ahead. The next thermal was much better and averaged almost 800 fpm. I saw 1000+ fpm on the vario for long stretches. Nice and smooth also.

I caught a brief glimpse of Bruce in the next thermal then lost him for the rest of the flight. Derreck came under me for the next couple of thermals and I ran away from him as fast as I could but appreciated the help finding the better cores as he was not too far below me.

As I approached the 35 km radius turnpoint cylinder there was plenty of strong lift and Derreck came in under again. I found the better core and out climbed him taking the turnpoint south (upwind) of the non optimized course line and much further south of the optimized course line (to keep myself upwind on the last leg).

I went back toward where I got up but to the north where there were still good cu's and didn't find the lift I had been in. Derreck would take a little bit more southerly route and find stronger lift.

There was a set of clouds perpendicular to the winds along half the course line toward Lamesa. I got under them 30 km from goal. I was 5 km ahead of Derreck but he was 2,500' higher after taking the turnpoint. He got 2 km ahead as we topped out in separate thermals 20 km from goal at 10,000'.

I was a little more cautious getting into goal and came in third after Zac and Derreck.

Zac won the day and the meet (by 11 point) by flying fast and getting to goal 11 minutes faster than Derreck. Twenty pilots in goal so the wind didn't cause all but a couple of pilots a problem on the last leg.

Dragonfly crash

August 6, 2014, 8:08:39 CDT

Dragonfly crash

Pilot safe, Dragonfly being repaired

Dragonfly|Larry Jorgensen|Scott Silver

On July 7, 2014, about 2020 Pacific daylight time, an ultralight Bailey-Moyes Microlights Dragonfly B, N7008Z, impacted trees after the pilot activated the onboard parachute near Flying H Ranch Airport, Buckley, Washington. Private individuals owned and operated the ultralight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot sustained minor injuries; the ultralight was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The pilot departed Burnett Landing Airport, Wilkeson, Washington about 2000 for a local personal flight.

The pilot reported that about 15 minutes after departure, he was maneuvering the ultralight to the west of Flying H Ranch Airport. While maneuvering at an airspeed of about 33-34 mph, the pilot initiated a right turn. The ultralight then assumed a nose-low attitude with the right wing low. The pilot felt no feedback pressure on the control stick and determined that there was a flight control malfunction. He activated the onboard BRS emergency parachute when the ultralight was about 100 feet above the trees. The ultralight subsequently collided with the trees and came to rest inverted about .4 nautical miles from the airport.

The wreckage was recovered for further examination.

Larry Jorgensen <<jorgensensfly>> writes:

No not me but some good friends. They bought the tug from Scott, Dave and Aaron in Oregon. I have been flying with them a bunch taught them how to tow etc. They let a friend fly it who felt something weird on final. He was low so deployed the chute. We could not find anything wrong. Maybe got a little slow and was pretty low near the trees, may have encountered some turbulence. They are repairing the tug and should be back in the air soon.

Thanks to Scott Silver.

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Sonora Wings Sale

July 10, 2014, 9:52:42 MDT

Sonora Wings Sale

Mark Knight's aerotow operation in Casa Grande

Dragonfly|Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson <opensky> writes:

Very pleased to announce that the sale of Sonora Wings has been recently finalized. The new owners are Luke and Crissy Waters, both have worked at Cowboy-up in Wyoming the last few years, and also spent a season down here in Arizona flying the Dragonfly with Mark. They will be operating at the Ak-Chin airport, formally Phoenix Regional, the same location, and they expect to be up and running for the Santa Cruz Flats Race.

Sonora Wings will continue to operate full time Sept-April/May focusing on tandems, solos and aero tow instruction. The Arizona crew certainly wishes them all the best! More info to follow.

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2014 Santa Cruz Flats Race »

June 14, 2014, 6:52:10 pm CDT

2014 Santa Cruz Flats Race

Registration is open

Dragonfly|Santa Cruz Flats Race 2014

Santa Cruz Flats Race - Mark Knight Memorial We're looking forward to another great year of flying the Santa Cruz Flats region from September 14-20, 2014.

As many would know, we lost a hang gliding pioneer and dear friend, Mark Knight, to a Dragonfly accident a few months ago. Mark was an incredibly skilled pilot, great fun guy and one of the local pilots that made this whole event possible. He is so missed and we want to dedicate this event to him and the example he set for all of us with his kindness and great attitude.

Come help us celebrate his life and all that he gave to our sport! His death has left a giant void in the hang gliding community here and we believe it is likely that this will be the last year that we run the Santa Cruz Flats Race. Let's all get together one last time, remember his giant smile and raise our glasses to a great flying buddy.

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2014 East Coast Championship

Mon, Jun 9 2014, 9:30:56 am EDT

Happy sport class pilots

Dragonfly|East Coast Championships 2014|Highland Aerosports Flight Park

Many pilots had personal bests. First time at goal. Longest distance. Longest duration. Soraya Rios, our Venezuelan pilots, hit the trifecta on Task 7. Was she excited? Like just how excited was she.

Richard Milla had the longest sport class flight of 71 kilometers. Michelle Haag had her longest distance and duration on the last day. Six pilots made goal on the longest task.

There were many more personal bests and pilots were very excited about their flying in general.

Fourteen sport class pilots flew, more than the number in open class. They all learned how to download their track logs and mail them into the scorekeeper. They all improved their flying skills.

Highland Aerosports is a great venue of sport class pilots. Wide open fields. Very skilled Dragonfly pilots towing in mellow air.

Dragonfly pilot training at Quest Air

April 4, 2014, 7:58:59 EDT

Dragonfly pilot training at Quest Air

Jonny and Mary

Dragonfly|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Quest Air|video

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The week at Quest Air

April 4, 2014, 7:51:42 EDT

The week at Quest Air

Just a full week

Bobby Bailey|Dean Funk|Dragonfly|photo|Quest Air

Kim <<info>> writes:

Quest Air is enjoying the sound of the Dragonfly as the success of the newest operation in flight takes off!! For the first time ever, we welcome our three new students buzzing through the air learning to fly in the open air cockpit of Bobby Bailey’s baby, the Purple Haze. Congratulations Jeff Walker, for your Dragonfly Solo today!

Quest welcomes U.S. National Champion and #1 US ranking hang gliding pilot in the country, Zac "Zippie" Majors, here to do an cross country clinic for members of the U.S. Sport Class Team! Zac brings high energy and excitement to the clinic format! His knowledge is widely sought after and his infectious passion for the sport is a great addition to Quest as an established resource of advanced training.

Flying has been great at Quest this week! We have experienced pilots from East to West training for the World's! From National Champions to aspiring novices, Quest has launched an average of forty tows per day this week! Favorite quote of the day was heard from Mike Pattishall from Kitty Hawk Kites "I have a lunch date with two bald eagles" ~followed by~ "This blue hole is going to turn into a street of clouds when I launch my lucky charms!"

Photos by Dean Funk

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Getting ready for the ⁢2014 Dalby Big Air Comp

Thu, Apr 3 2014, 8:25:31 am EDT

Fluffy clouds over damp ground

Dalby Big Air 2014|Dragonfly|Steve McCarthy|weather

Curt writes:

We just rolled into Dalby. Steve McCarthy has recently landed, flying Bill's dragonfly (that makes four I can see) from Gulgong. Soggy ground but BeAuTiFuL sky. We hope to see lots of pilots next week for the Dalby Big Air Comp!

Our only "dry" landing options today were the roads, and even that wasn't a sure thing… Good weather/flying today, though!

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March 31, 2014, 8:47:48 EDT


The extreme sports center of the South

Dragonfly|Quest Air|Zac Majors

People love extreme sports and bulk shopping. At Quest you get BOTH! Create your own adventure package at the Quest Air - The Super Center of Adventure! Shop for yourself or your Air Apparent, be an adrenaline junkie or we can call you mellow yellow…you have so many choices at Quest, the world’s only Flight Center offering Flyboarding, Hang Gliding and Dragonfly Light-Sport Discovery Tandems!

Zac Majors and Majo Gularte are here for fun.

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2014 pre-Worlds »

March 7, 2014, 11:49:18 pm EST

2014 pre-Worlds

Other views

Corinna Schwiegershausen|Dragonfly|Gordon Rigg|Jamie Shelden|PG|Pre-Worlds 2014|Rich Lovelace

Only a 120ish km task for Day 6, but the gliders did it much faster than the drivers (some anyway). Goal was out on a beautiful plateau where Rudy Gotes' father has a Dragonfly airstrip. Generally an awesome place for goal and the pilots really loved the flight (I think they're starting to get used to the turbulence and really enjoy themselves).

Gordon Rigg writes about the sixth day:

So the flying here in Valle is not to everyone's taste. The thermals are very powerful and they are particularly rough near launch. This is the case with high altitude dry air. This time of year it's too rough for a paragliding event. The hangies can handle it well enough, but we are still left with the problems of landing when it's rough. Those arriving at goal early are sometimes flying another hour to land later when it's calmed off!

There have been a few landing injuries but it seems so far Rob Gregg's broken arm is the worst. Flying the course requires a balance of adventurism and caution. Keeping landing possibilities open. There is often several kilometers of unlandable terrain to cross. Also there is an inherent risk just trying to land in one of the high 10,000ft valleys.

But I am finding the flying tremendous fun. I just wish I could be faster. Again I let the others get away, even though I was one of the  first round the second turnpoint on the sixth task, and I slipped from 12th to 13th overall. Wayne Thompson was in goal just in time today while Steven Blackler was close but ran out of time.

Photo by Jamie

Rich Lovelace writes:

Had a bouncy fly yesterday on the sixth task but threw caution to the wind and landed safe with a local pilot who explained the conditions we are experiencing are far from normal. This was confirmed again this morning by yet another very experienced pilot who said it will get even worse as the days go on with the lack of clouds and the air getting even drier. The rough and tumble flying is not really an issue, it's just when you have to land in it! That is why there are 24 pilots who have abandoned the competition, some forced others through choice of self preservation.

I was with one pilot yesterday groveling in the trees and to my amazement he went on a short glide to no landing in the hope there was lift! To me that is mad, totally mad. There could have been a very nasty accident trusting on luck but lucky luck was with him. It will run out one day.

Valle de Bravo is a lovely place. Not seen much as the days have been very busy, but what I have seen is really lovely with the most kind friendly people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I hope they will consider an earlier meet for the worlds proper not that I will be on the team as it is picked already.

The organisation, drivers, helpers have just been fantastic. James our driver for the practice days, even carried my glider and harness up the hill! I will say it again, the people here, even the poorer people living up in the mountains are just so happy, kind and warm. Less is for sure more. It's heart warming to experience but heart hurting to think us pale skins will ruin it in the not too distant future.

It's good to be in the goal early to call the glides required for the team, what's left of it, to get in on time, high enough and then get the beers in and maybe help unclip trapped pilots then carry gliders after trying to land on cows. It's been a good trip with no fall outs and everyone enjoying everyone's company and most helping out when and where they can.

So, my trusty T2C brought me through and I brought her through and now she is safe in a nice warm padded bag. New side wires for sure when we get home and a good bath! The take off is very harsh on equipment with the dust, rocks and trees and the flying harsh on pilots which includes my old mountain bike accident. To the physio on Monday.

2014 pre-Worlds »

March 6, 2014, 10:19:40 pm EST

2014 pre-Worlds

The results

Alexandra "Sasha" Serebrennikova|Christian Ciech|Corinna Schwiegershausen|Davide Guiducci|Dragonfly|Filippo Oppici|Gordon Rigg|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Moyes Litespeed RX|Paris Williams|Pre-Worlds 2014|Suan Selenati|Tullio Gervasoni|Wills Wing|Wills Wing T2C|Zac Majors

Dennis and Efren flew in Efren's Dragonfly to goal. They stated that everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves. Antoine reported the strongest thermal that he had ever been in at 7 meters/second. Smooth.

The landing field was a grass air strip in a large grass filled valley. The task committee made a task that had landing fields in it all the way from the last turnpoint to goal, 15 km.

So maybe everyone will have a better attitude toward the flying here even with the higher level of turbulence today. It seems to be centered in the area of the launch.

Task 6 (Zac beat everyone by ten minutes):

# Name Nat Glider Time Total
1 Zac Majors USA Wills Wing T2C 144 02:32:45 1000
2 Jon Durand Jnr AUS MOYES LITESPEED RX 3.5 02:42:49 875
3 Christian Ciech ITA Icaro 02:43:36 859
4 Franz Hermann SUI Aeros Combat C 02:47:52 829
5 Gianpietro Zin FRA Icaro 02:54:22 774
5 Antoine Boisselier FRA Icaro 02:54:22 774
7 Pedro Luis Garcia Morelli ESP Wills Wing T2c 144 02:54:29 769
8 Gerd Dönhuber GER   02:57:24 741
9 Paris Williams USA AEROS COMBAT 02:58:42 734
10 Davide Guiducci ITA Wills Wing T2c 144 02:59:15 727
11 Filippo Oppici ITA Wills Wing T2c 144 02:59:25 723
12 Tullio Gervasoni ITA Wills Wing T2c 144 03:01:17 709
13 Laurent Thevenot FRA Wills Wing T2c 144 03:01:24 708
14 Rodolfo Gotes MEX   03:00:25 704
15 Joerg Bajewski GER Litespeed S5 03:03:34 688
16 Francois Isoard FRA   03:04:07 682
17 Tyler Borrdaile CAN WILLS WING T2C 03:05:20 678
18 Suan Selenati ITA Wills Wing T2c 144 03:06:14 673
19 Achim Vollmer GER   03:06:16 670
20 Jonas Lobitz NZL LITESPEED RS4 03:08:45 659
21 Mitch Shipley USA Wills Wing T2C 144 03:08:27 656
22 Anton Moroder ITA laminar Z913.2 03:10:30 646
23 David Segura MEX   03:20:42 600
24 Corinna Schwiegershausen GER Moyes Litespeed 3.5s 03:32:01 530
25 Alexandre Menard CAN Wills Wing T2c 144 03:32:42 529
25 Gordon Rigg GBR Moyes LitespeedS4 03:32:42 529
27 Kodaka Fumio JPN AEROS COMBAT 03:41:33 505
28 Rory Duncan AUS WILLS WING T2C 03:50:59 452
29 Rodrigo Alva Gomez MEX   03:52:37 447
30 Alexandra Serebrennikova RUS Moyes Litespeed S3 04:24:47 397
30 Wayne Thompson GBR WILLS WING T2C 04:23:49 397

Cumulative (Mario Alonzi hasn't downloaded yet):

# Name Nat Glider Total
1 Christian Ciech ITA Icaro 5372
2 Zac Majors USA Wills Wing T2C 144 5136
3 Antoine Boisselier FRA Icaro 5042
4 Jon Durand Jnr AUS MOYES LITESPEED RX 3.5 5011
5 Filippo Oppici ITA Wills Wing T2c 144 4978
6 Gerd Dönhuber GER   4683
7 Paris Williams USA AEROS COMBAT 4509
8 Gianpietro Zin FRA Icaro 4497
9 Pedro Luis Garcia Morelli ESP Wills Wing T2c 144 4460
10 Tullio Gervasoni ITA Wills Wing T2c 144 4407
11 Jonas Lobitz NZL LITESPEED RS4 4395
12 Mario Alonzi FRA AEROS COMBAT GT 4370
13 Gordon Rigg GBR Moyes LitespeedS4 4248
14 Davide Guiducci ITA Wills Wing T2c 144 4244
15 Laurent Thevenot FRA Wills Wing T2c 144 4091
16 Joerg Bajewski GER Litespeed S5 4022
17 Rodolfo Gotes MEX   4006
18 Suan Selenati ITA Wills Wing T2c 144 3953
19 Valentino Bau ITA   3753
20 Takashi Sunama JPN   3714

Mark Knight dies in Dragonfly crash

Mon, Feb 24 2014, 8:23:27 am EST

I assume at the Phoenix Regional airport northwest of Francisco Grande

Dragonfly|fatality|Mark Knight|video|Matt Barker|aerotow

Mark Knight

Matt Barker writes:

He was getting ready to land the tug yesterday evening and it spun in and we lost Mark.


An eye witness reports:

Buzzing the field low to drop the tow rope after a busy day towing. Suddenly the nose went up very steeply, the plane turned left, three spirals then impact. Dragonfly hasn't been moved. Not sure if linkage broke or what happened to cause the nose to rise up.

So this could be an issue of the plane breaking.

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Conquering the Bight

Tue, Feb 4 2014, 4:06:23 pm EST

Conquering the Bight

The day by day story of how Jonny set his world records

Dragonfly|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Jon Durand jnr|record|Steve Blenkinsop

The full story here.

January 17, 2014

Late on Friday night, Jonny Durand Jnr and Brenden Sadgrove showed up at Steve Blenkinsop's house in Adelaide, South Australia, in the Red Bull Land Rover Defender pulling the trailer which contains a Moyes Bailey Dragonfly. They had driven for fourteen hours from Forbes, NSW, Australia, where they picked up the trailer, on their way to Eucla, Western Australia. The great adventure to set new world records for out and return speed (and perhaps distance) had begun.

January 18, 2104

Jonny and Brenden drove 700+ km to Penong just west of Ceduna to stop for a visit with old time hang glider pilot, Drew Cooper.

January 19, 2014

Jonny and Brenden arrived in Eucla, about seven kilometers into Western Australia on the Eyre Highway (A1). Eucla, population maybe now about 40, is 500 km west of Ceduna and 700 km east of Norseman, the closest places with any population along the highway. They quickly got to know most of the folks in town (who all seemed to work for the hotel).

This is our headquarters for the next two weeks as we help Jonny set the new 100 km, 200 km, 300 km, 400 km (no record yet) speed records for out and return flights, distance record for declared and free out and return.

Read more here.

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Luis Rizo

July 23, 2013, 11:28:14 CDT

Luis Rizo

Tandem aerotow accident in France


News article here and here.

scott sigal<<scottsigal>> writes:

As a fellow hang glider pilot and long-time fly-buddy and friend of Luis's I was happy to tug him up for a quick tandem tow as I prepared myself for a good rare, French "flatlands" day. We had had a hot but fun day the day before in Champagne Ardenne, so there was no stress. We were simply looking forward to the higher than usual cloud bases announced. He was relaxed and up to his best at being careful and enthusiastic as many pilots and friends will remember him.

This was the second tandem flight of the day and we use the latest dual-point tow systems and releases that we have learned to use in the past 25+ years or more of aerotowing. Our club's North Wing T2 is considered, and we consider it, one of the best tandem gliders around including for aerotowing. Furthermore our trike tug is maybe not a Dragonfly, which is much more "relaxing" to tow with, but is a well suited trike and wing we continually tow with.

I have many hours of towing and at being towed  in all conditions and the day was "thermic." but quite calm. On tow takeoff from his dolly went well and as usual I never felt Luis behind me. He and I could "thermal" together on tows on the good days.. As I rotated and picked up a bit of speed I did feel him pull left. I kept normal power and did not feel any signs of a strong lock-out, which I guarantee you any experienced tug pilot can feel, until I looked over and saw Luis's glider continuing to pull left, but not so much in climb. I even though maybe I should release, which is not always the safest option given the weak links and corrective pilot decisions in general.

We were not at more than twenty meters above the ground. Hardly beginning the climb. In any case, whatever I might have thought or done, I did not have time. I felt the "release" and saw him continue his bank and spiral left with too little ground room. His glider hit hard but not at full bank and the glider suffered only a bent left leading edge and two down tubes.

Luis passed away in our presence within minutes we are sure. I was there, but in respect to his family and friends we are letting the inquiry work do it's course before drawing any conclusions of any sort.

Luis's passenger was in fact hurt and shocked at the time but is now out of danger and we as friends and a hang gliding club are doing everything we can to support Luis's family, who have now arrived in France, and his spouse Johana to bear the burden as things evolve too fast for them. It's only been two hard and short days. I hope all his friends will not only love him but also respect this mourning of the family.

There will be a spontaneously ceremony this next Saturday in Paris with friends and family from both of Luis's worlds. Music and hang gliding. We will keep you and all of his numerous friends around the world posted as quickly as we can. I have taken the liberty to "respond" in urgency to the report on the net as I am confident Luis's brother Carlos, who I have spend the last two days with would appreciate we keep the news to the strict facts, as Luis would have as well, and avoid polemics and interpretations. If we can we will give you an email where you can express your support and condolences.

I am glad to have met such a friend and pilot! He lived entirely to the fullest his two dreams. I admire him for that.

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Dragonflies for sale

June 28, 2013, 7:16:16 CDT

Dragonflies for sale

Bill has a few extra from the Worlds

Bill Moyes|Dragonfly

Bill Moyes <<bill>> writes:

Now that we have completed the World Championships, I want to reduce my fleet of Dragonfly’s and are offering them for sale.

Mick's 127 mile flight from Luling, Texas

June 25, 2013, 6:55:51 CDT

Mick's 127 mile flight from Luling, Texas

A week ago Sunday, June 16th

Dragonfly|Gregg "Kim" Ludwig

Mick Howard <<MHoward1>> writes:

We headed to Luling and stayed at the Riverbend RV Park on Friday evening. I had two flights on Saturday and was planning to fly an out and return and but I didn’t manage to connect with thermals and stay up so just enjoyed the evening and the good company after landing on my second flight which is when I watch Dan Jones show me how it’s done with his first ever flight on a topless, Mark’s T2, which he flew like he had been flying it forever – great to watch.

The forecast was for better soaring conditions and stronger winds aloft on Sunday compared to Saturday so I had entered a downwind task in my GPS which would have pushed me directly over Austin class C airspace so I entered a waypoint for Elgin which is a private air strip east of Austin which placed me clear of the Austin class C. I knew there were no other class B, class D or restricted airspace on route for headings to the Northeast (east of Temple) and many class D’s have ceilings of 2500ft and rarely above 3500ft.

Joel said be ready in fifteen minutes and the tug arrived right on time as Walter and Mark were helping with launch duties, thanks guys.

Joel hauled me up behind his 912 Dragonfly at 12:20pm and dropped me in a nice a big cumi so I couldn’t have wished for a better and easier start to the XC – Joel, thanks for the great tow. As per the graph below illustrating conditions at Carter Memorial Airport, the wind was southerly and were the same aloft which meant crossing streets to work my way over to the Elgin which was only forty six miles but consumed the first hour and fifty minutes of the flight.

I was surprised to find the winds aloft shifting to southwest so I decided to not follow my intended track towards Temple and take the easy ride straight downwind. I decided to concentrate on picking the best lines and to work on thermaling skills which seemed to have escaped me, though this was relatively straight forward given the fantastic cloud markers on route which made it just a matter of connecting the dots.

I flew conservatively and was never in a position where I had to scratch or look for a low save and the lowest I got was down to around 1900ft agl about 2hours 15 minutes of flight and then down to around 1500ft agl after 3 hours of flight but with quarries and industrial plants and other triggers and with good markers I never felt in danger of losing it even when the clouds had started drying up as there was lift in the blue.

I started what was to be my last climb around 5 pm and having covered around 115 miles. Since we had to get back to Luling to pick up the travel trailer and head back to Houston and the fact that the wind strength and drift was much weaker than forecasted and being a slow pilot, I knew it would be impossible to make a personal best distance, so I decided then that I would land at 125 miles and certainly before 6pm. I took that 5 pm climb to about six grand and then drifted along taking in the landscape and weighing up landing options which were plentiful.

In the distance it seemed I had a choice of staying high and flying a few miles over trees to more open land or to track over to some good looking options in view. was the decision I took though tracking there meant flying away from lift several times (strange it’s so easy to find lift when you don’t need it!). I picked out a nice easy landing field with good road access to make for an easy retrieve and landed about five miles east of Kossey at 5:35pm to complete a straight line distance of 126.6 miles.

Joanne was only 30 minutes away and Gregg Ludwig called me just after I had my glider packed away and by the roadside (I am sure he has satellite surveillance on me as he always seem to call me within minutes of landing).

We stopped for dinner on the 166mile drive back to Luling where we arrived at 10:30pm. We decided to get a few hours sleep and break camp early morning so we were up at 4am and headed back to Houston so that I could make it to work on time.

Big thanks to Joanne for always being there to help and pick me up. Every XC brings a new experience and takes us to places we wouldn’t have otherwise explored.

Previous Dragonfly accident at Lookout

June 7, 2013, 8:37:38 EDT

Previous Dragonfly accident at Lookout

No heart attack

Dragonfly|Lookout Mountain Flight Park

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Division of Forensic Sciences. The autopsy report revealed the pilot's cause of death as injuries consistent with "blunt force trauma." In addition, the medical examiner reported the absence of significant gross natural disease and no focal myocardial lesions observed during internal examination.

Toxicological testing performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for alcohol and positive for an undetermined amount of Losartan, an antihypertensive medication.

Previous discussion here:

Gorilla Grip

May 30, 2013, 7:15:28 EDT

Gorilla Grip

Like having no gloves on at all


At the 2013 Americus Cup I talked Mike Bilyk into driving thirty miles to the nearest Home Depot to buy a pair of these for himself and one pair for Mark Knight.

Mike was very pleased with these gloves. Mark says that he had them at 8000' as he flew a Dragonfly back to Quest Air. He said that they feel so good. He'll be hang gliding with them soon.

I love mine. They are showing a bit of wear between the thumb and the first finger where I grab the base tube, but nothing that would cause them to be thrown out.

I'm going to stop by Home Depot and pick up a couple of extra pairs. They cost $4.95.

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Dragonflies on their way to the 2013 Flytec Americus Cup

May 16, 2013, 11:42:58 EDT

Dragonflies on their way to the 2013 Flytec Americus Cup

Six tugs fly in

Dragonfly|Flytec Americus Cup 2013

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Dragonfly »

April 24, 2013, 7:47:36 EDT


A smaller version


With the BionicOpter, Festo has technically mastered the highly complex flight characteristics of the dragonfly. Just like its model in nature, this ultralight flying object can fly in all directions, hover in mid-air and glide without beating its wings.

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Zach Marzec

Thu, Feb 7 2013, 3:47:58 pm PST

A tumble at very low altitude

fatality|Dragonfly|dust devil|Paul Tjaden|Quest Air|video|weather|Zachary "Zack" Marzec

Zachary "Zack" Marzec

Paul Tjaden from Quest Air writes:

A few days ago I promised that I would write a more complete accident report regarding the tragic hang gliding accident we recently had at Quest Air resulting in the death of our good friend, Zach Marzec. I do want to warn you in advance that there will be no great revelations from what you already know. Many times Zach flew with a video camera which could have possibly told us more but on this occasion he did not.

The weather conditions seemed quite benign. It was a typical winter day in central Florida with sunny skies, moderate temperatures and a light south west wind. It was, however, a high pressure, dry air day that sometimes creates punchy conditions with small, tight, strong thermals versus the big fat soft ones that Florida is famous for. Time of day was approximately 3:00. None of these conditions were even slightly alarming or would have caused any concern about launching.

Zach Marzec was an advanced rated pilot who was a tandem instructor for Kitty Hawk Kites where he logged a huge number of aerotow flights. He was current (flying every day) and was flying his personal glider that he was very familiar with and had towed many times. Sorry, I do not have specific numbers of hours or flights logged but experience does not appear to have been an issue.

The glider was a Moyes Xtralite. This glider was a fairly old design. I believe the last ones built were in the mid 1990’s, but it was in good, airworthy condition and rigged properly. I know of no reports that this glider is difficult to tow or has any deficiencies for aero towing but I am not an expert on it and have never flown one. The glider hit base tube first and sustained very little damage upon impact so it was easy to ascertain that the glider did not appear to have had any structural failure that would have caused the accident.

The tow aircraft was a Moyes Dragonfly with a 914 Rotax engine and was piloted by a highly experienced tow pilot. The tow line was approximately 250 feet long which is standard and Zach was using the “pro tow” method where the tow line is attached directly to a bridle on the pilot’s harness and is not attached to the glider at all. A standard 130 pound test weak link was being used.

Another pilot had launched with no issues immediately before the accident. The launch started on the main runway at the north end (2,000 feet long) and was normal until at approximately 50 feet in altitude when the tow plane hit extremely strong lift elevating it quickly and abruptly. Because of the length of the tow line, it was a few seconds later when Zach’s glider entered the same strong lift and he was at an estimated 100 to 150 feet in altitude at this time. When the lift/turbulence was encountered, the weak link on the tow line broke as the nose of the glider pitched up quickly to a very high angle of attack. Apparently, the glider stalled or possibly did a short tail slide and then stalled and then nosed down and tumbled. Eye witnesses said the glider tumbled twice and then struck the ground with the base tube low. Due to the extremely low altitude, there was no time for the pilot to deploy his reserve parachute.

Zach was conscious immediately after the accident but died in route to the hospital.

Beyond these facts anything else would be pure speculation. I have personally had numerous weak link breaks on tow, both low and high, after hitting turbulence and have never felt in danger of a tumble. I have witnessed countless others have weak link breaks with no serious problems. We train aero tow pilots how to handle this situation and I am certain that Zach had also encountered this situation many times before and knew how to react properly. Apparently, Zach simply hit strong low level turbulence, probably a dust devil that could not be seen due to the lack of dust in Florida, the nose went too high and he tumbled at a very low altitude.

Strong dust devils in Florida definitely do exist even though they are rare. My wife had a near miss when she encountered a severe dusty a couple years ago and I almost lost a brand new $18,000 ATOS VX when it was torn from its tie down and thrown upside down.

I wish I could shed more light on this accident but I am afraid this is all we know and probably will know. Zach was a great guy with an incredible outlook and zest for life. He will be sorely missed.

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Wiley Carlton hit by truck

July 19, 2012, 8:38:44 CDT

Wiley Carlton hit by truck

Well known tug and Dragonfly pilot killed in the Outer Banks

Dragonfly|Quest Air

Wiley was a tug pilot at Quest Air and Seminole Glider Port. He was out at Currituck and helping with the new flight park for Kitty Hawk Kites.

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Dragonfly Accident at Lookout

May 29, 2012, 5:41:00 pm EDT

Dragonfly Accident at Lookout

Charles Mathews

Dragonfly|Jen Richards|Lookout Mountain Flight Park|sailplane

Jen Richards <<airbuffy2004>> writes:

We are very saddened to report that on Saturday, May 26 we lost a wonderful member of our community in a Dragonfly accident.

This is what we know at this point, or at least the best that we can put together currently. Charles Matthews was flying the Dragonfly solo, checking the air in preparations for afternoon towing. There was a second Dragonfly aloft also checking conditions. The second Dragonfly was about 500 to 600 feet almost directly above Charles.

Witnesses watched the plane flying very slowly, parallel to the mountain about 50 feet above the mountain and about 300 feet out away from mountain, in front of the shop almost over Burkhaulter Gap road. The plane then started a 30 to 45 degree nose-down spiral dive, doing two rotations before disappearing into the trees. Dr. Carmichael was on the scene within 10 minutes to render aid but Charles had died.

The BRS rocket parachute system handle was not pulled.

The FAA has inspected the wreckage and released the aircraft for salvage finding no issues that could be determined to be the cause of the accident. We don’t know what caused the accident, there is speculation but at this point it is just speculation.

Charles had flown LMFP tow planes for two years, flying on weekends for the fun of it. He was an excellent tow pilot who was often requested. Charles was a very experienced pilot and had a lot of experience towing sailplanes as well as hang gliders. He was an ATP rated pilot with many thousands of hours. He earned his first rating as a sailplane pilot when he was 14 years old. His father was also an airline captain and many know the sailplane airfield that his dad Art Matthews built in the Sequatchie Valley. He originally learned to fly hang gliders about 25 years ago at Lookout with his dad and he had spent the last two years getting back into hang gliding and was flying very well. He was very excited about hang gliding, actually he was just excited about flying anything and he loved to fly the Dragonfly.

Charles was the kind of guy everyone wants as a friend – with a sparkle in his eye and a smile on his face. He was always positive, energetic, happy, and would do anything to help you out. He leaves behind his wife Cameron and his two children, Tyler and Eric as well as his parents , Art and Betty.

This is all very sad and Charles will be greatly missed. Our heartfelt condolences to Charles’ family and friends. Charles Mathews will remain in our hearts forever.

Aerotowing paragliders

May 24, 2012, 8:18:14 EDT

Aerotowing paragliders

Not quite there yet

Dragonfly|Facebook|PG|Quest Air|video

This video shows what seems to be the one successful flight. I watched many of them and almost all were failures, which is what you would expect in a research and development project. The experiment ended without all the problems solved, but much learned. At the end the spectra rope was being heated too much and breaking.

The reel is a payout reel that allows the paraglider pilot to fly slower than the Dragonfly until the two of them can get high enough for the paraglider pilot to fly inside the circle that the tug starts flying, thereby continuing to fly slower than the tug without pulling out the line.

The tug pilot has a set of brake controls that allows him to increase the resistance on the reel using a band around the line. Once high enough in the air and circling the tug pilot increases the resistance as he begins circling.

The stand above the propeller obviously keeps the line out of the propeller, but not always. I saw it wrap around the propeller hub and snap, bending the tube at the top.

The stand can rotate to the left or right as the paraglider pilot moves off line from directly behind the tug. There is a shock absorbing piston that returns the stand to the vertical.

There is a hook knife set up to cut the line if the paraglider puts too much pressure on the plane. It is activated by a handle next to the pilot. It can be seen in the center of the picture.

The whole mechanism has been removed now and you can't tell if it was ever there. Obviously the paraglider is going to pull the nose up if the resistance on the reel is increased. Unlike towing hang gliders, the towing line is not kept completely away from the motor. Also you must cut the line and there is no weaklink that will automatically break at the tug if the forces get too large. The "weaklink" used at the paraglider side was six strands.

Can the last problem be solved? A pulley at the top of the stand instead of the tube? Put the reel much further back? Maybe a fishing reel with high strength fishing line?

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Aerotowing for the swoop at Quest Air

Wed, May 2 2012, 8:36:26 am EDT

A double tow

aerotow|Dragonfly|Quest Air|video

aerotow|cart|Dragonfly|Quest Air|video

Two hang glider pilots are towed behind one Dragonfly tug. One pilot foot launches and the other comes off the cart. There are two tow lines of different lengths. We haven't towed two pilots at once in a long time. We did it in Zapata when we needed to get a bunch of pilots in the air quickly and we had limited resources. We even did a triple - the TriBarb. Thanks to Linda Salamone.

Wolfi swooping:

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Begging and Bribing

March 23, 2012, 9:31:37 EDT

Tin Cup

This is where the tough get going

Belinda Boulter|Blue Sky|David Gibson|Davis Straub|Dragonfly|Jim Yocom|Kraig Coomber|Oliver Gregory|Orlando Stephenson|Quest Air|Quinn Cornwell|Steve Wendt|weather

He's looking for your help, as are we.

We are now well into our month long fund raising drive. Right in the middle of begging for money our web site went down for a few days as we moved to our new virtual server. And just before we started our site was down when our web host updated our server's operating system (which gave us a good reason to move to a virtual server). To deal with these issues I have relaxed and let Scare take his course (on the weekends after work) as he patched up the permissions for our various files (who invented that god awful system?) and moved databases.

This is where we have to press our readers just little bit harder to remind them that we are running as fast as we can to get this publication up and running for the upcoming season of competition and free flying. We're here to lift your spirits and remind you that this in all in fun.

Belinda and I are smiling and just so happy to be around so many new hang gliding students learning as fast as they can from Mitch and Mark here at Quest Air. What great weather. What a cool environment.

We really do need your financial (and other) support. Scare does this on his spare time and has a real job. The income we get from the Oz Report is very minor, but any helps. Please think about supporting us.

We wanted to especially thank Lisa Cain who used to be our neighbor and Moyes Dragonfly tug pilot here at Quest Air and who now lives up in Virginia and occasionally flies tug for Steve Wendt at Blue Sky and who sent us a dollar a day for a year (in one fell swoop). A good number of you have sent in $100+ or $200. Thanks so much to these very generous individuals, Fred Bickford, Kraig Coomber, Jeffrey Curtis, Jim Yocom, Larry Smith, Mike Duffy, Quinn Cornwell, Gary D. McIntire, Oliver Gregory, Thomas C Ide, Orlando Stephenson, and C David Gibson. Jeez, I hope I didn't forget someone.

We have a boat load of premiums to encourage you to support Scare and I as we keep the Oz Report delivering the latest hang gliding news. See all the premiums available to you here: Given that we are providing all these premiums, it would be great if subscribers went a little bit beyond the minimum $20 donation/subscription, as many of you have, and we are very grateful for that.

At the end of March I'll set up a random number generator to choose who get the premiums from the list of 2012 Oz Report subscribers. There will be an order to that list and those subscribers chosen will get to send in an ordered list of their preferred premiums and they will be awarded based on the order of subscribers chosen to receive premiums.

If you are sending in a check do it quickly so that I will have it in time to put you on the list to possibly receive a premium.

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These are our supporters (if you are not on the list and have donated to the Oz Report, email me and I'll make sure that you are recognized): Some of you who I've missed in the past did write to me and made sure I knew just how important the Oz Report was to them. If I've missed you, please do tell me.

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Cloudsuck, Epilogue »

March 5, 2012, 12:19:47 pm GMT-0500

Cloudsuck, Elipolgue

I serialize Cloudsuck for the winter season

André Wolfe|Betinho Schmitz|Bo Hagewood|cart|Cloudsuck|Curt Warren|Dragonfly|Dustin Martin|Gary Osoba|Kari Castle|Kathleen Rigg|Manfred Ruhmer|Mark Poustinchian|Paris Williams|PG|record|video|weather

Many pilots wonder what it really takes to set a world record. Some wonder what it's like to fly at a place like Zapata or other world class sites. Cloudsuck answers these and other questions while telling the story of how I set the current Distance World Record for Rigid Wings. Over this winter, I am pleased to make the book available as a gift to my readers in serialized form. Each Monday, another chapter will be available for you to enjoy here on the Oz Report. The best read is the one in it's entirety, and both the soft cover book and an ebook are available to purchase here: You can find the Kindle version on Amazon.

If you enjoy the serialized installments, you may wish to skip the text below and jump directly to this week's chapter, including any graphics or pictures here:

I hope you enjoy the book and this week's chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Success breeds more Success

The news of the new world records set in Zapata quickly spread throughout the worldwide hang gliding community. Of course I wrote about it in my online e-zine, the Oz Report (, but there were plenty of others who picked up the story. I wrote an article for Hang Gliding magazine, and the European hang and paragliding magazines published notices about the new records.

Betinho Schmitz, a top Brazilian hang glider pilot, resolved right away to come the following year to Zapata and set the flex wing world record. Red Bull energy drink was sponsoring him, so he started talking with them about a proposal to do a video of his record attempt.

Many U.S. pilots contacted me about coming in 2001, and I made up a list of potential invitees. I wanted to be sure that the top competition pilots were encouraged to attend our second World Record Encampment, especially some top European pilots.

We decided that with so many pilots coming to Zapata we'd have to get a Dragonfly to aerotow everyone up early in the morning. At the Florida meets the following April, I spoke with Manfred Ruhmer, the flex wing world champion. He hadn't seriously considered it before since he had never done any cross-country flying outside of competitions, but he quickly decided to come. We scheduled two two-week sessions, so that pilots attending the World Championships in Spain could fly to the U.S. in time for the second session.

The first session started off on June 23rd with weather that was conducive to long distance flying, and many of the participants exceeded their personal bests. On June 28th, Mark Poustinchian flew 369 miles to break my world record. He launched a little after 11 AM on a day that didn’t look that good — just a few cu's starting at 10:25, and strong winds out of the south — and ended up near Abilene.

On June 30th, things looked particularly interesting. We had gotten really excited looking at the forecast the night before, since the winds looked right. But there was one problem: high vertical air movements were predicted to occur in the afternoon northeast of Sonora, the signs of a cumulo-nimbus cloud.

I got off to a nice early start, and the conditions were the best I had ever experienced. I’d flown a hundred miles by noon and two hundred miles by 2:45 PM. I was hours ahead of my previous best flight. But as I approached Rock Springs up on the Edwards Plateau I could see clouds piling up on top of other clouds fifty miles to my north. This looked bad. A thunderhead could suck all the lift out of the sky for hundreds of square miles.

Hoping that the clouds would not continue to climb, I headed northwest toward Sonora. The clouds continued to climb high and I knew that I was going to lose my best day. My only hope was to go west and try to get around the storm. I took a sharp left turn to the west and flew forty miles along Interstate 10, hoping to outrun the clouds. Another cumulo-nimbus cloud formed to the west of the original cloud and there was just no way to get around both storms. All the other cu’s were wiped up and the lift disappeared. I landed in disappointment near the freeway.

The weather conditions deteriorated for the next couple of weeks as the first crew headed home and the pilots coming from the Worlds showed up. Every day the skies were blue with very few cumulus clouds. The winds were light.

These relatively poor conditions didn't stop Manfred Ruhmer, whose longest flight before he came to the World Record Encampment had been 130 miles — as a task in a competition. Manfred flew at every opportunity despite the poor prospects for a new world record, improving his personal best. He was able to build up to 224 miles in less than perfect conditions.

Manfred had just won his second world championship in a row, in Spain. Kathleen Rigg, the highest scoring female pilot in the Worlds, teamed up with Manfred and was getting long flights also, although not as long as Manfred's.

Paris Williams, the number one ranked pilot in the U.S., Bo Hagewood, the U.S. National Champion, and Kari Castle, the Women's World Champion, all arrived from the Worlds along with Andre Wolf and Betinho Schmitz, the top pilots from Brazil.

Of course we were all hoping that conditions would improve. And on the evening of July 16th, after two weeks of nice — but not very long — flights, it became clear that the next day would be the day.

On that night the predicted temperature soundings for Zapata, Del Rio, San Angelo, and Midland showed a strong push of moist air up from the Gulf of Mexico, spreading over Texas during the night. At dawn cumulus clouds were expected to start forming at Zapata and throughout the state. It looked as though the clouds would stay with us for the whole day.

The winds were predicted to continue blowing out of the southeast, as they had every day of our encampment. They wouldn't be wrapping around and coming from the south later in the day up near Uvalde, but rather stay straight south-southeast all day long.

When we got up before sunrise the cumulus clouds were forming right over the airport, just as predicted the night before. They continued to form in the early morning and this encouraged everyone to get to the airport early. We phoned Dustin Martin, who had flown 214 miles on the 16th and was still in Rocksprings. After his driver had turned around and left him he had been forced to spend the night sleeping in an abandoned storefront in his harness. He told us ruefully that the cu's were there and flying by over his head.

Although we pulled into the airport before eight that morning, we weren't sure when we should launch. One would hate to launch a little too early and miss the best day of the encampment by landing early in lift that was still too light. The weather conditions so far this year had not lived up to our high expectations, and we were really nervous about wasting a good day by making a bad decision.

Gary Osoba, my fellow WRE organizer, was bent on holding us back. Last year he had worked to get us going earlier each morning, but now he was worried that we were leaving too early in conditions that wouldn't keep us up.

We had been experimenting with our special Dragonfly, custom-built with an especially powerful engine. We were able to launch two hang gliders behind it, one of the pilots using a shorter rope to maintain separation.

Mark Poustinchian and I got into the air at 9:30 on a double tow to 6,500 feet. I foot launched, hooked to the short rope on the right side of the airstrip, instead of taking off from the cart. There was a lot of tension about this early launch, and in the hurry and confusion I kicked my harness’ zipper, jamming it. After towing all the way up I had to dive back to the airport, land and fix the zipper.

Mark would land out near Laredo, so maybe that was a stroke of good luck for me. I didn't and still don't think of it that way.

Next up, Manfred and Paris Williams took a tow to cloudbase at 3,300 feet and released at ten AM. The cloud base was the highest we'd had that year for so early in the morning — normally we would expect the clouds at that time to begin at two thousand feet or so. I waited on the ground for Bo Hagewood and Curt Warren and then Andre Wolf to tow. It was agony. I had wanted to be on course an hour earlier. I knew Manfred was ahead of me and that it would be hard to catch him.

My turn finally came at 10:30. But as I was pulled up I broke a weaklink at only 590 feet over the airport. No way did I want to land again, only to wait again for other pilots to launch in front of me. Kari Castle was all ready and waiting to launch next. I willed myself to stay up in the little dribbling thermal that was drifting quickly to the north away from the runway.

The clouds were streeted up — I could see six streets to my left in addition to the one over my head. All the streets were headed from Zapata right toward the Laredo airport and its controlled airspace. I knew I would have to circle up to near cloudbase, then immediately begin jumping streets to get to the east and around the airspace.

This was the first time during the 2001 WRE that we'd seen the kind of streeting that we had anticipated. As one of the WRE organizers I had been feeling very responsible for the unresponsive weather, and it was a great relief to finally see morning cloud streets.

Meanwhile Manfred and Paris were racing under and across the cloud streets as happy as pigs in mud, thinking that they had better get out there way in front. As they approached Laredo the streets and the clouds suddenly stopped and they had to put on the brakes. Quickly the race was not to the swift, but to the patient.

Continue reading here:

Cloudsuck, chapter 12 »

February 20, 2012, 8:40:20 PST

Cloudsuck, chapter 12

I serialize Cloudsuck for the winter season

Belinda Boulter|Cloudsuck|Dragonfly|Dustin Martin|Jim Lee|record|Tiki Mashy|Tove Heaney|weather

Many pilots wonder what it really takes to set a world record. Some wonder what it's like to fly at a place like Zapata or other world class sites. Cloudsuck answers these and other questions while telling the story of how I set the current Distance World Record for Rigid Wings. Over this winter, I am pleased to make the book available as a gift to my readers in serialized form. Each Monday, another chapter will be available for you to enjoy here on the Oz Report. The best read is the one in it's entirety, and both the soft cover book and an ebook are available to purchase here: You can find the Kindle version on Amazon.

If you enjoy the serialized installments, you may wish to skip the text below and jump directly to this week's chapter, including any graphics or pictures here:

I hope you enjoy the book and this week's chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Wandering in the Desert

After Dave set his two new records, our World Record Encampment broke up. Dave had to go back to work in New Mexico, and Gary had obligations back in Kansas. Dustin and the boys went back to Phoenix. Belinda and I were left behind to suffer in the heat, waiting for a day with sufficiently strong winds and early morning thermals. With our friends gone and Larry’s record broken, the excitement was over.

We felt cast adrift, sitting in our trailer in this almost-ghost-town empty of its winter Texans. With no other pilots to encourage me, I felt desperate. Would the conditions improve so that I could get my chance to break Dave's new record?

Before we had come to Zapata, Gary had forecast such consistent weather conditions that it had seemed every day would be a day to break the record. We were looking for that huge high pressure system to set up in the center of the Gulf of Mexico, bringing on-shore flow to the Texas east coast and warm, moist, predominantly southern winds throughout the state. But as that last week of July dragged on, the promised weather failed to show up.

I wanted to ride the southern winds far up into the Texas panhandle, but the high pressure was not centered in the Gulf where it was supposed to be — instead it was up near New Orleans. With the center of high pressure so far north, the winds spinning clockwise around the center were coming from the east here in Zapata, toward Mexico. We had only light winds, and the morning thermals were too weak to keep me aloft in my hang glider before noon.

July 26th, a week after Dave had gone so far, Belinda towed me up at the airstrip at 11:30. I knew it was late, but the conditions hadn’t been good enough for an attempt all week, and I was anxious make any effort no matter how futile.

We'd come to Zapata expecting winds out of the south-southeast, but today they were instead out of the southeast. If I were to fly straight downwind I would soon have been crossing the Rio Grande. Every time I stopped and circled in a thermal I would drift downwind toward Mexico. I knew I would have to drive continually upwind to the east on each of my glides, as Dave and I had done on his record day.

With my late start I should have been finding some reasonably strong thermals, but all I was getting was weak lift. I had to concentrate more on staying up than on racing north, constantly searching to the east and west of my fastest course line for any lift that I could find, just creeping along. At one point I was down to less than 450 feet over a natural gas well, sure that I was about to land.

While it is a definite struggle to stay up when you're so low, it is also a great adventure. First of all, you are right next to the ground, so everything is going past you really quickly. The lift is usually quite light (the reason you are low to begin with), so you're not getting tossed around — although this is not always the case, as I had found out the week before.

Hanging low in light lift calls upon all your senses. You feel every bit of lift on your wings and do everything you can to get in just a little bit better lift. At the same time you just can't strike out in some direction hoping to find better lift, because you'll be on the ground long before you find it. You have to work whatever it is that you are in.

Your attention keeps shifting between the ground, with its potential landing areas and potential lifting areas, and the texture of the air around you. You can't pay much attention to the sky since any clouds are usually too far away to be of much help in spotting lift. You are right in the thick of things, with the earth twirling around below you. It is a lot like those flying dreams.

I struggled low for a good long time, maybe fifteen minutes of just hanging onto the barest indication of lift, before I slowly climbed out high enough to get into a reasonably coherent thermal. And this took time and detracted from the bigger goal. It took me an hour and a half just to fly the forty miles to the southeast side of Laredo.

Small cumulus clouds were forming near Laredo, and I could now find the lift more quickly with the help of these visual lift indicators. The lift was also improving as the day got later; I was now able to climb up high, to five thousand feet.

With the strong easterly wind component I’d been pushed right toward Laredo and the airport on its eastern flank. Normally I was required by law to stay six nautical miles to the east of the airport, to avoid controlled airspace. Frankly, given the steady stream of traffic at this airport, I wanted to stay as far away as possible from the north and south ends of the runways. But today, given the strong drift from the southeast, I had little choice but to head toward the center of the airport.

I was fifteen hundred feet above the top of the controlled airspace; at this elevation it was perfectly legal for me to fly right over the airport. While I was not that happy about being pushed so far the west of my planned course, it was pretty cool flying right over the top of the airport and checking out the whole busy scene below me.

Laredo is the biggest inland NAFTA port, and all aircraft bringing goods into the U.S. from Mexico must stop there. I could see plenty of general aviation traffic on the runway and taxiways. I was in little danger of interfering with airport air traffic, high as I was above the center of the airfield, since the air traffic would be low coming in from the north or south. I got to see quite a few of the big cargo jets.

Most of the time when I'm flying, I'm out over open ranch and farmlands. I rarely fly anywhere near urban areas because of the lack of landing areas near them. So it was quite a rare sight to be able to fly over such a busy airport, perfectly legally and safely, and be able to take it all in. I knew that down below were all those pilots who were taxiing airplanes. Here I was way high over them, just flying. Not “piloting” a hang glider, just flying.

The southeast winds pushed me northwest from Laredo up the Mines Road, which follows the U.S.-Mexico border along the Rio Grande for a hundred miles to Eagle Pass. Most of that distance was rough gravel road, which would make things a bit slower for Belinda in the truck down below. From Eagle Pass it would be another fifty miles on Highway 277, still hugging the border, to Del Rio. I figured I could follow this route all the way to Del Rio and then head toward Fort Stockton in west Texas — that was unless the winds shifted direction as I move northwest.

I was high over open and empty desert with just the dirt road way below me. On my left was Mexico; the road on the Mexican side of the border was a major highway. I found this totally strange, flying high out in that empty desert, which I knew was a highly charged military area — the border, and there was not enough traffic to justify a paved road.

While there was a staggering level of truck traffic in Laredo heading up toward San Antonio, apparently no one wanted to go to Eagle Pass or Del Rio. I later learned the reason: the road was gated further to the north to cut off all traffic going to Eagle Pass. In fact, this was considered to be a very dangerous area for travel, the province of drug runners and bandits.

The moist air from the Gulf was encouraging the development of cumulus clouds, which now appeared everywhere over my head and out ahead of me. But I was concerned that I was moving west, away from the Gulf air mass. I would have to fly quite a long distance west to get away from its influence, but there would be less and less moist air as I progressed further away from the Gulf. I wondered what air mass I would find myself in many hours from now. It seemed likely that the cumulus clouds would disappear and I would be left to hunt for lift out in the blue.

The sight of the beautiful cumulus clouds was alluring. It was a perfect day for flying two hundred miles — but I believed it was already too late to make three hundred. Finally, after much internal argument, I made the decision to land eighty miles out from Zapata. I just didn’t think I could set the record on that day. I wanted to have plenty of energy to fly again on a better day.

I landed in a little area mostly free of cactus and Mesquite. There was no one out there, not even any evidence of the Border Patrol. I tried not to look up at the inviting sky as I broke my glider down and put it up on the truck.

The next day I was out at the Zapata airstrip for another attempt. Again the thermals just weren't happening early enough for me to get going when I needed to, and I stopped after sixty miles. The skies filled with beckoning cumulus clouds, but I knew that I couldn't make three hundred miles that day.

After a week of only marginal opportunities, we broke camp. Belinda and I needed to get away from the heat and the frustration. I was unable to think straight about how to break the record, and pretty discouraged. Belinda flew from San Antonio to Nevada to visit her brother and I drove our truck to Roswell, NM for repairs.

But August 5th found us back on the highway to Zapata from San Antonio. We were both rested, and I was convinced that we hadn’t even scratched the surface of what was possible at Zapata. When we arrived to find that Tiki Mashy and her driver Dale had just driven in from Hobbs and were already ensconced at Bob McVey’s house, I felt my enthusiasm returning, too.

All during the planning period for the World Record Encampment, I had pushed hard on Tiki, a former women’s world record holder, to come to Zapata. I had sent her all the advance weather data from Gary that pointed to great conditions for setting a world record. I wanted Tiki to retake her former record from the Australian/Swedish pilot Tove Heaney, but I hadn't succeeded in convincing her to come earlier. Instead she had chosen to go back to Hobbs, where she felt some measure of comfort, and where she and Hollywood had spent many summers together.

Tiki had recruited Dale, a novice pilot in her late forties who was living and working part time at Wallaby Ranch, to be her tow and retrieval driver for the summer. Since Michael’s death Tiki had been working at the Ranch as a Dragonfly pilot, under Malcolm’s protective eye. She and Dale had driven west in Michael’s old truck, with the platform setup and winch they had used at Hobbs.

“Hobbs has been terrible this year,” Tiki shook her head. “My longest flight so far was only a hundred miles — and that took me four hours. Jim Lee’s been there all month too, trying for a record, but he’s not getting any long flights either.” Tall, and muscular, Tiki was a tenacious competitor and it hurt her to be missing out on the good flying.

I had thought Tiki a fool to go to Hobbs when we offered her the chance to come with us to Zapata. It was clear — to me, anyway — that she wouldn't get what she was aiming for in Hobbs. I started to fill her in on the Zapata area and what we’d learned so far about flying there.

“There are a few dirt roads north of the airstrip, but for the most part they’re behind locked gates,” I warned. “So you need to be at least two thousand feet over the airstrip before you start to head north. Don’t let yourself get so far downwind that you can’t make it back, unless you’re over two grand.

“And if you do go down near the airstrip, just have Dale call the Sheriff to locate the keys and come open the gate. Dustin had to do that a couple of weeks ago, when he landed four or five miles from the airport. Bob McVey contacted the Sheriff for us, and a deputy got us through the gates. We had Dustin packed up and in the car within an hour. It's a three-mile walk out to Highway 83, so good luck trying to walk out with your hang glider and the rest of your gear, especially by yourself. The heat is a real killer.”

The mesquite-covered countryside to the north of the airstrip had only a few areas big enough to allow for a hang glider landing. There wasn't a paved road for nine miles. If you left too low and didn’t get up, the chances of getting to a road where you could be retrieved easily were quite slim. It was better to land at the airstrip and relaunch than to let yourself drift downwind chasing a weak thermal that might leave you stranded with over a hundred pounds of gear.

Next morning, a Sunday, Tiki and I were both out early towing at the airstrip, but neither of us found any lift. The early low cumulus clouds disappeared and we were left to flail about in the blue. Gary's e-mailed morning weather forecast had been accurate about early light thermals, but it was wishful thinking to believe that we could stay aloft in such conditions. After numerous attempts we quit around noon and hoped the next day would be better. Two hours later, the sky looked agonizingly beautiful as the ground heated up and thermals began to form.

Continue reading here: