NY Times article here.
With little snow in the forecast, experts are warning that this drought, after one of the driest years on record last year, could be as disruptive as the severe droughts of the 1970s.
Signs of drought are everywhere, affecting vast sectors of the economy. A sense of dread is building among farmers, many whom have already let fields go fallow. Without more water, an estimated 200,000 acres of prime agriculture land will go unplanted in Fresno County, according to Westlands Water District officials. Cattle ranchers accustomed to letting cows graze on rain-fed grass have had to rely on bought hay or reduce their herds.
After the survey this month, the Department of Water Resources said that the snowpack was only 20 percent of the historical average.
Raul Guerra <<dr.raulguerra>> writes:
Colombia has turned on. Americans and Austrians have come to South America - Colombia for the big money. Dustin is ready and wants the jackpot, also Zac and Wolfi. They have come together from USA. Pilots remember Dustin's picture at Hombres Pajaros Ecuador when Dustin came back to home with the big money. Now, after his recovery from surgery, he comes for more.
Stephan Mentler <<stephmet>> writes:
I wanted to let everyone know that we have started fund raising for the first ever U.S. National Sport Class Hang Gliding Team. Because of a generous contribution from Steve Kroop at Flytec and support from Kraig Coomber at Moyes U.S.A. anyone who donates $25 will be entered in a raffle. Prizes include a Flytec sweatshirt, Moyes Speed Sleeves, a Flytec Sonic, and the grand prize a Flytec 6030. We anticipate having some other items as well. All proceeds will be used to help all members of the U.S. National Sport Class Team pay for costs associated with competing in the very first FAI Sport Class Hang Gliding World Championship, in Annecy France.
The final team composition is yet to be determined as the invitation letters were sent out to the top ten ranked sport class pilots last week and invitees have to opt in. Pilots were ranked based upon a national Sport Class pilot ranking system similar to the one used to select Open Class pilots for the U.S. Open Class national team, with the added requirement that they meet the qualifications specified by CIVL. The top ten ranked pilots, in order of their ranking are:
1. Kip Stone
2. Matt Christensen
3. Stephan Mentler
4. Jonny Thompson
5. Dan Jones
6. David Williams
7. Michelle Haag
8. Orian Price
9. Patrick Halfhill
10. Grant Emary
USHPA anticipates as many as six slots. This your chance to help the team and maybe get a Flytec 6030 for $25. Sport Class Team members are not eligible for the raffle. To support the U.S. Sport Class Team and be entered in the raffle, a PayPal link is provided below.
The raffle drawing will take April 1st.
Jamie Shelden <<naughtylawyer>> writes:
Just a little note to let you all know that registration for the Flytec Americus Cup 2014 is now open. Yes, I know it was supposed to have opened last month, but the organizer was busy competing at Forbes and didnt get things set up in time (please cut her some slack ;-). So, check out the website at www.flytecamericuscup.blogspot.com. You can find the registration page in the upper right hand corner.
Were really excited about this years event. Now that the locals understand exactly what an aerotow hang gliding competition is, were expecting more spectators, more support from the community and tons of fun. We are in the process of negotiating a special rate for pilots at the Days Inn. If you joined us on any of the Rallys, this is where we stayed. It used to be called the Jamison Inn and its right next door to Ruby Tuesdays where we had the prize giving a few times. This is one of the nicest hotels in town and theyre giving us a fantastic rate - it will be similar to what we paid at last year at the unmentionably bad, waterless pool, poor service hotel up the road :-/. Im putting a clause in our agreement with them that there MUST be water (clean, clear water) and no lawn furniture in the pool ;-).
If anyone needs help with getting gliders to Americus or retrieve teams/drivers, etc., just let me know. I do already have a few drivers looking for a team - and they happen to be cute girls who will get hired up quickly, so dont dilly dally.
So, hop online and get registered now so that we can start to get an idea of how many tugs we will need. Time to brush the dust and snow off the hang gliding gear and get ready for another great week of flying in Georgia!
When the Polar Vortex a ring of winds circling the Arctic breaks down, this allows cold air to spill south, affecting the eastern United States and other regions, says Dr. Overland. This can result in a warmer-than-average Arctic region and colder temperatures that may include severe winter weather events on the North American and European continents.
Erick Angles <<atout.vents>> writes:
The second edition of the St Andre Open (FAI category 2) will take place from May 8th to 11th (bank holiday week end in France). Registration has just opened and a couple Swiss and Italian pilots have already registered for the event and we are expecting even more foreign pilots to participate than last year as the first edition was a blast.
Here is the FAI link for the event:
the link for foreign pilots registration:
The link for last year's edition with results, pictures, videos etc.:
It's because the incomes of the eligible population (the almost exclusively male population) has been declining since 1973. Money makes a big difference and we have led a marginal existence for the last forty years.
"This means that the median man in 2010 earned as much as the median man did in 1964 nearly a half century ago. Men with less education face an even bleaker picture; earnings for the median man with a high school diploma and no further schooling fell by 41 percent from 1970 to 2010."
Since about 1980 the percentage of men and women in middle-skill jobs has declined. But for women, nearly all of that decline was because of increased representation in higher-skill jobs. Womens employment in low-skill jobs increased by just 1 percent. By contrast, for men, half the decline in middle-skill jobs was a result of increases in low-skill jobs.
The most urgent issue facing working Americans today is not the glass ceiling. It is the sinking floor.
Today, however, becoming a never-never employee is increasingly a gender-neutral fate. Millions of men face working conditions that traditionally characterized womens lives: low wages, minimal benefits, part-time or temporary jobs, and periods of joblessness. Poverty is becoming defeminized because the working conditions of many men are becoming more feminized.
So, just how are you doing in this war against men?
Erick Vils <<erick>> writes:
Probably 1989, near from Sao Paulo, Brazil. http://youtu.be/NtX0sNEntVA
Thanks to Miles.
Mike Bilyk <<mikebilyk>> writes:
I was keen to try a Moyes even though I was quite happy with my current glider, and Im so glad that I did!
I feel the RX 3.5 has improved my flying by leaps and bounds. On my previous glider, it felt as though I was always playing catch or looking up at the other gliders on top of the stack in the start gaggles and always wishing I was up there with them. Going on glide and getting to the next thermal lower than other gliders was frustrating, and I felt as though I were picking a bad line and that I was the cause. Now after flying the RX, I realize what a huge difference the glider makes.
Flying the RX I am on top of the stack every time. The climb on this glider is nothing short of amazing! 1/3 VG, set your bank angle and sky out! I was able to climb with, or in most cases climb much better than other pilots in anything from light broken weak thermals to 1000 fpm boomers.
I found the glide of the RX to be equally impressive, getting to the next thermal with other gliders, and blazing 25km final glides with the RX made all my previous frustrations a thing of the past. I was pleasantly surprised with the handling of the RX 3.5.
My previous glider is 9 sq. ft. smaller than the RX 3.5 so I was expecting the RX to be a bit stiffer in roll, and to fly like a bigger glider. However, I was pleased to find that the RX handles quite well and in fact handles almost as good if not just as good as my previous much smaller glider. I immediately felt comfortable with the RX. There was little to no transition period and I felt right at home flying the RX.
The roll is light and predictable, I love how stable the RX is in a thermal, set the bank angle and let the glider do the work. No high siding, and very little corrections are needed to stay in the core. The pitch is light and complements the roll, giving the feel of a very well rounded glider for the pilot. Full VG glides are comfortable with very little pitch pressure and plenty of roll authority to keep the glider on heading.
I'm very happy with the RX 3.5. The overall quality of the glider and the performance in the air is second to none
Open Class:# Name Glider Total 1 Steven Crosby Litespeed S5 4123 2 Don Gardner RS3.5 3892 3 Rory Duncan WW T2C 136 3830 4 Dick Heffer Moyes RX 3.5 3780 5 Stephen Norman Atos 3773 6 Adrian Connor Litespeed RS4 3743 7 nils vesk Litesport 3727 8 Drewe Waller T2C 3658 9 Shannon Black Moyes Litespeed RS 3.5 3624 10 Frank Chetcuti rs 3.5 3385
Cliff Rice <<cliff.k.rice>> writes:
Thu Sat, Jan 16 18, 2014 (with Sunday as a contingency day)
Early morning and late afternoon glassy conditions. Two planes tow two gliders and drop them off side-by-side. Out-and-back glide to a turnpoint. Round robin and/or one-on-one, double-elimination. Cross the 500 (invisible) Finish Line ahead of your competitor to win your round!
Classes: topless race glider, rigid, king posted and single surface. Early rounds within your class. Final rounds pit class vs. class with shorter turnpoints for lower performance classes (handicapping based on published polars).
Can you outrace your buddy (or arch rival) in your same class? Can you fly farther/faster enough in your T2CombatSpeed to beat a Falcon cruising in from two-thirds the distance? Come and see!!
Registration: $125 includes Best Glide Contest tows (guaranteed at least two, plus one more for every match you win!), closing dinner, and awards. Open to the first 20 paid pilots.
Thermal Tows: We often have fine-though-not-epic mid-day conditions in January, suitable for duration, out-and-back and XC flying (snowmobile suit not required!!) Afternoon tows at your discretion: $25.
6030 Clinic: Based on interest, we will arrange a 6030 (and 6020) clinic with a master instructor/pilot, including workshop, one-on-one, and coaching. Cost: estimated $25 - $40, depending on number of participating pilots.
Got to the ice cream in Bright and the lolly shop moved next to Gilbert's
On Satutrday, we still had to climb up from Dinner Plain to Mount Hotham, but it was pretty tame relative to the previous two days. As we crossed the crest beyond Hotham and headed down the steep grade, we encountered the bulk of the climbers who started early enough to avoid the heat coming up from Bright. The ride looked much tougher in that direction.
There were two short steep climbs on the way down, but mostly it was coasting and braking (more braking for me than for Steve), and a long (24 km) shallow final glide from the pretty town of Harriotville to Bright. That is the warm up part of the ride going the other way.
Steve Blenkinsop continued on to Mt. Beauty while I did a few errands in Bright. He ran out of water near the top of Tawonga Gap, and that slowed him down.
Soon we were on our way to Adelaide and the next adventure. We're currently on the Fleurieu peninsula southeast of Adelaide. Steve in Port Elliot and I in Normanville after a nice ride (Steve rode with me from Port Elliot and then rode back). The next big adventure (hang gliding related) soon.
As one of the featured speakers at the event, Albion Bowers, Associate Director for Research at NASA Dryden, will detail a student project at the center that proved early German aerodynamicist Ludwig Prandtl's theory that adverse yawing of an aircraft during a turn could be overcome via wingtip aerodynamics alone, without use of vertical tails or rudders.
Bowers will discuss the history, research and uses of the sub-scale Prandtl-D flying wing, a radio-controlled glider model designed, built and flown by the aerospace engineering students that he mentored during the 2012 and 2013 Aeronautics Academy Internship at NASA Dryden.
Adverse yaw due to induced drag has always been one of the thorny problems of flight. The students proved that not only could adverse yaw be overcome, but it could be turned into proverse yaw just as birds achieve it, without relying on rudders or complicated computerized flight controls to accomplish it.
Paris Williams <<pariswilliamsphd>> writes:
Taking in the big picture: Those who have flown with me since my earlier competition days (beginning in the mid-late 90s), may recall that my old pattern was to charge really hard--all or nothing. I took big risks, nearly always led out (with or without anyone else), and won a lot of days but also bombed a lot of days. I flew every day for that day alone, going for the day wins and not really considering the larger picture of the entire competition. On one hand, I had a lot of fun flying like this and did win a few big meets. On the other hand, I also bombed a lot of meets and found myself riding one hell of an emotional roller coaster as I repeatedly went from hero to zero and back again.
Now coming back into the sport after taking some years off, Ive reconsidered my general strategy. Im trying to look at the competition more in its entirety now, holding back the reins a little more as I focus on flying more consistently and taking more calculated risks. I think its this shift in my attitude that paid off for me at the Nationals. The meet was almost entirely blue and windy, with climbs significantly lower, more broken and weaker than we typically have at Forbes. I think my old "pedal to the metal" strategy would have been a serious mistake.
Risk Management: We flew 7 out of 8 days at this meet, and many of the days were moderately to very difficult, with no clouds, light/broken lift, and low tops. As I mentioned above, this was definitely a meet to take in the big picture and fly consistently. There were only a few of us who made goal every day, with the exception of one day in which nobody made goal, where Mike Bilyk and I tied for second behind Carl Wallbank who tends to excel on these kinds of days. I worked hard on pulling in the reins and doing my best to stay with other pilots. I generally stayed in lift longer and skipped weak lift less frequently than I ordinarily do.
Learning to tolerate the gaggle: One thing Ive always struggled with is serious gaggle aversion. While many other pilots suffer from "gaggle suck," always being drawn to other gliders and gaggles, Ive suffered from the opposite affliction, often avoiding and leaving gaggles even when they were likely in the best lift in the area. In my opinion, to be a good gaggle pilot, you need to ride a fine line between being somewhat assertive (not allowing others to push you out of the lift, and being prepared to turn inside someone when they fade a little too far from the core) and being blatantly inconsiderate and even dangerous (forcing people out of the core, etc.).
While pilots who utilize the latter strategy generally do quite well in gaggles (Im not mentioning any names here), they risk alienating themselves from others both in the air and on the ground. Personally, Ive tended to be a little too far on the considerate side ("sure, come on in, theres room for all of us in this core ," "Ill drop beneath you so we can both have our own space and climb more effectively ," etc.) as well as the untrustworthy side (keeping the bar pulled in when below people to avoid climbing up through them, since Im worried they wont get out of the way).
The problem with this is that by trying to minimize conflict in this way, my general pattern has been to not do so well in the gaggles, especially the dense ones. On the other hand, having as much experience as I do, Im usually pretty good at quickly centering up on the core and maximizing my climb, so when Im on top, I usually find it relatively easy to stay on top, and when I come in beneath other gliders, I usually climb up to them fairly quicklybut then I run into that little problem of catching up to the others but then not being comfortable climbing through them when the opportunity presents itself
Because of the relatively weak, blue conditions, this meet was definitely a gaggle meet, and it forced me to (a) resist my impulse to avoid and run away from gaggles, and (b) to be a little more assertive in the gaggles (while still not compromising my personal values to the point of being an inconsiderate prick). No doubt, I still have a lot more work to do in this arena.
Im really glad to see the up and coming "young guns": Its been disappointing to watch the number of competitors dwindle and age over the years. But my hope for the sport has been renewed as Ive had the privilege to fly with a number of up and coming "young guns"such as Jonas Lobitz, Mike Bilyk, and Glen McFarlane (whos a little less young than the others but flying great for a relatively new comp pilot). I was particularly impressed with Mikes flying at this comp, considering hes only competed in 4 comps prior to this one(!)
It no doubt helped that hes light on his glider, as climbing well was so important given the conditions that we had, but hes also clearly a very talented thermaler. I witnessed that his strategy was to essentially latch on to the more experienced pilots (usually me during this comp) and minimize risks by avoiding leading out himself, which I found mildly frustrating at times since I appreciate it when others share this risk and fly more collaboratively, but given his experience level and the difficult conditions we had, who can blame him? Im sure that with time, hell gain the experience he needs to become more confident leading out and flying on his own when necessary, and that hell eventually become a major asset to the U.S. team.
Regarding Jonas, I found it interesting how similar he and I are with regard to decision makingno matter what happened, we nearly always ended up flying together, and I found him a real pleasure to fly withnot afraid to lead out, always fanning out on glide, and working really well with me and others to quickly locate the strongest core. Its a shame he landed just short of goal on the last day, but given that he was less than 50 points behind first place, I completely agree with his strategy to take some larger risks that day. I was actually surprised that Mike didnt take more risks himself (only 23 points behind me for the lead), but I think this is one of those times where Jonass extra experience and confidence revealed itself.
Having good equipment: Finally, theres no doubt that having good equipment is a very important factor in doing well at a meet like this one. I was flying a 2012 model Combat GT 13.2, the same model I flew in Florida two years ago so it is slightly outdated (not having the most recent rib templates, etc.), but still doing just fine (better than fine) in this field. One thing that Ive come to love about the Combats is their ability to thermal nearly hands offsimply set the bank angle and let it go, so even though I was flying 4-6 hours every day for 7 out of 8 days, I didnt struggle at all with muscle fatigue.
However, the Combats do seem to prefer a slightly steeper bank angle than the Moyes RX's (based on what I observed of others), so I did experience a little incompatibility in the denser gaggles in that I had to work a little to maintain the flatter bank angles which most other pilots here seemed to want to fly at (since about 80% of the field was flying the same gliderthe Moyes RX).
Given that my model (2012) is approaching two years old, I was surprised to see how well I was gliding against most of the field, especially at the higher speeds. While most of us appeared to be gliding very similarly at the low and mid-range speeds, I clearly had an advantage over much of the field at the higher speeds (above about 45mph/75kph); but unfortunately, because of the weather conditions at this meet, we didnt do a whole lot of flying at the higher speeds, and so I didnt have the opportunity to use this advantage as much as I would have liked.
I will say that I flew all but the last day with ballast, so this likely played some role in my particularly good glide performance. I actually would have preferred to remove the ballast to sacrifice some glide for better climb, but as I fly in a second-hand harness not specifically designed for me, I have some CG issues with it (my head floats up when I remove the ballast which sits above my shoulders), so I had to leave the ballast in. Towards the end of the meet, however, someone told me of a way that I could fairly easily modify my harness to solve the CG problem, so I gave this a go and was able to remove the ballast on the last day, which was another weak, blue, windy day.
I did notice an improvement in my climbing, and I still had a good high speed glide (though somewhat less than what I had with the ballast), as was made clear when I was able to outrace Mike Bilyk (flying a Moyes RX) into goal by a few seconds on final glide.
One final word about the Combat modelsthe Combats come not only in a range of sizes but also in a range of aspect ratios (higher aspect ratios generally have the benefit of improving overall performance but make the glider generally handle and behave like a larger glider than you would expect for the given sail area). To date, they have just one super-high aspect Combat on the marketthe 13.5 (with an 8.5 aspect ratio)which I flew at the Worlds and was absolutely delighted with the climb and glide performance.
However, it is definitely a little big for me (I weigh 69kg/150lb), and while I found the handling just fine when flying on my own, I was struggling a bit with it in the dense gaggles (when having to do a lot of evasive maneuvering). Aeros has recently been putting a lot of effort into developing a smaller high aspect ratio glider (a 12.7, with an 8.4 aspect ratio), but unfortunately, it wasnt ready in time for Forbes, which is why I flew the 13.2. If only I had the 12.7 at Forbes, who knows, maybe I could have taken a day off ;-)
Anyway, the expectation is that the 12.7 will be ready in time for the PreWorlds in about six weeks, and then ready for the market shortly after that. Aeros is also preparing to unsheathe their fully-carbon option (which I believe will be available for most sizes) hopefully in time for the PreWorlds (with full oval-shaped as well as conical-shaped carbon leading edges and even carbon sprogs and synthetic sprog cablesthe oval/conical shape allows for a maximal balance of high performance and good handling). I cant wait!
On Thursday, January 9th, at 10 AM, Steve Blenkinsop, Phil Shroder, and I started pedaling our push bikes (as they say here) from Mount Beauty up to the Fall Creek ski area, thirty one kilometers and a moderately difficult to steep climb in places. I was hurting by the time we got to the ski area. After a light lunch Phil headed back down and Steve and I continued on our way up to the crest of the Great Dividing Range.
After climbing quite a bit out of Fall Creek, we found mostly down or flat areas to Fisherman's Rest at seventy eight kilometers and the Blue Duck Inn and pub, thirty kilometers from the town of Omeo. we had crossed the Great Dividing Range and come down out of the high Alpine plains and were staying along the river at: http://blueduckinn.com.au.
On Friday rode to Omeo then up to Dinner Plain behind Mount Hothem. Riders who are enthusiastic do the route that we are doing in three days, in one day (235 kilometers and three peaks). Lots of them were out today practicing for the big race or ride which we think happens on Australia Day and rides in March. More bikes than cars near the top.
At more than 40km in length, the climb from Omeo to Dinner Plain is a real test of physical and mental toughness. While its not uphill all the way there are several long descents and flat sections throughout there is enough tough climbing to make this a very challenging ride.
I don't know if I'm mentally tough enough or not, but I got here. I passed by Steve who was taking a break and was distracted killing a pile of twenty horse flies. Then he went back three kilometers in the flatter area trying to find me. Had a nice lunch at Dinner Plain before he showed up. We're at the Hotel High Plains (4.5 stars) in Dinner Plain on Friday afternoon ($130/night). It started raining at 4 PM.
1552 nutritional calories from Omeo to Dinner Plain. The ride to Mount Hothem from Dinner Plain is 14 kilometers on Saturday and then down to Bright. Two category 1 climbs in two days. The climb from Bright to Hothem in beyond category, but we are doing it the opposite direction, so hopefully it won't be as bad.
Steve is carrying very little in the pack I lent to him. The bag on the back of my bike (which contains the Oz Report World Headquarters) weighs way more than the bike.
Half way up from Mount Beauty to Fall Creek ski area and Bogong Village on Thursday with Steve Blenkinsop (Photo by Phil Shroder):
The bottom of Falls Creek ski area (Steve's photo):
Omeo for breakfast after staying at the Blue Duck, with an internet connection for Oz Report publishing (Steve's):
Two UA tee-shirts only, both red.