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Oct 26

Written by: Jeff Shapiro
10/26/2009 2:09 PM 

Well, I have been having some issues getting on line for some reason, coupled with getting settled and have yet to get a blog post together so sorry for the consolidation.
I arrived at the airport (thanks Steve) with plenty of time and it turned out to be a good thing because it turned into a bit of an effort to convince the folks at the counter that the glider would indeed fit on the plane. It's so funny, the process of traveling with a glider is so much less about the rules and regulations and much more about your people skills. I was lucky to be at a counter by myself talking to a nice woman while (unknown to me) Craig, Alex and John were 5 counters down having difficulties, struggling with what looked like an unhappy woman. Only when a handler came down and told the woman helping me that they are "turning down" gliders and mine would also not be going on the plane did I realize there might be an issue. In the end, it turned out to be no issue at all and I paid my fees and took my wing to the TSA door. Turns out that in the confusion, we basically all paid different amounts. Crazy.
We had a nice flight and arrived into a press filled airport, doing interviews for the local news and trying to get organized after checking through customs. It's amazing how well the local pilots are taking care of us. They picked up 10 pilots and 11 gliders, drove us to our hotel (that they had arranged for us) and have made the transition into their beautiful country as easy as it could be.
A couple of great flying days have followed. Jeff and others are doing a great job documenting so hopefully I am not being too redundant with my photos. Instead I wanted to write a little about the flying here.

We have had the option to either foot launch from a very well manicured launch site or to aero tow from the LZ behind a trike owned by Raul. The conditions are overcast and it would seem that the flying would not be that good but it is just the opposite. The air is so nice and the thermals are smooth. We climb over a variety of terrain ranging from equatorial forest to shrimp fields and rivers to full on city.

Yesterday, we all drove up the hill to launch from the mountain. Raul launched first and found a climb over the LZ. Jeff and I decided to launch next. My plan was to run off the hill 5 seconds after OB so that we could work together to find lift. After he got into the air, I walked up and said clear. One of the local Para pilots must not have heard me because 3 steps into it, I heard a loud bonk and felt the glider yaw a bit. The Montana pilot in me kicked in and I powered through it and got off the hill, no worries. I actually felt bad that I kinda clobbered the guy in the back of the head;-) We had launched into light conditions and right away, it seemed like the lift was lee side. We both scratched hard but ended up in the LZ in less than 20 minutes which stung a bit so when we could get a tow back into the air about 40 mins later, we were both keen.
Our second flight ended up being one to remember, we got up above launch and started to get to know the area a little better. We flew together locally and only ventured up the range short distances, taking turns strafing launch and making skimming tree top runs occasionally ringing up tip to tip. One particular climb, Jeff and I were turning tight and he later told me that he was staring at my top surface the whole time which ended up making hem feel a tad air sick. I just kept him in a spot where I couldn't see him through my sail, spinning round and round knowing that he was less than 100 feet away on the other side of my wing. We climbed like that for so long, I started to doubt whether he was still there or not and would look around a little only to see a sliver of him pop out from my leading edge quite close. It was really fun and we ended up climbing in "glass off" like conditions almost to cloud base where we hooked up with a gaggle of black vultures. I took a couple of photos of Jeff flying with the gang of birds but the images turned out blurry. It's really too bad because it was one of those moments that would have been magic to capture. There was 6-8 vultures and Jeff's bright wing all turning in a tight circle and it really encompassed what I feel when I'm climbing in a hang glider. I got to within 10 feet of vultures several times and was satiated by the end of the flight which turned out to be almost 2.5 hours. We had a nice dinner with the group and crashed out after a couple of "big days". Two more days here in Guayaquil and then off to the coast for the ridge race.


2 comment(s) so far...

Re: Welcome to Ecuador

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By tiffany jewelry on   6/23/2010 10:39 PM


The folks at Highland Aerosports prove you just need the right attitude and spirit to make something happen. $290 sounds like a little, but it'll pay for a teacher's salary for a MONTH down in Ecuador with $40 left over!!

By abercrombie on   8/2/2010 6:49 AM

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