Tandemania... try it, you'll be glad you did

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Tandemania... try it, you'll be glad you did

Postby gracecab » Mon Oct 30, 2017 2:27 pm

Thought I'd write my reflections about the tandem with Mitch I had on 10/28/2017 in order to record the experience for others who may be thinking of doing the same.

I'm a 5 year PG pilot, male, 200 lbs, P2, with typically 20-40 mountain flights on average a year and a fair amount of ridge flying at Bates usually... but also fly Marshall, Elings/Wilcox occasionally. I'm 50, average shape, want to improve my skills, thermalling and strategic, and reading weather/signs, among other things.

First of all I've been getting a little stuck in my flying from the local mtn. launches: Skyport and EJ, VOR, etc.

It seems I keep doing the same thing with the same unwanted results, getting into situations of marginal lift (for me, not others) where I get frustrated, scared, or just distracted and end up landing much earlier than I wanted. (while others are tooling around happily). It's hard to know exactly where the stuck is. Like they say, you don't know what you don't know. You watch videos. Have some crackasauce on top. You read the internets about paragliding where those precious few articles exist. You talk to those who you respect... and now... You get a tandem with those who know best. :D

I really had not many expectations, or goals, I wanted to see what Mitch would do with the conditions (my typical conditions for flying). I wanted to be open minded, and empty my head from my own thoughts. It was marginal in my eyes, Saturday, and though it didn't seem like it would be a huge XC day, who knows, seeing how a pro makes lemonaid of the lemons 8) would be more close to the average conditions I fly in anyway. Like they say, anyone can go far on a big day... it's staying up in challenging lift...etc. I've found that to be true, I've been to Noon Peak on a day where I could hardly get down... super fun, but staying up on the inverted, bug fart thermal days, that is what I really need to learn.

Flight time: 45 Minutes. (launch 11:15 ish ?)
Conditions : Inverted at about 3k or more. Wind constant at EJ about 3-5 South/Eastsih
Sunny, with slight marine layer some fog over the coast/ocean and land
Wind: Wind constant at EJ about 3-5 South/Eastish
Course: EJ, La Cumbre, RR, Tit, Holy Hills, Parma

We launched from EJ, quickly and easily. Mitch let me know what the general plan was, to go straight for LaCumbre peak/face from EJ bowl launch. We did a few 'laps' or actually I think of them as sortees... we got lower and then went over the saddle to Cathedral Peak, found a thermal, went up, faded back to the face and did it a few more times. Eventually, we glided for RR, and ended up under the inversion and didn't hit any other lift until landing at Parma. Oh, some pretty healthy wingovers high over Parma too... :P

Mechanics of the flight: Seated comfortably in the tandem, legs crossed comfortably, and arms could clasp hands in front of the leading harness straps, helping to stabilize, and to help lean into turns along with Mitch. I got to use my personal vario, which I am trying to tweak to possibly more accurate settings for me, which was cool.

Some of the personal notes I've written down elsewhere, but these are the cliffnotes, my observations, and reflections which I tried to be based on objective input, not my own subjective filtering:

- Counted out loud consistently in every thermal that could have been possible turner (1, 2, 3...)
- Described as the left or right side of the wing was being lifted by thermal, to make the connection of what way to lean in, which we did
- Turned at the end of figure 8-s in lift, rather than in nothing. This way, the lost inertia would be made up from some lift. Much more efficient, esp. in light lift on the faces.
- Turned tightly, and tracked the 'snaky' thermals that day. We did lots of 'swinging' under canopy to bring our intertia back to convert to height.
- Described the other pilots, where they were, pointed out other weather and natural movements
- Gave quick answers to my questions, and made sure I understood the answers in flight
- Made the flight fun and gave a sense of involvement together.

All in all, I believe I can convert this experience into real improvement.

I can be more observant. I can be quicker in decision making. I can make tighter and/or more efficient thermal turns. My wing can endure more than I was thinking it could. (this will also be tested in my next SIV).

Remembering that we are heavily loaded in a tandem, and larger, does effect the results a bit. But, I believe being in a tandem only slightly limits the possible results in terms of thermalling and heights, and more so in very light patchy lift.

Conclusion: Excellent experience of both education and fun. In fact, it reminded me that this is just an outrageously fun sport/activity... it renewed my love for flying... just to be treated to a great flight and kick back and enjoy it... with a great person and friendly dude...

If you've been thinking of doing a tandem to move you farther on your learning curve, do it.

If you have any other questions about it, feel free to call me 805 448-8278. Better yet, call Mitch Riley... or any of the other experienced tandem pilots we get here in SB...
Tandem with Mitch 10/2017
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Google Earth KMZ File / Mitch Tandem with Chris
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Chris Ballmer aka gracecab
Ventura, CA
UP Kantega XC2 / Gin Verso
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