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** Please note that I am no champion spellar.
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Monday, August 22, 2005

The great obsession begins...

The title says it all; I am completely obsessed with hang gliding. I got into hang gliding about 18 or so months ago and it is something I now think about all the time - I just want to fly.

I was trained to fly at Windsports Soaring Center in Southern California by who I now refer to as my guru - Joe Greblo; and I immediately knew that the excited calm feeling I got after a flight was something I wanted more of, it really made me feel like life was going to be ok. I have a craving for pure focus and hang gliding really satisfies it. Currently I am a member of the Sylmar Hang Gliding Association and Kagel Mountain is my home away from home.

In my short hang gliding career of almost two years I have had the priviledge of flying many amazing sites all over the west coast and beyond. I spent the month of July traveling around Utah and Colorado were I did some epic flying, setting my personal best for both altitude(nearly 17k) and distance. A great sense of accomplishment for me as well as seeing some of the most beautiful places in the country from the air. Pure free flight - nothing like it. The trip was just a taste of XC flying and I want more.

After I returned from my CO/UT trip at the end of July it was time to prepare for the U.S. Nationals in Big Spring Texas. Earlier in the summer a few pilots at my club talked me into going on this trip to start gaining comp experience; those same pilots, Phil Bloom and Ron Wiener, became my coaches and it was now time for some intensive training at Kagel.

August 7th rolled around and it was time to go to Texas. Nine or ten pilots from Kagel loaded up and made the 18 hour trek to texas with equipment and gliders in tow. I was so nervous/excited I could hardly stand it. All the pilots I had read about in the oz report and the mag were there, kinda like the who's who of hang gliding; it was cool and intimidating. They all had so much experience and had flown so many miles and there I was with no comp experience flying a king-posted glider. After over-coming a few equipment obstacles on the first day it was on...I was flying in my first hang gliding competiton and doing quite well. When all was said and done I had beat nearly half the topless gliders, set my personal distance record (80 miles), and came in First Place in the sport class; what a thrill, my first hang gliding trophy. The entire experience was AMAZING and it really gave me the comp bug. I can't wait until next year's comp season.

Now I am on a quest to get high and go as far as I can, the great obsession has begun...