After going away to visit family and missing 2 weeks of amazing flying back home, I finally got some amazing air time yesterday. My first flight was a tandem with a pilot friend who'd never been on a tandem before, and we had the perfect flight. Takeoff was flawless, we caught a thermal that took us above launch when other people were sinking out, and ended with a one-step landing. Couldn't have asked for better. But the day kept improving!
I went back up to launch & some people were choosing to drive down instead of fly because the air looked punchy. For the first time in a long time I was actually nervous, maybe because I hadn't flown solo in almost a month! 3 of us decided we'd try to fly a small cross-country (XC) flight over the back together, so I took a deep breath & launched. As soon as my feet left the ground I was so excited to be in the air, caught a great thermal and rode it up to almost twice the height of launch & took off on my XC. The plan was to follow one of the pilots who'd done this route before, but I have a little problem with something called patience. So I pushed on ahead, leading the others along the mountain ridge.
My view heading over the back.
I tried to cross to a small hill that usually gives off thermals & lets you fly further (like across the valley) but as you can see from the next picture the sun was only on the far side, and I hit too much sink in the shade. I landed in one of the big light fields beside the intersection on the left side of the photo, quite pleased with myself. Luckily one of the other pilots came & picked us up, 3 of us ended up landing here.
We picked up another pilot who landed out & headed back up the mountain. I was pretty tired by now, feeling the crash after the adrenaline rush of a great tandem & fun XC. But Rob said he'd go tandem with me, and conditions looked mellow, so I figured a quick sled ride would be fine & get me one flight closer to being signed off. We set up our tandem, reviewed the launch procedure & I inflated my wing. Now my only instruction really was telling him to WAIT until I said run. But the problem with taking another pilot on a tandem is that sometimes they get their own ideas ;) So the wing came up crooked & I was just about to kill it when Rob started barrelling off launch! I think I squealed but all I could do was try and fly the wing as he charged off the hill. We made it (not at all gracefully) by the sheer force of will. A good lesson though, because you never know if your passenger will listen to you. So I need to make sure my instructions are very clear, that I abort the takeoff immediately if I don't like it, and stay calm & fly the wing no matter what, which thankfully I know I can already do. Our flight was fantastic though, we thermalled up over launch after everyone else had sunk out, and we had another perfect landing.