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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fun at Kumayaay Viewpoint (Sat, May 21, 2011)

Preparing to hang glide and walk off a perfectly good cliff!!
 During my agonizing series of climbs up the Sunrise Highway (at one point I actually got off and walked the bicycle... oy vey!!) I eventually reached the Kumayaay Viewpoint.  By the way, some maps refer to it as the Kwimee Viewpoint.  For our purposes we'll call it "the KV."

Relieved to be off the bike and able to rest for a while, I surveyed the desert below.  Unbelieveably beautiful.  Just over a bump in the trail were three guys preparing hang gliders.  I wandered over and became the sort of annoying pest I hate coming around me.

"Are you guys going to do what I think you're going to do?" I snidely inquired.

They were nice enough.  Oh yeah, they're going to walk off the cliff and go flying.  Well, I wanted to stick around to see that.

Then one of them approached me.  "Are you going to be here in roughly half an hour?" he asked.

A lot of things went through my head.  I was on this ridiculous time constraint where I was trying to make Tecate before sundown.  It was already around 1:00 pm.  The ride up the Highway had been physically difficult and promised to continue to be just as hard.  Any delay might cost me precious time.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.  There was no way in hell I could waste a half hour at that spot.

"Sure, I'll be here," I said cheerfully. 

"Would you be willing to help us take off?"

"Yeah, sure.  I'd be willing."

"Great!"  He clapped me on the shoulder.

Helping them take off involved forming an "o" with thumb and forefinger and enclosing a guy wire in those "o's."  The idea is to put no pressure on the guy wire as long as the wing remains level, but to grab it in the event the wind suddenly catches it just before takeoff.  You don't want someone just before they step off the cliff have the wind tilt the wing at a wierd angle causing a crash.  Once the pilot says, "Clear!" though... back off and leave the guy wire alone.

It requires someone under each wing, poised to grap the guy wires.  It seemed simple enough and in fact everything went well.  I was only called on to reposition the wing a little one time.  All 3 pilots stepped into space and sailed away beautifully.  The last one to go was the guy who asked me to assist.

"Clear," he yelled as he stepped off the cliff.  "And thank you!!" as he sailed into the beautiful mountain/desert air.

Fully assembled and ready for flight.

And away one of our 3 pilots went!!

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