Peter wrote quite many articles about flying and mount 7. Fred wants to have them all on this website. And it's a good read! - Here articles written or published in 1994. Contributed by Fred Wilson and by Brenda Bowle-Evans
Things are quiet, so let's pick a topic - transitions. I make a transition from prone to upright every morning when I get out of bed, or at least that's the idea. I reverse that transition, from upright to prone every time I launch with my hang glider. At Mt 7 we fly in what is called a pod. When you go to launch you look a bit like a penguin because its tail is hanging out behind you. Once in the air you snuggle down in it, lying face down and head first, and get comfortable. It sounds ridiculous putting it like this - you will just have to believe me - it works really well!
So here we are again up at launch. Your head is half full of left over hassles from below, whether or not you have a driver, all the things wrong with truck that you never seem to get to the end of, and so on. It is dirty at launch. The dust was almost an inch deep for a while this summer. The ground is sort of hard and ugly, and it hurts when it hits you. The air is clean and pure. Even when it slams you around it leaves no mark, save a little sweat. The ribbons are streaming nicely in the updrafts flowing over the knoll. I can hear ravens playing in back of the cabin somewhere - they are having fun. And look, see that eagle soaring over the North bowl - he is not moving a muscle, and he is carving spiralling turns upwards as effortlessly as only an eagle can do. I want to be out there!! Get the glider off the rack and set-up. Concentrate. No mistakes. The same routine every time. That is EVERY time. It is cycling nicely, in fact it is actually picking up a bit - instruments, harness, get dressed. Time to go. Check out exactly which area to launch from. Someone went from the ramp out front, but they were quite a while juggling around before they got off. Seems to be out of the South. I go and look - sure enough, it is all across the ramp, but it is staight up the cliff due South, steady and laminar, if a little strong. By this time I am only partly in this world. The rest of me is half way out there - in a state of transition. Hook-in, carry the glider up to the top. Hang-check - the ultimate test of 'Am I hooked-In?' O.K. Feels good, looks good. In that order. Get in position. Set it down and look out to where we are about to go. Watch the trees move - way down below and right in front. Watch the birds. Watch any other gliders. Feel it. Sense it. Lift the glider. Watch the ribbons, watch the tell-tale on the nose wire. My wing is lifting - it is ready to fly. Hold it down yet and pull that bar in. "No pressure! No pressure!" from both wire people. I am balanced - "CLEAR!!" I am moving, balance, speed, power, shoulders in, two paces is all this takes, this is flight, keep that pitch just so, the air I have been waiting for rushes over me, my wing and I are airborne. We are in our other dimension. Wafted away on the winds of seven. Transitions.
Peter Bowle-Evans Golden, 15 Aug 1994
Training was getting going nicely, with several new pilots getting first high flights, before the weather changed. So while it is quiet again, let's pick another topic - "Landing Out". This is the term used to describe landing at any place other than one's regular LZ. Landing out is fun. As you fly away from the reach of Nicholson, you set your sights on the next possible LZ. You always maintain at least one potential landing goal in range, and very often two or more. Then whenever you wish or need it, you fly out to the valley and head over to one of your spots. The exciting thing is that since you will be unfamiliar with it, you do not know everything about the place you are going to land in before you get there. The potential for winter time story telling is bountiful! You see, once you have launched, you HAVE to make a landing - there is absolutely no choice! You are on the end of 'What goes up must come down', whether you like it or not. As you approach your chosen LZ, your options narrow. The technical terms involve "Windows". The reality is a sort of predestination, since the closer you get, the less you can alter either the place or moment of your touchdown. 'Touch' down is what you hope it will be. You may also nose-in, bonk-in, tail-slide, ground-loop, slam-in or, heaven forbid, just plain crash! The "grass" that looks so nice from 10,000 feet on some of the benches can be 10 feet tall and has branches! Similarly inviting areas in the valley bottom can have water waist deep! If the field is not too big, then you may have to fly your approach over whatever else is there. Water, trees, the railway track with a coal train going by, a power line and a barbed wire fence are one such I recall. There are roads, traffic, and houses. Hang gliders and human bodies do not mix well with any of these. An area that looked flat and level from high above can turn out to be rough, uneven and quite steeply sloping. Almost every building has a power line going to it. Round bales are not cool. A big field is best by far, but you do not always have a choice. Now there is the all important issue of wind direction. Any random area will not have a friendly windsock - you must detirmine this from other things. With experience this becomes reasonably obvious, but in the beginning it is not that easy. You must get it right, or pay the consequences. If the bushes are dancing like crazy and the trees are waving like blades of grass, this is not good news. In terms of launching, this is called "Too strong for hang gliding", but here you are hang gliding anyway! I have found knee pads worthwhile on occasion.
And who might you meet? One day this spring I realised after a while that the munching cattle that were slowly but surely gathering around me were most excellently equipped as bulls, every last one of them! Fortunately for me, they were young bulls and did not realise that that they were bulls. I took a photograph of them from the safe side of the fence! Landing out is all sorts of fun!
Peter Bowle-Evans Golden, 25 August 1994
People sometimes ask me, "How do you get home again?" It is a good question! You have soared with eagles, had an awesome flight down the valley and survived landing out. I have a tendency to have a snooze in the sun about this time. This can be curtailed by the likes of bulls and impending thunderstorms. The theory is that you have a driver. You have talked to them on the radio during the flight and they know where you are landing. They arrive there just as you do, take a photo of you coming in, and hand you a cold beer the moment you have touched down. Most pertinently, they are there to help you break down, load your equipment and drive you home. This is the theory. This complete scenario has happened to me once in four years! The reality is different. Most commonly, you somehow rarely have a driver when you fly cross country. If you do, then usually one or other of the radios will select one of their limmitless ways of crapping out. Failing that, you will realise that you flew without it today. Sometimes the driver may decide that they do not like your truck, or that they would rather do something else. If you promised faithfully that you were not going anywhere today, this will assuredly get you at least way out of sight down the range. If you said you would fly South, then of course you will end up flying North. In any case, any driver that you may have had will tend to lose interest in you and drive home, go to the pub, and generally carry on with the rest of their life.
So, once you have everything back in the bag, you finally have to deal with getting home. Many landing places can be a mile or more of walking from a travelled road. One day I walked a full 5 miles along a gravel road, and not a single vehicle came by. So by and by you are on the highway, and start trying to hitch a ride back to Golden. The beautiful fact that this valley is quiet and peaceful also means there is often very little traffic on the road, and what there is very often is not going very far. It is reasuring that there are people around for whom what is five miles along the road is the most important part of their day, but it can make for slow hitch-hiking. Very often they are going to the nearest local store. Now it so happens that most of these are licensed, so naturally cold beer or a bottle of economical wine slips right down. If you start this at say Edgewater, by the time you get to Parson it hardly seems to matter whether you ever get home at all! If it is starting to rain or thunder, which on a number of occasions it is, not to mention getting dark, it is advisable to stock-up while they are still open. I have spent a number of pleasant evenings on the front deck of the Harrogate store - they are quite hospitable there. I recall one night when there were also two nice ladies whose car had picked this spot to die. It was a fine summer evening, then I dropped in, as you might say, and after a while none of us really cared about going anywhere!
There is one last resort when all else fails. You phone your husband or wife and try get them thinking that they would like to see you home tonight, and that therefore they should come out and fetch you. The verbal response goes something like,"You stupid idiot, why can't you fly back to Nicholson like everybody else? No!" How can you explain that landing at Nicholson was one of the very things that you wanted NOT to do today? Listen, Honey, cross country is one of the things it's all about! By and by they usually do come, but you are in the well used dog house again.
Look on the bright side - you flew another 50 K's today!
Peter Bowle-Evans Golden, 31 August 1994
After finishing my first article on this subject, I felt I had dwelt on the hassles a bit. Now I must relate some of the good stories. Firstly, sometimes the radios do work!! There are a few select individuals who have driven for me who can attest to this. It is just super to come in on final glide and see your truck approaching along the highway, and hear your driver saying he has you in sight. The ultimate is to hear her saying, "I'm already at your LZ and I've got your cold beer right here, Pete", and then the moment you are on the ground she hands it to you as fast as you can rip your full-face helmet off your head! Another good one is phoning a pre-arranged place where they are waiting for your call, and then they set-off right away, and knowing exactly where to find you. You do have to get to a phone for this, but that is not that hard, especially if you keep this in mind when selecting a landing spot, and drivers quite like it because they avoid things like chasing around looking for some spot they have never heard of let alone been to.
One day, the farmer was baling hay in the field I landed in. After a while he took a break as his wife came in with his afternoon snack, so I went over to thank him for my use of his field and generally have a chat. A short while later his wife was driving me to town. A special trip, being nice, just for me. These are the sort of people that make me like living here. Thanks Ida. One evening, and a car screaches to a halt, "What are you doing here? Do you need a ride or something?" She drove me from Brisco to town, although that was not exactly where she was going. Thanks Dorothy. I owe you one! Another day, "I don't know what you are doing down here, but you had better get in so we can get going again!" Thanks Doug. I knock at a door one hot afternoon, mostly asking for change so I can use a Coke machine that is just outside, and the next thing I am drinking cold beer. I don't think we exchanged names, but if you read this and remember, 'Thanks'. A car comes to a halt beside this field one day. It looks sort of official. This may not be good. "Would you like to come to the house and use the phone and have a cold drink?" You bet! Thanks Phil. It goes on. These are some personal stories, but I have heard similar ones from other pilots.
Then there are occasions when it is busy in July when you find a spot where there already other gliders landed together with their associated retrieval vehicles, and this often gets you home. Of course, if your own is there, you cram everyone in or on somehow.
There is one last twist to all this. With a hang glider, unless you have been picked up by another hang gliding vehicle that has room on its rack, you still have to drive back with your own to get your glider. This is just a fact of hang gliding. But you have had a good day, and it makes you appreciate just how far you have flown.
Peter Bowle-Evans Golden, 01 September 1994
As you drive up the road, the reality of what you are going to do starts to roll around your mind. Sure, you have logically built up to it, are fully trained, equipped and prepared - subject to launch conditions when you get there, of course. But that was when it was 'one day', 'some other day', or even 'tomorrow' - now it is "Today!" Whatever it is that you do when you get nervous, this is one of the occasions in your life when you may do it. Some folks talk a lot, some go very quiet, some become very agreeable or argumentative. Whatever you call it, you have emotions running around - if you do not, then perhaps you should not be doing this, because it probably means you have not thought of something, and this is an activity where some things simply can NOT be missed. By and by you are there on launch. If your guide, instructor or mentor has done their part today, it WILL be suitable launch conditions for you. This important assessment is something this person does for you - 'Is this a good time to go up ?'. False starts are not good for the psyche. If conditions do prove unfavorable, then of course you do not fly, but it is best when you can.
You are hooked in, clipped in, hang checked, lines checked - as appropriate to hang glider or paraglider - pre-flighted, poised on a launch and ready to go. If radios are being used, this is all in place and working. The best launch path has been selected. You have received a pre-flight briefing, the core of which will have been something like, "And when you get out there, you just head straight for that field!!" In other words, you have run out of excuses!
Aside from a few technical things, you basically here something like, "Looking good, any time you are ready". Let's not be kidding now. This can take a little bit of self discipline. Then you are moving, and it all starts to happen. It gets better and better. Your wing is flying, a few more paces - you are off!! WOOOOOW!!! Air rushes around you. You are not instantly planning your landing like all your other training flights before. Now you are part of life in the air. Head for that field! You bet! But you have time - for me it was like looking down at an animated aerial photograph - no sensation of height, just hanging out over the sloughs with every fibre of my being peaking with smooth excitement. Everything else in the universe has ceased to exist. THIS is IT! When you get over the field, you have more height over the ground than you know what to do with. No problem getting there. Now you start to turn. In a few minutes you have made more turns - 90 degrees, 180 degrees, 360 degrees, part way round or all the way round - than you have in all your training before. Now reality starts to sneak its way in again. Landing is coming up. You follow ALL your instructions. You try to assess the drift as you circle above the field. You look for the wind socks and streamers, and PAT ATTENTION to what they are doing, which direction they are telling you the wind is going on the ground. You chose the direction for your final approach - and do it ! This is it, here it comes - final glide, here's the ground, this IS going to end, the worst that can happen now is a bonk, I'm really doing this, feel the glider, try to get it just right - FLARE!!! Almost whatever happens next hardly matters. A perfect landing, a run on the training wheels, a bonk or bump of some kind. YOU HAVE MADE IT !!! YIPPEE! WOW! ALL RIGHT! This is a high point of your life.
[This is a letter sent in 1995 about the article that follows, which was written in 1994.]
GOLDEN FLYING SITE
Box 2035, Golden, B.C., V0A 1H0
Mr Peter Bowle-Evans
Site Development Manager & Director Zone 1 HGABC
(Hang Gliding Association of British Columbia)
Tel:-Home:348-2227 Office:344-5269 Fax:344-5260
Date:- 15 February 1995
To:- Cross Country Magazine
Route du Val Suzon
Tel: 33 / 80 35 47 43
Fax: 33 / 80 35 47 48
I have been writing some articles for our local newspapers and flying magazines. People seemed to like this one - I would be pleased if you would like to use it too. The disk has it in WP 5.1 - no need to return the disk. If you like this article, I may have some others from time to time.
There was a glass-off a couple of Sundays ago. I hooked a nice fall thermal over the cliffs out front; positive lift, and just big enough to send me spiralling upwards on a wing tip. Spiralling upwards to higher levels, into the arena of 7. Then follow the patterns of the day up over the mountain. It was cloudless and clear, sharp and clear. The mountain peaks near and far are bare from a long summer. The rocky peaks to the East glowed red in the early evening sun. Sun that was streaking across this upper world of air and mountain tops.
Evening sun - evening of the day, and evening of the summer too. After a while it grew cold and began to buffet around. So start to drop a little lower. Fly back through the bowls and over the ridges. There are people at Launch again - the evening crowd. Let's fly over and see if we can see who it is. It's paragliders, but no-one is getting off. No surprise - the air is getting stronger: stronger and stronger the lower I go. This is soaring. This is glass-off. Everwhere is up. I spiral again, but downwards this time. It may be the only way to get down soon. I see the people and vehicles, and then soar up and away again. I am playing; swoop down there, sail upwards here. Looking back shoulder to shoulder with the top of 7. Sailing on wings wherever I please, or wherever the will takes me. Or so I think.
And then HE is there. Less than a wing-span away. Whose wing-span? His or mine? It doesn't really matter. We can each fly within the limits of our own. He is totally relaxed, just hanging in the air. His wing tips are drooping, as are his feet and head. The tips of his plumage are ragged in the wind, matching the harshness of his beak and talons, and the savagery of his feeding on live creatures. Air that would trash me to pieces would stroke this bird soothingly. For moments we are suspended together, side by side, motionless between us, looking at each other. He is looking at me from the corner of one eye, and I am transfixed by him. Have I seen this eagle before? Is this totally by chance of playing in the same place at the same time, or has he been watching all summer, or even for years? Does he recognise my glider? I flash back in my mind to a day four years ago, when I sat on the ramp wondering if I really wanted to fly out there, with the wind blowing strong much like today, and then there, seemingly close enough to reach out and touch, was an eagle, hanging stationary in the wind, and I knew - I wanted to be there. And today, now, in these moments, I am out here too. Hanging in the wind, motionless with the eagle. And then we turn, and swoop away with the wind, each our own way, and it is over.
Did you know that the baby eagle is conceived in the air? Tumbling in the air is where the parent birds mate. The wind and the air is the cradle of the eagle. This is who really belongs on and over this mountain. I wish that I may come to follow him one day; more than wave when he comes by. If we can learn where they nest, then we can know where never to go and never disturb them. For they are the masters of 7.
Mt 7, Golden, B.C., Canada 03 October 1994
Surrounded by cloud, yet not in cloud; looking down on the bottoms of the clouds, yet not in cloud: and still going up!
It is the Saturday of the July long weekend. I am down the valley somewhere South of Brisco. I am test flying a new glider today - Airborne, a Blade. It is also the last day of the Hang Gliding Nationals. The task is race to Juniper Heights at Invermere, and I intend to make goal, and did. It is a classic Golden day, with powerful thermals and exciting things in between. I have been flying with an Australian - she is also flying a Blade. I follow her, then she follows me for a while, the standard practice of using each other as thermal indicators. I start climbing in another one, somewhere about 8000 feet. Good, I am getting up again. 9000 feet, that's better, I am in the game again. 10,000 feet and some pretty strong kicks and about 1000 feet per minute up, maybe more. 11,000 feet, going strong - I may be going to get high. 12,000 feet - I am getting high. I am at least as high as everyone else around now. 13,000 feet - I might better my personal highest today. Two of us were up at 13,500 over 7 one evening a couple of summers ago. By this time I am already higher than I need to be to pull out and head on down the range toward goal, but getting high is one of the things that hang gliding and paragliding are all about, and I am not about to miss this opportunity. My companion, Neva, has flown elsewhere by this time, so I am on my own. I like this. 14,000 feet! My previous high went by unnoticed in the roar of the lift. And now I take in my surroundings. I am up in a dome. Moisture condenses out of the air at a certain point, depending on conditions, but on any day it basically occurs at a certain altitude, which is why the bottoms of clouds are mostly flat. We call this "cloudbase". Now sometimes a thermal may rise fast enough that this moisture does not have time to condense right away, and the column of air continues to rise free of water droplets - that is, "cloud". This rising column of clear air punches its way upwards, through other cloud sometimes. A little later the moisture does condense out, to pour back down around its own thermal, and mingle with the surrounding clouds. This is the dome. This is where I am now. I am in clear air, but am surrounded by cloud all around, and am looking down at cloudbase! Wow! This my Cathedral In the Sky. I have heard other pilots talk about domes. Well, this is another first for me, and I am impressed! Not only that, but I am STILL going UP! Time to pull out. I pick a sort of line through some thinner areas of cloud, and head out through the rim of the dome into what seems to be somewhere else. Cloudbase is all over the place this afternoon. And all the while I am still going up! At about 14,340 feet I finally began to not go up any more. I could have gone higher - maybe next time.
As Neva said later, "And then you got high - REALLY high!"
(N.B. Any reference to persons real or imaginary is entirely fictitious)
Why is it that one person's misfortunes become the next persons laughs? This is how it goes though, right? Screwed-up hang glider and paraglider landings - the ones where no-one really gets hurt, are no exception. I mean, when you realise that you can't undo the zipper of your pod, and so your legs are trapped inside this bag and you cannot get your feet out to run on or land on, and this has not happened to you before and you do not know how to get out - there is a way, and it is not hard, but no-one has explained it to you yet, or perhaps you were not paying attention when they did - all of a sudden this is a holy shit situation: to you! To watching pilots, it is real entertainment. They know that you will survive some sort of belly flop, skid in the dirt and general 'eat it' arrival. If they are unkind, they may take pictures or video. Above all, it is not them that are going in!! "Hey folks, come and watch this dude!" The sight of a hang glider coming straight for you on the highway as you drive innocently to town is instantly horrifying. When he zooms into the ditch and spins around a power pole before careering into the ground it is unbelievable (or so a friend told me) For the pilot, it is doomsday and another of those nine lives lost. Hitting power poles or their less visible guy wires is not good, but we have survived. A young hang glider pilot was totally devastated by shredding his sail on a barbed wire fence. Another was furious at breaking a leading edge after hitting a post on the same fence. Bad day for fences, that one. Watching home videos, and here comes this hang glider on final - at about fifteen feet off the deck the whole thing just plummets to the ground. Big, strong boy, he gets right up! But you can feel it just watching the movie. I am in this field one afternoon. There is this rushing sound, followed by another of these thuds that I swear you can feel hundreds of yards away. I think two things - hang glider, and my friend (no names here!) Sure enough, there is this yellow dart spiked to the ground. The expression on his dazed face as he eventually got up is fixed in my memories! Some foreign visitors had these hang gliders that had a sort of spar that extended out front. They looked a bit like giant lawn darts. As they came in to land one day, each and every one of them nosed in - bonk, bonk, bonk, bonk - until it looked like some giant had been playing lawn darts. We did not understand what they were garbling on about in their native tongue, but presumably it wasn't about their great landings. One fellow had a tailslide one day, and broke his keel. Beyond the points of hardware attachments, keels don't seem to have any structural or aerodynamic purpose on most hang gliders, and appear to be there more for convenience on the ground than anything else. This enterprising fellow made repair by stuffing something like a broom handle inside the two halves of his broken keel, and held it together with a couple of hose clamps! (Or at least that was the general appearance) I'm not sure if I would recommend this, but it worked. Of course, one pilot has inevitably made a belly flop in a fresh cowpat with a brand new, brightly colored pod. I gather there was even some hanging off his nose!! Is it cruel to laugh about these things? We watched a paraglider land in the water one day. From launch it was so obvious what was going to happen. We never figured out what he thought he was planning to do. You could see the splash down in the slough with the naked eye all the way from the mountain! Then there's trees. A training manual I have says somewhere words to the effect of, "Human fallibility being what it is, tree landings are inevitable. If you realise that you are going to have a tree landing, pick a healthy specimen and straight for the middle of it. When you get there, grab a sturdy limb and hang on to it as if your life depends on it, because it probably will!" (Probably good advice, but for once I have no personal experience) There is a story of one man who spent several hours tangled up in a tree (somewhere in the Vancouver or lower mainland area). There were numerous passers by, who basically thought, "If you managed to climb up there with that stupid thing tied to your back, then presumably you are getting what you wanted - bye!!" Paragliders tend to engage in more of this activity, at least in Golden. One visiting pilot, after being fished out of some tree in the Canyon, remarked that in his country things are so cramped and there are so few landing areas, that tree landings are quite common! He did not elaborate on just how you quite commonly replace the canopies, but then this is not one of our major problems. Tree escapades lend themselves to photography. Any rescue party, or just any plain party for that matter, has ample opportunity to get the best angles. The hapless pilot is helpless at this point, and probably not about to fall out of his or her tree at any moment, since they have probably been there for at least several minutes if not several hours by this time. Such photos are best brought out during winter BS sessions when the pilot in question has been bragging about their flying skills in general, and most especially if they have been giving advice on landing procedures!
How many of these things have happened to me? I will let you guess!