Learning Experiences:

March 12th: Frustration & Let Down

Frustration & Let DownI tell you what – Today was tough: Frustration & Let Down’s galore. I went out to the Ranch to fly and things didn’t work out too well. I realize now that it was a combination of the wind and my overall lack of experience that lead to my results. But first, my 28M wing was off to its annual and I was excited to try the new 30M wing I had just purchased from Paratoys. I saw the 30M as the ‘heavy lifter’ of sorts for my 300lb all up winter cold morning weight with camera gear in tow. I needed to check and set the brake toggle lengths and today was going to be the day I did it. Plus I was really looking forward to seeing the difference 2M would make on my landing gear.

I arrived at the ranch at around 7am, after waking at 5, falling asleep the night before in excitement and dreaming about this day all night. The first thing I did was assess the winds and set up accordingly. The wind was light and variable at around 3-5mph with occasional small gusts to 8 or so. Once I started setting up though, the wind decided to change. And change it did… Not so much in terms of speed, but direction. Over the course of the next 30 or so minutes, it started coming from everywhere, and couldn’t decide which way it wanted to stabilize. I could have called it circular. Once it settled down for a few minutes, I’d set up for one direction, and it’d shift to an entirely new direction. This happened about 4-5 times – That’s where my lack of experience kicked it. I should have packed up and tried for another day, but my determination and dreams kept me out there, trying. It was as if God himself was playing tricks on me. Not only that but hearing my new wing on the gravely asphalt every time I spread it out or pulled it into a rosette to face it another way gave me these sick feelings in my stomach of tearing fabric and stitches – None of which had happened by the end of the day.

Finally, things stabilized a bit and I decided to launch. The wind was now 7-9mph with an occasional 10mph. A little on the high side for a newbie and certainly for one who’d not done a reverse on the battlefield yet, but my stubborn determination got the best of me. Not surprisingly my first attempt failed: The wing shot up overhead fine but when I went to turn things went south… I guess I still don’t have that turn and run down quite yet. I kited yesterday at the beach and made practicing reverses a top priority, so I came to the ranch today with a new-found confidence in it. Nevertheless, the wing dropped off to one side and that was that. Hurry up, reset up, and try again. That I do, make a second go at it and the worst happens – The lines of my 2 day old Paratoys II 30M wing get wrapped around the prop and shaft. Now there’s swear words coming out of my mouth I myself had never even heard before. My worst nightmare was coming true.. Please God please, don’t let there be any lines cut, kinked, or otherwise rendered un-airworthy! I’ll be wingless!!! Upon careful un-tanglement I was surprised to find things had only gotten wrapped up, not cut or kinked. I think that was because I had immediately killed the engine when it all went down hill and the prop was just windmilling by the time the lines hit. Cripes.

Then I decide it’s time to recheck the wind map for the valley, and get an overall update on the weather because the wind’s so screwy. I go to my truck, and… where’s the iPad now? Crap my iPad’s gone… So I get the iPhone and use Apple’s device locater app only to find it at the Starbucks I hastily visited on my way out to do the thing I’ve been waiting all week for. Alright no big deal, I just called them and they held it for me. But still…

It was now around 11am or so and even my kiting was becoming fruitless as well as equally frustrating. Besides the wind was getting so spunky – Cold ebbs and flows defined by sharp contrasts between the two making one thing very clear – I was not going flying today. Worst of all, most likely not even this week either – It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and then I go back on the road with my airline job for 5 days. So, it just wasn’t in the cards for me this week. I like to think of these let downs as blessings in disguise, that the ol’ man up stairs is ultimately in control and I should just feel lucky to be out there – And I do.