Fly Ins / Meetups:

The 2013 Blackhawk Ranch April Fly-In

This year’s April Blackhawk Ranch Fly-In was a total blast. I arrived Thursday evening, having driven the whole way from Fresno with finger’s crossed that my work wasn’t going to call me in… I was on two hour call-out but after 6 there was a very little chance that they were going to use me. I knew that, took the gamble, and was glad I did. Of course, I could have turned around and made it back in time had they called, but in the end they didn’t and I arrived to the ranch shortly before my friend Jason Cook. We picked a perfect oak tree and set up camp. As soon as 9:01PM came, I poured my first adult beverage and the evening officially started. 9:00PM was the time I was officially off call with my work, and I was counting down the seconds.

BlackhawkParamotor

Our camp site was on the east side of the valley that makes up the most public used portion of Blackhawk Ranch, a vast 1,700 acre cattle reserve that is more like a national park. It is quite literally a dream location for flying motorized paragliders, and it’s virtually ideal for anything else you can think of that involves the outdoors… It is truly gorgeous country.

Click on the images below for larger versions 🙂

_MG_0487

The next day, Friday, people really started filing in and several friends made it as well; One of which was Trevor Meeks and he brought is umpteen thousand dollar Red camera. He’s yet to take it airborne in the lawn chair and I can’t say I blame him.

_MG_0489-Edit

_MG_0493

By Saturday several families arrived for the day and the valley had sort of a carnival like atmosphere for a while.

_MG_0494

One of my favorite things to do when it’s too windy to fly is Kite: That’s where you basically fly your wing like a kite and sometimes even have dog fights with other willing kiters. Here Mark Zinkel shows the proper way to have a kiting war with Chris Considine.. Or is it the other way around 😉

_MG_0496

_MG_0500

Another fun mid afternoon thing to do is walk the flight line. It’s an eyegasm of every different kind of paramotor flying machine one can imagine. There’s always somebody with something for sale and the conversations can be especially good.

_MG_0506

_MG_0507

 Here Samantha Whittaker demonstrates the proper way to reverse kite her U-Turn speed wing. 

_MG_0510-Edit

_MG_0511-Edit

As soon as the evening rolled around everybody was back in the air again. The shots below were taken Sunday morning however. Myself, Jason Cook, and Brian Thivierge embarked on a semi-short cross country flight to the Salt Spring Valley Reservoir. There I found some of the most beautiful landscape I’d ever had the privilege of flying in. Nothing but rolling hills, oak trees, greenery, and the lake itself. Brian is in the green wing below and I followed him out to the lake.

_MG_0516-Edit

The orange wing in the next series of shots is Jason Cook. He was loving the ability to fly among the trees and between the two of us I think we set the record for lowest flight to Salt Spring Reservoir.

_MG_0524-Edit-Edit

_MG_0537

_MG_0526

_MG_0525

_MG_0568

_MG_0554-Edit

_MG_0549

_MG_0546

_MG_0571

 When we arrived we joined up with Team Blackhawk Pilot Christoph Bueker and I got some spectacular pictures of him gliding effortlessly over the water 🙂

_MG_0607
_MG_0603

_MG_0599

Team Blackhawk Pilot Brian Thivierge was on a green Velocity Recon.

_MG_0580

_MG_0608

_MG_0619

_MG_0621

This is a view of part of the ranch on our way back. You can see the runway in the middle of the image.

_MG_0633-Edit

_MG_0648

The trek wasn’t without some excitement though. On the way back, in fact at approximately 1,200 feet over the Blackhawk Ranch while in a climb, Jason’s propellor shaft sheared and the entire prop completely departed his rig. It was a non-event, although his engine went to ludicrous RPM for a minute until he realized what happened. He said he saw the prop falling into the woods but he wasn’t able to pin-point it’s exact location as he was busy setting up a power off landing, which he performed effortlessly.

_MG_0651

Our campsite. Bobby Rocco & his wife camp in style 😉

_MG_0655

I always fly with a GPS and in these next two pictures you can see the plotted tracks in 3D from a couple of my flights.

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 12.06.15 PM

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 11.56.43 AM

By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around we were all pretty tired from a long, fantastic weekend full of spectacular adventures and phenomenal camaraderie.

Thank you Mike Robinson
I’m already counting down the months for the next Blackhawk Ranch Fly-In!