Friday, May 23, 2008


Screenshot-Untitled Window-1, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

I'm very relaxed when flying, as you can probably tell. Funnily enough in WA it is illegal to ride a bike without a helmet and yet helmets are just recommended when flying a hang glider. I do usually wear a helmet, but just occasionally it's nice to feel the breeze in your hair.

Gav woke me up at 6.15am this morning and I clocked up another 1.1Hrs in the trike over the canyons to the west side and then back again for a couple of circuits before landing. It was a very gentle bounce on landing, honest. I am very happy with my progress and Gav as an instructor.

Off to the golf course for some more FLPHG fun now.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Trike & Hanger

IMGP3804, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

Exmouth airfield where I am getting my microlight licence.

I had a great flight with the power harness in the morning, I climbed to 6000ft in an hour and used half a tank of fuel. There were a few bumps but mostly it was just a strong SW above 3000ft. I should have worn a jacket as I was planning to go higher, but it got too cold for me.

I took a little video with my camera and you can see the Exmouth penninsula from the air here:

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Internet is Soooo Coool.

Yesterday i used expedia to book a flight to the UK. Even though I am
only on a GPRS connection and it is slower than a 56k modem the internet
still works if you are patient. When I checked my passport I realised
that my resident return visa will expire in a few weeks. Doh. Usually it
means a trip to the DIaC office in Perth for a new one. That would be a
hassle considering I am in Exmouth. So I rang the department to ask if I
could do it via post and they told me to download form 10a5 and send it
in with my payment and passport. I looked for 10a5 but failed to locate
it. luckily though I found the ONLINE form and completed it and paid
with my visa card in 10mins. It is so cool that the powers that be have
embraced the power of the internet in this way, it was so easy. Its a
shame their staff don't seem to know about it yet.

Lighthouse NE

I had a great fly of the lighthouse this afternoon. I was not sure it
was going to be strong enough, but it was. It was thermic with one cycle
after another, in the sink I was only just maintaining, but in the lift
I was getting huge height. I landed on the road and got my exercise
walking back up to the top again. Awesome flight.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

IMGP3764, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

Splash.... Watch out for the Sharks ;-)

IMGP3751, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

The new bridge by night....

Friday, May 16, 2008

Looking down on Exmouth..

IMGP3690, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

I can see my caravan ;-)

So Green

IMGP3730, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

What military installation?

New Bridge

IMGP3700, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

And Oh so green everywhere....

Sail Repair

IMGP3697, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

Sail repair in view, flies the same as before. Erosion below. Over Exmouth at Sunset.

More Power...

I was pretty disappointed with myself after I put the prop through the
gliders wing yesterday. Sure it was a good save of a difficult landing,
even just a moderate tailwind adds enough to your ground speed to make
it a very fast run indeed which is why it is so important to land and
T/O into wind. I could have done my prop or hurt myself as I don't use
wheels (too macho ha ha ha) so just a torn sail (and bruised ego) was a
good result. As always it resulted from me departing from proper
procedure and taking foolish risks. I actually thought about putting up
my windsock before T/O but as it was almost nil wind I didn't bother.
Experience should really have taught me by now that it is precisely on
the NIL wind days that you need a windsock as it is more likely to
suddenly change in direction. Ironically my last prop through sail
mistake happened here for the same reason, failure to pay attention to
the fact that the sea breeze has come in and the wind has switched from
a light NE to a stronger SW. I went looking for an industrial sowing
machine and found none. I went looking for sail repair cloth or rip stop
spinnaker repair tape but also had no luck. In the end I did the best
job I could sowing up the sail myself and I am quite happy with the
repair, I put as much load on it as I could and could not make it fail.
It is not a high wing loading in this area and I am absolutely confident
in the repair. After I rigged the fun once the repair was complete I
tested running with it to make sure there was no induced turn and it
felt fine. I flew from the golf course over town in the sea breeze, as I
got higher the wind speed increased and I found myself going backwards
at best climb. I got some great photos that I am uploading to Flicker
now. Everything is so green after they had 500mm of rain in one week
last month. The new marina has a bridge, I heard that the contractor
went broke after the last heavy rains as they erode ones earthmoving
progress. You can again really see how the Exmouth area (and lets face
it the whole of Oz) is just the result of a lot of rain/weather induced
erosion. Today I am a microlight student pilot.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thanks Vista! (Yeah Right!)

When my old laptop died I bought a new one, it took me 10 mins to swap
the hard drive from the old laptop into the new one and then as usual
the first time it booted XP fine, just to show me that all my stuff was
there and that it was possible. Then XP installed a heap of drivers and
gave me a BSOD. On the next restart it locked up part way through
boooting (no doubt windows saw the hardware change and went into
punishing mode) and managed to hose the MBR for the disk. Painless
upgrade with windows? Perhaps buy a bigger house in the country but
forget anything from Microsoft.
So the new laptop came with Vista, I had only heard bad things about
Vista but decided perhaps they were unfair and I should give it a go.
Nothing good anyone says about Vista is true, in every way it is less
good than XP, less fast, less stable, less easy to use, less useful,
less predicable, less compatible, less customisable, in short it is
crap, complete crap. And I urge everyone to avoid it like the plague for
your own wellbeing and productivity's sake. I suffered it for a couple
of months on the road, not having a fast enough internet connection to
be able to setup a proper linux alternative on my laptop. It was hell. I
hate Microsoft for what they just put me through, it was stupid and
pointless. Lets face it windows 95 was crap, 98 was crap that we knew
better and put up with, NT was predictable crap which had a use, 2000
was the best crap so far, XP was initially a shock to most as after SP2
came out it became fast and stable and actually quite useful. I switched
from Mac to XP because XP was nearly as good and had a much cheaper
total cost if you built your own hardware and knew how to make it behave
I begrudgingly had to admit to people for years that XP was OK. Given
that I use Apple a measuring stick this is high praise indeed,
especially for their arch nemesis Microsoft. But Vista is such an insult
to the intelligence of a seasoned computer user, it is such a fine
example of everything that is wrong at Microsoft, it is so rude and
callous I feel personally slighted by Bill, I am offended and he and his
OS can get stuffed.
I learnt to love linux as Debian during my days as a builder and
maintainer of servers and networks. I learned that it was as reliable as
the rising sun and that if you left it alone it would never break, that
it only broke when you broke it and that it could do and learn anything,
you were the limitation with your puny IT foo. I used debian on my
personal machines out of respect for what was underneath, cos lets face
it the GUI was horrible and unintuitive and mostly broken. When Ubuntu
was born I heard and saw the shining star straight away, here was Debian
but with manners, dressed in a pretty dress and with make-up on. And
after a few years of being just OK it has arrived. I installed Hardy
using the WUBI loader right from my Vista desktop. It worked perfectly
from the first second. I had to learn a little about Ndiswrappers to get
the wireless card going, but everything else was setup perfectly out of
the box, it left Vista for dead, and its free.
In the last 2 weeks in my spare time I have customised my linux
experience and now I run my favourite XP games faster than vista or XP
using wine, I was amazed to find just how many programs work under wine
now. I like Thunderbird and can access my Gmail contacts via LDAP, I
like Firefox and use Gmarks to store all my bookmarks, I manage my Ipod
music with gtkpod, I have MY old copy of XP paused in Suns virtualbox
and I can be at a full screen XP environment in a second if I need to
run some Windows program. No more dual booting required. I have yet to
try and edit and burn a DVD but thats just because I have not needed to
yet. I can't wait to see how easy that has become. Open Source Rules.
Really I don't need to thank Vista for making move to Ubuntu, I should
be thanking the Open Source movement and all the people out there who
use it and contribute to it by developing software or using/testing it
and helping it get to where it is now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Exmouth So Far

Today Gav took me for a flight in his trike and then I setup and flew
the fun and power harness from the golf course. I was having too much
fun and failed to notice the sea breeze had come in and ended up landing
down wind. I managed to run it out OK and stay on my feet but forgot to
stop the engine prior to landing and in the last few steps I pushed the
wing back into the prop as I flared. Doh, Stupid. Luckily the prop is OK
but the sail needs repairs. Hopefully I can find a sailmaker who has
industrial sewing gear and I can fix it locally. Meanwhile the Perfex is
rigged up and waiting its flight tomorrow. Thats the SAME prop through a
different sail again in Exmouth. 2 Years and hundreds of safe landings
and now it happens here again, what are the odds...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

4WD Practice

As I was leaving Kalbarri I had a flashback to the previous evening. I was about 120km from Geraldton and travelling at about 80kph with the caravan when I saw what looked like a video camera on a tripod by the side of the road. It was aimed at car window height and had an IR light next to it. I just saw this all out of the corner of my eye as I was driving, but I recognise most tech quickly. In the UK I know that the cops use these cameras to already have your licence and registration details when you get stopped further down the road and so it was no surprise when shortly  a cop appeared on the road and directed me into a parking area by the side of the road.
It was something amazing, perhaps 20 cops standing in a line on either side of the road all under floodlights. As soon as I stopped cops start going over the car and caravan and a few crowded around the drivers window of the car. One asks me if I have any illegal weapons or drugs in the car, I decide now is not the time to be smart and look indignant as I say no.
Then he asks me if I am doing anything illegal or if I have ever been in trouble with the police. I say other than minor traffic code violations I am a law abiding citizen.
Finally after they check everything they find one of my taillights out on the caravan. Just as I am trying to come up with some excuse to lessen the offence the officer in charge tells me that seeing as all the other lights work and the brake lights are the only ones you cannot check by yourself he will let me continue to Kalbarri tonight but I must try and fix the light in Geralton on the way.
As it was late and dark I kept going untill I made Kalbarri.
So I suddenly realise I need to stop and fix the brake light on the caravan, I should have waited for the next rest stop, but It suddenly seemed important that I fix the issue before I got stopped again. So I pulled over onto the soft shoulder at the edge of the road. Boy was it soft. I ended up bottomed out with the clutch slipping rather than turning the wheels... Being a 4WD professional I am adept at getting myself into situations like this and also at getting out of them. I was on plan B having tested plan A and discovered that all the digging and the sticks from plan A were not a completely pointless excercise and had I been trying to bury my car 6 foot further down the road it could have been called a sucessful operation. At about this point I hear my first car and look up to see a Jeep Cherokee coming down the road. I run onto the road and wave to the driver in the classic, hands over the head, I need help wave. He never even slowed down, looked me in the eyes and shot past. This kind of behaviour irritates me, he could at least have stopped to make sure that I had not been bitten by a snake or something. Generally in the outback people are amazingly helpfull and considerate of others, you have to be when you may be the only help for the next 100km. Afer a little thinking I decided that plan A only failed because the sand was unable to support the weight of the car, therefore reducing the weight would probably tip things in my favour, or easier to reduce the ground pressure by increasing the tires contact patch. Using some auto tyre deflating gizmos that were given to me by a dear friend many years ago I dropped all the tyres down to 16PSI and on the next attempt drove back onto the road. Now I was thankful that I had the cheap K-Mart tyre compressor which may have taken nearly 10mins to take each tyre back to 35psi, but was so much better than trying to drive the next 100km on 16psi.

Made It!

I arrived in Exmouth yesterday afternoon and checked into a caravan park and was in the ocean within 15mins. The weather is beautifull here as usual.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Excitement in Kalbarri

The Rolfy show rolled into Kalbarri at 1am, I parked in a nice beach carpark by the red rocks and went to sleep. By 9am it was already in the mid 20's and I was driven out of my bed as the caravan started to heat up. I drove straight to where the airstrip used to be and decided to set up on a vacant block that seemed out of the way. At the time it was NIL wind so I was planning to use the longest direction. By the time I got the harness setup and started it was blowing 6knots accross my strip. In my mind I rehersed the glider trying to turn into wind and me taking off successfully despite the crosswind. I made a mental note of the position of the many stakes sticking out of the ground and also planned to avoid them on T/O and landing.
I need to re-do the fuel system again, air is getting into the system at full throttle and this is bad. I had to abort the first 2 take-offs after the engine faltered during the run. The second time I didn't bother to walk back to the sensible starting point and just went from halfway down the useable space, I justified it at the time with the arguament that there were less stakes to avoid now.  It was a pretty good crosswind T/O but after the initial second of panic it was all relief as I cleared my caravan by about a foot. The slow circling climb to 3000ft was OK but I could tell I was nearly 1000rpm down on a properly tuned motor. From 3000ft I had plenty of landing options, just a long walk if I ended up being  forced to land elsewhere by engine problems so I headed towards the town and started to take photos. First my camera battery died so I missed alot of the shots I wanted. Then the engine started coughing and spluttering and it was only by constantly pumping the throttle I could keep it at about 5000RPM and maintain enough height to make it back to my car, it seemed to know when it had hung in  there long enough and died as I turned downwind on my standard-ish circuit....  A final recollection of the intended landing path between the stakes and a nice uneventfull crosswind landing. The 12knots on the ground made the landing easy but it took me ages to groundhandle the wing and climb out and detach everything with the gustly breeze. Based on yesterdays speeds I have another 10hrs of driving and I should make Exmouth around midnight tonight. Fun in the Sun, here I come!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Power Fun..

Karl and I flew at Sids again over the weekend. Karl aerotowed and I had fun with my power harness. A warm week ahead for Perth , but I can't wait to hit the road for Exmouth, leaving soon!