Wills Wing

Oz Report

topic: Wilotree Park

165 articles, page:  1 

Having fun in winter

Sat, Jan 15 2022, 7:24:13 pm MST

The park fills up with pilots as the forecast looks good

Cory Barnwell|Richard "Ric" Caylor|Stephan Mentler|Thaisio Feliz|Wilotree Park|XContest.org

With rain forecast starting early in the morning on Sunday it looks like Saturday is the day. Here's the morning forecast for Saturday:

Soaring forecast for Saturday January 15th, 2022 at Wilotree Park


Sunny, with a high near 72. Calm wind becoming south around 5 mph in the morning.
Hourly forecast: south southwest wind 5-6 mph, cloud cover 10%, no chance of rain.

RAP, 1 PM:

Surface wind: southwest 6 mph (9 mph at 2,000', 17 mph west southwest at 4,000')
Updraft velocity: 540 fpm
TOL: 4,400'
Cu: 0' (I suspect that there will be cu's.)
B/S: 6.0

RAP, 3 PM:

Surface wind: southwest 6 mph (8 mph at 2,000', 9 mph at 4,000')
Updraft velocity: 620 fpm
TOL: 5,200'
Cu: 4,800'
B/S: 10.0


Quest 3 km
BAYLK 1 km
T50469 1km
Quest 400 m

There were over a dozen pilots ready to go flying, but there were no cu's forming over the field, which matched the forecast. Stephane Mentler goes out to launch as almost everyone else waits. I go right behind him. I launch at 1:45 PM with everyone else taking their own sweet time.

There is lift, but it is weak just over 100 fpm. Climbing 500' from 1,800' I head over to a small fire to the southwest toward the first turnpoint at Bay Lake, but there is nothing coming off the fire and I have to go back to start over again at 1,400'.

The slow climbs and low top of lift (nothing like the forecast) will prove to be the issue in the 3 km start cylinder around Wilotree Park. I will climb to 2,900' head southwest and soon get down to 1,200'. With a 5 mph southwest head wind I will lose distance toward the turnpoint as I circle up. Other pilots have joined in the fun now despite the fact that they don't see anyone getting very high.

Cory Barnwell joins me as we climb to 3,100' and head southwest again still inside the start cylinder. The day is not looking all that great for our task set given the forecast. Finally climbing back slowly to 3,000' Cory and I head out and an hour after launching are able to make it outside the 3 km start cylinder.

Our glide puts us down to 1,200' where we find weak sink and work it until it starts to turn positive. We're about 1.3 km from the turnpoint and being pushed back to the north. We hang on for 24 minutes climbing to 2,100' and drifting to almost 5 km from the turnpoint. It is a straight easy shot back to Wilotree Park from this location and altitude (it wasn't when we were low) but I decide to go for the turnpoint.

There are four or five pilots stuck with me. I think Cory and Ric Caylor have headed back to Wilotree Park. I find a nice thermal 2 km from the turnpoint at 3:22 PM and then move to the side to find 400 fpm under the first cu that we've seen. I climb to 3,400'.

Given how things have improved I decided to continue with the task, other pilots go along with that choice also.

I nick the turnpoint and head north into the blue toward the intersection of highway 50 and 469. I find 30 fpm 5 km to the north of the turnpoint, 5.5 km south of the second turnpoint. I'm at the eastern edge of the Green Swamp.

I see cu's to my west and head for them. Unfortunately, I don't find any lift. Thasio had just come under me when I was turning in 30 fpm up.

I head north again going over areas that I was familiar with near Slone Ridge Road where I ride my road bike every other day.

I see Thasio landing up ahead in a familiar field. I'm down to about 500' and to the south of the field that he lands in when I spy a couple of small lakes and they are completely covered with birds, either Sandhill Cranes or Wood Storks, huge birds. It is completely shocking to see some many large birds packed in so small an area. Like flamingos in south Florida.

I land with Thasio and four of us and up landing in this field. What a great day.




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Surfing the leading edge

Mon, Jan 10 2022, 3:36:01 pm MST

Looking for the sunshine below

Bobby Bailey|Jim Prahl|John Simon|Mick Howard|Robin Hamilton|Wilotree Park|XContest.org

Updated soaring forecast for Saturday January 8th, 2022 at Wilotree Park

NWS, Sunday:

Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph.
Hourly forecast: southeast wind 11 decreasing to 8 mph, cloud cover 28% increasing to 40%, no chance of rain.

RAP, 1 PM:

Surface wind: southeast 8 mph
Updraft velocity: 560 fpm
TOL: 3,900'
Cu: 0' (There are always cu's when the wind is southeast)
B/S: 4.6

RAP, 3 PM:

Surface wind: southeast 6 mph
Updraft velocity: 580 fpm
TOL: 5,100'
Cu: 0' (There are always cu's when the wind is southeast)
B/S: 9.4
56°F at CB

Skew T chart shows thin cu's at 4,400' at 1 PM

Sunrise: 7:19 AM
Sunset: 5:46 PM


Quest 3 km
Quest 400 m

34 km

It looked like it would be a pretty good flying day with a light to moderated southeast wind, but in the morning the winds were stronger than forecasted and out of the east southeast. Pilots reported that the conditions were rough. Given these conditions we wait to see if things will lighten up and agree to launch about 2 PM. The sky is full of cu's which keep getting thicker.

I setup to launch first with Mick Howard, Robin Hamilton, and John Simon not quite ready to go. As I setup in the cart the sky is completely covered unlike the hour previously when there were plenty of gaps between the cu's. The ground is fully shaded at least ten miles in every direction.

Jon Prahl hauls me up into a dark sky over to the little smoky fire where I pin off at 2,100'. I can stay level for about five minutes, but it is just not sustainable and I land after 17 minutes.

John Simon gets ready to launch and I'm right behind him with Mick and Robin holding back. Bobby Bailey comes over to pull up John and I get behind Jim Prahl again. I can see blue sky about five kilometers to the south. I motion to Jim as we go up to not turn to the east like I just saw Bobby do, but keep heading south. I figured John Simon is screwed with Bobby keeping him under the clouds.

I can see that there is a big area of sunlit ground further south and above the ground that is being heated up what are some obviously very active clouds. I'm heading for their upwind edge where I'm sure I'll get up. I stay on tow until about 3,700' figuring that I get a bit of compensation from the previous tow.

I'm off under good looking clouds and head east toward even better looking clouds. The wind is seven mph out of the south southeast. The clouds are lined up to the east with their noses pointing to the south. It's all sunlit from west to east. The turnpoint at Live Oak is to the south southeast.

I start climbing at an average of 100 fpm under an active cloud a couple of kilometers to the east and then a bit further east find 200 fpm to 3,900' and cloud base. Despite the fact that the turnpoint is to the south I keep heading east because frankly that's where the active clouds are on the north edge of the sunlit area and that's where the lift is. It is obvious just looking at the clouds.

On the west side of Lake Louisa I again climb back to cloud base, but now to the south of me toward the turnpoint the ground is shaded for miles and there are no good looking cu's to the south. I hear from Robin that he is about four kilometers north of me. John and Mick are back at Wilotree Park having landed after short flights.

A little over seven kilometers north of the turnpoint I head out south to check it out away from the source of lift. No, there really is nothing out there, it would be a lot like my first flight today. I turn around and head back to Wilotree park with a nice tail wind and 3,400' of altitude. I'll find lift on the way back, although it is not needed, under yet again the good looking clouds on the north side of the sunlit area.

Robin will attempt to get closer to the turnpoint a bit later but down to 2,000' and five kilometers to the north he will turn around, but be too low to make it back to Wilotree.

All and all an interesting day with a sky that had a lot to say.




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Against the wind

Tue, Dec 28 2021, 6:09:14 pm MST

Where's the glory in going down wind?

John Simon|Mick Howard|Wilotree Park|XContest.org

Going upwind can be quite difficult especially on days with weak lift and a low cloudbase. Given the soaring forecast (see below) it looked to me that I had better call a shorter task if we were going to come back to Wilotree Park.

Preliminary soaring forecast for Tuesday December 28th, 2021 at Wilotree Park

NWS, Tuesday:

Areas of fog before 9am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 80°F. Light south southeast wind becoming south 5 to 10 mph in the morning.

Hourly forecast: south southwest wind 8 mph after noon, cloud cover 33% going down to 10%, no chance of rain.


Surface wind: south southwest 3 mph
Updraft velocity: 360 fpm (RAP 500 fpm)
TOL: 3,800'
Cu: 3,100'
B/S: 5.5

RAP, 3 PM:

Surface wind: south southwest 8 mph
Updraft velocity: 560 fpm
TOL: 4,300'
Cu: 3,400'
B/S: 8.2


Quest - 3 km
T47433 - 5 km
Quest - 400 m

25 km.

As has been the case so far this December beginning of the new season we waited for the cu's to get to us from the south before launching. There was a tiny bit of west in the predominantly south wind and it was blowing over 5 mph, for sure.

Bobby pulled me up and before we reached the end of the field at 200' AGL we were turning sharply to stay in the thermal that was right over the field. I expect this from Bobby, so I was ready to bank it over and stay with him, not inside the circle and not outside it either. We hit over 1000 fpm on my on 20 second averager and I pinned off at 1,500' which was way more than I needed to stay up.

The lift wasn't nearly as great as it would have appeared to be while on tow (600 fpm) but I averaged 360 fpm and then drifting back found a weaker thermal at 200 fpm. The wind was 8 mph out of the south southwest.

It took a while to climb to 3,100' as I drifted north of highway 50. Drifting down wind increased the upwind task leg to sixteen km, when it would have been ten from the southern edge of the start cylinder.

There were plenty of cu's to the south so I pushed ahead, but was soon down to 1,300' AGL 2 km east of Wilotree Park. I did not want to land out because there were good days coming and I didn't want to have to break down my glider. Just as I was about to turn and head for the flight park I heard the varios beep and I started turning and drifting further away. It was only 135 fpm on average.

Back to 3,100' again and needing to push up upwind again to find better lift I finally found 260 fpm southeast of Wilotree and climbed to 3,900'. Mick Howard was just above me and there was a little fire down below.

Pushing to the west of Mick over Pine Island I found weak lift (100 fpm or less) that did little good other than to keep me in the air, but going no where in the 13 mph south wind. I headed south at 3,300' for the next set of clouds which were a bit too far to the south, but I needed to give that a try.

The sink was bad at over 500 fpm and when was down to 1,900' AGL I turned around and headed back down wind toward the flight park. Mick was a little higher and was more patient and continued south slowly.

About 3 km south of Wilotree and down to 1,200' I found 100 fpm and after climbing up worked my way south again toward the turnpoint, which was a 5 km cylinder around the intersection of highway 474 and 33, I found 250 fpm to 2,800'.

Given how easy it was to go downwind to get back to the flight park I pushed up wind again to get under a nice looking cu, even further south than before, and down to 1,500' AGL. The lift averaged -5 fpm and I drifted back toward Wilotree. Mick was still moving slowly south. John Simon, after his second launch (or maybe a late launch) was scraping on the deck below me in the previous thermal. Everyone else had landed back at the park.

I headed back and found 44 fpm on the way back which made it even easier to get back and land at home.

Mick was able to make the turnpoint at get back to the park. John Simon landed out, not needing to keep his glider set up as he had to go to work the next day.




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It's Christmas Time

Fri, Dec 24 2021, 6:13:49 pm MST

And we are flying here in Florida

Bobby Bailey|Dragonfly|Mick Howard|Richard "Ric" Caylor|Wilotree Park|XContest.org

The soaring forecast looked great:

Soaring forecast for Friday December 24th, 2021 at Wilotree Park



Sunny, with a high near 74°F. North northeast wind around 5 mph becoming southeast in the afternoon.

Hourly forecast east southeast wind 6 mph after noon, cloud cover 7%, no chance of rain.


1 PM:

Surface wind: east southeast 4 mph
Updraft velocity: 420 fpm
TOL: 4,600'
Cu: 3,800'
B/S: 8.1

3 PM:

Updraft velocity: 480 fpm
TOL: 4,800'
Cu: RAP shows 4,800'
B/S: 10.0

This is what the sky looked like at 2 PM:


Quest - 3 km
LIVOAK - 1 km
BAYLK - 1 km
Quest - 400 m
34 km

Hard to imagine a better forecast for near the end of December (unless you are in Forbes).

The flight: https://www.xcontest.org/world/en/flights/detail:davisstraub/24.12.2021/18:32


I took off behind Bobby Bailey after Ric Caylor and Mick Howard. Bobby found lift smack dab over the field so that he immediately started turning and I could see that we were going up at about 700 fpm, or 300 fpm faster than his Dragonfly climbs.

I hung in the lift for while as Bobby spun around and then pinned off at 1,600' AGL and found lift but it wasn't 300 fpm. It averaged 85 fpm to 2,800' so I finally decided to head south east toward a good looking cu.

Yes, the lift was much better averaging 200 fpm and then 300 fpm as I climbed up to 4,500' on the downwind side of the dark bottomed cu's. It was blue heading directly down the course line so I veered off to the east to get under some more cu's. But, they didn't produce any lift.

Down to 1,400' AGL no longer down wind of the lake I found 300 fpm that got me to 4,800'. Mick was a few km south of me in the turnpoint cylinder at 1,600' AGL searching for lift which he finally found under the dark cloud that I had used to get high.

Having nicked LIVOAK (Live Oak) I headed west toward more good looking cu's and the turnpoint at BAYLK (Bay Lake). About a third of the way there I found 250+ fpm and climbed to 5,000'. My Blade vario / flight instrument said I was on final glide, so I went on final glide, around the BAKLK turnpoint and back to Wilotree Park with 900' to spare.

It was a bit hard to get down as I was again back under nice looking cu's when I got back to the park. It had been blue ever since I made the BAYLK turnpoint (although there were nice cu's just to its north northwest).

All the other pilots (see above) made it back a bit later also. Just an hour and a half flight, but we got a task in and got back in time for Christmas dinner having flown in the best part of the day.

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Moving trees at Wilotree Park

Tue, Dec 21 2021, 12:15:01 pm MST

Wilotree Park

With a big machine (the smaller one of the two)


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2022 Green Swamp Klassic »

Sun, Dec 12 2021, 8:39:33 am MST

Registration is open

Airtribune|competition|Green Swamp Klassic 2022|Ken Millard|Richard "Ric" Caylor|Sport Class|Tavo Gutierrez

"Ken Millard" «kengineer09» writes:

The Green Swamp Sport Klassic is now live on Airtribune at https://airtribune.com/2022-green-swamp-sport-klassic/info/details.

The Green Swamp, or GSSK, is a non-sanctioned hang gliding competition designed to give intermediate pilots their first experience in competition in a supportive, coached environment. Seen another way, it is a clinic for pilots wanting to expand from local flying into cross country flying, structured to use a competition format with daily declared tasks. The event is mentored, grouping pilots into small teams and assigning each team a senior pilot “mentor” to coach and guide them.

Either way you look at it, it is a tremendously influential event in the hang gliding community. It connects senior pilots with the next generation of developing pilots, draws pilots into networking nationally and internationally outside of their local clubs, builds skills and confidence, and indoctrinates and normalizes safety practices.

To give you a sense of the impact Green Swamp has, look at this year’s meet director. Ric Caylor first attended the Green Swamp in 2018. Ric had been flying recreationally for years but had only logged two cross country flights. Green Swamp added five more cross country flights to his logbook. With the GSSK as his springboard, Ric went on to compete in Texas, Arizona, Mexico, and again in Florida. Ric is now a highly ranked Sport Class pilot and is the organizer for the 2022 event. The GSSK doesn’t just teach cross country skills; it catalyzes leadership.

I can’t think of a single event which is more influential in promoting and supporting hang gliding in the USA.

GSSK is usually scheduled just before the two-week Hang Gliding Nationals series. This makes world-class pilots available to serve as mentors. The event will represent a slice of the hang gliding community with intermediate, advanced-intermediate, and world-class pilots all flying together and gathering in the clubhouse for billiards and beer.

Rather than going easy on himself as a first-time organizer, Ric is trying to raise the bar for next year’s event. In true camp counselor style, we’re going to make 2022 the best Green Swamp ever! At past events, senior pilots created ad-hoc seminars to fill the time on rain days. Rather than wait for rain days, we are creating YouTube content to coach developing pilots on the basics of gear management, flight line operations, and cross country performance and strategy. We have established a scholarship fund to offset tow fees for pilots on a tight budget. This is noted on the “Details” tab of the Airtribune page. The “Preparation Blog” tab on the Blog page contains a collection of personal testimonials from Green Swamp alumni. It’s great reading for anyone who wants to get a feel for the event. Questions may be directed to Ric at «rmcaylor» or Ken Millard at «kengineer09».

Para consultas en español, contacte Tavo Gutierrez «tavo.gutierrez».

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Local Groveland News

Mon, Nov 22 2021, 6:21:10 pm MST

Florida|news|Wilotree Park

Wilotree Park is on the south edge of Groveland


Four Black Men Wrongly Charged With Rape Are Exonerated 72 Years Later

The men, known as the Groveland Four, were cleared on Monday after a Florida prosecutor said “a complete breakdown of the criminal justice system” led to the charges in 1949.

Four Black men wrongly charged with raping a white woman more than 70 years ago in Florida were exonerated on Monday, bringing an end to a saga that has shadowed their families for decades.

The accused — Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Ernest Thomas, known as the Groveland Four — died before Florida officials re-examined the case, which a prosecutor said lacked due process and would not be tried today.

It all began on July 16, 1949, when a 17-year-old white woman and her estranged husband told the police that after their car broke down in Lake County, Fla., the four men had stopped to provide help, then took the woman from the car and raped her.

The accusation left a trail of destruction. Mr. Thomas was killed by a mob after fleeing Lake County. Mr. Irvin and Mr. Shepherd, both of whom were World War II veterans, were shot by Willis McCall, the Lake County Sheriff, while they were being taken to a pretrial hearing before their cases were retried in 1951. The sheriff claimed that the men, who were in handcuffs, had tried to escape.

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2021 Florida Nationals Series Comps

Wed, Nov 17 2021, 11:37:57 pm MST

airspace|Airtribune|Florida|food|sport|Sport Class|Stephan Mentler|tow|weather|Wilotree Park

Trying to get them published on Airtribune

Stephan Mentler ‹team@Icaro2000usa.com›> writes:

While we are working to get things going on the registration side, here are some details for both comps.

The entry fee is $375 (includes Wilotree Park Fee, $475 after March 10th). NOTE that entry fees do not include tow fees. Aerotowing fee is $375 - this includes a tow on check-in day. Some of the things that we will have:

• Daily Prizes
• Event T-shirt
• Food and beverages the night of check-in (I plan to get he same ice-cream truck for us)
• Prizes for the first three places in the Open and Sport Class
• Awards ceremony dinner
• On-line Turn point Coordinates
• On-line airspace files
• Weather Briefing on Pilots’ Phones via WhatsApp
• Task Sent to Pilots’ Phones via WhatsApp
• Wilotree Park (includes free WIFI, access to clubhouse and amenities [swimming pool, kitchen, pool table, etc.

Our cancellation policy is as follows - receive full refund minus $12 (USD) for withdrawal up to March 1st 2022. Receive 50% refund for withdrawal after March 2nd till April 1st. Refunds for withdrawals after April 1st are at the discretion of the Organizer and Wilotree Park, but not likely as we will have secured aircraft, the grounds, and other tangibles.

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More Wind Indicators for Wilotree Park

Wed, Nov 10 2021, 8:56:01 am MST

Located every where

Paradise Air Sports|Scott "Glider Dude" Leonard|Wilotree Park|wind indicator

Glider Dude writes:

Today I am delivering four more 'logo' windsocks to Paradise Air Sports, so, their order of five is now complete and they are ready for the flying season. Everyone loves these because, bang-for-the-buck, they are the best wind-direction indicators / most visible.

I have experimented with lesser expensive Tyvek and made numerous changes/tweaks to the flag/components to make them more effective/efficient and available. In addition, I have been highly successful adding logos to the material that is easy / not expensive and long-lasting. Attached is my personal windsock and it will accompany me at Paradise Air Sports soon.

I will have 4-7 white windsocks (and all necessary installation components) available for sale during the up-coming comps if anyone is interested. I will be helping Paradise Air Sports in the comps and pilots can approach me there/then. They will NOT have any logos so that individuals can fashion their own.

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Flags go up at Wilotree Park

Tue, Oct 5 2021, 11:35:07 am MDT

Super wind indicators

equipment|Victoria Lee Nelson|Wilotree Park

Five flags are going up at Wilotree Park to help pilots set up their landings

Paradise Airsports

Fri, Oct 1 2021, 10:30:57 am MDT

At Wilotree Park

Wilotree Park

A pilot details his reasons to hang glide at Wilotree Park:

  1. Wilotree Park is close to preferred travel/destinations and other vacation-conveniences (Orlando) while avoiding over-developments/traffic
  2. The surrounding terrain is VERY scenic, including HUGE high/dry fields and it is VERY country-rural with no major housing developments/warehouses/traffic.
  3. The cross country potential is one of the highest rated in the world.
  4. The landing zone is an established grass-strip-airport (Sheets Airfield) that is ‘high-and-dry’ ALL year and accommodates small aircraft.
  5. It is on top of the Florida Ridge as opposed to being low/in a swamp, thus minimizing ‘funky’ air.
  6. You can fly over/all-around/back-forth over farms/nurseries/hay-fields with ease and relative safety.
  7. The new owners and the staff support/welcome all viewpoints/faiths/backgrounds.
  8. A lot of legacy friends/pilots hang-out/fly here.
  9. Though you may have enjoyed other flight parks in the area it is important to support new small businesses.
  10. You may still ‘drop-in’ to Wallaby Ranch from time-to-time if/when you can’t fly back to Wilotree Park.
  11. You may still visit Wallaby Ranch during Wills Wing Daze and/or other flying-related events, while focusing on activities at Wilotree Park.
  12. Your non-flying friends/relatives can easily enjoy tandem lessons throughout the day provided by Paradise Air Sports when the conditions warrant.
  13. Though you may not be a competitor, the competitions/protocols provided by Paradise Air Sports are impressive/'world-class'.
  14. There is a very large community of cross country pilots of various levels and excellent cross country training/terrain provided by Paradise Air Sports.
  15. The annual dues for Paradise Air Sports and Wilotree Park include all the usual amenities as well as glider-storage and a reduced towing fee.
  16. Facilities such as RV hook-ups, camping, bike-trails, swimming (pool and lake), potable water, toilets/showers, clubhouse, etc. are new/excellent.
  17. Being VERY engaged with various ‘other’ activities in the close proximity to Wilotree Park allows necessary/precious scheduling/travel flexibility.
  18. Paradise Air Sports welcomes and genuinely rewards pilot participation/input.
  19. Because of world renown Bobby Bailey, Mick, Rhett, and others, all the tow-planes are in top condition.
  20. Paradise Air Sports never has a lack of qualified/experienced tow-pilots/planes.
  21. Paradise Air Sports has 2-stroke 582 and 4-stroke 912 powered tow planes… This is a very nice/desirable advantage for gliders/pilots who prefer a quick/safe climb-out.
  22. MANY pilots MUCH prefer the Paradise Air Sports open/even-handed ‘business-like’ administration/ownership.
  23. Wilotree Park (aka ‘Sheets Field’) is clearly and officially documented/marked on all the appropriate aeronautical charts.
  24. Paradise Air Sports attracts/employs some truly AWESOME personnel/pilots/patreons-patrons/professionals/people.
  25. I hope that you will not be strangers.

Monarchs at Wilotree Park

March 23, 2021, 8:56:30 EDT

Monarchs at Wilotree Park

Colorful on both sides

Wills Wing Falcon 4|Wilotree Park

This is our new Falcon 4 tandem glider:

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Monarchs at Wilotree Park

March 22, 2021, 10:11:02 EDT

Monarchs at Wilotree Park

More coming

Wills Wing Falcon 4|Wilotree Park

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Counter Clockwise Around the Green Swamp

March 15, 2021, 8:34:19 EDT

Counter Clockwise Around the Green Swamp

Would there be cumulus clouds?

Larry Bunner|PG|sailplane|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Larry Bunner|PG|sailplane|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Larry Bunner|PG|sailplane|Wilotree Park

The morning forecast:

When does the sea breeze come in from the west?



Sunny, with a high near 85. Calm wind becoming south southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Hourly in the afternoon: South southeast surface wind 6 mph, 4% cloud cover


Southeast surface wind at 1 PM: 4 mph, 2000' east southeast 6 mph, 4,000' east southeast 6 mph

TOL at 1 PM: 4,900'

Updraft Velocity at 1 PM: 580 fpm

CB at 1 PM: 0' (but with this wind direction, very likely to be cu's)

B/S at 1 PM: 10.0

4000' winds at 4 PM by Dade City 2 mph south

TOL at 4 PM: 6,000'

Updraft velocity: 560 fpm

Can you launch at noon (11 am sun time)?

TOL at noon: 4,300'

Updraft Velocity at noon: 520 fpm

Solar noon is at 1:34 pm

As I noted last night there is a sea breeze from the west coming inland in the afternoon. By 4 PM it is between Brooksville and Dade City. By 5 PM it is just east of Dade City. The forecast yesterday was for a south southwest wind at 4,000' at Dade City at 5 mph at 4 PM. Today the 4000' winds at Dade City at 4 PM are forecasted to be 2 mph south.

In order to avoid the sea breeze Larry Bunner wants the task to change to counter clockwise as per below. This allows us to go somewhat downwind to the northwest corner of the Green Swamp and then head south along the western edge, getting back away from the sea breeze on the eastern side later in the afternoon. We'll be able to come north back to Wilotree with a light south southeast flow.


Quest 3 km
T7598 7 km
T98471 3 km
Quest 400 m

94.3 km

Launch from the northwest corner - the magic circle.

Good days it still appears through Wednesday.

So the two major questions were would there be cumulus clouds and would we get stopped by a western sea breeze that would cut off the lift. The HRRR 3 model on XC Skies and the Skew-T graph showed the cu's just above the inversion layer. But with a south southeast flow I felt that almost every time there are cu's. But the day didn't start off that way and with daylight savings time that messed with people's perceptions.

The cu's didn't start showing up until almost 1 PM (about solar noon) and they were very sparse. I towed up right behind Larry Bunner at 1:26 PM and heard him say that he was going to take a high tow so I held on also. There was a cu 5 kilometers to the south and we held on until we got near it, me at 3,900'. There were three sailplanes under it also. We climbed to 4,800'.

With a 4 mph east (tail) wind we headed west toward the first turnpoint on the west side of the Green Swamp. The cu's were over the Green Swamp just south of its northern border at highway 50 and we just went from one cu to another. Greg found some better lift behind us and was soon up with Larry and I. We all have flown together a lot so it is easy for us to team fly.

The cu's were getting further and further to the south into the Green Swamp. We found a good one over highway 471 south of the sawmill and climbed to 5,300'. This committed us to go deeper into the swamp. We took a chance heading toward the western edge with what we felt was enough altitude to make it, but found 300 fpm over a small clearing not that far from some bail out fields and climbed to 4,500' at 300 fpm. This assured us of the chance of making it to the west and landable terrain. It's always exciting going around the Green Swamp.

The circumference of the first turnpoint is just a couple of kilometers passed the western edge of the Green Swamp and we found 340 fpm before we got to it and drifted into it with the east wind. Heading south we flew into a 5 mph south southeast head wind. We flew back to over the Green Swamp and lost connection with Greg who stayed further west.

Flying south toward the rapidly diminishing cu's (soon it would be all blue) we found 400 fpm to 5,400' on the southwest corner of the landfill. These site has often worked for me before.

Now it was time from another jump across a patch of Green Swamp to the southeast. Larry and I spread out and I spread out a little too much as I lost track of Larry.

We both got stuck by the second turnpoint at the intersection of highway 471 and 98. It took me a couple of back and forths before I found 225 fpm to 4,600'. This was the highest I would get after this turnpoint. Thankfully there were a few cu's at the turnpoint. Larry got up and headed southeast to get under a few cu's that didn't produce any lift for him.

I figured I was high enough to make it 11 kilometers due east across this patch of Green Swamp. There looked like some emergency bail out fields along the way. Nothing that you would actually want to land it though.

I heard from Larry that he was just ahead and circling in nothing at 2,000'. I came into his field at Famish at 2,100' and found lift on the northwestern corner and Larry came in over me. There was a small sail plane way down below us (Steve Arndt?) and it was hard to believe that he would get up from so low.

After climbing at 130 fpm I left with 2,900'. Larry was above me and left also. We were flying together again but I couldn't see him.

Gliding for 4.5 km I was down to 1,600' and checking out the fields along Green Pond Road. None the less I was feeling some lift and turning around getting a better feel for the appropriate field. I felt that at 4:54 PM (3:54 sun time) the day was getting late and it was hard to see how we (Larry had joined me) would make it in with no more cu's to help out. We stayed and climbed at 185 fpm to 3,900' (Larry was higher).

Yet another jump over the Green Swamp to just west and south of the intersection of highways 474 and 33, to a field that I have landed in a number of times and feel confident about. Down to 1,900' I found 130 fpm and Larry soon joined me right on the western edge of the field over the trees. We had a 3 mph southwestern tail wind.

More Green Swamp and over to the Seminole Glider Port where almost all the competitor gliders were parked (not the one we saw earlier barely over Famish). Larry was climbing up on the east side and I finally found good lift on the south end of the runway where Larry had originally found it. He was climbing high and I was struggling.

One wants to be at about 4,000' when leaving the glider port for Wilotree Park. I had to leave at 3,200' when the lift gave out (or I lost it). I continued north along the edge of the trees and the open fields. There were bits of lift and 6 km I found 160 fpm which got me too high and it was easy to get to Wilotree but difficult to get down.

Larry, me and later Pedro made it back. John Simon, Mick Howard, Maria, and Greg all landed short. Going earlier was the better option.







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Flying Together

March 13, 2021, 7:41:04 EST

Flying Together

Now the radios are working

PG|Wilotree Park

John Simon|PG|Wilotree Park

Greg Dinauer|John Simon|PG|Wilotree Park

Greg Dinauer|John Simon|PG|Wilotree Park

The winds were still east. Here was the forecast:



Sunny, with a high near 82. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph in the morning.

Hourly in the afternoon: East surface wind 7 mph, 24% dropping to 6% cloud cover.


East slightly northeast surface wind at 1 PM: 5 mph, 2000' 6 mph, 4,000' 6 mph

TOL at 1 PM: 5,900'

Updraft Velocity at 1 PM: 620 fpm

CB at 1 PM: 0'

B/S at 1 PM: 10

Skew-T says maybe cu's.

Seems to me that there would be cu's again like Tuesday-Thursday


Seems that the winds are still a little too strong for around the Green Swamp so a cross wind task instead.

Quest 3 km
Center 1 km
Baron 4 km
Gators 1 km
Quest 400 m

63 km

We wanted to launch at noon, but there was a little hold up in getting the tugs out to us so I launched second after Larry again at 12:18. The sky had been full of cumulus clouds especially to our south but they were a bit sparse to our north (our task direction) so it wasn't going to be like Thursday where there were dark flat bottomed cu's every where.

The lift was weak under the flimsy cu's after I pinned off at 1,700'. Greg Dinauer was pulled over to me and we worked up to 2,400' with an 11 mph east southeast wind. The first turnpoint was Center Hill to the northwest so we were drifting in the right direction.

We moved over the west by the Mickey Mouse lake as Larry was climbing there and then he came back a bit to join us on the south side of the lake as we all climbed out at 250 fpm to 4,400', It was a great sign that Larry flew back along the course line to hook up with us, an affirmation that we were going to fly together.

We just agreed on each jump direction from cu to cu along the course line down wind toward Center Hill. The cu to choose was obvious and it was easy to stay together and mark the thermals for each other.

Turning to the northeast at Center Hill to head toward the 4 km cylinder around Baron, we headed more east to get to the first cloud. The climb rates were not nearly what they had been the previous day but we were staying high and climbed to 4,400' in this first thermal past Center Hill.

After getting up we headed straight north to the next available cu and climbed to 5,000' drifting in a 10 mph south east wind. The cu's were drying out so we weren't sure whether there would be good markers for lift after the Baron turnpoint.

Arriving at the Baron turnpoint cylinder we climbed in weak lift to 4,600' over an area that was being cleared for more housing for the Villages, right next to the Turnpike, we didn't see many good prospects to the southeast toward Gator field our next turnpoint, so we were in no hurry to leave. The wind had died down to 2 mph out of the north.

The lift was weak out ahead to the south east until we got a few kilometers southwest of the Turnpike and highway 33 intersection where we found 350 fpm to 5,300'. The cu's were gone in front of us but we had a lot more confidence that we would be able to make it around. We could hear the people who launched an hour later working their way toward Center Hill with a lot fewer clouds than we experienced on that part of the task.

I found 170 fpm under a haze dome near the intersection of the Turnpike and highway 27 which got us to 4,800'. Another thermal west of the Amazon distribution center at 270 fpm got us over 5,000'. We were heading into an 8 mph east head wind.

Greg and I lost track of Larry for the first time as he took a course to the south of ours and missed that last thermal. I headed over the warehouses and made the turnpoint at Gator field at 3,800' while Greg stayed back to work lift over the buildings.

I headed southwest down highway 19 toward an area that I pretty much figured would be pumping. They had cleared the land for development and I had climbed out of there last spring. There is a beautiful long east west grass field just to its north so one doesn't have to land in the development (which they usually don't like that much).

I called out to Greg that I was over highway 19 and 8 km from Wilotree Park. Larry was down to 1,600' 3 km to the west over open fields working 100 fpm. I found 220 fpm and just hung out waiting from Greg and for a sure shot to goal no matter what happened in between as there are few landing options.

It was an uneventful glide into goal and landing into a northeast breeze at Wilotree. Greg and Larry were not far behind. We got there before 3 PM. It would be an hour or more before John Simon and then much later Mick Howard would show up. Getting started earlier was a much better idea on a day where the cu's dry out and the lift gets weaker.







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Out and Return to the Fantasy of Flight

March 12, 2021, 7:14:48 EST

Out and Return to the Fantasy of Flight

A cross wind task

Fantasy of Flight|Larry Bunner|PG|triangle|Wilotree Park

A strong cross wind turns an out and return into a triangle by creating very well defined cloud streets.

After two days of "strong" east winds we decided that the winds were going to be light enough to launch going to the east and to fly south and then back north. This was the morning updated forecast:

Will there be cu's? After two days of high cu's and a similar wind (now with a slight bit of south) you would think so. The NWS and HRRR 3 say there is 20% cloud cover.



Sunny, with a high near 79. East wind 5 to 10 mph.

Hourly in the afternoon: East surface wind 8 mph, 20% cloud cover.


East surface wind at 1 PM: 8 mph, 2000' 10 mph, 4,000' 10 mph

TOL at 1 PM: 6,400'

Updraft Velocity at 1 PM: 640 fpm

CB at 1 PM: 0'

B/S at 1 PM: 8.7

Skew-T says maybe cu's.

TOL at 2 PM: 6,900'


Seems that the winds are a little too strong for around the Green Swamp (maybe tomorrow) so a cross wind task instead? I'll ask pilots what they want to do.

Quest 3 km
Fantsy 1 km
Quest 400 m

81 km

I was second to launch after Larry Bunner at 12:18 PM. The wind was 15 mph out of the east southeast. The lift started right from the start as we climbed out at 850 fpm. Pinning off in light lift I then headed downwind to get under Larry and climbed to 4,100'.

Larry headed southeast and I followed from below a little to his north side and found 700 fpm under the copious cu's. It was absolutely smooth and I had no idea I was climbing so fast at first. Larry was a kilometer to me south quickly getting smaller.

I climbed to cloud base at 5,000' and followed Larry to one side from a thousand feet over him. I marked the next two thermals and kept an eye on Larry to make sure that he was following. His radio was on the wrong frequency so I couldn't give him any help other than showing him the lift.

I climbed in the fourth thermal up the front face above cloud base and waited for Larry. I really wanted to fly together and get close enough so that we could signal each other visually. Unfortunately Larry got to base and headed south without passing close by so I didn't see him as I flew in and out of the mists. Finally I headed south and saw him circling at my altitude just ahead at the next cu. I was disappointed that he didn't wait for me there like I had waited for him at each of the previous thermals. We wouldn't be flying together after all.

Heading south 8 km past 474/33 I came in under Larry and then moved a bit east in sink while Larry moved a bit west and found 700-800 fpm. I found 500 fpm from 2,600' and climbed to over 5,100' drifting west at 9 mph. I was on my own.

The thermals averaged between 400 and 600 fpm and I climbed to over 5,000' just south of Dean Still. The wind was 5 mph out of the east northeast. The cu's were streeted east to west. The run from Dean Still to Fantasy of Flight looked not too inviting with only a few cus' ahead.

I didn't find any lift on the 9 km glide to just 1 km downwind of Fantasy. There was a cu to the east of Fantasy but lakes between me and it and I was down to 2,100' and headed for the nearest dark cu on the downwind side over land (and houses).

A dark cloud street formed right over Fantasy heading west. I was under it and searching all around finding light lift and finally finding 300 fpm to 5,000' in a 12 mph east southeast wind. I used the cloud street to get upwind and make 7.5 km to the turnpoint and then to the east southeast edge of the cloud street. I wanted to get upwind of the course line after being way down wind of it attempting to get myself back in the game.

I headed north cross wind, cross the sink area between cloud streets toward the next black-looking cloud. I had been finding lift on the south upwind sunny side of the clouds. I searched around and drifted downwind until down to 1,600' I finally found it along with a few buzzards getting back to cloud base at 5,000'. The wind was still 12 mph out of the east southeast, totally cross as we expected.

I headed due north to Dean Still to get under the closest cloud that I thought that I could connect with. I didn't feel that I could make it to the north east to get under the further cloud. I climbed at 200 fpm from 3,400' to 4,300' before I ventured directly upwind over a forested area hoping to make it high enough to feel comfortable when I got to the cloud to the east northeast.

I made it and climbed at over 400 fpm to 5,700'. This extra altitude was a great gift as I was going over areas that were off the main road and where I didn't really want to land. I headed north northeast to cu's 4 km southeast of 474/33. There I found 350 fpm to 5,800'. I wasn't that far from the Seminole Glider Port. It looked like I could make it back to Wilotree Park despite the cross wind.

I found a few light thermals north of Seminole that I hung on to just to make sure that I could make it back with plenty of altitude. The cu's were still looking very dark and I was not having a problem getting under them. It was easy to make it in.

Only Larry and I ventured out today although lots of people flew. Looks like at least two more days of east winds that are light enough for cross wind tasks. I'm sure more pilots will join us.





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Are you covered for liability?

March 12, 2021, 7:13:18 EST

Are you covered for liability?

You pay a lot for liability insurance through the RRRG

Bill Bolosky|CIVL|insurance|Risk Retention Group|USHPA|Wilotree Park

After receiving the email from the RRRG regarding our liability insurance situation with regard to the Tennessee Tree Topper I had a few questions that I sent to Bill Bolosky and the RRRG board:

Your email from the RRRG BOD raises a series of questions for me. Perhaps you know the answers.

It is my understanding that none of the flight parks in Florida have any insurance whatsoever.

They certainly wouldn't have any insurance covering any of the thousands of land owners scattered through out the state where we might land.

They do own the flight park lands and most of the time pilots land there.

In competitions we ask pilots to land at designated airfields/goal, so we make sure to designate them so that we can be insured with a competition policy from the RRRG.

During a competition is the only time we have insurance at Wilotree Park and with Paradise Airsports.

Pilots are being towed up by Paradise Airsports on a daily basis. The pilots may land somewhere else. We had assumed that they were covered by their USHPA/RRRG individual pilot liability coverage. Is this not true because they are being launched by a commercial operation?

Is there any point for a pilot who is solely launching from a flight park to have USHPA membership (other than for USHPA and CIVL sanctioned competition)?

Does the USHPA/RRRG not defend any recreational hang glider pilot who launches from a commercial flight park for any liability that they may incur when landing on some unknown landowners property?

How does the SSA handle this with outlandings?

Have I completely misunderstood what the RRRG board has written?

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Supporting the Oz Report

March 9, 2021, 8:28:29 EST

Supporting the Oz Report


Davis Straub|John Simon|Larry Bunner|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Oz Report|Scott Weiner|Wilotree Park

I'm working here making sure that everyone gets acknowledged for their contribution to supporting the Oz Report. With every day windy since Friday evening, I've been working on making Wilotree Park look the best that it can as well as riding the bike (today with Mitch Shipley as he continues his recovery). This evening I have the opportunity to again call out those who have been extra helpful in providing support, but I must say I appreciate every thing that I get from my readers.

Special thanks to Larry Bunner (who is not here right now but went home to visit his wife and will be back soon), Michael Tryon, John Simon (he's here and wants to fly), John Dullahan, Scott Weiner (who sold a lot of gear on the Oz Report Classifieds), Ronald P Gleason, Bill Belcourt, Mick Howard, and Vincent Collins.

Here are our supporters: http://ozreport.com/supporters.php

As you know, all we are asking for is a subscription payment of $20/year.

Seems simple enough. Like most content on the internet, you get to read the Oz Report for free. The trouble for us, not you, is that there are not enough hang glider pilots in this world to make advertising pay for our web hosting costs.

Please, help us out. Support something that you find useful so that it can continue to be there for you.


1) Click paypal.me/davisstraub.

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Type in the amount that you want to send in for your subscription.

Click "Next"

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If you can contribute from your PayPal Balance or from your bank account that is connected to your PayPal account, please do as this incurs no PayPal fee.

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With this option please click the "Send&Request" tab.

Type in my email address which you can discern from "davis" and I'm at "davisstraub.com". (I have to write it this way as we hide email addresses here at the Oz Report.

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If you’d rather just send a check for $20 or more (US Dollars only, please), please feel free to do so.

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If you send a physical check, be sure to send me your email address so that I can register you as a subscriber.

These are our supporters (if you are not on the list and have donated to the Oz Report, email me and I'll make sure that you are recognized): http://ozreport.com/supporters.php. Some of you who I've missed in the past did write to me and made sure I knew just how important the Oz Report was to them. If I've missed you, please do tell me.

4) This last option. Come over to the Oz Report support web page and sign up to support us: http://ozreport.com/support.php. Or click here:

Thanks to all our supporters: http://ozreport.com/supporters.php who have kept us going and paying our bills over the last twenty five years.

Friday Before the Rains

March 7, 2021, 8:24:53 EST

Friday Before the Rains

We grab a blue day to fly

Larry Bunner|PG|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Larry Bunner|PG|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Larry Bunner|PG|Wilotree Park

We know that hang glider pilots love cumulus clouds because they can actually see the lift. Otherwise we are out there trying to find it without being able to see it. Makes for an interesting quest.

We knew that Friday would be blue with no cu's and a light northeast wind. But without cu's pilots aren't clued into the reality that they should go down to the launch area at the regular time anyway. They just aren't as motivated.

There were a bunch of pilots who had made their way down to the west end of the east-west runway for launching into a light east northeast breeze. I was off third at 2:30 already an hour and a half late. Without Larry Bunner here there was no one to push us into going "early."

I got pulled to 2,400' but lost 1,000' searching for lift. Down to 1,300' over Wilotree Park I worked 100 fpm on average until I moved over to the northwest a little and found 300+ fpm to 4,000'. Kinsley Sykes had come in under me earlier but must have flown away.

Moving to the northwest to the Mickey Mouse lake I hooked up with Mick Howard and we climbed back to 4,000' before heading northwest toward Mascotte. We could see John Simon far below.

The lift was strong and we climbed to over 5,000' just south of highway 50, 5 kilometers south of the chicken coops. I took a straight glide to the north side of the chicken buildings but lost track of Mick as he was to the east going up highway 33 and getting low.

I found 200+ fpm on the north side of the buildings and climbed back to 4,500' and Mick and John struggled low over highway 33. Heading north west of 33 I kept an eye on John as he headed for the Grass Roots airfield. I was over a thousand feet higher than him but he wasn't doing all that well.

I was able to find the lift in the southwest corner of Grass Roots and climbed to 4,100' at 200+ fpm. John struggled down much lower, was getting up at 100 fpm, then came over to get under me but didn't find it and after a while landed at the airfield.

Mick was working south of me and continued to slowly recover and get over 3,000'. I headed north toward the normal turnpoint of the Turnpike and highway 33, although today our turnpoint was a bit further north. Down to 1,200' I found some weak lift and started working it just southwest of the Turnpike and highway intersection.

I climbed back to 3,400' inside the 1 km radius turnpoint cylinder and decided to call that turnpoint good enough. I wasn't getting high enough to make to safely to the 3 km radius cylinder around the Baron airfield. Mick agreed. John was on the ground.

I turned around and headed south as Mick came in to get the Turnpike and 33 turnpoint. A thick layer of clouds came over to the west obscuring the sun. It did not look great.

I was able to get a little lift heading south but not enough to get up high enough to have a reasonable shot of making it back to Wilotree Park. The lift was light and the ground was shaded. It was after 4 PM.

I searched around, but didn't find anything and soon was landing with John Simon at Grass Roots. Mick came in right after me. What a great place to land. No problem swooping it a bit.

We all left the windows rolled down in the truck to enhance dispersion of viral bits (and the air conditioner was on a fritz also). Thanks to Joann for her invite to join the ride back. It was a lovely spot for her to retrieve also.



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A Near Cyber Death Experience

Wed, Mar 3 2021, 8:23:21 am EST

We almost lost it

COVID|Facebook|Oz Report|Paradise Airsports Nationals 2021|Wilotree Park|Wilotree Park Nationals 2021

You might have noticed that it's been a tough year for most of us. Hang gliding continued without many competitions which would have lead to gatherings which were either frowned upon or completely forbidden by the authorities. Here in Florida we continued life outside where it is is 19 times safer (https://bestlifeonline.com/coronavirus-indoors/). Due to travel restrictions we canceled the Sport Class, Rigid Wing and Women's Worlds as well as all the Nationals competitions. Same for Big Spring.

Now a year later we are planning for the 2021 Paradise Airsports and Wilotree Park Nationals in April to be run under COVID protocols with continued international travel restrictions: https://airtribune.com/2021-paradise-airsports-nationals/info and https://airtribune.com/2021-wilotree-park-nationals/info.

During the year of crises mode we also decided to move to a new web server to reduce our costs. This transition has not been without numerous glitches as the Oz Report is a complex web site. For example, yesterday the host automatically updated PHP which caused all sorts of problems for Scare. Hopefully over time the situation will stabilize.

At one point we considered just going strictly on Facebook which would relieve us of all the web hosting issues (the high cost being the primary concern). We also were getting most of our content via Facebook posts, so it made sense to go to our Facebook version of the Oz Report.

This would mean that we would drop our email push of Oz Report issues. Also, those who find Facebook objectionable would no longer get to see our content. After a few disappointing experiments we decided to leave well enough alone. There is a Facebook version of the Oz Report and a stand-alone version. Sometimes content from the Facebook version comes over to the stand-alone version.

You can just go to the Oz Report on Facebook and ignore your news feed: https://www.facebook.com/ozreport

We don't know where things stand with our readers. We've decided not to publish every weekday unless there is news every weekday. Before it was publish or perish five days a week for 24 years. Now we are taking a bit more relaxed attitude and publishing when something interesting is happening, and hopefully with a new year and good changes to our pandemic situation coming, there will be more interesting things happening.

Thanks to all the Oz Report readers for their support over the years.

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Flying Toward Keystone

Sat, Feb 27 2021, 11:15:31 pm EST

With a ten mph tail wind

John Simon|Larry Bunner|Robin Hamilton|Wilotree Park|XC

Larry Bunner and I were off first long before anyone else at 12:30. I was pulled to just south of where Larry was climbing and he immediately joined me as we climbed at an average of 460 fpm to 4,700'. With a southeast wind at 14 mph we headed to the north northwest where we continued to find climbs under the west side of the cu's climbing up to 5,300' by the time we made it to the Florida Turnpike. We shared the air with bald eagles and hawks.

We were out there alone together with our pilot friends still on the ground back at Wilotree Park. When you find 500 fpm lift after getting off tow, you know that you launched later than you needed to.

Heading into the Villages north of the Turnpike Larry wanted to go to the north northwest although there was a great cloud street straight north of us a little east of our normal route near highway 301. I felt it was a mistake but went with him as he lead from below. He later agreed that we should have followed the much better street.

Just east of Wildwood we climbed at 200 fpm to 4,300'. At that point Larry lead off again from below to the north northwest. There was a dark black cu straight north of us that I wanted to head toward after we climbed up to 5,300' but Larry had already left before we could continue our climb so I followed. There was a clear mistake as we we flying into a blue hole. Larry later agreed.

We found 100 fpm at 2,500' and tried to find a better core climbing to 3,200' before we started losing altitude. Larry said he was heading north into the blue. By that point I had had it. I saw a nice dark cu to the northwest and headed for it.

Down to 2,400' I found 500 fpm under the cu. I climbed to 5,400' while Larry was down to 1,500' and working light lift. When I got to cloud base I headed toward him to the north.

Larry was turning in 300 fpm way down below me and I told him to come a little to the east where he found 600 fpm. I was soon at cloud base and told him I'd wait under the cu at the Leeward airfield just to the north. He got there quickly as I stayed out of the cloud on its western edge, the edge where all the lift was on this day.

Larry had had it also. He said lead out. I was still over him as I had been most of the flight so I took off at 5,700' to the north. It was a 16 km glide to the first landable field to the north. There were a few widely spaced cu's in that direction.

To the north northwest there were plenty of good looking cu's toward Ocala and I wanted to get under them, although there are few landing areas at all. With Larry following I headed for the best looking clouds.

There was no lift under the cu's. The problem was their western edges were far to the west of us. We couldn't get to them. After 12 km we were down to 1,400' with only one nearby landing field of any length. We had to stay near it and soon landed there. Larry used his drogue chute. I ducked under a phone line and past a tree to land in the second half of the field. I had scoped it out enough to know that I could do that.

Everyone else had landed earlier or soon would be except John Simon and Robin Hamilton. No one made goal.

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Round the Green Swamp in February

February 26, 2021, 9:27:37 pm EST

Round the Green Swamp in February

This global warming thing is working out

John Simon|Larry Bunner|Robin Hamilton|triangle|Wilotree Park|XC

The morning update forecast for Friday

A Green Swamp Day

Larry Bunner writes:

Slight inversion at 11:00 that stops lift at 2400'. Inversion breaks by noon with TOL at 5300'. When we see clouds we should go even if it is at 11:30. The winds at noon per skew T are ESE at 4kts at the surface going to zero above 4000'.
1:00 SE at 3kts going more south at 3 kts up high tol 5700'
2:00 SE at 4kts southerly up high at 4kts tol 6000'
3:00 SSE 4-6knts tol 6000'
4:00 SSE 7-9knts 6200' so perhaps we go clockwise around the swamp
5:00 SSE 7-11knts 5800'

NAM12 and RAP show convergence on the west side of the swamp slowly migrating east with good clouds over the entire area

Looks like swamp day to me.



Sunny, with a high near 85. Calm wind becoming south southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Hourly in the afternoon: South southeast surface wind 5-6 mph here at Wilotree Park.


Southeast surface wind at 1 PM: 3 mph, 2000' southeast 4 mph, 4,000' 3 mph south southeast

TOL at 1 PM: 5,700'

Updraft Velocity at 1 PM: 620 fpm

TOL at noon: 5,100'

Updraft Velocity at noon: 540 fpm

4000' winds at 4 PM at Dade City: south 7 mph


Quest 3 km
T98471 3 km
T7598 7 km
Quest 400m

FAI triangle

94 km

This is our clockwise around the Swamp task back to Wilotree Park.

Larry Bunner was watching the cu's forming and had been looking forward to launching at noon, which he did when there were enough cu's forming nearby. Most pilots were waiting for stronger conditions and a later launch. I waited for 50 minutes and then had Jim Prahl haul me to the south to 2,900' where I connected with some cu's and climbed at 300 fpm to 4,700'.

The sky was not full of cu's but they were around. The wind was out of the southeast at 4 to 6 mph. I headed toward Larry who was just north of the Seminole Glider port. I got there at 1,600' while Larry was above me at 3,000' and climbing.

The lift was broken and it was a struggle at less than 200 fpm to get only up to 2,800'. Heading south southeast and down to 1,400' it was again a struggle to only get back to 2,800' again at 200 fpm. The lift was broken up. Larry was further south and doing much better. Everyone else was now launching after 1 PM.

Heading further south it was not going well. Down to 600' AGL I finally found some scraps of lift and held on looking for better landing areas. There was an 8 mph wind out of the east southeast.

I kept hanging on and searching for better nearby and going over the trees but with a landing field to the south. The lift kept improving and being more consistent. I drifted back a few kilometers but finally climbed to 4,500' and saw Pedro Garcia, John Simon, and Robin Hamilton to my west a couple of kilometers at my elevation.

Heading to the south side of the Green Swamp gliding into a 9 mph south head wind I hooked up with Pedro and John and we climbed to 4,900'. Pedro had to turn around and go back to Wilotree Park because he had tandems to do.

It was a short glide to the next cu and we climbed to 5,900'. Robin Hamilton had come in underneath us.

The next glide was 11 kilometers to the southeast corner of the Green Swamp, the last place where you need to get high before cross over the swamp to the first turnpoint. John found something just below and behind me and we were able to climb to 4,800' with a 6 mph southwest wind pushing us back a little.

Down to 2,100' just near the turnpoint I climbed back up as John found better lift to the north and topped out at 5,200' with a 7 mph south wind pushing us up the course line to the second turnpoint.

With that nice tail wind it was extremely easy to head north. I quickly caught back up with John and climbed to 6,000' at 400 fpm. Robin was just behind us.

There were some good looking clouds in the 7 kilometer radius turnpoint further north and I took them to 5,100'. We could hear from Larry that he had been struggling at the turnpoint and not getting up, but as we got close he finally was able to climb up. The wind was 8 mph out of the southwest, a tail wind to get us home.

We would normally head straight east across the Green Swamp toward Wilotree Park but we were at less than 4,000' on the western edge. With the wind direction and the cloud spacing we heading east northeast toward open landing fields and highway 50, as well as the inviting cu's. I was able to climb to 5,200' under them.

After that thermal the lift was weak along highway 50. The wind was out of the southwest at 9 mph, but I could continue to the east northeast. Coming over the huge nursery north of highway 50 and Mascotte, I just settled into ubiquitous 70 fpm and climbed to 3,900'which gave me an easy 9 km cross wind glide to Wilotree.

Larry, John, Robin, and I made it around. Others abandoned and returned to the flight park. Pedro had to go to work. A few landed out. A busy day at Paradise Airsports.

Tomorrow the winds are stronger out of the south southeast and we may have to fly a downwind task.

Four days of good flying

February 13, 2021, 10:48:03 pm EST

Four days of good flying

Now it looks like a week of rain

John Simon|PG|Robin Hamilton|triangle|Wilotree Park

Pedro Garcia, Robin Hamilton, John Simon, Mick Howard and I (along with Maria when she wasn't working) got a bunch of Florida style flying in this last week. I missed Thursday having a colonoscopy date.

With temperatures in the lower eighties and the skies filled with cumulus clouds we had great opportunities for close course triangles and out and returns. On our last day on Friday we chose the always popular route to the northwest to Center Hill then to the northeast to the Turnpike and highway 33 and back to Wilotree Park. A total of 51 kilometers.

The forecast for the day pointed out the strength of the south wind:



A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 82. South southwest wind around 5 mph.

Hourly in the afternoon: South southwest surface wind 6 mph. Cloud cover 64% rising to 75% at 4 PM.


South southwest surface wind at 1 PM: 9 mph, 2000' south southwest winds at 12 mph.

TOL at 1 PM: 5,100'

Updraft Velocity at 1 PM: 520 fpm

CB at 1 PM: 4,300'

Cloud cover 30%

100% cloud cover at 4 PM

With strong lift and a high cloud base we figured we had a chance coming back against a 12 mph head wind.

I was off first at 1:15 PM trying to get an earlier start given the forecast for 100% cloud cover at 4 PM. No need to wait until 2 PM.

I didn't get any lift on tow so I stayed on until 2,600' AGL and then found lift further away from the the park and climbed to 3,600' at 260 fpm on average. Mick was pulled up after me and was not too far below before I headed out as the mists became evident.

With an eleven mph southeast tail wind it was easy to get to the next cu's off to the northwest in the direction of Center Hill. With Mick using me to spot the thermals we were quickly at Center Hill having found lift averaging between 100 fpm and 300 fpm. There were plenty of cu's to help guide the way.

Turning to the northeast at Center Hill meant that the wind was now cross and the lift not so great still I made it to the Turnpike and highway 33 turnpoint with a couple of thermals. Mick got a little confused and first went toward the wrong intersection before heading further east toward highway 33. John and Robin were behind us.

Turning south at the Turnpike mean heading into the wind which was now due south at 9 mph. I found lift at 1,900' two kilometers to the south but ending up back over the turnpoint at 3,700' climbing at 236 fpm.

There were cu's to the south down highway 33, but they were fewer, further apart and didn't look as good as on the first leg., but it was still early at 2:30 PM. I was glad that we took an earlier start than we had on previous days.

The lift was weak and the wind was strong, just what we didn't need. I saw John coming in below me heading for the Turnpike as I headed south for the second time. Robin seemed to be further back.

Down to 1,300' just north of the Grass Roots airfield I found 150 fpm. Ahead of me there were very few cu's at all and the blue hole went on for a long stretch.

I climbed to 2,300' then spotted Robin turning a kilometer back north of me so jumped downwind to join him. Unfortunately I was only able to gain a hundred more feet before that lift petered out. Heading south toward Grass Roots there was no lift to be found and I landed on their nicely manicured grass runway.

John and Mick landed further back to the north, Robin landed on the forbidden farm a couple of kilometers further south, which did not make his day (he had not been informed).


We didn't get as high as forecasted and the lift that we found wasn't as strong as predicted, so we really couldn't make it back against the head wind which was 13 mph above 2,000'.






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A Much Better Day

February 9, 2021, 9:16:38 pm EST

A Much Better Day

The wind forecast caused misplaced concern

Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

Here was the forecast for Tuesday at Wilotree Park:



Areas of dense fog before 10am. Otherwise, cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 82. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Hourly: Southwest surface wind 6 mph. Cloud cover 90% decreasing to 20%.


Southwest surface wind at 1 pm: 9 mph, 2000' southwest winds at 12 mph.

TOL at 1 PM: 2,800'

Updraft Velocity at 1 PM: 420 fpm

CB at 1 PM: 2,800'

Cloud cover 92%.

The NWS hourly also called for the surface wind to switch from southwest to west southwest in the afternoon.

We setup in the northeast corner ready to use the newly rolled runways to the southwest. Cory Barnwell got off much earlier than the rest of us and soon after he launched the winds died down to almost nothing and turned west (and a little bit west northwest). With the winds so light we really weren't that concerned about the direction.

We waited until after 2 PM and I was behind Pedro Garcia getting pulled up at 2:18 PM. The sky was full of cu's and a nice cloud street to the southwest headed right for the first turnpoint at Bay Lake. We had made a plan if the winds were strong up high that we would head off to the northeast after first trying to head into the winds to the southwest. Now it looked like we didn't need that alternate plan.

Pedro was surfing the upwind side of a nice looking cu and I pinned off at 2,300' in lift just down wind of where he was going up. The wind was 5 mph out of the west. I was able to climb to 4,000' drifting to the east. Pedro and I waited for John Simon to catch up with us then we all headed east toward the cloud street that would connect us with the Bay Lake turnpoint.

The cloud street proved to be working and after getting back to 4,000' it was easy to take the turnpoint and head downwind toward more cu's. I found Pedro turning over a familiar orange grove that almost always works for me and we climbed back up. We could hear John Simon's vario as he doesn't have his radio setup to keep from having it transmit when he's not paying attention. He was going up much faster.

We went over to him and with Pedro and John over me I was able to climb to cloud base at 4,800' while they headed out to the east southeast to the turnpoint at Live Oak (not the town to the north). Mick Howard was way down below and as I neared cloud base they came back to join up with Mick.

Leaving at the top of the climb I was able to quickly get out to the turnpoint and then head back to the same lift. Mick was heading out at 3,600' which was my altitude coming back. That didn't look good to me. He would later land out short of Wilotree.

The lift was still there and I climbed back to 4,100' before heading out back toward Wilotree Park. I had about a 10:1 glide to make it back. I was 11 km out south east and downwind of the goal. The wind was 4 mph out of the west. There were no clouds on the course line straight back.

I stopped for 40 fpm lift 7.5 km out gaining 200' from 2,800' to 3,000'. I still had about a 10:1 glide requirement to make it in. The west wind had died down to 1 mph. The Blade said I had the goal by about 600'. There are tall trees on the south side of the field.

It was marginal all the way in. No cu's, no lift, but spots where there was plenty of sink and spots where there was zero sink. Passing over fields where I could land if needed I came just to the south end of the field at 700'. There was lift there. The wind was southwest at 4 mph and I had been flying at almost 14:1 with it. The lift was weak, but I really wasn't interested in going back up. John and Pedro were climbing.

A small task for a day that we weren't sure about. Pedro and John would do the first leg again and come back. Looks like tomorrow we will have a big task.

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This is January Flying

January 30, 2021, 9:57:58 pm EST

This is January Flying

The forecast for Saturday, the 30th

John Simon|PG|Wilotree Park


Mostly sunny, with a high near 72. Northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southeast in the afternoon.

NWS Hourly: Southeast 8 mph


Southeast surface wind at 1 pm: 6 mph, 2000' south southeast winds at 8 mph.

TOL at 1 PM: 4,900'

Updraft Velocity at 1 PM: 560 fpm

CB at 1 PM: 0' Could be cu's later or even at 1 PM.


Launch at 1 PM

Quest 1 km
Center 1 km
Grass Roots 1 km
Quest 400 m

Even for the forecast with no cu's, you always get cu's with a southeast flow. The issue was, would this be true with the wind slowly rotating around from the northeast just as we would be about ready to launch.

Well the light winds did rotate and the cu's did show up.

I was off first and it was quite a ride. It was bumpy on the way up towing behind Jim Prahl. Then suddenly at 1,200' the air tossed the tug about and then it tossed me the other way. I pulled the pin in emergency mode as the tug was now way below me.

I was in harsh lift and was soon rising at over 1,100 fpm on the averager. I don't recall a time that I have ever gone up that fast in Florida. It wasn't long before I was at cloud base at 4,900'.

Everyone else was far below and it sure looked that they weren't climbing all that fast. My Push-to-Talk button wasn't working so I couldn't communicate with them and with a extra noise on the frequency I decided to turn down the radio and do the task on my own.

I had called a bit of a small task to Center Hill to the northwest, Grass Roots Airfield straight east from there and then back to Wilotree Park, a mere 44 km and given the high TOL, John Simon mentioned that he thought we should make the second turnpoint at the Turnpike and highway 33 for a 51 km task.

I headed out quickly toward all the cu's ahead of me on the way to Center Hill. Going down wind made for a lovely set of glides and climbs to 5,100' just before the turnpoint.

After I made the turnpoint I decided to head toward the intersection of the Turnpike and highway 33 as it looked like the longer task was possible given the strength of the thermals even with an 11 mph south wind. The wind direction seemed to turn from south southeast to south southwest giving me again a tail wind heading to the northeast.

After climbing to 4,900' I headed more easterly to get under better looking cu's and to get south of the second turnpoint and then let the wind drift me into it as I climbed. That plan took me down to 2,200' three and a half kilometers south of the Turnpike but I climbed to 4,600' as the cloud grew over me and I drifted right to the turnpoint.

The wind didn't seem so bad as I headed south and came in at 2,300' under Mick Howard who was stuck near Grass Roots trying to get high and drifting back to the north. It took a few minutes but heading further south I finally found some good lift and climbed to 4,000' as Mick climbed slower and drifted further back away from Wilotree Park.

There were lots of good looking cu's going south and I headed right for them. The wind was coming out of the southeast at 144 degrees and the best looking clouds were due south but obviously moving further west downwind of the course line. There were cu's upwind of the course line but not as dark as the ones to me south. I headed for the dark ones figuring to make up the down wind location by getting high.

That didn't work and those clouds appear to have been dying, not building like all the previous ones. Perhaps I should have gone to the scrappier looking ones further east.

The lift at 1,300' was 45 fpm and I erroneously though going down wind a bit to dark clouds would elicit a strong thermal. No luck with that one, but a huge field to land it along Tuscanooga Road out of Mascotte.

It wasn't too long before Mick joined me in this down sloping but very long field. John Simon and Pedro Garcia made the short task and back to Wilotree Park, Tiago landed at Grass Roots.



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Before the Big Game

January 24, 2021, 9:12:10 pm EST

Before the Big Game

What was that forecast again?

PG|Wilotree Park

John Simon|PG|Wilotree Park

John Simon|PG|Wilotree Park

Here's what I called the night before for Sunday:


Patchy fog before 8am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 76. East northeast wind 5 to 10 mph.

So the forecast has gone from mostly sunny to mostly cloudy. Forecasted high has dropped 2 degrees and the wind direction forecast went from east southeast to east northeast and stronger winds.

Hourly NWS shows 8 mph east northeast winds.


6 mph east northeast surface wind at 1 PM

Winds east at 6 mph at 2,000' at 1 PM.

380 fpm lift at 1 PM

TOL 3,000' at 1 PM

CB: 2,600' at 1 PM

100% cloud cover at 1 PM. Stays that way

No task yet as conditions are not great.

We woke up to a sky that was half overcast (the northern half) and totally blue to the south. The day will prove to be not overcast but a sky full of cu's. It was overcast to our north at the airfield/weather station at Leesburg, but it began to clear up there before noon.

Thick, tall cumulus clouds appeared covering much of the sky here at Wilotree Park before noon, then they broke up after 1 PM and there were scattered cu's, none tall. That seemed a bit unusual.

The NWS updated their afternoon forecast and now it was:

This Afternoon
Mostly sunny, with a high near 77. East wind around 5 mph.

Quite a change back to the original forecast from two days previous.

Pedro and Marie can fly, but Pedro has to get her to the airport, leaving from Wilotree Park at 4 PM. John Simon and I can fly, but the Bucs and the Packers start playing at 3:05.

I get pulled up at 1:45 PM with John launching 5 minutes after me. Because of the north east wind I had Jim Prahl pull me to the southwest to get away from the Lake Apopka effect (it kills the lift).

I climbed up to 3,000' under a lone cu. John got low soon after being towed up and pinning off at 1,400' in what he thought was strong lift. He had to fight his way back up from 600'.

There were nice looking cu's over Pine Island lake and just to its east. I got there and worked some weak lift and finally found 200 fpm to 3,500' just in the bottom edge of the cloud.

There were no cu's in the 3.7 km to the Sawmil turnpoint as I headed out from Pine Island. I had to use the GoTo function as I had a different turnpoint in my task declaration. I got within 270 meters of the turnpoint and I knew that there was a 1 km cylinder around it.

Heading back toward the cu's that I had just left I found 200 fpm half way there over the field that I landed in last time. There was no cu above me. I climbed to 2,800' and that made it easy to get to the good looking cu's ahead. I had seen John climbing under those cu's on his way toward the first turnpoint at Sawmil.

I climbed at 220 fpm to 3,500' as I drifted west toward Bay Lake. There were two lines of cu's heading west so it was easy to fly under one of them and stay high, or at least high enough.

Jumping over to the cu's at Bay Lake I climbed at 220 fpm to 3,500' It was 7.7 L/D to goal at Wilotree Park. I was able to get up to 60 mph trying to get down as I came into goal.

I pulled on the cord to unzip and it came loose at 900'. I had to reach down to push the lower zipper down as I couldn't pull it down. I had to push down three separate times as I circled about to set up and finally got my knees in toe open part of the zipper. Pulled in hard to get into ground effect at high speed and was able to land in the middle of the field a long ways from the eastern edge.

John came in after struggling with another low save about 40 minutes later. I got to watch most of the Bucs/Patriots game.



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Low day, short task

January 20, 2021, 8:16:22 pm EST

Low day, short task

No one makes it around the course

Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

The forecast:

Robin thought before the fact that the Tuesday task was a little short. Maybe for him. With a low TOL I figured it wasn't really that short.

NWS says:

Sunny, with a high near 72. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the morning.

So from light northeast on Tuesday to light north northwest. It turned west around 6 PM on Tuesday.

Tomorrow it looks like it goes more westerly as the afternoon progresses, but still light surface winds at 6 - 7 mph. Will we be launching from the southeast corner on a north northwest day?

10 mph at TOL. 8-9 mph at 2,000' at 1 PM

400 fpm lift at 1 PM (HRRR 3).The same through 3 PM then a little less at 4 PM.(All other models show higher updraft velocities.) 60 fpm less forecasted than Tuesday.

TOL 2,600' at 1 PM climbing to 3,000' at 2 PM and staying there until 4 PM (HRRR 3, but pretty consistent through out all the models.) So this is the real kicker. 1000' lower TOL than Tuesday.

But there is a much weaker inversion than Tuesday, and if it warms up a few more degrees than forecast we might be able to get up to 4,600'. The highest temperature today was 68 degrees.

No lift at 5 PM, of course.

No cu's (Both Skew-T and the models show no cu's.)

Again maybe a two hour task from 2 PM to 4 PM. Launching starting at 1 PM.


Quest 1 km
Sawmil 1 km
Baylk 1 km
Quest 400 m

23.4 km

A short distance task, no cu's, low TOL, head wind second leg and return leg.

I launched at 2 PM and it took a few minutes to find the lift. Thankfully Pedro Garcia mentioned on the radio that he was in 300 fpm a half a kilometer to my east northeast. That thermal got me from 1,500' to 2,500'. Not great, but better than landing back at Wilotree Park.

Heading back west when the lift gave out I was down to below 1,000' just north of the airfield. Getting low like this has been a reoccurring theme over the last two days. When I was low near the flight park, I would get back up, thankfully.

The lift averaged over 200 fpm with patches of 400 fpm. Pedro and John Simon came in over me. We were drifting in a 9 mph northwest wind. I climbed to 2,900'. John and Pedro to 3,100'.

John headed out toward Sawmil, a mere 7 km away. I followed with Pedro behind us. No one was finding anything.

John finally found lift to my northeast and I came in under Pedro and him. No one else was out with us. Three pilots didn't seem to have left the flight park and Robin was way behind us.

I was able to climb up from less than 1,000' to 1,800', but not to 2,500' which is where Pedro and John ended up.

Pedro and John found weak lift just before the turnpoint. I came in too low below them and the lack of suitable landing areas had me scooting to a big field to the west. It was nice to get in a perfect landing.

Pedro and John made the turnpoint but Pedro landed a little over half way to the next one. After Pedro landed John cut short the task after not being able to get over 2,200' leaving it half way on the second leg and made it back to the flight park. Robin landed after the first turnpoint also.

It's quite a bit of fun flying low in weak lift.

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Hang Gliding XC-101 Clinic 202

January 20, 2021, 6:46:09 pm EST

Hang Gliding XC-101 Clinic 202

At Wilotree Park

April Mackin|Wilotree Park

Michael Howard <<mickhoward100>> sends:

On March 28 - April 2, 2021 Paradise Air Sports will host another mentored hang gliding "XC 101 Flying Clinic".

If you are new to XC, have never flown XC or would like to learn the ins-and-outs of XC flying, THIS IS FOR YOU!

A few of the things you could expect from XC 101: how to pick safe landing fields and what to look for, how to spot and work with thermals, how to read weather reports, what to look for in weather reports, working with and knowing your instruments, as well as proper flight park etiquette. Pilots and mentors will work in small groups and fly together to coach you along and to help with your specific concerns.

In order to get the best from this clinic it is important to have clear and reliable communications, which mean having a working 2-meter radio with headset and PTT. It is impossible to provide in-flight mentoring without good communications between mentors and participants so please come prepared.

This event will be held at: Wilotree Park 6548 Groveland Airport Rd, Groveland Florida, 34736. <info>.

The fee for the clinic is $350.00 for 5 days. This includes: 1 tow per day, daily park fees, mentors and retrieves. After the first daily tow, the fee will be $30.00 per tow.

Accommodations and camping at the park are available at additional cost.

We ask that you to prepay the $350.00 so we have an accurate account of participants, pilot needs, skill levels and mentors needed.

For more information about the event please contact:

Mick Howard 281-468-3210 or April Mackin 321-229-0458.

To make reservations for the clinic and for accommodation (if required) please contact Paradise Air Sports: 352-429-0210 https://www.paradiseairsports.com/

"Our mission is to encourage pilots to further their hang gliding experience in a safe and informative environment and help pilots achieve personal best flights with the undivided attention of all of our experienced cross country hang gliding pilot mentors”.

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January Flying at Wilotree Park

January 19, 2021, 11:46:37 pm EST

January Flying at Wilotree Park

We flew on Tuesday

PG|triangle|Wilotree Park

John Simon|PG|triangle|Wilotree Park

John Simon|PG|Robin Hamilton|triangle|Wilotree Park

John Simon|PG|Robin Hamilton|triangle|Wilotree Park

Robin Hamilton and Rich Reinauer showed up from Texas very early Tuesday morning. John Simon was already here. Add Mick Howard, Pedro Garcia (who had to go to the airport) and I and we had a crew willing to take on a short (34 km) triangle task. Here was my forecast:

After a somewhat windy MLK day with the high pressure now centered south of New Orleans, which is the perfect place for southeast winds up through Texas:

With the high pressure also over us the winds die down here over night. Looks like it's going to be 6 mph out of the east on Tuesday (NWS). Maybe as low as 2 mph at 1 PM (RAP forecast).

NWS says:


Sunny, with a high near 69. Calm wind becoming east northeast around 5 mph.

Light winds up at top of "usable" lift also with RAP saying 3 mph and HRRR 3 saying 7.mph all basically east. (RAP and HRRR 3 both show very light east winds at 4,000' at 1 PM.)

460 fpm lift at 1 PM (HRRR 3). Looks good through 4 PM. (All other models show higher updraft velocities.)

TOL 3,600' at 1 PM climbing to 4,300' at 4 PM (HRRR 3, but pretty consistent through out all the models).

No lift at 5 PM, of course.

No cu's (Both Skew-T and the models show no cu's).

Maybe a two hour task from 2 PM to 4 PM. Launching starting at 1 PM.


Quest 1 km
Livoak 1 km
Baylk 1 km
Quest 400 m

34 km

A shorter task, but maybe a warm up for longer ones starting on Wednesday, also, no cu's so more difficult.

The rest of the week looks great with temperatures in the 70's (up to 80 on Monday) and light winds.

Kasey pulled me up a few minutes before 2 PM. I was waiting for the TOL is rise up a bit. I was the first of our cohort to get going.

Despite the fact that she took me to 2,500' I don't find any lift until I was down to below 1,200'. With a northeast flow one does not find lift to the northeast of Wilotree Park due to winds coming off the lakes in that direction. Of course, tug pilots normally pull you up upwind, but that is not the ticket here on northeast wind days.

I turned around after I remembered this and caught lift west of Wilotree Park climbing to 2,600' over Osborn field. John radioed that he was about to launch and as I headed back toward Wilotree to the east having topped out, I was soon down to below 1,000' at the western edge of Wilotree. Four minutes of hanging there in net zero lift finally allowed for an average 200 fpm climb to 3,200' with John, Robin, and Rich coming in under me as I drifted west at 6 mph and waited for them to climb up to the TOL with me.

We headed out, despite not being especially high, toward the south east and the first turnpoint a mere 14 km away. The lift continued to improve even as we headed into a light headwind. I was able to climb to 3,600'just west of Pine Island.

The wind was coming from the south east over the lake around Pine Island so I headed in that direction to get past the lake. I found light lift and continued flying straight as it was weak. John and Robin were behind me to the south and stopped to turn in some weak lift behind me. I didn't bother going back toward them as the land out in front looked like it would produce.

It didn't and as John and Robin slowly climbed out I was forced to land in a huge field later to be joined by Rich. A couple of neighbors came by and one of them helped us break down the gliders. They said come back any time.

John didn't catch the next thermal and landed near Rich and I a bit further up the first leg. We never heard from Mick. Robin was able to make it around the course.



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Between Christmas and New Years

December 29, 2020, 9:08:33 pm EST

Between Christmas and New Years

Always seems like a time that pilots come to fly in Florida

Facebook|Wilotree Park

A family came from Columbia and three soloed with Paradise Airports at Wilotree Park (and no I do not approve of the awful lack of social distancing and the lack of masks. This is not how I operate here. I stay outside and away from people.):

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Wilotree Park Airfield

December 19, 2020, 9:30:12 pm EST

Wilotree Park Airfield

Sheets Airfield

Wilotree Park

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Well, we flew anyway

December 15, 2020, 7:58:41 EST

Well, we flew anyway

Warm days in Florida

PG|Wilotree Park

Three days of relatively warm temperatures on Friday through Sunday brought a passel of pilots out to Wilotree Park to get towed into the air by Paradise Airsports. You already heard from me about our triangle flight on Friday. Saturday was a bust with mostly cloudy skies. On Sunday the sun came out and we got to fly yet again.

The forecast was not great:

Areas of dense fog before 11am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 79. Calm wind becoming south southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

2 PM:

TOL: 2,460'
Updraft: 360 fpm
Wind surface: SSW 3 mph, 2000': SSW 5 mph
Cu's: 3,100' (Skew-T - which says that is the TOL)
Temp TOL: 60 F


Quest 400m
Baylk 1km
Quest 400m

34 km

1 PM launch

The cu's formed early, but they were low. A bunch of pilots launched after 1 PM while Mick and I got off after the first round. Dropped off by Jim Prahl at 2,000' I climbed to 3,200' at 100 fpm. I was at cloud base and had drifted far off to the northeast in the 7 mph wind. The thought of doing the task was quickly fading away, given the first leg was to the southeast.

The next three thermals averaged less than 50 fpm. Finally I headed upwind to the south end of the park to find a little over 100 fpm from 1,200' to 2,900'. This gave me the opportunity to head south to the next cu's to see if I could eke out a bit of distance down the course line and find some lift to go with the distance.

It was not to be and I had to scoot back to the flight park, where I found more weak lift that kept me entertained for fourteen minutes down low. All great fun without the accomplishment of our assigned task.



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No Sport Class Worlds in 2021

December 15, 2020, 7:57:44 EST

No Sport Class Worlds in 2021

CIVL won't allow Stephan Mentler to be the organizer

Belinda Boulter|CIVL|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Mitch Shipley|USHPA|Wilotree Park|Worlds 2021 Sport Class

Stephan Mentler <stephmet> writes:

To my fellow competition pilots, in planning for next year’s planned 2nd FAI Sport Class Worlds (postponed from 2020), the outgoing competition Organizer (Davis/Belinda) coordinated with CIVL to ensure a smooth transition between organizers (Davis/Belinda to me and my LLC, HGRAC).

Part of the transition included having a supremely qualified Meet Director, who graciously volunteered, along with Davis and Belinda aiding the new organizers in an advisory/oversight capacity. In principle, CIVL communicated their support; albeit, apprehensively given the number of uncertainties – we believed that formal approval was forthcoming.

Davis and I proceeded as if the Championship would occur. Unfortunately, we were informed by CIVL, on Friday, that they would not sanction the Competition due to the change in organizers. We attempted to salvage the situation by proposing a re-bid for 2022 with next year being another test event with the new organizers. Unfortunately, we were told that this would not be acceptable either. To be fair, I do not bring hang gliding competition specific organization experience to the table - especially organizing a Category 1 Event – I believed that our plan mitigated any risk of failure.

We are moving forward with the Paradise Airports Nationals and Wilotree Park Nationals, which will include Sport Class – which we expect will be officially sanctioned by both the USHPA and CIVL as category 2 competitions, as has previously been the case.

Mitch Shipley, who is part of the CIVL Bureau, has also told me that if the 2021 Wilotree Park Nationals goes well for the sport class pilots, CIVL may be open to letting Stephan being the organizer of the 2022 Sport Class Worlds, if he applies for it, which he has said that he would.

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Expo Days at Wilotree Park

December 4, 2020, 8:48:08 pm EST

Expo Days at Wilotree Park

The weather wasn't as bad as we thought it might be

Wilotree Park

Pilots actually flew. There was a tiny bit of rain for a few seconds during the day. The sun didn't really come out much. Lots of pilots, even more gliders set up.

Photo by Connie Bailey.

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The Florida Competitions in 2021

November 27, 2020, 10:35:06 EST

The Florida Competitions in 2021

The new meet organizer

Belinda Boulter|Ben Dunn|COVID|Paradise Airsports Nationals 2021|Risk Retention Group|USHPA|Wilotree Park

Stephan Mentler <team> writes:

To my fellow competition pilots, the Florida based hang gliding competitions - in April of next year - are moving forward pending official USHPA re-sanctioning.  This includes the Paradise Airports Nationals, Wilotree Park Nationals, and the 2nd FAI Sport Class World Championship.  The respective competition dates along with registration process is provided on the Airtribune sites.  




The competition organization understands that there will remain many unknowns regarding COVID-19, even with the development and distribution of a vaccine.  Pilots who sign-up for a competition and submit payment will be entitled to a full refund of entry fees minus $3.00 (three dollars) or the foreign equivalent if they are unable to attend due to impacts of COVID-19.  This includes government-imposed travel restrictions, government-imposed restrictions on sporting events, surges in cases, pilot illness, pilot family member illness, etc.  The $3.00 (three dollars) is retained to pay for anticipated non-refundable Organizer competition expenses.
There are a couple of changes - other than the impacts of COVID-19 – from previous years of Florida hang gliding competitions.  The first and most impactful is the retirement of Davis and Belinda from official Organizing and Meet Directing duties.  As competition pilots, we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude for their personal sacrifice and doing what can be a thankless job.  Without their commitment to organizing the Spring Florida competitions from the Green Swamp Klassic to the Nationals series, I suspect that the Florida and Big Spring competitions would have died-out a long time ago.  Thankfully, they have volunteered to help the new organization team, as needed to get things going for next year.  
This gets us to our second change.  In my role as the primary Organizer for next year’s Florida competitions and also considering the long-term prospects for U.S. based race-to-goal competitions – I along with two other competition pilots founded a hang gliding competition specific non-profit organization - the Hang Glider Racing Association Corp (HGRAC), a registered Florida non-profit corporation.  This was done upon the advice of past and potentially future organizers and several attorneys.  
A little background - some of the requirements enacted by the Risk Retention Group (RRG), for a competition to be insured, transfers a substantial level of risk to competition organizers.  This includes the potential for the RRG to refuse coverage for incidents that would be beyond the control of the organizer.  Without the creation of a competition specific organization as an additional protection for organizers, it is unlikely that anyone would have stepped in to organize another hang gliding race-to-goal competition in the U.S.  To be fair, the RRG has been made aware of the concerns and their leadership is working to resolve them – but in the interim - the HGRAC will be the entity under which I along with one or two other potential hang gliding competition organizers will organize U.S. based race-to-goal hang gliding competitions.
The HGRAC is currently composed of a president and two Directors.  The two Directors are Ben Dunn and Cory Barnwell.  Ben is a former multi-year Open Class U.S. National Team member and Cory is an experienced Open and Sport Class competition pilot.  We will be looking to appoint additional Directors if and as the HGRAC evolves.   

The comp organization email address is <team>.

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Hang Glider Expo at Wilotree Park

November 4, 2020, 8:10:54 pm EST

Hang Glider Expo at Wilotree Park

Postponed one week with Hurricane/Tropical Storm coming on Sunday

Facebook|Hang Glider Expo|Wilotree Park


Stephan Mentler writes:

After consultation with several folks and Wilotree Management - the manufacturer demo is being postponed to November 13th, 14th, and 15th. This was a tough decision, but given the current forecast comprising surface winds as high 20+ mph through the event along with precipitation, the environment would not be conducive to having gliders setup, let alone flying. Aeros, Icaro, Moyes, and Wills gliders will be available to test fly on the new dates.

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Hang Glider Expo at Wilotree Park

October 27, 2020, 8:00:05 MDT

Hang Glider Expo at Wilotree Park

Moyes Malibu

Facebook|Hang Glider Expo|Wilotree Park



Originally designed for beginner and intermediate pilots, the Malibu was soon adopted as the perfect "dune-gooning" wing and warmly welcomed by experienced pilots, due to its exceptionally slow speed and quick roll handling performance.

Come check them out, come test Fly the gliders that you want.

Multiple manufactures from beginners to advanced we will have prizes, food, demo gliders, special sales, Flytec, digifly, and much more.

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Hang Glider Expo at Wilotree Park

October 26, 2020, 9:06:42 MDT

Hang Glider Expo at Wilotree Park

Wills Wing Sport 3 155

Facebook|Hang Glider Expo|Wilotree Park


Wills Wing Sport3 155

The "Sport" series of gliders from Wills Wing has always defined what a sport class, recreational high-performance glider should be and the Sport 3 brings that heritage to its highest level.

The most significant aerodynamic revisions to the Sport 3 are a redesigned sail and stability system that together provide for a tighter-flatter sail and allow for lower sprog settings. This lower twist sail significantly improves high speed performance and reduces pitch pressures at high speed, which also contributes to improved handling across the speed range and range of VG adjustment. The Sport 3 can also be configured with carbon fiber raked tips that increase the effective aspect ratio, reducing induced drag to further enhance low speed performance.

The airframe introduces new tuning options to more effectively optimize the control and handling characteristics for a wider range of sail configurations and pilot preferences. Now it’s easier than ever to tighten an older sail or loosen a crisp new wing. The VG System has also been redesigned to be more effective and easier to pull. A Kickstand Stinger is also included to make setup and breakdown even easier.


- Lightest Weight Glider in its Class
- Easiest to Fly and Land Glider in its Class
- Industry’s Highest Quality Materials and Construction Standards
- Most Affordable Glider in its Class

Hang Glider Expo at Wilotree Park

October 21, 2020, 8:45:54 MDT

Hang Glider Expo at Wilotree Park

November 6th through 8th

Facebook|Hang Glider Expo|Wilotree Park


Laminar Light is for those pilots who want a lighter, easier to fly topless glider, with excellent performance, but who aren’t focused around flying competitions.

Compared to the Laminar, it has fewer battens (all carbon), foam instead of the Mylar in the leading edge, Technora sail, standard A-frame, and carbon fiber outer leading edge. All of these options aid in reducing its weight and enhancing the pleasure of flying while retaining the legendary Laminar performance at the medium and lower end of the speed range. The glider is customizable with the same options that are available for the race Laminar.

These will be available to fly November 6-8th at the hang gliding expo at Wilotree Park. Come check them out, come test fly the gliders that you want. Multiple manufactures from beginners to advanced we will have prizes, food, demo gliders, special sales, Flytec, Digifly, and much more.

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Wildlife at Wilotree Park

October 15, 2020, 11:46:13 MDT

Wildlife at Wilotree Park

A three or four footer

wildlife|Wilotree Park

Connie Bailey finds this friendly creature swimming nearby:

Hi, Karl.

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Wilotree Park Tandem

September 28, 2020, 11:01:41 pm MDT

Wilotree Park Tandem

I see the mask, protecting clients

Facebook|photo|Wilotree Park

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The Wilotree Park Fall Festival and Manufacturer Demo

September 21, 2020, 9:13:27 MDT

The Wilotree Park Fall Festival and Manufacturer Demo

November 6th, 7th, and 8th

Christian Ciech|COVID|Facebook|Icaro 2000|Wilotree Park


SAVE THE DATES - The Wilotree Park Fall Festival and Manufacturer Demo - November 6th, 7th, and 8th. Paradise Airsports, in Orlando, FL is hosting Icaro 2000 USA and other manufactures (e.g. Aeros and Moyes) for a Fall Festival and manufacturer demo. We will have several Icaro gliders available to test fly. COVID-19 permitting, World Champion, Christian Ciech, will be visiting from Italy and bringing a couple of gliders with him in addition to the ones that we have on hand.

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Actual Bananas Growing at Wilotree Park

September 5, 2020, 5:09:25 pm MDT

Actual Bananas Growing at Wilotree Park

Not your decorative banana tree

Timothy Ettridge|Wilotree Park

Down by the pond. Timothy Ettridge planted this and waited:

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Bat Wings at Wilotree Park

August 17, 2020, 8:20:55 MDT

Bat Wings at Wilotree Park

Finally an adequate mower has arrived

Wilotree Park

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Thu, Aug 6 2020, 7:07:56 pm MDT

The little bird grow up a bit

Connie Bailey|wildlife|wildlife|Wilotree Park

With its parents. Thanks to Connie Bailey at Wilotree Park.

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Winds in Florida

July 28, 2020, 11:13:40 MDT

Winds in Florida

Tree down at Wilotree Park

Facebook|photo|Wilotree Park

In the west side camping area:

Coming to Florida soon:

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Florida officials approve $79 million in conservation land buys, including near Green Swamp

May 29, 2020, 3:55:59 pm MDT

Florida officials approve $79 million in conservation land buys, including near Green Swamp

We love preserving the Green Swamp

Wilotree Park


Looks like it does at Wilotree Park (when we are there).

Thousands of acres of natural land will be conserved under a series of Florida Forever deals approved by the governor and state cabinet Thursday.

The purchases, worth $79 million, cover tracts from Central Florida to the Panhandle, including an easement of about 700 acres around the Green Swamp in northern Polk County.

Doug DeNeve, conservation chair for the Tampa Audubon Society, said he has helped with a bird count near that parcel, in an area he said includes pasture and pocket wetlands.

Where there are trees, he said, he has seen woodpeckers, and the spot is frequented by wading birds as well as grasslands species like meadowlarks. Most of all, DeNeve said, he hopes the purchase helps the water supply.

“It’s a great place for water to sink in and recharge the aquifer,” he said.

Florida Forever is a land acquisition program that aims to conserve wild spaces from development. Acquisition of the Polk County easement will cost $1.13 million and ensure it remains an open space.

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Short but Sweet

May 10, 2020, 0:19:38 EDT

Short but Sweet

Low Saves

Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

The soarcast was a bit unusual. It's relatively rare to have cu's with a north wind.

HRRR 3, 1 PM

TOL - 5,200'

CB - 4,900'

Updraft velocity - 680 fpm

B/S ratio - 9.3

Surface winds - N 6 mph

2000' winds - N 7 mph

4000' winds - N 8 mph

Cloud cover - 50%

A 10 percent chance of showers after 5pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 87. North northwest wind around 5 mph.

NWS hourly shows 3 mph north wind until 3 PM, 8 mph NE at 5 PM. HRRR 3 shows B/S ratio at 5 PM at 4.2 with light winds at 4,000' but strong winds below (sea breeze starting between 4 PM and 5 PM - from the east, suddenly no cu's).

The hourly NWS surface wind forecasts shows the winds going from west northwest in the morning to north around noon to north northeast in the afternoon until the sea breeze comes in from the east and the winds are east northeast strong. In addition we have a cold front coming right over us in the afternoon. The slight chance of rain comes from all the instability in the atmosphere.

We were down at the southwest side of the north south runway. I was off first and as I was pulled up I noticed right away that the ground for miles around was mostly shaded. I had told Tim that I would hang on until we hit something and we didn't until about 3,400' under a dark cu.

I pinned off and circled at 40 fpm to 3,600'. Not a great start to the day.

Near the cloud base I headed west to the next good looking dark cu and found nothing. I was soon scooting back to Wilotree Park to land and tow again. I'd been in the air for almost twenty minutes I was now down to 700' AGL. Only Mick had launched and John was taking his own sweet time.

I had tracked the shading and the sunlit areas and went to the edge of the shade just north of the LZ to see if I could find anything under the cu's there before landing. The lift was there and I climbed up at 125 fpm to 1,700' before losing it.

Heading back west I again found lift at less than 900'a bit further west on the west side of highway 33 and then climbed at 180 fpm to 3,500'. John Simon was now just below along with Tiago. Mick Howard was at 600' turning over Osborn airfield a few kilometers to our west.

John and I found almost 200 fpm just a little south of Wilotree and got up to 4,100' with Tiago below us as we headed south toward more cu's. The sky had opened up just before John launched so the cu's were now spaced out.

It was a 9 kilometer glide before John found something to my east and we were down to 1,600'. I started climbing at 85 fpm, while John had gone two kilometers further south and found better lift.

At first I did not want to leave my 85 fpm lift as John reported 350 fpm but finally left at almost 1,900'. Of course, when I got to where I thought John was I couldn't find whatever it was he was getting up in.

After circling around in minus 50 fpm at 1,500' I went a bit east to over highway 33 at 900' and circled in zero lift for seven minutes waiting and hoping to find better lift, while staying up to be able to take advantage of it. John had headed south of the Seminole Glider Port as I struggled.

Finally I found 113 fpm right where I had been hanging out and climbed to 2,500'. When the lift quit as I tracked it in a 6 mph north northeast wind I headed south toward more good looking cu's. I found 85 fpm but felt that there would be better lift under a dark full formed cu 3 kilometers further south.

John had landed as I believe Tiago had also further north. I hadn't heard from Mick. There was a big blue hole further south of highway 474 so wanted to get high under this good looking cu first.

Unfortunately there was no lift what so ever under it and I landed in a big field 2 kilometers west of highway 33 and the intersection with 474.

It was great making a few low saves. Not an outstanding day for sure, but one that was quite fun. The day got much darker as the cu's filled the sky after I landed and rain threatened from the west. Then the eastern sea breeze kicked in and mostly cleared out the cu's.

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Let's go to the lake

May 4, 2020, 10:02:59 pm EDT

Let's go to the lake

There are cu's in that direction

Belinda Boulter|Wilotree Park

Belinda Boulter|John Simon|Wilotree Park

Belinda Boulter|John Simon|Wilotree Park

The soarcast the night before:

HRRR 3, 2 PM

TOL - 5,900'

CB - I think that there will be some cu's

Updraft velocity - 660 fpm

B/S ratio - 10.0

Surface winds - WSW 7 mph

2000' winds - WSW 7 mph

4000' winds - W 5 mph

Cloud cover - 6%

Sunny, with a high near 90. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Skew-T is calling for west winds 4 - 5 mph all the way up. CB just slightly above TOL.


Quest - 3 km
Famish - 2km
Wallaby - 2km
Quest - 400 m

82.8 km

While HRRR 3 called for no cu's and the NSW said only 6% cloud cover the cloud base was just above the forecasted TOL on the GSD Skew-T so I figured that we would possibly have some thin cu's that would quickly appear and then disappear.

There certainly weren't any signs of cu's in the morning and it looked like it would be the third blue day in a row. But, with the light winds blowing west northwest I took my glider down to the east end of the east/west runway and saw all the cu's forming to our northwest toward Lake Panasoffkee.

The original task had been set to the south west and then over to Wallaby and back, but with the only cu's off to the northwest we changed the task to an out and return to the lake.

I was off first after a bit of a delay at 2:26 PM. The cu's had just started appearing locally. John Simon was too tired after two days of flying to go with Pedro, Maria, Misael and I. Tim pulled me right to the closest cu over Groveland high school to the north northwest.

The wind was out of the west and the cu's while not continuous were pretty streeted up. The wind speed varied from 4 to 7 mph with west and west southwest directions.

After weak lift over the high school I found 200 fpm north of town and drifted east. There were plenty of cu's and each of them had some lift. 200 fpm 4 kilometers north of Mascotte and then 360 fpm 5 kilometers east of Center Hill to 4,400'.

I used the extra altitude to jump north to get under the clouds in the next semi cloud street, but that didn't work out so I had to retreat a bit to the south to get under a good looking cloud (some of them had darker bottoms), 4 kilometers north of Center Hill. It was a bit under 300 fpm back to 4,400'.

I was looking out toward the turnpoint at Lake Panasoffkee. I noted that there were many fewer cu's near the turnpoint and none to the west of it. Conditions appeared to be much worse there than in the cu friendly area where I had been flying so far. I was very wary of what could be happening at the turnpoint.

I made it across the forested area northwest of Center Hill and found 260 fpm to 3,800' 8 kilometers from the 3 kilometer cylinder around the turnpoint. The cu's at this location were substantial and well formed so my plan was to get high in the next cu to the north and then tag the turnpoint and get out of there as quickly as possible.

There were no cu's anywhere to the west of the turnpoint. There was a line of moist air to the north. It definitely looked like there was a sea breeze that suppressed the lift just west of the turnpoint.

I noted three small fires to the south of the turnpoint along interstate 75. The smoke from the fires was not rising by was laid out horizontally along the ground heading east. There appeared to be a reasonably strong head wind.

I headed to the next good looking cloud to the north but there was no lift that I could find there.  There was a set of cu's in a street upwind of the cu I first went to, not as substantial looking, but it looked like a line of lift due west, but in the general direction of the turnpoint. The main fire was to the west so it looked like the fire was feeding the street.

I went right up it but got nothing but sink which when it turned into 700 fpm down I left.

Heading south I found 360 fpm from 1,900' over a nice dry field. I had come within 5 kilometers of the turnpoint but was now drifting away quickly as I climbed to 5,200'. I saw no reason to go back to the northwest and try for the turnpoint again.

Pedro and Maria were about ten kilometers behind me during the outbound leg getting a later start. Maria had landed about 17 kilometers from the turnpoint but Pedro was still coming toward it. I radioed that I had cut the task short and was heading back. The sky that was full of cu's on the way out was turning a lot more light blue.

With a 9 mph west wind I was headed southeast. There were little haze domes and tiny cu's to find out in the blue. I worked a few south of Center Hill. There was a little street of tiny cu's forming south of highway 50 and the nursery and I hit all of them before finding lift under the last one furthest to the east at 1,900'.

I took that thermal at 200 fpm to 3,600', high enough to get into Wilotree Park with enough altitude that my wife, Belinda, was happy with me.

Mean while Pedro had made the turnpoint and was back over Maria in zero sink. He had not been finding much lift so he decided to hang out in this area and wait for something to lift off. Finally it did and he was able to get up and fly the next 15 kilometers into goal.

We didn't see Misael. He's not on the radio so we can't track him.

The turnpoint cylinder at Lake Panasoffkee expanded to 8 kilometers from 3:

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A Day for Patience and Rewards

May 3, 2020, 10:50:15 pm EDT

A Day for Patience and Rewards

It's not how fast, it's getting there at all

Belinda Boulter|PG|Wilotree Park

Belinda Boulter|John Simon|PG|Wilotree Park

Belinda Boulter|John Simon|PG|Wilotree Park

On Saturday we had an eighty kilometer task out to the northwest and only John Simon was able to make it around and back to Wilotree Park. I landed before the first turnpoint. Since John made it around and noted how much he liked the strong lift that he always found at Lake Panasoffkee, I called the same task for Sunday but in reverse order.

Saturday was a day with light winds and no cu's. The same would be true for Sunday.

I took off second, didn't find the lift and quickly landed. Victoria was right on the job and got me back to the launch point on the west end of the runway. John, Mick and Rob wanted to wait, so I pushed out and launched again.

Tim took me over to where Alex, Pedro and Maria were circling and I got right up to 3,600' before heading northwest. Pedro and Maria also headed toward Mascotte.

A weak thermal over Mascotte then a weal thermal on the northwest corner of the chicken coops starting from 1,700', didn't give me a lot of confidence about the day. Maria and Pedro were low below me.

I moved west over to the nursery and found 200 fpm while Maria searched in between the nursery and the chicken coops very low. As I climbed to 3,500' Pedro and Maria got together over the nursery and slowly worked their way up.

I was able to climb to 4,100' a little further to the northwest, but 6 km west of the course line. I was just going to places where I thought I would most likely find lift. I was out on my own.

Heading north I found little bits and pieces of lift, but I kept getting lower and lower. Down to 1,000' AGL I worked 5 fpm. There was a paved road nearby but I was drifting off into an area with only dirty roads that petered out further north. Still I had been on these roads before and felt that Belinda could find me.

I opened up my search area going further away from the paved road and found 150 fpm to 2,200'. Not great but better than 1,000'.

Heading north northeast to stay within striking distance of highway 48 and again down to 1,000' AGL I found 150 fpm and by pushing it up wind and hanging with the lift, not giving up on it I was able to get back to 3,500' which afforded me the chance to jump over to the next paved road if needed.

Pedro and John joined me about 4 km from the Baron turnpoint south of the Turnpike. Pedro had been able to dig his way out of the hole at the nursery on highway 50. Maria, also, but she was behind.

It was a slow climb with them to 3,800' and then we all headed for the Baron turnpoint. Not much lift in that direction. John was below and behind. It had taken me an hour and forty three minutes to get to the first turnpoint, 28.6 kilometers.

I headed off following Pedro to the west northwest along the Turnpike, but as the next turnpoint at Lake Panasoffkee was about due west I decided to turn west southwest to the southeast corner of the prison complex. I wanted to go around the prisons to their south.

Both John and Pedro reported good lift behind me as I struggled in weak lift (averaging 128 fpm in all the thermals) west along highway 470 away from the prison property but over various sand mines. I wasn't going to leave any of the weak lift if it was still going up. I finally was able to climb to 2,700' having been down to 1,300' with few good landing options.

I could see a smoky fire 4 km to the west by the Lake Panasoffkee turnpoint just on the west side of interstate 75. I slowly headed in that direction coming into lift just east of it at 1,900'. John and Pedro were nearby.

The lift was strong and got much stronger as I drifted over the smoke, up to 650 fpm. John and Pedro were high over me but I was climbing much faster. We spotted Maria under us climbing at the turnpoint which I slowly drifted into as I climbed to 5,300'.

John and Pedro headed out in front while I was still climbing and I followed them to the south southeast after getting plenty high toward the turnpoint at Cheryl. .

I found 200 fpm on the north end of Cheryl which they missed and joined them in another thermal a little less than 200 fpm to the southeast to 3,700'. We all worked 90 fpm to 2,800' just west of Center Hill, but quickly abandoned that and headed east.

On the west side of Center Hill we found another gold mine at 300 fpm to 4,900'. Maria came in under us and would leave later at 4,300'. We left the thermal at 5:30, 3 hours after I launched.

The required glide ratio was 14.5:1. I had a 4 mph cross wind. We had 20 kilometers to go. I was going to need some lift along the way. John and Pedro were just out in front of me.

The first bit of lift averaged minus 16 fpm. The second one minus 150 fpm. Finally at Mascotte I found 120 fpm at 1,700' AGL and got up to 2,050' AGL. I was 6 kilometers out from Wilotree Park. I was on glide.

I could see that I could make the fields on this side of highway 33, but I didn't think I could actually make it back to the LZ. There were three possible landing areas and I kept them all as options.

Two kilometers out I was down to 650' AGL just on the southern edge of Groveland. I was calculating how to set up my landing in the fields before Wilotree Park. I kept heading south southeast coming over the potential landing areas.

It looked like I could make it to the field across highway 33 from Wilotree. It had a pond in the middle of the field but it looked like I could avoid it.

As I got near the south end of that field I was at 325'. It looked to me like I could make it across the trees at Wilotree Park or at least land in the slot on Groveland Airport Road. I came over the trees at the northwest end of the field and cleared the tops of the trees by about 150'.  I was able to land in no wind along the north/south runway. That is the closest I have come when coming back to Wilotree.

John and Pedro were there and a while later Maria made it in also.






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Late Day

April 28, 2020, 9:49:30 pm EDT

Late Day

East wind

Wilotree Park

The soarcast was for an east southeast surface wind, but we were seeing east northeast, so we finally packed up and went down to the west end of the east west runway.

Misael took off first at around 2:30 PM and Tim who was pulling him up reported that they found areas of sink and areas of more sink. They were both quickly back on the ground. With an east wind with a northerly component you would expect this. Yup, lake effect from Lake Apopka.

I was second in line so I got out of line and got out of the harness and flying clothes.

There were a few cu's in the sky as I forecasted (despite the models), but none really nearby. Not exactly an inviting prospect.

Jordan and Attila launched both flying Wills Wing king posted gliders. They got to soar a bit over the field, but sure enough the lake effect was suppressing the lift. I told Mick and John that they needed to go down wind to get away from it. Attila and Jordan landed before Mick and then John took off after 3 PM.

They both found weak lift down wind to the southwest of the field. But after half an hour the lift turned on and they got going to the south away from Wilotree Park. The lift was soon every where after 4 PM and when they came back to the flight park John found 800 fpm. Attila got high on his second flight.

So a very late day but good conditions late. I stayed on the ground having heard the radio comment about 150 fpm soon after John launched.

It's Hot

April 23, 2020, 7:21:48 EDT

It's Hot

93 forecasted for tomorrow here at Wilotree Park

record|Wilotree Park

The back to the mid eighties on Friday. Human caused global warming is happening to us right now here at the flight park.


All of Florida is toasty

The heat hasn’t been restricted to Miami. Virtually every coastal city in the Florida Panhandle and peninsula has seen its warmest or second-warmest start to the year on record.

In addition, the National Centers for Environmental Information noted that the past month was the state’s warmest March on the books.

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The West Wind

April 22, 2020, 8:34:03 EDT

The West Wind

First task in ten days

Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

With a forecast for a west northwest wind of 8 mph on the ground and 14 mph at 4,000', I wasn't all that excited about a day of flying with a strong cross wind. Again, we are resolved to flying tasks that bring us back to Wilotree Park. One significant other driver per pilot restricts us from going long distance.

The wind was reasonably light at the flight park as John Simon took off to the northwest and I followed. I didn't go first this time because given the very sparse cu's I wasn't certain there would be easily discovered lift. Turns out that wasn't a problem, but it did put me behind John, not my favorite place to be.

John mentioned lift by the Mickey Mouse Ears shaped lake to the northwest and I climbed at under 200 fpm to 3,500' under thin small cu's. The soarcast called for no cu's but given how close the forecasted cloud base was to the TOL, I stated that there would be cu's, just barely, and that what we had. Sparse, thin, quickly formed and disappearing. No bottoms.

John was up at 4,700' heading against the 10 mph west northwest wind and I followed working two thermals over highway 50 and drifting back to the east over Groveland to 4,400'. Just wanted to get high enough to be able to make it to better looking LZ's to the northwest (upwind).

The lift had been pretty rowdy and I was not really appreciating it given that we had to go upwind to get to the first turnpoint, but so far things were working even if not comfortably. At least we were flying. I grew accustomed to the air as the flight progressed and it was pretty cool that we were able to make good headway against such a wind.

With all the cross wind the thermals were not consistent and you'd be in it for half a turn then fall out of it. This require a lot of moving around to see where the best parts of the thermal were. Most were less an 200 fpm on average over the whole climb.

John radioed back a report of good lift at the Grass Roots airfield. I found 350 fpm average to 4,900', which improved my attitude about the day. John was about three kilometers to my north so I could pretty easily spot the lift that he was in.

Six kilometers south of the first turnpoint at the Turnpike and highway 33 intersection I climbed at almost 300 fpm to 4,500' before heading to take the turnpoint. I had been turning under cu's but there were none at the turnpoint and none for quite a ways to the southwest toward the second turnpoint at Center Hill.

As I got near the turnpoint John radioed that he had made it there but was down to 2,000' heading toward Center Hill. That was not good news. I made the turnpoint at 2,600'

Turning south west I saw that I had no cu's that I could get to easily. I had a strong head wind and there was a section of swamp I had to get over first. There were ragged cu's just to my south so I headed for them instead assuming that if I could get up I could head west to the Center Hill turnpoint with John.

But falling out of the sky heading for the cu's I was down to 1,400' in no time. I was under the little puffs but going down more slowly instead of climbing. I had to go into rescue myself mode.

Heading downwind to the east away from the Center Hill turnpoint I found lift at less than 1,000' AGL. I hung in 80 fpm until I got back to 1,900'. John radioed that he found some lift just to stay up but was backing up toward the Turnpike turnpoint.

I found another 80 fpm thermal to the south on the first one and managed to get to 2,200'. I was watching the wind lines on the numerous lakes and ponds below trying to see if there were switches in direction and conflicting lines indicating convergence of two wind directions.

I searched around and found a better thermal at 185 fpm but I was drifting further and further east getting downwind of what was now my goal, to make it back to Wilotree Park. I was able to climb to 3,600', not the 4,900' I craved.

I headed back upwind to get on the upwind side of things and started climbing again at 80 fpm from 1,600'. Finally I found 250 fpm and was able to get up to 3,400' and not as far east as previously. I was now slightly north northeast of Wilotree. I had run into winds up to 18 mph out of the west.

John made it to the cu's east of Center Hill and was able to find 500 fpm to get him to the turnpoint and around. Once he was there it was mostly downwind back to Wilotree. By then all the cu's between Center Hill and Wilotree were gone. I was still working cu's up by the Turnpike and just north of highway 27 where it parallels the Turnpike.

It was all blue to the south toward Wilotree. I headed south with the faint hope that I could find a couple of blue thermals. There were good possible landing zones ahead and possible areas of lift before I would get to the very restricted spots near Groveland.

Unfortunately there was no lift in the blue for me and I took advantage of the spectacular green fields that were super long. Meanwhile John was able to make it back to Wilotree going down wind.

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Gator at Wilotree Park

April 18, 2020, 11:05:33 pm EDT

Gator at Wilotree Park


Wilotree Park

There are a million alligators in Florida. We have a large pond and have even bigger lakes very close by. We're going to have gators in our pond. They move around. The pond is surrounded by wetlands.

On Friday a gator in some distress was found in the north field. Scott, our local resident power plane pilot, jogged by him a few times and the gator was still there. He brought Eric Williams, one of the owners, over to check out the gator.

They saw that the gator was blind on the right side.

While Scott stood in front of the gator Eric jumped on the gator from behind and held closed its mouth. Then the two of them hauled the gator into the back of a pickup truck, drove the truck to the pond and let it go.

Eric said that the gator looked beat up and malnourished. He might have come from our pond even. It's a tough life out there for gators.

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Dark Sky, Dark Ground

April 11, 2020, 9:25:06 pm EDT

Dark Sky, Dark Ground

That was strange

Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

The soarcast was ambiguous unlike last Tuesday when it was clear that we would have a great day to go around the Green Swamp. The forecasted winds for Saturday were higher at 6 MPH out of the east, there was less of a chance of cu's, and there was this strange forecast for 44% going to 53% cloud cover, while at the same time the NWS said, "Mostly sunny..."

Then add to that the winds would shift from east north east to east southeast. There was no way to tell if the cloud cover would be because of cumulus clouds (not that likely) or clouds coming in from the west.

The day started with lots of upper level clouds and no cu's. Sometimes cirrus and sometimes alto cumulus and covering about half the sky. No one was impressed by the prospects for doing a cross country task. We were looking for a late start.

Around 1 PM cu's started developing to our south. Other clouds kept appearing overhead. We were biding our time. A shelf of higher clouds came over Wilotree Park and then quickly faded away. There were cu's nearby so I took off at 2:15 PM with Mesial right behind me.

Tim, the tug pilot, and I found 1,200 fpm right away. When he hit 1,700 fpm he turned and I pinned off and climbed out at 600 fpm to 3,900' and then to 4,200'. I was in the sunshine and there were cu's right overhead and nearby.

But the landscape was dominated by blackness to the west and south. The sky was complete black with thick, dark high level clouds totally shading the ground a few kilometers to the south and even closer to the west. I could not see anything to the west but darkness.

Our task was to the south and back, which seemed like a good task when we saw all these cu's to the south, but everything had changed very quickly. We did not see the blackness while we were on the ground. It was hidden by the trees and had not been there at all during the day.

There were still lots of cu's especially to the southeast and there was sunshine on the ground east of highway 27, quite aways to our east. I headed southeast toward the cu's. There was lift under the cu's under the dark sky. It sure didn't look like we would make it south to Fantasy and back.

Ten kilometers out and down to 2,100' I found a little over 100 fpm over an area that had recently had sunlight on it. Mesial came back under me and we joined up. Mick and John Simon were back north of us getting up to 4,800'. The ground was completely shaded but there were cu's above us.

I got up to 3,400' while John and Mick got to 4,800' 3 kilometers behind me. Mesial was low having left the lift that we were in. It looked to me that I could make it back to Wilotree from 3,400'.

I went back to where Mick and John had just got up and found 350 fpm. I climbed to 4,600' while Mick and John slowly climbed to cloud base a few kilometers to the south. Hundreds of square miles of shaded ground including under us and we were still flying and climbing up to the cu's.

I flew south to join up with Mick and John but they decided that it was fruitless to head south taking a jump to the next cu. Sort of hard to know what was really happening when we had such good conditions despite how bad it looked. They decided to turn around and come back to Wilotree Park, so I did also.

There was plenty of lift back at the park with all sorts of people flying and getting high. I had to find a column of sink to get down.

Here's what the sky looked like from up above:

So strange to have this day without sunshine on the ground for the most part but still plenty of lift.

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Social Distancing Around the Green Swamp

April 8, 2020, 8:44:54 EDT

Social Distancing Around the Green Swamp

Today is the day

Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

I call out the soarcast on Monday evening:


1 PM - I think that there will be cu's

Updraft velocity - 620 fpm

B/S ratio - 10.0

TOL - 4,920'

Surface winds - ENE 3 mph

4000' winds - SE 3 mph

Cloud cover - 30% (cumulus clouds most likely)

Mostly sunny, with a high near 88. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph.

GSD shows no winds all day all the way up.

The HRRR 3 shows no cu's, but the GSD shows cloud base just a few hundred feet above the top of the lift (TOL). When it's that close cu's are likely. Also the air mass just above the TOL is only slightly drier than the air mass below. In addition the NSW is calling for 30% cloud cover, which likely means cu's. Given all these factors I call for cu's even though the models don't show that.

The GSD SkewT shows no winds all the way up to the TOL. This is a big flashing number that says - go around the Green Swamp. The winds will depend on local conditions.

Finally the western sea breeze is shown to be west of Dade City at 5 PM. It looks like we are not going to be squeezed by on shore flows. So far this year the sea breeze has not shown up despite the forecasts, but it is still nice to see a forecast that has it to our west.

This gives us an opportunity to come back to Wilotree Park without having to be retrieved, if we make it all the way around. It's one driver per pilot so that we maintain social distancing. Significant other is the driver.

I'm off first at 1 PM. I don't really find anything on tow and run for a cu 3 km south of Wilotree Park, down to 1,500' AGL thinking that I had better get up as I might not make it back for a relaunch.

That cu and the one next to it do work and I climb to over 4,500'.

There are plenty of cu's, but they are thin and quite separated. I work a little lift and then have to go back toward Wilotree Park to get up again to 4,500'. I head south, but don't find anything and have to again go back to the north and again have to climb up from 1,500' AGL. I climb to 4,400'.

I head south again to get under a cu south of the Seminole Glider Port. The lift is weak and I'm low again so finally I have to go back north once again. as there are no good looking cu's that I can reach going south.

Finally I get a strong climb (over 200 fpm on average) to 5,100'. It's taken almost two hours to go 12.5 kilometers, but now things have changed.

It's almost 3 PM, 2 PM sun time, and the cloud base is higher and the lift is stronger. I have repeatedly thought about going back to Wilotree Park as I was making so little headway, but every time I get high enough to do that I push south on course to go around the Green Swamp.

Now at 5,000' things look a lot different. I could easily make it to the next cu's. And, surprise, surprise, every cu was actually displaying lift. No fake cu's. No dead cu's. Only real cu's with real thermals.

The best looking cu's (large, black bottoms, all the cu's are thin) are on the south side of the Green Swamp so I head in that direction instead of straight across the swamp. I climb to 5,700' before the turnpoint at 98 and 471.

I've call a 3 kilometer radius around the turnpoint as it always seems to be a big sink hole. Sure enough there is a three kilometer blue hole around the turnpoint.

Down to 3,100' just to the northwest of the cylinder I get under a nice looking cu and climb at over 500 fpm averaged throughout the thermal back to 5,700'. Maria is just below me. I've caught her and Mick and am working to catch John. Pedro is way ahead.

Again the best looking cu's are along the edge of the swamp now on the west side. I'm also benefiting from a south southwest flow. I climb to cloud base at every cloud.

I take a little detour to the west to nick the turnpoint at 75 and 98. I see that there are clouds due east from this point and I don't want to fly past them to the north to get the optimum point on the cylinder. I immediately head east and get under the cu that I had spotted. It works, of course.

I climb to 5,800' and head east northeast toward the next cu over the Green Swamp. The goal is almost due east but the cu's in that direction are a bit too far away considering that they are directly over the swamp (limited landing options).

Climbing to 5,900' I take off for the next cu which is the start of a conveniently placed cloud street going east. I'm near the north end of the swamp but high enough that I don't have to consider landing options.

Climbing again to 5,900' I get under the cloud street for a few kilometers and glide into goal from 20 kilometers out. When I get there Pedro is already on the ground and John Simon is circling down. I find a nice column of sink (there is lift every where else) and slowly spiral down to land. Later Mick and Maria will make it in also so only the pilot flying a kingposted glider and flying around the Green Swamp for the first time doesn't make it around.

This was by far the easiest trip around the Green Swamp this year if you discount the first two hours. We've tried five time and been successful three times. One time was an attempt at a hundred miler.

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Out to Fantasy and Back

April 2, 2020, 8:04:46 pm EDT

Out to Fantasy and Back

Larry makes it

sailplane|Wilotree Park

Tonight "Safer at Home" starts in Florida. We don't quite know all the ramification of this sort of "Shelter in Place" program. Having now read the governor's order, we are an essential activity.

Section 3. Essential Activities

A. For purposes of this Order and the conduct it limits, "essential activities" means and encompasses the following:

I. Attending religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship; and

II. Participating in recreational activities (consistent with social distancing guidelines) such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, running, or swimming;

So we decided that Thursday might be our last day to fly cross country here at Wilotree Park (but now we know better). Whether we will actually do any more flying but Paradise Airsports and Wilotree Park are open.

The forecast was for a blue day and that's what we got after a few early morning cu's. Light north winds, a top of lift forecasted at 4,920' at 1 PM.

I took off first into the blue risking it all on the chance to find a core. No one else was all the excited to be first.

There was lift on tow and I was able to work 60 fpm to 2,500'. There were no complete cores with the air mixing it up in all directions and locations.

After that climb stopped way too early, I got lower and lower down to 1,700' as I went from one possible thermal spot to another as Larry and Misael got pulled up and then circled above me. No one was doing all that well.

Down to 1,000' in very trashy air and really unhappy about landing in these conditions with the flags in the LZ switching directions I unzipped and headed for the north end (it looked like the upwind end) of the field. I kept hearing the sink alarm set to 700 fpm down, going off.

Down to 700' almost at the very north end I hit 255 fpm. It was rough as guts. I held on and twirled tight coming up to Misael and Larry and climbing to 4,500' at over 440 fpm on average. We had spent half an hour getting no where (me specifically) before suddenly everything changed.

We headed south with a light tail wind finding lift fairly easily toward our turn around point at the Fantasy of Flight. We were able to stay above 3,000'.

I spotted a sailplane north of the Seminole Glider Port and that thermal worked well getting us over 4,200'. After a five kilometer glide to just north of the intersection of 474 and 33 Larry, who got higher behind Misael and I, called out 100 fpm. Heading toward him I found 800 fpm and held on for dear life. It averaged 400 fpm with spells from 1000 fpm to -300 fpm to 4,600'. I just didn't want to hit anyone or get hit.

We spread out and went on a 9 kilometer glide searching. Down to 2,200' I found a 240 fpm thermal. Larry came in under me, Misael was way low and trying to get up in the same area.

I called out 240 fpm to Larry and his response, when he was right below me maybe 300' down, was that he couldn't find it. Oh, oh. It soon stopped for me also.

For the next eight minutes we spent searching around in light sink, me just above Larry going from 2,800' down to 2,500'. Misael landed below us. The last "thermal" averaged 7 fpm.

It had appeared through out our flight that the big open dry fields were the thermal producers. Misael had landed in one just to our south and there was another two just a little further south. I decided to give them a try.

No luck, just big down air and I was quickly on the ground. Larry took a big tour around and down to 1,700' was going to land in Misael's field when he spotted a bird flashing his wing.

Larry joined that bird at 400 fpm. Then a flock of other birds joined them.

Larry was able to get down to the Fantasy turnpoint and very slowly make it back to Wilotree Park.

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Out and return on a hot day

March 27, 2020, 7:55:12 pm EDT

Out and return on a hot day

No need to get in a car with other pilots

Belinda Boulter|Wilotree Park

We very much appreciate the opportunity to continue to fly here at Wilotree Park and at the same time to keep our distance from other people and pilots. This evening I asked our driver to please stay 6' away from anyone here. I felt uncomfortable asking him to model appropriate behavior.

Belinda and I have been keeping our distance from others and demonstrate how to do this. For me it comes naturally. Others are upset about it.

We are fortunate to have light winds so that we can do out and return tasks without having to get a retrieve.

The day started with less fog than the day before but close enough that we worried that it would be a repeat with a big blue hole and tough climbs to a low cloud base. This despite the soarcast, which was much like the previous days' one.

But actually the clouds looks lot more substantial and they were right over us. not spaced out into the distance and they had actual flat bottoms, which in some cases were dark enough to indicate some height to the clouds.

None the less it took me three launches to get going, while others had no trouble. climbing to 4,000' at 600 fpm. I usually launch first because that keeps me from trying to catch up with others and I'm more patient that way. Now I was way behind as the pilots ahead had a tail wind to put them far away from me.

The task was to the airfield at Lake Panasoffkee to the northwest, east southeast to the Turnpike and 33 and back.

On my third try, I quickly climbed to 4,200' and took off chasing Larry and John and Pedro. I was getting 300 to 500 fpm climbing up to 4,600' going from one good looking cloud to the next. It appeared that I might have a chance to catch up because the rates of climb that they were calling out were half what I was getting.

I headed out over the forested area south of the prisons to the best looking clouds and a small fire to boot. Suddenly nothing was working. I headed for some cu's out to the north northeast and had to work 50 fpm from 1,500'. I needed to stay up to be able to make it to an open paved road.

Climbing to 2,400' at 80 fpm I decided to try to get upwind of a dark looking cloud to get some better lift. Big mistake. I was soon down to 600' looking to land by the paved road under the dark cloud well downwind of its edge and shadow.

I came over an area that I got up over a few days previously and there was lift there again. Larry, Pedro and followed by John were passing over my head having made the turnpoint at Lake Panosoffkee that I couldn't get to now.

Climbing at a little less than 200 fpm I got back up off the floor to 2,200' and moved over to a better area under the cu's to get 230 fpm to 3,800'. That allowed me to move over to even better looking cu's and eventually find 500 fpm to 4,900'. It was a much different world up there. All that scrambling around to stay up and then get up took about an hour as Larry, Pedro and then John were back at the field with Larry heading south under a cloud street.

There was a cloud street all the way back to Wilotree Park so I ignored the turnpoint at Turn 33.

Hopefully light winds again tomorrow and hopefully more people will be aware of the pandemic.

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Big Blue Hole

March 26, 2020, 5:04:35 pm EDT

Big Blue Hole

Right in the middle of our forecast

John Simon|Wilotree Park

This is what was soarcasted:


1 PM - 5,200' cloud base (55 F) 

Updraft velocity - 600 fpm

B/S ratio - 10.0

TOL - 6,200' 

Surface winds - E 2 mph 

4000' winds - NE 4 mph 

Cloud cover - 42% going to 20% 

Mostly sunny, with a high near 89. West northwest wind around 5 mph becoming east in the afternoon. 

We have a light wind day with cu's not going very thick. Cloud base at 6,900' at 4 PM.

Quest - 5 km
Fantasy - 1 km
Clinton - 400 m
Panolk - 3 km
Quest - 400 m 

Or the reverse.

The morning started off with thick fog. We haven't had that in a while, quite a while. The fog slowly lifted but the clouds above continued to block the sky until after 11 AM.

When the clouds separated they appeared to be thin, wispy, and very fuzzy. No bottoms. The additional moisture in the air made them appear even fuzzier.

Between noon and 1:30 PM the cu's disappeared as the top of lift increased in a dry zone. It was blue all around except way to the south down by Wallaby Ranch.

Between 1:30 and 2:30 cu's built up to the south, east. and west leaving us in a huge blue hole. John Simon took off first and found a wispy to the northwest that he worked to 3,175'. That was the highest he could get during his hour long flight.

Other pilots (not our around the Green Swamp crew) went up and landed back at Wilotree Park or nearby. They have been towing the XC 101 clinic guys to 4,000'. Larry, Greg and I never took off seeing what the sky looked like.

Heading for the Beach

March 25, 2020, 8:41:06 EDT

Heading for the Beach

The hard way

Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

Today was only our third attempt this season to set a task to the northeast threading through airspaces and massive rivers and swamps and wildlife reserve areas. We really haven't attempted this in a good number of years until now.

Larry set up a task that would thread the needle and take us to Hammock Beach north of Flagler Beach.

I was pulled up first at 1:15 PM, an hour later than we had been launching the past week, and climbed quickly at 300 fpm to 4,300'. You need to have a lot of altitude if you are heading to the northeast from Wilotree Park and want to make it to the next reasonable landing area. The tail wind was 16 mph out of the south southwest. There was a cloud street right over me in the correct direction.

I climbed to 4,800' east of the gator airfield and had to rush to the side of the cu to keep out of the mist.

I was quickly under the 6,000' floor Orlando airspace. I was just riding the cloud street staying near 4,500' and going up while going straight.

I went on a twelve kilometer glide under the cloud street over the wet fields on the north side of the lake and got down to 2,300' northeast of Lake Apopka, over a populated area with few landing options.

I worked 40 fpm just to be able to drift toward friendlier LZ's climbing to 2,700'. Looking to the east I saw what looked to me like a hot spot. Upwind of a dark cloud, plenty of sunshine on the upwind side (I had been in the shade), dry, open ground. I headed for it and found 500 fpm (often 700 fpm) to 4,600'. I had to pull in hard to keep from getting sucked up into the cloud.

I was able to stay high and with the cloud street as I approached the Pine Lake areas northwest of the Seminole State Forest. I was following highway 44 toward Deland and our turnpoint at a small airfield north of the St. Johns River. I saw few landing areas but what looked like hundreds of small lakes. I climbed to 5,200' pushing hard to stay out of the clouds.

An 8 kilometer glide took me to over the St. Johns River, which is truly massive. Uninhabited swamp lands to the northwest. I was able to climb to 4,400' over the river. Larry was landing just on the west side of the river in a huge field. John Simon was about twenty kilometers behind having been down to 900' north of Lake Apopka.

The wind was 16 mph out of the south west. This next leg was straight north. I knew that this would be very difficult. The cloud street went off to the northeast and I had to follow it a bit to get up west of the Deland airfield.

There was a thin strip of civilization and landable fields between the St. Johns to the west and the Tomoka Wildlife area to the east. I climbed to 4,500' looking down the gut of the Deland airfield runway hoping that the planes would be coming in low. The thermal was rough and completely unpleasant as well as taking me in the wrong direction.

I headed north just west of the Bob Lee airfield and toward open spaces.  Down to 3,200' just south of Lake Dias I worked 100 fpm to 3,500' going cross wise to the task line.

There was a huge field across the lake north of Caraway Lake and I focused on it as a good place to land. I didn't see any big fields further north from this altitude. Also there was a big blue hole to the north.

There was lift over the big field so it took a while to get down, but I had had it with the turbulence. I wanted to get back on the ground.

After landing I got on the radio with John Simon. He was ten kilometers back but at 5,000'. He would find lift closer to me and get to the next area with big open fields about 15 kilometers to the north, but not make it to the next turnpoint.

Our tasks are difficult but a challenge that we accept. We'll see what the day after tomorrow brings. Tomorrow much stronger west southwest winds. These were bad enough.

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100 miles around the swamp

March 23, 2020, 8:38:52 EDT

100 miles around the swamp

We didn't make it

Wilotree Park

I set a 100 mile around the Green Swamp task. Normally it's a 100 kilometer task, but it is quite possible to extend it.

As usual I was pulled up first at 12:25 after we changed out the carabineer on the tow rope.  I found 1,200 fpm on tow but when I went back for it it wasn't there. After wallowing around in weak lift I headed to the a wisp of a cu to the southwest and down to 800' AGL I found 190 fpm and then 275 fpm to 4,000' just west of Wilotree Park.

The sky was soon full of hang gliders as at least six pilots were doing the task with the first leg up to Lake Panasoffkee. We found plenty of lift up to 425 fpm to 4,500'. We were very often right at cloud base. Not much danger of being sucked in with these cu's in Florida that are quite thin (don't try this in the summer).

Twelve kilometers out from the Lake Panasoffkee turnpoint we worked the worse turbulence of the day in weak lift that only averaged 120 fpm. Getting to 4,000' we headed north to a dark cu at the south end of the lake due east of the turnpoint. With everyone spread out we quickly found 370 fpm to 4,500' which we were able to turn into 5,000' as we headed west to the turnpoint before we had to head south. The wind was 5 mph out of the south southeast.

There were plenty of cu's to the south and we stayed between 4,000' and 5,000'. Somehow near the point where we crossed highway 50 we lost contact with Larry Bunner. He got out ahead of us, but we figured we'd catch him.

We were headed for the Clinton turnpoint a little south of Dade City. Larry called 300 fpm 20 kilometers from the Clinton turnpoint and I came in under him but down to 3,700' while he was above 5,000'.  Greg and Misael joined in under me. We climbed to over 5,500'.

Larry broadcast that he had 300 fpm at 13 kilometers from the turnpoint. We could see the cu's ahead and went for it. Greg was still climbing behind.

I went on a 10 kilometer glide to the cu's and found nothing getting down to 2,200' less than 10 kilometers from the turnpoint.  I turned west to get over a small fire which didn't help. I then turned north to head for some big fields and back 3 kilometers saw Greg circling over the fields. I looked down and was surprised to see two shadows close together, Misael had followed me on the death glide. We came in under Greg at 1,000' AGL.

The thermal averaged over 200 fpm to 3,500'. Greg and Misael headed south toward where I had turned around when I got low. I headed southwest toward good looking clouds but away from the turnpoint. The ground was shaded now with cirrus clouds coming in from the west

I came over a field that had less shade and was upwind of a cu. Down to 1,200' AGL I found 150 fpm and drifted west northwest in a 6 mph wind.

Losing that at 2,400' I west to a small cloud street over interstate 75. I was able able to climb to 5,000' at 300 fpm drifting 16 kilometers downwind of the Clinton turnpoint. I wasn't concerned about making it there any more, just getting east toward the turnpoint after that. Larry was already down by highway 98 and 471 having found 600 fpm at 300' to 5,700' then nothing after that.

Greg was working slowly to Clinton and Misael had landed. I had cirrusly shaded ground to the southeast and had to follow whatever cu's I could. They were pretty ragged under the cirrus.

I found 250 fpm to 4,300' but nothing under the next cu to the east. Plenty of fields out there with not much else happening. I landed south of the Clinton turnpoint.

Greg was able to make the Clinton Turnpoint and get high enough to land near Larry near highway 98. About an hour later Maria came from behind and landed near Greg. We picked her up.

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Attempting 100 miles out and return

March 21, 2020, 9:53:11 pm EDT

Attempting 100 miles out and return

A sky full of cu's

PG|Wilotree Park

Greg Dinauer|PG|Wilotree Park

Greg Dinauer|PG|Wilotree Park

The soarcast for Saturday


1 PM - 5,900' cloud base (54 F)

Updraft velocity - 620 fpm

B/S ratio - 10.0

TOL - 6,600'

Surface winds - W 5 mph

4000' winds - W 3 mph

Cloud cover - 32% going to 23%

Mostly sunny, with a high near 89. Calm wind becoming south southwest around 5 mph.

Launch - 1:00 PM


Quest - 5 km
Fantasy - 1 km
Clinton - 400 m
Panolk - 3 km
Quest - 400 m

163.3 km = 101.5 miles

HRRR 3 showed a sea breeze coming in at 4 PM

This is the forecast for 5 PM for the Buoyancy/Shear ratio at 5 PM showing the surface winds.

Larry didn't want to risk it going to the west side of the Green Swamp. It turned out that the sea breeze didn't come in if at all until very late, sundown perhaps.

So I set a 100 mile out and return task:

Quest - 5 km
Dallas - 1 km
T33DS - 1 km
Quest - 400 m

161.6 km

I took off first at 12:12 PM and got right to cloud base at 3000'. Greg Dinauer was right with me. We worked together going west to the next cloud and then north to the chicken coops north of Mascotte climbing to cloud base at 3,600'

We had to work weak lift by Grass Roots airfield while Larry was still south of Wilotree Park working to get up. We finally found 300+ fpm to the northwest and climbed to the misty areas at 3,800'. The winds were very light.

Four kilometers to the northwest we found light lift to 3,500' then lost 500' searching for better. The next cu's were 8 kilometers away. I went on glide toward the prisons to the northwest thinking that the day was over for me. At 900' I saw Misael Rosalez turning at about 1,200'. He had been just above Greg and I in the last thermal.

I found the thermal just to the south of Misael and climbed to 4,100' at over 300 fpm. I was just east of the prisons.

I headed north of the Turnpike and found weak lift at 2,900'. Not too many landing areas in this area so I was being careful. I headed for a cloud that got me to possible landing areas. Before I got to it I found 260 fpm from 1,900' to 3,500'.

I was just west of the Villages with plenty of open fields. I headed north to the next cu's and found 260 fpm to 4,800'. Another thermal to 4,800' and then it was a glide to the grass airfield at Dallas. just northwest of the Villages. The wind was out of the south at 7 mph.

I made the turnpoint at 3,100'. There was a huge cu right there a little to the west. I worked weak lift just to the south of the turnpoint then went further south toward forming cu's. Larry came into the turnpoint at 4,000' and soon Greg made the turnpoint a bit lower than I.

I found 300 fpm and climbed to 4,600' with Greg coming in with me. Larry went further south but then landed.

Going further south the lift improved and we found 400 fpm to 5,700' right over the middle of the Villages. We were right above Larry.

After climbing in the next thermal to 5,200' I headed south toward the Turnpike. Greg was behind and lower. There were lots of cu's ahead by the Turnpike.

Greg and I worked the first lift just north of the construction area north of the Turnpike. But we could only get 90 fpm to 3,000'. There were plenty of big cu's just to the south of the Turnpike. We finally went for them.

Down to 2,100' We found 60 fpm and worked it for twenty minutes drifting to the east slowly to 3,200'. Greg was just below me and we were both just hanging on. We were over a shadow and under a big dark cu.

Finally I headed west and Greg southwest to get on the sunny side of the cu. We just lost lift going down at 500 fpm. Greg was very low. I was at 2,600'.

I headed south as Greg south of me headed east along the county road. At 700' AGL just as he was about to land he found 500 fpm. I came over to him at 1,300', he at 1,200'. The lift went away. The wind was only 3 mph out of the southwest.

We landed together next to the road.

You can find Larry and my flights here:



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The big fat convergence line

March 20, 2020, 1:59:06 pm EDT

The big fat convergence line

Larry and I go long - 220+ kilometers

Steve Kroop|Wilotree Park

Steve Kroop|Wilotree Park

Flytec 6030|Steve Kroop|Wilotree Park

Flytec 6030|Naviter Blade|Steve Kroop|Wilotree Park

I was off first again but while I found 400 fpm right off tow at 1,600' I soon lost it at 3,000' and had to come back to Wilotree Park for a second tow.

Larry and Greg were nearby finding light lift.

I took 70 fpm to 3,200' (I wanted to be extra cautious given that Greg had just landed out). Moved over to a better cu and went up at 350 fpm to over 4,000'.  Soon I caught up with Larry.

The sky had been full of cu's all morning and while there was a blue hole on the course line to the north northwest toward the 8 kilometer cylinder around Dunellon, we could head north to more clouds and keep upwind of the blue hole.

We climbed to 4,500' but were down to 2,100' as we approached the Turnpike after an 11 kilometer glide. We worked 80 fpm and then at 2,700' moved to the northwest to find 200 fpm. That got us to only 3,800' as we were approaching the Villages and Wildwood, an area with few landing options.

There was a cloud street to the north and I went there while Larry headed more westerly. While he struggled I found 185 fpm to 4,300' and then headed further west to join up with him as we climbed to 4,700' north of Lake Panosofkee.

It was still touch and go as the lift was erratic.  Back to 4,300' south west of Marian Oaks I was soon down to 3,000' at its southeast corner with Larry a bit further west. I found 250 fpm to get me over the treed area at 4,600' and noted that there was some construction going on in the farmed area to the northwest.

Down to 3,500' at the northwest corner of the cultivated block I was concerned about the lack of landing areas to the north and northwest as I was flying over our mountain bike trails at Nayles. I worked 80 fpm and then 150 fpm and drifted with the 14 mph southeast flow climbing slowly to 4,700'. It was a great view of all the houses and golf courses below.

I heard from Larry that he was getting low, 1,500' a little to me west. I nicked the Ocala airspace, high above it, on the western side and ignored making the safety turnpoint at Dunellon. I worked 30 fpm, than 125 fpm then 133 fpm to 3,800'. I wasn't able to get comfortably back above 4,000'. I had to pick and choose among the landing options ahead. Larry was down to 1,000' by Dunellon and it was not looking good.

A little further on I looked back and there was Larry higher and just behind me. We were heading northwest toward better looking cloud streets.

Down to 2,200' I searched around in -50 fpm after going through 700 fpm down. Giving up on that and with Larry just slightly over head and heading west I went to good looking fields to the west south west and found lift at 1,700' while Larry found lift also at 1,700' to my west.

It turned into 200 fpm with only a 5 mph breeze and I climbed to 5,000'. Things were improving. We were west northwest of Ocala.

We headed north for Williston getting to 5,400' on the way. Our goal was the Live Oak airfield about 240 kilometers from Wilotree Park. We get together to the west northwest of the Williston airfield and find lift that averaging 430 fpm to 4,500'. Larry found 700 fpm to my north a bit.

We head north toward a good looking cu and I climb at 380 fpm to 5,800'. It's 4:30 PM. The streets are more structured with a south southeast wind at 12 mph.

At Newberry I find 230 fpm to 5,200' at 5 PM. I mention the small field fires to the northwest to Larry. Later he says that looks like the convergence line and we should head for the fires. We do and find ratty lift north of the fires at 180 fpm to 4,900'. Larry gets higher behind me.

We now follow the convergence line of clouds. There are no cu's to our west. There is a slight west flow on the ground. The cu's clear out to our east for the most part. This is the cloud street we really want to be under and it goes as far as we can see to the north. We decide not to fly to Live Oak as that is west of the convergence line (which is being pushed slowly east). We'll just stay under it.

I'm flying with just the Naviter Blade and I'm getting a black low battery notice. It's getting more insistent. I don't know what I'm supposed to do about that in the air.

We approach toe Suwannee River northwest of Hot Springs. I'm down to 2,600' with almost northing but trees ahead around the river. Larry is high above me as I worked 60 fpm then head north to get deeper under the street.

Gliding 5 km over the trees and watching the few fields to my east that look possible for landings and down to 2,000' AGL, I find lift that averages 80 fpm. It look like I can either go back to the east if needed or hang on to this and make it to the fields to the northwest if required. There is a fire to the west that is feeding the cloud above and Larry is over it.

I hang on completely enjoining the ride over the river and trees as I slowly approach safe landing options. The wind down low is 4 mph at 130 degrees.

At the north end of the trees north of the river I find some friendly vultures and we all climb out at 230 fpm to 5,200'. Larry is just ahead of me about five kilometers at 6,300'. At the top of the lift the Blade dies. (Steve Kroop and I are working on why that would have happened). It's after 6 PM.

I'm under the convergence so I don't worry so much about not having a vario. Larry has a Blade and his 6030, so he's working off his 6030.

After a glide of 12 kilometers I turn the Blade back on and see that I'm at 4,000'. Pretty good.  I'm still at 3,900' 3 kilometers later when the Blade turns off again.

Another 14 kilometers and I turn on the Blade again. I'm down to 2,100 west northwest of Lake City, just south of interstate 10 just west of interstate 75. I look at all the fields below and pick out the biggest. We don't know if the wind is from the west or the south. The Blade tells me 7 mph from the south. I don't see any wind on the ground.

I can't get down and fly back and forth for miles over multiple fields trying to get close to the trees on the upwind side. I noticed about five houses spaced along the field on the western side. The cattle are restricted in an area to the northeast. It's easy to stay away from all the fences.

Larry is north of I 10 but sees a mine area which dissuades him from continuing on. It is almost 7 PM. He decides to turn around and land in a huge field. I land at 6:45 PM.

Right after I'm down three ATV's show up with grandpa and the grand kids. I don't let them get too close. They are happy and surprised to see me. The field belongs to one family with lots of different parts of the family in widely spaced houses. None actually encroaching much into the field or putting up fences.

At sundown the driver and I head north to find Larry in the dark. A dozen folks have visited him, hopefully not too close. We get takeout from Chili's on the way home.

A rest day today. It looks just as good if not better.

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So let's do a hard task

March 19, 2020, 9:10:59 EDT

So let's do a hard task

Out and return into the wind.

Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

Greg Dinauer|John Simon|Wilotree Park

Greg Dinauer|John Simon|Wilotree Park

The soarcast for Wednesday:


1 PM - 6,200' cloud base (50 F)

Updraft velocity - 660 fpm

B/S ratio - 9.7

TOL - 6,900'

Surface winds - ESE 8 mph

4000' winds - ESE 13 mph

Cloud cover - 14% - NWS, 0% - HRRR 3

Sunny, with a high near 88. Light east wind becoming east southeast 5 to 10 mph in the morning.

The original task was to the north west, but given the fact that we didn't want to fill a car with retrieved hang glider pilots in this age of social distancing, we decided on an out and return task against the substantial winds. Just 42 kilometers to the Turnpike and back.

I was off first and found almost 200 fpm pretty quickly from 1,500'. The wind was 10 mph out of the east southeast. After getting up I headed south southeast to a better cu and climbed from 1,800' to cloud base 4,400' at 200 fpm. Larry was working 150 fpm north of Wilotree Park. Greg Dinauer volunteered to drive. John Simon hadn't launched yet (he is always last).

I got under an east southeast/west northwest cloud street at Mascotte and waited for Larry. Then headed upwind under the cloud street to where he was circling. My radio flipped its channel, so I soon had to just use visual clues to find other pilots.

We headed north to a nice looking cloud while there seemed to be a blue hole in the direction of the turnpoint to the north northwest. We climbed at a little less than 200 fpm to over 4,000' drifting to the northwest.

The cu's to our north didn't work out so I headed to a good looking cu to the northeast. The lift was weak as Larry, Maria and I worked it. Then I spotted a bird to our north northwest twirling up very rapidly. I went right to that spot and found 250 fpm. Larry and Maria joined me.

We climbed and drifted and eventually got to 5,000'. We went to the north northeast to get under a cloud street that stretched toward the turnpoint at the Turnpike and highway 33 and then east southeast paralleling the Turnpike. There was only a bit of lift there.

Larry then I took the turnpoint and headed back upwind (which was now 13 mph). John, Jim and Maria were with us but lower. Larry got high quicker and headed south southeast. I decided to ride the cloud street to the east southeast.

I couldn't get back to 5,000' but stayed above 4,000 for half the ride. I kept going from cloud to cloud, but the lift was weak if there at all. I just wasn't going down particularly fast and I was going straight into the wind trying to get a bit upwind of Wilotree Park.

Down to 3,100' almost to the intersection of highways 19 and 27 and with few landing areas in that direction, I headed south toward the next cloud street (you know its direction by now). It was 5 kilometers away.

There were some landable fields ahead just north of the gigantic tree farm. I was more concerned about making them than actually getting to the cloud street.

I came over the area that they were clearing to plant more trees at 700' AGL. The field that I planned on landing in was just to the north, but I had enough altitude to check out this recently cleared land that still had equipment operating in it.

At the upwind end of the field I found a little bit of lift and starting turning. The lift was weak at first and I was drifting quickly back toward lakes and trees. I didn't want to leave this landable field or the ones to the north. I was climbing at about 130 fpm.

I'm hanging on for dear life as I drift toward the trees and the lakes. I find 500 to 600 fpm and climb to 2,000' but lose the lift. I'm near a nice looking cu and I can see right up the cloud street to the east southeast. I push upwind to get to the upwind edge of the cu still over the same field and find strong lift, averaging 365 fpm to 4,800'.

This gives me plenty of altitude to make goal with a 6:1 glide ratio required. There are few landable areas going south toward Wilotree Park from my spot over highway 19, so I don't leave until I'm certain that I can get in.

I'm able to find an area of sink south of the flight park and this time I'm able to get down.

No one else has made the task yet. Larry landed out by Mascotte trying to get to goal against the head wind. I guess it was a pretty good idea to head upwind after all, even though it was a huge amount of luck that I was able to get back up. Much later Jim, John and Maria made it back in.

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It can be so much fun when it is difficult

It can be pretty exciting

It can be so much fun when it is difficult

March 18, 2020, 8:04:40 EDT

A.I.R. ATOS VR|John Simon|Wilotree Park

We engaged in more social distancing on Tuesday.

The task was to go back and forth west and east to the north and then return. The forecast was for a 5 to 6 mph east wind.

I was off first and found weak lift low and hung on until Greg, who was towed up second, pointed out a twirl on the pond a little to the south. That produced almost 300 fpm to 4,000'.

The sky had been full of cu's for hours before we took off around 1 PM. There were plenty to the west and I followed Greg in that direction. Larry had come in under us, but was struggling back at the flight park.

The clouds were not well defined but very fuzzy. I was able to find 100 fpm in a thermal four kilometers to the west but only to 3,600'. The thermals were just not compact and strong enough and it was unclear it was possible to find good lift.

The next two circling episodes averaged negative amounts of lift. I headed for a better looking cloud at the eastern edge of the Green Swamp and was down to 1,700' with some possible landing areas nearby. Since I now really had to just stay up I took what was available and climbed at 125 fpm for 17 minutes to 4,000'. The 7 mph wind pushed me to the north.

Larry and Greg were out ahead of me about nine kilometers and John was not too far behind. I was happy just to still be in the air.

I headed west over highway 50. After four kilometers I was able to climb at 100 fpm to 3,300'. Everything was still very iffy. I was five kilometers away from the turnpoint at Terry Town, the lumber mill.

There was a big cu in that direction but as I came under it, it didn't produce any lift. I kept going toward the lumber yard. I was quickly down to 600' AGL.

There was no lift over the lumber yard as I came over it. I was checking out the two big fields just to the north of the highway, one with cattle that I had landed in before.

I spotted a vulture below circling very low over a sawdust pile. I went back east to get over him and got a little over zero sink. After a five minutes I gained about two hundred feet and then the birds left and headed a little west to where more birds were circling. I followed.

There was about 100 fpm there and I climbed up with the birds well below me.  I climbed to 1,350' before I lost the thermal. Searching around back to the east I found 265 fpm and was very happy to climb out of this sink hole getting to over 4,000'.  When you're low your options are so circumscribes and the horizon is very limited. As you rise up the possibilities become unlimited.

There was a good looking cloud to the east over the sand mine south of Center Hill. I got there at 2,200'. The lift averaged 240 fpm to 4,400'. A pilot flying what looked like a very new and special ATOS VR came in with me, thankfully below me.

From cloud base I headed toward the Grass Roots airfield. I heard that John, Larry and Greg were there getting up. When I was four kilometers from the turnpoint Larry said that he would heading back to Wilotree Park instead of to the next turnpoint at Cheryl to the west. There was a layer of cirrus clouds that blocked out the sun all around us.

We all agreed to head southeast back to Wilotree Park. For me there was a cloud street all the way back. I called out good lift and location to John Simon when I got near the chicken coops. He came in low as he had been on the third leg, but found sufficient lift even low near where I was. Later he would find 300 fpm near the coops.

I was ten kilometers out and it looked like I could make it back. I was at about 1,100' AGL almost two kilometers out and looking like I would make it, when I ran into lots of lift that just kept happening.

Now the problem was getting down. It took ten minutes to get down from 1,300' with multiple circles around the flight park finding areas of sink. Everyone made it back.

Wills Wing T3 136

March 13, 2020, 9:10:12 pm EDT

Wills Wing T3 136

There is such a thing

John Simon|Larry Bunner|Wills Wing T3|Wilotree Park

It probably isn't ready to be announced by Wills Wing but Pedro Garcia is flying Claudia's and says that it is a wonderful glider. He flew just behind Larry Bunner who was flying his Wills Wing brand new T3 144  today for about ten kilometers and they had the same glide ratio. Both Pedro and Larry don't weigh that much.

A good flight today with Larry Bunner, John Simon, and Pedro Garcia flying south to Famish then to Fantasy of Flight and then back to Wilotree Park. Betinho and Carla flew from Wallaby to Wilotree. My right scapula muscle was aching so I took a rest day.

All the way around the Green Swamp

March 13, 2020, 7:42:24 EDT

All the way around the Green Swamp

No high clouds to shut us down

Flytec 6030|Wilotree Park|XC

We were slow, but we hung in there and made it back. I had to search around after towing to 2,400' and climbed to 3,400' at 160 fpm.

The lift continued to be weak and I had to just hang onto what I had as I heard Larry and Greg working better lift (or so it seemed). Finally after about forty minutes I connected with some better lift (200 fpm) and got up to 4,500', far enough away from the ground to feel comfortable. I was still only 10 kilometers from Wilotree, but things were improving and I could get going.

I was able to stay above 3,400' and fly over the Swamp away from the open fields to the south of the course line repeatedly climbing to cloud base at 4,500'. At the north west end of the open fields I was able to find strong lift from 2,200' after searching in weak lift.  I just had to get a bit further south to hook into the core. With light winds it's not clear just where you should position yourself under the cu.

It's an eleven kilometer jump over the trees to the turnpoint at the Intersection of 98 and 471 from the last open field to the northeast. There were cu's ahead but I was back down to 2,200' by the time I  got to them. Thankfully I was near landable fields and climbing. I'd seen Larry at 5,100' a few kilometers to my north and now Greg was climbing over there also, but too far away for me to get to him.

I pressed further west toward the turnpoint to better looking cu's and climbed out first to 3,700' at 200 fpm, then to 5,200' at the turnpoint at 450 fpm. Heading north northwest 10 kilometers to the western edge of the Green Swamp I found 365 fpm. My broadcast of this fact brought Greg and Larry over and we finally hooked up climbing to 5,000'. It was a little after 3 PM.

There were widely scattered cu's ahead to the north northwest and they all worked for us as we stayed high and climbed to 6,000' near the seven kilometer radius turnpoint. Larry was flying with the Blade and the 6030 but his 6030 didn't tell him that he had made the turnpoint. So he decided to go further west. There was a fat cu right there so Greg and I went with him for no good reason really, as we had made the turnpoint and there were plenty of cu's on the leg back to Wilotree Park.

Greg and I headed east while Larry went off west on his own. The next cu's were straight east over the Green Swamp and we found enough lift to get over 6,000' so we were pretty comfortable with the lack of landing areas nearby. There is an open area in the middle of the Green Swamp next to highway 471 and there were a few cu's nearby so we went for it. We've never landed there and didn't really want to,

The lift didn't work out so we headed north toward the lumber mill. Greg was quite a bit below me so he wanted to get closer to open fields. He found a little bit of lift as did I so we worked it with me getting better lift a bit to his south. Larry came in at about Greg's lower altitude.

I worked the less than 200 fpm from 3,400' back to 4,400' as Greg and Larry headed further north low to get under a forming cu south of the lumber yard. I noticed a cu forming to the east , just half a kilometer away. I found 430 fpm to 6,000' and left heading toward the eastern edge of the Green Swamp with light sink.

Cu's were building out in front of me and I was able to climb back to 5,800' at 400 fpm 15 kilometers out from Wilotree Park. This made it easy to make it back home. It was almost 5 PM, four hours in the air.

Meanwhile Larry and Greg were struggling trying to get back up and high enough to make it over the Swamp. Finally Greg landed up by highway 50 and the lumber mill while Larry on his third attempt got high enough and about half an hour later made it back to the flight park.

We have taken the risks so many times of flying over the trees, the swamp, that we are pretty used to it and know the conditions that allow for this.

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Going to the Northeast

March 4, 2020, 7:57:14 EST

Going to the Northeast

Navigating around the Orlando airspace

Larry Bunner|Wilotree Park

When there is a strong southwest wind like on Tuesday (and it looks like on Wednesday) you've pretty much got to go to the northeast. It's a beautiful area with lots of big lakes, which you also have to avoid. Thankfully there are plenty of possible landing areas.

I hadn't gone off in that direction in a good number of years, but was up for it on Tuesday with Larry Bunner and his brother Rob, along with Adam Smith. We set up launch in the northeast corner.

I was pulled up first at about 1:45 PM. The wind on the ground was 13 mph out of the west southwest. I hung on until 2,900' as we were headed straight for a cloud street but hadn't reached it yet. I had to go to the upwind side of the nearest cloud about a kilometer further west before I found the good stuff and climbed out at 380 fpm to 4,800' before escaping the cloud.

The wind was averaging 20 mph out of the west southwest but I didn't find any turbulence on tow or while thermaling. As I topped out I headed due north across to the cloud street to the north to avoid the rather large Lake Apopka to the east northeast. There were plenty of cu's around indicating lift, but the cloud streets were dominant.

My biggest concern was checking out possible landing areas. Of course, I was quite high so no need for one right away, but I wanted to see how setting tasks in this direction would fair during the upcoming competitions. Lots of swamps, and lakes, and small towns, but plenty of possible LZ's, also.

I worked light lift to the west of Lake Minneola just to stay high enough to be comfortable and have as many options as possible. I have to keep moving to the north east cross wind to get around the lakes and head toward the turnpoint at Mid Florida airfield.

I work light lift west of Lake Apopka climbing to 4,200' and looking at all the wet farm lands north of the lake. I want to be sure to have other options further north so I turn that direction after toping out and head for more clouds.

Down to 2,400' northwest of the lake but heading toward farming areas that don't look all that accessible I find the first turbulence of the day. Larry is back at Wilotree Park unable to get away and being beat up by the turbulence. Se Bunner is chasing. Rob Bunner has been advised not to launch given the turbulence.

I climb at over 200 fpm to 4,800' on the line that gets me north of the lake and toward good looking possible LZ's.  I continue climbing flying straight under the cloud street to 5,100' but I'm going to miss the turnpoint at the Mid Florida airfield as the cloud street has too much west in it.

I hear from Larry that he can't get away from the flight park, so I think about landing near the turnpoint. Having passed north of Lake Apopka I turn north to head for the turnpoint. I also see lots of trees ahead on my current path and it looks a lot better if I get closer to the turnpoint.

I hear that Larry is not going to get away and so it is a good idea to land so that Sue won't have to chase just me. I find a huge field just east of the turnpoint and land coming in in a 20 mph wind and stay on the base tube all the way to the ground.

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Prizes at the 2020 Worlds

March 4, 2020, 7:56:34 EST

Prizes at the 2020 Worlds

Stephane Mentler is providing some additional prizes for Sport Class and Womens

Davis Straub|Facebook|Icaro 2000|Wilotree Park

Stephane Mentler writes:

The prize helmets are in. I will get these to Davis Straub sometime in the next two weeks. Icaro2000 USA (https://icaro2000usa.com), a proud sponsor of the 2020 Hang Gliding World Championships at Wilotree Park in Groveland, Florida.

Three for sport class, one for the women's. I also have two women's tee-shirts for day prizes.

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Winter Flying at Wilotree Park

February 18, 2020, 9:13:29 pm EST

Winter Flying at Wilotree Park

It's been light lift the past three days

Larry Bunner|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Larry Bunner|Wilotree Park

Greg Dinauer|John Simon|Larry Bunner|Wilotree Park

Greg Dinauer|John Simon|Larry Bunner|Wilotree Park

Larry Bunner, John Simon, Greg Dinauer and I have been flying the past three days. Sunday and President's Day my flights were a little shorter than I would have liked. Others did well, but no one was able to complete the triangle tasks given the light lift.

Today was no exemption, but perhaps better lift.

Conditions started weak and after a while Greg decided to stay local. The wind was out of the south at about 13 mph.

Launching at 1:20 PM (second launch) I worked 100 fpm or less following Larry who had launched earlier to the north northwest and not getting above 2,800'. There were plenty of cu's around but they were misty and not well formed. No black bottoms.

I lost contact with Larry north of Mascotte, but saw that John was nearby. We flew together and found 200 fpm west of Grass Roots airfield to 3,400', then turned west to head toward the first turnpoint at Cheryl, a north/south grass air strip.

We worked a couple of less than 200 fpm thermals south and west of Center Hill until we found lift that on the 30 second averager showed 480 fpm (but overall was 260 fpm) on the southwest corner of the forested area three kilometers from Cheryl. That got us back to 3,400'.

Larry joined up with us there although he had been ahead and then got the turnpoint after us.

The next turnpoint was the Baron airstrip on the northeast. John caught a better climb and got to 4,000' on the west side of the forest. Larry came in under me and I climbed to 3,700' before heading after John toward the prison complex.

There were plenty of cu's ahead and John got halfway through the forest and then called out that he was heading toward the cu's to the northeast. I got there and decided to head to the cu to the east instead. I noticed that there was a fire feeding it.

I got there and found 600 fpm (it averaged 370 fpm) to 4,200'. John came back under me to join in the better lift and Larry came in low (but didn't go far enough south toward the fires). Larry would land at the Turnpike.

I headed out in front for Baron with John coming soon behind me. I was down to 2,600' in the 3 kilometer turnpoint cylinder when John called out 300 fpm 2 kilometers behind me. I came in under him but it averaged 45 fpm for me.

John topped out at 4,100', made the turnpoint at Baron and headed north up along the east side of the Villages. I left at 2,500' and headed west along the north edge of the Turnpike over areas being graded for development and toward a large black bottom cloud over a lake and swamp area.

I was only going down at 200 fpm and there were some possible landing areas ahead along the Turnpike. I wanted to get south of the big cumulus cloud. I finally did find the source of its lift at 1,700' and started climbing at 300 fpm in a very smooth and very tight thermal. The air was rising throughout each rotation.

I took it to 4,100' and headed north northwest slightly to get around the blue hole to the north and toward the better looking cu's. I wasn't getting anything and northwest of Wildwood I heard from John that he had laded. He didn't get anything after Baron.

I kept heading toward the thickness looking cu's but I didn't find a thing. I came over a really big field next to a paved road at 1,300' and then searched around to see if there was any lift in the vicinity. Not finding anything worth hanging out in I landed in my preferred field. Logan, our driver, was there with John as I finished breaking down. 52 minutes back to Wilotree Park.

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Not Paying Attention to the Forecast

February 10, 2020, 8:07:03 EST

Not Paying Attention to the Forecast

Hadn't planned to fly on Sunday

Larry Bunner|Wilotree Park

Larry Bunner said that he was going to give it a try so I said okay and never looked at the forecast. The wind seemed to be about ten mph out of the east northeast on the ground. There were no cu's but around noon they started to form to our south. By 12:45 they were overhead and we were getting ready as fast as possible.

I was off at 1:05 PM and the aerotow out of the field was a little turbulent but not too much. Looking at the lakes below, it was clear that the wind was in fact due east and strong. When I pinned off at 2,700' it was 15 mph due east. We had thought to go south to Avon Park. That was now out of the question. I thermaled 7 km down wind to 4,000' from 2,200' at 140 fpm.

Larry was below me after launching second and our radio communication was barely happening at all. I could talk to Don, our driver, but Larry couldn't hear us although we could hear him. I tried to get him to agree to go down wind, to the west, but he wasn't hearing me.

After Larry announced he was heading back east, we headed back to Wilotree Park with Larry behind and lower. We followed a ragged cloud street down to 1,300' just east of the the flight park to either land or find lift. We found lift.

I was measuring 21 to 22 mph wind speed as we were pushed back to the west in the thermal. I had no desire to land at Wilotree Park in a 22 mph east wind.

Climbing to 4,200' again 7 km downwind from the start of the thermal, I was desperate to get Larry to go to the west. He was determined to go east as I could hear on the radio. I thought, no thanks, and headed west northwest to get around the Green Swamp.

I watched Larry head east but didn't realize that he saw me and turned around and came after me. I was just heading for any big field that wouldn't have trees at the east end to cause turbulence. Didn't hear from Larry.

There was lots of lift and it was easy to cover a lot of ground checking out various fields. Finally I saw the big round field to my west southwest, a field that we had all flown over many times. It was huge and looked perfect for a turbulent landing.

There were birds circling up all over the field. There was also plenty of lift on the way toward it. I concentrated on getting a safe landing.

It was an easy landing and I was very happy to be on the ground. The farmer and his son came right upon his ATV as he had seen me from his house, which was way east of the field. He was very friendly and helpful. Thankfully the gate wasn't locked.

Larry, not as concerned as I about the wind speed, headed further west west of I 75 and landed in a huge field also and also in high winds.

Here's the HRRR 3 forecast for the 2 PM winds at 4,000'. I did find 25 mph winds east of Webster as forecast.

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Pleasant and Challenging

January 19, 2020, 12:30:04 pm EST

Pleasant and Challenging

Mick and John go toward Leeward to the north

Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

I decided to rest my sore back (too much heavy lifting around Wilotree Park) but Mick Howard and John Simon decided to go north but late at 2:20 PM. At 10 AM the sky was full of ill formed gray bottomed (thin) cu's with light cirrus overhead. The cu's stayed that way all day.

Michael Howard <<mickhoward100>> writes:

Cloud base was predicted to be around 5000’ and with the expected southeast winds we were hoping to fly a little further than previous days.  However the sky didn’t look so inviting as the surface heating felt weak and the clouds, though fairly high, were flat (thin) and not well defined plus we didn’t like the wind gusts and direction which seemed to have a lot of easterly component.  We waited around until after 2 PM hoping conditions would improve but apart from the wind gusts backing off the sky looked less inviting that earlier, so we agreed on a shorter task to Leeward.

Rich, Tiago, Kinsley, John and I were set up and John took the first tow around 2:20pm.  Bobby hauled me up next and was turning under a weak broken cloud (there wasn’t much else there) and I pinned off around 2100’ in zero lift.  I headed over to slightly better looking clouds east towards Osborne Field and took a climb to 3300ft.  John had gotten off tow at 1400’ in zero lift and I watched him digging himself out from 700’ over the swamp east of the field.

I was undecided whether to go on course as the day didn’t feel or look very good I wasn’t sure if John or was going to land and if I would be the only one to leave.   I punched upwind, which was varying between 9-14 mph, to another cloud in the weak broken street.  John was now just north of me and low but he was still in the game to I decided to drift on course taking the climb to 3900’.

At 20 km out I was down below a 1100’ struggling to find a climb with poor retrieval areas ahead when I found a climb that turned into 500 fpm up that carried me to cloudbase at 4800’.  John had managed to get high and was heading my way and I was hoping he would catch up to me so we could fly together.  I was announcing all my climbs but John was around 10 km behind on about the same line 5 km west of the course line.

The clouds up ahead over the west side of the Villages looked tired and thin but there was nothing else.  I had plenty of altitude to make landing zones as I passed the Villages and found my last climb around at 3:40 PM which carried me to 3800’.

I went on glide searching for lift and changing course slightly to hit what appeared to be hot spots but the day was over.  John announced that he was setting up for landing which I was about to do after first trying one last attempt to climb out with 30 or so vultures circling low over the corner of a cattle farm.  Down to 350’ I was still hoping for a low save but despite flying over the vultures I didn’t find a lick of lift so I landed 9 km short of goal in a nice empty field across the road from the cattle at 4:05 PM around the same time as John.


I had a lot of encouragement from across the road as I broke down my glider:

I almost didn’t fly on this day and then I almost didn’t attempt to fly the task, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable flight.  Staying in the air and making miles in weak conditions is very rewarding and flying cross country in January is amazing – just needed one more climb to make it to goal.

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Fluffy cu's, light winds, a triangle task

January 16, 2020, 7:46:50 EST

Fluffy cu's, light winds, a triangle task

John Simon misses out, said it would be good because he had to visit the family.

Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

John Simon lost out betting on Tuesday and giving up Wednesday. Turned out to be the best day of the new year. We saw the HRRR forecast on XCSkies for light winds and good lift with a reasonable cloud base around 3,000'.

It looked good, right from the get go with the skies filling up with cumulus clouds from 10 AM after the fog was burnt off around 9 AM. I was pushing for a 1 PM launch as long as the cu's looked substantial (black bottoms) at that time.

Jim Prahl pulled me up first at 13:14 and again (like the last time he pulled me up) he took me right to the lift and I pinned off at 1,800' climbing at 170 fpm on average to cloud base at 2,600'. There were nicely spaced thick dark large cu's in every direction, including right over my head.

Mick was pulled up over me and when we got to cloud base we both headed west northwest toward the next set of cu's. The day would be dominated by the cu's as we flew from one to the next one in the general direction of the turnpoints. There were few if any small cu's. We flew toward the biggest darkest cu's. There was no searching for little forming cu's. There was no not going to the big cu's thinking that they were about done. They weren't.

We found lift at 300 fpm on average, again back to cloud base which was rising quickly. By the third thermal we were at 3,200' and just southeast of the Center Hill turnpoint. We found a thermal south southeast of Center Hill but it was only 130 fpm so I left at 3,000' and headed north with Mick taking one more turn.

There was of course a nice fat cu ahead and I got to it at 1,700'. It averaged for me almost 200 fpm, but the lift kept moving around. I don't know what the story was but it was far from consistent. Mick came in lower and just didn't connect very well with the lift searching all over for it. He stayed up but wasn't climbing like I was. I left again with 3,000'.

I found 150 fpm just south of Center Hill, told Mick about it and he came over low and I left at 3,200'. All this was under good looking cu's.

I tagged the turnpoint and headed northeast along the road toward the next set of cu's. Down to 1,700' I veered off to the north a bit to get to the nearest cu which looked like it was really working. It was and I climbed to 3,600' at 280 fpm on average. Mick was still struggling and we were communicating. I told him right where I was getting up and he came in there at 1,100' and got up well after I left.

I had a choice of cu's. A few directly to the east and a few to the northeast toward the Turnpike and 33 intersection, our turnpoint. The ones in the direction of our turnpoint looked way past it. I couldn't tell for sure. I was eight kilometers away from the turnpoint.  The sun is low in the sky and the shadows are way to the northeast of the actual clouds.

I chose the safe route and went east but it took a bunch of searching to find the 340 fpm on average from 1,400'. Mick took the more direct route to the north of the course line. I had to go 4 kilometers north to get the turnpoint. We arrived there at about the same time.

I had flown north to get the turnpoint and then back south to the same field that I got the last thermal before the turnpoint, to find the next lift under the cu's that were now a bit further south with a light northeast flow. Down to 1,300' I drifted over lakes and islands with Mick, climbing to 3,500'.

In the direction of Wilotree Park (south southeast) there was extensive shading so I suggested heading due south to the next set of cu's that were causing the extensive shading, but through an area with only minor shading. It was a nine kilometer glide to Mascotte to get on the sunny side of the long line of east/west cu's, but when we got there we found strong lift.

We climbed in separate thermals to cloud base then pulled in hard to get back to Wilotree Park going down at 600 - 700 fpm at 53 mph.

It was a two hour flight and we got back at 3:15 PM. There were good looking cu's in the sky after 4 PM, so we could have had a longer flight. We just didn't know given how it had been the first two days of this four day span.

Thursday looks soarable with light wind at the surface, but coming from the northwest, not a perfect direction, often blue. The high temperature will again be in the mid eighties, so it sure seems like it will be a good day to fly, before the cold (60 degrees) comes through during the next few days.

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We played around in the blue

January 14, 2020, 8:48:21 EST

We played around in the blue

Florida fun times

John Simon|Wilotree Park

The winds were out of the east at Wilotree Park as we launched around 2 PM. I was first to launch but had a weaklink come untied at 15'. No damage to me or the glider so now I was last to launch after Mick Howard and John Simon.

The cu's had disappeared around noon so there was obviously an inversion which was why we waited until 2 PM. John and Mick were doing well enough drifting to the northwest while I found lift on tow and stayed with it climbing at 230 fpm to 4,000' about 600' higher than John and Mick were able to get to. I came in over them north of Mascotte as they were working weaker lift.

We don't get much lift near the chicken coops so headed north at 3,200'. There was a little zero but not much so I headed for the smoky fire north of the Grass Roots airfield. John found it also to my west and Mick came in at 600'. John climbed to 4,200', with Mick and I below him. We drifted in an east southeast wind paralleling the Turnpike.

After working 200 fpm we got to the prisons and got stuck in weak lift. John was not excited about taking the jump of eight kilometers to the reasonable landing fields by the intersection of interstate 75 and the Turnpike when we are not getting very high.

Not finding much I left at 2,900' with John unseen by me heading out also. Down to 1,500' over the high tension power lines I found the first lift which brought over John and Mick above me. We drifted west in an almost due east wind climbing at 100 fpm to 2,300' (for me).

We were 11 km to the west of the course line to the goal at Leeward with a much stronger east wind component than was predicted. There were lots of different kinds of birds around and we kept using them for guidance.

We worked even weaker lift over the interstate drifting again to the west northwest. We were being push further away from the course line (up to 15 km west of it) faster than we were climbing. It was almost two hours into the flight and the sun was getting low.

I stayed in the lift as I was the lowest guy while Mick and John headed due east to get more back on course. I just wanted to stay in the air. Unfortunately I was heading toward the trees around Marion Oaks.

At 1,700' I headed northeast to get over a better retrieval area or perhaps find some lift after 4 PM but it was not to be. We all landed at about the same time 15 to 18 km short of the goal. It was all a great time being patient.

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Sweet air in 2020

January 13, 2020, 8:31:27 EST

Sweet air in 2020

We start off a spectacular week at Wilotree Park, Groveland, Florida

Belinda Boulter|Bobby Bailey|John Simon|Wilotree Park

A little after 2 PM Bobby Bailey tows me to 1,700' AGL (we're at 125' MSL) where I spot a bit of light lift, which doesn't work out when I turn around into where I felt it.  I head back to the south side of the field where I felt lift during the first part of the tow down low. At 900' I find 100 fpm and work that area.

The wind is south southeast at about 13 mph. John Simon is pulled to the east and works light lift east of the ski lakes at the Swiss Ski School and Mick Howard is dropped off near me and higher as I work weak lift on and off averaging 29 fpm.

There are lots of birds around working pieces of lift here and there but they are not showing me much. I finally find a 90 fpm steady core that drifts to the north northwest and hang with Mick as we circle quickly over Groveland. John comes over a few hundred feet below as we climb up north of the Mickey Mouse lake.

The lift topped out at 2,300' AGL and given that there were cu's to the west I headed that way. Before I got there we heard that John was landing at Osborn field upwind to our south. Impatience.

The cu's are working as I get down to 1,100' AGL south of highway 50 south of the chicken coops and Mascotte.  I work 150 fpm, then 40 fpm, then 140 fpm as I drift north over the chicken coops. Mick hangs back a bit as he is low and thinks that he needs to find lift south of the coops.

I hang in the sweet lift and climb to 3,300' AGL with a dozen or so vultures. It's a little bit cooler there, and I have three layers on so I appreciate the coolth.

There is a bit of a broken cloud street heading off to the north toward the Turnpike and the Okahumpka Service Plaza and I head out under it as Mick works behind. A layer over higher clouds from the west comes over as I fly through zero sink over a large ranch where access is okay but not perfect.

I see that I can easily make it to the east west highway south of the Turnpike (EC 400) and I make that my goal given that I'd rather not have Belinda come and pick us up next to the Turnpike.

Coming over the road at 900' AGL I look around to find the best field with easy access. Mick is right behind me and searching for me so that he can land with me and make it easy on Belinda. The ground is completely shaded and the cu's have disappeared.

After landing in the hug field we walk to the paved road and complete our break down just a bit before Belinda shows up.

It's a sweet day in January to fly in Florida and the weather forecast says that we will have four more days of this south southeast flow with temperatures in the eighties. XCSkies with HRRR says tomorrow will have 400-500 fpm lift, TOL 4,000' - 5,000', 14 mph south southeast wind at 2,000'.

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2020 Paradise Airsports Nationals »

January 8, 2020, 9:01:32 EST

2020 Paradise Airsports Nationals

Our competitions

Paradise Airsports Nationals 2020|Wilotree Park

It appears as though we are going to have a lot of competitors at the upcoming Spring competitions at Wilotree Park in Florida.

Thirty pilots have registered for the Paradise Airsports Nationals held the week before the World Championships.



Seventy eight pilots have registered for the World Championships



Fourteen have registered for the Wilotree Nationals making for a total of ninety two pilots registered to fly during the World Championships.



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Our Flying Cousins

December 25, 2019, 8:06:23 EST

Our Flying Cousins

Residents here in Florida - Sandhill Cranes (today's dinosaurs)

Rick Mullins|Wilotree Park

From Rick Mullins at Wallaby Ranch:

Here at Wilotree Park:

Mitch Shipley »

December 24, 2019, 10:05:57 EST

Mitch Shipley

Doing Well

Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Mitch Shipley|Rhett Radford|Wilotree Park

The Rhett Radford on the left, Kate Griffin in the middle and Mitch to the right at the Christmas Party at Wilotree Park. Mitch is growing his beard while his shoulder recovers from surgery.

We've seen Mitch a few times since we arrived back in Florida. He is looking great and doing well after crashing his hang glider at the LZ at Tater Hill in North Carolina. We're happy to see him doing so well and look forward to working with him in the future. The sooner the better.

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Good Times at ⁢Wilotree Park »

Mon, Dec 16 2019, 7:54:04 am EST

Is it winter yet?

Wilotree Park

John Simon|Wilotree Park

Greg Dinauer|John Simon|Wilotree Park

Greg Dinauer|John Simon|Wilotree Park

Photo by Connie Bailet.

Two of the seven Sandhill Cranes that hung around on Sunday.

Six tandems and lots of other flights today, a day with a high of 75 degrees. Tomorrow looks like it may reach 82 degrees, 83 on Tuesday is the forecast. A bit cooler later in the week. Monday looks like a cross country day with southeast winds 5 to 10 mph. John Simon and Greg Dinauer, at least, are going. Maybe I'll join them.

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2020 US Nationals Beginning to Fill Up

December 16, 2019, 7:53:24 EST

2020 US Nationals Beginning to Fill Up

Paradise Airports and Wilotree Nationals

US Nationals 2019|US Nationals 2020|Wilotree Park

We've already had 69 pilots sign up for the 2020 World Championships being held in April and that means it's going to be a successful competition with this number of pilots. We say the maximum that we can handle is 125, but we've never expected that many to show up. Pilots need to sign up by January 19th (you don't have to be on a National team to be in the Worlds) so the window is closing quickly on who are going to be coming to the Worlds.


We're also putting on two Class 1 Open competitions in April at Wilotree Parks, one the week before the Worlds and one during it. (The Worlds are the combined Women's Worlds, Sport Class, Class 2 and Class 5 Worlds).

Once again last year these Spring open class competitions at Wilotree Park were very popular. Pilots love coming to fly in Florida in April enjoying the marvelous lifting thermals in pleasant air with mild temperatures, puffy little clouds, light winds and open fields. Pilots are signing up now for these competitions, despite the fact that they are not under the same tight time constraints that pilots who are signing up for the Worlds.

We are always under resource constraints (mainly the number of tugs that we can round up to get every one in the air), so it is always a good idea to register as early as possible and become confirmed as early as possible so that you can be assured that you are in the competition. There will be additional resource constraints during the Worlds for the Wilotree Nationals dictated by the fact they the Worlds ahs first claim on the resources and we can fit in open class pilots only after their needs are taken into account. The World's pilots launch first, for example.

At the moment, we can handle all six competitions and we'll see what the future holds. We hope to be able to accommodate open class pilots in both the Paradise Airsports Nationals and the Wilotree Nationals. For sure there is no issue with the Paradise Airsports. It is a bit iffier for the Wilotree Nationals, so you might want to sign up early to reserve your spot (need to be confirmed). We'll keep you informed.



Gulf Flow

December 6, 2019, 3:29:23 pm PST

Gulf Flow

Up wind in light lift and strong wind

Belinda Boulter|Robin Hamilton|Wilotree Park

Robin Hamilton‎ writes:

Thursday was a fun soaring day at Wharton, Texas (Cowboy Up). Got a much needed approximately two hours running up and down the low cloud streets that were streaming over the airport. And we are just two weeks from the winter solstice.

In my experience, it is difficult to pick soaring days in the winter here on the Texas Gulf Coast as some of the usual broad indicators: Ground Temperature, Overnight-to-Daytime Temp difference, cloud forecast etc., don't seem to work. More complicated when we are being regularly swept by weak (and strong) fronts.

My call on Thursday came from a few days back and was based mostly on the timing of the southerly flow after the passage of the last front, the continued period of no rain and a "reasonable" temperature maximum of about 75 degrees. All of that looked like hokey science as I was driving down to Wharton around midday as we had fairly extensive upper cirrus cover, fairly patchy cu's down low and way more of a southerly breeze (10-12 mph) on the ground than you would want to preserve what I thought could only be fragile, weak thermals.

Suspending disbelief a little longer, Efrain, Read and I rigged and I was off Tiki's towline upwind of the airport at around 3,000' and 2pm after a super stable, quiet tow. It was blowing even stronger (~20mph) at altitude and I gingerly glided further upwind under some buoyant air below the skinny cu cloud street. The ground looked flat and grey with no sunlight reaching it. But then, miracle of miracles, the vario starting chirping and I found I could work and maintain in broken 50-150fpm lift. After a bit it was fairly easy to get comfortable with the conditions as I found there was weak lift below many areas of the main street over the airport and another that occasionally formed about 2km to the west. Best lift was probably ~300fpm and base around 3200'. The furthest upwind I got was maybe 15km up past the flooded rice fields.

There were several tractors out ploughing the fields, a fire upwind and other possible thermal triggers but honestly there seemed to be no correlation with them and where I found lift so I stopped even trying to make sense of it. I just turned when the vario beeped. I flew for around two hours and never got much below 2,000' except when I chose to come back in and land. Efrain and Read also soared but without a bit of extra glide speed in the brisk headwind found it a little tougher to stay long on the magic carpet. Happy pilots all round at the end of the day. Tiki, thanks so much for the tows.

We have a weak front come through this morning and it seems a bit clear and inverted behind it. I think Sunday might be when we get another chance to soar in the Gulf flow.

Belinda and I are in Katy, Texas on our way to Wilotree Park, Groveland, Florida and will be having dinner with Tiki in about half an hour.

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Trike Towing

November 7, 2019, 7:59:50 PST

Trike Towing


Gregg "Kim" Ludwig|Wilotree Park

"Gregg Ludwig" <gregg.ludwig.cfi> writes:

I am deep into upgrades with my tug trike. I'll have a new gearbox and accessories for an even more powerful and smoother tow.

Greg will be towing at all our upcoming competitions in April and August at Wilotree Park and Big Spring.


Flying a Kingposted Wing in the Open Class at the 2019 Nationals

November 4, 2019, 7:36:38 PST

Flying a Kingposted Wing in the Open Class at the 2019 Nationals

Just like the old days

PG|USHPA|Wilotree Park


The 2019 Nationals took place in April 2019 at the newly named Paradise Air Sports at Wilotree Park near Orlando, Florida. Nearly one hundred pilots attended the first week: 28 competitors in the sport class and 70 in open. This year’s Nationals also acted as the Women’s and Sport-class Pre-Worlds, a test event for the FAI Category I 2020  Worlds. As the most popular competition in the United States, the roster was stacked. Pilots representing 19 countries flooded into the Florida countryside for some of the best Cross Country flying the US offers.

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Dragonfly Instruction

October 28, 2019, 8:12:30 PDT

Dragonfly Instruction

At Wilotree Park

Dragonfly|Wilotree Park

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2020 Worlds Registration - suspended for a few days

Sat, Aug 31 2019, 3:08:33 pm MDT

CIVL is trying to deal with the restrictions on Sport Class

CIVL|Davis Straub|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Mitch Shipley|USHPA|Wilotree Park|World Pilot Ranking Scheme|Worlds 2020|Zac Majors

CIVL|Davis Straub|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|USHPA|Wilotree Park|World Pilot Ranking Scheme|Worlds 2020|Zac Majors

CIVL|Davis Straub|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|USHPA|Wilotree Park|World Pilot Ranking Scheme|Worlds 2020|Zac Majors

We submitted a proposal to the CIVL Bureau for a combined World Championships last year. It was approved by the CIVL Bureau and the Plenary. It included the following restriction on who could fly in the sport class:

"Pilots must not have been listed in the top twenty US pilots since January 2008 for entry into sport class. Pilots must not have finished in the top 2/3rd’s of a non-Sport Class Category 1 competition held since January 2014, for entry into sport class.

"(Note from Sport Code 7: 2. 2.3 Other Criteria

If a competition organiser wishes to set stricter criteria, these must be declared with the bid for the event. Any other qualifying criteria must be included in the approved Local Regulations.)"

Here is what Stef, the CIVL President, wrote at the time that the Bureau accepted our bid:

Dear Markus and Christine,

Please find attached 2 zipped file for 2 bids that have been accepted by CIVL Bureau. Can you prepare the Organiser Agreement accordingly?

Davis Straub, the organiser, is in copy.

Best regards,


Later when the CIVL Plenary met they also accepted the bid.

When creating the bid and the local rules I met repeatedly with Mitch Shipley who will be our meet steward. Mitch has a trailer at Wilotree Park near ours so I used his advice extensively in preparing the bid and local rules as well at the Risk Management Plan and the Tow Device Supplemental Application for the USHPA. Mitch in addition to being a meet steward is a CIVL official as well as a USHPA official.

Mitch was concerned about his ability to do all the checking (back to 2008) to determine eligibility for the Sport Class. We continued talking about how we could address that issue to accomplish the same goal of keeping open class topless pilots from registering for the Sport Class World Championships.

I edited the latest version of the proposed local rules (CIVL has to give its final approval and I have to send them to them eight months in advance which I have done).

Sport Class pilots will be restricted to those who have WPRS Sport Class points: http://civlrankings.fai.org/?a=326&ladder_id=9&. At the moment that is 329 pilots. Also, open class pilots will not qualify. Here's the current rule in the local rules:

Sport Class Pilots must not have finished in the top 2/3rd's of a non-Sport Class Category 1 competition held since January 2014, for entry into sport class. Pilots must have WPRS sport class points.

I sent a note on Saturday to Mitch to add the words: "on August 31, 2019" after the word points in the last sentence.

This edit was made to make it easier for Mitch to determine eligibility having only to check 329 pilots (those who have WPRS sport class points).

Only pilots with WPRS points as of August 31st, 2019 would qualify, and this would likely disqualify the following open class pilots who have sport class WPRS points:

Daniel Valez
Rudy Gotes
Zac Majors
Felix Cantesanu
Wolfgang Siess

Carlos Rolando Alvarado flew in the 2019 Open Class World Championships, but finished 119th. He is ranked number 1 in Sport Class. Felix finished 74th, which puts him in the top 2/3rd's. I don't know Rudy's status. Daniel finished 20th.

I've had recent discussions with Stef and others about the criteria. Stef writes:

I’ve re-read your bid. It is very clear on eligibility criteria for Sport.

As it happens, per FAI General Section of the Sporting Code, the bid is part of the rules. The bid has been reviewed by the HG Committee and accepted by the plenary. The bid’s criteria are not in contradiction with Section 7 so, really, there is not much to discuss.

But there is probably a bit for education. So please integrate the HG Committee’s discussion and be nice and convincing and we can have a wonderful competition.


Our goal with these criteria for entry into the sport class was to eliminate the possibility of an actual open class pilot entering the sport class. We did not want to see repeated what happened at the last Sport Class Worlds where open class pilots dominated. We have been very clear about this from the beginning that we would not run a World Championship if this was allowed to happen. That is what the Bureau and the Plenary accepted when they accepted our bid, as Stef makes perfectly clear.

We are now awaiting approval of the sport class eligibility criteria from CIVL.

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2020 Paradise Airsports Nationals »

August 30, 2019, 5:47:37 pm MDT

2020 Paradise Airsports Nationals


calendar|CIVL|Paradise Airsports Nationals 2020|USHPA|Wilotree Park

The 2020 World Championships aren't open to open class 1 pilots, so we have proposed a CIVL and USHPA category 2 sanctioned competition just before the 2020 Worlds at Wilotree Park in Groveland, Florida, the site of the 2020 World Championships.

Of course, there will also be the Category 1 Pan-American Championships for open class 1 pilots in Big Spring, Texas in August.


Our proposal is for the competition to take place April 12th through 18th, just before the Worlds. You'll find it on our competition calendar here: https://ozreport.com/calendar.php. We are also proposing to have two days of official practice tasks on the 10th and 11th which will include set tasks, live tracking, and scoring for the day (not added to the cumulative score for the competition). Check in will be on Friday morning if you want to do the official task on Friday, and Saturday at the regular times for everyone else (those doing the official task on Saturday come in the morning).

We'll have a web page up for this competition a bit later. We will also apply for sanctioning and that will be decided upon in October by the USHPA.

We figure that nine days of tasks, live tracking, and daily scoring will be attractive to pilots.

The competition will also be open to pilots who have been confirmed for the World Championships. The women, of course, would be flying in the open class. The sport class, rigid wing pilots and Swift pilots would be flying in their own classes. But again, unless you are an open class 1 pilot, you must be confirmed for the Worlds to fly in this competition in your class.

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2020 Worlds - registration opens on Sunday »

August 30, 2019, 5:08:34 pm MDT

2020 Worlds - registration opens on Sunday

Individuals should start registering then.

CIVL|Manfred Ruhmer|Wilotree Park|World Pilot Ranking Scheme|Worlds 2020


Registration is open on Sunday, September 1st (probably around 9 AM Mountain Daylight Time or sooner - not Australian time and day but maybe Venice).

We are in discussions with CIVL (president and hang gliding committee) as to how fairly to distribute the slots among the Sport Class, Women's, ATOS (Class 5), and Swift (Class 2) Classes. It will depend on who signs up and the first allocation on January 19th. We expect that there will be lots of slots available for Sport Class pilots (as the biggest group).

Sport Class pilots will be restricted to those who have WPRS Sport Class points: http://civlrankings.fai.org/?a=326&ladder_id=9&. At the moment that is 329 pilots. Also, open class pilots will not qualify. Here's the current rule in the local rules:

Sport Class Pilots must not have finished in the top 2/3rd's of a non- Sport Class Category 1 competition held since January 2014, for entry into sport class. Pilots must have WPRS sport class points.

We say current rule because we are in discussions with CIVL about the exact wording in the local rules. You can download the local rules from the link above. You'll find additional eligibility requirements there.

This is an aerotowing competition. If you do not have aerotowing skills you need to get them or come a week early and get signed off by our instructors.

We are especially encouraging women to come to this Women's Worlds. There hasn't been a Women's World Championship in a while and this is an opportunity to become the Women's World Champion.

We've held a Class 5 World Championship at Wilotree Park previously and pilots had a great time flying in Florida. We hope to see them return to a favorite venue.

Will Manfred and others from Europe show up in their Swifts? We have a good number of US pilots flying Swifts and we look forward to their participation.

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Water, a bit of a digression

August 6, 2019, 4:05:30 pm MDT

Water, a bit of a digression

I go where there is water.

Facebook|Wilotree Park

We have a lake at Wilotree Park south of Groveland, Florida. In the summer it rains almost every day. The grass there gets very green. In the summer I live next to the Boise River in Garden City, Idaho (next to Boise). I ride on the Greenbelt that follows the river every day.

Now something special is going to happen. A swimmer is going to swim the length (150 miles) of the river to help people notice that it's there.


August 6 - September 7th, 2019

This summer renowned swimmer and water quality advocate, Christopher Swain, will lead a journey over 150 miles of the Boise River, from its source in the Sawtooths, to its confluence with the Snake River. Along the way he will collect water samples, report on the health of our river, and interview various people about their hopes and dreams for the Boise River.

Swain will start his Idaho expedition in the Sawtooth Wilderness by swimming across Redfish Lake to access the trailhead to Spangle Lake, the source water for the Middle Fork of the Boise River. From there he will make his way down to Atlanta, swimming across Arrowrock, Lucky Peak, through Boise and all the way to Parma where the Boise River connects with the Snake River.

Along the way, Swain will share his location, personal physiology and water quality data through social media. He will stop to conduct stakeholder interviews with land owners, business leaders, community leaders, farmers, miners, students and river recreationists.

Idaho Business for the Outdoors will be gathering baseline data on water quality from Source to Snake, hosting community engagement events, leading water workshops for high school students from Idaho City, Mountain Home, Boise, Caldwell, Eagle and Parma. Workshops will be inspired by the Clean Water Act and facilitated with our community partners along the river. They will focus on fishable, swimmable and drinkable water quality standards, the economic and health benefits of outdoor recreation. Swain will be conducting stakeholder interviews all along the river with community leaders, farmers, miners, ranchers, land owners, students, and river recreationists.



There is a mobile app that you can use to follow his journey at "Boise River: Source to Snake."

This is interesting in light of this:


A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises

Countries that are home to one-fourth of Earth’s population face an increasingly urgent risk: The prospect of running out of water.

From India to Iran to Botswana, 17 countries around the world are currently under extremely high water stress, meaning they are using almost all the water they have, according to new World Resources Institute data published Tuesday.

Many are arid countries to begin with; some are squandering what water they have. Several are relying too heavily on groundwater, which instead they should be replenishing and saving for times of drought.

In those countries are several big, thirsty cities that have faced acute shortages recently, including São Paulo, Brazil; Chennai, India; and Cape Town, which in 2018 narrowly beat what it called Day Zero — the day when all its dams would be dry.

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Marvin has died at 92 years

August 3, 2019, 6:46:39 pm MDT

Marvin has died at 92 years

The crop duster pilot from Sheets airfield

Quest Air|Timothy Ettridge|Wilotree Park

The death of Marvin Tomlinson reminds us all that good pilots don't last forever. Marvin was our friend and our connection to the past at the Quest Air Soaring Center and now Wilotree Park and Paradise Airsports in Groveland, Florida. He lived in the house next to the airfield and came over often to pal around with the hang glider pilots.

Thanks to Timothy Ettridge for sharing the news.

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David Fynn checking out the wildlife

July 31, 2019, 6:30:08 MDT

David Fynn checking out the wildlife

In the Everglades

Facebook|Wilotree Park

David flies at Wilotree Park in Groveland, Florida.

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2019 Big Spring Nationals

June 20, 2019, 10:22:39 MDT

2019 Big Spring Nationals

Get confirmed by July 1st

Gregg "Kim" Ludwig|US Nationals 2019|Wilotree Park

I wrote to pilots:

We are very much looking forward to the Big Spring Nationals in August. We trust that you are also. It’s great that this year it will also be the test competition for the 2020 Pan-American Championships.

As you know we have to bring everything to Big Spring to run a championship. This includes the Dragonflies from Wilotree Park. Gregg Ludwig will already have his trike in Texas, even though he now lives in Florida.

As you can no doubt see from the aerotow fee, this is an expensive proposition and we need to know well in advance of the competition how many pilots are coming this year. As we have informed almost all of you previously, your status in the pilot registration needs to be marked “confirmed” in order for you to reserve a spot in the competition. The number of pilots with “confirmed” status will determine the number of tugs that we will have at Big Spring.

For example, if we have 50 “confirmed” pilots we will have a total of 5 tugs at Big Spring. We currently have 53 pilots registered and 13 “confirmed” pilots. You can see the pilot list here: https://airtribune.com/2019-big-spring-nationals/pilots.

The number of spots reserved on July 1st will determine how many tugs we will have at Big Spring. If we have only 13 pilots “confirmed,” as is the case now, Gregg might be the only tug pilot there.

So to make this competition a success we need your cooperation. If you are coming to the 2019 Big Spring Nationals you need to take the steps necessary to become “confirmed.” They are as follows, and as found here: https://airtribune.com/2019-big-spring-nationals/info/details__info:

1) Pay $250 entry fee here: http://ozreport.com/2019BigSpringpay.php

2) Sign waivers and medical information form: http://ozreport.com/onlinewaivers.php or: http://ozreport.com/waivers.php

Pilots not confirmed by July 1st will be so noted and only if there are spots available will they be allowed to enter the competition. Again, the number of spots available will be determined by the number of tugs that we have available at Big Spring and therefore by the number of pilots “confirmed” on July 1st..

If you are registered, but not coming to Big Spring we would very much appreciate hearing from you also so that we can delete your entry from the pilot list. In this case please email Davis at <davis> saying that you won’t be coming.

If everything goes to hell in a hand basket (i.e. the meet is canceled), you will receive a 100% refund.

Again, looking forward to having a great time as always in Big Spring. Hope to see you there.

Cross Country on a Pulse

May 30, 2019, 6:42:52 MDT

Cross Country on a Pulse

Kate flies from Wilotree Park

Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Mitch Shipley|record|Wilotree Park

Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|record|Wilotree Park

Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|record|Wilotree Park

North toward Howey in the Hills

Kate writes:

I had the privilege of soaring the invisible wave the last couple of days. While I don't normally make posts about it - these two days were special.

On Monday, I had a personal best in my little Pulse 9 (named Amadeus) of most altitude gained in a single thermal as well as the highest I've ever soared. Gain: 2800' (2100'-4900'). Altitude reached: 5400' (Almost cloudbase!). Flight of the day!

(Note: I haven' had a true thermal flight in several years, let alone one that allowed me to stay up more than an hour.)

Yesterday, I had personal records that beat out Monday's flight by a landslide. Started out as an early day since my tug pilot had other commitments. So Amadeus and I launched 12:20 and was dropped in a nice area of lift. I hung around the Wilotree flight park for the better part of an hour before going north and playing in some air there.

Once I got above 4500' I decided to take a stab at cross country. There is a little ultralite park about 10k away as the crow flies, Gator field. As I start out I'm watching clouds, birds, ground indicators and stopping anywhere and everywhere for lift. I make it above 5000' and I have the little park on glide. (WOW THIS IS AMAZING).

I get to the airfield with a little over 1000' to spare so I hover around, kind of in lift, not really trying to stay up but not really trying to get down either. Then 200 fpm becomes 300, then 400, then 600, and I keep climbing. Until I hit 1200 fpm and sky up to cloudbase (FIRST TIME) At around 6000'. I'm looking at the fields north and decide to see how much distance I can get. Got a few more climbs and landed 20.7k from Wilotree Flight Park at 15:00.

Personal Records: Most altitude gain: 4,600'. First/longest cross country flight: 20.7k. Highest altitude reached: 6000'. First time landing out: check. Longest time in the air: 2hrs 40mins

Thank you so very much to my partner in crime, Mitch Shipley, for everything he contributed. I wouldn't have even gotten in the air for these last two flights if it wasn't for his encouragement and his towing skills. He also was my driver for a very unexpected cross country (note to self: always fly with your wallet, water, and a backup phone battery if there is any chance you will be up for any time at all.).

Overall: EPIC.

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A site for soar eyes

May 6, 2019, 7:32:04 EDT

A site for soar eyes

Launching into the wind

Risk Retention Group|USHPA|Wilotree Park

When first applying for event insurance for our competitions at Wilotree Park we were asked to apply for different sites depending on which launch in the airfield we wanted to use.

This graphic understates the different places that we launch from based on the wind direction.

We finally convinced the USHPA/PASA/RRRG that it was not necessary to treat each launch area as a separate site.

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2019 Nationals (week 2)

April 28, 2019, 3:23:51 pm EDT

2019 Nationals (week 2)

The last day

Jeff Chipman|PG|US Nationals 2019|weather|Wilotree Park

The forecast:



Sunny, with a high near 85. North wind 5 to 10 mph becoming east in the afternoon.
Surface winds 8 mph decreasing to 5 mph east northeast.

HRRR 3, 2 PM:

Updraft velocity: 600 fpm
TOL: 5,000’
Wind TOUL: 8 mph, east northeast
B/S: 9.8
Surface winds 5 mph east northeast
Cu’s unlikely.

The task:

No Leg Dist. Id Radius
1 0.0 km QUEST 400 m
2 SS 4.6 km QUEST 5000 m
3 35.1 km GROSS 3000 m
4 53.4 km CENTER 400 m
5 68.1 km CENTER 15000 m
6 82.7 km CENTER 400 m
7 ES 101.9 km QUEST 400 m

A 15 kilometer exit circle around Center Hill.

The flight on-line: https://www.xcontest.org/world/en/flights/detail:davisstraub/27.4.2019/17:30




The narrative:

The idea is that we would fly west to get away from the lake effect with the northeast wind to the 3 km turnpoint around the Gross airfield. Then back east to Center Hill against the east wind. There is a 15 km exit cylinder around Center Hill so you have to get anywhere outside it to get this next waypoint, then back to Center Hill before heading back to Wilotree Park.

Again pilots were reluctant to launch until they saw a few pilots in the air, and some of the pilots did launch in their original order. When the launch organizer when around again calling upon us to launch, we all launched in our order.

The lift was indeed suppressed by the lake effect and I didn't find anything at first. Then I drifted down wind to the Mickey Mouse lake and with the help of the "locals" skimming over the lake, I found 200 fpm that took me to over 4,300'. And then after every one joined me we went over and found another thermal to 4,300', but this was 8 minutes before the start window opened and with a 7 mph east southeast wind.

Unfortunately I lost a bunch of altitude when this thermal gave out and was down to 2,800' at the start which put me in a bit of a deficit. Others had managed to stay near 4,000'.

Managed to find 200 fpm over Mascotte and was soon back to 4,200'. I could see the lead gaggle ahead and we found reasonable lift going west toward the Gross airfield, at one point averaging over 300 fpm, and getting to over 4,000' so even though I was behind things looked good.

Three kilometers from the Gross turnpoint I came over the lead gaggle. I found the better lift and they all came in under me. I was back in the game.

As I was on top I lead out to the turnpoint, but instead of heading to the east north east headed back toward where we were previously climbing. This turned out to be an error as the guys that were below me were now above me climbing up over a small fire that was now to my north. I quickly got over there but now I was on the bottom instead of on the top. It took a while to center the smoke thermal from 1,800' but I was finally in the 300 fpm core to 3,900'.

South of Bushnell I climbed to 3,800' but only at a little over 200 fpm. I hadn't caught up with the lead guys yet. I saw a few pilots further north higher and turning but didn't go to them thinking that I would find lift to the east toward Center Hill That was my second mistake.

The lift along the east/west highway going to Center Hill was very weak. The first three thermals: 140 fpm, then 50 fpm, then minus 22 fpm. Leaving the last non-lift at 1,600' I thought for sure that we were going down. At 600' AGL as I looked at fields to the north for landing opportunities as we were over intensively farmed nurseries, we found 225 fpm that took us to 3,800' drifting back at 5 mph.

This made it possible to find lift to 3,100' at 284 fpm just before Center Hill. I headed northeast and found 100 fpm then 180 fpm over a very small fire which got me to 3,600' over the forested area on its southeast corner. A kilometer further north Jeff Chipman and I had the help of two bald eagles as we climbed to 4,300' at 250 fpm.

I went further north past the Florida Turnpike to get past the edge of the 15 kilometer exit cylinder. The wind was 5 mph due east. Coming back from outside the cylinder around Center Hill I started at 2,400'.

Down to 1,700' I found 240 fpm just east of the prison. As I drifted over the prison I climbed to 3,900'. I hoped that they didn't think that I was going to drop anything.

Heading south directly across the center of the forest I found a couple of thermals to get me to the south side, north of Center Hill. There I found 190 fpm to 3,900' at 5:49 PM. After that it was a 12:1 glide for 11 kilometers into a 6 mph head wind to one of the most beautiful and friendly landing fields near us, but 4 kilometers short of the chicken coops where I hoped to get back up.

Raul would land at goal about 5 minutes after as the last one to make goal.

Video from Tuesday at the 2019 Nationals

April 26, 2019, 9:18:13 EDT

Video from Tuesday at the 2019 Nationals

Landing back at Wilotree Park

video|Wilotree Park

Knut Ryerson <<krryerson>> sends:


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2019 Nationals (week 2)

April 25, 2019, 0:20:37 EDT

2019 Nationals (week 2)

Counter clockwise around the Green Swamp

Belinda Boulter|Bruce Barmakian|PG|Steven "Steve" Pearson|US Nationals 2019|weather|Wilotree Park|Zac Majors

The forecast:



Sunny, with a high near 87. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Surface wind 5 mph, southeast

HRRR 3, 2 PM:

Updraft velocity: 660 fpm
TOL: 5,600’
Wind TOUL: 6 mph, east
B/S: 10
Surface winds 2 mph south
A chance of cu’s.

The task:

No Leg Dist. Id Radius
1 0.0 km QUEST 400 m
2 SS 4.6 km QUEST 5000 m
3 11.7 km T50469 1000 m
4 28.2 km KOKEE 3000 m
5 45.7 km DIARIA 5000 m
6 67.3 km T98471 1000 m
7 78.6 km FAMISH 2000 m
8 93.5 km T47433 1000 m
9 ES 110.1 km QUEST 400 m

The replay: https://lt.flymaster.net/bs.php?grp=2696#

The flight on-line: http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/2255169




The narrative:

Steve Pearson, Zac Majors and Wolfgang Seiss let me borrow the Wills Wing TIII that is here at Wilotree Park and in Wills inventory. So I'm back on the TIII.

After the pilot meeting I go over across the runway to setup the glider. This keeps me from hearing that the task has changed slightly. A waypoint is added at Famish. The meet director, Belinda, forgets to call another pilot meeting at the launch site, forgets to tell the volunteers working the line to mention the task change to pilots, and doesn't have the safety committee review the task change that was made because of pilot input for safety reasons (which were bogus).

She does call a pilot meeting at the normal location but at least three of us are far away near launch and don't hear the whistle. She brings over the amended task board to the launch, but we don't see it. She doesn't even mention it to me. The small blank task board is not used to highlight the task change in the line.

Many of the pilots skip their launch spot given what happened the day before with so many relaunches. There are no cu's in the sky, but Larry thinks that they will show up (he's right).

We go through the list again and with evidence of good lift we all get pulled up. Numerous gaggles form with the lift working and soon a bunch of us head to the edge of the start cylinder as it's only a few minutes before the first start time. We hang in weak lift near the top of the lift at 4,000'.

Ten or so of us head out but don't go very far before turning in more weak lift. I can tell right away that this group is going to turn back and take the next start gate. We come back from 2 km out with 5 minutes to spare and take the 2:20 PM clock.

We're racing west along the north edge of the Green Swamp. The lift varies from 85 fpm to 300 fpm. Mostly it is less than 200 fpm. Pilots are jumping from gaggle to gaggle.

We've got a 3 km turnpoint cylinder at the northwestern edge of the Green Swamp. After finding 300 fpm on the northeastern edge we again find 300 fpm on the northwestern side and climb to 4,400'. It's after 3 PM. We find the first cu's, which then populate the western edge of the Green Swamp.

The lift gets good. We head south and find 300 fpm, 300 fpm, 400 fpm, 300 fpm and 450 fpm in the next thermals to over 5,500', not quite cloudbase. Larry Bunner and I are working with each other to make sure that we find the best lift.

Larry and I head south to the cu's west of the turnpoint at the bottom of the Green Swamp. Those pilots who took the more direct route are down below us as we get nearer the turnpoint at 471 and 98.

Larry and I climb out at 350 fpm to 5,400' under the sweet looking cu's that we come to expect when we do the Green Swamp task. There are more in front of us and we are able to take advantage of them.

I'm cruising along at 5,500' over the Green Swamp when Larry comes back at me from the south and asks if I got the turnpoint at Famish. This is the first I've hear of it. He had just gone to the south to get the turnpoint. I'm quickly fiddling with my instruments to see how far away the two kilometer cylinder around Famish is. I get within less than a kilometer of Famish itself before turning back to parallel the course line.

I head out over the pasture lands, not the forest land toward little wisps. Down to 2,600' I work 190 fpm to 4,400' and then scoot back over the forest to get to 5,000' under some wisps. Based on the latest transmission from Larry who is near the turnpoint 8 kilometers away I should be able to find lift there and can leave at 5,000' to get to it.

Sure enough there is plenty of lift just north the 474 to 5,000' and that makes the glide into goal easy.

Controversy erupts when Belinda comes up with a way to score the day with a bonus for those pilots who made the Famish turnpoint. Only Bruce Barmakian and Kevin Dutt didn't.

2019 Nationals (week 2)

April 23, 2019, 10:49:16 pm EDT

2019 Nationals (week 2)

A funny shaped task at 90 km

Flytec 6030|PG|Rob Clarkson|US Nationals 2019|Volirium P1|weather|Wilotree Park

The forecast:



Sunny, with a high near 87. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph in the morning.
Surface wind 6 – 8 mph, east

HRRR 3, 2 PM:
Updraft velocity: 640 fpm
TOL: 5,000’
Wind TOUL: 11 mph, northeast
B/S: 7.2
Surface winds 5 mph east
A slight chance of cu’s.

The task:

  Leg Dist. Id Radius
1 0.0 km QUEST 400 m
2 SS 4.6 km QUEST 5000 m
3 17.0 km T47433 400 m
4 31.5 km WALABY 5000 m
5 53.5 km DSROK 400 m
6 71.5 km T47433 400 m
7 ES 88.4 km QUEST 400 m

The Replay: https://lt.flymaster.net/bs.php?grp=2696

The flight on-line: http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/2254486




The narrative:

The wind is out of the east and we're back in the slot at the west end. There are no cu's and with the brisk enough we are probably getting some suppression of the lift from Lake Apopka. But we are not aware of it at first.

I'm 17th to launch and we've already had one pilot land. Tim takes me to the south of the field and I find strong lift, 400 fpm to 4,300'. When it peters out I head north east then east looking for the next thermal.  I don't find anything even in the smoke from the fire to the east. Kevin Dutt is right below me and he turns to go back to Wilotree Park for a landing just as I do.

Unfortunately I take out a down tube on landing, but fortunately David Lopez and Alex Skyride operate as a pit crew and get me back in line for another tow. It's probably been three years since I took out a down tube.

I get back in line but it's time for the sport class launch. Everyone has to wait for them. There is a fifteen minute interval after the end of the open class launch for relights, then pilots have to wait for the sport class to launch. The top three pilots have to wait as they all had to relaunch. There were many relaunches.

It's a long wait, but when we get up we find good lift to the southwest away from Wilotree Park. I climb to 3,800' at 240 fpm and take the fourth clock (out of four) at 3:24 PM (last clock is at 3:15 PM), more than an hour after the first clock. No one is able to take the first clock at 2:15 PM.

I glide 8 kilometers from the edge of the start cylinder down to 900' AGL just north of the Seminole Glider Port where I spot hang glider pilots turning. I climb out at 240 fpm to 4,900'. This makes it easy to get the first turnpoint at the intersection of highway 474 and highway 33.

There are a few pilots around and it is five thermals to get to the Wallaby 5 km turnpoint to the southeast. The first thermal is reasonable strong at 340 fpm to 4,300', but the rest of them are weak, under 300 fpm.

I turn around at the turnpoint to head west to the intersection of Dean Still and Rockridge and find 364 fpm to 4,300' drifting to the west. I can see pilots climbing in the distance and after a 10 kilometer glide get under them and it's 250 fpm to 3,500'.  A little over a kilometer further west I find 280 fpm to 4,500'.

I've got two flight instruments the Flytec 6030 and the Volirium P1. I'm noticing a significant different in the indicated distance to the turnpoint. Finally I figure out that I've put the turnpoint at the intersection of Rockridge and highway 98 in the 6030, but the P1 has DSROK. I know that that is the right  turnpoint and this hasn't caused any delays in my flight. I take the turnpoint at DSROK and manually select the next turnpoint on the 6030.

As I make the turnpoint I head into the headwind. The first thermal averages minus 35 fpm. After eight minutes of waiting to see if it will turn on I head out toward public roads to the east so that I can land with a manageable retrieve.

Down to 600' AGL I spot a pilot turning at just above my altitude a short distance to the north. I come in under him and climb out at 134 fpm drifting back to the west. I top out at 2,400'.

I spot Peter Kelley and Rob Clarkson to my north over edge of the Green Swamp. I race toward them and find lift before I get there. It's 180 fpm to 3,200'. They join me.

We move to the east a couple of kilometers to find 190 fpm to 4,400'. Leaving this lift it's a nine kilometer glide to the turnpoint at 474 and 33. My 6030 user fields go blank so I can't see my glide ratio over the ground among other bits information. It states that the wind direction is south west which is a bit confusing. The actual wind is about 5 mph out of the east.

There was a forecast for a sea breeze from the west late and it is definitely late, eight minutes after 6 PM. The user fields return as I get to the turnpoint. They show a north wind component of 3 mph.

I'm down to 1,400' at the turnpoint and head north along highway 33. There are plenty of open field to land in if needed and it appears to be needed. Peter and Rob are just behind me.

I pick out a huge field that I am familiar with just east of the Seminole glider port. I look around and there appears to be no wind in the field. I come in low at the north end assuming a southwest wind, but I am mistaken. It is in fact north east if light. Suddenly I realize that I'm going to eat up the whole field.

Just before I smack into the fence at the southwest corner I turn but hit the fence on the western side. I'm unhurt but there is enough damage to the glider that I won't be flying that one on Wednesday. First time in over 5,000 flights that I've hit a fence.

2019 Nationals (week 2)

April 22, 2019, 10:19:28 pm EDT

2019 Nationals (week 2)

100 km, FAI triangle

James-Donald "Don" "Plummet" Carslaw|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|PG|US Nationals 2019|weather|Wilotree Park

The forecast:



Sunny, with a high near 84. Calm wind becoming northeast around 5 mph in the morning.
Surface wind 6 mph, northeast

HRRR 3, 2 PM:

Updraft velocity: 640 fpm
TOL: 5,600’
Wind TOUL: 9 mph, north
B/S: 10
Surface winds 6 mph east
No cu’s.

The task:

No Leg Dist. Id Radius
1 0.0 km QUEST 400 m
2 SS 4.6 km QUEST 5000 m
3 41.9 km CHIN 10000 m
4 77.4 km BARON 3000 m
5 ES 105.7 km QUEST 400 m

The Replay:


The flight on-line: http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/2253551




The narrative:

We move the launch from the northeast facing direction to an east facing direction further west in the east/west slot runway and delay the task half an hour to start at 2:30 PM. There are no cu's as forecast. The wind is light out of the east.

I launch 24th and find light lift to the south of Wilotree and climb slowly to 3,600' with a couple of other pilots. Pilots who left this thermal early before getting as high as we did and head to the northwest have to land back at Wilotree Park.

We head northwest toward the first turnpoint, a ten kilometer cylinder around the Chinese airfield. It's still six minutes before the first start gate. We find 200 fpm and then 300 fpm. I leave the start cylinder four minutes after the window opens as I climb to 4,400'. There are about eight guys higher and in front of a few of us behind.

We are doing a bit better behind finding better lift and keeping an eye on the gaggle in front. The lift is poor, less than 200 fpm, and the lead gaggle is getting lower and lower with each thermal.

I veer off to the south a bit just northwest of the lumber yard and south of some greenhouses to find much better lift at 300 fpm and climb to 4,700'. The lead gaggle is far below and soon out of site to the north.

I take over the lead as the lead gaggle struggles and head out on my own toward the turnpoint. I've been out here before so I have some idea of what to look for in order to get back up as I come down from my commanding height.

It's a nine kilometer glide before I find 170 fpm by the Kokee turnpoint and I can climb back to 3,000'. A six kilometer glide and I come over apparently from the smell, some chicken coops just east of a prison (so many of them in Florida). I'm down to 1,400' and looking at a possible landing field just past the prison, but I find little bits of lift and hang with them.

I average a little over 100 fpm to 2,000' which gets me past the prison and the field next to it. I'm familiar with the fields ahead having climbed out of them on a previous flight. They are the last fields before the river which is surrounded by trees. Our optimized turnpoint is just on the other side of the river. I'm too low to cross it.

I see a small bit of smoke in the trees next to an open field and get to it at 600' AGL. I take the 254 fpm to 4,500' where we all get together at the turnpoint. I relinquish my lead at this point.

Now it's sixteen guys racing toward the three kilometer cylinder around the Baron turnpoint to the east northeast with seven guys in front. We race ahead and stop for 200 to 300 fpm about every five kilometers. Five or so guys at the top of each thermal.

As we pass south of the prisons, Phil Bloom goes out in front, with Pedro, Nene and me just behind him getting higher. I lead out to get over Phil who has lost a lot of altitude as we approach the turnpoint. I lead out again with Raul and Bruno just behind racing for the turnpoint. We get the turnpoint and head south.

Those behind us see us plummeting and take a line further to the east also heading south. Bruno moves to the south east to get in the lead with Jonny and Kevin Dutt behind him as they work weak lift from low. Bruno lands.

Raul and I work 25 fpm for twelve minutes to climb from 2,200 to 2,700' as we drift in an eight mph north wind toward Wilotree Park and goal. I lead out as I'm familiar with the area. We work 100 fpm and 55 fpm climbing to 2,800' and drifting south.

I come over the nursery on the north side of highway 50 west of Mascotte but I don't find much. Raul spots a vulture climbing and climbs with him when I turn east to head for the chicken coops and possible landing area. Down to 600' AGL I find a little bit of zero sink and start working and searching for the better core.

The guys to our east are finding better lift. Kevin Dutt gets out ahead and continues on a long glide into goal. The pilots who took the second clock are able to come in fifteen minutes later and score well despite poor leading and arrival points.

It's almost 6 PM. I find the area of better lift over the possible landing field and slowly climb out drifting slowly to the south. I climb at 120 fpm to 3,700' topping out at 6:22 PM with a 6:1 glide to goal. I'm not in the mood for landing short. It's an easy seven kilometer glide into goal for the last guy to make it to goal at 6:28.

Flying the new TIII

April 12, 2019, 11:02:34 pm EDT

Flying the new TIII

I've got five hours on it

Larry Bunner|Wilotree Park

cart|Larry Bunner|Wilotree Park

Larry Bunner has been flying his earlier prototype version for the last two months and telling me about how much he loves the handling. He pulls on 3/4 VG and forgets to take it off while thermaling. Finally on Thursday I got a chance to fly the new one myself.

As I came off the cart the glider felt "big." I had 1/3 VG on (as usual) but there was too much force required to pull in the base tube relative to what I was used to on the T2C 144.

I flew around to the northwest doing a portion of the task before deciding to head back to Wilotree park. The glider was very smooth in the air. No longer did I have to "bump" it to enter into thermals, just shift my weight. I thermaled at all levels of VG and that worked fine. I could stay in small cores.

Yes, I would have to say that the handling, as promised, was vastly superior. Soon after my tow I flew with one pilot on an Icaro and noted that I was out climbing him.

But I didn't like the "big glider" feeling. Near the end of my flight I figured out why it felt that way. It was because I was used to hanging from the more forward position and this glider was no doubt set up for the pilot to hang from the middle position (a difference of about half an inch).

After I landed I moved the little rocker arm to the forward position which took less than a minute.

Speaking of landings, I haven't landed the TIII as well as I would like. I've had to run, when I thought I wouldn't have to. The glider has fallen off to one side and I've had the nose come over, but not touch. I'm using 1/3 VG. Maybe a little more is needed.

I flew the glider again today. It instantly (coming off the cart) felt like the T2C 144 that I had previously been flying. I mention this because I wanted to drive home the fact that very small changes in the glider make remarkable differences. You may fly a demo glider that is not set up right for you and your experience.

I flew for four hours. The glider was as smooth as could be. The handling was vastly superior. Whether gliding or thermaling the glider just feels smooth and stable.

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Getting ready for the ⁢2019 Nationals (pre-Worlds)

Fri, Apr 12 2019, 11:01:40 pm EDT

We fly to Keystone, 150 km.

Bruce Barmakian|Gary Anderson|Larry Bunner|PG|Tullio Gervasoni|US Nationals 2019|weather|Wilotree Park

The flight:




The forecast:



Sunny, with a high near 89. South wind 5 to 10 mph.
Surface wind 8 mph south southeast

HRRR 3, noon:

Updraft velocity: 500 fpm (other models show 600 fpm)
TOL: 3,600’ (other models show 4,000’ – 5,000’)
Wind TOUL: 19 mph, south southeast
B/S: 2.7
Surface winds: 8 mph south southeast

HRRR 3, 2 PM:

Updraft velocity: 800 fpm
TOL: 7,000’
Wind TOUL: 11 mph, south southeast
B/S: 10.0
Surface winds: 10 mph south southeast
Cloud base at 6,300’
Convergence east of highway 301. Earlier starts preferred given southwest flows approaching course line after 3 pm.


Quest, 5000 m
Keystone, 400 m

Weather Underground showed rain at 2 PM north northeast of Ocala.

Larry Bunner launches first and I'm right behind him at 12:17 PM. Larry finds lift on the southwest corner of Wilotree Park and we climb at 200 fpm to 3,200'. That's not that great an altitude for our first jump over Groveland.

We head for a little cu that doesn't fulfill its promises and immediately turn west to get over the chicken coops and under some good looking cu's that indeed are working. We leave at near cloud base at 3,200' and find less than 100 fpm to the north under cu's. I finally chance it out further north and at 1,800' hit 600 fpm that averages 200 fpm over the climb to 4,400'. Larry joins me. We are drifting in a 10 mph south southeast wind just south of the Turnpike.

There is a series of dark cu's on a line paralleling the Turnpike to the northwest (which is where we want to go anyway), so we fly under them keeping our altitude loses in check and then find weak lift over the prisons. We continue to climb in weak lift checking all around under the sky full of cu's for better lift. We keep drifting to the north northwest just staying above 2,600' and sampling the lift that is on offer.

Finally, northwest of Wildwood, we find 300 fpm to 4,800'. Larry finds some better lift and is above me but when he leads out to the next thermal he doesn't find it at first and loses enough altitude to just get below me. I carefully milk the weak lift while he charges on ahead toward east Ocala. I'm able to stay high.

Working a couple of hundred feet per minute west of Leeward I see Larry coming back south under me to get over the sunlit fields and to get back up before going over the area of few landing spots. I'm high enough at 4,900' to head for the two fires that are burning the underbrush in the Ocala National Forest. I find 300 fpm just on the south side of the smoke plumes while Larry struggles to get up 9 km south of me.

By the time Larry gets up and to the smoke plumes, Tullio, Gary Anderson, and Mick Howard have caught up with him. I dawdle along hoping for Larry to catch up with me so that we can fly together. He can hear me on his radio, but his mic isn't working.

I fly to a dark cloud street going from the south southeast to the north northwest. It goes out over the big lakes, but for now it is a good path. I look ahead for where I can jump to the northeast to get under the cloud street to my east. I stay high. I climb to 5,300' at the end of the second cloud street.

I'm 43 km from goal and there is a blue hole in front of me with cu's far (10 km) to the east over swamp lands and the St. Johns River. It looks like the day is going to end soon. I take a 14 km glide with a bit of a turn to the northeast to get under some little wisps over landable fields east of Hawthorne. I'm down to 1,800'. I find 255 fpm under these almost cu's and climb back to 3,700', 27 kilometers from goal.

There continues to be a blue hole between me and the goal, as well as a big lake and lots of forest. I'm on my own as I can't hear from Larry, but he can hear me calling out the locations and climb rates.

I head to the northeast to try to get as near as possible to the cu's in that direction and also to get over landable fields. Down again to 1,800' I find 70 fpm and start turning in a 15 mph south southwest drift over non landable areas:

I'm only able to ride this thermal to 2,500'. The next landable field is 7 kilometers to the north, which to be sure is downwind. I don't want to chance it and head upwind to the fields just to my south.

I decide which field to land in but before I do I check out the possible lift to the south and east of the field. I can see good looking cu's overhead and a very small fire. I get there with 1,200' to find 260 fpm Climbing to 3,600' I'm confident of making the next landable field and keep searching for better lift.

I spot Gary Anderson to the north and get under him in a thermal going up at 400 fpm. This is way more than I need to get to goal.

Larry has caught me and made it in already. Garry gets there and after me Tullio and Mick. Later Bruce Barmakian who started much later and Phillip Michaud who flew from Wallaby.