Thursday, March 1, 2007

Last Call

Well it’s all over. It was an amazing trip, and surprising in so many ways. I have many new friends from Australia and around the world, and I have a new place which feels like home. The flying was spectacular, but there is much more I would like to do. I feel I have only scratched the surface, and I am already looking forward to my next trip.

A retrospective is not complete without some statistics. To get to Australia and back I flew over 15,000 miles in a Boeing 767, spending over 30 hours in a luxuriously roomy and comfortable seat (not!) While in Australia I traveled nearly 4500 miles in my van, yet I only saw a small corner of southeastern Australia including some of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. My trip lasted for 83 days including travel. During that time I made 29 flights from 10 different launches at 7 different sites for a total of 41hours and 43 minutes in the air. I flew 824miles of cross country, averaging 20 miles per hour overall. I made goal 3 times during the competitions, and those three flights totaled 287 miles. Two of those flights were out and return, and over the three tasks I averaged just over 28 miles per hour, successfully meeting my goal of flying faster.

Certainly one of the best parts of the trip was the people I spent time with. I have many new friends, and enjoyed the company of some old ones. I was consistently impressed with the skill and character of the pilots that I met, and I feel privileged to be a member of this elite group of individuals. I look forward to flying with them again in the near future.

As promised, now that the trip is over, this blog is officially closed.

Leaving OZ

By the time you are reading this I am already at home. I left Australia tomorrow and will arrive home yesterday. At least that’s how it feels. It’s maddeningly difficult to keep track of the time zones with the International Dateline putting a time-warp through the middle of the Pacific.

As I write this I am sitting in the Honolulu Airport. It’s sunny and warm here, and the trade winds are blowing through the terminal. I just talked to my neighbor Charlee and she says it’s snowing off and on today. Perhaps I’m a little hasty in returning home? It was definitely a little sad leaving Oz, but it’s time to get home and start preparing for the flying season at home. Looking at my plans for the spring and summer I can hardly imagine that I will have enough time to plan my next trip to Australia before it’s time to go!

I spent my last day doing some final sightseeing and saying goodbye. The goal for the Paragliding Worlds was right next to the caravan park. I got to see two huge gaggles go over on their way to the turnpoint, and I got to see many “interesting” landings at goal. One pilot accidentally spun his wing close to the ground after a very showy approach, then stalled it trying to recover. He fell from about 15ft and landed with a sickening thump. Last I heard he had a broken hip – that will be his last goal crossing during this comp.