At 8 miles out we begin our descent into what we know
will be an awaiting interface of turbulence and chaos; where the
fates lie waiting to taunt us, push and shove us, wrestle us for
control of the ultralight as we battle them on the slow return to
earth. This is where we pay the price for the great tail wind and
the too much of a good thing exacts its fare.
Wrestling the Wind
birds, no lovers of chaos, follow tentatively. As our control of
the ultralights wavers so does our control of the birds.
As we drop, the trees grow in wind driven animation and the gnomes
try to wrest the control bar from our steely grip. At such times,
one envies the rodeo bull rider for he only has to stay on the
bull for 8 seconds. We’re not so lucky.
is just ahead and below and in the chaos his birds catch a thermal
as I fight to maneuver over to collect them. Joe radios
his throttle cable is frozen and he may have to cut power and “dead
stick” it in to land….a less than desirable choice in
these conditions. Then as I line up to land, the birds leave me,
catch another thermal and soon are above at Joe’s altitude.
If they chose the thermal over the trike, they will soon be gone
and in these conditions we will be unable to pursue them. It would
be to Jack and John in the cover plane to shadow them probably until
late in the day when the thermals cease and release their grip on
our little flock. Then ground crew would have to carry the day and
hopefully retrieve them and we would have to…………
A Helicopter to the Rescue!
Just then a helicopter appeared low and behind us, or it may have
been two. There was too much happening to tell, but its effect
was that it so frightened the birds that they rejoined Joe’s
wing, glomming onto it like velcro just as the warmer temperatures
of near earth
thawed his throttle cable and he could set up for a controlled
on the Ground
In they came, trike and birds and made a perfect landing on the
violently pitching deck of earth. We had dodged a bullet, but
we were down
and safe, and in those moments lay more than a little emotion. It’s
like Confucius used to say, “It is better to be on the ground
wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the
or Discussion Questions