Slope Soaring!

A few weeks ago an acquaintance I met… I think her name is Ruth, while walking in Glen Canyon Park told me that I might find people flying RC airplanes at Fort Funston. Not only are there model airplanes but there is steady wind and a cliff, making for a perfect hang gliding spot. The sky was full of hang gliders. And littered around under bushes out of the wind were slope soaring planes. Once the hang gliders landed, two guys put their planes up, a gentle soarer and a tiny little hotliner that was more hot than tiny! It’s very hard to gauge how was it was…. 120MPH? Both planes had their charms, that’s for sure. When Brandon, Larry and myself got to talking about flying, they said how there were better places to fly just to the south. Brandon pointed toward Pacifica and mentioned at least 3 good places to fly: near the public dump, on top of the mountain (but you need to be able to land in about a 10’x10′ area!) and down near the water.

So after taking in the incredibly break taking views at Fort Funston, watching the hang gliding and and RC soaring, and playing a little football catch with the guys, I went down to Pacifica.

I went down near the dump and quickly found them. It’s funny, when you’re looking for soaring planes, you have to scan the horizon and look for flying objects. Once you’ve found one, you have to watch it closely to determine what it is. If it moves relative to the ground, it’s not a kite. Then it might be a plane or might be a bird. It often takes me several seconds to figure out which it is. I love that. I love that we are flying artificial birds. With motorized planes, it’s easy to tell because birds flap their wings while (of course) planes don’t. But with soaring… at a distance, it can be quite hard to tell the difference!

I found about 6 guys flying flying wings on an incredibly beautiful hill. The flowers at my feet, the crevices of the hill, the gentle but constant wind, the sound of the surf a few hundred feet below, the 180 degree panorama of the coast and of the town nestled just inland, the setting sun partially obscured by roughly defined clouds, the glistening of the light off the water… I could go on, really I could.

They were having some playful combat and doing some soaring. Sometimes two planes would collide and as they were falling out of the sky there’d be hooting and laughter. Sometimes the pilots would recover and sometimes they’d have to climb down the hill a ways to fetch their plane, only to briefly examine it and toss it silently into the air again.

A mere smiley face does not suffice!

And I should’a brought a camera.

One Comment

  1. Bathes in milk says:

    “I could go on….” sounds beautiful…please do!

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