Saturday, May 1, 2010

Shell Beach, Great Views, oh, and some flying:)

Ah, Shell Beach. Dave Kornberg (picutred landing) had told me that it was on at Shell recently, so I decided to get there early today and give it a shot. It was relatively good today. And by that, I mean I drove all the way down there, and had several flights, so it's better than getting nothing. It was blocky, so flights were pretty short, 5-15 minutes at a time. And I wasn't really in the mood to venture south of the Cliffs hotel, and mainly just flew around the main ridge. At times, the convergence would build and I was able to get several hundred feet above the ridge, then it would of course get bumpy.

Dave Kornberg joined me after my first mini flight. We both took turns flying in between the blocks. My first flight was around 11:20, and my last flight close to 2pm. Jerry and Becky Elwood arrived just as I decided to call it a day, not sure if Jerry decided to launch. But it still looked do able.

Paragliding at Shell Beach has some really good things going for it, and some not so good things. I'll get some of the not so good points out of the way first. It blocks, and that in itself is a whole blog topic (or several). But basically, a warm bubble of air forms over the land, and prevents the cool ocean breeze from penetrating. It can come and go during the day. As this forms, it can get bumpy, and often very sinky meaning that you have to land unexpectedly. No problem if there is plenty of beach...but it can get sketchy at high tides and when the beach is packed with people. I've seen several pilots sink out in block, and run out of beach, having to land in water (very dangerous). It helps to be aware of the block forming, so you can keep your distance from the ridge and THE tree. In blocking conditions, you need to give yourself plenty of room since your controls will be dampened, and sink can cause you to drop quickly. And speaking of the tree, it has reached out and caught several of us, some with very unhappy endings. If you're a new or visiting pilot; I would HIGHLY recommend waiting to paraglide at Shell Beach until you've been flying for awhile, and had a chance to get some coaching from pilots who fly there often. It looks like an easy ridge, and for the most part it is, but knowing the bad stuff will save you lots of grief. Come check it out though, you'll learn a lot about the site just by watching.

Contact us if you're a visiting pilot and would like a site intro, and we'll get you hooked up!

So why do we love paragliding at Shell Beach? LOTS of reasons. We can drive right to launch, and walk about 20 ft from the car to set up in a beautiful grassy park. Assuming we don't get flushed to the beach in block, we land at the same spot we took off. Even if we do get flushed, the hike back up from the beach is just a few minutes. The view is amazing, ocean, hills, beautiful cliff top homes and resorts. On days when it's good, we can fly some, land to socialize, eat, take off for more, repeat ALL day! And probably my favorite reason to fly there, to see and be seen. Yeah, the people watching there is great (too great for some of us, distracting might be a better word), and it's always fun to have an audience!

Here's a video we took awhile back of the Shell Beach area, with Shell Beach itself featured in the second half. If you're craving more videos of Shell, Dave Kornberg has posted a couple as well, just search youtube for "lotusglider" to see his movies.

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