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This post was done in Aug 2009. Sadly I found out a few years ago that one of the pilots below had died trajecally in a Parasail Accident . Jeff Bennet lost his life flying in Alaska after transitioning from Hanggliders to Parasails . Hello, I see some pictures and comments on hanggliding Alaska, Here is some old history and hope you enjoy it. I have pictures from the old days and may try and post them soon. Ok. I see a picture video of Eagle Summit ,north of Fairbanks just above the artic circle from 2006. Sure know that spot well and it brings back some old memories. This site was discovered by myself , Butch Wade, who used to be one of the owners of Klean Fun Kites in Anchorage and was the person that taught me to fly in May of 75. I was living in Fairbanks at the time. In the first week of Aug 1975 we traveled in my Chevy pickup and my Seagull III up the long dirt road to Eagle Summit. Butch and I, and our friend Barry, drove to the base of the summit and made the short hike to the top. Our friend Barry took the pictures of the takeoffs and the flights and we landed down the valley on the road to Circle Hotsprings. Butch took the first flight in my seated glider and I took the second. According to Butch and a number of other pilots , we were the first hangglider pilots to fly above the Artic Circle and we were the first to fly Eagle Summit. We flew several more times that day in early August 75 before calling it a day and camping at the camping area. The camping area is behind the summit and after a couple of more trips before winter we returned in June 76 and discovered the ridge behind Eagle summit which became the early records of soaring in Alaska. Gene Makaastad had the soaring record of 4 hours that yr until his untimely crash and death later in Aug of 76. I do not know what the soaring record is now for Alaska. Gene was a member of the Skysailors club like so many of us were in the good old days. He is buried at the foot of the mountain near Fire lake where he and Jeff Bennet were flying . Jeff was seriously injured during that same day , both being caught in a rotor as they flew the mountain at Fire Lake near Palmer, together in their separate gliders. In 1976 after we discovered the site behind Eagle Summit at the camping area, and we realized the real prime flying site was this ridge just south of Eagle Summit and next to the camping area run by the state. It was still wild and wooly in those days. Not only because the gliders were just being produced and many were still prototypes to say the least and this was before the parachutes. I remember a young lady that worked for the state highway system that we had met up there was later severly mauled near there by a black bear. So we kept our watch our for bears and always liked to camp at the camping area and then fly all day and head to the Circle Hots Springs up the road for a welcomed soak in the huge Olympic style pool that was about 106 degrees and the bar. I used to drink in those days and everyone that went there would sign their name on the wall of the bar or on the post. Our signatures are hopefully still there. It had thousands and thousands of names even back then. We would return to the camping area and after some rest , and sober up sometimes we would fly most of the day. I learned quickly that if you tried to fly for long periods of time you would be so tired and out of adrenaline that you couldnt fly the rest of the day. Remember that Eagle summit is above the Artic Circle and in Aug it really never gets dark. So you basically had nearly 24 hours of daylightto fly. When the light winds hit the ridge the up air was fantastic and would sometimes hold for the better part of the day . I found myself more comfortable with 30 minute to 1 hour flights ridgesoaring the very long ridge. At the end of the ridge is what we called the "Salad Bowl" because it was more carved out and a little steeper. I remember the day that I caught the first Wave ever flown in Alaska in early July 76. I had just read an article that was in my Hanglider Magazine and I think I still have that issue. I still have about 10 Groundskimmer issues, a couple of Hangliding and 1 Wings issue left. It described how the Wave was formed from a distant mountain and the possiblities of extreme violent up air. Myself , Ed Kavelik, Kent Hudson who were also part owners of the Klean Fun Kites and Skysailor members, were all flying the ridge at about 300 to 500 ft above it trying to milk the ridge,"crabbing" for the up air and the soaring it gave. We were yelling at each other and flying close to each other sometime dropping down to ridge high but always getting back up some more. I had another kite made by Sun, and it was a Sun III Swallowtail and was using it that day, seated position which I flew mostly but also had a UP prone harness that I flew some also. I was way down at the Salad Bowl and all of a sudden my kites yaw string went crazy flapping and extreme upair started creaking my leading edges, and sails. It was definetly scarey and got your attention. My climb was rapidly up. I tried to pull the bar in to penetrate and get out of it but no go. Up Up Up until I was now well above the ridge at 1500 ft or more and still climbing . Everyone was yelling at me and I realized I was no longer in control of the ridge soaring band. I eventually started to notice alittle less turbulance and pushed forward , pulling in on the control bar toward Eagle Summit which was the mountain that was producing the rare Wave phenomina. I went along ways out into the valley almost to the road at Eagle Summits base and decided that I really needed to try and get back to the ridge before I would have that terrible walk out the bottoms. (Been there done that too) I turned a 180 and got back to the ridge where I was now only about 300to400 fr above the Salad bowl and turned her back into the light wind. I had lost the Wave and considerable altitude. I was now back in the ridge soar band and back to an altitude of our small group. It was maybe a 20 minute experience. Everyone was yelling and hollering ,,,,it was pretty cool. I did not encounter another wave again that day but would always suggest to watch that area for the most incredible hang gliding situation .....the Wave . Well anyway to let you know alittle more , the very first festival was July 4, 1975 at Hatchers Pass in the Talkeetnas Mtns on the way to Willow. It was called the Midnight Suds in the Sun Hangliding festival and pilots from all over the States came. Over 90 pilots showed up and gliders were everwhere. We had a live band playing down at the bottom and the 700ft takeoff with the road next to it was very busy with pilots taking off one right after the others and being picked up down the valley and trucked back up for more flights. If you are going thru the pass and just on the right there is a peak we called "Nixon head " because the profile looked like Richard Nixon. A large group of us climbed from the road with our kites and took off at midnight in the twilight of the Alaska summer and spiraled down to the tundra and the band area below, to the cheering of the crowds. It was one sweet time . There was a girl named Andrea Newcomb in our club and I think she broke here wrist in a accident there that weekend. We had another near fatal accident when a fixed wing Icarus II took off and he had immediate problems from the 700ft takeoff. He went nearly straight in and hit the tundra and received life threatening injuries. Butch Wade had a radio telephone that was there for emergency and it still took more than an hour or so to get an Air Force helicopter there . I remember the red smoke that marked the down pilot but they got him to the hospital and after many months of mending numerous broken bones he did recover. I cant remember his name as he was from the lower 48 I think. The next day some vehicles went south down the Little Susitna river and waited for the attempts to fly from the Pass down to the small parking lot at the Restaurant some 9 miles down the valley toward Palmer I think. Some of us made it and some didnt' but there were vehicles all along the road to help get those that came up short. It was one incredible weekend. I still have all the pics so maybe I can post some so that you folks dont think , I am just pulling your chain and it didnt happen. I still miss that alot. God Bless, Just thought some would like to hear some of the early days of hanggliding , even way up in Alaska. God Bless, Skysailor1

Read more: viewtopic.php?t=9961#ixzz5SvTpwWal
2st flight from above arctic cirlce 1975 august 165.jpg
2st flight from above arctic cirlce 1975 august 165.jpg (234.2 KiB) Viewed 219 times
2st flight from above arctic cirlce 1975 august 900 pix.jpg
2st flight from above arctic cirlce 1975 august 900 pix.jpg (234.2 KiB) Viewed 219 times

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