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All things hang gliding. This is the main forum. New users, introduce yourself.

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User avatar
By jlatorre
#396851
Hi, folks.

I'm John LaTorre (AKA JLT). I haven't flown in over twenty years, but I was a more or less regular pilot from 1975 to 1995, starting in the Maryland area and moving on to New Mexico and finally northern California.

During that time, hang gliding was also my bread and butter. I've worked for Electra Flyer, Flight Designs, Pacific Windcraft, and Pacific Airwave, among other smaller enterprises, mostly as a sailmaker. (Talk about ghosts from the past ...) I also taught hang gliding for a little while, back at the start.

I'm trying to get in touch with some of the people I used to know back then. I know that Red, Briggs Christie, and some other folks have been known to post on the forum, but I'm sure that there are many others I've lost track of over the years.

Y'all who knew me also might remember that I drove VW buses back then. I've written a book about them called On the Bus: Four Buses, Forty Years, and 400,000 Miles, which has been pretty well received. I've decided that my next book will be about how I encountered hang gliding at a point in my life where I desperately needed a focus, and how hang gliding became the focus. I'm hoping that you might help me jog some memories here and there.

I look forward to meeting you all (most for the first time), and sharing in the dialog.

Peace, and good air.
Last edited by jlatorre on Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
By Fletcher
#396853
Hi JLT
Welcome back
We probably never met but we might have some gliders in common.
My first glider was an Electra Flyer Floater and my second was a Vision Eclipse.
Boy I guess that says something about how old I am.
Hope you find some of the people you're looking for.
Fletcher
User avatar
By jlatorre
#396857
Fletcher wrote:Hi JLT
Welcome back

Hope you find some of the people you're looking for.
Fletcher
Thanks for the reply. We'll have to see.

I never flew a Floater, but I did own a Spirit which flew much like it. And flew dozens of Eclipses while working for PWC. They didn't have much of a speed range, but I still think that they were the best "scratching" gliders ever made. They'd stay up when everybody else had landed, shuddering on the ragged edge of a stall but never quitting.
User avatar
By peanuts
#396859
hello JLT. i sorta kinda remember some long haired hippie complaining of knee pain back in the day. we'll have to stop in at Sadie's for lunch sometime and talk things over. how'd you like that C5B?
User avatar
By waltspoint
#396864
Cool! Electraflyer put out the Olympos, right? I didn't own one, but I remember really liking that glider. I had two PacAir gliders, a K2 and a K5. Maybe you stitched those sails? If so, thanks you did a good job. Cheers! /jd
User avatar
By jlatorre
#396877
peanuts wrote:hello JLT. i sorta kinda remember some long haired hippie complaining of knee pain back in the day. we'll have to stop in at Sadie's for lunch sometime and talk things over. how'd you like that C5B?
Well, you obviously remember me, but I can't place the nickname "Peanuts" ... you'll have to PM me and jog my memory. (Can't remember Sadie's, either, unless I knew it from some other name ... Dean's? High Rock Burger Bar?

You know, I still have the C5B. It's hanging in my garage now ... the only glider I've kept of all the ones I've owned. It was my first diver, which is one reason I've kept it. The other was that I wouldn't want to inflict it on anybody else. It flew great, but was tip-stally and very tail-heavy until you got it flying. People trained on modern gliders would have a nasty shock ...
User avatar
By jlatorre
#396879
waltspoint wrote:Cool! Electraflyer put out the Olympos, right? I didn't own one, but I remember really liking that glider. I had two PacAir gliders, a K2 and a K5. Maybe you stitched those sails? If so, thanks you did a good job. Cheers! /jd
Yup. The Olympus. Or the "Oly" or the "Slowly" ... its speed range was, shall we say modest? But it handled well, although later gliders like the Atlas and the Eclipse would out-do it only a few years later. I only flew one once, but I worked on tons of sails for them.

By the time the K2 and K5 came out, I was mostly doing management stuff (shop foreman, purchasing agent) for PacAir, but would help out in the sail loft from time to time if they were short-handed. So I might have had a hand in them. I built the prototype sails for them, but those wouldn't have ended up on the market, having been destroyed in the certification process. (We did really bad things to those poor gliders.)
User avatar
By red
#396880
Hi, John!

Good to hear from you on the .ORG! 8) Campers, this guy personally built my Magic IV sail, and gotta say, it served me well. We go back many years beyond that, but one day I needed a sail, so I called Pacific Airwaves, and got a real surprise when an old friend answered the phone. This guy is the real deal, and I'm happy to call him a friend.

Give me a call sometime when it's quiet, John, I got a million tales to tell. :lol:

What a long, strange trip it's been . . . Jerry Garcia

:mrgreen:
User avatar
By kukailimoku
#396881
Hello stranger, your name sure brings back a lot of great memories from the way-back machine!

Caesar's ladder attached to the ceiling and his clipped-wing flight during the Loma Prieta quake comes to mind...I think you were still at the house for that.

I wish I knew how many sails you made that I slid onto frames and took flying. I suspect it's a massive number. They were always works of art.

Are you still building tents for the SCA folks?
User avatar
By jlatorre
#396883
kukailimoku wrote:Hello stranger, your name sure brings back a lot of great memories from the way-back machine!

Caesar's ladder attached to the ceiling and his clipped-wing flight during the Loma Prieta quake comes to mind...I think you were still at the house for that.
I was living there, but wasn't home. I remember you saying that it was the first time you saw whitecaps in a hot tub...
I wish I knew how many sails you made that I slid onto frames and took flying. I suspect it's a massive number. They were always works of art.
Why, thank you!
Are you still building tents for the SCA folks?
No, I closed that business a few years ago. Now I'm mostly writing, building musical instruments, and enjoying retirement. I do miss hang gliding, though. No convenient places to fly around here ... not like the coast.
User avatar
By kukailimoku
#396884
Yeah, me and all the water in the tub did a quick spin and then landed on the lawn!

One of my least flattering landings ever.

I miss hang gliding, too. It comes to mind literally every day but the old arthritic bones just won't allow it. I scratch the itch island-hopping in airplanes these days.
User avatar
By jlatorre
#396885
peanuts wrote:hello JLT. i sorta kinda remember some long haired hippie complaining of knee pain back in the day. we'll have to stop in at Sadie's for lunch sometime and talk things over. how'd you like that C5B?
Did you just hear a nickel drop?

I think I know who you are. And if you happen to have some dim memory of losing a deck shoe over some godforsaken canyon in the Sandias and having to land an Olympus on one foot, I know exactly who you are.
By moyesdriver
#396886
Sadie's was much better when it was in the bowling alley. Over and out.
User avatar
By jlatorre
#396888
moyesdriver wrote:Sadie's was much better when it was in the bowling alley. Over and out.
If you're talking about Sadie's on 4th Street in Albuquerque, I don't remember it being over a bowling alley. But that may have been before my time (I got there in 1978).

Anyway, most of my gang there used to eat at the Mexican Kitchen. I don't know if exists anymore, unless it's where Garcia's Kitchen is now, on 4th Street. On Google Maps, the location looks about right.

Were you part of the Electra Flyer scene then?
User avatar
By peanuts
#396901
yep, i'm me. landing in cactus patches, at altitude, taught fair landing skillz. still usually fly in deck shoes, when i fly. (don't see as well nowadays and added 50lbs) i remember the Kitchen as well as Indian Oven. i thought you heeded Mr Greely's advice a year or so prior to 78. as to the present moniker, my house is surrounded by a bunch of peanut fields.

you got to make it out to the Splat-tacular on the OBX sometime soon.

signed,
an ex-roomie
User avatar
By jlatorre
#396905
peanuts wrote:yep, i'm me. landing in cactus patches, at altitude, taught fair landing skillz. still usually fly in deck shoes, when i fly. (don't see as well nowadays and added 50lbs)


You and me both. To quote Chief Brody, "We're gonna need a bigger boat."
i remember the Kitchen as well as Indian Oven. i thought you heeded Mr Greely's advice a year or so prior to 78.
No, I headed out on April, 1978, right after the hang gliding school I worked for folded. After you left EF, I stayed around Albuquerque until the fall of 1980, when I quit EF and started working for Flight Designs.

Stay well, my friend, and give my regards to Captain Hall next time you see him.
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