Monday, April 13, 2015

New ways to create electrical energy from wind energy

Not only will these new technologies lower the cost of providing us with power,  they will expand our ability to provide cheap energy to areas that were inaccessible or too costly in the past.

...and have you seen California's new solar farm in  the Mojave Desert?

And how about generating power from the ocean's wave energy?

...or from tidal motion or river flow.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Soaring... another flying sport that uses solar energy

I've been flying airplanes since I was six and a half years old (my dad's buddy took us for a ride in his Taylorcraft back in 1949). My dad got his pilot's license when I was eight. I could fly a Cessna by the time I was eleven, although I wasn't old enough to log the hours, and I soloed in our own Cessna 140. It wasn't until 1973 that I went for my first glider ride out at Dillingham Airfield on Oahu's North Shore; it was a Schweitzer 232 aluminum skin sailplane. The pilot let me put the stick in the back seat, so I could fly too; he even let me do a couple of loops in it. I was hooked! I got my glider rating in 1999 after I moved to Northern California, taking instruction at Crazy Creek Glider Port, just outside of Middletown, CA.

Pre-solo chat with my instructor

Ready for solo!

My 1st solo landing

Ready to fly the single-place PW-5 for the 1st time

Thanksgiving Day 1999

One of my instructors took these in-air photos

My 1st passenger & brave soul, Alan Germain

Soaring to me, especially up there alone, is a sort of Zen... it's peaceful and quiet - there's only the sound of air over the airplane (unless you start giggling like I sometimes do). You can almost meditate while flying 'cuz you're 'in-the-zone'. Here's a sample:

Now you can watch competitive soaring!

My real reason for bringing up soaring (besides showing off my soaring photos) is what's happening with the addition of high technology communications to the sport. Competition, in the form of cross-country racing, is a very personal sport; there's not much in the way of spectator inclusion, unless you want to watch the take-offs and then wait an interminable amount of time for the finish. Now, with communications equipment and computer programs like that used for The America's Cup sailboat races, spectators can watch these sailplane races on TV or a computer in their own home. Here's a couple of videos to give you an idea of what it's like.

like the dude said in the video, you don't need fossil fuel to get the adrenaline pumping.

Friday, April 3, 2015


Stop by your nearest dollar store and pick up a handful of dollar kites (most of them fly very well, especially the little diamond kites packaged in mylar sleeves). Call your friends, meet them at the park or the beach, and have some fun flying kites. Really... it's O.K. to do that.

It's officially O.K. to 'go-fly-a-kite!'

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chico Kite Day winds did not blow as predicted

Instead of the predicted 10-15 MPH winds out of the NNW for Chico Kite Day, we got treated to the center of a high pressure ridge. Translated, that means we got light & variable winds from all compass points. When we arrived around 11 AM, the wind was 1-5 MPH out of the SSE. As the day progressed we saw wind, and I use that term very loosely, from the other three compass points. It may have dampened the spirits of a few of us senior fliers who were forced to launch, relaunch... and launch again many times... but the kids?... the kids were having a ball running with their kites, giggling & laughing all the time.

Easter Sunday is also the first Sunday of the month!

Our 1st-Sunday-Of-The-Month Kitefly (usually held at Wildwood Park) is coming up this Sunday. However, this coming Sunday is East Sunday, and for several of us Chico Kitefliers, that means a trip up to Table Mountain for an Easter picnic and kitefly on the meadow. We'll probably be there around 11 AM. Hope to see you there.

Table Mountain - Easter, 2011

Table Mountain - Easter, 2014

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Good winds Predicted for Chico Kite Day! is forcasting NNW winds at 13 MPH (NNW @ 10-20 range).

Our gang will be there by 11 AM to secure our usual spot for base camp. Hope to see you there!

Ps. coming up next is our April 1st-Sunday-of-the-Month Kitefly. Usually held at Chico's Wildwood Park, this year it coincides with Easter, which is a traditional kitefly & picnic at Table Mountain just outside of Oroville. So this April's kitefly will be held at Table Mountain.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Chico Kite Day is Sunday, March 29th

Every year on a Sunday before Easter, the sky above Chico's Community Park is filled with kites. Chico Kite Day has been happening every year since 1985. If you've never attended Chico Kite Day, here's some photos from 2010 & 2014.

Our base camp - 2010

Mike Hagen looking for a shot of my flying saucers

Kids (and adult kids) loved being pummeled by our big 'beach ball'

Setting up base camp - 2014

 Mike Hagen's parents are still flying kites!
(remember, we don't stop flying kites
because we grow old... we grow old
because we stop flying kites)

Jim Stainback tends to his kite

Everybody's taking pictures -That's Jim Stainback's wife, Michelle,
and son, James Stainback III playing shutterbug

Mike Hagen's FlowTail

A Chico flier launches his fokker Triplane

I found a video of Chico Kite Day - 2012. Unfortunately it wouldn't upload to my blog, so here's a link to it: 2012 Chico Kite Day.

Hope to see you at Community Park this coming Sunday from noon until 4 PM. Bring your kite and/or camera. Need a MAP?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Scientists fly kites on Earth to study Mars

Scientists of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory have taken to kites that they fly above lava flows blanketing the Hawaiian landscape to unravel the past mysteries that shaped Mars.

This is the kite's perspective of theDecember 1974
flow showing the platy surface of the lava,
"bathtub ring" and drain.
Image courtesy Christopher Hamilton.

Read the entire Mars Daily article on how man's oldest aircraft is being used for research about Mars.

A typical KAP rig

A sled kite produces plenty of lifting power

For very little investment you can take breathtaking photos

Want to learn more about KAP (Kite Aerial Photography)? Here's some resources:

A website called (what else?) Kite Aerial Photography

...and there's a very informative video all about KAP on YouTube.