11.13.2006

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Jamie Shelden was the photographer in all the shots. The last one is cool, it really captures the feeling...which was-there was a tailwind and I was intensely focused waiting for my pause in air movement to perform a three step no winder from a sort-of cliff. Sort-of because there was only about 50 or 60 feet of drop before you encountered level ground again. There was not even enough room to turn the glider around on launch-it had to be set up facing the edge. This was our Andes launch from last year. With about one mph in my face it was a non event in the thick jungle air. Really it is a great launch with a clean edge, steep smooth running surface, and little turbulence. One day we will encounter a sky without so many clouds and we'll be able to launch the upper site.

The Andes day was our next to last day and it was late enough to be a sledder but the last couple minutes were coolasshit. It was a flat smooth glide and as I got lower I began to hear all the noises of life down below. I soon realized that all the sounds were being directed at me and included horns honking and kids screaming. The whole village seemed to have spotted me but the funny thing was that they were all trying to run and catch me even though i was still at 2 or 300 meters. It was really incredible toward the end of the glide how the entire populace had gathered this strange momentum. The town had no width, only length, and was situated along a thin highway. From the lines of structures located parallel to the highway, swarms of people were running in an arcing path...first toward the highway then gently curving as they all realized that they wouldn't catch a moving object by aiming toward its current location. And it was so odd that they all traced this curving path..all of them for a couple km's. It was quite a sight from just above and I could hear all of them as if I was running in the crowd myself.

Well I began to get scared of the mob mentality likely to greet me down there so I stretched glide a bit and turned at the last minute down a narrow little dirt road through the middle of a makeshift soccer field. After testing the ground with my foot I decided on an impromptu slider...I haven't done one of those for years since being at the Point of the Mountain. It was a cool way to arrive in some foreign village-airliner style. I guess I must have crossed some ditch or fence or something on my glide because I never got mobbed by that crowd. It looked like about 70 or 80 people in the end...all of them super super nice and one guy that helped my break down and carry my wing through some yards to the highway. We set the glider down next to the road in the dark literally at the moment that Raul and company went flying by in the truck. I was without radio or phone so I was glad for the coincidental timing!

The drive was another defiance of death but again we were victorious. A sweet day in the end.