Thursday, March 13, 2008

Fly by Kite

Silver skies today, rain and the kind of wind that whistles and makes our flag snap with enough force to raise welts.  The wind is 'backwards,' meaning it's a west wind rather than our standard east winds.  That usually spells interesting weather out here, storms of almost every kind imaginable.  It also means that it's very likely that it's calm deep in the Gorge.  The windsurfers look at such days with serious dismay.  Paragliders, on the other hand, get their wings out and hope for dry weather.  A paragliding wing only has a penetration of about 25 miles per hour, so if you're landing, heading into the wind when it's more than 25 mph means you're flying backwards.  If you're landing with the wind, that's 25 mph plus whatever the wind is doing.  So despite the fact that the Gorge is perfect for flying in many ways, paragliders must wait for calm days before they can have their fun.  Same thing with the coast.  That brisk sea breeze that blows hair in your face?  If it's going too good it grounds those insane fools who fly with kites.

If you have the day off and you enjoy a spectacle, it might be worth it to check the wind speeds around Hood River and see if you can spot some paragliders.  Even if they aren't out today, the drive over from Portland is worth it.  Just remember to bring snacks.  The food pickings between Troutdale and Hood River are pretty slim.

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