Re-Living Our Youthful Abandon

I was walking past the Fly Me To The Moon Saloon when someone yelled my name from behind. “Hey Ole! Hang on a sec!”

I turned to find my buddy Bob shoving himself down the street in his wheelchair. “Fuckin’ bitchin’ flyin’ today weren’t it!” I enthused.

“Yeah,” agreed Bob as we slapped hands. “Tomorrow’s shapin’ up even better. Which is why I’m glad I caught you. Let’s get some photos up there.”

“Okay,” I agreed. This… even though I had some trepidation about Bob flying. It was not that my friend was incapable of flying-not hardly. It was only that he was incapable of taking off by himself. If my buddy Bob and I were really gonna get any photos in the sky above Telluride, Colorado… somebody was going to have to grab his keel, hold it at just that critical angle… and RUN HIS ASS OFF THE MOUNTAIN!

And I didn’t want it to be me. Been there, done that. In fact, I had fifteen (15) stitches in my shin that I’d taken the last time I shoved him off Gold Hill-just yesterday.

With that thought in mind, we set off together down Main Street, headed for the Seizure LZ and I limped slightly, just so Bob wouldn’t get any ideas.

The good thing was, the Telluride Airmens’ Rendezvous was in full swing, there were hundreds of hangies in town for the occasion, and Bob should have no trouble finding someone foolish enough to give him a good shove. It was an age of youthful foolish abandon.

Plus, the six (6) inches of snow that had covered launch yesterday when I gave Bob that shove, and which made the takeoff slope so treacherously slippery that I tumbled down the hill ass-over-elbows after letting go Bob, had melted now, changing the footing on launch-improving it. Gold Hill was not so slippery now. Pictures sounded good.

“Pictures sound good,” I agreed. “You have the camera huh?”

It was also an age of heavy cameras, clumsy things that were problematic for mounting on a wing because they would need a counter-weight on the other wing so the pilot was not constantly fighting an unbalanced turn.

“I’ve got a new camera mount and I’ve been experimenting with it and I think I’ve got the bugs worked out.” Bob pulled a nice eight (8) pound Canon SLR from his bag and began eyeballing it, focusing in and out, turning it this way and that. He was nearly drooling on it. “I have a radio too,” he said.

“Great, what channel are you squawking?”

We were moving along, headed to the annual Telluride Air Force glider sacrifice, wherein an old used-up wing was dragged out to the town park-also known as the Seizure Landing Area-and it was doused in a gallon or so of gasoline and set ablaze while airmen smoked funny-looking cigarettes, blasted lines of marching powder, and hollered their fool heads off. We didn’t want to miss the fun.

We worked out the details as we walked/rolled along… Bob would have his camera on his starboard wing. It had a wide-angle lens which would make the field-of-vision great for the mountain scenery, but if I was going to be visible in the shots as more than just a tiny speck, I would need to get in very close.

“So we’ll get in the sky together and we’ll see if we can’t get to cloudbase together and I’ll call you in and you do some wing-overs while I just fly along straight and level and take the shots. Okay?”

“Sounds good.”

“You’re gonna have to get close you know.”

“Roger doger.”

“If you don’t get close I’ll call you in closer.”

“Let’s do it!” I said.

We arrived at the Seizure and I lost Bob in a crowd of rowdy hangies just about the moment when there was an enormous WHOOSH! of flames, and a ball of yellow flames in a black cloud of hydrocarbons sprouted in the sky over the town park. We were backing away from the heat and I figured that was gonna be about the end of the excitement because, after all, a hang glider just won’t burn for long: there ain’t much there to burn, really-a little sailcloth and then pfffft! It’s over. Imagine my surprise then, when one of the notorious E-Teamers came blasting into the fire circle in his Dodge Powerwagon, glider bags tied to the roof and hangies diving out of his way, and drove over the flames! One of the wires from the smashed, crushed and burning wreckage snagged on the undercarriage of his wagon and he spun off across the field dragging the smouldering sacrifice!

It was a wonder his truck did not become a sacrificial vehicle too, but I was learning never to be surprised about what might come to pass at the Airmens’ Rendezvous.


The following morning, I ran down Gold Hill and had a clean launch. I gloried in a strong thermal just in front of launch and was soon directly overhead of a hundred colorful wings spread atop the mountain, a glorious scene. Around me in three directions spread the Sangre de Cristos-jaggeded and magnificent. I quickly zipped up my jacket, pulled down my balaclava and pulled on my gloves. Wahooo! I hollered-a skyed-out hangie with a thermal, and I commenced a climb into the wild blue yonder.

On my way up, I spotted Bob’s wing moving from the set-up area to the launch slope. Apparently, he’d recruited some fool to shove him down the hill. I hoped he’d make a better job of it than I had, and not end up in emergency care. I went flying then-skyed-out and blazing across the Heavens, Rocky Mountain high.

I crossed the valley and flew over to Mt. Sneffels-one of Colorado’s fourteen thousand (14,000’) footers. There were hangies everywhere and I had to keep my head on a swivel to avoid a mid-air encounter. I flew back across town to launch and when I got there I was at nearly twenty grand (20,000’)! That’s when my radio came to life…

“Okay Ole, you got a copy?”

“Ten by ten (10X10)”, I replied. “What’s yer twenty (20) Bob?”

“I’m directly over Gold Hill at nineteen grand (19,000’) and climbing,” came the reply.

I looked around and quickly spotted Bob-he was the only one of us with those giant wheels on his basetube, the wheels he had used to get off Gold Hill with, and that he was planning to use in the Seizure to land on. With those big wheels, he was easy to spot.

“So, I’m gonna keep climbing until I get up to you, and meanwhile you get over on my left wing and ready to dive in for the shot. Gimme a shout when you’re ready okay?”

“Ten four (10-4) good buddy. Here I come!”

I floated over to his left as instructed, and dove in for the shot. I stuffed the bar for speed, cranked the bar for a steep turn, and shoved the nose up for a wing-over. My Magic Kiss stood on a wingtip and I hollered at Bob. “Yahooo!” I yelled.

“Nahhh,” came Bob over the radio. “Yer gonna have to get closer than that.”

“Well that was just a test. You ready now?”

“Yessir,” replied Bob, and I made a repeat appearance-stuff, dive, crank, bank… SHOVE OUT!

“Well that was a little better. Yer gonna have to get much closer than that I think.”

“Okay, this time,” I said.

I turned away from Bob and got some room to maneuver. I had to work a spot of lift to get back slightly above him so I could pull it off. Then…

“Here I come!” I said.

…stuff… dive… crank… bank… SHOVE!

This time, I held my heading until I could see the drool on Bob’s lips, the snot on his nose. Then, when I shoved the nose up, I was so close! I worried for a nano-second that we might collide, a scenario I didn’t want to examine too closely, so to speak. But we missed and I just hoped Bob had been holding the shutter button.

“OKAY!” came his voice. I think that was CLOSE ENOUGH. Do you read…? THAT WAS CLOSE ENOUGH!”

“Gotcha Bob. I’m goin’ flyin’ now. See you later.”


Which is what happened. Later, I was walking past yet another saloon when I hear Bob calling me once again…

“Hey Ole, we got it, we got it! I went straight to the photo shop for prints! Check it out!”

The photo below is the result. Twenty two (22) years later, Bob has just posted it to me. Maybe ya had ta been there… Bob and I were! Today, we are re-living our youthful abandon.

Note: Objects in lens seemed closer than they appear. Photo: Bob Vogel

Note: Objects in lens seemed closer than they appear. Photo: Bob Vogel

NOTE: objects in the lens are closer than they appear

Who Dat Say Who Dat When I Say Who Dat?

SkyWriter fan(s), I was excited to get the following email from the FAA webinar clowns with the title WHY DID THEY DO THAT? a question that has plagued me for some time now, ever since the FAA grounded all three (3) of my bitchin’ little planes (along with hundreds or thousands of others too) from a for-hire basis, and declared that I (we) can nevermore earn my (our) living in them, period. Since that day–January 31, 2010 The Day Fun Went To Die, I have been grappling with that exact question…WHAT’D THEY DO THAT FER?
So when I got an email notice of an upcoming FAA webinar called “LIVE WEBINAR: Why Did They Do That? (Vol. 2)” of course I figured now I would get some sort of explanation, no matter how lame or absurd: an answer, of some sort. But no…
Can you say bend over?
That still seems to be the only reasonable answer to my question. However, if you’d like a webinar on some other topic that has little interest to me, here it is… Continue reading

Scumbag Lawyers Like Joe Zebas

SkyWriter fan(s), if you like scumbag lawyers… I might better say, if you hate scumbag lawyers, you will like John Grisham novels. Nobody does scumbag lawyers better than John Grisham because… he was one himself.

Currently, I am enjoying Sycamore Row, the new scumbag lawyer novel by the scumbag lawyer himself. Wherein there is no shortage of scumbag lawyers by the way.

Also, I am proud to point out, that in the untold-number of google results for those two (2) words scumbag lawyer, I come up on the third page.  Hooray for SkyWriter! I am hoping this here post may improve my ranking.

This, of course, is a result of my relationship with my own scumbag lawyer Joe Zebas, , the scumbag lawyer who sued my ass because, as he wrote, “We thought you might be part owner of that place.”

Showing you how scumbag lawyers operate: if they think there is the slightest chance they might reap some riches from your sorry ass, they’ll file the papers. And your ass is grass.

Which brings me to today’s scumbag lawyer joke: What is the difference between a lawyer and a carp?

One is a slimy bottom feeder and the other is… A FISH!

This Gun Stuff Gonna Be Really Really Good For SkyWriter!

I tell ya SkyWriter fan(s), I dunno what took me so long to catch on! This gun stuff is what Americans want, and I’m just the guy to give it to them. Talk about your “popularity”! Guns are NUTS! Just look what happened to my blog statistics on the very day I announced I have switched from rides to guns!

See that there spike in my numbers? SkyWriter visitors went from my typical miserable half-dozen a day or so to… are you ready…?

Ninety-eight (98)!

Fer the life of me, I don’t understand why anyone would sell rides and risk their neck(s) like that, when they can be perfectly safe with guns. Sheesh! Take this poor fool below fer instance. He is still stuck on RIDES!

Hey fool, haven’t you heard about GUNS!

SkyWriter Quits the Rides Racket-Moves to GUNS

It is with great anticipation that I write this letter to the useless feds at FAA-610 “Where Fun went to kick the bucket” and ‘splain that they can call off the dogs now (no offense to my own faithful hound Peso!) because I have resolved to quit the ride sales racket and move on with my life. No longer will I be offering my fellow man/woman Mankind’s Most Ancient Dream come true (at a very reasonable fifty or a hundred bucks I should point out) because, you know… them rides might be dangerous. Don’t want that.

Also, them rides are unlawful, or “contrary” anyway, to obscure rule number such and such of Chapter 14 of the code of Federal Regulations, as laid down in letter EIR Number: 2013FS600002 and sent to my address by the Posterboys for Uselessness themselves, FAA-610 “Where Fun went…” Well, by now, we all know where Fun went.

Can’t have that!

So hey, this here post is to tell you clowns that I AM OUT OF THE RIDE SALES RACKET!

We all love guns.

We all love guns.


Americans don't want rides anyway. WE WANT GUNS!

Americans don't want rides anyway. WE WANT GUNS!

From here on out, I am switching over to GUNS. Because there ain’t nothin’ dangerous about GUNS, as each and every gun nut will tell you. Guns don’t kill people, they say, people kill people! So SkyWriter is making the switch to GUNS!

Halleluja brother!

Plus, there’s nothing UNLAWFUL about guns either. Guns are lawful in all fifty (50) states, Guam and Puerto Rico. In fact, guns are as American as

Nothin' scary about these guns.

Nothin' scary about these guns.

God, the flag and apple pie. Guns, are what makes America great, so even you clowns should approve. How do you like me now?

Why just this morning I went out to my local arms merchant outlet and I got me some guns and I think we can all agree, ain’t nothin’ scary about these here weapons/side arms.

So call off the hounds now, wouldya?

I salute my local arms merchant!

I salute my local arms merchant!

SkyWriter Up For Felonious Ride-Sales (One and Two)

SkyWriter fan(s) will remember that I am under investigation by no less an august body than the Federal Aviation Administration whom, I think we can all agree, is a lofty bureaucracy. Reflecting on that notion, it dawns on me that this means the Transportation Safety Administration and the Department of Homeland Security must be investigating me as well: the real heavy-hitters. Next to God Himself, there just is just no higher authority in the entire Sky, if you ignore the Laws of Physics.

“Why,” you might ask, “would the FAA, the DHS and the TSA be investigating lil’ol’ SkyWriter?

Because we have a disagreement?”

No, that would not be the answer. I am confident that the feds don’t give a rat’s ass what I think about anything, and that includes their new office FAA 610 Light-Sport “Where Fun went to die.” That is just not in their nature. No, SkyWriter is under investigation for Felonious Ride-Sales One (First-Degree). Continue reading

Airlines Face Acute Shortage of Pilots

Updated Nov. 12, 2012 1:05 p.m. ET

U.S. airlines are facing what threatens to be their most serious pilot shortage since the 1960s,  with higher experience requirements for new hires about to take hold just as the industry braces for a wave of retirements.

Federal mandates taking effect next summer will require all newly hired pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of prior flight experience—six times the current minimum—raising the cost and time to train new fliers in an era when pay cuts and more-demanding schedules already have made the profession less attractive. Meanwhile, thousands of senior pilots at major airlines soon will start hitting the mandatory retirement age of 65. Continue reading

SkyWriter: Accidental Life and Death


  What this document here says is that my banking institution, which shall remain nameless, has purchased $2,000 worth of accidental death and dismemberment insurance in my name-at no charge to myself-and all that’s required of me is that I sign the dotted line and return it within 14 days.

Which I am in a big hurry to do.

Clearly, these clowns have not considered how I live.

But I am confident that when my time’s up, two grand ($2,000) will be enough to get some fool to drag me over here and toss my ass over the fence.

The Feds Put Us All Out Of Business

Below is the letter the feds sent us that put us all out of business. They sent one of these to each and every American who had a 2-seat ultralight, and who had jumped through their silly hoops and registered it as required by law, whether they’d been teaching in them or not. They sent one (1) letter for each machine. What that meant is that since I, for example, had three (3) of these machines, I got three (3) letters.

“Experimental Light-Sport dual training about to end”, was a nice way to say, fuck you dude, yer shit-out-of-luck. It was January 31, 2010, when Fun went to die.

This flight instructor is pretty sure there was some way to license and register itty-bitty funny-looking planes without putting us all out of business, but that might require that the useless feds actually do something productive with their time and of course, that’s the last thing they want.


Experimental Light-Sport dual training about to end

With the creation of the Light-Sport rule the FAA did something it had never done before.  It allowed flight training in an experimental aircraft for compensation.  This is about to end on January 31, 2010.  If you have the training limitation in your Operating Limitations and/or an Expiry date of January 10, 2010 on your Airworthiness Certificate, you must have them amended BEFORE that date.

Contact the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).  Make an appointment with an Airworthiness Inspector (find out if they are going to want to inspect the aircraft)

You will need the list below with you at the FSDO. 

When you go to the FSDO bring:

Application for Airworthiness Certificate, FAA Form 8130-6 dated (10-04), available on line.

I.                   Aircraft designation

a.       Fill out all pertinent aircraft information

II.                 Certification Requested

Check applicable items: B, 4, 8, 8a

III.              Owner Certification

Fill out applicable items

IV.              Inspection Agency Verification

Leave for FAA Inspector

V.                FAA Representative Certification

Filled out by FAA Inspector (make sure box 4 is checked)

            VI thru VIII  Inspector

Your aircraft’s Operating Limitations

Your aircraft’s Airworthiness Certificate (the pink card FAA Form 8130-7)

Your Aircraft Registration card so the inspector can verify ownership.

PS  If you’re wondering about the amended airworthiness certificate, what it means is that on January 31, 2010 you and your trike are out of business now and forever, amen.