Slope Junkies

From the title, you must be asking yourself what exactly is a slope junkie. You will have your answer by the end of this story.

It all started at about 5am. We were going FLYING! I didn’t sleep much the night before because of the usual pre-trip excitement, but it didn’t matter much now, it was time to load up the truck. I met my flying buddy Chris at his house which about 100 yards from my place (it’s awesome having a fellow R/C nut living that close to you) and we started loading up his Toyota truck. I was followed by Max, Bruce, and another local pilot. We filled the back of the truck and headed out. The destination was about an hour away, near Tullahoma, TN at Normandy Dam. We were cramped with 5 guys in the truck, but the conversation was fun with wise cracks rolling and talk of who will or won’t crash during the day. I couldn’t wait to fly.

For those of who don’t know me, you should know that I started in this hobby flying gliders. I lived in the mountains of NC and we had some amazing places to fly. I flew gliders for 3 years before I touched a powered plane. Flying sailplanes is to this day, my favorite thing to do in this hobby. I can’t really explain it, but there is just nothing like being up on a mountain with picture perfect panorama views, the wind in your face, and a silent flying machine cutting through the air. If you’ve never tried it, you owe it to yourself to get to a slope sight and check it out. It will change your R/C life.

Anyway, when we arrived the sun was up and the wind was blowing. It was a little chilly, but we didn’t care one bit. We immediately raced to get our planes together and see who would be first in the air. I don’t remember who won, but we were all up pretty quickly. We had an arsenal of aircraft to play with. EPP foamies, composite (or crunchies) ships, flying wings, aerobats, we had it all. The air was pretty good to us providing good lift and later in the day, we had some great thermals blow through to gain some serious altitude. I brought out my favorite Hobby Lobby sailplanes, the Samurai, and attached a FlyCamOne HD to it for some video. I’ll share the video at the end of this story, but we got some great footage.

We had many people stop by the side of the road to see what was going on here. We would all showboat a little bit doing low level aerobatics and pushing the limits. Everybody loves an audience. I heard the usual “how high can it go?” type questions and we were happy to talk to interested folks about our fine sport. As the day flew past (pun intended) we began winding down with only a few noteworthy crashes and plenty of stall turns and aerobatics to remember. We starting packing back up and heading for home. Now here is where the “junkie” part comes into play. Instead of just heading home and grabbing some dinner, Max pipes up and says “hey, I was looking at Google Earth and I think a found a new slope we can try just down the road.” Next thing you know, we were winding up one of the small mountain ranges off 24E towards Chattanooga.

We came to a plot of land that was for sale with an awesome view and joked about how we should buy the lot and turn it into a dedicated slope site. It was tight though, trees all around, not much space to make a landing. Taking off is the easy part, but Chris was like “I’ll just stall and spin it straight down.” I had to see that, so Chris got his plane together and became our new slope test pilot. If the lift wasn’t there, it was going to be nearly impossible to retrieve the plane. Luckily, right after launch, the tail went up like a rocket and we knew we had a cool spot. Everyone else grabbed a glider and joined him. Max, used his crunchy composite glider and we all wondered how he was going to get that one down. Everyone else was using combat tested EPP planes that bounce. I took the Samurai up for some more video and had an interesting landing which you’ll see later. Chris came in first and did his stall, snap, spin to the ground. It worked great! It wasn’t so easy for me and the Samurai though with it being made of wood and carbon fiber. I had to approach downwind, fly straight at myself, and then whip it 180 degrees and try to land. After two or three attempts, I got it, but the wing hit some bushes and spun it around with no damage. I was safe! Max on the other hand with his big heavy crunchy plane tried coming in from behind with full crow mix to keep it slow. He got it down, but one of his wings caught on some bushes and you’ll have to watch the video to see how that one ended.

So by now, you should understand why we call ourselves “Slope Junkies.” We’re insane for flying gliders on hills using crazy wind energy generated by the sun to soar aloft for hours on end. It was an amazing day of flying, friends, and fun. The only question left to ask is, when can we do it again!?

Jason Cole
Member of S.A. (Slopers Anonymous)

Enjoy the video.


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