Sunday, December 31, 2006

Back on the Ranch

Christmas Day, Piru, CA

I caught up with Dave on a recent international phone call from Buenos Aires, Argentina (while preparing for a model photo shoot) to project headquarters – the twenty-nine foot Res Ispa yellow and white sailboat - moored in the Oakland estuary across the Bay from San Francisco. Dave just returned from Christmas in Southern California with family and managed to get a little glider testing in while down south.

Dave and I spent a good portion of our youth growing up a mile apart from each other in a small migrant farming town called Piru. Our families both migrated away from more urban areas, bought small orange orchards and built their dream houses. This was before the internet, cable television and right about the time satellite TV was making is debut. The Commodore 64 had just come out followed by the first Apple computer. Dave began doing some basic programming on a simple game that was kind of a Dungeons and Dragons, where the player had options about which way to navigate through a maze that we drafted on graph paper. Those were the days…

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thermal Hound - Super Dave McCutcheon

The Beginning of a Dream

When I first met David McCutcheon in the fourth grade, he shook my hand and said ‘look what I can do,' grabbing my arm up and over his shoulder, flinging me through the air and on to my back in the middle of the yard. “Ufffgghhh,” I yelped out, as the breath inside me was all but gone. That was more than thirty years ago back in 1977.

Dave has always been a builder, a dreamer, always with those semi-grounded visions of grandeur. Once it was building a submarine high up on dry land in case of seasonal flooding from the riverbanks below. Another time it was falconry – and since there were no falcons in the area – he set out unsuccessfully to tame the local red-tail tree hawk that was nesting some 100’ up in the tallest tree around.

After serving his country in the U.S.M.C., Dave began to take up another love, paragliding – man’s best attempt so far to fly like a bird using only nature’s energy to stay aloft. In 1996, we headed up to Lakeside, OR for the US Paragliding nationals in which more than 70 international pilots competed for bragging rights. Among others in attendence were legendary pilots Othar Lawerence and Chris ‘Super Fly’ Santacroce, both Red Bull Airforce pilots at the time. The only day that Dave reached goal in this competition was the same day that the flying was deemed too treacherous due to strong thermal conditions and prevailing winds at altitude and the competition was called off. Dave actually flew past the goal on this day and would have had one of fastest times.

Stay tuned for more on Super Dave, his team and his record breaking attmept...