As part of Maolin Scenic Area Administration’s (Maoguan for short) planned improvements at Saichia, a new launch will be created. The location is the small 400m peak to the north of take-off which is affectionately known as the ‘bread mountain’ or ‘dumpling mountain’, it’s face usually creates one of our house thermals. There is currently a small wooden pagoda on the south face of that spot and that’s where the access to the new launch deck will be.
Now you may be asking why it is that Maoguan would spend money creating a new launch when a perfectly adequate one already exists. Well, I have a theory but I’m looking forward to hearing more ideas on this subject.
My own feeling is that Maoguan will attempt to run a more organized launch down there, hopefully with some controls on who gets to fly and who gets in the gate. They will try to lure the majority of pilots down there and then pressure the owner of our existing launch to give control over to Maoguan also. My prediction is that they will indeed get some pilots to shift, but that Dodgy Tandem Inc. and associated rogues will resist and stay up top and do their own thing beyond the reach of the law.
In other news, Maoguan will also extend the current landing area to approximately double it’s size. Yes folks, the largest LZ in the country will double in size. Now you may be asking yourself why the hell an LZ that measures 80m x 100m needs enlarging. I would hope that it is to allow a new flock of novice hang glider pilots to land with a bit more breathing room, but I very much doubt that that is the case. No, my guess is that it’s an effort to bring more flying vehicles in the area without causing any mid air collisions. We’ve probably all had run ins with RC models, ultralights, kites, hot-air balloons and paramotors. In the past we’ve tried to reason with these people (with varying degrees of success) and get them to go fly at any of the myriad other places those things can be flown, because our sites are so limited. Maoguan will now make more room available and expect us to share that airspace with all kinds of other aircraft, manned and unmanned. Of course in an environment where there was some respect for air law or right of way this might not be a big deal, but in this country the prospect fills me with dread. We will get double the space, four times the traffic, and the same level of greed and irresponsibility as ever.