Today’s Odd Journey
I flew hang gliders for about 34 years but officially retired about 6 years ago. It was a sad day and I miss flying terribly. Today I drove over to the place where all the hang gliders land.
Soon as we exchanged greetings my friend Joe offered,”Hey wanna fly this glider?” and I said “Nah, I don’t have a harness” then another pilot/friend, Fred volunteered,”I’ve got a harness”. Me,”I don’t have a helmet”. Fred,”I have a helmet, too!”
Next thing I knew, I was headed up the mountain with a truck load of fellow flyers. We quickly set up our flying machines then ran off the mountain into the beautiful sky. I visited places a few miles away that I hadn’t seen in a long time and watched as a Red Tailed Hawk circled in an updraft hundreds of feet below me.
So many memories from hundreds of hours floating thousands of feet above the Earth were flooding my brain.
One particular memory was meeting my dear friend, Wayne Yentis. I met Wayne 25 years ago in the hang gliding landing zone (LZ). He was a tall lanky man with a twinkle in his eye and was most probably the brightest individual I have ever met. Truly a renaissance man… he was an artist, a photographer, an electrical engineer, a musician, a computer genius, an inventor (of the Clavitar) and a host of other things. He knew more about more than anyone I have ever known. Wayne had a recording studio in his house and was constantly sending me files of music he had written, played, and produced. Beautiful music.
One particular day I was in his studio and we were having a beer…or two…or many… and I got this goofy idea to take Karaoke music and substitute hang gliding lyrics. It was utterly silly stuff that made no sense to anyone other than another hang glider pilot but in our compromised condition, it seemed a marvelous plan.
I said to Wayne “How about “I got VG?” as I sang the tune of “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher. He beer giggled.
For non-hanglider pilots, VG stands for “Variable Geometry” and refers to a string a hang glider pilot can pull that changes the shape of the wing in flight.
Then I started singing “On the Road Again” just like Willie Nelson, except I sang “In the Air Again.”
More beer giggles as Wayne recorded and mixed it.
The following week, I played one of our recordings for a fellow pilot who unwittingly believed we were serious and asked for a copy of it! Nothing feeds a gag like having an audience so I drove back to Wayne’s house with more beer, more Karaoke, and more silly lyrics. We recorded 15 songs, 12 of which made our cut onto the “Pelican Tunes” CD. When word got out, the local pilots bought them like hotcakes, then the Editor of Hang Gliding Magazine somehow got his paws on a CD and gave it a rave review in the international magazine! We were amused that pilots enjoyed the absurdity and got the jokes. Orders started coming in and we sold this CD all over the world. That was over 7 years ago.
Today after about an hour of flight, I touched down and chatted with the guys in the LZ, when one of them mentioned “Pelican Tunes” had been used in a video of the European Hang Gliding Championships. I was shocked to say the least. SO…I did what any irresponsible gag writer would do, I Googled it…and wow….there it was…
I seriously considered doing “Pelican Tunes 2” but Wayne Yentis passed away this Wednesday January 23rd, and with the passing of my partner in crime, my motivation is gone. The lyrics in my desk drawer will have to collect dust as the ink fades.
But have a beer and enjoy our goofy time together on YouTube.
Here’s to Wayne.