Our Flying Community
These folks include SHGA members, past members, drivers, and other members of the Sylmar silent soaring community. If you would like to join this illustrious list, please send a photo, short biography, and your username on the pilot forum (if you have one) to Jim Thompson. If there are errors, or if you would like to modify your appearance here, contact Jim for that as well. Photos in JPEG format are preferred, at least 200 pixels high, without helmet, goggles, or sunglasses if possible.
Kenneth Andrews (Ken)
Ken spends every waking minute either flying or working on spacecraft communications research at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. He has been hang gliding since 2000, served as SHGA president in 2005 and 2006, and is the current webmaster.
"I love you guys."
Fred Ballard (Fat Fred)
As an instructor, "Fat Fred" has introduced countless hang gliding "wannabes" to life over Kagel. And his nick name has nothing to do with his weight. Just ask him, he'll tell you. Fred is often seen with his trusty driver (and beloved wife) Nancy, scampering up the road to turn around three or four tandem lessons every weekend day.
Don "Crazy Legs" Banas began flying in late 2004 after meeting Fred Ballard. Fred "ignited" a long dormant longing in Don to try something new... Hang gliding. Don, who believes in "striking while the poker is hot," decided not to wait until his next life to feed the fire. He is readily recognized by his penchant for wearing shorts when everyone else is putting on their fleece underwear.
"The Flying Goatherd..."
Jeff Bjorck (Dr. Jeff)
When Dr. Jeff’s not working as a psychologist or recording piano CDs or raising awareness about global safe water needs, he loves flying at Kagel. His “pepto pink” XS-3 is mocked by many a friendly pilot, but he gets high anyway. With his first solo in 1994, he may hold the record “most time spent not flying” but he keeps paying his club dues!
Phill Bloom (Brittlebone)
Our good friend and "most likely to be in the air" on any given day, Phill "Miss Congeniality" Bloom is always ready with kind words of encouragement for his fellow pilots. Kidding aside, he's a winning racer with a bigger heart than he lets on. Anyone could do worse for a mentor and few have his competition experience. Bring home the glory, Phill. Oh, by the way, Kathie is calling on the LZ phone... outta here!
Rob Burgis (Bud Rob)
Rob began his flying career on a Rogallo "standard" around 1974, after taking 2 lessons on a yucca covered hill in Acton. After a 9 year hiatus to raise twin boys, Rob returned to flight at Sylmar in 1990, this time on a borrowed glider; his wife has probably never, really forgiven Danny Black for that. Rob's philosophy regarding whacks: "I don't want to see friends or gliders hurt… but, if they're gonna smack-in anyway, I may as well enjoy the show!" Prior to Rob's comeback, he wrecked every glider he ever owned.
Jeffrey Carlisle (White Wheels)
Lawrence Chamblee (Flamejob)
When Larry isn't busy being retired, he spends his time running the SHGA. Currently secretary, there may not be an office he hasn't held on the board. One of the few ATOS pilots in the area, "Wingnutz" Chamblee also enjoys long bike rides, hiking with his wife and making improvements to his flight harness.
Jeff Chipman (Chip)
Does this guy love flying or what? "Chip" brings the whole clan to the LZ whenever possible. Which is actually a boon to the all denizens of Kagel, since his lovely wife often brings food, while the Chipman boys keep the zone cleared of snakes and other "nasties."
Douglas Clark (Lawndart)
Doug first augured in to Dockweiler Beach in 1977. Some things never change. Making his first solo flight in 1978, "Lawn Dart" has continued to entertain his friends nearly non-stop. Supposedly he got his name from the type of glider he used to fly but we know better. His long, long, long term goal: “…to live as long as Rome.” At the rate he’s going, he may not make it.
David Cutter (Yellow Jacket)
A man of many talents, Dave “Sunshine” Cutter juggled his teaching career with hang gliding contests and just having fun flying in the competitive air above Kagel Mountain. Since retiring from LAUSD, Dave busies himself with piano teaching (a fine performer, too), weather forecasts for club members and baking fine pastries with his wife.
Peter Del Vecchio
The Red Baron flies again...
"Big Days Only..."
"Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem."
"Yah, Mon, I be de keeper o' da keys..."
Jonathan Dietch (NMERider)
Jonathan in a moment of peace and reflection.
"Pizza Delivery Lady"
"You can't touch this..."
Joe Fresquez, Jr
"The Original" (Well, almost...)
Joey Fresquez, lll
"too much fun Fresquez..."
This man has flown every form of unpowered aircraft ever designed. When Joe isn't foiling the latest diabolical threat to our flying existence, he's working hard to keep us existing as individuals. Kind of like herding unruly cats, huh, Joe?
Kristen Greblo (Kris)
"Tank Girl"... Or possibly the Lupine Lady.
Former software engineer turned road-trip traveler, now learning to travel the airwaves. First solo on 9/18/2018.
Walter Heatlie (Terry)
Terry? Is this you?
Robert Heaton (Supine Jim)
"Supine Jim" may be the last of his kind. Few of us remember the days when hang gliding was done in a swing seat but Jim keeps the tradition alive. Ask him about his Seagull V sometime and take a trip in the "way-back" machine to the days when the 1500 was the hub of flying in Southern California.
"Too Cool Kader..."
Dances with eels...
"Big Tujunga"... (like "Big Kahuna")
Self-exiled to Washington D.C but back, for now...
Mike Knapp (Big Mike)
Discount everything his friends say about him and... well, just don't listen to them. "Dr. Psych" loves flying. He loves it even more when he's doing the opposite of what Phill Bloom tells him to do. Everyone is eventually lured to his beautiful home, and often into his beautiful pool. Fortunately, his beautiful wife keeps dry spares in many sizes. Caution: at Mike's, underwear may be hazardous to your pride... and sensitive body parts.
Lynn McLaughlin (LynnieMac)
The activities director for many years, Lynn can fly, too but always makes putting on a great show her priority.
"Mr. Un-pretentious", Loren didn't apply for his Hang 4 until 2007. That's quite an accomplishment, given that he started flying at Elsinore in 1974 and has multiple cross-country flights from Sylmar. His stated goal: "to fly as long as Rome."
Mario has a new-to-him U2 145 imported from Canada.
"Bear Divide Benjy" (given by Rob Burgis early in my flying) runs the Film Festival Flix Mountain & Adventure Film Festival. In addition to hang-gliding (and work and family), Benjy is an avid rock and ice climber, whitewater kayaker, and skier.
A nice new photo for Brandon. Next? A nice new glider.
"Waiting to fly..."
William Ramsey (Will)
"PG Speed Racer"
New Activities Director
The WW on his glider stands for "White Water."
Francisco Sevillano (Cisco)
James Shaw (Jim)
"Metallurgist" Jim, our gazebo-top, aluminum recycler, launched his flying career in 2001-2002 and rapidly moved up to the "topless" crowd. Always competitive, Jim is quick to jump on to trips to distant sites with XC potential.
"Damn that Newman..."
George is a Master-rated pilot who has been flying since the early 1980s. George was SHGA's president in 2003 and 2004. He and his wife, J, are observers, and their daughter Jillian has already appeared in Hang Gliding Magazine. Jillian and her younger brother, Jefferson, would probably be pilots already, if only Moyes made a Litespeed 0.5.
Jim's favorite driver... And new Activities Director
Jim thanks everyone for letting him hang out with such a special bunch of people. Jim flew from 1974-78 and returned in 2002.
Solo pilot on August 11, 2018,
David Van Noppen
Jaromir Wagner (Mad Max)
"Scrambled eggs" aka "Mad Max"
Freddy began his flying career on Thanksgiving weekend, 2004, after reading about and watching hang gliders since fourth grade. His solo in March, 2005 was actually his second. His first glider flight: an umbrella launched from a tree. His R/C helicopter hobby whet his appetite for air until he discovered Windsports. Freddy's quote: "My Mosquito harness feels like a little-bigger version of my R/C heli -- but this one I can fly in."
Easily winning the club's lightweight award, Lisa has been seen soaring 8-10 knot winds—sans glider—since 1997. When not flying, Lisa immerses herself in her advertising, communications and design business. Even a pilot's gotta eat, right?
Bob Wyler (Surfer Bob)
Bob is threatening to make an appearance... when he takes time away from his new passion: GOLF.
A woman so full of life she's difficult to display in 2D, Katherine is a long-time, accomplished pilot-fixture at the Kagel LZ. Serving as treasurer, she holds the keys to our financial kingdom these last few years.