There are several remarkable things about this 30 minute film. First of all, it’s probably the best quality production for something on the web I’ve ever seen (calling Sabotta). It uses a format called DivX and I was just blown away by both the video and sound quality. Near HD, I’d say.
Second, it’s about hang gliding and thus dear to my heart. There’s some really good footage which is a combination of action and serene. Hang gliding, for the most part, is not an "xtreme sport," and my assessment is that most of those guys wouldn’t last long in hang gliding.
It gives you the best sense I’ve yet seen in any short film of who these people are who do this. Not daredevils. Not rich guys; in fact, totally unlike your typical general aviation sort of guy (though I like and get along with those guys too). In my years in the sport, I’ve met more guys from the construction trades than anything else. Here in Silicon Valley, you’ve got your share of techies too, but that’s the exception. More likely you are to find a down-to-earth carpenter, plumber, drywall or painting contractor. I grew up around those kind of guys and I think I understand completely why they are drawn to this.
The film also highlights a controversy with — you guessed it — the state.
But it’s so well done that you’re already hooked on the love of the
sport before you even get to that part and they seem honest and sincere
in the way they describe the events that led up to the dispute. In a
nutshell, it’s a flying site in Missoula, Montana that has been used
consistently for 30 years. The local pilots, since the ’70s, have
maintained a good rapport and reasonable working relationship with the
tower for the local regional airport. The tower function then gets
contracted out (privatized: the great panacea of so many
libertarians) and the new guy proceeds to whip up fear about the safety
of hang gliding operations (which had been going on for 30 years) and
then gets no real public resistance to banning flying from the
particular site. This is why I’ve never really cared about the
privatization movement. Privatizing the functions of the state, it
seems to me, just makes for more efficient thugs. Perhaps some
of the more outlandish thuggery will go the wayside as being just "too
extravagant" (after all, the private "enterprises" do have to
competitively bid for a contract), but privatization in no way deals
with the essential problem of the state, which is: the presumption of authority (backed by main force) on no objectively moral basis.
Here’s where you can watch it,
which includes a link to download the player. Although… if you’re
smart enough to be using Firefox, which I sincerely hope you are, and
you don’t already have the plug-in installed, you should see a little
puzzle piece to install it (which happens in a jiffy). Don’t be alarmed
when the rest of your screen darkens after the film starts. It’s
supposed to do that. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Oh, and if you think it’s just "too risky" to have hang gliders with
experienced qualified pilots (with human brains) in the vicinity of
approach patterns for airports, then consider what happens when you
have creatures milling about that don’t understand aircraft, aren’t
briefed or qualified in safety, and possess bird brains.
(link via Davis)