I always tell people that the dust devils here are more bark than bite. The top layer of desert soil is so powdery that the smallest, weakest dusty picks it up and makes it looks like a monster. Most of the time, they blow through and cause little more than a bit of coughing. Today was one of those unfortunate exceptions.
We had a massive and extremely powerful dusty come straight through the launch line, hitting three hang gliders and a trike square on. Luke in a dragonfly managed to power up and roar out just seconds before it hit the rest of us. He said he was getting 1500fpm lift just 200 feet off the ground. Mick was out of his trike thankfully, and he and I had a hold of it. As we took the direct hit, we held on until both of us were lifted off the ground. I love Mick and I love his trike, but since I don't know how to fly trikes, I reluctantly gave in and let go about a foot off the ground. I fell on my ass just in time to see Captain Mick go down with his ship. He didn't let go and was slung around and thrown in the air like a rag doll before the trike came to rest on its side - he never let go. Thankfully, Mick is totally unhurt - I can't say the same for his trike though :-(.
I thought we had been hit by the worst of it, but when the dust settled, I realized that there were three hang glider pilots on dollies, hooked into their gliders. It took every crew person and bystander to hold on to them and make sure they didn't get airborne. Scary stuff!