Beach Ball & Camera Tricks
Apr 2, 2007 Batavia, IL
My phone beeped. The text message was "meeting at the polo field this
afternoon." Local pilot Gary Brown was planning an outing at the polo
field. I thought the weather was supposed to suck so hadn't planned on
it. Obviously somebody else thought otherwise and, sure enough, a glance at LaunchCode agreed: it should be nice.
A check of our local email list showed
that at least one other local pilot might be up there so I called him. For
no particular reason I pretended to be an interested admirer looking at the
sport. Dave was a great ambassador! More importantly I confirmed that he
would be there and I had a new camera to try out.
I loaded up my little
green paramotor into Ellie (the helicopter), got my fish scales, camera and
other necessities together for the short trek up to Batavia. It's nice to
fly to the flying, I'll readily admit.
From several miles out I could see un-natural color of nylon covering
grass. A paraglider wing had been unfurled. Dave was preparing for flight.
The wind was light, this would be a perfect opportunity to try out my
light-wind reverse technique again. Dave did too and it seemed to work quite
well although when I tried in zero wind (it was periodically tailwind) it
only helped get the wing up a few feet then I couldn't run backwards fast
enough and was unsuccessful.
Others showed up and Marc Damon wound up flying some of his growing R/C
1) More testing. Measuring and marking
brake lines let me use scales to quantify certain qualities of handling on
the Silex. 2) Dave Moore going for the beach ball. 3) It's an illusion.
That's really a spark plug wrench made out to look like Vise Grips. 4) I had
to surprise Marc in order to snap this shot. "I'm not gonna pose with an
airplane this small!" he said. 5) Marc must have done this a dozen times for
me. With better light and more brains I'll get it to look good, too. First
day out with a new camera.
6 & 7) Dave and I went out for a ramp that was lots of fun.
The beach ball is a ball. This one was cheating, though--it didn't have
much air in it. That makes it a lot easier. No complaining here.
Marc was kind enough to fly his plane repeatedly between us whilst I
snapped pictures. ISO is important, it sets the camera's sensitivity to
light. More is better up to a point since you can increase shutter speed.
When lighting stinks, like it did this evening, the ISO is best set to 400.
I discovered later that it was set to 100. Ooops. Sorry Marc! As you can see
the pictures leave a lot to be desired but, at low resolutions, it's not so
Flying the helicopter home was fun. I watched a fuzzy moonrise over the
darkening city. I don't like flying at night. Where do you go if it quits?
Fortunately there was enough light and, even more fortunately, it didn't
quit. The next issue is landing in my backyard. If it gets too dark that's
not safe and I have to do my approach to the lit runway then hover taxi all
the way over. To be honest, that's fun in it's own right but I don't think
my neighbors are too keen on it.
All went well and Ellie went to bed, happy for a little outing amid the
warmth. Me too.