Chicagoland Paramania: 2

Aug 16, 2007 Naperville, IL: Sunday

Ellie the heli was done with here annual inspection and ready to be picked up. The heliport is 30+ miles northwest—a miserable drive but a wonderful paramotor flight. Either I get someone to drive me up there, a pain for them, or I fly the little direct drive paramotor, a fun trip. All I need is decent weather. This was it. Sunday morning dawned with sunshine and breeze but it was in the right direction, south. That would help me along once I cleared suburbia.

The hardest part of this trip is avoiding the congested areas. I've become creative, flying power line and railroad right-of-ways along with the decreasing undeveloped areas. But once I get about 10 miles west-northwest, it's smooth sailing. As usual, I took an aircraft radio with me instead of FRS although I still had music.

About halfway there I flew right over the polo field, site of yesterday morning's flightfest. Nothing going on this morning. Too bumpy, probably. As you can see from the altimeter watch, at 8:16 am the sun has been working it's turmoil for a couple hours. But up where I was, scooting along in the tailwind, it was smooth as glass. Not a ripple.

The wind was howling up a few hundred feet and the transition to that strong blow was bumpy. A 4 on the scale. At 800 feet, it was probably going 35+ mph. Nearing Gilberts I turned to face into the wind so I knew how strong it was and found myself going backwards. With trimmers fast I go about 28 mph and, while facing into the wind, was going backwards at what seemed like about 10 mph. Expect a good shear.

I got thoroughly trounced while descending through the shear layer but it wasn't so bad down lower. The worst bumps were about 4, almost 5 then it settled to a still-rough 3 on the bump scale. When I got down low there was someone burning trash which made for a great wind indicator. The smoke showed a light wind. At Olivers, my target, the windsock showed a north wind. Exactly opposite to the strong wind a few hundred feet above. Look out.

Past success is no indication of present success and I know that. I was a bit nervous about this approach even though most of the shear was above me. Fortunately, The approach and landing were uneventful but I thought to myself how the risk meter was certainly higher. I kept the power on to counter downdrafts but didn't need it.

Daryl, the Enstrom mechanic/inspector who does the annual shook his head at me as usual. We chatted a while then I loaded the paramotor and flew Ellie home. She ran like a top--very smooth for a helicopter.

Row One: 1) Fermilab. DuPage airport's D airspace cuts through the middle of the big particle accelerator ring. It's thankfully easy to remain south of it. 2) On way to avoid people (and the congestion they imply) is following utility right-of-ways. 3) This quarry is just east of the Fox River.

Row Two: 1&2) They do make them big. The guest house is bigger than most people's main house. 3) Looking down at the polo field. Nobody home. 4) After arriving home and just before disgorging the paragear.

Party Flight

Saturday evening I had no plans on flying but was going to a party. After flying over the host house in the helicopter I saw a big field in back. Hmmm, that looks plenty big to paramotor—I just wouldn't be able to leave the area. Both Tim and I brought our motors and indeed were able to make a short flight after dinner. There's no better way to explain the strange sport we love than to demonstrate it.

We didn't stay up for long because it was surrounded by suburbia and we had to stay in the field's perimeter which was pretty limiting. It's still fun. Tim did foot drags in the field while I followed behind. I did a bunch of touch and goes including some power off landings. That's a great way to quell concern over the common fear: "what do you do when the engine quits?"

1) After launching, I flew around, shut off the motor, landed, restarted, walked by then relaunched. I love doing that! 2) Eventually i did some touch and goes completely in the confines of that triangular grassy area. 3) Tim and I flew around in formation which is always an easy, low risk crowd pleaser. I just keep enough distance that I can always bail both vertically and laterally. 3) Getting ready. Photo by Ted.


1. I drove to this launch site about a mile from home, paramotored to the helicopter, rotored my way to the house, then rollerbladed back here to fetch my van. This was my idea of a fun morning.

2. Olivers helipad where Ellie gets her annual inspection. Landing here is easier than taking off. Last week when I brought Ellie up here, I launched from an open area just to the east. This shot is looking northeast.

© 2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!