Sept 5, 2007 Naperville to
This jaunt was
planned just a few hours before departure. With only two days to burn
and no particular agenda, we hoped to find and fly some beautiful
places. Hopefully we'd add rollerblading at some point, too.
I know, it's flat here and you must wonder what
could possibly be so good to look at. But it's not just about the
scenery. Its paramotoring—the thrill of an unlikely dew-drenched launch,
the smell of wheat cursing between my feet, wearing down the soles of
shoes while centerline-sliding new country roads and a dozen other
little aspects of paramotoring.
Always an Adventure
Somehow these trips manage to be an adventure. I
swear that the unexpected adds as much as the expected. How else to
explain my marvel at not being utterly ticked off when my throttle let
loose forcing a landing. It helped that I'd just shot a bunch of
gorgeous pictures. I was jockeying for another angle when the motor went
I had two choices. A perfectly relaunchable field
that was a good mile from the road or an improbably relaunchable field
next to the road. I continued gliding. From this altitude I had a
lot of time to ponder the possibilities. I thought about my on-board
tools or, more accurately, the lack thereof. A screwdriver and allen
wrench set. Hmmm, not likely I'll be able to fix it—the retrainer
probably broke and I won't be able to fix that. Better go for the road.
Even then I picked a rise in the hill hoping that the surface would be
ok to launch in case I could fix it.
As I got lower the only noise arose from the
beans, licking their stalks at my impending nylon desert. I had to stay
away from power lines running between me and the driveway so there would
be no avoiding setting down amidst the beans.
A word about landing in beans—flare above them
using the "Daniele One Step." That's where you flare so as to rise back
up slightly then settle down to a one point landing. You will not
be able to run in full-grown beans. The landing worked as advertised
and, as a bonus—my wing didn't get tangled in the beans. Unfortunately,
there would be no relaunch from here even if I could get her fixed.
Day 1: Construction
site near Naperville. We ran out of time to go anywhere so just flew one
of our local haunts.
Day 2 morning:
Somewhere west of Peru, IL.
Day 2. Afternoon at the park in Chillicothe then
rollerblading in downtown Peoria. The headband is homemade.
Day 2: Evening just northeast of downtown Peoria on
the river's east side.
Chillicothe & Peoria
We stopped into this huge private park (see the
pic). Unfortunately, they wouldn't let us fly there due to insurance
worries but did offer that, if we had a convention, they would love to
have us there (for some fee obviously). Too bad, that would have been
Next we stumbed upon a nice little ultralight
field whose owner was gone. It was too early anyway so we headed for
skating along the river in downtown Peoria. Mother necessity showed up
when Tim discovered his sweat band missing. A cut-up towel served
sufficiently and it was a good roll that had to be cut short—it was time
to find our next launch site.
Time had, in fact, run out and it looked like we
might miss our launch window. The target, an airport, was probably some
30 minutes distant and shadows were growing. Sunset was upon us and we'd
burned all our fuel.
While heading north we stumbed accross an open
area near a car dealership. Hmm. That looks good. Tim did a "U"y. I
looked up the airspace because we weren't far from downtown. Everything
lined up so we gassed up nearby and planted the new paraport. Like Neil
on the moon, we inserted our windsock.
This field was interesting because it required a
circling launch. We didn't want to climb out over the road so had to
inflate into the weak wind (about 2 mph) and immediately turn to climb
out while avoiding humanity. My wing came up straight and it was no big
challenge. Plus, with more power (Snap 100 over Top 80), my run was
shorter. Tim, on the other hand, dealt with a crooked inflation which he
handled masterfully. He got under it, re-steered to parallel the road
then took off and did an immediate right turn to remain over the field.
It was a gorgeous flight. Spectators seemed to
enjoy our bean spirals and road-borne foot drags although not nearly as
much as we enjoyed flying the. We had the perfect perch to sea
flooding—high water had spilled onto an adjoining fields. Fortunately
there were no flooded dwellings.
We came in for silent landings next to the
Enterprise and called the trip complete. Considering the amount of
planning that went into this one, it was time well spent.