Oct 3, 2007 Batavia, IL
Wrenching was done, my motor was
rewired and it was time to test. Moreover, the cold shoe hanging over
Chicagoland isn't dropping yet. It's warm. I love warm. Harvest
time is normally cold. Modern combines have heaters for a reason and,
amazingly, they're about to hit the fields without needing those
A group of guys gathered at the polo field for some
season-ending airtime and photos. Trees are only starting to color but
the corn looks ready. Harvest must be days away so, if we're gonna get
in any corn tunnel flying, we'd better be quick.
Even the first flyers
had light winds and minimal bumps. I never once felt more than a 1 on
God bless smooth grass. Launching a paramotor feels so good, even
better on grass. And this is a polo field! Only a golf course is better.
Every now and then I found a little bush or marking and practiced
competition turns. That's simply where you do the turn so that only your
body goes around the point and in the least amount of time. Do that and
you'll be good at the cloverleaf or many other precision tasks. Merely
doing steep turns is easy. Timing it out takes bit more practice.
Admittedly, I need more practice. Competition has been too infrequent.
As evening wore on, what breeze there was stopped. I flew three times,
on the second launch I did a 270° foot drag. Inflate, ease off into a
foot drag without leaving the ground then start turning. Wow is that
launching is like catching a wave surfing. Once you're comfortable with
it, it's not that bad. You still miss 'em once in a while which makes
success even more rewarding. It wouldn't be as satisfying without a bit
On my last launch, I wanted to try out a crosswind technique but the
wind died completely. I was unable to tell any direction whatsoever. I
still went 90° off the initial direction but it was a normal launch.
Dave had motor problems. After a gorgeous inflation and launch, he sunk
back down, sliding perfectly along the ground, even holding throttle in
a doomed effort to milk it back aloft. His motor fought sliding grass
whose drag only increased as the battle was slowly lost. Later, he did
manage to coax it aloft and enjoyed an abbreviated flight. His starter
cord left it's happy little home and wandered into the cooling fan where
its mischief was not well received.
As a reinforcer on how paramotors
are not terribly reliable, there was a point where I was standing there,
ready to launch, and saw 3 pilots hunched over their machines bearing
tools. All different brands, all different issues. And here I was,
having just wrenched on mine for a couple days. The motto: always be
ready. Thankfully, mine was healthy. Secondly: be proactively
preventive. I've now been saved several times from some unsavory fate by
taking early action on an emerging problem. Of course that's because
I've been burnt by ignoring it in the past. Hear a funny noise? It won't
be funny for long.
This evening's flights were flawless, though. The
motor purred with the same power as it's first day aloft and both
shutoff switches killed on command. The process of rebuilding the
electrical system (a simple pull start system) was enlightening.
Hopefully I'll get an article up with that info.
Gary got in a nice
little flight. Shoot, I didn't think he was gonna come down. Scott slid
in right next to us looking all together too good for his own good.
There was corn on his cage, too. We were having far too much fun
for this to be legal. Man lets preserve this.
Topping it off, literally, were the spud brothers Dave and Gary.
Kids. They unleashed these PVC creations on unsuspecting potatoes,
hurling them hundreds of feet. Gary, true to form, had a guage on his to
see the pressure. It was amazing how powerful these things were. Gary
plans on applying what he learns with the spud gun to a ballistic
reserve deployment system for PPG. I'll look forward to following that.
Love those creative chaps.
All in all, another slice of airborne
bliss. A welcome and appropriate requiem for mechanical woes. I look
forward to having many hours now of uneventful flight.
Row one: 1) Amber waves of grain. 2) Salvaging this would have been a
challenge. 3. PPC Perry. 4) comparing rods
Row two: 1) Dave Moore launching as I flew by. 2) Dave retraces his
"Gravity" poster flight. 3) Gary Brown pulls it up for an all-evening
Row three: 1) Dave wanted to visit the quarry. 2) Scott Clarke having
altogether too much fun. 3) Dave enjoying the ride.