Harvest Warmth

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 heaters.

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 the scale.

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 fun.

Paramotor 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 of challenge.

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 sortie.
Row three: 1) Dave wanted to visit the quarry. 2) Scott Clarke having altogether too much fun. 3) Dave enjoying the ride.


Gary Brown snapped this one of Dave Moore and I getting ready to light off. I'm seconds away from starting the run.

See Gary's other photos.

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