Orlando to Jacksonville

Apr 20, 2008 Enterprise Log: The Journey North Begins. Next Stop, The Endless Foot Drag in Ft. Smith.
Apr 20, 2008

Paramotor people rock. This morning's jaunt around a local flying haunt proved it yet again

Mike Britt, flying his Fresh Breeze Excitor, had launched from Christmas, buzzed the field and headed out to explore.

Tim, Marty, Leslie and I launched from the St. Johns PPG preserve and pointed our shoes southeastward. Marty Hathaway carved slaloms through conveniently placed trees astride the dwindling waterway. I followed close behind with Tim shooting pictures and newly-minted foot pilot, Leslie, taking the high road.

It was one of those flights, rare anymore, that I had no camera, no music, and really, no particular mission. But it was thoroughly enjoyable just being there.

After a half hour of flying, Leslie had to go back, but the rest of us pressed on. We came upon this one spot on the river by high tension power lines. It contains an incredible concentration of jaw power. Alligators. At least 20 were packed into this eighth-mile stretch of water. No doubt they were all hungry--I mean there can't be enough fish to go around. I climbed higher.

Marty spotted one of the increasingly common bald eagles and radioed us about it. More importantly, he also mentioned seeing Mike Britt, on the ground in a less-than-stellar location. The Exciter must have had a power out. Cresting the wires I could see him doing what looked like wood splitting with an axe. Hmmm. No idea. We pressed on towards him. Strangely, was none too concerned about it since he didn't say anything about it on the radio.

To be continued...

And April 19th was a hoot, too. At the moment, it seems, I'm too busy having fun to write about it.

Apr 18, 2008

From the department of the easily amused.

I'm merely on my way to the Enterprise and already I'm amazed. Being so easily amused sure does prevent boredom.

Ensconced back here in row 20, working on the various projects of my life, I'm taking a break to watch our progress on the computer screen. It's a fascinating little window to the world over which we're now cruising at 35,412 feet. I know that because the GPS tells me so. Even the guys up front don't now it--they're flying by pressure altimeter, riding the areas of constant pressure. I'm using the same APIC software that accompanies me in the Bonanza (4-seater airplane). Would you believe the software is free to download? It includes terrain maps, airways, airports and all the little things that cost a small fortune not long ago. The only part I pay for is airport approach charts.

Location data streams through a tiny GPS antenna/reciever stuffed under the window shade and plugged into my computer's USB port. I know, this is severely geeky, but it's still cool. I can see the cities we're passing over, how long before we arrive, our groundspeed, and absolute altitude (give or take a hundred feet or so). Even the front office doesn't have that information. And my display is a lot better than what the pilots have up front. I've even put up the arrival procedure and, if they'd let me leave it on, I could watch us fly the Bitho7 arrival procedure, scoot down the ILS 17L and then taxi to the terminal gate. Now if only it would sequence the appropriate charts.

Think about this capability. Had you asked me if this was possible 20 years ago I would have laughed. Here I sit, sucking down signals from satellites in space, showing me within feet where I am while cruising over the planet at 440 mph on my way to fly paramotors. Wow. I'm glad to have popped out at this particular time and place.

A lifetime ago while in grade school (and dare I admit high school), I would daydream over a map of the U.S.--sliding my finger over terrain and imagining myself zooming along the route, covering hundreds of miles in seconds, going up and down at will. How lucky we are that 14 year old can see those dreams to fruition. Maybe not quite that zippy but pretty darn good, too. We are in a fortunate time.

And what of the trip? It's goal is to move the paramotorhome northward, flying at sites along the way as always. I'll be making it to the "Endless Foot Drag" in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Can't wait. This is one event I've not yet gotten to attend. It was funny, when I emailed Britton Shaw about coming, he sounded concern that there wasn't that much going on but flying. "Oh" I thought, a hundred of acres of sod and I'm supposed to be disappointed? Should be a flightabulous time. Lots of fellow airmen from my northern neighbors are coming, too.


Screen shot from the airplane trip down to Orlando. Here's the story.

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