The Top 80 Changeover

Apr 27 Wesley Woo Joins our ranks.

Wesley Woo has been kiting and flying for a couple years now, thanks to Kankakee pilot Lance Marczak. Wes has been a bit of a fence-sitter until today. Then a good deal came along. Lance Marczak smells these deals with his nostrils closed and, when he found out about my little-used Top80 paramotor for sale, he had Wes jumped on it. I had offered it to locals first. After all, I now own 2 top 80's. We've found them to be great little motors especially since Brad Weiss stocks their parts.

Low time though this machine may be, it hasn't been run in several years which can cause problems on its own. But Lance is adeptly mechanical and will go through it to replace seals and do anything else that may be necessary. Lord willing, it will be as good as the two other machines I've sold. If possible, I'm going to either photograph the process or Lance will videotape it so as to make maintenance matters easier.

After our transaction and lunch, it was time for some flying. But wind and cold precluded paramotoring so the next best way aloft was to beat the air into submission. Yes, a helicopter. Enter Ellie Foo Foo, a 1969 Enstrom F28A.

All three of us were able to go since we're all lightweights. That's a rare treat because usually I have to take people separately, one at a time.

In cool conditions, like yesterday, I'll take up to 300 pounds in addition to myself. Above 70 degrees, no more than 250 pounds. Although that's well under the aircraft's certification, it gives me some margin. More weight requires more power and a commensurately bigger "bite" of air taken by the blades (increased pitch). After an engine failure, that bigger bite slows the rotor disk quicker and your reaction must be that much faster. Rotor RPM is life in a helicopter. I'd rather avoid such a demanding requirement.

The other thing I do is depart along a landable route. Once moving at least 15 mph airspeed, it takes a lot less power to remain climbing. While it may take 90% power to hover, with airspeed I can roll the power back to 70% and therefore reduced the pitch (lower collective). That way, if the motor naps, it won't be so dramatic and I can hopefully slide into a moving landing on pavement. The departure still stays within the height velocity curve and, I believe, gives me better odds.

So off we went. Lance is a private pilot, too, so he flew the craft. Then Wes took a shot. Both did admirably.

Now I look forward to flying with them, all in our own respective craft. Still the coolest way aloft: powered paragliding!

Thanks to Tim Kaiser for pictures.

1. Wesley Woo, Tim Kaiser, Jeff Goin, Lance Marczak pose after surviving a flight aboard Ellie Foo Foo.

2. The three of us departing.



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