Getting To The Endless Foot Drag
April 24, 2008 Ft. Smith (Arkoma, OK) fly-in May 22-25, 2008
2008 Apr 24
In an email exchange with organizer
Britton Shaw, I told him of my plans to make his event. His response made me laugh.
"Well it's not really
that much of an event, just a bunch of flying on grass."
Oh, too bad, acres and acres of sod with soaring sites and warm air.
This sounds like an exceptional event, especially with free flying
nearby. See the scoop at their
go check out the list of
who's coming. You can add your name to let everyone know you'll be
Everything went well in Panama but I couldn't make it to China. Too
bad. I wouldn't have had enough time to get my passport back, but that's
Looking forward to seeing as many
paramotor maniacs as can come.
2008 May 19
The weather looks perfect. Isolated thunderstorms are forecast and,
given how far in the future that is, it ought to be just right by the
time of the fly-in. My route will take me by Pensacola, FL where I hope
to do some beach flying if the thunderstorms hold off. Maybe a visit
with Michael Percy will materialize.
2008 May 20,
There is maybe a 1 in 300 chance that your checked luggage won't arrive
with you and Southwest does better than most. So it was especially
painful when I fell
victim to those odds and arrived in Jacksonville but my Spice
didn't. Normally there are two wings aboard the Enterprise but not now.
Tim's Silex was sent in for inspection and shipped to Chicago.
Do you have any idea how worthless a paramotor is
without a wing? I've got three airworthy paramotors and nothing under
which to fly them. Yes I could probably mooch but part of these trip's
allure is the ability to pull off , set up and run
into flight. Not this time. Unless, by some miracle, the bag makes it on
another flight tonight and I can press on.
Even at that, my plan to put 4 hours behind me enroute to a meeting
with Michael Percy may be squashed. It's eight hours of driving to Fort
Walton Beach and I'm not good for more than about 1.5 at a time. Too
So I sit. Here at the airport parking, hoping my phone rings
and baggage person Vicki becomes baggage person extraordinaire. It's not
her fault, of course, but it's still darned frustrating.
2008 May 21,
01:30 Thirty minutes after the last flight arrived, I called the
baggage office. Nobody was there so I left a message on the recording
about sending the bag to a new destination if it arrived. Then I headed
out, westbound on I-10. Bummer. I was out of luck.
Pulling off at a rest area, I noticed a message on my phone. You
guessed it right, they called and indeed the wing had arrived.
Unfortunately, now I'm too far west to go back and get it. It will be
quicker to have it sent on to Birmingham which is the current plan. Of
course I don't actually know if they'll do that but should find out
Please oh please oh please...
2008 May 21, 15:00 Yes! The fat lady hasn't sung yet but the
curtain is up. Birmingham has wing in and I'm on the way. We should be
reunited by tonight. Maybe even a flight? Doubtful but there's always
hope. The weather sure looks good and it would be nice to get a taste of
May 21, 20:35 The fat lady has finale'd! Spicely and I have been
reunited which means I can now peruse Google Earth with some hope of
finding flight between here and Arkoma, site of the Endless Foot Drag.
2008 May 22,
08:39 What a treat. A little stretch of grass and short corn
provided all the space I needed to get airborne this morning for a taste
of Alabama sky. It even provided a half-mph worth of airflow to help
make launch easy.
Being away from any residence or annoyable people was nice since I
could tear it up over the corn before heading out for exploration. There
are lots of wires so I spent time at 100 feet inspecting foot-drag
courses. There's still no avoiding some increased risk from flying low
but I'm afraid the reward is just too great for me.
Mr. motor is
running mighty fine—smooth, tons of power and responsive. This is part
of why I struggle to get extremely worked up over oil. I use generic
2-stroke oil for air cooled motors and have for years. That's almost all
this thing has known. And here it is, running beautifully, 3 years and a
couple hundred hours later. Of course I'll admit that my little 145 lb
carcass tasks it minimally, especially given my efficient wing. It was
running so good that tried a full power climb to see what climb rate
resulted. 475 feet per minute. Temp was probably 75°F and starting
altitude was 1000' MSL. Not bad. Sure is nice to have the Spice, too. I
almost never use full power, even for launch.
At the end of that climb, I noticed ground movement had nearly
stopped. I was drifting sideways. So I turned into the wind and all
forward movement stopped. It was serenely smooth but, at 1200 feet or so
AGL, the wing was blowing 25 mph in spite of being essentially calm at
the surface. There were a few very mild bumps during climb, no more than
1 on the scale. Here it is 8:53AM, 45 minutes after my landing, and it's
still nearly calm.
Morning flight was brief but beautiful. Rob Reynolds, who was unable to
join me, told how this new highway was a great place to fly while they
were building it. They flew down it, unfettered by traffic, for miles.
Unfortunately, I had to keep my distance.
2008 May 23,
08:20 Carlisle airport is a sleeply pair of paved runways that
sends up crop dusters more than anything else. It was my choice of
yesterday evening's flying but, it turns out, thing's amiss aloft.
normal, I got the wing out to kite it for a while just to see what it
would be like. Pretty strong winds were blowing and I had no interest in
drama. A new sport emerged that was fun: hay skiing. Turns out that
recently mowed hay is very slippery. So I put that to good use and had a
blast skiing back and forth in the grassy area. It soon became obvious
that flying wasn't a good idea as southwestern clouds grew darker. No, I
was in no mood for drama. Shortly after buttoning up the Enterprise I
glimpsed my first flicker of lightning in the distant darkness. Good
This morning I've arrived in Fort Smith and the trees area a
bendin' in the blow. I called Britton Shaw, the organizer, and asked for
a spot in his "high wind kiting clinic." His knowing laugh told all.
Yup, there wasn't much going on yet. This'll be my last entry on getting
there. Hopefully pictures of flying or at least kiting will be next.