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. Yeeeeehahaaaaa!

This sounds like an exceptional event, especially with free flying nearby. See the scoop at their website then go check out the list of who's coming. You can add your name to let everyone know you'll be there.

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 another story.

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, 21:00 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.

I'm wingless.

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 boring.

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 tomorrow morning.

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 Alabama.

2008 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.

As 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 call.

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.


1. First flight, just off the highway and a few miles from the Marion County airport (HAB) seen behind me.

2. Then end of the rainbow from another flight but near Arkoma, OK.

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