2008 May 19 Spicely gets her first taste of IL air, but only until
the prop came apart
I had no idea a potato could fly that far.
The scene must have some resemblance to a civil war era battle. Dave
Moore shoved an unsuspecting spud down the barrel of his latest
creation, a potato canon worthy of the name. That potato became the
first to fly at yesterday's Batavia Polo Field gathering. It went off
with a bang.
He works a series of valves to first infuse clean air into the
ignition chamber (barrel's bottom), stuffs the potato down with a pole,
introduces propane mixed with air, aims, then presses the trigger,
lighting a piezo induced spark.
The potato projectile shoots with enough speed that it's hard to
follow without looking down the barrel. I stood back in case something
let go like my prop did. Oh yeah, speaking of prop...
Half Minute Flight
When I laid out my wing (Spicely) a tiny breeze came out of the south
with a bit of east. Looking over the motor, Jay Reynolds commented on a
crack in my prop. Just one more flight, I thought.
The launch was the way I like them, simple. I inflated then eased
into foot dragging left turn. Thinking back on it, I remember needing a
surprising amount of power briefly while going downwind and then the
groundspeed seemed unusually high. That was a tailwind gust but I was
going west which shouldn't have been directly tailwind. So I started the
climbout and just as I went to get into the seat, I felt a vibration.
Nope, that won't do, and I shut the motor off followed by a landing back
towards the southeast. Turns out a piece of my prop broke clean off. No
other damage and the prop is easily repairable. The strange thing was a
strong wind shift.
When I landed, the wind was now due east and quite strong. Obviously
that tailwind gust I felt was the leading edge of a small gust front.
And the wind continued to blow at probably 10 to 14 mph. Consequently,
the other pilots decided to wait until the wind mellowed. Some did
kiting practice, as did I.
The fun had just begun, though.
Lance Marczak can build anything. From anything. And he's a great
guy—one of those who'll give you the shirt off his back. He was on his
way and offered to stop in to my house to pick up a prop but I told him
not to bother. No matter, it turns out he had a spare paramotor with
him. One that he'd bought for $500 but hadn't flown yet. One that I'd
never heard of. One that looked like it was from the middle 90's. I plan
to continue expanding my paramotor history section and want to do a
piece on paramotor lineage. This one looks like a piece of history and
Lance offered (wanted?) to let me be the first to fly it.
I've had an interest in paramotor history and hope to expand on it
(time, time, time—need more time!). What better way to learn about the
past than to fly its creations.
The Arco Spacer
lance got everything together and fired it up. Don't you know it started
on the second pull and purred like a kitten. It has a Bing carb on a
Solo 210 motor with redrive. The box exhaust has a silencer and is the
quietest such unit I've seen—not surprising given it's German origins,
just like the very quiet Fresh Breeze.
The harness looked just like the Fresh Breeze Flyman model with
detachable harness and floating over-the-shoulder bars. It's much like a
free-flight harness with low hook-in points. You get in the harness then
clip that into the motor.
1 - 4: The cover and first 3 pages of
the user manual. 5: Jeff Getting ready to fly. 6: Arco Spacer sans
harness. Check out the stock box muffler but with silencer. A bit of
power was sacrificed but it was a lot quieter.
We did a test first without the motor running. I put it on my back,
kited the wing then turned around as if to launch. Winds were still
strong enough so that Lance and Jay could push me into the air for a
short flight to make sure there was nothing untoward. It was fine.
So Lance fired it up and I went to launch. Just as I went to turn
around, the motor died. I'd been holding a bit of throttle to keep it
running and, during the turn, the throttle popped out of place.
The throttle is unusual in that it uses your thumb. Unfortunately,
the mechanism is such that it can come out of its holder. So next time I
concentrated on holding it better and the launch was uneventful.
It takes a bit to spool the prop up but flies ok. There will be some
necessary adjustments, though. The motor hung somewhat heavy and was
tilted too far back. I consciously leaned forward a bit to reduce that.
But torque was quite manageable and it had adequate thrust. Vibration
seemed a bit higher than normal but that could have been an
Overall, a pretty amazing way to get aloft for $500 (what he paid for
this thing) and not a bad ride. I'll now be curious to hear from anyone
who knows anything about it. Does it predate the Fresh Breeze or is it a
clone? Stay tuned. And thanks Lance!
A new student showed up, Jim, who just happened to see one of us
driving by. He came out to join us and should be an excellent addition
to our little Illinois group. We're not allowed to do training at the
Polo field but that's OK. It's a welcome privilege that the owner allows
us to use the field. I and the others are all very grateful.
Thanks to Eugene for taking pictures with my camera.
Dave Moore and Lance also flew although it wasn't for long. Rain
splattered lightly towards the end but, all-in-all, we had a great time
just getting together.
Jeff foot dragging with the Arco Spacer.
Dave Moore and Daughter (with boyfriend) use and pose
with their "big gun."