Arkoma Epilogue

Adventure's end and an unexpected paramotor purchase | The Event Log | Getting There

I sold my Snap 100 in Panama, leaving me with no travel paramotor. During Britton Shaw's "Endless Foot Drag" I flew the Miniplane with weight shift. That turned out to be an expensive flight: I bought it.

Low Attachment for High Attachment Pilots

Hopefully I'll get a full review in the Reviews section but, for now, here are some notes.

All the low attachment machines I've flown carry one trait that I've never liked. They tilt fore and aft easily, especially with thrust changes. Yes, you can minimize it and yes, you can get used to it, but I've never liked that behavior. I don't mind left-right movement through the risers because that's useful—it gives a feel for what's happening above.  But not the fore/aft tilting. Granted, it may be worse because my light weight offers little to offset the motor's heft.

You don't have to have low attachments to have good weight shift. My Blackhawk is a high-attachment machine with pivoting arms and has great weight shift. In fact, using the pulley system, it has outstanding weight shift, but your hands are high, like on all high-attachment systems. And the pulley system is one more complication. Gearing, unfortunately, has proven too fragile—of three that I've had, all have broken.

So here comes the Miniplane with weight shift. I've always respected the Miniplane's early innovation but it never had weight shift, a feature I've come to require. When I first saw the weight shift version in a box at the 2007 convention, I didn't have an opportunity to fly it. Plus, I figured the weight shift was an afterthought owing to market pressures. It may have been, but I can see that lots of time was spent working on it—probably lots of harness sewing and mucking about with geometry. It's sweet in flight.

The machine uses low attachments in the same way as many others but with an important twist. It doesn't have any fore/aft tilting, even at my 147 pounds. This is accomplished primarily by pivoting the arms high on their frame supports and, more importantly, using an S shape arm to bring the carabiner attachment higher up. Weight shift is improved by having the swing action be 90 degrees to the carabiner movement. On other machines, the swinging is at an oblique angle that reduces effectiveness somewhat.

Flying this thing is a dream, offering the benefits of low attachments without the drawbacks. It's Top 80 thrust is plenty for me and, in fact, almost pushes like my now-sold Snap 100 thanks to a lower friction redrive, improved exhaust and 49 inch carbon prop. Not bad for a 43 pound machine.

Mind you, I love my Black Devil Blackhawk for many missions but, for long distance cruising this is the berries. With weight shift it will also be great at cranking around the cloverleaf and assorted other pursuits. Miniplane is apparently packed out on production and has no interest in adopting the frame to larger powerplants. Hopefully other makers will be able to incorporate the lessons of this machine, though.

Epilogue Flight

On the way home from Oklahoma, nasty weather nipped at my tires. I'd stop and the rain would begin then I would head out and get ahead of it. But eventually it receded enough that, by Saint Louis, calm sunshine lured me to stop for an emergency flight.

Flying northeast of STL allowed me to range from the surface up to 1500 feet MSL. Even so, it just felt weird being up that high only 7 miles from the main airport. I got as high as about 700 feet, enough altitude to provide a gorgeous view.

What a hoot. Putting this motor through its paces reminded me anew why I love paramotoring so much. At a small park adjoining a Veterans retirement home, I did what only a paramotor pilot could do and lofted for a unique taste of flight. How appropriate, too—it was Memorial Day.

Launching alone made the effort worthwhile. The area was no more than about two Enterprise lengths and the wind only about 2 mph. My last step on pavement concurred with the wing's ability to fully carry both me and my ride.

Not far away was the foundation and parking lot of what must have been an enormous sprawling building. Ghosts of its life lie stained in the concrete where customers roamed, managers managed and commerce was committed. Or so I imagine. Now here was I, making figure eights and practicing the cloverleaf inside its outline. How cool.  I did a few foot drags but, even going upwind, speed was high and my footwear was marginal. Having to run unexpectedly would be most unfun.

After playing for a while I throttled up to 700 feet or so. STL's B airspace capped my options but that was all the altitude I needed, anyway. Nearing the launch area, I shut off the motor and landed next to the Enterprise.

Some of the Veterans had come out to see what was up and one came over, along with a police officer Peggy Vassalla, to get a closer look. No surprise, the veteran, Robert Feldhaus, was a World War II pilot who flew B25 Bombers. Thus the interest. We all talked for probably an hour about the sport, the craft and the experience. He wants to see if they could organize some flyers putting on a demo there.

Cool. It was Memorial Day to boot.

Jiri, Ivan and a few others may be able to oblige them.

It was a wonderful little Cherry on top of a tasty week of flying.


I found this little parking lot, just above my right foot, at a Veterans Home. How appropriate then that I was able to fly there on Memorial Day.

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