Surprises lurk. Sometimes it's good not to be flying a paramotor
Last night (Sun, Aug 3, 2008 9pm or so)
I was sitting at Dallas Love's gate 6, prepping for my next flight. We
had just landed uneventfully under clear skies with light winds (max of
8 mph) and there was no ugly weather nearby, at least that we were
concerned with. The aviation forecast was good, too, calling for steady,
light winds and clear skies all night long.
Then, 10 minutes before pushing back, with the brakes set, the plane
started rocking around.
At first I thought it was from another jet powering its way out. Not
so. Looking around we could see whipping flags, blowing dust and debris
racing across the ramp. That doesn't come from one airplane. Where was
that from? I called ground control and asked. They said winds had
suddenly increased to 25 mph with gusts over 40 mph--a sudden blow that
had no warning and built up within only a few minutes. I asked if they
had any weather nearby and he said the closest activity was a rain cell
40 miles south. FORTY MILES!
Just goes to show that yes, we may get away with flying near towering
cumulus and even thunderstorms most of the time, but not always. I would
not have wanted to be flying a paramotor when that gust front came
It's a powerful reminder to me, personally, to make sure I give any
convective activity plenty of clearance. Admittedly, these things are
more powerful in dry, hot climates, but I've had similar experiences
even in humid Florida.
Lord willing, I'll endure such surprises only from something weighing
over 100 pounds and preferable secured to the ground.