2008 Oct 05 Naperville, IL to Salem, IL
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What a way to start the trip. It looked like a little fly-in at
Northern Illinois' Enjoy Field, a hang glider training facility that is
The Enterprise has embarked on a planned 20 month tour of new places,
starting with Houston, TX. On the way, Tim Kaiser and I hope to fly
numerous sites with different folks and the first stop was perfect.
Alex, Pete, John, Jaro, Mike (Koval), Lance, Wes, and a few others
were there. It was fun to have us all in one place for the first time in
a while. Tim took his first flight on the extra small Axis Pluto, a wing
I'll be reviewing this trip, both for its flight characteristics and how
it looks on camera.
As we arrived, a hang glider was landing. They were done for the day,
we were just beginning. Perfect.
Several new pilots were flexing their wings, that's always good to
see, and all had a great time. Thanks to owner Joe Yobbka for welcoming
us to his slice of heaven.
Row one: 1) Alex Varv & Pete Sachs cruise together. 2) Alex Varv swooping
the field. 3 & 4) Pilots getting ready for launch at Enjoy Field. 5)
Lance Marczak gets up close and personal to the corn.
Row two: 1) Pilots setting up and landing. 2 & 3) Tim Kaiser above the
It's always nice to have a welcoming place and Kenny provided just
that. We flew the bumpy morning, climbing up into a smooth, strong wind
aloft that didn't let us go anywhere. The lake was inviting but we
didn't want to push it. I made several flights, including one on the
Pluto to see how it behaved in Turbulence. No issues and it doesn't
accordion anywhere near as much as the spice. Brake pressure is higher
but it will dive as requested, a characteristic I want. Any wing,
including the spice, can be turned just as flat as any other, but a wing
that doesn't yaw when braked cannot be dived easily.
Next stop was Salem, IL. Kenny joined us there, too, as we flew out
Tim's constricted area launch. It was plenty big as long as the motor
kept running but we flew as if it would quit anytime so the entire
climbout was within the confined area.
My mission was helmet cam work
and that went great. Until I realized that the manual focus wasn't. Bad
words issued forth. Thankfully, some of the footage that followed
getting the camera setup came out pretty decent.
Flying with Kenny and
Tim was great this time. Smooth calm is where its at. Kenny scared up a
deer that startled me as much as him since I was following right behind
with the camera. He was a big one according to Kenny.
Memphis, TN &
The Enterprise door blew out of my hand when I opened it. "That can't
be good" I thought. It wasn't. Not for flying, anyway, but we needed to
get video of high wind kiting and hey, here was some high wind. Why not.
I did some of the more mundane stuff then started climbing the
Enterprise. That was fun. Getting to the top, pushing off, landing on
top again. I did it with Tim shooting from the side, from far away, and
from on top of the Enterprise.
Finally, with a half-hour to go before sunset, I took to the air. It
was bumpy but tolerable, a 2 on the scale. I got some video, Tim got
some cool stills while I landed on the Enterprise which is, I might add,
named after an aircraft carrier. I'm just putting it to good use.
also found out, courtesy of Roy Beisswinger, that I'm currently the #1
ranked pilot in the
World Air Games qualifications
(as of Oct 8, 2008). OK, so it's a small
world for us, it's still kinda cool. Gotta enjoy my 15 minutes, right?
There are quite are several top-ranked pilots in that group so it feels
good. It was also exciting to find out that Stan Kasica and Chad Bastian
are likely to be on the U.S. team, representing our country in Italy.
Both are great folks and great pilots.
As morning came over our parking spot along a highway, all that was drowning out the sound of trucks roaring past was thunderous rain. Great. Radar wasn't very encouraging, either, but there
was hope. If we could make it west of Jackson, MS, we might be able to
drive out of. Our first plan was to brush through New Orleans, visiting
Bud Johnson, but he didn't think there was much to see. So we opted for
the shortest route to get west of the thundergoo line.
There was an
airport only 40 minutes west, a little GA airport painted on expansive
flood plain. Perfect. We checked with the airport folks who were very
welcoming. Dexter showed us around and the airport manager offered up a
grassy area south of the main ramp. It was perfect.
pushed from the SSW right against the hangar. Tim parked the Enterprise
perpendicular to the flow so it would be easy to kite up or maybe even
There was a nice hangar, too, about 10 feet tall and running several
hundred feet. Now maybe I could soar that? Turned out, it wasn't quite
enough but I sure got good video trying. Too bad the camera wasn't
rolling when I got gusted against the hangar. Stronger conditions would
have been easier but trying to get up during this gusty stuff was tough.
Darned glad I had that helmet on. I came darned close to soaring that
We got probably 8 minutes towards the video which is
Evening came around with little letup in the wind but it was
reasonably steady so Tim and I launched. He played on the hay bales
while I practiced filming. It's useless footage due to the 2 level bumps
but was still good practice.
Neither of us flew for long but clouds, colors and Tim made for some
interesting photos. I was so loaded with camera gear that I'm surprised
I could get up. Especially with my poor ragged out Spice. God love her,
she's looking a bit long in the tooth. Still flies like a dream.
The Airport's Dexter came by, gave us exit directions and wished us
well. Another great time. Our hope is to fly the Mississippi River
tomorrow. We'll see. Rain is pelting the roof right now but hopefully it
will pass. It's supposed to.
flying I heard a whack but nothing changed. The engine purred, thrust
remained and nothing was ticking. Hmmm. Noises like that are never good
so I didn't stay up much longer. Sure enough, after returning to earth,
we found one exhaust bolt missing. And I had JUST tightened them. Need
safety wire but those holes are such a pain to drill.
The bolt, like
everything else that leaves the paramotor, left its mark on my nice
prop. But of course.
Then it was onward. Southwestward. And I had a
prop to fix. It was probably quite the sight tonight while fixing my prop's bolt
gouge. I went outside, under an overhang to apply Shelac at
"Bubbas" service station. Not the same Bubba we know in Colorado but I'm
thankful for his bit-o-shelter.
Row One: 1) Kenny Carlock near Coffeen, IL. 2) Jeff & Tim at Vicksburg,
MS, 3) Shooting all manner of guns. 4) Jeff banking around in Salem.
Row Two: 1) Kenny preparing to nail a forward. 2) Jeff landing. 3) Tim
nailing a forward. 4) Jeff launching to try the air in Salem.
if you fly a machine with fabric around the cage hoop you must put
slippery tubing around it. Your paraglider lines will thank you and
your forward launches will suddenly become brainless. Yes, I know, it's
in the book but, for some reason I didn't have this stuff on my
Blackhawk and just wiggled the A's on each launch. Now I've got it and
there's no more wiggling.
I've got a million things I SHOULD be
doing and this Blog isn't one of them. Oh well, I enjoy it. Hopefully
you'll not see any more of these for a while--it means I'm getting my
real work done.
On To Houston
Eventful would be an understatement. The trip is now complete so this
is but a quick summary.
We flew some friendly fields, friendly airports and put enough miles
behind us to end up in League City, Texas, home of Andy McAvin, Beery
Miller and a bunch of other Texas Wingnuts. From there we spend the next
two days flying with various Texas boys, first on East Beach then West
Wow, that's impressive. First off, it's impressive how much
destruction is visible. Just driving in you can see miles of debris.
Most of the places seem structurally sound but are reeling from flood
damage. The inundated innards have frequently been piled out on the
street along with appliances and other detritus of civilized dwelling.
It will take many months before this place sees any semblance of
What a contrast flying on the beach was. Of course there was
still debris everywhere--strange debris at that. Childrens toys, parts
of picnic tables, containers, kitchen contents, and the list goes on.
But the flying was awesome.
Andy was gracious enough to do some work for the Master PPG video
both in front of and behind the camera. One fun shot was when he drove
the truck as I flew just behind with Tim filming as I demonstrated
pendulum swings, slow flight to fast flight and other things. The air
was surprisingly turbulent so the footage will have marginal use but
having different angles and styles adds interest. At one point I got
dumped and had to run it out. That's wouldn't be a problem except that I
pulled a muscle. Ouch.
Flying all day is sure sweet. We did a bunch of flights and quit
because we'd had enough.
I flew the small Velvet. What a ride. It actually reminded me of
flying a Speed-flying wing which is said to be more like a skydiving
canopy. When you steep turn it and point towards the ground, it stays
pointed there for longer than most. That's actually a cool behavior but
you gotta know it's coming.