Beach air rocks!
Getting to "West Beach" on Galveston island is surreal. Even after
the several weeks since my last trip here, boats are strewn along the
highway. Houses tilt at awkward angles on leaning stilts. Piles of
debris are everywhere and blue tarps cover parts of most beachside
structures. Yet there are signs of life. Electricity appears to be
flowing farther down the island and construction equipment is
proliferating. Recovery is clearly underway.
Humans are like ants. Muck up their homes and they tend to start
running around restoring things as quick as resources allow.
The Texas Wingnuts are a friendly bunch of paramotorheads who held an
impromptu gathering on the diminished, but still expansive, West Beach.
I arrived Friday and it was great meeting some new faces and
reacquainting with some old ones. Old in two senses!
There was nothing official, really, including permission to be there.
But the local government is taking the big picture and dealing with much
larger issues. Plus, some of those camped on the beach are probably
there because there's nowhere else to go while their home is made
Industrious are these Chaps. Wait until you see the "beach bathroom."
We flew our brains out, helped some newbies, ate copiously and took
one of our own to the hospital for what could have been a really bad
deal. His prop snacked on phalange filet in an incident that could have
served up the whole course.
Ky and Lon were everywhere with the video camera and helped me get
footage for the Master PPG videos. I'm very appreciative.
Man do I love those winds. You can do so much when it gets up to a
steady 12+ mph and the Enterprise served as a nice little landing deck.
One time was pretty sporty but, fortunately, I managed to stay on my
feet. Chill out, Jeff, chill out. Fun can get a little out of hand, too.
One long cross country turned out to be a longer than my 1.5 hour
endurance would accommodate. When we passed the 50 minute point I knew it
would be one-way. I was told it was about 35 minutes one way which would
leave me with some reserve. I wasn't worried, though, since good road
runs next to the beach all the way.
After consuming my requisite quantity of diet coke, we headed back.
Chris Page was in the same boat, having only filled his enormous tank
half way. So he arranged a refuel at the halfway back point and we all
launched. There were about six of us.
So Chris and I were flying back together, awaiting for the first prop
to stop. It turned out to be me. But it wasn't because of fuel. It was a
sensation of heat on my harness that immediately made me suspect a
turned tip on the exhaust. Sure enough, I put my hand back there and
felt hot exhaust blowing on my harness. That's distinctly bad (you have
read the USPPA incidents list, right?) I shut it down and landed. Chris
There's still something cool about setting down somewhere else, even
when it's not by desire. I actually had the tools to fix this problem,
at least temporarily, but elected not to push it and rode back. Mike
"Cowboy" was kind enough to give me a ride back and Chris got some more
fuel to finish the flight.
Ahhh, just another adventure.
Thanks to Lon Key for the video extract shot at right. If only it had
Here's why I love the statement "such-and-such brand of paramotor is
bullet proof." Yeah right. In the last few weeks I've watched just about
every machine type crap out. A Simonini's crank broke. A Black Devil
muffler tip (mine) came loose. A Solo's square muffler cracked. Another
Simonini machine quit for no apparent reason and set the pilot down on
the beach. A Top-80 clutch gave out. An HE flywheel broke and the pilot
got a ride back. The list goes on.
This is why when someone asks me to recommend a machine that's
reliable, I tell them a Chevy. Lets face it, when you buy one of these
things, you either sign up for the 2-stroke repair course or you'll
eventually get some serious ground time.
Of course there are exceptions. I have a Solo 210 direct-drive Fly at
home that refuses to die. And it doesn't seem to matter what, or how
old, the fuel is. Go figure. And I've talked to the lucky few who have
put many hours on their brand-whatever without much ado. But they are
To the motor's credit, it's frequently something unrelated to the
engine itself—clogged carb, twisted fuel line, bad plug, starter, etc,
but it still results ground time. I'd rather be in the air than on the
on the ground, repairing, and wishing I were in the air.
Another Great Time
Sonny's BBQ was delicious, I got introduced to, and liked Boudan
(sp?), and had a great time telling lies around the campfire.
Overall it was an awesome weekend. When I get back down to the
Enterprise I'll get those pictures uploaded.
Thanks to the hospitality of the Texas Wingnuts, I and many others,
had a great time.