Texas Treat

2008-11-02 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 habitable.

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.

XC Excess

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 joined me.

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 sound.


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 the exceptions.

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.

Chris entertains some spectators that stopped to check us out. "I'm gonna get into this" was the comment we heard most. One was a skydiver so he's halfway there.

Unfortunately, most of my pictures remain behind on the "Enterprise camera."  Bummer. They'll have to wait for my next visit.

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