Phoenix Flying Circus
2009-Feb-2 Clowning around, aerially speaking
Now this is way cool to see: Paratoys has come to the Flying Circus.
In fact, Paradrenalin is here along with Fly Products and, of course,
the main sponsor, AirParamo. Adam Bell of AeroSmack is taking on lots of
the responsibilities and many others are helping. Paracruiser Leon,
TrikeBuggy Chad Bastian and others.
These two events are quite different, Paratoys and the Flying Circus.
Both feel bigger this year. It's awesome to see the dealers to be in one
It's like old home week all over again. Thanks to Wayne and Susie
Mitchler who brought my camera gear here from Paratoys and the Dunes.
I checked in about noon and headed out to the field. To my surprise,
somebody was flying at 1pm.
The Nirvana folks are fearless, flying their tiny little 16 meter
wing all day long. They were first up after the winds came and finally
died off a bit.
I've been flying a Fly 115 that's for sale (used but barely). Nice
machine that ran perfectly. My gear is back with the Enterprise in San
An nice afternoon was shaping up when, seemingly out of nowhere, a
big blow came in. Of course I went out for some kiting. John Black,
whose having a beach fly-in this May, came along to help make sure I
didn't wind up in Colorado. It was very turbulent air, churned up by the
hotel that rises 8 stories upwind. We went out quite a ways on the field
but it was still nasty. Besides getting lifted a bunch of times, sharp
gusts made it great practice simply keeping the wing overhead. Good
practice, though, and I got lots of sliding in.
Then it mellowed out somewhat. Pavlov with the Nirvana mini wing
(I'll get its name eventually) was first off. Man is that fast. After
Adam Bell launched, I headed out with the helmet camera figuring, "what
the heck, might as well."
Good thing I did, the sun poked out beneath a layer of clouds and
painted the place is gorgeous colors. I captured some great footage.
Unfortunately, that means I did NOT get any stills. Gotta
Lots of very interesting activities are planned. The weather forecast
is a moving target that has changed a lot in the past two days. Friday
(today) is supposed to be very nice and even Saturday, which isn't so
good, has improved. We'll see. As always, it is what you get.
Last night was fun lounging around in the bar catching up on mutual
More to come, for now I'm headed off for the field.
There was a surprising amount of flying that went one although I
think that at least half of it was done by the Nirvana Team. What a fun
bunch of guys. Great pilots, too. They'll be in Italy for the World Air
Games and, although I'll be competing against them, it appears we'll
have some fun along the way.
We also did a few kiting wars which was fun. The first one out I
thought I won but was looking at the wrong cones for boundaries and
apparently started out of bounds. The second victory came within the
boundaries and I didn't want to push my luck on the third which Mo
There were a number of interesting forums and, this year, I skipped
the usual airspace subject and talked about something nearer and
dearer—precision flying. That passion is what's driving me to work on
"Master Powered Paragliding." It's been educational for me in a lot of
ways—not just flying but also about the video making process. This is an
Bill Heaner and I share a passion for kiting. He's the master of "Parabatics"
as he calls it and would have tried kiting to the observatory's ceiling
had the winds cooperated. Even though it became windy, turbulence from
being downstream of the hotel made it impossible. He did, however, climb
the wall of a wind-facing building. I tried but only got halfway up
before it let up. I just didn't have quite enough lift with my heavier
weight and small (22m) wing. Plus, he's just better at it than I.
Learning and improving sure is fun, though.
Phoenix's Channel 10 was there all morning broadcasting from the
field and interviewing pilots. It was cool knowing our sport was getting
good representation. We also made the 5 O'clock news.
In spite of a horrible forecast only the day before, Saturday dawned
perfect. Don't go by the forecasts! Everybody that wanted to flew on
Saturday. Rober Kitilla's son took his 3rd flight after succeeding on a
difficult light-wind launch.
Oh boy is there a lot in this category. New wings were there
including the much ballyhooed Eden 4 and Dudek Plasma. I haven't tried
the Eden 4 but any improvement on this successful model will only make
it that much more successful. I have flown the Plasma and plan a partial
review of it along with the Paramania Fusion. Both wings are great fun
to fly, and, to me, quite similar. They are in a class of reflex wings
that I finally would consider owning. They take more A's on launch, a
bit more runway, but finally have exquisitely good handling when trimmed
slow and pretty decent handling when trimmed fast using the wingtip
Several new motors were there with Nirvana being among the most
unique. They had a carbon fiber frame and cage with minimalist netting
and a powerful 200 cc motor. When paired with their lightweight trike
and a skilled pilot, they pulled off reverse inflations by just standing
up with the trike and turning into the wind. Very nicely done. Of course
I got them to do it a couple times for the video. It may well be
possible to do that with other lightweight trikes.
Another REALLY cool aspect was how so many vendors were there. It was
especially cool to see Paratoys there and talk is that they are planning
on coordinating their events to be a week apart for next year. That
would be a real boon to many of us who like to make a 10 day trip out of
it with both events on each end.
This year I concentrated on getting required footage for the video
and only flew a few times. My ride, a now-sold used Fly 115 was
flawless. The Simonini, sucking through Bing's best, does a great job of
delivering smooth power through its entire throttle range. I'm a big fan
of lightweight pull starts but pushing that button to start sure is
nice. And if my 148 pound self can heft the thing than it can't be that
Robert Kitilla, a photo and video heavyweight, gave me some tips to
improve my Steadicam work and lighting. Hopefully that will show on the
A lot of what I'm showing involves the basics of control before
putting it all together. But it's cool to get experts using the tools to
accomplish difficult tasks to see how well the tools work.
Most of the requisite footage was done on the ground but I also got
some great helmet cam shots. Adjustments to my viewer made it more
effective, bringing the eyepiece closer to my eye so I can better frame
There's more, of course, and some trips planned for March should help
fill in the gaping black stretches of timeline.
My hat is off to Mo Sheldon, Adam Bell and the many others who
volunteered to pull it off. Unfortunately, work beckoned and I had to
leave Saturday afternoon. Even though the flying was limited due to
winds, it was a great opportunity to see what was out there in terms of
gear and meet the people that bring it to us.