Log

Phoenix Flying Circus

2009-Feb-2 Clowning around, aerially speaking

Game on.

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 place.

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.

Thursday

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 Diego.

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 sacrifice somewhere.

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 lies.

More to come, for now I'm headed off for the field.

Friday

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 Sheldon won.

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 ambitous undertaking.

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.

Saturday

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.

What's New

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 steering.

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.

Video

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 bad.

Robert Kitilla, a photo and video heavyweight, gave me some tips to improve my Steadicam work and lighting. Hopefully that will show on the final product.

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 the targets.

There's more, of course, and some trips planned for March should help fill in the gaping black stretches of timeline.

People

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.

Thanks guys!

 

1. Adam Bell and Pavlov. It's not that Pavlov is that much farther away, it's that his wing is so small! And of course he's just zinging by us at breakneck speed.

Thanks to Adam who is the perfect video victim, knowing what I need and flying it beautifully.

2. The kit and kaboodle. Thanks to Mo for letting me fly this sweet running Fly 115.


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