Glamis to Los Angeles

Enterprise Log Mar 17, 2009 | See also Tim Kaiser's log entry

After a couple weeks of immersing myself into animation it was good to come up for air. Way up. Tim Kaiser and myself headed for the Enterprise, cooling its wheels in San Diego, to go for another stab at flying Glamis Dunes only this time with something less than a gale wind. We succeeded.

Wayne and Susan Mitchler had staked out a place in the free area southwest of exit 166 just a few miles west of Yuma, AZ, but still in CA. They even ordered up a steady but smooth little breeze for supreme launch ease. Nice work.

We flew evening, morning and evening and could have done much more. You just can't beat quitting because you're satiated. Usually it's because conditions soured.

The first evening, Wayne, Tim and I went up to capture a shot that shows the proper way to get into formation. Then I did a point of view shot of it. The main concept will be animated but it's always nice to have real inflight footage, too. Plus, of course, it's just fun to go out and fly the mission.

The next morning, Tim and I worked on a scene we've tried before but may have finally gotten right. It's where the launcher goes from wearing a kiting harness to wearing a motor. It will be interesting to see what that looks like when it's merged.

Sunday evening was the best. Warm, mellow but with enough breeze to allow for reverses. I did some spot landings while Tim Taped. These, too will be animated but I've got lots of live examples showing the technique, too. Tim and I then headed out for a sunset cruise to the Mexican border and southern dune. It was glorious. Wayne and Susan followed shortly thereafter. I had a full tank, full camera battery for the frame-mount camera, an empty tape, great pilots for company and open evening full of gorgeous skies. Shadows were deepening in the dune which beckoned. Ahhh.

Wayne had a motor problem and couldn't play with us. That was a bummer because the flying was magical. For Wayne and Susan, who are training students here (and do a great job of that), it wasn't a big deal. Wayne can fix anything.

As an aside, so far on this little trip, I've seen some flight ending, or flight preventing motor problem on 4 paramtors, all of different brands. An MZ313, Manzanerri, Black Devil (problem found and fixed on preflight), Top 80, and Simonini 202. Lets face it, though some may have a great experience, these things are anything but reliable. We ask the manufacturers for lots of power but without weighing anything and this is the tradeoff.  Yes, yes preflight and preventative maintenance can help, but some of these problems had no way of being found before flight—something just broke.

Another couple joined the group, full time RVers, who were enjoyable people to hang out with. They weren't flyers but enjoyed watching. Their thing was 4-wheeling.  And they were fascinating to talk with.

Peter and Andrea, Wayne's students, did a great job flying from what I saw and were also very enjoyable to hang out with. They're full-time RVing, traveling from site to site with the new Nirvana gear they bought just a couple month's prior.

That evening Tim and I packed up to head for the next target: the Salton Sea.

A Crowdless Salton Sea

I've never flown here without a large crowd of people. Wow, this is nice!

Don't get me wrong, the fly-in (Paratoys) is a blast and I love seeing everybody, but having this place to ourselves is remarkable. We pulled in, relaxed, set up, fixed our motors and went for a gorgeous evening flight.

Yes, about the fixing. I'm not Mr. Maintenance, I'll readily admit, but am the king of field fixing. When tim pulled his start handle, motor went "klunk." Oh crap. There I am, all dolled up with camera gear and radios, the setting sun is beckoning, and Tim's grounded. Great. So we set to trouble shooting.

Pulling the redrive revealed a broken clutch spring—not something I carry aboard. Hmmm, what now? I'm not gonna admit how I did it, but suffice it to say that we flew. We flew and filmed for a good 45 minutes, in fact, without incident, and the field fix held fine. Of course we didn't tread far from camp, either, but didn't need to. The required shots required some water foot-dragging and other simple maneuvering that was easy to do.


This stuff looks good, if I do say so. I'm getting better at smooth, well-framed helmet cam work with maneuvering. It's tough to be steady in spite of maneuvering but the results, when it works, are grand.

The next morning we did another session with some different shots and this time I remembered to get pilot point-of-view takes.

Tim did excellent, nailing every launch, flying with one foot dragging in a single wheel track, and doing water-borne foot drags. All with a Top 80. We were never in water deeper than a few inches, the theory being that, if he got sucked in, he'd be able to run enough to get the wing falling onto dry ground.

On return, we did some two-camera 10 step touch and goes where I recorded with the helmet cam while Tim was on the big cam (big to us, it's a Canon XH-A1). We finished off with some spot landings at idle then one power off. Two out of three, if you're wondering.

Booted From the Dome

Another fellow, Wayne, showed up to fly his quad. Bummer that he was only on about flight 5 but he was appropriately cautious and, after aborting one launch due to not having the brakes in his hand, he did perfectly. He also made a nicely conservative decision to reset into the new wind after it was brought up.

While Wayne was aloft, a fellow pulled up in a white pickup truck with very official "Imperial Irrigation District" emblem's adorning its doors.

"I'm sorry to tell you that the owners of this property, the Imperial Irrigation District, recently declared that flying here is not permitted due to liability concern." Ouch. That hurts. I started to explain why this site was so incredible and how people travel here from all over the country. That the fly-in attracts pilots from all over the world as indeed it has. That the site is so unique because of its perfect location by the beach and why that's so important to us.

He said, and I knew, that he was just the messenger. But he was reasonable and seemed to warm up to our situation. Although he couldn't personally do anything about it, he did give me some contacts. Although I'm not a local, I'll gladly participate in any way I can to see if there's something that can be done.

In talking with him more and more I discovered that this stemmed from complaints about noise from neighbors.

Then I got the real story from local pilot Bert, who winters there for weeks and months at a time. It goes something like this.

In the recent past, a dispute came up between flyers and the homeowners association (called "the Dome" for it's dome-shaped clubhouse) that border the site. It may have been about the fly-in or about continued flying there. It may have been about payment or permission simply to use it. The homeowners association thought they owned the site but, after a pilot did some research, found out they didn't. Apparently, someone from the association went and complained to the Water District who, at first, just said "no" to having organized fly-ins there. But within the past month decided there would be no flying there whatsoever.

Today they sent someone out to enforce it and I was his first point of contact. He was actually quite civilized and, it seems that he warmed up a bit when he realized there would be no screaming, only explanations of why the site is so incredible for our particular use.

What a travesty, of course, since motocross and other uses will, apparently, not fall under the ban. This huge expanse of PPG perfection torpedoed because of insurance. Of course the real reason is noise and the complaints resulted. After all, we'd been flying there for years and nobody paid much attention until "the Dome" decided to raise the flag when they discovered they didn't own it and couldn't charge/control for it.

There are, fortunately, many other places to fly on the shore. In fact, the Irrigation fellow offered that, although they own the land we were on and many other parcels along the beach, they did NOT own the land only a half-mile north. He was clearly understanding of our plight but had to do his job. What a bummer. 

So Tim and I decided to pack it in and head north. We'd had two gorgeous flights and, with his motor running on my field fix, didn't really want to take on the canyons as we originally planned. It would look cool, for sure, but wouldn't really support the video directly. We'd accomplished more than we set out to do so we bade our farewells and headed out.

More here.


Bert Hall, author, paramotor pilot, RV expert and general gentleman, had been there from some time but wasn't flying due to motor troubles. He's a wealth of information.

I've been increasingly worried about the Enterprise's rear wheels and asked Bert for an opinion. He thought the cracking was enough that they might be ready for "reTIREment," pardon the pun. Plus, it's difficult to get to the inner tires valve stem and the manual says get them serviced professionally. Reason being that they worry over the tire exploding, shooting you full of rim and rubber shrapnel. So I figured I'd get flexible valve extensions installed and have the tires looked at.

After an hour or so of driving, we stopped at a recommended tire shop and I was truly amazed at what happened. Remember, a friend said the tires may be bad, and here I was at a tire shop asking for an assessment. I fully expected him to suggest the most expensive tires right away. That we were riding on rolling time bombs with a short fuse--rubber dynamite. That shrapnel could burst through...etc., etc.

Nope, that's not not at all what they said.

Rather, he explained that my 5 year old tires were fine but needed to be properly inflated (they were low) and kept out of the sun. Whew! That saved me about $600 at least. And the charge for putting on the extensions? $10. That was after at least a half-hour of mucking with it.

So if you're needing good, sound advice on tires, this place comes highly recommended. If THEY say you need new tires, don't dawdle!

Ruebens Tire Shop, Coachella, CA is a a gem amongst coal. Thanks guys.


So now we're off to Marshal where we plan to spend the night and go soaring tomorrow. Hopefully the weather cooperates. Today will be a somewhat relaxing day without any stress as we get the generator serviced and travel only about 60 more miles.

Enough of this log business, it's back to animation and script.


1. Border Canals. At Tim's left is the Mexico border fence.

2. The Enterprise top. This picture is for use in the animation to be painted on to the Enterprise model that's used for scale in various scenes.

3. Jeff, Wayne, and Susie. by Tim Kaiser

4. Tim flying a dawn flight along the Salton Sea shoreline.

5. The Rube Goldberg on my helmet looks bad but allows me to angle the camera towards various parts of the paraglider while I watch the action through a viewfinder on my right eye. Flying with this contraption is a pain since objects in the window are, in fact, a lot closer than they look! by Paul Germann from Canada. This kind gent was taking pictures and shared them with us. Thanks.

6. This fellow came by a low enough altitude that we were happy not to be airborne. by Tim Kaiser.


Tim over the canal and dunes.

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