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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.
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
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
A Crowdless Salton Sea
I've never flown here without a large crowd of people. Wow, this is
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
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
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.
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
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
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.