2010-03-18 Return To Flying
Finally getting around to posting this--a trip from March 18th that
I've been remiss in getting up owing to my Master PPG editing pursuits.
That's consuming copious amounts of spare time. The project moves but
there's a lot to it.
From March 18...
After being unable to fly for 3 weeks it's nice to be back amongst
the flying. I left the enterprise in a painful exodus from Phoenix after
getting thumped while kiting. So it was exceedingly happy to return and
get things in order then more importantly, get airborne again.
I arrived Thursday afternoon and spent the time getting everything in
order, including some motorhome and paramotor work. Remember the dune?
The last flying done with my motor was Phil Russman taking the top off
of a sand dune. You're not supposed to fly through those things but he
did, and actually managed to continue flying. But wood props at full
power don't do well with all that sand. Remember, its sandpaper that's used to reshape wood. Well it reshaped alright!
Turf Soaring School
This place is great. You can come fly paramotor AND go soaring with
Turf. They've got a full-time commercial soaring school here on the
field and this is the second time I've made good use of it. Before
paramotoring, make sure to check with Ryan of Paradrenalin to learn the
rules. We don't want to ruin a good deal.
I met Ryan and his instructor-helper along with Adam and his son
Wyatt. We flew in the morning then again in the evening but during
Mid-day, Mo Sheldon and Wayne Mitchler went up with me in the sailplane.
That was fun, especially since it was soarable albeit barely. We were
pressed for time since Mo had to get back to training but got in
probably 20 minutes after release and left weak lift to land. Wayne's
flight was necessarily even shorter.
Three axis control is obviously an entirely different animal than
paraglider control but it's fun to learn like anything else. If you get
a chance and can spare the spare change (it'll consume probably 100
shiny shekels). These guys have both been very helpful with filming for
Master PPG so these flights were on me.
Another thing about soaring. Staying up in this type of glider feels
identical to staying up in a paraglider. I remember my initial training
when I exulted in coring my first thermal. Man did that feel good. You
build a mental map of where the lift is and circle there. That simple.
Choose a bank angle that results in maximum climb. A steep bank makes
you sink faster but if that keeps you in the best lift it might be worth
We didn't do any long flights since it was kind of chilly (see below)
but I did try out that wing again, the Komaka XS. I'll get a review up
on it because, if I was to buy another wing right now, this would be it.
At 19 squares it's about right for size for lightweights who don't mind
going lickety split on launch and landing. It reminds me of the Gin
Bobcat that I flew at Salt Lake City but I haven't had an opportunity to
motor with it yet. Great handling—they feel like lifty versions of
speed-flying wings. The Bobcat is 16.5 so I'm sure it's that much
The next day I headed to join Mo and others for flying at Phoenix
Regional Airport. Kudos to the Indians for keeping it open and letting
us fly there. It's a huge open area with Mo's well-equipped shop right
across the street. Wayne and Susie were staying there along with
ParajetUSA's owner John Erickson.
Remember the Parajet that Mo let me fly if I could solve the toque
problem? It turns out that the harness was disconnected at a low
attachment point on the frame. I had come up with a temporary solution
that worked but was completely unnecessary. And I knew there was
something fishy because I'd flown other Parajet's, specifically
Marcello's, that worked fine.
I also flew the normal power Parajet which went well. I need to
record my comments immediately afterwards because I now can't remember
anything beyond it's plentiful power and good balance for a low hook-in
swing-arm machine. Like all their motors, it's one fine-looking machine.
I've also got the nomenclature wrong. There are several frame sizes and
engines available in the line but I can't keep them straight.
John Erickson, the new US Importer seems to be doing a great job of
promotion and support including having spare parts in stock so buyers
not need worry about getting parts from England. I wish the cage had
better hand protection but it's plentiful rigid so that if you grab a
piece of cage in a thrusting motor it would likely hold you back. As
always, it's best to avoid the possibility.
The Kids Are Flying!
I was thrilled to be there when Wyatt Bell took his first motor
flight. Mind you, he's been kiting for over a year and took to it
quickly. Plus he's quite mature in his decision making. At first it was
a bit breezy and, having just purchased the Miniplane, didn't want to
risk hurting it. As it happens he didn't have any worry--I've seen less
skilled wing handlers take on stronger conditions but it's good that
he's thinking that way. In fact when he did go up, it was entirely
anticlimactic. He made it look easy.
Congratulations Wyatt and helpful father Adam. I'll look forward to
now motoring with both father and son.
Completely unrelated to the Phoenix trip was my return to Chicago and
surprisingly mild weather. Who'da thunk it. March and the glaciers have
receded. It was great to fly locally after 10 months of winter. OK,
so it was only about 5 months but it sure felt like 10. And no
space-suit--the many protective layers that northerners don when faced
with any outside endeavor.
Winter. Where going outside feels like suiting up, stepping into an
airlock, then entering the frigid "out there." No, I'm not a big fan of
winter. No, I haven't made friends with the cold and yes, I know I
should move. Apparently I'm more distraught over the idea of moving than
of freezing. Go figure. But hey, that's what the Enterprise is fore, and
it's continuing mission to never be winterized.
I really like it here in the Chicago area -- for about 4 months every
year. Great people, great access to the world, and a great 10 minute
summer. Plus, I'll soon have another 5 pallets of PPG Bibles in the
hangar (yes, edition 3 is on the horizon). That's 8000 pounds worth of