Enterprise Returns, Master PPG & More
Phoenix to Chicago, taping, editing and other news
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I'm making enormous progress with Master Powered Paragliding 1:
Advanced Ground Handling. 25 of 90 minutes of finished. That's huge.
Mind you that I've gone nearly 18 months writing, recording narration,
shooting, and animating, but not getting anything edited together. No
more. I'm now getting to put all the pieces together and it is extremely
rewarding. A lot of work, to be sure, but with results I can now see in
finished product. 25 minutes doesn't sound like a lot but after seeing
zero minutes for all this time it's tremendous to me.
This video is about teaching, not showing off. So there are lots of
graphics and explaining what the pilots are doing—the finer points,
along with tips and techniques—that I wish I had after getting the
basics. Some of it is review but most of it concentrates on more
advanced concepts. There are 14 chapters in video where chapter 10 is
the meat and potatoes, reverse kiting with a harness.
Tim Kaiser and I brought the Enterprise back from Phoenix and nasty
weather means that I only got one flight and that was back in Phoenix.
But I got lots of taping done! We had extremely high winds so I took
advantage of that to get shots that I needed, filling black holes on the
2010-May 29 Local Enterprise Trip
As I write this, Tim is taking us westward for a Memorial Day short
cruise and I'm sucking in video from this morning's shoot. We flew last
evening at our premier Chicago site, the polo field. Got some necessary
footage first then Tim and I launched for little evening glass-off. Just
after giving Tim grief on the radio about getting his camera out, a loud
noise signaled the demise of something expensive combined with
vibration. It was still producing thrust so I briefly considered
continuing but figured it would only get more expensive and wisely
pushed the stop-cost button. I managed one last radio
transmission: "Something broke, I'm landing now" at which Tim came
around and snapped pictures. Great.
My 5 year old muffler finally and completely gave up the ghost,
cracking near the cylinder. Thankfully I have a brand new one that
should have been installed already. Bummer is that I saw the crack on
preflight and figured I'd get a couple more flights out of it. Dumb
dumb. We ran by the house to swap out motors and hit the road.
Shooting For Master Powered Paragliding
See the video's log here
We're getting a few shots for chapter 1.9 and improving on shots used
in 1.5 and 1.6. Every now and then the narration describes something
that I haven't taped just right and these excursions give me the chance
to improve on things.
It's obvious now why movie productions are organized the way they
are. This is a training production so I'm striving for clarity. That's easier in many ways because the script
is more concrete than, say, a acted drama. But there's still room for
improvised improvement, even if
re-narrating is required. Mostly because, in the process of taping other
stuff, I see the value of including some left-out concepts or
techniques. It's the never-ending project.
As I watch scenes gel on the timeline, though, it helps inspire me.
Videos 2 through 4 will go much faster as I learn how better to organize
my time and resources; shooting with better clarity of purpose. You
almost have to go out with the script in hand—a simple shot list isn't
enough. The shot list just tells what you need to get based on
what assets and conditions exist at the time. For example, calm air work
needs to be done in calm air, whether the scenes require a motor, kiting
harness or whatnot. The shot list tells which scenes can be done, the script
tells how to do them. It's quite intensive. Plus, I'm learning a lot
about how to name things. I see now the value of labeling shots not only
by what they do but where in the script they're intended to be.
Thankfully, some shots can be used in several places. They frequently
get combined with different graphics anyway.
Thanks so much to Tim Kaiser. Without his efforts this project would
be nigh impossible. Besides acting as occasional pilot, he's frequently
the director, driver, reviewer, camera man, and critiquer of output. If
he doesn't like it, changes are made. Rest assured the final output will
be much better as a result of him. And, as much as Phil Russman
hates to hear it, he's also enormously responsible for making the
production much better than it would have otherwise been. Thanks guys!
Memorial Day 2010
A brief note of thanks to the soldiers who make this freedom
possible. I relish my ability to engage in free speech, to fly when I
want and essentially where I want, and to have more freedom than
anywhere on earth. A good 2/3 of all humans aren't so lucky and it bears
mentioning that things could have been different here our soldiers not
served. I'm thankful for their ultimate sacrifice and to those who still
serve. So many of us have different opinions but, we should all be
appreciative of the freedoms so grudgingly wrested from the hands of
those who would willingly usurp them. Men and women of the military, my
hat's off to you and your brave service.
We're going to enjoy some non-flying fun around Madison, meeting
friends and hopefully roller blading the downtown if good paths exist.
It looks like a cool town. Then in the evening we're hoping to meet up
with Hal, Pat, and Jeff B. for nothing but flight. No filming this time
mostly because I don't have a good shot list for those resources.
If things go REALLY well I hope to soar some place along the coast.
They're going to blindfold me and lead me there so I can't tell anyone
where it is, though, so I know we'll have to be on our best behavior.
And it's warm! Did I mention how much I hate the cold? Well let me
now mention the opposite: I love the warmth. Crank the A/C and hit the
gas, Tim, we goin' flyin!
Saturday Afternoon May 29
After a brief visit to downtown Madison, we connected with local
pilot Hal to meet at one of his haunts east of town. Hal is quite the
survivor, having beaten cancer and continuing on keep flying these crazy
things although now he's into trikes. He's got the latest iteration of
Terry's four-stroke machine.
What a treat to meet up with several of the Central Wisconsin pilots
at Rockdale, where Hal flies. Jeff D, Jeff B, Pat S, and Hal.
Conditions weren't great so we kited for a while. In fact, now that I
think about it, Pat and I are tied in a kite war and need to do a
Eventually it mellowed out enough that I was willing to play guinea
pig. Our launch site, Rockdale International Airport (a euphemism if
ever I heard one!) is a beautiful lilttle grass ultralight field that is
surrounded by healthy trees and hills to the northeast. Rotor lives
At first it was clearly nasty, a fact made obvious by the difficulty
in kiting there. Sometimes you had to run backwards to keep enough
airflow and other times you get lifted. Kiting is always fun, though,
and several of put our wings up, including Hal who was motivated to get
back into foot launching. Go get em!
The flying was indeed bumpy down low, as you would expect, with
baby-butt smooth above about 300 feet AGL.
Afterwards flying and kibitzing we at in the dark (outside) at
Heather's Bar & Grill.
Oh what great fun the whole experience is!
Sunday May 30: Paraglider KiteSkating (or
One of our missions was to roller blade the Milwaukee
shoreline—Sunday became the day. Soon after hitting the path we discovered
it was their kite festival. Hundreds of people were out there with
all manner of kites and kiters from dangers-to-society to extremely skilled formation
stunt flyers. Most were toy-like affairs with toy-sized humans hanging
on or running them into flight.
At one point they sung our national anthem to the scene of a giant
hang-glider kite and a formation of red, white, and blue stunt kites. It
was quite spectacular. I'm not sure why the Canadian National Anthem was
performed just before but I'm happy to honor our neighbors to the north
as well. Our soldiers have fought along side each other many times.
After skating aplenty we headed back, by all the hubbub, planning to
leave, when I got this crazy idea.
fly kites, right? Big one, for sure, but they're still kites. So
Tim, poor Tim, agreed again to be both victim and camera man while
indulging me in another crazy pursuit, paraglider KiteSkating.
Mind you, I've done this before but here was an ocean
breeze, in a huge park, with paved paths and an audience interested in
flying kites. Admittedly we were quite a ways from the main attractions
just because I wanted to have room with fewer people around. This time.
So we skated back to the motorhome, grabbed camera gear, a harness and wing,
then skated back to do our deeds at Milwaukee's Memorial park.
At first the breeze was so light I had to do a forward inflation and
just skate down the bike path while kiting the wing, turning off to the
right in order to avoid a group of flagpoles. This was no place to risk
an embarrassing wing drape over flagpoles! That went well and I did it a
couple more times but then the wind picked up. Game on!
Soon the wind picked up and I was getting lifted. I've got to tell
you that this was the most fun I've ever had under a paraglider without
being at a mountain or powered. It was more fun than flying. Well,
regular flying, anyway. Not that I'm going to give up flying and just do
paraglider KiteSkating, but if I can find more opportunities, I'll
certainly take them!
These are all video extracts so the quality isn't as good as still
pictures, especially since the video is interlaced, meaning that
each shot is intended to have two frames. 1) My partner in crime,
Tim Kaiser carried the wing while I filmed. 2) Northbound. 3)
Southbound. 4) It got stronger until I was occasionally "getting
air." That's when this got to be incredibly cool. Here I've gotten
lifted but manage to stay upright and keep kiting. Tim did all the recording, of course, with my hillbilly
steadicam, and the shots came out great.
See the video's log here.
After all the kiting excitement we headed south and met a couple
pilots at Winfield Airport. Instructor Mikey and one of his early
student's (now very experienced pilot) Rafal. The weather wasn't ideal
but we were able to get some time aloft. Unfortunately, motor problems
kept Tim grounded. I landed to see what why he wasn't launching and
offered him to take my miniplane for a ride while I putsed with his
machine. I flew his machine around but had to hold the throttle up to
keep it from dying. This should be easy to fix. The big bummer was that,
when he went to start my motor, he heard a "funny noise" and wisely shut
it off right away. Somehow, one of the starter pawls had gotten on the
other side of where it should be and the noise was it hitting things it
shouldn't be hitting. Had it run another few seconds, or at high power,
it would have destroyed many dollar signs. This is an easy fix.
are some significant requirements about flying out of Winfield that must
be respected so please, contact Mikey Cannela before flying there. All
sites are sensitive in some way and this is no exception. One cool thing
was a reported meteor crater visible in the swamp just northwest of
runway 18/38. Sure looks like one to me. I've got pictures and may get
them up here.
We got our fill this trip, and a wonderful fill it's