Endless FootDrag 2011

Miles of smooth grass beckons us skyward

Go here for the most recent entry | Sportsmanship

I could have gone for another mile without turning, sliding both feet along the grassy smoothness of Oklahoma's 2nd largest sod farm. Kudos to the owners who let us fly here--this place is awesome!

We're just west of Ft. Smith, AR in the middle of expansive eminently-Launchable grass. Pull your paraglider out and launch right from your camp site. We're all parked in a central area near where they store equipment. Yes, this is a field and a potty fly-in but given the remarkable nature of the field, I'm lovin' it. Plus, I've got ice cubes in my drink, internet service and air conditioning if I choose to use it. All courtesy of the Enterprise. It's good being such a simpleton because just being able to sit here sucking down an ice cold beverage and writing on the computer totally amazes me.


Thursday was windy during the day but some pilots took advantage of an evening glass off. Not me; I didn't arrive until midnight. Friday morning was breezy which made it perfect for another fun time: paraSkating. I put the rollerblades on and used my paraglider to go back and forth on the enormous field. It was a blast. And a learned a bit more about how to do it and the limits.

paraSkating isn't has hard as you might think as long as you're real comfortable with the wing. It's far more about wing handling than it is about skating, in fact. Britton Shaw is a great wing handler but never skated before and thought this looked cool so he wanted to give it a try. And don't you know, he did a great job right from the git-go. After a couple amusing inflations where the wing tried to roll him into it, he got the thing figured out and was tacking like a wild man.

As an aside, don't ever park your motorhome at the Little Rock airport. So far, in 8 years of doing this, I've never been charged double if the lot is under 75% or so capacity. Never again.


Yesterday evening we got to try a practice run of the new competition and I absolutely love it. Everything is quite compact and it goes quickly. We've got 6 pilots and the biggest field for competition ever. Funny that now we've dramatically reduced the size requirement.

Britton Shaw is the Lead Judge and runs the launch. He's running it quickly but a bit less condensed than I had envisioned but it's working out great. This is safer with fewer people in the air, namely the competitor doing the task and then, when he finishes the task, the next guy launches as the previous competitor goes in for his "quick spot". That's where you shut the motor off at about 50 feet (must be off for 7 seconds) and try to hit the spot.

We did a complete practice run yesterday evening but got blown out this morning (Sat). However, several pilots did fly in spit of 12 - 18 mph winds. I did several flights and really enjoyed it because we have such a large area to play in. Dancing with the wind is fun. I even got some useful high-wind video for the Master PPG 2 video, showcasing techniques that make it easier to manage.

It appears that we should get a session in this afternoon.


It's a great group of people and, given that there's probably around 20 pilots and 40 total folks, it's fun getting to know people. The large gatherings are great but it's also nice to spend time at smaller events. There's also free-flying here, and I have my free flying stuff, but the weather is not cooperating.

As with most activities, it's the people that make it really enjoyable and here I've found a great group of people. There are 4 ratings clinics going on, two for instructor and two for other ratings.

Kiting War by Britton Shaw.

May 29

There's been a never-ending source of entertainment here. After morning flights were braved by the few wind-willing, there was roller blade kiting, regular kiting, students working on stuff, trying out a new wing and then finally, this evening we were able to pull off a competition using the new style. It seems the pilots liked it quite a bit more. It's more work in some ways because there's three launches and landings where before there was only one. But again, consistency is king.

Ryan Shaw is going to be the guy to beat now. He's skilled and aggressive. He's gonna kill me in the slow/fast and Japanese slalom. I've still got a chance at winning since I managed to hit everything--all three launches with cone-kicks, all three power-offf spot landings with cone kicks, and all the sticks. We'll see. Scoring should be done by tomorrow.


In 2009 at the world air games I saw a great display of sportsmanship. Leader Mathieu Rouanet lent his complete motor, the one he would need to win, to a competitor whose machine would not start. That loan run was eventually not allowed because pilots must compete with the same motor they started with, but the act was remarkable no less and stuck with me.

Yesterday, my motor, which has been starting easily, would not start. Ryan Shaw, my closest rival at that point, loaned me a spark plug wrench. I took off the plug, saw that it was dry, realized it could tolerate more prime, and started it after 3 more pulls. Had I not been able to complete that run -- the highest point task in the competition -- I would have basically been forfeiting.

Kudos to Ryan Shaw for his ultimate Sportsmanship!


Final results spreadsheet (Excel Format).

Today, Sunday morning, turned out to be some surprisingly decent flying up to about 200 feet AGL. I flew the alarm clock run (7am or so) until a sudden wind increase made it nasty. Strangely, after about 30 minutes, the winds died down and soon many pilots took to the air.

I'd guess that most of the 25 or so pilots got some flying in and many of us (me included) flew morning and evening each day. In spite of the winds it was a great time. And I got to know a number of new pilots in the sport and spend time with friends which is always a treat. I even got to enjoy some of Doug's delicious BBQ -- it's his hobby and I loved being a recipient!

The competition results are in. Although they're technically preliminary until scorekeepers Glen or George approve everything. I have no complaints about how I did. It was, in fact, my first-ever perfect competition. I hit 3 of 3 spot landings, all the sticks, and all the launches with cone kicks but Ryan absolutely killed me on the Slow/Fast, besting me by 150 points on that task. Besides being a great pilot and nailing nearly everything else, he's got the right tool for that job -- a wing with a huge speed range and the ability to wield it.

This was an absolutely great time with great people. Thanks so much to Britton for putting it on, Dave Fore for running a competition, and the judges for braving early hours and lots of standing around. You are most appreciated!

1. Ryan Shaw, Nirvana 200cc, Dudek Plasma 22

2. Jeff Goin, Blackhawk 172, Axis Pluto 19

3. Steve Reed, Parajet 172, Paramania Fusion 23

4. Dave Fore, Airfer Tornado, Dudek Plasma 22

5. Danny DeWitt, Blackhawk 172, Dudek Reaction 27

6. Jiri Sindler, Nirvana Rodeo 200, Katana 27


1. Jeff enjoying the heights. I went up this morning for the sole purpose of getting some pictures but discovered that conditions weren't as bad as we thought. So I played. Oh do I love playing in a wind.

The launch was quite entertaining. Key words--keep controlling that wing!

2. Britton Shaw "flies" the course on a Fresh Breeze Flyke.

3. Here's an overview of our camp area and flying fields. Notice the stylish footwear. I may try to pick up some extra trips from work and see about replacing these well-loved footdrag wear.

Thanks to Doug Crabtree for providing pictures and video.


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