Oshkosh 2011

Paramotoring at the World's largest airshow

I don't usually bother flying at this show because it's so scripted. Not that I'm complaining, it is, after all, the world's biggest airshow and we're flying the world's smallest aircraft, and they get thousands general aviation arrivals per day, along with helicopters giving rides and various other aerial pursuits. So do we really want to be blazing around the pattern at 25 MPH?

But this year, James Yeager and his lovely wife, Julie, were also going to OSH and were able to pilot the Enterprise and be great company. So I figured it would be fun to drive and indeed it was. I also managed to get more work done on Video 2. It's really cool to get engrossed in a project while traveling because it makes the travel go so incredibly quickly. I was working on an animation and the next thing ya know we're nearing the field. Plus, Jim and Julie were pure pleasure to be around.

Ultralight Area

It's pretty slim pickins in the ultralight area of late. Only one PPC vendor was there and no PPG vendors made it. But it seems like we are always among the biggest hits. Go figure. People just think it's cool that these guys run aloft with a motor on their backs. Of course *WE* know it's cool but it's clear others do, too, although it probably seems like we should be in a Road Runner cartoon.

Ultralight helicopters are the latest rage and I can see why. The Mosquito has conquered the lightweight market through a loophole in FAR 103 that uses allows a weight increase if floats are used. And it's a really cool little helicopter. I was leery about how it would handle an engine failure with it's super lightweight rotors, especially given it's 2-stroke powerplant. But some demonstration videos allayed my fears when they showed a hovering autorotation from 20 feet that ended with a pretty soft touchdown. I'd struggle to pull that off with my Enstrom with it's high inertia rotor system. Then again, I'm not a test pilot, either. Overall, if I was going to own a single-place helo, this would be a fun little machine. But then I can't put my paramotor in it.

Other Stuff

There's an immense amount to see here for anyone interested in aviation overall. Usually I spend some money here but this year my expenditure was pretty mild.

One disappointment was the lack of electrics. Yuneec was nowhere to be found and they always seemed like they were never more than a few months from production. There was an electric Lazaire ultralight twin that flew remarkably well on one engine. That would actually be perfect for most of my flights on the hang glider trike. But alas, no electric PPG's. Bummer.


There were a number of PPGer's that showed up. Andy Eckstrom, Gary Carter, Ola & Faith Westrom, and a couple more (my memory fails me) that put on a show for us. I flew Friday evening and Saturday morning. Our allowed flight windows are short but that's actually not bad since there's only so many times you can fly that pattern before boredom sets in.

Another thing, don't screw it up! On base leg you're just a few hundred feet from the centerline of their north/south runways. It's entirely possible to be northbound, descending for a landing and have a DC-3 climbing out a few hundred feet to your right. Plus, powered parachutes are frequently buzzing about spewing wake. It's not for the faint hearted.

The organizers and flight safety people really do try to accommodate us, both getting our gear around and letting us play. The biggest plus is that we alone are allowed to do touch and goes which, for us, means foot drag and goes. I was carving foot-dragging S-turns along the runway before powering up. That was fun. But of course it only lasted for a half-minute.

The departure path is a bit scary. There are a few seconds where the motor just has to work or you'll wind up landing somewhere you'd rather not. They've cleared out the flight corridor pretty good but moving obstacles could be a factor at a few points.


Thanks to those who came to the presentation, it's always great to talk with fellow pilots and the soon-to-be's. Hopefully progress will continue and maybe we'll get someone to show next year. Bruce Brown of FlyOhioPPG expressed interest—that would be awesome.


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