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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.