High Wind Powered Paragliding in FL

2012-03-22 Playing and working on Master PPG 3 and Master PPG 4

Tim and I are on the Enterprise in FL, mostly to work on Master PPG which we've done in spades. Our first stop is Mike Britt's place in Christmas, FL where Eric runs his flight school, Paratour. He let Tim & I tag along for the training routine where new pilots are cutting their teeth on a great adventure. Each has now had at least 10 flights.

We went out to the river using their "Parabarge", a 24 foot (or so) pontoon boat welded up to allow easy securing of 6 paramotors and a largish trike. It's a cool way to start in spite of increased prep time.

Tim was first up. Before there was a breath of wind at the surface he pulled up in what turned out to be a tailwind at wing height. After he turned around to launch the other way, she came up easily. If you're ever running with the wing overhead and feel no lift, your wing is probably in a slight tailwind.

Then I tried the Paramania GTR 20. It's too big for my 130 pounds but is quite ingenious in its use of trimmers and speedbar. The funny thing is that I'd been thinking about just this sort of arrangement since, when a racer uses speedbar, he wants to go fast. But he wants to go slow in the turns. This wing has a unique solution and I'll talk about it in the review. It's pretty fast, too, especially for being bigger than my ideal size.

Filming High Wind Landing & Others

By 10AM the wind was howling pretty good. Perfect. One of our mission's is to show the technique for landing when the wind comes up and you're faced with landing slightly backwards or standing still. I used someone else's larger wing (thanks Mike) since it wasn't blowing enough to work with my 18 Pluto. It worked splendidly and I did about 6 landings at various distances, a few where I was moving slightly backwards. You just can't fake this stuff. It will be in video two.

We're at Eric's now and plan to test out some other camera gear this afternoon when the wing calms down. I want to show some aspects of using the trimmers and speedbar with the camera out to my side. Should be good.

Playing with Eric

It's always fun to fly with Eric, especially when there's a wind. He's an exceptional pilot who would be at the top of our competition scores if he wasn't honoring his wife's request that he stay away. But you can hear it in his voice and see it in his performance--he wants it! He brought out two Paramania pylons and absolutely burned around those things, using speedbar during the brief straights and hugging the pylons with no speedbar and lots of brakes. It's tough because you must only use the tip steering while fully accelerated. We were doing figure eights and racetracks. What a hoot.

We both love playing in the wind and this morning allowed a few things I've never done before. One was a foot dragging tip touch. We both launched into a foot drag then Eric came over and stayed touching my tip. I wasn't paying attention to the tip but was concentrating on maintaining a constant distance and not sinking back to the ground. He was looking up to keep the tips in their embrace--pretty tough since you must feel the ground with a foot.

Then the wagon came out. I've never done the wagon so this was my first time. It's one of these little pull wagons with a handle. You land in it then, while controlling the wing overhead, throttle up enough to move the wagon. I couldn't steer it and gave up when it turned crosswind. What fun. Then Mike set up up with the handle forward and Eric was able to land in it, keep moving forward and steer it. All while Tim recorded with the big camera on a smooth action tripod. I'll get some of this up on YouTube.

We also did about a dozen spot landings on the Paramania bag which, humorously enough, has a target painted on it. What a riot.

Can't wait to get to work on this video, there's so much good stuff to share and, this time, I'm going to include a bit more of just plain fun stuff in between the animations and instructional content. Yes, it may balloon to 100+ minutes but it will be the kind of thing you watch in stages. Video 4 should be under 80 minutes.

This is why we test!

Thur 03-22 Last night I launched to try out an idea for filming with a go pro. Nothing complicated, just the camera on L-shaped stick braced by my seatboard. Launching with this thing is a pain and even more of a pain in flight. I have to put it together after takeoff. When I went to put it together I discovered that it wouldn't give the right angle. So I replumbed it while flying. Talk about a pain! Putting together a new PVC configuration while airborne is not something I want to do every day. But the results came out pretty good. These shots are to improve on what I already have for fore/aft porpoising, steep wingovers and, more importantly, how you can EXACTLY dampen these in only one swing. This paved the way for an improved setup for my next flight.

Friday morning dawned dead calm. Being parked at Eric's meant that the field was 20 feet from my door. Man is that cool. I got the camera gear stuffed, laid out my wing in what felt like a swamp and went for it. Those no-winders sure are fast takeoffs. I'm on the 18 meter Pluto, but remember, I'm only 130 pounds so this is the same wing loading as 180 pound pilot on a 26 with a heavier motor.

The air was dead calm. This is what we paramotor pilots live for--every motion happens because WE make it so. The only bumps arise from ouw own wingtips and the landscape is our 3D playground. After takeoff I assembled my camera mount, stuffed it in place and proceeded to have a ball. Yes, of course I did some of the necessary maneuvers but also just played.

One thing I always marvel at are how some cows are curious, some could give a damn, and some run like mad.

When I'd had enough I climbed up high enough to minimize noise around Eric's place,, shut off the motor, and glided into a fun little slider next to the Enterprise. Ahhhh...what a morning.

Tim and I did a quick tour of NASA and are now headed for GDC (Palm Bay), a really cool area that's a huge abandoned develop with roads for several square miles that have very few power lines or houses. Lots more flying and filming to get.

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