Beach Blast 2012
May 1, 2012 Gathering on the Beach
Here is more
about the competition that wasn't. Here is the official
Beach Blast site.
2012 May 16 Final Roundup
Wow. Just wow. I don't think we've ever had that many amazing foreign
pilots gathered in one location on U.S. soil. Having Mathieu Rouanet,
Emilia Plak, Matt Gerdes and a few others at the Salton Sea was a real
treat but this went further. Michel Carnet, Pascal Valee, Paco Guerro,
Anthony Green (of the Acro Twins), Pascal Campbell Jones and others.
Plus, Marcus and Verity from Paramotor Magazine, the folks of Paramotor
TV, and the Simonini owners were their with their wares.
It really was very cool to see so many people and so much cool stuff.
Some big news:
1. Simonini announced that they would no longer supply Dell
Schanze. Good for them! I have a lot more respect for them now. Too bad
that U-Turn and Vitorazzi don't step up.
2. A PPG 2 rating will be required to fly at next year's Beach
Blast. John Black is willing to have a smaller number of pilots but
insure they meet at least this minimum standard. There may be ratings
clinics offered at a nearby site but, to fly the main location, pilots
will have to be rated. I applaud him on that since I think it will
encourage pilots to get more thorough training.
3. The competition was cancelled after a bad crash made it
just too unpalatable to continue, especially since it was on only the
second run of the qualifier. It's very unlikely that there will be any
competitions held at beach blast although periodic performances will
continue to be flown provided they don't close down the LZ for very long
and the pilots are well qualified. This year Pavel Brezina organized a
"Precision Show" and that seemed well received. 7 of us went and flew a
simple figure 8 pylon type race then climbed up for a swooping spot
landing where you kick the cones before touching the ground.
4. Kurt Fister put on an amazing show of disrespect, making a
fool of himself in the process. I was amazed. Many were. After being
asked to stop interfering with vendors, he
started hollering to unsuspecting pool deck walker about a "raffle" to give away a $2500 value voucher
for training. What's the value if it's "free" training, anyway? Of course given
that his "training" may be the least thorough of any in the
industry (if you get more than 3 flights you're lucky), it's not worth a
fraction of that. It was embarrassing. He was prancing around the
pool deck, shouting out his ridiculous "raffle" and looking like a
complete idiot. I felt bad for him, and I felt bad for Chris Bowles, whose
booth Kurt was trying to use. Kudos to Chris, though, for doing the
right thing and having nothing to do with these shenanigans. Kurt was soon
escorted off the property by security.
But that was nothing compared to his next stunt. And this is why any
ethical person should avoid him like the plague. This is why I'm even
writing about it. The pool shenanigans would have been a sad sideshow to
an amazing event but this next stunt really pissed me off. Sites are
hard to come by. Sites that allow hundreds of PPG pilots to populate
their pool deck with paramotors are -- count them -- ONE! So here goes
Kurt. He launched from somewhere else and proceeded to fly through the
LZ, doing wingovers over beachgoers and generally risking the event by
his behavior. What a travesty. Do the sport a favor, do yourself a
favor, and stay away from him. Tell your friends. Friends don't let
friends "train" or support such destructive people.
I was flying when I saw someone coming down the beach, way less than
the city-requested distance from beachgoers, doing wingovers. I thought
to myself "oh boy, this guy is screwing it up for us." It wasn't until I
got closer that I realized who it was and I just had to shake my head in
5. I tried several new motors and hope to have a review of
them up soon. The most notable was Fresh Breeze's Pollini 200. For its
power, this is one remarkably comfortable, well balanced and smooth
machine. They've almost completely eliminated torque, nearly as well as
Alex Varv's Cors-air Kangook. Plus it has a very comfortable and
effective weight shift. Parajet had their new lightweight unit that will
be as light as the miniplane but I never got to fly it. I did fly the
plastic paramotor (Renegade) and was impressed.
6. Paul Czarnecki of PlanetPPG was busy renting and doing Tandems.
This has to be one of the coolest things for those that don't want to
ship gear. Schedule your paramotor, show up and fly. Don was doing
repair work and, when my Miniplane's starter system came apart, it was
nice to hand him the motor and walk away. I'll fly the Boeing in
exchange for his expertise at repair. Unfortunately he wound up not
having a part but it should get fixed in time to go to the Endless
Footdrag in Arkansas.
Kudos to Paul for doing what must have been at least 5 tandems a day.
These are a lot of work and he made it look easy.
2012 May 8 What is that infernal
noise? And why can't I land? Oh, wait, that's my alarm clock, it's time
for Beach Blast! Waking at 0345 sucked some of the day's fun out but it
had to be for me to be on the 0600 departure and check two bags. I
arrived a bit early and made the necessary stops for supplies before
going to Edgewater where Beach Blast takes place. I unloaded my gear and
parked the enterprise back in the Motorhome section.
Man is it cool to see all the new stuff. The plastic paramotor is
here, Parajet has a new lightweight unit with weight shift, Fresh Breeze
has TWO new motors with what looks like a really cool Miniplane style
weight shift, both based on Polinis, Simonini is here, I finally got to
meet Marcus, Verity and Anthony from Paramotor Magazine, and more.
Paco Gurero is here and what an awesome show he put on. This 26 year
old was doing things I wouldn't even dream of. Wingtip drags when its
smooth aren't really that hard if you've got enough power but he was
doing them in air with "texture" and over the ocean. On one power off
landing, he came in over the water, towards the beach, did a foot drag
on the water and planted it on the beach. Nice. Very nice. He had a
different steering system on his GTR 20 that I liked a lot more. It's
very similar to the Hadron's "2D" system and makes it easier to engage
tip steering when you're fully accelerated. I tried it out and indeed
was able to get the gliders full speed withour even the smallest tip
collapse while holding the regular brakes. I'd slide my hand out a bit
when on full speedbar so that I was only using the tips then, in turns,
pull straight down to slow it down in the bank. This steering makes the
GTR, in my observation and experience, more desirable.
Many, many old friends are here and it's great catching up with
everybody. There's a spry 76 year old who bullies through foot launches
with nary a quibble. So many pilots, so many stories.
The Eagle has Landed. Eric Durfour was showing of his wife,
Elisabeth's incredible handiwork with an Eagle wing. It has an Eagle's
head and tail feathers sewn in and the wingtips are made up to look like
feathers. I was filming from the air so it wasn't as impressive, I'm
sure, as it would have been from the ground but it looked damn good.
Glen Tupper went to fly his 700 foot streamer but it just barely got
in the water and that sucked it off his foot. He's drying it out and
will try a different technique tommorrow where he peels it off. You set
the pick up hoop downwind, fly upwind to pick it up and peel it off as
you go. That helps keep it from dragging through stuff.
The competition qualifier is Tomorrow and I'm looking forward to
trying my new Ozone Viper 18. I've been dialing it in for the past few
days and its feeling mighty fine. I think I'll be competitive with this
tool--it can swallow all the power my little Top 80 can put out.
Yesterday, I launched a Blackhawk 172 from my back yard, flew up to a
practice area, and was doing pylon courses on full power the whole time,
modulating the speedbar to stay level with very few power reductions. It
was a zero wind launch on pavement with the fastest wing I'd ever flown.
Thankfully it's plenty lifty. I actually had to do it twice since one of
my homemade tip steering lines came untied. I'd been using easily
changeable knots that were apparently a bit too easy.
This is a pretty tough group so I harbor no delusions that I'll
place--my goal is to fly my best, don't get wet, and be ready to compete
again on Saturday.
I still have to mount my Agama because the 4th pylon is over water
and we'll be necessarily out of gliding distance to shore for a 15
seconds or so on each lap. That pylon is going to be smaller than the
others so we'll have to be lower which is a bummer. I plan on putting a
go pro on the frame and, if allowed, will film another pilot running the
course with my helmet cam. Ought to be fun. Off to bed.
Precursor Visit (May 2)
2012 May 2 The sun is shining and I'm looking forward to 5 days in paradise.
Having just flown there last week (I'll get a quick video of that up) it
The first day was a howler, eventually getting to 20 mph winds. John
set a trash can out there for landing and standing practice. Man is that
fun. And finally, for the first time in 4 years coming here, I got down
to shell Island. I was leery about the "water crossing" but discovered
that it's nothing -- the water is not even a quarter mile wide so its
safely traversable at a mere 300 feet given a 5:1 glide ratio.
It's a gorgeous stretch of beach with nothing on it except for one
dilapidated house that has been the lone survivor of Atlantic
storminess. You can't build out there but they apparently can't make you
tear it down, either. Mostly I did filming using a new camera that
proved itself brilliantly. Soaring the hotels was brainlessly easy --
you could do it til sunset. If only you could get towed into the lift
NOTAM For Other Aviators
Pilots of aircraft flying into this area will hopefully pay attention
to the "notices to airmen" (NOTAMS) that points out our little patch of
paraflying. Don't put much faith in this, though, since they frequently
don't see these things or don't think they'll apply. We've got to be
extremely vigilant for other traffic down here -- aircraft can legally
fly only 500 feet from the beach and helicopters don't even have that
minima. Past experience tells us that everything from fighter jets to
helicopters will be coming right through our LZ.
This is intended to cover the busiest flying times from 8am to 8pm
daily during the event. Date coding is weird on these: 1205071300
means 2012, 0507 means may 7, and 1300 is the universal
coordinated time (add 5 hours to local). I've included the other NOTAMS
to show where it appears. Notice that it's listed under GNV but does
come up when a pilot asks for the ECP information.
ECP 04/012 ECP OBST TOWER 1285 (1148 AGL) 18.43 ENE LGTS OTS (ASR
1057617) WEF 1204171825-1205021825
ECP 04/014 ECP OBST TOWER 251 (239 AGL) 13.57 SSE LGTS OTS (ASR
1041196) TIL 1205081556
ECP 08/027 ECP TWY F CLSD S TWY J
LOCATION AREA NOTAMS
GNV 04/270 HLL AIRSPACE POWERED PARAGLIDERS 2 NMR HLL298008.4
1000/BLW 1300-0100 DLY WEF 1205071300-1205140100