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 disgust.

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.

The Gear

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.

Pylon Racing

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 was gorgeous.

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 band. Hmmm...

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.


LOCATION NOTAMS 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



1. A video extract while John Black and I cruise to Shell Island a couple weeks before the big event.

2. Here is the airspace around Edgewater (our LZ). Don't cross any lines unless you've been specifically allowed to. Going East, don't go beyond the lone beach house on Shell Island. If permission is granted, remain below 200 feet.

3. The same exact markings as Map 2 but with just the sectional for a base.

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