Log

Endless FootDrag Paramotor Comp & Fly-In

2012 May 28 Acres and Acres of ParaPerfect Grass

Yeah! I won! Well, not so fast. Here are the audited results: I wound up with 2nd place.

That preliminary announcement turned out to be premature and, now that the results have been posted over at USPPA.org, and I've looked at them, I came in 2nd place. Of course I'm thrilled with having placed but am bummed because I actually had better times and nailed every landing but, since I had to leave before Sunday's round, lost out. But the competition has gotten far more fierce than it ever was and Chad earned his place fair and square. Congratulations to a deserving pilot!

USPPA's system takes the best round so it's possible to have the best times and still not win. But that makes sense. If you don't avail yourself of every opportunity you're just asking for it. After flying a perfect run on Saturday I gambled that it would be enough. It wasn't. We had an extremely talented group as evidenced by the number of consecutive power off spot landings where they hit the frisbee. OK, the excuse phase is over. 

This was such a great time with great people and an amazing venue. The Endless FootDrag that Britton Shaw puts on has always been fun. It's nice to relax, fly, kibitz, and compete on what must be thousands of acres of sod farm. Yup, it's a potty and a field but what a field. The event has grown but not so much that it's not cozy.

This was my first competition on the Ozone Viper 18 that I bought a month ago for both filming and competing. I came to like really like it after borrowing it to film Mathieu Roaunet during Paratoys. I had been practicing for the Pylon races so, when that got canceled, this was my chance to put it to the test. It helps to have the right tools because it gave me remarkable capability.

We had more competitors than last year and two new first timers including Britton Shaw. It was a very capable bunch and everything went off without a hitch. We did not use the pylons due to wind. Apparently 40 footers aren't very robust in anything over about 10 mph. I think the small ones (24 foot tall) are probably better but, for the organizer, sticks are a much easier.

Flying the Cloverleaf with this Viper was so sweet. I got 47 seconds in spite of having 7+ mph wind. And it just felt good. The tip steering, brakes  and speedbar are dialed in such that I can keep full power through nearly the entire course. I've still got room for improvement, of course, but having the right tool sure makes it more fun. Bummer that we have no more comps for the year.

This thing shined even more on the footdrag, a task where you fly through 3 slalom gates while dragging your feet. I do it on the fastest trim setting which, on this glider, is REALLY fast. Going so fast means you have a lot of energy incase mother turbulence smacks you down. One thing I've learned, though, after flying a number of small reflex wings, is that you'll be competitive with any of good ones. Get it dialed in and you'll be good to go.

Ryan Shaw is an animal. He broke his back falling after slipping off the back of his truck while loading for Beach Blast and still competed wearing a body brace. The brace was funny, too, it had the ab 6-pack drawn on it. He can get away with that since he works out regularly with weights. He's on his way back now laying down in the back seat of his truck while his friend Joe handles the bulk of driving. Joe competed for the first time and did a great job.

One thing I hope readers will note is that it's a great camaraderie. We all want to win, for sure, but it's a helpful atmosphere.

Clinic

There was a well-attended ratings clinic going on with pilots demonstrating skills and going over the requisite knowledge required. It was good to see so many people working to improve. Mostly they were working on the PPG2 rating and it was far more demonstration of skills than teaching. This was a weekend clinic, the pilot must already be skilled enough to consistently launch in various wind conditions and land within a 40 foot radius of the target.

Paraskating

Yup, I couldn't resist this windy-day pastime, making  several runs kiting the wing on rollerblades. It's actually easier than kiting regular because the skates leave you with easy options. If it  gusts up, you just point downwind a bit which instantly makes the relative wind lower. And, of course, you can always bring the wing more overhead if it gets stronger. The problem is, although I tack back and forth, I can never make upwind progress and eventually have to bundle the wing and walk.

Britton's Mantra R-11

This is one long, skinny, wing. It was probably the most efficient production paraglider made in 2011 and I wanted to motor it. I remember reading about a world championship free flight competition was cancelled after TWO people died in strong conditions while flying one of these or its ilk so I wanted mellow air. Making me even more tentative were the comments of my experienced compatriots. But a motor is just the means to get airborne. The only place where a motor makes any difference is that, if a wing is prone to parachutal stall, the motor makes that more likely.

What a handful to kite! Britton Shaw flies this sliver of nylon from a mountain, in strong enough conditions to set state records. I'm WAY too chicken for that. But motoring it in calm conditions didn't worry me. Just inflating it takes the right touch which I had to figure out after flailing through a few attempts. Eventually I coaxed to life, turned around and motored

Crash

On Saturday evening, after our competition finished, there was a horrific trike crash. Remarkably, the pilot walked away. But, as the picture shows, his cart gave up the ghost for its precious cargo. This is a great opportunity to reinforce how incredibly important it is to have your wing inspected especially if there has ever been line damage and even more if its being flown on a heavy trike. The cause of this accident was the failure of an outer A line (some call it the "big ear line") that put the craft into a left turn.

He walked away from this. It's a cart he designed and Don Brock welded up. Very stout.
The big lessons here are, treat your wing and liftweb with great respect!
The engine can quit and be easily managed but if the wing quits...

Britton Shaw kiting his R-11. This was an amazingly efficient wing. I knew of it's glide ratio and planned my spot landing accordingly -- letting myself get low on final while trying to hit the target. Wasn't enough. I overshot the target by a good 5 feet high.


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