ShakeDown, Shake & Palm Bay PAL Fly-In

2013-Mar-14 | Marty's Pics 2013-04-09 Updated to remove Beach Blast which was cancelled on 4/9

2013-Mar 14 Off to Palm Bay after arriving in Tampa last night.

It was too late to fly and I wanted some exercise so I went looking for a roller rink. Skateworld Tampa was near the airport and had a session that night. Perfect.

It's the first place I've ever seen that requires signing a waiver. I soon found out why.

Respectable size and new polyurethane on its wood floor, along with my newish wheels made it fast! But it's also the 2nd least controlled rink I've ever skated at, the 1st also being in FL (Fort Myers). Skaters would occasionally go against traffic, would dart into traffic from along both sides, would just sit on the rink's edge, frequent cell phone use, and there were no speed limits. A good guard will have the less controlled skaters slow down and give those with good control more leeway. Here there were simply no limits. It was a free for all. What's worse is that it was crowded. Really crowded! This was $1 admission night.

The usual hazards of frequent fallers and wandering skate-helpers added to the mle.

But I've gotta tell you, it was a blast. I like to go fast. Really fast. And the challenge is doing so without endangering others. There's obviously a limit when it's crowded but it was really cool pulling it off. Passing everyone when I put the coals to it never hitting anyone. Sometimes I had to make jumps, go on one foot, and was constantly jinxing through the ever-changing puzzle. What a blast! I'd slow down periodically and then someone would pass me. Ooooh, can't let that happen, and would speed up to follow them. There were some really good skaters there and, like flying, that motivates me.

Great workout. Just what a guy with a cold needs.

When I started this trip I didn't have cold so I suspect I got it during one of my deadheads for work which would have exposed me to hundreds of people and a virus rich environment. So far it's just a nose thing with a scratchy throat so I'm hoping it doesn't progress too far.

Looking forward to flying. Unfortunately it's looking to be quite the blow for at least day 1 and doubt tonight will be flyable. Looking forward to seeing Eric Dufour and company this evening even if we don't get to fly.

Palm Bay

03/17/2013 Palm Bay, FL Head colds suck. 2nd fly-in for me, 2nd cold in two months. Go figure. I go for many months then blam, it's all coming out through my nose (sorry for that visual), but at least I can still fly. Unfortunately having a 25 mph wind on my face triggers the cough reflex so I didn't go on any cross countries. But I *DID* do a lot of testing: the AirDesign Rama Flex, the Grasshopper PPG, and the Ultra 130 belt drive. I also flew the Scorpio wing but it was too big so I won't bother doing a review. It handled as nice as you can expect for something that you're light on.

This was a really cool event for a couple reasons. One, the vast majority of the proceeds go to a worthy charity--projects done by the PAL (Police Athletic League), and two, they gave us nearly a whole airport to play in. It wasn't the fun free-for-all that was last year's GDC, but we had some decent freedoms. Namely, you could launch right from your camper (wind permitting) and two, you could tear it up in the airport's infield as long as there was wasn't much traffic. I used a lone construction porta-john for pylon practice.

There were lots of folks from Canada, Ohio, some Georgia boys and miscellaneous others to join the legion of Florida Flyers.

The "wow" event was raffling off a Rama Flex wing from Southern Skies and a HPR 180 paramotor from Grasshopper PPG was given away with the proceeds going to PAL. A number of other nice prizes were offered, too, including one I'm probably going to wind up buying, a helmet bag from TrikeBuggy.com.

Friday started out with a blow but eventually settled enough to let us fly. Chris Bowles did an engine clinic and I followed with an airspace clinic. It seems folks appreciated that and was happy to share if it helps. It's good, too, that we can all learn from each other--the room brought a lot of experience to bear.

Paul Czarnecki was a tandem animal. He charged $100 per tandem and donated it back to PAL. He even did it during Sunday morning's stillness which is no small feat, especially given that they we were all launching from pavement.

Saturday promised all-day flying but, after a long morning where everyone flew that wanted to, Gale showed up. Sand was cursing down the pavement in waves--the only thing flying were kites. Marty Hathaway, the Florida Flyers aerial photographer and caption king, turns out to be a pro at those things. I had no idea but he was PAID to fly them in Abu Dhabi. No wonder he made it look so cool.

Before it wound up to kite-flying only winds we got some high-wind kiting in. I borrowed a bigger wing to help get lifted and realized I didn't need to. It was still fun and I played "king of the hill" for a while. Some other pilots worked on their windy kiting skills, too. Man is that fun; and this time I didn't have anything to get strained through.

While out there watching Marty, Rob, and Mike dance with their 4-liners (kites, that is) I noticed the wind let up. Hmmm. "That feels flyable," I thought and figured I'd go test it by kiting. Put on my kiting harness and started walking only to see Eric Dufour getting ready to launch. Perfect! I'll just see how he does. It turned out not to be that bad. A bit bumpy but less than I would have expected for an inland site. It was fun doing some side-by-side playing around with Eric and landing on things.

Sunday morning was perfect. A super light wind did make things challenging and, unfortunately, there was some carnage. No injuries, just some damaged gear and pride. I don't think we realize how difficult this stuff is sometimes. I absolutely marvel at people who will ignore admonitions to get thorough training  and then be surprised when they wind up busting up gear. Even WITH good training it's tough, but not getting good training, REAL training, is just plain stupid. Uggh.

Kudos to the organizers and vendors who helped support it. They're planning on having it again next year and hopefully I'll be able to make it but the Enterprise will be out West so, if I do come, I'll probably be hotelling it and mooching. That's OK, I did more review flights than I did with my gear anyway. Hopefully the reviews will be up in the next few days.

The Carnage

One pilot wound up flipping his trike. That wouldn't have been a big deal but apparently he put his hand out and it wound up getting it scraped under a frame piece while sliding on asphalt. Scraped it up right down to the bone, severing a tendon. Hard surfaces are much less forgiving--it's not only a lot easier to flip, the consequence can be worse.

Another mishap was pretty basic. The pilot held onto his A's too long, the wing front tucked and, being at full power (or nearly so as best I could tell), he went down with the prop exploding into a million pieces. That was a bit scary since I was only about 30 feet away. This is one reason why I recommend using partial power inflations until you're hands are in the brakes and you're moving nicely under control. But that's easier said than done. Stuff happens. He was extremely frustrated and sounded like he wanted to quit the sport. Hopefully he'll just seek out some extra training and master it enough to enjoy. All the more reason NOT to let yourself or your friends go to a "3-day wonder" instructor. Mind you, this stuff can happen to anyone, even after thorough training, it's just less likely. Put the odds in your favor.

The Dance

I thought this was brilliant. There is a new fad going around, where groups gather to do the "Harlem Shake", and then, of course, put it on YouTube. So Tim Gaskins got this crazy idea, why not paramotor pilots? It was hilarious. Don Jordan started walking by the stage, wearing his paramotor as the music started, then he began his groove thing. Then another walked in, and another, until there were probably 30 of us nutjobs out there flailing about with our arms, motors, and bodies bopping up and down to the beat of some dance tune. What a riot. Hopefully I'm not overly visible back there spinning around like a fool.

There is a point where you here Capt. Don cajoling some wary subject to "go ahead, get in front of the camera!". OK, it's not hollywood but it's darned funny looking and only mildly embarrassing.

The music ended and we went our separate ways. Here is the video, be prepared to see a bunch of people who may be able to dance but probably don't practice much while wearing a PPG.

Who forgot the heat?

There was no early morning flying for me. Lows dipped into the 50's so I didn't even make the morning briefings which were before sunrise (barely) at 0700AM. I figured with this cold I probably needed more sleep. It did warm up during the day enough to get away with wearing just a T-shirt. Still beat Chicago.

Overall it was a great time flying, trying new stuff, meeting new faces and reconnecting with the old. And I do mean old! We're not getting any younger. In fact, a point out to Don Jordan who pulled of a beautiful no-winder foot launch this morning at 76 years old.

Gonna look at taking the Enterprise to Canada this summer--they've got quite the group near Quebec. Appreciate the invite.


For now I'm kicking back in FL for two more days hoping to go home on Tuesday. I fly a work trip on Wed if I'm able and it's a super easy one, too, 3 legs to Newark, overnight, with one leg home. Calling off for those things hurts.

Now to deal with this crazy norovirus. That's what it's got to be. My last one was a coughing thing and this one has attacked my nose which is why I'm not to keen to get on a 737. Flying to 500 feet is one thing, going to 8000' cabin altitude is another.

And no, I'm not big on home remedies. I think it's my tendency towards science-based thinking. Not that such remedies can't work, but rather none of them have been rigorously tested and found to work. The placebo effect is powerful, though, even among science geeks who should know better, so I suppose I should at least give it a try for that reason. Of course the big problem with such a test is that, if you get better, it might just be due to the natural cycle of sickness. After all, we try stuff at the worst of our sickness so it's not uncommon for improvement ANYWAY.

I try to be open to new ideas, but not so much my brain falls out (as Michael Shermer put it so succinctly).

OK, enough philosophizing, it was a great gathering and I'm looking forward to the next one which is the Endless Footdrag. See ya there!


The view out of my office window on March 6th. If you gotta work...

This is among my favorite places to visit.  It's hard to describe height of caliber I find in some of these folks. Stories that hopefully get told. Mike Britt, on the far right, owns the property.

Lets face it, trying new stuff is challenging. Dominick is a skilled pilot trying out a new wing but it's always tough since you give it the same input is your regular wing which won't necessarily work. He's a quick study, though, and made it on his next try.

Gotta love that shape.

Marty's Pics

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