Flying, Simulating, Cruising,

01/26/2014 Relaxing on a Wave

A lot has gone on in the last couple months. An already-light 737 schedule for December combined with a missed trip for sickness to leave me a lot of time.

Airspace Video

Sizeable chunks of that time has been heaped on the Airspace video. It's a lot more than airspace--it's also about a practical application of law for ultralight pilots. It's coming together nicely although it's also getting longer, currently at 13,000 words. That's about 80 minutes.

It's divided into sections with one section devoted to examples. I pick a cool place and go through the thought process of flying there. A couple places are in San Diego where I've flown a few really cool sites, courtesy of either Phil Russman or the late Alan Chuculate.

No talking heads, either, it uses graphics, animation, live action and stills to maximize clarity. I've seen the commercial products out there and think this will be much more compelling.

I plan on going out West to film compelling B-roll to spruce it up. This thing is for all ultralights including paragliders and hang gliders so it only makes sense to include some of those sites. Plus I just want to go soaring.

Christmas in Christmas

Tim & I went for a long Enterprise trip starting with Christmas in Christmas, spending time with the crew there is always fun and feels like home. I love living in FL.

The amazing thing about it is that we don't have to write off outdoor activities in winter. I don't ski, snowboard, ice fish, make snow men or do anything else with the cold so it was always just a pain to be shut in for so long. Not just winter misery, either, but whenever the temp was below 60 or so I quit doing stuff outside. Yup, I'm a wuss. So actually living in the Orlando area is amazing to me.

We flew with the Christmas bunch, going out on the boat with Eric Dufour, Elaine Marty Hathaway and company. He had two students that day, both of which got in much practice. I flew Eric's ED4 and Scorpio wing. That motor is dialed in. He offset the thrust by another inch or so and all but eliminated torque effects. It's a very nice flying machine. I did a speed test on the Scorpio and will hopefully get a review up soon. She's plenty fast, up there with other reflex wings I've flown and has decent handling.

Full Sail University

Rob Catto is the dude. This guy has a corner office at an amazing university that has become a big name for those headed to Hollywood and many other corners of entertainment. I had no idea but, if you were in the movie/game/graphics/TV business you would.

Tim & I were treated to a tour and were duly impressed. There are million dollar sound stages, editing suites, studios, and on and on.

Full Sail is an expansive collection of graphics and media coolness spread over many acres of northeast Orlando. It's training up the next generation of creative types who will bring us all manner intriguing pursuits. But the coolest, bar none, was Rob's paramotor simulator. I got to meet the programmer who is working with Rob to make it happen.

I'm hoping to avoid going back into programming but it would be such a rewarding undertaking to see if I could write some flight dynamics code. Simple stuff, mind you--something that models the weird pendular behavior of a PPG.  I've got ideas and it would be fun to see if they could be implemented.  One measure of the accuracy of a simulator is how it behaves in the hands of a skilled flyer verses a non-flyer. If the skilled flyer can control it accurately while the non-pilot cannot then you're getting close. Kind of like helicopter simulators. If a real helicopter pilot can fly it but a novice crashes then you're in the ballpark.

It's a virtual reality experience that is remarkably engulfing. He has managed to integrate virtual reality headgear in a simulator with working brake toggles and a throttle. You look around and the scene changes according to your head motion. It's uncanny. You can get queasy after 3 minutes or so, apparently because of some nearly undetectable latency, but he's working on that.

Beach Flying

On the way to Naples and Pine Island, Tim & I stopped to do some beach flying north of Ft. Lauderdale with Mark and his friend Chip. It was ALMOST strong enough to soar with just the wing and kiting harness. Chip let me use his Nucleon 25 to have more lift than my Spice 22. But later I tried the Spice 22 and it had an amazing amount of lift. I'm still impressed with that wing.

I kited up some stairs, turned around, lunged off into a bank and used the lift to soar just over a bed of seagrapes. I've done this with Brad Weiss in FL and it's absolutely magical. I could soar in one direction, staying in the narrow little lift band but turning to go the other way dumped be back to the beach. I'd finish the turn with my feet cruising only inches above the sand and soon after had to run. It was still fun.

Motoring was enjoyable but the need to avoid beach goers lessened the fun. Flying high along a beach gets old pretty quickly for me.

Tim provided some entertainment when he snagged the windsock on his first launch and ate some sand. A little tape and we were flying again. Tim has had a long run of good launches so it brought him back to reality.  Chip didn't fly because he was recovering from non injury (non PPG).

Family Visit

My parents are together, loving life, loving each other, and are a joy to be around. What a treat. I feel like I've won the game of life in so many ways and recognize that it's the luck of the draw. I didn't pick my parents, I won them.


We screwed up. With Tim at the helm, we pulled out of a parking lot hearing a funny noise. That's never good. I thought maybe it was the blinds bouncing around so we accelerated to about 30 mph when it became obvious this was a tire problem. Within a quarter mile we pulled into another parking lot with a completely flat front right tire.

We got to changing the tire which was a bit of an ordeal. It was a good thing I had two jacks because I couldn't get one jack under the normal jack point so I used the other jack to get it high enough in a two stage process. The next morning we drove to a truck tire place and bought a new tire to have for a spare or fix the tire. Turns out there was a big nail in the tire and, had we caught it earlier, it could have been fixed but, we had driven on the flat long enough to ruin it.

Lesson learned.

New Year's at Pine Island

Paul Czarnecki can't get rid of me. It's been a tradition for the past several years that I've come down to Pine Island to bring in the New Year. In spite of sporty winds I flew both days we were there and it's always a pleasure to spend time with these folks.

I'm honored to be the first Pine Island flight in 2014.


Tim & I took another short motorhome trip to visit friends and check out Sebring, a Sport Flying expo. It was cool to see what's coming out, what's out, what's coming and meet some new faces. Roy & Vickie of Powered Sport Flying Magazine was there as was author Jamie Beckett who is now practically my neighbor -- all gems.

Unfortunately it was chilly. I'm loving this Florida weather because, even if it's cold (a relative term), you're rarely more than a few days away from 80 degree weather. Why the h&^% I didn't move down here before is beyond me. Tim gets the credit for poking a hole in the dam of resistance and I'm damn glad he did.


And then for something completely different Tim & I joined some friends for a short cruise to Nassau. It was 3 days of being completely out of touch. Glorious.

We were on Carnival's oldest, smallest ship and I was impressed with how much maintenance must go on to keep it looking decent. Even still there was a rusted section at the base of our bathroom door. One nice thing about a smaller ship is that going back to your room isn't the ordeal it can be on the behemoths.

My favorite part was taking their "Behind the Fun" tour which let us go into the ship's bowls, including engine control, kitchen, entertainment backstage and finally the bridge. Very cool. There are six diesel engines that come online as power needs dictate.


Paramotor pilot and high end homebuilder Jim Yeager is living down here with Tim & I while working on our additions. It's good because he's motivated to finish so he can get back to his family although he does have a paramotor to fly and a runway in the front yard.

We're really lucky to have this situation and it's been a surprisingly fun time. Not that I expected it to be miserable but I didn't expect to enjoy it so much. We'll miss him when he's gone.

The house looks more like a destruction than a construction zone at the moment but there have been some signs of what's to come. The electric service has been moved and Jim did the address sign in our rock. Baby steps. The electric service was major adult step in execution but had no actual effect. It only moved a few feet although the guy fixed a complete disaster in the main service panel. Spaghetti belongs in the kitchen.

This weekend is going to be in the 80's. Right now a chilly rain is making for perfect writing conditions so I'm gonna be working feverishly on the airspace video script and graphics. The current section is a look Kagel Mountain. Deconstructing the chart and looking at legal issues around soaring or motoring. It's weirdly rewarding putting this thing together. Good thing since it's REMARKABLY tedius  to make it very clear.

Back to work!


The Christmas Crew

Yours truly changing a tire on the Enterprise.

Playing on the beach north of FLL

Pine Island

Tim on the Balcony of our ship, Carnival Sensation, looking at NCL's behemoth docked next door.


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