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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
Back to work!