Log

2014 Paramotor Convention

03/22/2014 Palm Bay USPPA Powered Paragliding Convention

Nonstop is the best way to describe it. Even on the windy days pilots were up at some point, frequently in the wind.

After arrival, we had a soaring emergency. Phil Russman, freshly arrived from San Diego, got a whiff of soarable conditions near Melbourne. Lift is to Phil what Pizza is to a dog. Irresistible. And he can normally sniff it out from the least likely places. He came with Tim & I in the Enterprise, commenting on the way there about various flags. "Look at that...the flags are flapping nicely, it should be a good on-shore blow." Every time we passed a flag he'd have to observe "flap, flap flap..." Even as we pulled in he couldn't resist. "Flap flap flap." Phil smelled pizza.

It was cool meeting up with Michael O'Daniel, one of the "Why We Fly" pilots. He'd had come in from Virginia and drooled at the idea of soaring.

Winds were indeed stiff at the field so there would be no flying. After saying some "hellos" we loaded our gear into Michael's rental and headed out to the beach. Much to our dismay it was not as strong as at the field. Oh the pain! We tried anyway but it turned into an hour long kiting exercise. There would be no soaring.

Testing Stuff

A huge draw is vendors. This event is perfectly suited and priced for sellers to strut their stuff. Plus the profit goes to a worthwhile charity. That's sooo cool. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of vendors and indeed I got to try a number of goodies. For now, I'm just gonna list them along with highlights, namely so I don't forget in case I don't get to do more thorough reviews. I'm also

Andy McAvin, MacPara Blaze 20 reflex wing, nice handling, good speed increase with trimmers. Easy inflating. Flew it on a machine that I didn't have speedbar or it was too turbulent.

Ryan Shaw, Dudek Snake 16, reflex wing. I'm not gonna fly this thing again or I'll wind up buying one. And I need another wing like I need a hole in the head. It's not that the wing is revolutionary, it just combines the features in such a well balanced, efficient package. It's also the best steering arrangement I've yet flown on a paraglider.

Eric Dufour, Paratour, Air Conception Magnetic 20, reflex wing. Easy inflation, good handling. Didn't fly for long enough to do a speed test or get a good feel. Too turbulent and I was doing mock competition landings. Have also recently flown (before here) the ED4 and incredibly lightweight "Race" with a 130cc Ventnor motor. Wow, that's nice! Even with minimal padding (to keep weight down), they flattened the frame cross bars for comfort and it's surprisingly effective. Bit louder, average torque management, great thrust, nice throttle response. The ED4 is Paratour's lower cost option and was another nice flying machine with somewhat better than average torque compensation.

David Batton, Sun Gliders, Grasshopper PPG, Reflex Glider. Did speed profile on Google tracks. Handling very good if you hold both tip steers and brakes. Fully reflexed tip steers alone are very effective. Tip toggles don't go back on magnet but they're held with bungee so they trail a foot or so when you let go of them. Handling with brakes alone is a bit stiff.

Matt Minyard, PlanetPPG, Pap Moster 185. This machine has been noticeably refined from previous versions that I've flown. It handles torque better than past Paps. Plus it was easier to get into the seat and quite comfy. Torque handling now slightly better than avg owing to increased offset. Power in 160 pound range. Harness very comfy. Vibration well dampened probably owing to extra padding in harness.

Chris Bowles, Sportix Top 80, good weight shift, comfy, nice implementation. Slightly more comfy than the Miniplane, slightly heavier with a more complicated swing arm arrangement.

Chad Bastian, Miniplane Pollini 130, smoother than others, great throttle response including the mid range. Typical Miniplane comfort which, of course, I like. Lots of power. 120 pound class.

Event

These guys are top notch. I wish people realized how much of their lives is sacrificed in the execution of these events. It's many dozens and, in some cases, hundreds of hours. That's the only way it can work especially at an airport like this.

The rules are strict and necessary lest they lose their welcome. A very few pilots disregarded the rules and safety officers tried to be nice about it but, at some point, had to protect the event. I suggest people view this as their grandmother's fly-in. It's purpose is to meet up with friends, see the gear, try the gear, and go tear it up AWAY from the field.

We flew every morning and evening although moderately strong winds limited opportunities for those less comfortable with high wind kiting.

Skyman Scott

It was really great to see Scott Adair honored but even better that his daughter was also honored. The annual "Goin Above & Beyond" award was given to her by David Rogers. Very cool. Scott was a great proponent of our sport, ambassador, and wonderful human. There's a park dedicated to his memory right there on the airport.

Clinics

There were a number of clinics including my airspace clinic held at a hangar about a mile away. I'd rather they be right at the action but then there's no media support. Tradeoff. I've noticed the clinics get way more attendance if participants can just walk. They did run a  shuttle bus back and forth but that, too, consumes a lot of time for volunteers.

Virtual FootFlyer

Rob Catto had his incredibly cool paramotor simulator setup and offered flights for a $5 donation to the PAL. He did dozens! The immersive simulation now included pylons to race around and would give your time. THAT was cool. Nice work.

Next Year

They're planning next year which is really cool and I hope everybody makes it part of their plan. It was sooo much fun spending time with folks. I was exhausted by Sunday afternoon but was a good exhaustion.

1. Pilot's watching pilots. Sometimes it's just fun to hang out and watch.

2. The drones are coming! This little guy sported a Go Pro but others buzzed around with lighter cameras. At least one allowed the pilot to fly it using the camera for "point of view" operation.


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