Wings Over Winter 2017

2017-01-07 Fourth Annual Wings Over Winter

The first flocking together of paramotor pilots was an abbreviated blast. Everyone who could read the forecast saw that Friday would probably be the only good day and indeed it was except for those who arrived early. In spite of that 130+ pilots came together including many escapees from their frigid confines.

Eric Farewell has carved out a good working relationship with the airport, enough to put this on, which is no small feat. There is a lot going on here so pilots must keep their eyes open especially since it's pretty open as to where you can launch and land. There is tons of room.

Parking was tight but there was enough room and pilots could park very near the LZ. Tim & I brought the Enterprise but it's close enough that we could have commuted. Originally I was only going to be there on Friday morning but feeling a bit below the weather meant that I begged off my day job.

Kudos to Eric Farewell, Travis Burns and Co. for putting this on. It seems easy but involves many hours of prep work that goes on behind the scenes and lots of expenses. In their case, it also puts a lot of stress on their primary training environment. Thanks to the city of Lake Wales, too, whose forward thinking leadership recognizes the value.

Reasonable restrictions were in place to make nice with the surrounding community and only one thoughtless pilot, it seems, brought out the police. He was reportedly trying to tap or chase cows. Figures.

Eric's Paradigm team did some flying for a Fox outlet that put it on the air live with a camera feed from Eric. Pretty cool and some positive publicity for the sport.

Friday was all-day flying with blue sky thermalling for those with higher bump tolerances and reserves (hopefully). Several large groups set out on cross countries in the afternoon and the bumpy breeze set down by about 4:45pm to leave a sweet soft finale. That's good because the rains came overnight and were followed by chilly winds on Saturday. Most pilots headed out by Saturday afternoon.

Seeing everybody was most of the fun for me, and meeting so many new entrants flying. It was also the first cross country Tim & I have done in a while.

Youth & The Greybeards

What's up with all the youngsters? Nice that young blood is coming in--there were a number of early twenty somethings flyers tearing it up whenever flyable air presented. Some of them are working towards being intstructors and hoping to do a lot more flying.

Us oldsters were there in force, too. I enjoyed seeing Dave Warfield and Bill Corbet, two of the orginal Parastars, out there flying some well used wings.

Here is the story in pictures.


Tim Kiaser takes off for his second flight of the day.


Eric Farewell and others starting some formation


Lance Marczak is the king of fixing. Fixing anything, really, but we know him best for incessantly getting people back in the air after their motor stops motoring. He specializes in the Top 80 but I can't think of a motor he's not been able to revive if all the parts are there. And a few where the parts weren't all there.


Some non-paramotor friends came to visit and we all went out to Mannys on Friday night. Ray & Dexter (bottom right) may not be paramotorists yet but they have been learning to kite as my student victims -- one of several research projects for the instructor book. It was so cool to finally get Jeff Hamann from San Diego and Lance Marczak from Kankakee down to our place. John Stovall has been down before but it was good to see him and his son Nicholas, too. Lance is the nutjob who just made a paper airplane out of the table covering. He couldn't get it started, though, which is unusual for Lance.


Tim Kazmierczak just finished a downwind footdrag along this alligator containing canal. The calm water betrays a pretty calm wind, though.


Jeff Hamann and Lance Marczak cruising the cowscape. We took off with no particular destination in mind, just headed into the South wind. Jeff is threatening to wipe his shoes on Lance's Old Spice.


Tim put this long, curvy path to good use.


Four of us form up. Tim (low & left), Lance, John Stovall (highest) and Jeff Hamann (red wing).


Tim over orange groves.


Jeff found himself a big one. This gator is probably 10+ feet.


Looking in about any direction yielded paragliders. We definitely needed to keep looking! Everyone suspected that this would be the last day of flying given the forecast unless you were willing to put up with a cold Sunday morning.


Trent Almon with the launch area beyond. It's a huge area but that's an active runway so look really carefully left and right before taking off or landing here.

Eric and Travis holding a newspaper article by the Lakeland Ledger. The lead story has been changed to protect the innocent. Thanks for having us.

Maps handed out to pilots to help preserve the flying site. Some areas could be flown over at some altitudes.

Sensible, minimal rules.

© 2016 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!