Log

Beach Blast  2017

2017-05-20 Resort Paramotoring | Airspace  | Flying Tips Video

This year felt friendlier somehow not that anything prior felt mean. It started with the first people we encountered, at Edgewater's counter and entrance gate, who seemed happy to see us. Cool. It really gave me the warm and fuzzies. Next year, if John and company is willing to do this yet again, Tim & I will fly in, stay at the resort and make a different kind of vacation out of it.

It was easier to fly this year. I never even mentioned this to John but they made the approach surprisingly easier, at least with the common Eastish wind, by angling it out toward the West. Check out the picture below.

Eddie has a bachelor in Chemistry, minor in math and physics, continues leading a full life but wanted to fly a paramotor.

Eddie

Edward Thomasson isn't shy about making things happen in his life. He's a 23 resident at Edgewater that has been watching our shenanigans since they've been going on. Despite being in a Wheelchair due to MS, he wanted to go paramotoring—it became, according to him, his #1 bucket list item.

I'm not sure of the details but I remember it this way. At some point he asked about how to make it happen, how he could get a flight, and was told that his best chance was with Chris Santacroce who has become rather accomplished at flying people with various disabilities through his Project Airtime. When Chris found out, he jumped on it.

Logistics weren't easy since Eddie's high tech wheelchair couldn't be taken out into the sand so they had to improvise. And improvise they did.

Chris got everything ready, the motor running, inflated the wing and turned to face forward while kiting. As he stood their "idling" with the wing overhead, volunteers carried Eddie to the waiting harness and strapped him in. For launch, they ran alongside him, supporting his weight until the wing took over and flight soon followed.

The process reversed on landing with Chris kiting the glider overhead while they captured, held, unstrapped and carried Eddie back while Chris kited the wing, bringing it down when Eddie was clear.

Eddie said he loved the feeling of total freedom.

Wow.

I talked with Chris afterwards and he seemed to get as much out of it as Eddie.

Thanks to tandem pilot Matt Minyard for offering the gear.

Wedding

At some point there was a wedding. There always seems to be a wedding during Beach Blast but then maybe there are lots of weddings there. In this case our event helped them out since Eric Cote and Matt Minyard took Bride and Groom up at the same time. I happen to be flying and captured the happy couple nuzzling each other in flight. Well, maybe not that close. They were both being introduced to paramotoring there, learning something that will hopefully spike an interest to do on their own.

Vendors

It was great to see all the goodies, as always, and easy launching made it possible to try just about everything I wanted to try. Aviator PPG sponsored the event by providing a motor, very cool. They also introduced a new motor there but, alas, I managed to miss the whole thing. Hopefully I'll get to try it on a machine at some point.

Flying

There were new goodies to try and, as usual, I took great advantage of it. First I wanted to try my own wing and motor so the above shot was a selfie of that flight. Even though I've flown this beach a lot it's always nice to get airborne.

The most surprising addition was Air Conceptions ridiculous-looking counter-torque tabs, mounted on the netting. "That's got to be a gimmick" I thought, and asked to fly it. Not only did they work, they worked really well!!! I've only flown one other machine that so thoroughly tamed torque; it belonged to Alex Varv who offset his engine thrustline from the risers' center more than most. That's still the best method because it incurs no loss of thrust, but this has the advantage of working on any machine. It weighs almost nothing, too. Very nice work.

The fact is that, if a motor is going to twist, it's going to twist on my scrawny butt, and this one didn't twist at all.

I flew a Gin Carve, MacPara Power2Fly motor, another Air Conception motor, a couple of the new Parajets and Robert Kitilla's new creation. More on those in the months to come. I take audio notes right after flying now so I can remember the details. Sitting here without those notes a lot of the details escape me. One thing is true, though, we have some really nice lighter weight motors to choose from.

You'll fly here a lot more by becoming one with windy conditions. To take on the winds without being up for it is to provide immense entertainment at significant cost to your gear and risk to others.

Tim didn't fly at all mostly because he's not as needy as I am and also because he's not a fan of crowds, especially when winds start to reach his limits.

1. Eric Farewell in 2016 unwittingly models the previous LZ border. 2. The extended area.

Bigger LZ

I'm sure it was mentioned in an early briefing but I didn't hear about it: The LZ is bigger! One of the hardest things people did was come in to land when the wind was blowing straight in, that's why I made this video, but now it's a good bit easier. Landing to the East is most common and this arrangement is optimized for that. Good job John.

The above two pictures tell the story. You can see how last year the western edge only went to the stairs but this year it west well West of that and angled further west nearing water, allowing a more gradual arcing approach that remains clear of fleshy obstacles.

It's still not for the feint hearted but bring it within more pilots comfort zone while improving overall safety to pilot and spectator alike.

Spent

I flew so much, and baked in enough UV that on Saturday it became clear I was damaged goods. After playing in the strongish winds a bit, trying out a new Hike-And-Fly miniwing, I had to call "uncle." That meant I didn't get to try the new Ozone miniwing but Eric is just down the street from me so I'll try it later. I don't know how much was being overdone in the sun and how much was the all-day flyfest but definitely left me utterly spent.

Bruce Erion

"Brewster" is Bad Apple #1. He exemplifies what it means to live life, to love life, and to help others do the same. I've known Bruce since I got into powered paragliding and found him to be one of those people that brightens a room. He's hilarious, to boot. And he's been a huge supporter of Beach Blast, including helping to MC it on one occasion.

He's got cancer and won't be with us for much longer.

Saturday night, Dave Rogers, Alex Donaghy and Tim Gaskins awarded him the "Goin' Above" jacket. I cried.

I'll remember Brewster for many things, but mostly for his skewed outlook on life, always tilting towards getting more fun from it.

Tim Gaskins spoke, as much as he could while holding back tears, and it was an emotional ride but a good one. Thanks to Tim, Lynn and the other Badapples,

Overall

The banquet was at one of the resort's rooms again and boy is that nice, not having to drive anywhere. It was the perfect size, too, since we filled it up even with probably about 150 people.

There was all-day flying for anyone into high-winds nearly every day but Saturday where it got too strong by noon.

So much work is required to pull this particular event off that I always treat it as the last and am pleasantly surprised if John Black pulls it off again. No event in paramotoring has this level of organizational complexity. It's more expensive than some, has more restrictions than most, but has such a cool combination of comforts and consistent flying that it's worth preserving.


Trying out one of several wings. This is a big reason why I so enjoy this event--so many goodies to try, such easy launching.



Looks like a gimmick. In fact, it reminded myself and others of those cards we clipped to our bikes to imitate a motorcycle. Laugh it up, but they work! I'll have more later when I do a full review of the machine since I did take notes.


Friday morning briefing



This is Oz. He is a paramotor pilot, yes, but he's also the king of handstands, doing them in many forms including using only one hand. Looking like that isn't easy—it takes immense discipline which is probably why he rocks at being a Yoga instructor.

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