Flights 1034 35 36. Placida

Last night I posted on Facebook to see if anyone would be interested in flying Sunday morning. Alvero came back that the Sky Pirates Club was coming down from the North. So…. We had 6 pilots at the LZ ” at 6:30. The winds were 4 to 6 from the NE with mostly clear skies.

I had to cut the first two flights short because of a tangle with the right tip steering toggle. The first flight the rig locked into hard right turn and it pointed me at some very real trees that I missed by steering between them. At the next tree, I’d climbed just enough to clear the top. The second flight was a repeat, as soon as I was off the ground we were in a hard right turn. I couldn’t see the snag but I should have known what the problem was by the way the wing was behaving. If I’d grabbed the toggle I’d probably have cleared it right away …. my bad.

The third flight was a charm, I’d found the snag with the tip steering but I’d lost the best flying time so… wasn’t able to follow the flight plan, which was to cross the Inter-coastal and run the Gasparilla Island Beach. Whatever…. it was nice to get up and three successful launches was good practice.

When I landed most everybody had returned. We chatted, took the group photo and broke up. It’s all good.

Flight # 1033 Placida

It was 76 degrees and 99% humidity when I arrived at the LZ . The wind was 1-3 from the NE. I opted out of launching from the road and set-up in the middle of the field. The last few take-offs had been forced and sketchy. This morning, I wanted a clean launch that wasn’t rushed and didn’t require popping the brakes to force takeoff.

I tucked the center leading edge and used a chevron shape to lay out the wing. It worked fine, the prop wash didn’t catch the wing. After rolling a couple of feet I started to feel pressure in the A’s. The wing came up clean. I accelerated to 20+ and rolled 400 feet before rotating. It was satisfying to climb out smoothly instead of staggering along near stall speed. Even so, that was one of the fastest launches since leaving the Rocky Mountains.

I’m getting used to the new machine. It torques firmly to the right at 3000+ RPMs requiring the right trimmer to be let out at least 1.5 inches. Cruise is about the same as Big Red, 2800 to 3000 RPM. The boat seat Terry recommended is comfortable but it makes me feel a little “exposed”. It doesn’t “wrap around”, like the old bucket seat did.

The GoPro 7 was mounted to the frame in front of the A’assist and it was quickly apparent, that wasn’t going to work because it was shaking beyond the ability of any stabilization program. It had also been set to 4K which was too much for my old iPad.

Two upgrades are in process. The first is a new gas tank with fuel gauge that Paul Czarnecki turned me onto and second is a new throttle assembly with a more positive action.

New helmet, feels good.

Flight 1032 Placida

Boca Grande
Gaspirilla Pass in the distance
Spiraling down to land….

I launched against a light crosswind. It was not pretty. The turn away from the headwind was begun too soon preventing the inside tip from pressurizing properly. I oversteered the wing to the outside and finished the run up, off the runway and in the grass. Climb out was a bit sluggish. Due to high humidity and brake input forcing the launch.

I recall looking over my right shoulder a couple of times before I was satisfied that the whole wing was flying. By then I was off the road and crosswind about 25 degrees . It’s all good but it was 50 degrees off the expected course and on a starboard tack instead of port. Anyway it took awhile to get up to speed and I had to use the brakes to get off the ground.

Climb out was smooth with a pronounced right hand torque steer. I trimmed out the right side 5 clicks and used minimal left break to hold course. Climbed to 2000 and flew, “hands in lap”, making a slow circle around the jet port. Was able to maintain level flight at 2800 -3000 RPM

The throttle is still a problem. The cable needs to be 18 inches longer and the throttle lever action is very touchy. It might improve to increase the lever travel but whats really needed is some kind of dampening to assist throttle control. Terry and I both noticed there was very little friction in the cable.

Next flight I should practice with the throttle. It would be fun to buzz the private jet port but it would be just as effective to run a low and slow close to the LZ.

Flight #1031 Placida

Little things are getting better…. getting better, all the time.

I met with Paul Czarnecki at 7:30. There was very little wind and mostly cloudy skies. During warm up I tinkered with the idle screw and brought the RPM down a bit. It is still running a bit rough and floating between 1100 and 1700 RPM but when warm it does settle down enough to live with.

This morning, I set up in the grass so that the launch would start a little slower. I tried Terry Lutke’s suggestion and folded the center of the leading edge under the wing to prevent it from getting caught in the prop wash. My first attempt was aborted when I realized that I had the throttle and the A line but no brake in my left hand. Geez?

The second attempt was magic. I started the motor and because the wing was not in the prop wash, I had plenty of time to get set with the risers and toggles. I added power and for the first time with the new machine I felt the wing pressurize through the A’s. Looking over my shoulder I saw exactly what I expected. This paratrike has a much more open cockpit. It’s possible to tip my head back where before I would hit the frame.

The last two launches I was rushed, as soon as the motor was started the wing would be caught and there just wasn’t time to do anything but focus straight ahead and trust that the wing was coming up clean. In one case I was fumbling for the toggle and only the A Assists were guiding the wing.

I flew for 28 minutes and climbed to 3000 feet. The humidity was high at low altitude but once above 1000 I was easily climbing over 300/ft/min.

Today it came together and it did wonders for my confidence. Yesterday I was wondering if my flying career was coming to an end and now there’s no end in sight.😎

Dear Stefania … Milestone Flight #1030

I start this post with a shout out to my daughter and only follower , Stefania McNosky.

Stef, you rock! Carrying identical twin girls during this crazy uncertain time just reminds me that, “life goes on”.

You are my Hero! Be careful and enjoy your up-coming Baby Shower.

Today’s flight broke a long grounding, due to my second belly surgery. It’s been 2 months since the procedure and just like the last time, “I’m turning the corner”, with just a little time till the next surgery. I have 32 days to enjoy life and strengthen up. Then, I go back to the Cleveland Clinic and have the ileostomy taken down. With luck, life will start getting back to normal in time for Election Day.

Meanwhile…. Today’s flight, while successful, was not pretty. The first launch attempt was aborted when the prop wash caught the wing prematurely, I rolled down the runway for 150 ft trying to get control of the wing and I never did feel it. As a matter of fact, it turned upside down before I stopped. The second attempt was successful but again, I was wrestling the wing and forcing the take off. I couldn’t hold a straight line and probably launched with too much thrust and mid-oscillation. Ugly!

(Note for the next flight. Try laying the wing completely flat and launch off the grass, if that’s what it takes, to be perfectly lined up in the direction of the wind.) Skills in general were rusty. I got off the A’s too soon and didn’t turn and twist to see the wing.

The erratic roll-out is obvious .

I think the whole problem starts when the wing catches the prop wash. I didn’t have time to get a good hand position on the brakes and A’s before the wing was moving.

Once Up, I flew around the patch for 30 minutes. My impressions were; the new 35HP motor torques the rig significantly more than the 31 HP did. It was especially noticeable during take off when I was deep in the brakes and forcing the launch. Once up, I used both sides to trim straight line flight while at 3500 rpm. Later, at level flight I was able to balance the trim with much less use of the trimmers.

Lift was impressive pushing 400fpm and sink was 600. Future flights will harden those numbers. The breeze was increasing and thermals were starting to pop at 7:50 when I landed.

Things to remember for the next.

1. Leave readers in truck.

2. Bring GoPro

3. Before starting the motor, take a minute to visualize the launch. Hand position…. turning the head and torso to see the wing…

4. Need to increase spring loading on the throttle. Way to touchy!

4. GET THE WING BELOW THE PROP WASH!

2020 update

Not mine… but awesome!

Dear Diary 2020 Edition,

In January, Australia caught on fire. I don’t even know if that fire was put out, because we straight up almost went to war with Iran. We might actually still be almost at war with them. I don’t know, because Jen Aniston and Brad Pitt spoke to one another at an awards show and everyone flipped the f— out, but then there was something happening in China, then Prince Harry and Megan peaced out of the Royal family, and there was the whole impeachment trial, and then corona virus showed up in the US “officially,” but then Kobe died and UK peaced out of the European Union.

In February, Iowa crapped itself with the caucus results and the President was acquitted and the Speaker of the House took ten years to rip up a speech, but then WHO decided to give this virus the name COVID-19, which confused some really important people in charge of, like, our lives, into thinking there were 18 other versions before it, but then Harvey Weinstein was found guilty, and Americans started asking if Corona beer was safe to drink, and everyone on Facebook became a doctor who just knew the flu killed way more people than COVID 1 through 18.

In March, shit hit the fan. Warren dropped out of the presidential race and Sanders was like Bernie or bust, but then Italy shut its whole ass down, and then COVID Not 1 through 18 officially become what everyone already realized…a pandemic and then a nationwide state of emergency was declared in the US, but it didn’t really change anything, so everyone was confused or thought it was still just a flu, but then COVID Not 1 through 18 was like “ya’ll not taking me seriously? I’m gonna infect the one celebrity everyone loves.” and totally infected Tom Hanks, but then the DOW took a shit on itself, and most of us still don’t understand why the stock market is so important or even a thing (I still don’t), but then we were all introduced to Tiger King (Carol totally killed her husband) and Netflix was like, you’re welcome, and we all realized there was no way we were washing our hands enough in the first place because all of our hands are now dry and gross.

In April, Bernie finally busted himself out of the presidential race, but then NYC became the set of The Walking Dead and we learned that no one has face masks, ventilators, or toilet paper, or THE FREAKING SWIFFER WET JET LIQUID, but then Kim Jong-Un died, but then he came back to life… or did he? Who knows, because then the Pentagon released videos of UFOs and nobody cared, and we were like man, it’s only April….

In May, the biblical end of times kicked off historical locust swarms and then we learned of murder hornets and realized that 2020 was the start of the Hunger Games but people forgot to let us know, but then people legit protested lockdown measures with AR-15s, and then sports events were cancelled everywhere. But then people all over America finally reached a breaking point with race issues and violence. There were protests in every city, but then people forgot about the pandemic called COVID Not One Through 18. Media struggled with how to focus on two important things at once, but then people in general struggle to focus on more than one important thing, and a dead whale was found in the middle of the Amazon rain forest after monkeys stole COVID 1 Through 19 from a lab and ran off with them, and either in May or April (no one is keeping track of time now) that a giant asteroid narrowly missed Earth.

In June, science and common sense just got thrown straight out the window and somehow wearing masks became a political thing, but then a whole lot of people realized the South was actually the most unpatriotic thing ever and actually lost the Civil war, and there are a large amount of people who feel that statues they don’t even know the name of are needed for … history reasons….. but then everyone sort of remembered there was a pandemic, but then decided that not wearing a mask was somehow a God given right (still haven’t found that part in the bible or even in the constitution), but then scientists announced they found a mysterious undiscovered mass at the center of the earth, and everyone was like DON’T YOU DARE TOUCH IT, but then everyone took a pause to realize that people actually believed Gone With The Wind was like non-fiction, but then it was also announced that there is a strange radio single coming from somewhere in the universe that repeats itself every so many days, and everyone was like DON’T YOU DARE ATTEMPT TO COMMUNICATE WITH IT, but then America reopened from the shut down that actually wasn’t even a shut down, and so far, things have gone spectacularly not that great, but everyone is on Facebook arguing that masks kill because no one knows how breathing works, but then Florida was like hold my beer and let me show you how we’re number one in all things, including the new Not Corona Beer Corona Virus. Trump decides now is a good time to ask the Supreme Court to shut down Obama Care because what better time to do so than in the middle of a pandemic, but then we learned there was a massive dust cloud coming straight at us from the Sahara Desert, which is totally normal, but this is 2020, so the ghost mummy thing is most likely in that dust cloud, but then I learned of meth-gators, and I’m like that is so not on my f-ing 2020 Bingo card, but then we learned that the Congo’s worse ever Ebola outbreak is over, and we were all like, there was an Ebola outbreak that was the worse ever?

In July…. Aliens? Zeus? Asteroids? Artificial Intelligence becomes self aware?

#1029 Back in the air

It’s been 9 months since the last flight but this morning I finally got back up. It was a short flight, (only 11 minutes), but I was able to accomplish my objectives….. Test flight the Falcon and break the drought.

The new Falcon … First Impressions.

First, the Briggs & Stratton, Vangard 35 hp 4 Stroke is quick to power. Time from Level flight to full climb was much quicker using the same prop and hub used on my previous motor, a Generac 31hp. It was a little rough at idle but within flight parameters, (1500 to 3650 RPMs) it was very smooth with just enough vibration to “feel” the motor. I want a few more flights before I call, “best climb rate”, but I expect it will be , North of 300ft/ minute.

The machine does however, have some little kinks that need to be addressed.

First, it requires a long warm up with the choke. Not a big deal.

Second, the idle is not happy, it bounces between 900 and 1500 when cold and even when it’s warm it won’t lock in at 1400. I’m hoping that after break-in and the first oil change this will self correct. The idle screw turns too easily and probably should have a lightweight thread lock applied.

The throttle assembly needs some work. It is routed from the right side and when I run it behind my back to my left hand, it’s a couple of inches short of optimum. More importantly, the, “throttle action” is too light, making it difficult to smoothly modulate engine speed. I expect the best thing will be to rebuild the throttle assembly with a longer and higher grade cable. Shimano makes a nice one that has a Teflon sheath between the cable and the housing. Then I’ll use a stronger return spring to give the action a more positive feel.

I’m going to have to move the nose wheel back a little bit. It too long for me to rest my feet on the steering bar and use the heel strap.

When I hang tested the rig and set the pivot points, they ended up slightly aft of my center, which causes my arms to be slightly behind my shoulders. I had the same issue with the last machine and because this motor is bigger and heavier, it’s more noticeable. It also makes it harder to see the trimmers and magnets. Fortunately there isn’t a brace behind my head which gives me some maneuvering room.

Terry had an interesting suggestion. If I were to relocate the battery to the front , (above the nose wheel), I might be able to move the hang point forward enough to make it worthwhile. It’s certainly worth trying. I’m sure, over the next couple of flights I’ll figure it out.

Last , the old Falcon had been crashed and bounced so many times that the frame was bent in the middle which changed the thrust line to at least 20 degrees above horizontal. I could run up the motor with the wing laid out behind and it would not ruffle the wing. The thrust line on this rig is 5 degrees above horizontal and I’ll have to be careful not to have “premature inflation”. This morning while I was sorting out the toggles, the engine died and during its last bouncing gasp, it caught the wing, popping it up.

Once up, the Falcon flew well. The torque steering to the right is a little more pronounced, I had no problem trimming it out. I wonder if moving the right hang points slightly forward would counter the torque. I must remember to ask both Terry and Robert what they think.

I didn’t pay enough attention to the avionics to report on speed but I’m expecting to be faster. The brake pressure was slightly harder indication the rig is a bit heavier. I should weigh it.

It’s a new machine and like all of them, it’s going to need some tweaking, but all in all, I’m pleased and confident that it will serve me well….

I’m flying again 😎

Grounded

A surprise attack of Diverticulitis in November has grounded me. I have taken the opportunity to have a new paramotor built and will resume asap.

This is the first time in 15 years of blogging that there has been a significant gap between posts. The majority of the time lost has been consumed with the Diverticulitis Attack, resulting surgeries and recoveries. While this topic may be interesting to some , it holds interest for me, only because it is my body. Intellectually I appreciate that I must learn what’s going on but I have no desire to share and or revisit the experience.

In a nutshell….

I’ve got more portholes and thru- hulls than a than a 1980s McGregor. I was hoping that the last surgery would be the end of it but I won the
“5 percent of patients” award and earned another 4 months of bio-mechanical plumbing. All I can say is that if this had to happen ….. now is the time because I’m not missing anything. I’m not complaining because … The whole freaking world is having a bad year.

So… with that out of the way, there are some very good things that have happened and deserve to be included in the blog for myself and posterity. Primarily, Dawn and I took an Epic Cruise in Europe. I will put together a write up.