Flights 1163 & 1164 Throggle Test

It was a beautiful day for a test flight. Yesterday Troy, “The Krazy Kracker“ and I installed Robert Kittila’s Throggle. A throttle that has the brake toggle fixed to the body of the throttle body allowing the pilot to start the engine after he has the risers in hand ready to launch. Visually it’s a work of art. A black matte handle contoured to fit the hand with a groove cut for the brake toggle. The start, kill button and throttle/cruise control are molded into the top so that all the controls are within reach of the thumb. The cruise control is an aluminum tab that is easy to adjust and engage.

The first flight was cut short when I noticed a line tangle right after lift off but everything worked as advertised. The second launch was also a short flight but it allowed me to test the throttle.

I hope Robert finds a market for the throggle but it’s not me. After a very short flight I found a couple of things that were show stoppers. Probably the biggest is that it’s not easy to clip the throggle to the risers and I’m not sure they would stay attached in every situation. I like to park the brakes and give my arms a rest. Theoretically, with the throggle you set the cruise control and park the brakes but that doesn’t work for me because even when I’m out of the brakes I like to have control of the RPMs. It’s cumbersome to keep reaching over to adjust the cruise tab especially when it’s attached to the magnets. Incidentally the cable is too long and it looked like if it came off the magnet, it could easily be sucked into the prop. So …. I stopped testing parked brakes right there.

One issue was during the launch. I like to have my hands on the A lines during inflation. It’s possible to hook the #1 A with the thumb and control the throttle but once the wing is up, the A needs to be released and the thumb lever also gets released when that happens. So… for a moment the thrust is reduced. On a hard surface, like this morning, it was no big deal because the cart had very little drag but on grass the cart would slow immediately causing the wing to surge, forcing me to brake at a low speed to keep the wing overhead. It would delay the launch and add unnecessary complexity. The A assists can do the job without me being in the A’s but I like to feel the wing during those crucial seconds.

The thumb throttle control works fine but the spring tension had to be reduced to accommodate the short lever weaker thumb. I can imagine that without using the cruise control the thumb could get pretty tired.

Another problem was the way we wired into the motor. The starter can be engaged at any time whether the key is in or not. It can be tapped during a flight or perhaps while we’re standing around in the garage. It would be much better if it only engaged when the key was turned to run. That can be fixed if I change my opinion and decide to continue with this throttle. As it is, I’m going to have to rig some kind of mid-cable leash that will prevent a lost cable from going into the prop.. I’d like to put a Velcro hand strap across the body but I’m afraid that the toggle Not In the nifty groove would be too thick for my small hands. Plus …. Velcro adhesive doesn’t want to adhere to the 3D printed nylon.

I might have a couple more flights with the throggle but right now I’m pretty sure I’m going to re-install the old lever and be on the lookout for a new one with a start and kill integrated to the body of the throttle.

Flight Day #1162

Weather was the keyword of the day. WU predicted 0-3 mph from the east . When I arrived there was ground fog and light wind from the north. While I unloaded the rig, a wind front of 10 mph came through that lasted about 10 minutes. Shortly after the sun came up the wind dropped. I set up and launched cleanly. The air was bumpy and the higher I flew the more the turbulence increased. A small private plane overflew my by 300 ft. I don’t know if he did it on purpose but he changed course slightly to fly right over my head. I descended to mitigate any extra bumps from his wingtip vortex. It was hard to tell if it mattered because I was being tossed around plenty as it was.

I returned to base and landed . I might have found clear air at a higher altitude but chose to land in case the low turbulence continued to build. I expect it would have because the ground was cool and the warming was not uniform.

Flight Day #1161

First Sunset flight in a long time. Lost the right rear wheel on landing. Pin was gone. There was no damage . I think its possible that the pin was dislodged by a race mark that was rolling around behind the rig in the pickup truck. I replaced all four pins the next day. The race mark is gone.

Non event.

It’s not often you get such a perfectly timed shot

Flight Day #1158

Flew with Rob Norland. No drama.. stayed on the A’s during inflation and that helped. The poles have taken out the largest roads but there are going to be plenty of places to launch and land for the foreseeable future.

There was plenty of ground fog which made for a picturesque launch. After I watched Rob launch and the “parting of the fog”, I set up and followed him into the sky. Despite his reluctance to go out to the island, Rob made a beeline for Gasparilla Marina. Twenty minutes later he was back and we danced around each other for another 20 minutes.

It’s all good.

Flight Day #1157

It won’t be the last time I fly The Meadows but it’s coming.

Dear God….It’s been over a month since my last confession, flight #1156. I did penance by sailing a boat at walking pace from South America to Key West. So….I’ve got that going for me. Right?

The first thing I noticed, driving out to the LZ, was power poles. Hundreds of 50 footers sprouting up like a giant Punji Trap for Paragliders. Soon, they would be connected with power lines, dividing my patch into a web of city blocks where the, “low and slow”, would be, “dead and gone”.

My favorite intersection had become a “no go”. The poles closed off any escape to the North and the numerous copse of trees to the South were just too close together for comfort. I could still launch here and ninety nine times out of a hundred it would be flawless. But….

I’ve lost landing zones before. Some I flew for years before civilization pushed me out. Some were short term opportunities where developers had cleared the land and created a space that I could exploit for a few weeks. Some became home base where I could hang with my buddies and share our passion.

Eventually each one dissolved into the mist of the, “Good Ol Days”. It’s the way of a Paragliders life. Enjoy it while you’ve got it and when they kick you out … find someplace else.

But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go

There’s always someone, don’tcha know

Hanging around and sayin, we’ll I told ya so

Back in The Goodle days

And the Goodle Days

Are past and gone

A lot of good people have done gone on

And that’s my life when I sing this song

About back in the goodle days.

Credit: John Hartford

Flight #1156

After a long spell of weather I got a quick one in. The first attempt was a bust when the wing came up crooked . The breeze was very light on the surface but …I didn’t have a windsock … and it’s possible there was a decent crosswind 10ft above the prop wash.

The light red wind jacket was a help but it was cool. I chose to stay low and enjoy some low passes over the patch. The last several flights have been all about getting video of the carnage at the marinas. I was staying high to avoid any chance of a difficult recovery. A beeline for the Marina and spiral down for video.

Flying low, I could get a good look at the groves of trees that had been out in the open when the eye wall passed over. Without exception they were stripped to the bark. Groups of forty footers still standing proud…. but naked. I don’t know if they will come back. Time will tell. There was also a runabout buried in the mud next to a pond that looked like it was already sprouting fresh leaves. Flying over a lost Kayak I was reminded of the Texas WingNut’s Flying on Galveston Island.

Flight #1155

Nice flight. No Drama. Flew over to Gasparilla Marina and low and slow around the golf course.

I goofed, the wind died and the wing fell into the weeds. It came down like a wet nose rag. I spent 10 minutes untangling it and somehow in the process the wing cam detached from the inside magnet.

My 86 year young buddy Otis rode by to congratulate me for cheating death …. Again. I told him he was my hero for cheating it every day.

It’s all good.