Adjusting the Colorado to the Falcon

It’s not a flaw with the wing but I’m taking it out of service until I can resolve an issue with the unsheathed lines that are getting tangled with the keepers. This situation wouldn’t be a problem for a foot launch pilot or even one on a smaller two stroke trike. But… This is a big rig and probably not a configuration the designer considered when putting this wing together.

… pinch/stretch to zoom

This video is an aborted launch caused by the brake and 2D lines tangling with the line keepers on the outer ring of the cage. The unsheathed lines have no “stiffness” to withstand the turbulence and “suck” from the prop.

Part of the problem is that there are two line keepers. Why Terry Lutke did this, I’m not sure but he encourages using both. Also… I noticed that prior to starting the engine I pulled several inches of 2D and brake line to allow me to reach the ignition key. Even if I’m not pulling the brake far enough to reach the ignition , just grabbing the risers and preparing to start, brings the junction of the sheathed and unsheathed lines right up to the keeper where the tangles occur. The “Y formed by the A1 line is at risk for getting hooked on a keeper. Also… The unsheathed lines have little or no tension as it runs back to the wing.. I fear that eventually, that incredibly limber line is going to get whipped into the prop.

There are some things I can do that will help. An electric start button on the throttle would help, allowing me to have most of the slack out of the lines because I would not have to pull line creating slack while reaching for the starter. Also…. The line keepers must be modified to eliminate the possibility of lines snagging at the bottom of the V.

I think, with this large paramotor trike, there is an inherent danger with a thin unsheathed line this close the the propeller, especially during the take-off sequence, when line position and tension can be so dynamic.

I want to note that I did not use the A assist. The A line on the Colorado riser is shorter than other wings I’ve flown. The assist line would have only been about 6 inches long. I wasn’t confident that the A assist would be effective and was uncomfortable with a short A assist tugging on the wing while in flight. Also…., I wanted to feel the new wing during inflation.

One way I’ve thought to fix this issue is by adding 1 meter (maybe more) of sheathed line to the brake and A1 lines where they leave the risers. This will of course, require shortening the unsheathed lines and lengthening the 2DmBR the 2D steering line and the A1 line. This will put stiffer lines around the keepers and move their connection point, with the unsheathed lines, away from the rig where they have been getting tangled. I don’t think this change will have a material effect on the wing’s behavior…

But…. I look forward to Mr. Recek’s thoughts. If changing out a few lines is going to be the best solution. Then, I’m all for it. It’s just a matter of calculating the correct measurements and ordering the line. If he has a better solution…. I’m all ears.

No Fly Day It just didn’t feel right.

It just didn’t feel right. I woke and hour before the alarm and went through the usual routine. The winds were predicted to be 6 but were 10 in Punta Gorda. When I got to the field it was a little strong but doable. I waited 15 minutes and it was coming down nicely. It was very flyable.

BUT… It just didn’t feel right. Maybe it was the new wing, maybe I didn’t drink enough coffee, maybe it’s because I’d flown the two previous days and was tired. Maybe it’s because Jeff Goin has stepped down from the USPPA. Whatever the reason, I didn’t feel like going up.

BUT … The sunrise was awesome so I enjoyed the sight and drove home. The next several days it’s going to be high winds and a wet cold front.

Flight #1108

Another great flight with the Colorado. The XL wing fits the new machine perfectly. It is so much more efficient than the APCO. Both accent and decent are improved by over 100 ft/minute. The engine isn’t working as hard and cruise is almost 400 RPMs lower. It’s a particularly smooth spot on the power band and makes for a very comfortable ride. I haven’t paid much attention to speed but it is a slower glider. On the next flight I’ll see if I can figure out exactly how much slower.

The risers are complicated, with the tip steering threading through two d rings and a bungee thrown in to confuse. The brakes are set in the upper magnets but can be stowed in the lower ones. Its a bit disconcerting to have the wingtip line totally unconnected from the risers only attached at the brake toggle. I do like the way they have put two magnets on the toggles making it easier to stow. The WTS is stationed way down low, just a quarter of an inch above the hangpoint rings. The plastic hose loop toggles are very positive and there is a metal snap in addition to magnets to lock them in.

This mornings launch was interesting. The first attempt was aborted. I had a hard time finding the left A line after starting the motor and I let the motor die. Then I neglected to have the left brake in my hand before I started the motor and reach for the A riser. When I stated to move saw the super fine brake line tangled in the line keeper. Later viewing the video I was able to watch the slack line wrap itself up. The whole situation was caused by pulling extra line through the keeper to have enough reach to turn the key. Either I use the right hand to turn the key or I find a way to start the motor without having slack line. Maybe I should look at routing the finest lines through only one keeper

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On the second attempt the wing went off to the left and pulled me up on two wheels. I was right on the edge of tipping over when I turned into the wing and prepared to abort. I looked up to see the wing had stabilized overhead, but… I was off the runway, rolling in a field with the grass armpit high. I could have continued on that course but I didn’t relish the thought of hitting an unseen hole so I decided to taxi back onto the runway. And it worked! I was reminded of the day I flew with Mo Sheldon 16 years ago. He inflated his wing and slowly taxied around for the longest time before committing to launch. I was struck by how slowly he was rolling with the wing happily bouncing along above him. So…When I got back in the hardtop, I turned down the runway and slowly applied power. Takeoff didn’t require brake input and once again the climb out was spectacular!

This morning I figured out the 2D steering. When my arms are outstretched horizontally and I pull down I’m activating the entire trailing edge. It’s very stiff and I doubt that I have enough strength or weight to try a landing moving my arms from 90 degrees straight out arcing downward. If I were 25 and a gymnast with hours on the parallel bars…. Maybe, but not now. Its fine for a slow flat turn. If I pull straight down, I’m activating to outer third of the wing which turns the wing nicely. A strong pull will start a banking turn very quickly. When using the WTS, it’s right there at eye level on the hangpoint and it’s very responsive.

I haven’t tried the reflex yet because the trim tab cams are incredibly stiff. It’s going to take two hands to release them and hopefully I will have enough strength to pull them in before landing. I understand that there were problems with the old style of cams not holding position so they replaced them with super heavy duty. I’ll run it by Andy McGavin but I might try epoxying a button on the center of the lever and see if that helps.

Decent is so much slower than the APCO that I’m going to have to find a better way to lower the RPM without killing the motor. Next time I go high, I should shut it down and free fly for awhile. I’m sure when I try a dead stick landing this wing will be wonderful.

Flight #1107 First flight of the MacPara Colorado XL

At Last!

I’ve been waiting for the field to be cut before flying my new MacPara Colorado XL. It’s been six months since the spring cut and there has been no sign of the mowers. I didn’t want to launch from the asphalt with a brand new wing but it’s clean and without gravel or cracks. I couldn’t wait any longer. So,today was the day.

First light isn’t until 7:15 and I’m used to leaving the house at 6 so I arrived a bit early. The winds were predicted to be light from the NNE but it was 6 WNW. As it got lighter the breeze came down and was starting to shift to the North.

I laid out and after a few glitches was ready to launch . The risers fit the rig without adjusting. I took off the A-assists because they would have needed to be shortened considerably and I figured it would be a good thing to feel the wing come up anyway.

The launch was clean. I rolled as far as the road allowed before popping a little brake and was treated to an amazing climb out. At 3900 RPM my climb rate was between 340 and 400ft/minute. At higher altitude it was a bit less but still an improvement on the APCO. The 2d steering is still a mystery. Maybe, my arms are too short or maybe I just need more time on the wing, because I had a hard time seeing how different positions made for different inputs.

The air was 61 degrees and bumpy at the surface but considerably warmer and smooth at 300 ft.

Nice flight …. Nice wing.

Flight # 1106

This was fun. I arrived at the field at 7am about 15 minutes before dawn. The air was still and there were patches of ground fog.

Adam Mangett, a drone pilot I met a couple of weeks ago, came to fly and film his drone with Rob Nordlund and I. We had a quick safety briefing and I launched. Adam’s drone was fast and incredibly nimble. I flew around the patch for about 15 minutes while he flew barrel rolls around me. Then I followed Rob out to Gaspirilla Island.

The air was bumpy even before the sun cleared the horizon. There were three layers, at 250 ft, and again at 800 and 1600. As I approached the causeway, I could see that there was a healthy breeze coming from the WSW. Halfway across the causeway I was whacked by sharp turbulence and took a partial collapse of the wing. So… I decided to abort and turned back toward the LZ. Rob wasn’t far behind.

Back at the LZ, the turbulence had come down to about a 4. The wind sock was showing zero wind so I decided to land opposite of takeoff. The must have had some breeze above the surface, because I came in hot and had to drop the wing into the grass to avoid dragging it on the pavement.

Here is the video Adam took with his drone.

At the LZ we shot the bull with the drone guys and a couple groups of cyclists who stopped by.

Adam’s edit from todays flight. Next time we will have communication and a plan of maneuvers.

Flight #1105

No Drama….I drove all the way to Gaspirilla Rd before I realized that I had left home without a wing. An hour later, I’d run back to the house and was back the the field, setting up. Conditions were fine with a light breeze from the NNE. The landing was extremely lifty .

Flight #1099. Lack of power

This was interesting and potentially dangerous. One of the push/pull rods in the choke assembly came undone causing a lack of power. The takeoff was slow and climb out was worse. I steered between the clumps of Palm trees, stayed on the throttle and made a flat turn back to the truck at about 50 feet of altitude.

I wanted to fly beyond the truck and turn back to land into the 6 to 8 mph winds. Unfortunately I was losing altitude and there were still a bunch of palm trees that I would have had to clear. So, I picked the first available road and set down 90 degrees crosswind. The palms blocked the wind and the landing was soft.

I taxied back to the truck and diagnosed the problem. Safety Wire should prevent another occurrence.