Last Powered Paragliding Flight at the Louisville Home Site #515

It was looking a little iffy.  There was a light breeze coming from the West.  It was just enough that I didn’t want to attempt a downwind launch.  I taxied to the other end of the field and looked at the possibility of launching into the hill.  The terrain was perfect, freshly mowed and smooth…but the breeze was coming straight off the hill and there were big trees that would have made it tough to turn right after liftoff.  It looked doable if I could maintain a good climb rate. 

I set-up and launched without a problem.  The climbout was exciting because I was just barely able to maintain enough separation from the earth to go between the trees and and climb the hill.  There was always the possibility that I would be met with some rotor at the top but the breeze was light and the top was smooth so I figured the worst would be a little sink and I was confident the Falcon could power me up.

What a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky and lots of hot air balloons off to the north.  I headed North and caught some low flying balloons.  They were just barely skimming the surface and one of them set down in a back yard that wasn’t 50 foot square.  After playing with the balloons for 30 minutes I turned back and headed for home.  It was a great day to be alive.

The bad news was seeing the police cruiser waiting for me when I came back to land.  He hadn’t called to give me the bad news … which was good … at least I was able to get in one last flight.  …BUT according to the City lawyer that he had gone out of the way to consult … I was not exempt … and could no longer launch out of the home field.  Later I called the devil spawn and… yes … Shakespeare was right.  ” The first thing we do is to HANG ALL THE LAWYERS”

The next evening I went for a drive after work looking for a new site.  The obvious ones that I had picked out on Google Earth were fenced and posted or were attached to huge estates that did not invite me to knock on their door.  After an hour of dead ends I was driving home and feeling low when I spotted a field that was free of weeds, it was right off Boulder Road next to a large Catholic Church ( Saint Mary of Perpetual Motion) and there was a car parked right in the middle of the field so…  I pulled in to see if there was anything for me there.  I made contact with a caretaker who gave me the number for the the owners son who will ask his father to allow me to launch.  LETS  HOPE!

Far 103 Rules … No News is good News

After pulling up the sectional and being totally confused, I called Rocky Mountain Airport  and was told I had a 2000 ft ceiling. and could overfly as long as I stayed above 500 feet.   The municipal code clearly exempts non-fixed wing. 
So… I called the police station and spoke with the officer.  He said that he would check with the code inforcement officer and get back with me.  If I didn’t hear anything … I’m good to go.
No News is Good News

Sec. 8.60.010. Intent.

In order to protect the public health, safety and general welfare, it is the purpose of this chapter to restrict the operation of aircraft within the city limits, except in the case of emergencies or where the city has given prior approval.
(Code 1977, § 8.60.010; Ord. No. 966-1988)
Sec. 8.60.020. Definitions.
For purposes of this chapter, “aircraft” means any fixed-wing device or structure, whether motorized or not, designed for or capable of carrying persons or cargo in sustained flight at some elevation above the ground. Helicopters and balloons are not considered aircraft for purposes of this chapter.
(Code 1977, § 8.60.020; Ord. No. 1049-1991, § 1)
Sec. 8.60.030. Prohibitions.
No aircraft may land on, take off from, taxi on or overfly land within the municipal boundaries of the city at an altitude less than 500 feet above the ground surface (unless any such lesser altitude is specifically allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration or unless the aircraft is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration), except:
A. In the event of an emergency, which emergency must be demonstrated by the operator of the aircraft; or
B. If such landing, take off, taxiing or other operation of aircraft has been previously approved in writing by the city council or its designee after application by the proposed operator.

(Code 1977, § 8.60.030; Ord. No. 966-19

Bummer …. Busted

I knew it was too good to be true.  I had an LZ less than a minute from my front door.  I could land and “power kite” right back to my house.  Well after a beautiful 30 minute flight I was decending to the field when I saw a police cruiser parking by the truck.  It took a couple of laps before I was able to set up for landing and even then I was lifted by the upslope breeze and came in 100 yards east of the truck.  I could have pushed it and approached between a couple of trees but this wouldn’t have been a good time to showboat.
The officer was friendly and polite but informed me that the Town of Louisville had an ordinance making it illegal to fly over the city limits.  My field is just inside… Damn!  I’m sure that I will be able to overfly the Mesa area but I’m going to have to find a new field.
Just inside of the city

Vance Brand Airport in the fog #512

The fog was so thick
that there was nothing to do but sit in the cab and wait. 

Forty five minutes after I arrived Marek showed up …. he was all charged up and ready to go fog surfing.  I did my best to discourage him while we waited for Robert.   At 8:15 it was still pea soup, Robert had arrived and seeing that it wasn’t going to change fast he and I decided to go for a cup of coffee to kill some time.  Marek ….ever hungry for a flight stayed at the field.  When we returned it was starting to break up and we were beginning to see the trees south of the LZ. 

While Robert was warming his motor he discovered that the kill switch wasn’t working.  It wasn’t a show stopper but nobody liked it and we chatted about the time Jim King did a face plant at Monument Valley and John Black had to race down the runway to rescue him.  When we heard a couple of GA craft warming their motors Marek decided it was good enough for him.  His flight was 2 minutes max.   The take off was clean and I was surprised at how quickly he go off in the super saturated air but after less than one quick lap he came in for a power off landing.  Later I learned that his prop exploded shortly after take off.
I went out to set up and waited for Robert to launch.  When he blew the first attempt I took the opportunity and launched.  The wing came up slowly and the trike was even slower but there was plenty of room so I took my time and taxied a ways before committing.  Good Launch, except that I had neglected to buckle my helmet.  Damn!  Rather than fuss with digging the buckle out from under the helmet I tossed it over by the truck and continued to do laps.  The air was cool and the visibility was poor so I stayed around the field and waited for Robert.  His wing came up fast and did a forward fold.  I’m not sure what happened next but when I flew over I could see him prone with the motor running and Marek rushing over to assist.
It just wasn’t working out to be a good morning.  The air was smooth with large slow thermals creating lift south of the LZ.  Since it didn’t look like anybody else was going to fly I came down after a few more minutes.
Robert was ok but had cut some of his webbing and Marek was out with a damaged prop.  They decided to head over to Boulder for some free flight and I loaded up for the house.

Not a lot of airtime but a short flight is better than none!

Powered Paragliding … My New Home Field

This is the way is is supposed to be!  I woke with the dawn, had a cup of java and loaded the rig.  2 minutes later I was unloading at my new field.  Thanks to Buz it had been freshly mowed and cleared,  this was as good or better than launching at Titan.  The wind was light from the south and other than a few straw bales to avoid, there was plenty of room.  The launch was fast but smooth.  When the surface is good, this trike can roll. 
Wow! What a great site, Boulder to the West, the mesa below and lots of good scenery…  country estates, ponds and lakes, and the flat tops.    Best of all … plenty of alternate LZs if I got in trouble.  I stayed up about an hour first at 1000 feet and then some low and slow over the mesa.  To finish off, I buzzed the neighborhood and landed downwind facing the truck.  It was no problem to let the wing fly and “Power Kite”, back to the truck.

Powered Paragliding … Today was a comedy of errors # 509

I was excited to be flying from my new home field which was just a few blocks from home, unfortunately the winds were light from the west, which was exactly the wrong direction.  So… I drove 1/4 mile to the mesa above and set-up amid a group of stretching joggers.  There were two wonderful runways going in the wrong direction, so I decided to launch through the field.  The surface was smooth but the weeds were high, dry and thick.  I walked the projected route and tossed the worst of the scrub out of the way. 
The wing inflated well and while the run out was rough, it seemed doable until I drove into a large tangle of weeds and branches that I had missed during the preflight.  Abort … Abort … Abort…   

The mesa just wasn’t going to be suitable unless I had the perfect wind that would let me use the running path as a runway. While loading up and rubbing a sore elbow that had been whacked by a branch, I noticed that the wind was shifting to the south.  The sun was being covered nicely by the clouds and so I decided to give the lower LZ another try.

Here is where it starts to get interesting.   The first launch was successful but I had to set down quickly when I couldn’t shake out a cravat in the wing tip.  I could have stayed up and tried to work out the tangle, but since there was a good landing zone ahead of  me, I didn’t see any reason to tempt fate.  The landing was fine and I gathered up the wing and drove the rig back to my truck.  By now the wind had shifted to SSE which was perfect for the field.  I quickly layed out the wing, hooked up to the trike and jumped into the seat.  The wing came up straight and I was powering down the field when I noticed that I had picked up the wind sock, including the 20 foot pole!  This was a first,  I’d clipped wind socks on landing but never on a launch.  Apparently the right side was a little close or had oscillated to that side because, there it was, hanging from the farthest line and looking like it wanted to go for a ride.  I wanted nothing to do with it and aborted once again.  One more time, I gathered the wing and drove back to the truck. 

I was about to set up for my 4th attempt when I noticed that one of the rear tires had gone completely flat, which had probably happened during the aborted launch in the weeds.  Enough was enough, I really wanted to fly but I was going to have to be satisfied by a short hop across a couple of fields for flight number # 509