Today was a bit of a milestone. I arrived at the field about 15 minutes after sunset. There was a 5 to 7 mph breeze from the SSE. The skies were clear and the temperature was 64 degrees. The ground fog had burned off and the field was very wet.
I set-up diagonally across the road NW of the usual field hoping to keep the wing dry. Taking Paul’s advice I had all the lines relatively tight to avoid the partial tuck I was getting during inflation. The prop pitch had been reduced 1.5 Degrees the day prior. It increased max RPMs to 9400 and greatly reduced thrust at Idle. It was a pleasure to be able to fire up the motor without the prop thrust grabbing the wing. Due to the cockeyed way the wing was laid out, the trike was straddling the edge of the road. I was afraid that it would slow down or otherwise disrupt the first moment of inflation so I tried an old trick from the Simms Landing zone. I used the ramps give the trike a smooth surface to start off. It also raise the back a tiny bit which might have helped to keep the wing out of the prop wash.
The launch was very easy. The wing popped right up into the breeze and stabilized overhead. I had to make a slight turn to correct the heading and when it was time , the slightest bit of brake popped me into the air.
It was 6 on the bump scale up to 400 feet, above was smooth with a strong breeze. I was surprised to learn that I had launched using the tip steering on the left side. It felt perfectly normal. As a matter of fact it felt better in my throttle hand than a regular brake handle. It might be a good idea to fool around with different toggles to see what works best. The winds were considerably stronger at altitude, 15 mph, at least.
I flew, crabbing against the Wind out to the Gasparilla Marina and back to Safe Cove. The Paramotor ran well with a lower pitch. I was climbing easily at 300ft/min at 3700 RPMIt was nice to have a wider power which made it easier to dial in the RPM. Best of all the torque steer has been reduced dramatically. My only complaint is the light action of the throttle. It’s difficult to hold a steady RPM when I stow the brake toggles or use the left hand to adjust the trimmers it’s too easy to rev or drop the RPMs. Just adding spring tension isn’t going to fix it , I need to add some friction as well.
The winds aloft were a steady 15 mph. I was able to penetrate at 15 mph at neutral trim. The upwind turns were fun and tight.
Landing was much better than the last two. Because of the rowdy air I had to actively fly the wing to keep control during decent. For the first time since I got sick I was flying with some weight on the toggles, feeling the wing instead of just giving input when I wanted to initiate a turn or something. When it was time to flair I was much more comfortable and was able to float the wing for a long way to bleed off energy. The lesson of the day was ….fly the wing! Hang a little weight on the toggles and feel what’s happening. I think it’s something that’s been lacking since the long sabbatical due to illness. It feels good to be getting my skills back.
Right after landing a flock of egrets landed right beside me. They even hung out for 45 minutes while I had an old fashioned kiting session and loaded up the rig. On the way out of the field, I pulled off the road for a minute to work with the IPad. While I was sitting there, head down, a couple older fellows rode up to take a look. The were fascinated by the motor but I was more interested in their expensive rides. Full Campagnolo groupos mounted on beautiful “big tube” carbon fiber frames. The kind of equipment that was only available to well funded professions just a few years ago. We shared pleasantries, said our fair wells and then, I headed home.
I stopped to add fuel and was surprised to add a .9 of a gallon for a 30 minute flight. If that’s right I’m burning 2 gallons an hour. I expected a higher fuel burn but this is almost double what the Generac burned. It’s going to limit my range but it’s not like I’m doing a lot of 3 hour flights, so…. no biggie.