This was my fifth flight in so many days. Like yesterday I went for altitude but this time I wore a flight jacket over the red suit. It was probably the laziest flight I’ve ever done. I let the torque steer do the work while I made lazy circles up to 6000. Initial climb rate was 260 but it decreased to a bit under 150 at 6000. It took almost exactly 30 minutes to get to 6000 making the average climb rate 200 ft per minute. Next time, I’ll try to note the time for each incremental 1000. Temp was 74 degrees at the surface with 99 percent humidity.
The view from the top was wonderful. I could see the whole harbor and the Myakka and Peace Rivers feeding it. The sun was rising behind Punta Gorda, as I climbed, it began to reflect off the canals sparkling like jewels. There was one lonely sailboat south of fish haven. Just a silhouette in the glare of the sun.
The takeoff was flawless and so was the landing, except that I had been so lazy and such a “passenger”, throughout the flight that I had to admonish myself to wake up and pay attention. The landing zone came up fast and I had to hustle to get my hands in the toggles to be ready on the first pass.
This machine has a right hand torque twist, at power. Add to that the drag of the chase cam and it requires either constant left brake or significant trim imbalance to fly a strait line. It’s possible the whole thing is caused by the motor but it doesn’t make sense to hang the cam off the right side of the wing if it’s already wanting to turn that way.
Go Pro…. The Hero 7 failed. The error code is no SD card but I think it’s related to the recent freeze up incidents. …. Yesterday was the first time the camera was flying correctly. I positioned it just behind the paramotor so the wing would be up when tension came on the towing bridle. Today I did about the same thing and it ended up flying upside down. Go Figure. I have not reviewed the footage but I doubt the rig will be in view. No biggie…. The light was lousy. I didn’t miss anything.
The abrasion on the risers is getting worse and will have to be addressed. Some kind of shield that’s thin and abrasion resistant. Aluminum Tape?
Everything went smooth. The chase cam is getting dialed in and for the second day the weather was beautiful. I set-up 45 degrees off the runway attempting a quick crosswind adjustment. Almost made it too. I couldn’t start the turn before leaving the circle so I widened the turn, rolled into the grass and was able to get back on the runway. I kept it on the ground as long as possible for a, “no brake“, launch.
I made some lazy torque circles and climbed to 3000 ft. Then flew over to the Gaspirilla Marina. There was one small prop plane at the jet port, first time I seen anything other than midsized business jets.
The first launch was clean. Well…. Pretty clean. The left side was fouled by the chase cam. It came up crooked and had a hard time getting inflated. When it did harden up, I applied power and lifted off without using brake. As soon as I saw the cam was wrapped in the lines, I decided to land and made a short circle back to the LZ. Clean landing with cam in grass.
No Flyskyhy track. Flight time 3 minutes 6 seconds.
The next flight contained an abort. The breeze had stabilized, it was light but 40 degrees off the runway. I didn’t want to drag the wing and instead I got a half wet wing and 20 minutes wasted to reset. I marched the APCO a couple of hundred feet back and watched the wind build and stabilize 30 degrees of the runway.
I got up early and met Rob Nordlund at 6:00am. The air was still and humid. He set up on the road and was off quickly. I followed about 5 minutes later. Take off speed was high, probably due to 100% humidity. I was surprised by the slow climb out and probably should have stayed on the ground longer.
As soon as I was up and had done the post launch checklist, I tried out the Bluetooth cell phone. It worked perfectly. Rob pick up right away and reported that my signal was crystal clear. Success! My chase cam, not so much. Seems I didn’t flake the tow line properly because it wrapped 3 or 4 times around the camera head. It also doubled up which shortened the tow by at least 5 feet. I didn’t save the video which was shaky and erratic. I did keep a few screen grabs .
The flight was good. Despite or maybe because of yesterday’s hurricane, the air was as smooth as butter. Nil wind at the surface and a steady 12 knots above 400 ft.
Rob and I didn’t fly together today but I look forward to seeing some of his LZs south of us.
It took all week to get this flight, three rainy days and two mornings at the field. Yesterday was a washout. The sky’s were blue except for one little cell parked over The Meadows. It was calm and the air would have been butter, except that every time I found a dry spot to set-up, the sky would open and start sprinkling.
Like yesterday, I woke up before the alarm and was at the LZ by first light. Yesterday it was rain, today the challenge was wind. I knew it was going to be iffy this morning because last night, the apps were forecasting a breeze between 6 and 10. I was betting on less than more.
At 6:00 it was blowing 7, gusting to 12. I set-up hoping to launch between the gusts. Previously I’d attached the chase cam three feet in from the tip, on a “D” line, so that it wouldn’t crash into the rig during landing. The GoPro mounts, as configured, only allows for straight forward positioning. So…. I attached to the center right, “C” line and then, positioned the cam for launch, in front of the wing, it was right in the middle with the line flaked out to run. I envisioned it would begin loading the line just before the wing was fully overhead.
The video corroborates this and the cam goes to its flying station quickly. On the other hand, videos of the arrow cam show it swinging wildly before it settles down.
The launch was interesting. I’d noticed that the wing was turning 20 degrees to the right after inflation. But I didn’t “get it”. My wall was consistently forming straight down the runway and that was my intention. When I started the launch it came up fast and turned 20 degrees to the right. Go Figure? Then, when I applied some brake to dampen the surge, I felt the rig jerk back and the front wheel pop up a few inches So … we turned 20 degrees to the right. I rolled through the cul de sac and onto the field. The breeze was a big help, I was up shortly after applying power.
It was twitchy and bumpy up to 700 feet and even then, it was bumpy. I took a few laps to test the camera but there wasn’t a lot of incentive to keep flying. The sky had lost all the color from its earlier glory and there was a very serious possibility of rain so I turned back to the LZ.
The landing was great except that the wing decided to keep flying despite what I though was a wing dropping flare. It floated happily overhead in the breeze while the cam swung forward lightly tapping the cage. When the wing is flying the camera is hanging straight down it is almost exactly in the thrust line.
Reviewing the video; the new cam works fine . It doesn’t seem to fly much different than my old arrow cam. It does have more drag which makes it fly higher and farther back. I remember looking over my shoulder and being able to see the arrow flying off to my side like a tiny wingman, this one is out of view. I’m going to review older videos for comparison. I don’t think the drag is a problem. I do, remember the time I picked up my big wind indicator complete with gallon jug and lots of colored tape. I didn’t even notice it was there, so the asymmetric drag shouldn’t be a problem.
I think it was a more interesting perspective with the cam off to the side. Several viewers assumed the video was being shot by a second pilot. Next flight I’ll move the attachment point out a little farther from center and find a way to point the camera in toward the rig.
Probably the best thing was getting off a high wind launch. I’ll get a lot more airtime if I can get past being freaked out by a little breeze. It would take a lot to turtle the rig.
I really didn’t expect to fly today. Yesterday was brutal. Surveys, kids sailing camp and processing mangos wore me out. I fell into bed at 11:00p and set the alarm but I also expected to turn it off and roll over when it went off at 5:00a. Big surprise…. I was feeling good and so….. “what the heck”.
It was much like the last flight. High clouds, nil wind and 100 percent humidity. I wasted time obsessing about finding a runway that lined up with the scant breeze eventually opting to launch in the same place as two days ago.
The wing came up clean but the runout was long with one touch and go before finally getting up. I tooled around the patch for 30 minutes and greased the landing. The landing was great. I started the final from 1/2 mile out, landed 100 yards short of the truck and taxied the last stretch. I was surprised and abashed when the left wingtip clipped a tree 100 feet from the truck. The gap looked big enough to easily clear the trees on either side of the road. Lesson learned … no damage.
It’s taken far too long but I’m finally getting the feel of the rig and wing. The throttle is still a little too touchy but at least I’m not bumping between 2800 and 3800 RPM every time I change hand positions.