Flights 21 to 33

9/4/06 #21
The morning of the wet wing… Strange takeoff “Lift no Lift” run out.

9/06/06 #22 Great Flight …Saw one man personal Balloon by the Swim beach… going farther afield

9/12/06 Incident with equipment damage

The whole fam damily showed up to watch a flight and I blew it when I got a wrap around the left hand and fell on takeoff. The wing came up good but started to turn during the run. I popped up briefly but came down immediately to the left side, breaking equipment and injuring my knee and wrist.

#23 9/25/06 Most Excellent Flight!
Got video of the whole thing…Including John Sieb’s exploding “cheap Mexican” propeller.

#24 9/28/06 Lots of People some didn’t fly. Sunset with layers of cold air mixing and causing bumps

#25 10/06/06 Short lap and landing after noticing a half twist in the risers

#26 10/13/06 Flew till out of gas . Pulled lots of break with no power and experienced quick turn and rapid decent Poor landing

#27 10/23/06 Clint Murphy was observing from home field…great to see him
Tweaked knee on run out

#28 11/03/06 Short flight Perfect takeoff and landing..Some virga scared me down…using knee brace all the time. video of landing is good and later ended up on my Ipod.

#29 11/8/06 Good flight …Broke exhaust bracket…exhaust was clipping prop.

#30 11/19/06 So So flight butt landing

#31 11/22/06 High winds Experienced extreme crabbing of the wing..Good reverse good landing

#32 11/25/06 Good long flight

No Fly Day 12/08/06 Rookie mistake… Jumped into sky …Broke prop and bent Frame…This was the end of my first season. It would be a long time till I flew again.

Barton George is Killed in Mid Air Collision

Report on Barton’s Incident


From Bubba:
No one will ever really know exactly what happened the day Barton died. There will be a report posted on the USPPA site. But, here, after much discussion by those of us that were there, think happened.It took two simultaneous mistakes for this accident to happen. Both pilots were in the pattern. One pilot was trying to adjust his radio to find the right channel for the clinic instructor. Someone had given him the wrong channel to monitor. The other pilot simply turned onto his base leg without clearing first. If either pilot had been alert, this tragedy never would have happened. The higher pilot looked up from his radio equipment to late and found the other’s wing in his lap. He pushed the wing off his lap and then pushed the remaining lines off, hoping that the lower pilot’s wing would re-inflate as it fell. There was enough altitude for this to happen. Unfortunately, when the lower pilot fell free, he fell backward into his wing. As he did, he pulled full throttle and ate his wing and fell to his death. The other pilot, fortunately, recovered and landed.In the 14 years that this sport had been in North America, only one other major mid-air collision has been reported and both pilots survived with minor injuries. That’s a pretty good record when you compare hang gliding, free flight paragliding and other ultralight sports. PPG is still the safest way to take to the air. So safe, in fact, that it appears we may have become complacent.This should be a serious wake up call for all of us. First, always be aware of the air space around you. Above, below and to both sides. If you need to remove your hands from the toggles to perform some task, first check the air space. You may need to fly away to a clear area first. Never do this in the pattern. Second, always clear the air in the direction you intend to turn before you do.

USPPA Incident Report

General Information:
Fatal Midair Collision
Date: 10/09/2006Time: 0800
Location: Albuquerque, NMPilot
Age: 40
Gender: Male
Pilot weight (without motor): 150 US Pounds
Rating: None Experience: Less Than 10 Hours Solo
Incident: Collision with Other Aircraft/Ultralight Primary
Cause: Pilot Error
Inflight Contributing Distractions: Radio Transmission
Windspeed: Light (Less than 5 MPH)
Wind Type: Variable Thermal Conditions: Light (Less than 300 FPM)
Visibility: 6+
Surface: Dirt or Small Rocks
Terrain: Flat Site Elevation: 5300 (feet above sea level)Phase of Flight: Cruise Purpose of Safety Gear Used: Helmet
Communications: Two-way Radio w/ Helmet Mike & PTT
Damage to Pilot’s Equipment: Severe (Greater than 20% of New Price) Wing: DHV 1Motor: n/r
Injury InformationPilot: Fatal

Narrative: While flying a morning session of practice and general familiarity, a collision occured between two powered paraglider pilots. Pilot Y was flying a yellow wing in an east direction, climbing slowly and in a shallow turn to the right. Pilot B was flying a blue wing in an east-southeast direction, straight and level. Pilot Y was to the North (left of) pilot B and they converged on a generally southeast course. They were about a half-mile from the field, east of the pattern in use, and heading away from the field. Pilot B says that he looked around then looked down to change radio frequencies and when he looked back up he was upon the yellow wing which was turning towards him. The middle of the yellow wing hit his feet and tangled in pilot B’s body/motor. The yellow wing hung up, slowing him down and causing the blue wing to surge forward. Pilot B emerged headed down steeply, pulled the brakes hard to recover from the dive at about 50 feet. The force pulled Pilot Y’s wing sideways forces which likely whipped pilot Y upward and sideways, causing him to fall into his wing. He hit the ground from this condition, wrapped up in the wing. Pilot B landed immediately, essentially unhurt. Others arrived soon after to administer CPR but Pilot Y could not be revived.

No one will ever really know exactly what happened the day Barton died. There will be a report posted on the USPPA site. But, here, after much discussion by those of us that were there, think happened.It took two simultaneous mistakes for this accident to happen. Both pilots were in the pattern. One pilot was trying to adjust his radio to find the right channel for the clinic instructor. Someone had given him the wrong channel to monitor. The other pilot simply turned onto his base leg without clearing first. If either pilot had been alert, this tragedy never would have happened. The lower pilot looked up too late and found the other’s wing in his lap. He pushed the wing off his lap and then pushed the remaining lines off, hoping that the lower pilot’s wing would re-inflate as it fell. There was enough altitude for this to happen. Unfortunately, when the lower pilot fell free, he fell backward into his wing. As he did, he pulled full throttle and ate his wing and fell to his death. The other pilot, fortunately, recovered and landed.In the 14 years that this sport had been in North America, only one other major mid-air collision has been reported and both pilots survived with minor injuries. That’s a pretty good record when you compare hang gliding, free flight paragliding and other ultralight sports. PPG is still the safest way to take to the air. So safe, in fact, that it appears we may have become complacent.This should be a serious wake up call for all of us. First, always be aware of the air space around you. Above, below and to both sides. If you need to remove your hands from the toggles to perform some task, first check the air space. You may need to fly away to a clear area first. Never do this in the pattern. Second, always clear the air in the direction you intend to turn before you do.

19th & 20th Baja Seasons

19th & 20th BAJA SEASONS!

Aug 28th 2006
19 was a tandem flight with Casey Cadwell Aerothrust paramotor and a Pasha Tandem wing. First experience with the “Low and Slow”. I spent a couple of hours training with Michael Purdy and learned a new way to hold the risers …Top hand on “A’s” and the bottom on the “D’s”, Bottom hand moves left to right and forward and back to provide brake input. I also tried the Blackhawk but it was too heavy. I had a hard time with the Aerothrust motor because my helmet was hitting the top of the frame and I couldn’t see the wing overhead. After several failed launch attempts I got an assist from Michael and Casey and launched like a rocket. Casey chewed me out for using to much thrust and gave me a lecture about a power on stall. It was good to be flying over the sea again there just isn’t anything like that thick air and sea breeze. The Baja Seasons resort is a bit pricey for 2nd class accommodations but the restaurants were great with wonderful music.

Review for the Big list:
Hey Gents,You asked for a report on Michael Purdy’s new venture Baja PPG andI’m just back.Wow ! This place could be the PPG Mecca of the world in a few years! It’s almost exactly 50 miles inside the border so you can drive a rental car in without paying huge additional insurance fees. The entry to Mexico is a piece of cake and it’s a clean highway all the way down…no worries about dealing with Mexican traffic. On the way out you have to give time for the border crossing and it can be hairy jostling for position…but hey were fearless PPG pilots RIGHT?Baja Seasons Resort is between Rosarito and Ensenada about 5 klicks south of a rocking surfer’s beach. It’s a nice gated and guarded resort with what appears to be 4 levels of accommodations…Standard hotel…Deluxe Hotel, (probably means air conditioning and nicer furniture), private beach front Villas and Full RV accommodations.The pool is beautiful, it’s the perfect place to be at the end of the day sipping margaritas and critiquing the day’s flights. There are a couple of nice restaurants and spas within 20 minutes drive upor down the beach and not much else. I’m not hip on the tourist seasons there, but on a Monday at the end of August it was deserted. Perhaps the weekends are packed but we had the place to ourselves. The beach is at least 250 yards wide and miles long.Wonderful flying conditions with smooth laminar air all day long.Baja Seasons Resort is the perfect location for an intensive training site. Beautiful location, all day flying conditions, anice resort, and not allot of people or things to get in the way.There is a big screen media room to watch videos of your launches and landings and beautifully appointed lounges for classroom work.One thing I really liked about this operation is that Michael is taking a little more comprehensive approach to PPG training which will go beyond basic instruction and coaching … it’s going to be top to bottom training with extensive classroom instruction including understanding the machine and basic maintenance. And he didn’t say as much but I expect the PPG Bible with be the text if not the curriculum. He has a couple of different training packages for new pilots including full equipment packages from the Paratoys inventory. And for pilots that have been flying for awhile who want to take it to the next level…He has an intermediate level course that will do exactly that.One of the nicest things about training at Baja PPG is that he has helpers to act as kiting coaches or to just hang by to keep your wing properly laid out after an aborted launch or kiting goof.After my last flight Juan trotted out …unhooked my wing, carefully pulled it together and carried it up to the shade to be folded for return to the airport. All I needed for perfection was a beautiful Mexican Princess to hand me a frosted mug as I shrugged off the motor! Baja PPG will be fully up and running by fall and I expect we will be hearing allot about this “Most Excellent Venture”AND …For experienced pilots it looks to be a great place for a flying vacation, I look forward to my next trip, I’m might bring the whole family and let them play in the surf and pool while I alternate between kiting, flying and swimming. When my wife starts to look like she has had enough I’ll send her to the Spa for the whole treatment. That usually mellows her out for a day or two.Hey Michael I know your out there! I can hardly wait for the first big Baja Seasons Fly-in. Sign me up NOW!( NOT A PAID ENDORSEMENT )If you want to know more it is…www.bajappg.com

11th thru 18th

11th –18th Flights
June 25th thru August 14th 2006

Paramotoring is the Art of Flying Nowhere Slowly

By now, I was getting in about one flight a week. Sometimes I’d meet John at the field but more often than not, it was me alone, at sunrise. Often I would get up two hours before dawn and stop at the Waffle House for breakfast. I’d read through my log and review past flights, think about what I did right and wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. One of the techniques that was helpful was to visualize different procedures and scenarios I might encounter. I’d imagine the wing coming up crooked and visualize running to the side while using light brake input to re-center and stabilize it. Or visualize the risers in my hands while set-up for a reverse launch, how the brake lines were routed and where various pieces of equipment were positioned. I was pleased by how well this prepared me and can think of several instances when I would pause during a launch because I noticed something was out of place. It definitely helped me with my problems getting the risers correctly positioned for a reverse launch.

I’d usually finish breakfast by closing my eyes and visualizing the upcoming flight. Looking back, I’m sure the folks at the Waffle House thought I was some kind of early morning weirdo. a solitary guy sitting in a booth, with clenched fists held slightly above his head, preparing to flare for an imaginary landing. Regardless, by the time I left the table I was mentally prepared, buzzing with caffeine and raring to go.

That summer every flight was a major event. Each time, I would roam farther from my landing zone exploring the State Park. Occasionally on those summer mornings a hot air balloon would be launching at the west end of the lake. I looked forward to the opportunity to fly with those big boys.

Somewhere around my 15th flight I was pleased to notice that my takeoff runs were getting smoother and on those light wind days where I would lift off and then drift back down I discovered that I could take a couple of extra steps without the terror of falling. Several times after one of those no wind or light wind launches, when I ran seemingly forever, I noticed that my thighs would burn for the rest of the day. I took it as a good thing because it meant that I was stretching muscles that were trained for cycling but new to running.

By the 18th flight I was feeling good, beginning to know the equipment and gaining confidence, so… to keep things interesting, I began to incorporate gadgets and work on the paramotor. When my kill switch stopped working I rebuilt the throttle assembly and while I was at it, mounted a Tiny-Tac to monitor the RPMs and added a cruise control. This complicated devise was a piece of eraser that I could use to wedge the throttle in a set position. For the first time I used the Garmin Fortrex, worn like a wristwatch, this tiny GPS gave me all kinds of good info like; speed, elevation, and my rate of climb and descent. I also started taking pictures and was listening to special “PPG” playlists on the Ipod. It was programmed to play the theme from the Sopranos while I was setting up, then “Straighten Up and Fly Right”,during the launch and when I heard Freddie Mercury and Queen sing, We Are the Champions, I knew it was time to head back to the landing zone.
I really wanted to try a sunset flight but the increased thermal activity toward sunset spooked me. The sun may have been lower in the sky but summer evenings in Colorado have beautiful sunsets for a reason and warranted or not, those clouds rolling in over the foothills scared me.

10th Flight

10th Flight
June 15, 2006

It was four months before I got back into the air. I spent the time watching the weather and refining my equipment. To make it easier to get into the harness and stand up without spilling gas down my neck, I decided to use a plastic shipping container as a PPG stand and it worked great. I’d haul the box out to the field with me and set the paramoter on it. I could start the motor, sit in the harness, buckle up, and when it was time to stand, I could get to my feet a lot easier. I got the idea from other motors I’d seen where the pilot’s seat is a foot or more above ground. It really helped when the wind was light and variable I could sit and wait rather than stand and get exhausted. Another change was to return the harness to it’s original configuration. Paracruiser had put a hem in the seat and webbing to accommodate a smaller torso pilot. It was a good idea because it elevated the pilot so that it was easier to reach the risers, but it also caused some problems. The biggest being that the seat wouldn’t fold up cleanly against the back of the motor which caused the motor to angle forward, making for downward thrust and moving the paramotor away from the pilots back. I was delighted by the difference! For the first time I noticed myself running upright and could feel the thrust pushing against my back, propelling me forward. It still took a couple of attempts before I was able to take off but it was more comfortable and made it easier to run.

Lake Havasu

We drove 3 hours north to Lake Havasue City and the next morning, hooked-up with Johnny Fetz at the LHC Airport. John Fetz is legend in the PPG community, 65 years old, and a lifelong pilot he is a hard man to miss, over six foot and barrel chested with his long silver blond hair tied in a pony tail that goes well down his back. This year during the Alan Chuculate Style Competition at Paratoys, John was decked out in a blue lycra skin suit topped of with a 4-color ball cap complete with a propeller. His flying skills are unmatched and he is welcome anywhere pilots gather. In addition to being an aviation expert, John is famous for being able to repair badly damaged propellers of all kinds and he has a good side business fixing props for pilots all over the country.
John cruising Lake Havasue shore

London Bridge

There were seven of us who had come up from the Paratoys Fly-in; all were seasoned pilots except me. The air was light, no more than 2 knots, but it was shifting on an 180˚ arc, forcing us to either wait for it to cycle back around or reset our wings. Flying his trike, Doug was the first to go up, quickly followed by everybody else. Johnny was amazing, when he was ready to go, the wind had shifted 90˚ away from his take off heading, instead of unhooking and resetting the wing, he simply took several steps to the right and blew the wing into position with his motor. I, on the other hand, was having trouble with my motor, it was either the change in altitude or problems with the carburetor but in order to stand up after getting into the harness I had to bend forward and that’s when the motor would die. Finally, after climbing into and out of my harness three times to restart the motor I was able to stand without killing it. However the wind had shifted during my struggles, and when I started my run it was with a tail wind and the wing collapsed immediately. I stood on the runway hugely frustrated and wishing I had 200 flights under my belt and the ability to take off as easily as my mates. I decided that enough was enough and with great disappointment proceeded to put my equipment away.

The guys had been up for 30 minutes and were on undoubtedly the most scenic flight of the trip. By now they would have flown over The London Bridge and would be exploring the shores of Lake Havasu. At forty-five minutes the wind started to get gusty. It was blowing strong from the north when Doug landed and the gusts were increasing with each cycle. Doug and I searched the horizon and saw no sign of the others. At fifty minutes I spotted a couple of wings approaching from the lake. They were both at about 1000ft AGL but began to descend immediately. In no time at all they were down behind the horizon, we assumed on the ground. Only two others got back to the LZ that day. The first was Johnny Fetz who came in flying around, over and sometimes in between the cactus. The fifteen knot headwind didn’t seem to faze him at all. Once he was alongside us, he popped over the airport fence dropped back down and crabbed sideways over to his truck. I was afraid the wind would turtle him on landing but he dropped the wing to one side and quickly gathered it in. Joel also did a great job landing. He kept his trimmers out and approached low to the ground. When he got close he hovered 5 feet up with the motor running at probably ½ throttle. It’s not often you get to see a pilots face while in flight but he hung there for probably 10 seconds and it was obvious from his look that he was focused on keeping it all together. Modulating the throttle and brakes to keep from flying backwards, he was able to set down and collapse the wing without being pulled over. It was very active piloting at its best …up close and personal.
Brian said that the gust fronts came up very quickly and he was alternating between tremendous lift and sinking at 250 feet per minute. He and the others dropped into the desert where ever they were, as fast as they could. It took an hour or so to round everybody up but once again no harm to man or machine. We laughed and joked about the dramatic change in the weather and got back on the road.
Looking back it was probably a good thing I wasn’t able to launch. More than likely, I would have been at a much higher altitude than the others when the wind front came through and who knows if I would have been able to get back down safely with my limited experience. It’s true when they say, “it’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground”.

8th & 9th At the Sea

8th & 9th Flights
2/12/06

It was a perfect launch and a perfect landing! This was the best flight so far! And I think it was because of an equipment breakthrough. After the last flight I adjusted the harness so that the motor rode higher and closer. The shoulder straps are now a lot tighter and the sternum strap is looser. The new set-up allows me to run in a more upright position which made the launch a lot easer! Once in the air I felt a bit constricted but I could certainly loosen it or live with it. The important thing was I was running more upright which used the thrust better and allowed me to glance at the wing to make sure it was flying straight.
I flew north along the coastline at 1600 feet, until I was over the “rebel” camp of Mo Shelton and his entourage. After awhile I was feeling so good that I took a wild ass chance and used my mirror to check fuel level and I even took a few pictures. Then I climbed to 2800 feet and tried some ¾ power turns. What a rush! It didn’t take much brake to get into a mild bank, and for the first time I felt an increase in gravity. I doubt it was more than half a g but it got my attention…and I liked it!

Number nine was just a quick victory lap. I should have stayed up longer but I was worried that I would run out of gas and I didn’t want to do a dead stick landing. I climbed out, flew over the dome then turned left and followed the beach for about a mile then turned left again and headed back. I kept the power up and climbed all the way back to the LZ and was at 2500 feet when the LZ was right below me. I let the motor have just enough power to engage the clutch and keep the propeller spinning, then I did “S” turns and 360’s for a long time while I descended. This time I made sure to have my legs in position and did a neat little two step landing. I was a great way to end the last flight of my first Fly-in.

It was absolutely beautiful when we left. The air was dead still and the sun had just set. The last bit of twilight was painting the mountains purple, and there was a full moon reflecting off the sea. I marveled at how different the place had become in just a few hours. Where before, there had been the cacophony of dozens of paramotors, now you could hear the occasional sea bird. The crowd was gone and with it went all the furious energy that had driven the event. Everybody was moving slower, strolling instead of trotting. In the air was the silhouette of one last pilot who had gone up for a final flight. I listened to his motor wrap-up as he climbed out over the sea and then drop in pitch when he would glide back toward shore, then power up and out to sea again. I enjoyed his solitary flight for ½ hour. He was really quite good, doing all kinds of maneuvers, which would not have been tolerated when the sky was crowded.
He did wingovers and spirals and a move I had never seen before. The pilot would thrust forward and at the peak of the swing kill the power causing the wing to surge forward and dive. I kept expecting to see the leading edge of the wing collapse but he displayed fine control knowing just when to add a little brake and he consistently pulled out of the dive cleanly with a minimum of pendulum effect. He was still playing in the moonlight when Doug came by to pick me up.

Learn from the mistakes of others.
You won’t live long enough to make all of them yourself.

The Paratoys Fly-In had been great. I doubled my flights, saw lots of different equipment, and even witnessed some honest to god incidents. The first was Doug who tried to take off in terrain that was too rough and obstructed for a trike. It was amazing how fast the trike swung around when he got caught by a small pinion tree. And there were a couple of other trike incidents, one was a guy who rolled his trike when he insisted on taking off with his wing oscillating forty-five degrees. Fortunently there were no injuries and it was certainly a well-built trike because he was able to crawl out from under, reset the wing and launch. Another trike incident was a guy who was taxiing off the field with his wing bunched up with him in the trike, a loose line got caught in the prop and sucked the wing right out of his lap. He broke the prop and parablended his wing.
I also saw a couple of classic mistakes that led to injuries. One was a fellow who didn’t check his carburetor during preflight. When he started it the motor ran up to full power and got out of control. He received a couple of pretty serious lacerations on his arm and leg. The worst injury of the weekend was a fellow who had been flying for a several years but had not often. He took off and apparently didn’t think he was climbing out fast enough. He pulled some brake to increase the climb and for some reason kept pulling brake with full thrust until the wing stalled and he dropped out of the sky from ____ft. up. Both legs were broken and I learned later that he required several surgeries and pins to rebuild his legs. The most dramatic incident I witnessed was a new pilot’s first flight. It was the last day, late in the afternoon and the guy had been training all weekend. His instructor gave him the go-ahead so he could solo before it was all over. I didn’t see the whole flight, but what happened was, he overflew the landing zone and crashed into the cab of a pickup. Just like Dave had done a couple of months earlier he lifted his legs and stuck them straight out in front just before impact. The bottom of the frame hit the cab just above the window and crumpled. Then the pilot slid across the roof and impacted the ground about 10 feet past the truck. Lots of damage to the equipment with only the motor and wing salvageable but luckily the pilot was not hurt. He sat there for quite some time and was obviously shook up but in the end …he walked away.