No Fly Day.

Nine Hundred and Ninety-nine times out of a thousand

I would have cleared that stop sign.

This was the #999th.

It started with dog piss in the shower and continued to go south the rest of the morning. While unloading, I discovered that the battery was dead. The wind was light and forty five degrees off the runways. The plan was to launch into the intersection and turn down the runway. The wing was a little behind my turn and the outside tip steering line caught the top of the stop sign and popped the tip right off. I felt it and immediately aborted. I honestly think I could have hammered the throttle and launched only to find myself flying a badly compromised wing. The left side would have had very low pressure and who knows what would have happened. Anyway I aborted and the only damage was to wingtip and a couple of lines.

Elisabeth is months out and Paramotor City is 6 weeks, so it’s going to be awhile. Tonight I picked up a Paramania Revolution 36 for a decent price. It’s a couple of years old but very low hours.

I was worried that 1000 was going to be underwhelming … the wait is going to make it special.

Flying the Easy Long with Ion Flights 676. & 677.

A damn good day

The morning flight was a combination of screw ups.
A combination of events made for a a crosswind launch.  First I made the mistake of leaving the key in the on position and had to jump start the Falcon.  When I got it started I noticed that the wind had picked up and was coming from the south which was exactly the wrong way for me to get a decent run out.  I didn’t want to shut down the motor and start all over with the jumping the truck so I looked things over and decided it was probably light enough to go for it.   Inflating the wing 90 degrees off the wind should have been challenge enough, what I didn’t notice was that in the rush to get unhooked from the truck the port side riser had slipped leaving the cam below the hang point loop. During the inflation this mistake worked in my favour because the wing started turning into the wind right away with very little brake input  I was a little surprised that the strange crosswind launch was going so smooth and didn’t realize the reason why until I was up.  With the port riser riding low the wing naturally turned to the left The safety strap had been pulled into the hang point loop and the cam was bound inside of the strap.  I stayed on the throttle and climbed to 250 ft and used both hands to pull on the strap.  When it finally pulled loose the cam was still jammed and I had to worry it until it slipped through the loop.
Once that little bit of drama was over the rest of the flight was SOP.

That evening I met up with Ion who took me up for a flight in the Easy Long.  There were big thunder heads with the classic anvil shape to the east and west.  We flew out to Lake Granby slaloming between the clouds.

It was a great flight!  We topped of at 18,000 feet and were in and around the clouds.  Returning to the front range Ion flew level with the hogbacks and pointed out old Indian animal traps.  Places where they would drive the animals to a dead end where they would be taken by the hunters.  These were developed over the thousands of years prior to the “Indian Horse Renaissance”, when they had to do all of their hunting by foot.  

Flying the EZ LONG with Ion from Joe Onofrio on Vimeo.

Very Cool…Flying the fast and low.  Air Time 1 hour and 20 minutes, cost 30 bucks.

Dumb Chute Story … Flight #670 Vance Brand

This one I’ll be kicking myself for a long time.  The flight was nothing dramatic.  No Balloons … No Bird strikes … just a nice AM flight.
BUT… After I landed and bagged the wing I was driving the trike back to the truck and saw Ian was at his hanger so I thought to go over there and shoot the breeze with him.
Well,  as I was along side the truck I tossed the wing off to the side and as soon as I did it I heard that horrible sound of a wing getting parablended.  Apparently it took a bad bounce and I didn’t toss it hard enough because the prop sliced right through the wing bag and took out two top panels plus a rip on the bottom.
Another technical note:
The belt has been squealing more the last few flights so I took Terry Lutke’s advice and removed the belt, washed it with soapy water and applied conditioner.  Well, now it’s not making any noise but I noticed that there was rubber on the pulleys.   Maybe it was the conditioner.  Maybe it’s too tight.  I’m going to fly one more flight and evaluate it then.

618 & 619

618 & 619
The winds were higher than expected when I got to the field at 6:30.  I put up the wind sock and waited a bit .  It seemed to be cycling about every 7 or 8 minutes.
At 7:30 the crew started to arrive. Mike bennett and Tom P. came ip from Snowflake followed by Paul and Dan.  prett soon we had a good crowd.  The winds were still strong but after watching several footlaunches I decided to go for it.  I was set up by the truck with the windsock directly to my left.  I wanted to watch it and time the launch for when the wind came down.  BIG MISTAKE!  The wing came up and immediately started to ossolate, it settled down and I started to roll out.  The launch was without drama but when I looked up to check the lines, there was my windsock streaming from the port side C lines.  The wing was flying fine and I didn’t notice any tendency to pull to the left but it looked bad and so I lapped the field and landed.
The next attempt was a fiasco, the wing came up fine but collapsed during the run out.  I was able to recover it only to have it collapse again.  After getting it overhead a third time I was probably 30 degrees off the original heading and the wing was flying straight, just as I powered up to launch it folded up again so I shut it down.  The kicker was that just as the prop wound down the wing reenflated and there I was sitting in the middle of the field power off kiting the wing.  I could have probably started the motor and launched without incident but enough is enough.
While I was hauling my gear back to the truck Mike Bennett went up to demo the new Eden 5.  It’s a whole new wing,  certainly not DHV 1-2 anymore.   He pulled several impressive wing overs and one very scary looking barrel roll.  He wasn’t phased by it but I was puckered.
Finally I launched and enjoyed a little windy airtime.  The chase cam was tracking well and I was looking forward to seeing the footage from all the early morning shenanigans.  Unfortunently the data got erased forever.  I was able to see it once before i erased it and could clearly see the wing dip down and pluck my windsock off the pole and later flying from the lines off to port.  Too bad it would have made a great “dumb chute” video.
As we were packing up a fellow came by asking about the generac.  we got to chatting and i was invited to go for a ride in his EZ LONG.  It is a light sport X-perimental.  …Got a ride on a EZ L experimental craft.  WOW ….fast,  Long range,  aerobatic, tiny, and did I say cheap?   They are online used and flyable for under $40,000.  We flew out to Winter park over to Granby and Grand Lake.  Then to Estes and a couple of times around Longs Peak and back to Vance Brand.  90 minutes of airtime and he even let me fly a bit.  The first time I grabbed the stick I gripped it like it was a mountain bike on a hard downhill but once I settled down it was easy with just the lightest touch required.

dumb chute story
What a great plan….Thanks Ian

Abort …. Abort … Abort

 This was one of those dumb incidents
that should have been avoided
The wing came up crooked and I tried to recover.  I was pulling it just above the ground and reached the A’s and got it back overhead. When it was stable I powered up and noticed it was rolling rough and I was surprised at how bumpy the ride was… the wheel was probably wobbling.  I got some lift and floated back down when I touched the trike yawed and quickly rolled.  I think the bearing rubbed against the axle connection and trashed right away, slowing the trike.  I used a little brake to get off and didn’t have enough speed causing the trike to come back down on the bad wheel.  The lines got into the prop and chewed one blade pretty bad.  Mike is going to be able to receive it Tue. evening.  With luck I’ll be back in the air soon.

When the Moron Speaks … Listen

Paul Anthem talks about meeting
“Monument Rotor”

Paul Anthem:

On the second morning of flying at Monument Valley in southern Utah four of us planned on flying together out to the monoliths and mesas so that professional paramotor photographer Franck Simmonet could get some photos.
“You don’t need to get close to the mesas” he said, “just stay close to me so that you are big in the frame”.
We launched into almost no wind. It could have been because we were in the wind shadow of the huge mesa beside the LZ. Whatever it was, as I flew out to the mountainous monuments, I was doomed to misjudge the winds.
The day before I had flown out to the large horse-shoe shaped area of monoliths and felt a few mild bumps when I was right in the middle and below the top of the mesas, some of which reach almost 1000 ft. Just about everyone was flying fairly close to the towering structures– but the wind was mild then.
Apparently, this day, the winds were much stronger AND I had completely misjudged the wind direction. I always stay away and above of the leeward side of any large obstruction but, as I slowly descended towards the largest mesa, I mistakenly thought I was on the windward side.
That’s when I heard Franck over the radio, “Go heighter, go heighter!” (Yes, I know it’s “higher” but he was saying “heighter”). By the time he radioed that warning I realized that I was NOT climbing very fast– in fact, I think I was sinking at full throttle.
Then, maybe 20 or 30 seconds later I felt my wing start to vibrate. This is not a very happy wing, I’m thinking. I can feel that I’m loosing brake pressure on the right side (the monolith was to my left several hundred feet). Franck and Matt are a few hundred feet above and behind me. My wing was deforming in such odd and obvious ways that it prompted Matt Witchlinski to radio his concern, “Paul, are you in some bad air ! ?”
I didn’t even try to answer. SOMETHING is going to happen soon, I thought. He had barely finished his sentence when my wing was smacked out of the air.
Now, I often play around with my wing and induce asymmetric collapses but the wing is STILL flying. This was nothing like that. My wing was batted down and folded up and I was falling instantly. It happened so fast all I had time to do was let off of the throttle and hope I didn’t fall into the wing.
The wing recovered with a few violent jerks as I checked the surge. I later learned that after seeing my predicament Franck and Matt instantly turned around to avoid the same fate– they didn’t get to see what happened next.
I’m pretty sure that Matt radioed back about ten seconds later to ask if I was alright. I didn’t answer. I was too busy concentrating and trying to control a wing that was dancing around and vibrating like I was on a drum. You know that feeling you get when you’ve vomited and you can feel it coming on again… I was waiting for it but nothing could have prepared me for the violent collapse that came next.
My wing was hit in the center and thrown back behind me and to the side. For a second I was laying back looking up at the sky. Then the balled up wing swung over to the other side and I was sideways. I dropped down and the wing swung me to the other side and on my back again. Then, next thing I know, it’s in front of me, below the horizon and smooshed up into a ball I could probably fit into my stuff sack. Well at least I can see the wing now. I drop under it again as I tense my arms in a braking position. The wing re-inflates with some rocking and surges, but thankfully, I’m flying again.
I look down and see that I still have several hundred feet of altitude. If I get hit again I might have to throw my reserve. I don’t want to do that while caught in a rotor with only jagged rocks and a cliff face below.
I don’t know if I can take another thrashing like that, I thought. I was lucky that I didn’t fall through the lines or get a major cravat… and I’m still being rocked.
I could feel that I was caught in the huge rotor- it was like a vortex. I couldn’t climb and I couldn’t get away from the monolith. The other guys had got away, maybe they can look back and see some way out. I pressed the radio button on my helmet,” I can’t get out! I’m stuck in the rotor! What should I do ?”
“Climb out”, they said.
“I can’t, it’s pushing me down!”
For a second, I considered going low but then decided that if I had another collapse like the last one that I wouldn’t recover in time. I thought about heading TOWARDS the mesa but decided that although it might get me under the down rotor, it might also suck me up and put me through the wringer again.
So I just kept at full throttle, heading away from the mesa, hands clenched on the brakes trying to keep the wing as stable as possible with every twitch and twist.
Finally, after what must have been 15 minutes, I felt the air smooth out and I started to climb again.
I headed straight back to the airport.
I had had my excitement for the day.

Paul is an accomplished pilot and the creator of the famous PPG for Morons Videos see more at:

Rush things and Pay the Piper

I met Marek at Simms at 7:30. There was a cop at the gate who told me “no motorized vehicles allowed”. He was cool about it though and overlooked the motor on the machine I agreed to park outside and push the machine into the field. There was no wind at all, so I set up right at the entrance and was going to use the road to launch. we were both in a rush to get airborne and I really didn’t spend enough time scoping out the site or laying out the wing. I didn’t build a wall with the motor and the surface was filled with fist sized rocks and mud nobs to grab the lines.

The wing came up crooked probably because a line got caught and instead of aborting like I should have, I tried to save it. The left tip caught a piece of steel fence post that was hidden in a patch of weeds and tore the wing pretty badly. The tip is torn and some panels are going to have to be replaced. I’ll give the wing to Michelle at Bubba’s and let her determine if it is worth repairing. I won’t be surprised if she declares it dead because between Monte and I there are probably 350 to 400 hours on the wing. Maybe it’s a good thing…it was time.

If I’d looked the area over better I would have seen the post and maybe set up differently. Doesn’t matter… the wing is out for several weeks.

1. If I had used the motor to build a wall … I think the lines would have been above the surface and I’d have had a good inflation.
2. I could have laid out the wing better
3. Don’t rush it !

#358 Chatfield Marek breaks a Prop

This was an interesting flight. I didn’t plan on flying tonight but I glad I did. The air was smooth and the breeze was light. Marek and I flew south over the open fields. We are both a little wary of the massive group of high Power lines and got plenty high to cross the 5 sets of parallel wires. It was similar to this morning with Greg. I stayed high and shadowed the pilot down low. Both Marek and Greg are pleasure to watch Greg with great wing control.

I moved the hang point rings to a horizontal position attempting to lesson the friction on the trim tab. No Joy…the problem is in the webbing that acts as a back-up in case the ring brakes loose from the bullet bar. I’ve replaced the heavy webbing with a slightly lighter and longer one which will hang loose over the risers and hopefully I’ll be able to use the trim tabs. If I end up hanging from the reserve or the H.P. ring brakes, the hangpoint will spread about two inches but I don’t think it will adversely affect how the buggy hangs or the how wing flys. The next flight will tell allot.

The wing came up crooked again but, like yesterday, it stabilized quickly. I think I’m not lining up square with the wind. I did notice that when I went from idle to full power the front wheel would dip about 6 inches and return to about 3 inches below the starting position. I expect that it will be even more pronounced when I am able to use the trimmers. I’ll move the H.P. Rings forward 3/8ths and see if It helps with the wheelbarrow effect.

The incident of the evening came as we were returning to the field. Marek’s hero camera came off it’s mount on top of the cage and went through the prop. He landed without issues in the LZ but was a long walk from the car. I knew something was wrong so I landed by the truck and walked out to meet him. We wandered around the field finding parts of the prop and eventually found the camera. Up on top is probably a good position for the camera but the vibration was working the mounting bolts loose…some lock tight would help if it does not have to be changed after every flight. I hope Marek got video all the way back to earth but I’m betting it stopped when it got whacked by the prop.

No fly day

There have been a few “No Fly Days” lately.

Last Wednesday at Simms when we stood around and watched the grass blow and today when I discovered that two of the trike tires were flat. I picked up some new tubes and after much cussing and found that bicycle tire irons were not going to work getting the tires mounted. So… I stopped at the local tire shop and they were more than happy to do it for 6 bucks a wheel. The tech over inflated them but that was no problem, I’d set the tire pressure when I put them on the trike. Later that afternoon at work we heard a loud bang and one of the guys in the shop saw a black saucer shaped object fly past the second floor window. I’d left the tires stacked in the bed of the truck. Apparently they were inflated correctly for the tire (60lbs.) but the wheels were only rated to 2 bars (about 28 LBS.) The bottom tire had blown after heating up in the truck, and when the bead broke it threw the wheel on top across the parking lot.

Luckily, nobody was injured but I had to go back to little wheels where I learned how to mount my own tires. It’s not tools…it’s leverage and technique

#322 & #323 Dicks Soccer Fields

It has been a long wet spell
So… I was raring to go and up at 4:30 on the second bell. When I got to the field the wind wasn’t noticeable but as soon as I put up the refurbished windsock i could tell there was a strong southerly aloft. This isn’t technically a new site because I’ve flown Dick’s before but this time I’m on the south end instead of the north end of the complex and it is much better. The surface is sand with short and sparse weeds and even though it rained last night the sand was plenty solid enough to walk and fly from. Mike Bennett showed 15 minutes after me and set up closer to the parking area and I’ll do the same next time I’m here.

The first launch was a surprise. I popped up quicker than expected and started to float down but with a little brake I got climbing and started to circle the field while Mike got ready to launch. About 5 minutes into the flight at 1000 feet, I thought, “Did I open the fuel lines?” I had spent longer than normal warming it up and I taxied out to the launch site…AND…I’d been flying for at least 5 minutes. There was no reason to expect that it would still be running but it was and I knew I’d made a big mistake without even looking. When I got twisted around enough to get to the fuel I opened the vent and before I could open the flow valve the motor died.

Now What? I had some altitude, I could try to open the fuel line and restart. I had my doubts though because couldn’t prime the carb. I would’ve had to unbuckle and hang halfway out of the seat to blow into the vent hose, one bump and I’d be swimming. I was in a good place to get back to the LZ and if I fooled around and wasn’t able to restart the motor, it would have been a long push back to where I could re-launch. So…prudence being the better part of valor, I choose to go in “dead stick”. The rest of the story was a non event. I turned downwind, got in position and did a gentle S-turn to bleed off altitude. The landing was smooth but it would have been better if I had taken a wrap to get a little more brake input. It seems like there is a point in the flare where I cannot muscle any more brake. It might be fixable by shortening the brakes.

The second flight was great! Nothing to report.

(Old Stapleton Airport Tower)


(Dick’s Sporting Goods Arena)