Palm Bay. 870 & 871

I drove to Palm Bay Friday afternoon.  Fortunately I’d dropped a pin on the compound when I was up last month but Rex had to drive around a bit before he found it. 
 Here is the address: 2273 Skywood Ct SW.  The Compound is partially developed land similar to 
Placida but not as large.  We were restricted to 2 blocks with a cul de sac separating them.  The field is ringed by smallish trees but there is plenty of room to climb out.  

There was a lot of guys getting ready to fly and the winds were light.  I set up at the farthest end and waited for the pilot ahead of me to launch.  When it was my turn I inflated the wing and started to roll.  James Farewell pulled the trigger at the same time from the left side, crosswise to my runway.  I was just taking off when I saw we were on a collision course, so I cut power, touched down and taxied until James was clear.  He saw me and also modified his launch.  Several people mentioned it and I guess it looked pretty dicey but neither one of us felt we were in danger.  Anyway, it was a good flight with no other surprises.
After the evening flight I wandered around and caught up with old friends.   Leon Wacker was there with Scotty and his engineer (?).  I also saw CC, her partner, Elisabeth and Eric, Eric Fairwell and the entire Avaitor gang including a grumpy demo team from Kuwait calling themselves ARMY.  I’m not sure what they are all about.  Apparently the Kuwait Military sponsors their equipment and pays for their expenses.  If they are supposed to be flying ambassadors from the Persian Gulf, somebody should talk to them about diplomacy.  Among themselves they are all smiles and chatter but when I sat down with them and James during dinner they were anything but cordial.   Maybe it was a language barrier, I hope so.  Later that evening I had dinner with Rex and his lovely wife Sherry.  
The next mornings flight was wonderful with the best sunrise of the season.

                            (photo credit, Mike Lange)

Once again I stayed high…. At least until the last 15 minutes when I played around the patch.  
The finisher was lunch with Jeff and Tim followed by a casual drive down the East coast.

799 Fun and Sun

 Mike Lange and I got up at O dark thirty and drove to

Lakeland for the Fun and Sun Aviation Expo.  
Fun and Sun is one of the largest Fly In and Expos in America, second only to the big one at OshKosh.  It fills the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport and hosts a tremendous number of vendors and a huge diversity of aircraft including a fine showing of vintage airframes, including warbirds.  

When it got too hot to wander around the field, Mike and I sought shade at the Aviator booth.  Eric  Fairwell was a great host.  Not only did he provide all the water we could drink, he also hooked us up with passes for the gate.  Eric is the Nirvana dealer and has done a great job promoting the product and the sport.  When my friend Rex Mangurian mentioned that he didn’t get a copy of the bible during his training, Eric promptly gave him a copy which Jeff Goin happily autographed.  Great Guys, I wish them the best.

Planet PPG had a booth and Paul was in his element, giving seminars and demo flights.  Paul has recently gained control of the Pine Island Airstrip and has been busy clearing trees and making it into a premier PPG school.  

Rob Catto was there with his excellent PPG simulator, the Virtual Foot Flyer. I was impressed with how real the experience was.  Unlike a video game where the control inputs are buttons and joysticks, the Virtual Foot Flyer has you in a harness, pulling brakes and using weight shift. It allows you to swivel your head and see where you are looking. There is a turbine blowing wind in your face and the sound effect include a sub woofer that feeds vibration thru the harness.  The whole experience was increadably realistic.  When it was over, I exclaimed, “When I’m ninety,  I want one of these things”.

I also met Nick Reed who is building the V Twin Flyer.  Nick is a past student of Terry Lutke and is building an airframe along the same lines as the Falcon.  He has made a few changes, primarily a large castered nose wheel which I’m sure improves ground handling.  The fit and finish is very good  and his pricing is competitive.  Terry is supplying some key parts of the redrive and in typical Lutke fashion, he has given Nick his blessing.  It’s good to see that another builder sees the value of this design.  

A real blast from the past was Randy Schlitter, the president and founder of RANS Aircraft.  Thirty years ago Randy owned a small bike shop in Hays Kansas and I was a manufacturers Rep selling bike parts.  Once a month I would make the trek to Kansas City and along the way I would visit every small town hardware store and try to sell a few bike parts.  I fancied myself as the Campagnolo expert and my sample bag was full of high dollar racing parts.  The reality was….I was lucky to sell a few boxes of Wald bearings and maybe a sissy bar or some inner tubes.
Randy’s shop was one of the few real bike shops between Denver and KC.  It was just a small space with limited inventory but Randy was the real deal. He read the trade magazines, followed the trends and dreamed big.   Even then, he was interested in manufacturing.  I proudly carried a RANS belt pack that he developed when he was looking into the bike pannier business.  It was ten cents of quilted fabric with a couple of belt loops sewn on.  I’ll never forget the logo. It was done in that weird ballooned font of 1970 computer culture.  Eventually he designed and produced the RANS Recumbent, which was the most affordable recumbent available. Quickly, the RANS Recumbents became a true player in the industry, with significant production and good distribution.  
I remember sitting in his kitchen one morning and asking about the drawings of  aircraft that were laying around.  Some were conventional looking aircraft and some were futuristic lifting bodies similar to the modern stealth fighter.  Randy calmly told me, that someday, he was going to build airplanes.  
NOW…. THIRTY YEARS LATER…. RANS is a leader in light sport Aviation.  

There we were, two old guys, sitting in the shade of his exhibit, chatting about the “good ol” days and all the changes we’ve seen.  He told me that he had recently sold the recumbent manufacturing business but still kept his hand in as a consultant.  We talked about the Aviation business and how it was starting to come back from the recession.  I was happy to learn that Randy is still sailing, he is looking for a new boat like the Hunter 26.5 I left in Colorado.  We made plans to hook up in Punta Gorda and sail together.

Paul C. Enlisted me to fly a demo tandem with him during the evening flights.  I was pretty nervous,  its been years since my last foot launch and I think the last tandem was with Moe Sheldon at the Salton Sea more than 5 years ago.  I was worried that my knee would fail and I’d end up embarrassing Paul by face planting but we launched and landed without incident.  Thanks Paul.
Here is a video of the launch….

Photo by Eric Fallwell

After dark there was an excellent aerobatic show with lots of LEDs smoke and magnesium flares.  Mike and I hiked back to the car with our heads on a swivel.

The Gathering at Monument Valley 2013

I packed the truck with everything except the perishables on Monday.  Tuesday was easy, Dawn and I loaded the coolers and were on our way by noon.  We took old Highway 6 instead of I-70 to enjoy the fall colors and avoid the heavy traffic leaving Denver and arrived in Glenwood Springs around twilight.  It  was abnormally quiet,  there was very little traffic and hardly anyone on the streets.  I thought that there might be a big event that had emptied the town, but it turned out that it was just the slack time between summer tourist season and hunting season.  

Slack is good because I had no trouble finding a parking place right in front of The Historic Colorado Hotel and they kindly gave us a room overlooking the truck. Perfect because I had the paramotor locked but it wouldn’t be hard for someone to help themselves to our gear.
The Colorado is a special place with memories going back 4 generations. I remember photos of my great grandfather standing outside in the garden with my then, teenage grandfather, on one of their piano business trips.  The hotel has seen good times and bad.  At the turn of the Century it was the choice of wealthy Europeans who would take the train up from Denver to soak in the hot springs and enjoy the clear dry air.  It was the favorite of presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft and for awhile became known as the White House of the West.  During WWII it was commissioned by the United States Navy as a convalescent home and served over 6500 patients.  
Not wanting to leave the dog alone  we decided to order room service and hope for the best. Wow! It was the same meal we would have had in the main dining room, beautiful presentation and excellent food.  The new owners are working hard to bring the old place back to it’s glory and I wish them success, because the Hotel Colorado deserves to be preserved for future generations.

The next morning we bathed in the famous Glennwood Hot  Springs.  Usually there are crowds of laughing children but in October the hot springs are populated mostly by visiting octogenarians, many from Europe.  I’m approaching 60 and changing into my swimming suit, I felt like the young buck hanging out with the grown-ups.  
After a good hot soak we went for breakfast at a favorite hangout, the 19th St Diner.   In the 80’s when I was selling bicycle parts  it was a great place to have breakfast with friends before heading up to Aspen or sometimes I just stopped to load up on caffeine before the long drive to Salt Lake City.  
After breakfast, we took the dog for a walk and loaded up for the long haul to Monument Valley. The weather was beautiful but predicted to turn bad and… right on schedule, it started to blow. By the time we hit Moab, dark clouds were developing,  the barometer was dropping and the wind was gusting past 30 mph.  Hoping to keep the gear dry, I powered on and we arrived at Gouldings Trading Post at 9:00 pm.   I hurried to unload the truck and just missed getting drenched.  

Thursday it was cold and rainy. Dawn lounged in the condo while I made the rounds and checked with the campground, restaurant and lodge making sure everybody was ready for us. The big disappointment of the day was that the restaurant had double booked our banquet with a wedding.  There was nothing to do, there were no other restaurants within 20 miles so the plan was changed to have a pot luck up at the campground.

 Late in the afternoon, we were treated to a tremendous hail storm.  It came down hard and heavy for about 20 minutes and for about the same time afterward the mesas were coated with a sheen of ice.   I was on the IPad checking the weather forecast every 20 minutes. The low pressure cold front was suppose to pass through that evening,  with high pressure and light breezes for the next  5 days.  I hoped so, because looking across the flats at Sentinel Mesa all I could see was a huge ice covered rock.  The last 5 years had been lucky,  occasionally  the wind came up and spoiled a session, but for the most part, every gathering had been warm and flyable. 

Rain and Hail the day before The Gathering

This year the, “Officers Quarters” were in a different condo.  It wasn’t as easy to see from the road so I put out the wind sock out at the turn off and by 6:30 guys started showing up for the Kick-off spaghetti  dinner.    Dawn was great, she made 8 batches of Pasta and sauce and served it up cheerfully as the different groups arrived. First came the Salt Lake contingent with Russ Bateman and his family, then Paul Anthem showed up with the Indy Airhogs followed by Bob Hannah and the Seattle gang. About 8 o’clock Jeff Goin showed up to claim his room and Chad and Lee Anne arrived in time for a special plate of gluten Free pasta.  By 9 the place was full of pilots swapping stories and sharing food and drink.  We broke up at 11:00 to prepare for the next morning flights.

Kick off Dinner

Friday….Beautiful morning.  A bit chilly…. 
The briefing was well attended and the message was short.  Respect the Terran … Respect the Residents … Use your head and know where the wind is coming from.   
Once again Dawn was a trooper overseeing omelets in a bag.   We went through 90 eggs and thanks to Donna at the restaurant, buckets of coffee, while the guys flew and wandered up and down the flight line.   The Moment was saved by Byron who flew his quad copter all over the flight line.  

About 10 o’clock, Scott Laws, the new manager of Gouldings came down to welcome us.  He started at Gouldings shortly after last years event and has done a great job upgrading the property, they have remodeled  the lodge and shops and upgraded the campground.  The whole attitude of the place has improved along with the accommodations.  This year we were welcomed rather than tolerated and it made a huge difference. 

When it was time to fly the wind was  nil from the South.   I set up at the very top of the runway and did a down wind launch taking advantage of the smooth asphalt and the downhill grade. It was smooth but chilly.   It felt good to be heading east across the flats.  I stayed up for about 40 minutes and only landed to visit with my friends.   Later that morning, Tom Spears, an instructor from from Glenwood Springs, took me up in his delta wst. It was a little bumpy and without a flight suit, damn cold but it was a great flight and I enjoyed every minute.  Thanks Tom! 

The View Hotel at Navajo Tribal Park

That afternoon while Dawn was sleeping, Jeff and I hung in the officers quarters and chatted about the USPPA, Obama Care and his new Air Space Video.  He and Tim are moving away from the cold of Chicago and relocating somewhere in Florida.  They have made an offer on a house in an air-park with room for the business and all the toys.  It’s an exciting time and I wish him well. Around 4:00pm we headed down to the airstrip for the afternoon flights. 

 It was my best flight of the trip.  90 minutes with great sunset colors. Here is the video…

Late in the day Ryan Southwell and his friend Scot launched to camp on the top of Eagle Rock. As far as I know, this was a first.  Several years ago John Fetz did a top landing but he only stayed a few minutes.  These guys landed and camped out.  I await the video and photos from Shane and the Team Halo crew.

Ryan Southwell on top og Eagle Rock

Dinner was in the condo followed by a session of paramotor troubleshooting with Jeff, Chad and Lance Marzec,  who was rousted out of bed someplace many time zones away.Before it was over we had a brand new mini plane apart and Jeff was polishing a piston with a pot scrubber, nail file and  toothbrush.

Jeremy Langejans right side down

Saturday …  The winds were blowing  steadily from the direction of the Tribal Park .  It was a little too strong to attempt flying close to the monuments, so we stayed close to the patch and were treated to an air show out in the flats, East of the airstrip.   The highlight for me was when Ryan Shaw, fresh from the international Slalom competition in Europe, flew his new comp wing the Dudek snake.  Going at least 40 mph he caught and passed a Cessna as it rolled in from landing.
By 11:00 it was getting cold and windy so a bunch of us retreated to the condo for a pot luck lunch.  Spirits were high and it was hard to get a word in edgewise while everybody shared the mornings events.   John and Mary invited several of us to go up in their Cessna after lunch..   Dawn and I were on the second flight with Jeff Goin.  It was wonderful to be back in the park and it was the first time Dawn and I had flown it together.  I expect that one of these days we will own a PPC and fly together all the time but until that day it was a rare treat.

 Dawn’s photos from the Cessna

When we landed the French group were packing for the next leg of their tour.  The group leader, Dieter Debaque, had discovered us a few years earlier and put The Gathering into this years tour.  They added 17 pilots and an international touch that was fun. It looked like the altitude was a bit higher than they were accustomed to.  There were a lot of aborted launches and some extremely long runs, but the did just fine and since they bought a lot of t-shirts I think a good time was had by all.  

The French Connection

The afternoon was too windy for most of us but several did get up and found it very flyable..  I stayed on the field and enjoyed the show while Dawn hung in the officer’s quarters and rested.  There were several aborts and more than a few exciting launches.  Russ Bateman took his son for a tandem flight and not to be outdone, Mo Sheldon took his dog Rosa up in his specially modified and “dog legal” , trike.  The evenings flights were capped off when Paul Anthem did a wonderfully benign turtle on landing.

Paul Anthem joins the “Order of the Desert Turtle”
The Banquet was less than ideal.  Instead of fancy food and speeches in a private dinning room, we had a Pot Luck BBQ  at the campground.   Plan B was a poor substitute but we made the best of it and enjoyed the company. Jeff Goin was planning to leave early and drive to Phoenix but opted to stay for the campfire and I cannot thank him enough for being so generous with his time.  Thanks Jeff, you serve the USPPA well.

Sunday is was blowing 5 and gusting to 10.   Those foot launching were reporting steady winds with moderate bumps.  It was chilly and less than perfect but it was also the last opportunity to fly for perhaps several months so I decided to go for it.  
I timed the cycles and launched when the breeze had dropped.  Once up, I enjoyed the clear cold air and when I’d had enough of the bumps, I turned back and approached the LZ from the North West for landing.   About 200 yards out I flew into sinking air and dropped 100 feet quickly.  I stayed on the power to maintain my glide so that I would clear the trailers. and spectators.  The wind started picking up but I adjusted and knew that I would still able land safely. The approach was a little bumpy but the landing was going fine, right up until I tried to killl the engine.   Stupidly, my gloves were too thick to reach the recessed  kill switch and I had to let go of one of the the toggles to shut down the motor.  I Iost control of the wing and the trike was pulled and threatened to roll. By the time I was back in control, the trike had been spun180 degrees back toward the direction of the landing.  By putting down a boot and sliding while turning the nose wheel against  the direction of the tip I kept the trike from rolling but it was very close. The wing fell in front of the trike and I slid right up to it’s tip, wrapping lines in the front wheel.   Facing the spectators, I made the cross hands sweep signal that baseball umps use to signify, “runner is safe”.  I don’t know if anybody else got it,…. but, … I enjoyed the moment.   Kurt  Mozer got the whole thing on video and I can’t wait to combine it with the video from my helmet cam to see exactly what happened..  No harm no foul.


The wind continued to rise and everybody began packing up for the ride home.  No injuries … plenty of airtime and good company.  I can hardly wait for next year.

If you cannot see yourself… You are probably flying

Steamboat Springs Balloon Rodeo #665

The 2013 Steamboat Balloon Festival 

right place right time 


Dawn and I had planned to visit some friends in Steamboat and it was only a lucky break that it was the same weekend as the Festival.  We had a concert the evening before, so I wasn’t able to attend the pilot briefing on Friday night. I spoke with Debby Standefer the Balloon Meister earlier in the week and knew I was welcome but little else.

So, with little information and a gut full of butterfly s I arrived at the field on Saturday morning.  I had expected a large park and was hoping for plenty of room to launch but was disappointed to find a small rectangle surrounded by vendor booths.  There was no chance that I would be able to launch early and even after the mass ascension it would not be an easy launch.  There were too many obstructions and not enough room.  Debby suggested that I look around for an alternate site and I found a spot on the other side of the jump pond where a couple of the local balloonists were beginning to set-up.  

Steamboat 2013 LZ

It wasn’t great, there was a narrow runway of hard pack that ended abruptly into a field of tall weeds.  There were some trees to avoid and of course the pond that separated us from the rest of the festival. It looked possible but I was going to have to get the inflation right immediately and make the go- no go decision within 30 feet of the start. 

I spoke with Ian, the senior balloonist, who explained that the visiting pilots were concerned about a large cell several miles off and the possible winds that it might send our way.  The plan was for him and another one of his balloons to launch at this site and act as “Pie Plates” for the others to gauge the air.  He wasn’t too encouraging and told me that it might be a very short flight.  While we were talking a slight breeze came up from down valley which was in exactly the right direction.  I took it to be a good omen and set up.  

Ian launched quickly and his second balloon set up and inflated in record time.  It was now or never.  When I powered up, the wing only need a quick tug on the right side to bring it in-line with the runway.  It felt good from the start and once I was rolling I had no doubts.  Just before I got to the end of the hard pack I lifted off and started a very slow climb-out.  When I got to the trees I did a couple of turns between the largest groves and it was all good.  Dawn said that it looked close on take off and because of the trees they were not able to see where I was until I had climbed up and around the trees.  

Once up, it was a great flight.  I cruised over the Balloon field a couple of times and saw only one balloon that looked like it was going to launch.  The rest of the field was loaded with people milling around.  There was no way I was going to do a fly-by on the field, so I circled at 75 feet and waved before heading up valley to play with the two locals.  

Steamboat is a beautiful place to fly and I look forward to coming back.   The valley air was calm and the ski mountain looked like a great climb 3000 feet to the top.  There was a freight train rolling down the valley and lots to see.  I could have stayed up all morning and would have, except that it was starting to sprinkle and I was worried that it was only going to get worse.  After flying around the smaller balloon I turned back to check out my landing options.  I used the radio to ask Dawn  to clear the field and by the time I had circled once it was free of spectators.  

The landing was much like the take off,. narrow with obstructions to avoid.  There was no clearing turn before final,  I just set up over the Yampa and followed it in.  As soon as I cleared the trees I went to idle and touched down exactly right.  It felt good,

Time for showers and breakfast


This is a place I want to come back to, the area is flyer friendly and the view is wonderful.  At 6800 feet it’s not to high for a reasonable launch but with the ski area there I could do some serious climbing and never be 50 feet agl.  

Till the next time Steamboat.

Endless Foot Drag 623 to 626

Britton Shaw has hosted the “Endless Foot Drag”  for many years.  One look at the field and it is easy to see why people come back over and over again.  Miles of Bermuda Sod bordering the  Mike Bennett and I had driven through heavy weather to Fort Smith Arkansas for an Instructors Clinic that Chad Bastian was giving.  I arrived Tuesday night and rather than pitch a tent on the saturated field I took advantage of Dawn’s gernerousity and asked her to book a room for us at the Hilton affiliate.  I had been looking forward to camping but a first class room is wonderful too!  We spent the day with Chad and 6 other pilots in the Hampden Inn board room.  What a group…. I think I was the only one there who wasn’t a licensed GA pilot.  Bruce and Terry had been flying for decades, Shawn was a CFI and Apache driver.  Garrett had thousands of sky dives and was a GA pilot.  It was humbling.

We were given the luxurious “Board Room” to have our clinic and spent all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning doing class work.  Chad was great keeping us on track and covering the entire syllabus.

Wednesday and Thursday we broke up at 6:00 and went out to the field.  Wednesday was great!  I got in two flights and way over 2 hours of flight time.  I even turned on the strobes and stayed up well into nautical twilight.  Thursday was at the event site and equally good. Friday afternoon I picked up Dawn and we returned to the field where the event was starting to ramp up.  Vendor booths were being assembled and pilots were arriving.  I was tickled to see so many old friends from Fly Ins past.

Just as Dawn and I were getting ready to walk the field and show off Beau, Britton came over and informed us that dogs were not allowed on the field.  The landowner was concerned because of a dog bite to a child the previous year. What a drag.  We set up the spare tent to keep Beau in but he would have none of it, jumping at the door and biting the fabric.  Dawn eventually sat in the tent and stayed with Beau while Chad walked us through some radio training.  It was too windy for any but the most skilled pilots so we watched until dark.

The next morning I got up early and was able to get in a short flight in strong and ratty air.  Kurt later told me the wind was 9 mph gusting to 17 when I landed.  It wouldn’t have been fair to leave Dawn to sit in the hotel with the dog for the rest of the weekend so I packed up the rig and said my goodbyes.
So I didn’t really get to enjoy the Famous Endless footdrag but I did get my Instructor Certification.  Perhaps we could have put Beau in Doggie Day Care but thats water under the bridge now. 

Dawn and I pulled out of Fort Smith at 1:00 pm and power drove back to Colorado.  We were in bed by 1:15 am

Thanks Britton …. You have a great Fly In … I look forward to flying with you in the future.

Bob Peloquin

Chad Bastian

Flying the single surface glider


Andy McAvin

Mike Bennett

Palm Bay PAL Fly-In

PAL Palm Bay Fly In

Dawn and I flew into Tampa for the weekend.  She had a seminar to attend and I was privileged to come  along for the ride.   On Saturday morning I took the rental car and drove across Florida to Palm Bay for the2 annual  Pal Fly-In. It was good to see Jeff ,Leon ,Ray Eric and Elisabeth ….CC, Tim Gaskins and Marty Hathaway and several others.

Small RCA cars that could go 100 mph+.   Very cool
 Leon’s new frame that,accepts wheels.        Very Very Cool
Ray’s new water cooled motor.                      Very cool and light
The PPG DANCE.    OK … we’ll maybe not so much the PPG DANCE

Breezy  but flyable…. The inland waterway is not too far ( 1 Mile)and the ocean is obtainable (2 miles).  It would be a great place for the Falcon.  I dont know how high I would have to climb to cross the inland waterway but looking at Martin Hathaway’s photos … It would have been Epic.

Photography by Martin Hathaway 

Salton Sea 2012 Fligfhts 530 to 537

Salton Sea

First day:  Two Flights   
We left Johns house at 10:30am and arrived at the Salton Sea 4:45am.  Unlike previous years we had chosen to “Power Drive”, to the Event rather than spend a night in Las Vegas.  It was partly budget and part timing but it was quick and fairly painless for us to take turns and keep moving. As soon as we arrived, John set right out to build his campsite, while I stretched out on the front seat and napped till dawn.  We set-up in my favorite spot behind the swimming pool.  I was happy to see that we were the first ones but sad that the area wasn’t the grassy park that I remembered. They had stopped watering and the grass and it had all died, but…. there was shade and it was better than pitchin a tent on a dusty desert road adjacent to the field.
At 8 am it was a beautiful morning with light winds coming from the lake.  John and I loaded the truck with our paramotors and drove to the field.  The first thing I noticed as we walked up to the Registration tent was a life size cutout of Bob Armond standing by the entrance with his arms spread and a  sign saying “Free Beer Tomorrow”.  Some people were offended, but I just smiled and said “Yeah Bob”.   We paid our fees,  collected our Bob Armond Memorial T-Shirts and moved out the field to fly.

Michelle Danielle…Joe Onofrio…Jorden Danielle

My first flight was special.  I cruised the area and visited places I had fond memories of.  There…. was the spot where I distroyed the Simonini Trike Buggy after launching with a huge tumble weed caught in the lines  and there… was the old dome where my first Paratoys was held, I came here with Brian Smith all those years ago.  I worked on trimming the wing that wanted to turn to the left regardless the wind direction.  After some experimentation I was able to fly straight with the right trimmer out two stops. I was flying straight and feeling good about it but something was out of balance and it would take some time before I discovered the problem.  I was not sure if it was the wing or the hang points.

The afternoon was marred when Phil Russman and Mike Robinson had a mid-air collision about 30 feet up over the LZ. I don’t know who was at fault but words were exchanged and Phil was asked to leave. At 6:00pm Mike called a pilot briefing and chewed the bunch of us out for a litany of wrongs. We had all received a page of rules but, as usual, the day before the fly-in, nobody was paying attention to the rules.  I was no angel…, when the landing area was full of wings and I was out of gas, I decided to hell with it and landed in the launch area.  We were all guilty.  Bob was gone and this “new boss” just didn’t have our attention. 

The event was not starting off well.  The biggest problem was stolen equipment. One pilot had a wing stolen when he landed out and had to leave it behind while he carried his motor back to the field, other stuff was stolen from the Vendor booths and there was some money missing.  Now…., I’ve been to many fly-ins and theft had never been a problem, so this was something new and not a good sign, for this fly in or future ones. It is no secret that Mike doesn’t love doing the Paratoys event and was planning to make it every other year instead of annually.  So standing there in the twilight, listening to the ass chewing, I wondered if this might not be the last Paratoys Fly-In, at least the last one at the Salton Sea.
Day 2
Great day!  Four long flights in T-Shirt weather.  After dinner I hung with Chad and Greg until it was time to meet Dawn and show her the way to the Fly-In. 
Day 3
Nice casual breakfast then out to the field to walk the line and introduce Dawn to the community. While Dawn and I were chatting with Michael Purdy we heard that there were 35 mph gusts west of us at the gas station … 10 minutes later it hit. A huge wind front blasted through the flight line.  It was strong enough to rip the windsock from it’s mast at the center of the field.  There were about a dozen pilots in the air and it was clear they were in trouble.  All but one were able to get down, with only minor injuries and equipment damages.  The last pilot was blown off shore.  Dawn and I watched him work his way back to the beach  only to be blown back out over the water every time he descended to land.  Finally he went for altitude and was blown out of sight.  I remember thinking that we were watching a man flying to his death.

(This is an excellent interview with Jeff Goin and Lance Marzack discussing the wind front that could have been a disaster.
The wind didn’t look like it was going to moderate so Dawn and I jumped into the truck and drove to the other side of the Salton Sea. I wanted to show her Salvation Mountain and I thought that if the lost pilot had been blown across the Sea we would at least be on the east side to offer him a ride.  I caled Paratoys and told Brian where we were just in case he wanted us to do a recovery.
Salvation Mountain
The winds were light when we got to the East shore but twenty minutes after we arrived at Salvation Mountain the wind picked up and continued to build.  It was not as strong and didn’t on as abruptly as it did at the field, but it was steady and it was clearly not going to be flyable, probably for the rest of the day.  
Salvation Mountain, …one mans mission to praise the lord with nothing but a bunch of paint and desert sand.  Apparently “Old Lenard”, had been sick because we found “Get Well” letters tucked in little alcoves for him to find when he returned.  After wandering around and taking pictures we went in search of Slab City.  Last year I drove around for an hour and got hopelessly lost trying to find “The Last Free Place in America”.   Slab City was made famous by the movie, “Into the Wild”,  it is a squatters camp situated on the site of George Patton’s WW II training base.  I was expecting a happy hippie commune but instead found only abject poverty,  there were several dozen decaying RVs and makeshift shelters scattered across the desert.  Some had the appearance of something out of the “Burning Man Festival” others spoke of refugees or counter culture fugitives.  Needless to say Dawn and I were underwhelmed and only to happy to turn the truck into the wind and head back to the east shore to get ready for the big banquet. 
This year it was a celebration.   Our lost pilot had been found. We started the Banquet by having the lucky pilot telling his story. 
Rich Kennedy “The Lost Pilot”
Rich Valentine had been in the air for 20 minutes when the gust front arrived.  He was on the beach and quickly blown off shore.  The winds were higher at the surface and so he found himself flying a box.  At 1000 feet he was able to  penetrate the gust and fly toward the shoreline only to be blown back over the water when he descended to land.  After three or four cycles he looked at his gas and decided that his best chance was to run with the wind and make for the far shore 12 miles west.  With a 40 MPH tailwind  he arrived at Bombay beach in less than 15 minutes and landed in relatively calm air where he was met by a couple on their way to church.  Since he had neglected to bring a cell phone there was no way for him to contact the fly in.  He had no idea that we had called in the big guns and that there were two helicopters and dozens of people looking for him.
Jeff Goin…Joe Onofrio…Chad Bastian…Mo Shelton
John Fetz  John Sieb  Dawn McLane
After dinner the competition winners were announced and Michelle Danielle presided over the Bob Armond Memorial portion of the evening.   She put her words to song and brought many to tears.  The evening was capped off with the return of Phil Russman who had prepared a video tribute to Bob.   
(The link above is Will Jones interviewing Jeff Goin and Lance Marzack about the near disaster caused by the tremendous wind front that hit Sat. morning)

Sunday morning I flew with the new com helmet and radio for the first time.  Once again my luck with communication equipment is poor.  The PTT button was only working intermittently but I could hear the other pilots just fine.  If putting a new battery in the ear cup does not correct it, I will send the helmet back for repair. The conditions were very thermic.  When I felt the left wingtip get lifted I turned into it and was climbing at 300 fpm (at idle).  After climbing to 1500 feet I lost the thermal and so I turned north and enjoyed a leisurely flight to say goodbye to the Salton Sea.   The winds had built to 10mph when it was time to come down and so the landing was almost vertical,  I love it when I run out of altitude and energy at the same time. 🙂
Dawn kissed me goodbye and headed off to San Diego where she was going to catch a flight back home.  It was fun to have her at the event and I was glad to have been able to introduce her to some great friends. The high winds ruined her shot at a tandem foot launch with Chad but she was a good sport, swallowed her disappointment and made the best out of it.  What a trooper!  I will do my best to get her some airtime soon.
The winds were predicted to be bad at Glamas Dunes so John and I decided to try for Las Vegas.  Traffic was terrible but we arrived in Jean Nevada with plenty of time to hit the buffet and get a good nights sleep.  The next morning we got up early and drove out to Lake Jean.  The winds were 10 mph and gusting.  What a bummer, I had forgotten how nice this place is.  A perfect place to launch in all directions with some great elevation changes to fly around.  Ah well, maybe next year….

Heros and Villians Route 66 Flyers Bi-Annual Fly-In


Dawn and I got out of Denver around 1700 hours,  the skies were clear with no sign of precipitation.  We stopped in Trinidad to gas up and get a bite to eat. Main street was beautiful…. it was paved in brick with historic buildings on both sides … I was reminded of Leadville and even remembered a story about one of my ancestors who killed a man here in a firefight at the turn of the last century. The restaurants were mostly bars that served food as an afterthought or a high end steakhouse that would tie up a couple of hours and serve a meal that would make me want to take a nap. Just as I was beginning to settle for a MacBurger we found the Trinidad Dinner.  Perfect…. Classic Greek Family Restaurant with all the trimmings.  I had the Giro dinner and Dawn’s shrimp looked good. 
We arrived at the Santa Fe Hilton at midnight … it was lovely. 
Wed.   #492
The next morning we took advantage of the buffet and I made a pig of myself eating large quantities of bacon, eggs, lox, fruit ….
So, with a full belly I took Dawn in arm and we proceeded to take in Old Town Santa Fe.  There were the usual tourist shops and more than a few art galleries.  We did spend time in one that featured a sculpture by a fellow who caught my fancy.  The docent told us that if we were going to the basilica there was a life size “signs of the cross” he had on display in the adjacent garden.  Wow!  Pre Homo Sapien figures depicting the last hours.  Powerful stuff.

The drive to Paramotor City was an easy 90 minutes.  Mike had set-up near the pavilion and left a space for our tent that was protected from the wind on three sides and provided some nice cover from the western sun.  Dawn and I made short work setting up the tent.   Mike cooked up some hamburgers and we  went out for the evening flight. 

Paramotor City

My first attempt went bad when the wing came up hard to the left but the second was picture perfect.  I spent the first ten minutes buzzing around the patch enjoying some smooth air and reacquainted myself with the area.  I was also trying out the FRS Radio  that Mike had put together and was able to hear other pilots for the first time since my first training days.  Unfortunately the VOX was limiting my power lever so I was not able to transmit to Dawn who was back at the tent.  But I could hear Kurt and Sue who were heading toward the Radio Facility.  I followed them for awhile but turned back when the air started getting ratty.  They were keeping up a regular banter about the conditions and who was where.  At one point they got into a little tiff and Kurt suggested they take it to another  channel.  Later they came back to the common frequency and everybody knew they had resolved their disagreement when Sue called out to Kurt from way up high…. “Kurt, come up here and watch the sunset with me” …. 
The honeymoon continues.

  Everybody was in bed early looking forward to the morning.
Thursday #493 #494 #495

It was 57 degrees with light breeze from the North, perfect conditions.  I followed the Rio South and took pictures of Mike, Robert and CC while they did the low and slow in the river bottom including one of Mike chasing an elk. 
Good looking Bull Elk

Came back to the field and popped of two quick flights to bump the numbers for the big 500th.  We spent the rest of the day sharing hanger stories and watching dust devils popping in the desert. 

Paramotor City was pretty quiet, usually half the group shows before the official first day but not this time.  Dawn and I played some cards and read but there wasn’t much to do and way too hot to sleep.  It was, “Parawaiting”, at it’s best.
Friday #496
X-country Flight to the Ruins …. twitchy air.  Once again I stayed high and took pictures of the 5 other pilots.  The best ruin was a stone buildings built in a circle with a trash mound close by.  I was going to fly to the famous mushroom rocks but it was getting pretty bouncy so rather than heading even farther out and risking a long uncomfortable ride home, I turned back at 5 miles. 
That afternoon while we were sitting in the shade of Mike’s RV a Dust Devil blew through our campsite and headed straight for Michelle’s Pavilion. The heavy party tent she had rented for the banquet was hit.  We watched the walls get sucked in and when they puffed out… it was launched into the maelstrom and on to the roof of the pavilion.  The tent was destroyed and two of the heavy metal poles punctured the roof of Michelle’s paraglider loft.  Mike and I hung on to the supports for our shade and saved the RV from some expensive damage. 

Dust Devil launches our party tent


Dawn cleans up after the dust devil
That evening we shared the pavilion with a local motorcycle club made up of of mostly retired Albuquerque cops. Pizzas and beer was hauled in and we contributed large tray of mock Sushi.  After dinner we sat on the new observation deck and watched the “brave ones flying in 10 -12 MPH winds.  The Hero of the night was one of the Mexican contingent who showed some real skill flying well past dark.  The retired cops partied all night long and pitched loud and sincere woo to some woman named Tiffiny,  I don’t know if she was one of the cops or just the only single woman but she was well attended..  I slept through most of the celebration but Dawn said they were still at it at 3:00am.
Saturday #497
Was scheduled for a X-country flight to the Mesa and it was a hoot. Jim Doyle’s wife was scheduled to fly with Cliff in his 6 shooter PPC but for some altruistic reason was not able to go and her seat went to Dawn.  She had a great first flight!

 I was hoping to accompany them in the Falcon because we have the same airspeed but he headed straight for the mesa and I never saw them again.  So I hooked up with Mike and Jerry and we followed the Highway to the first waypoint.  It was mildly bumpy most of the way but well worth the trip.  Kevin described it best, we looked like an ant trail  with a bunch of wings heading out and another line of guys returning.  Closing on the mesa I encountered a good headwind and had to satisfy myself with getting close enough to get a good look.  At one point I wasn’t penetrating at all so when I finally decided to turn back … it was 50 plus MPH.  Cliff and Dawn landed shortly before me but she was on the field grinning ear to ear.  That afternoon, waiting in the heat she even made some noises like she might like to become a pilot. 

More waiting in the heat …  Michell provided something called carotid coolers, it’s some kind of gel sewn into a Lycra tube that you tie around your neck.  I’m not sure what the fashion statement was but I was a great way to beat the heat.

Saturday night was the Hero and Villains Banquet.  I picked “The Moron” as my hero and wore a leather aviators helmet with a Hawaiian shirt and just so that everyone knew who I was I had some TP hanging out the back of my pants.  Denzel was a great Superman but the best was Johnny Fetz who wore a head to toe one piece Lycra suit done up as Tony the Tiger. 

The after dinner entertainment was flying by Mike Bennett, Jim Doyle and a few others.  One pilot got so far down wind that we thought we might have to mount a recovery,  he did made it back but, it was getting dark.  Cliff gave us all a thrill when he rolled his PPC launching in big air but nobody was hurt and the damage was minor.  The music was provided by The Pilot Project (short a few guys) and a great time was had by all.
Sunday #498

Best flight of the trip. Smooth air with two inversion layers… one at 300 feet and another at 1500 feet.  Everywhere else was glass.  I climbed to 8200 feet and took in the sights and later dropped down and tried to get Dawn’s attention so I could drop her a parachute.  That didn’t work so I dropped it to CC instead.  She had been grounded with a bum knee and was sitting under the observation deck.  Of course she couldn’t go running out in the field to catch it with her crutches but my intentions were good.  After an hour and 30minutes of bliss I landed and we packed up.
The ride home was effortless, we stopped in Las Vegas NM for lunch.  The restaurant was right out of the 60’s and I enjoyed Liver and Onions … never see that on a menu anymore.  Another great adventure !
More Pictures Later

Salton Sea 2011

The Adventure Continues

Walking the Big Wheel

The weather was terrible. 

A huge storm , sweeping north and east from San Diego to the Great Lakes was shutting down the middle of the country.   Denver was snow packed and frigid with snow showers and high winds.  Driving to California without new rubber on the Ford was not an option.  This was the first time in 6 years that the weather was an issue.  The storm came in 24 hours early and I missed the window that would have insured dry roads.  Mike Miller was a huge help when he cancelled his service calls to free me up to buy snows and get out of town a few hours quicker.  The plan was to head south to Albuquerque and try to get under the storm instead of punching through the backside somewhere West of the Rockies.

Loading the truck was slapstick, all exposed surfaces were covered in ice and the blizzard was blowing into every nook and cranny.  Every time I tried to pull the trike up into the pick-up the ramps would slip under the back wheels  Finally after 5 failed attempts I figured a way to secure the ramp and loaded the Falcon.  Wasting no time I just threw the tent, wings, gas, big wheel and everything else on top. The only silver lining was that 15 mph winds helped me kite the big tarp over the pile.  Using my best frozen dock lines I lashed the tarp and said a prayer…

It wasn’t pretty but at 1:00pm I was southbound on I-25. The roads were packed with snow and visibility was horrible but I was feeling good driving a  loaded truck with new tires.   It was a tough drive, the average speed was 40mph with long spells of 10 mph when the visibility fell to 50 feet.  I was happy to hit 50 miles per hour after passing Glorieta.  Finally I arrived at the Route 66 Casino outside Paramotor City at 12:30pm.  In Albuquerque the roads were wet with intermittent small storm showers.

The storm had caught up but the highways were plowed headed west.    I had not noticed it yesterday because I never got up to speed but now the truck was bogging down and unable to get over 70 mph. I stopped in Gallop and wasted $300 bucks at the Goodyear store where they diagnosed the problem as a clogged fuel filter.
But… I thought it was fixed and headed out into the storm. It wasn’t until was 30 miles out of town and hit clear roads that I realized that the truck was still having problems. In Holbrook I bit the bullet and went to the Ford dealership. Even though it was 4pm they took the truck and thanks to a veteran Ford Tech the problem was diagnosed as a bad igniter coil. At 6:30 they cut me loose. I was at the very southern edge of the storm going in and out of blizzard conditions about every 30 minutes. It was amazing how the roads would be clear one minute and almost instantly turn to packed snow and ice.  I’m guessing that the fast moving edge of the storm was being focused by the terrain with fingers of blizzard crossing the highway. The winds were gusting 50+ with only the big rigs and I braving the weather.  I finally made Blythe and stopped for the night. So much for power driving all the way to the Sea.

Finally, I was out of the storm, the winds were still strong but the skies were clear. I had hoped to hook up with Jeff Goin and the Australian contingent at Glamis. The idea was to fly the dunes Wednesday night, camp there and head to the Salton Sea Thursday morning but after talking with Jeff and hearing that it was a blow out; I stayed on Hwy 10 and headed to the North Shore to visit Salvation Mountain.

Pligramage to Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain  (  ) is located in the lower desert of Southern California in Imperial County just east of the Salton Sea and about a hour and a half from Palm Springs. Salvation Mountain is Leonard Knights’ tribute to God and his gift to the world with its simple yet powerful message: “God Is Love.” Leonard’s passion has lovingly created this brilliant “outsider art ” masterpiece resplendent with not only biblical and religious scripture such as the Lord’s Prayer, John 3:16, and the Sinner’s Prayer, but also including flowers, trees, waterfalls, suns, bluebirds, and many other fascinating and colorful objects. Salvation Mountain must be seen to be fully appreciated as those who have made the journey will attest. Its 50 foot height and 150 foot breadth is made totally of local adobe clay and donated paint and is truly unique in the United States and probably the world. From its Sea of Galilee at the bottom, to the big red heart in the middle, to the cross at the very top, the reoccurring theme of “Love” is everywhere at Salvation Mountain.

Leonard’s house

My daughter Olivia had seen Salvation Mountain in the movie INTO THE WILD and very much wanted to go there so I thought it might be fun to visit and send her a few pictures.

Dinner at the Mexican Resturant

Chad Bastian, Bob Peloquin John Fetz and I went to the local Mexican place which was packed with tables of pilots from around the country. It was great to catch up with the guys. Bob was enjoying his retirement; Chad was officially healthy and gaining weight. Greg and I were just plain glad to be out of town. After dinner Bob graciously offered me a berth in his RV.  It was plenty cold out and I grateful to have a warm place to sleep.

Was a blowout. I spent the day catching up with friends. A few of the Professionals were flying and Jeff put on a display of reverse launching with a Paratoys quad.

Jeff Going doing Quad Reverse

Sometime when I was wandering around Leon Wacker put the complete set of charts for the Tom Bigbee and TVA and Mississippi River into the truck.  He remembered talking to me at Bubbas about maybe taking the inland waterway down to New Oleans.  What a Guy!
The big event of the day was Perry Molter’s amazing double riser twist. There were plenty of witnesses when he launched into 10 mph wind with a powerful and unfamiliar motor. Almost immediately he torque into a riser twist and started to spin into the ground. At 20 feet, he reapplied power and avoided impact but twisted again, at the last possible moment he regained control and flew off to enjoy a 15 minute flight. I wasn’t sure if it was a display of extraordinary skill or a very lucky newbie … Perry has amassed an amazing number of flights in just a few years and is a good pilot on his way to becoming a great one. He was awarded the Bonehead Award at the banquet for the double riser twist and accepted it with good humor.

Mike Robinson presenting the Bonehead Award to Perry Molter

That night we had dinner again at the Mex Place which was still struggling to handle the unexpected rush in business.    Later at Bob’s RV after a shower and hot tub I watched the movie  Danny Deckchair, about halfway through I fell asleep. 
Was a good day, I got in two long flights. The first was an hour and a half spent mostly skimming the beach to the north. I visited the old dome site and practiced the low and slow. After lunch and a visit to the vendor booths I went up again and did the same thing to the south. The sea has receded a bit from last year and there were several areas where you could see a recent fish kill. The beach was loaded with dead fish and there were patches of carcasses visible just off shore. I would have liked to spent some time inland but the thermals were popping all over and it was really only nice on the beach.  On thing caught my eye was a good size boat abandoned on the beach, it looked like it had been there a long time.  But the best eye candy of the show was Jeff Hamman flying his Manta Ray complete with a remora fish hitching a ride.

by Elisabeth Dufour

  As I was packing up the Nirvana team launched and did a night show.  LEDs embedded into their props projected graphics linked to a computer.  I don’t understand it but they were able to program lettering and graphic onto the spinning props. 

Team Nirvana

Night time synchronised aerobatics with a light show….
WOW!   Watch the video

View it here… 

That night the Mex place was ready for us, we were greeted by Jose like long lost cousins. The food came quick and the portions were large.   Lots of pilots having a good time,  Later,  back at the ranch I hit the hot tub with Marek and Robert we were entertained by a precocious little boy who so wanted to fly like his daddy.
Was the best!
I got in 6 flights including the X-country race to the Knob. The air was good all day. There was an inversion at 1800 feet that had to be powered through but the air at altitude was as nice as it could be. I climbed to 7000 feet and took in the sights. It wasn’t crystal clear but I was able to see from one end of the Sea to the other. Unfortunately my camera’s battery failed and there are no pictures.

ParaToys new field Photo bt Para-Flyers of Florida

The Falcon performed like a champ. It’s climbing at better than 500 feet/min from the beach and was still over 400ft/min at 7000ft ASL.  Below the Japanese Slalom was taking place it was safer than the cloverleaf but not as interesting to watch.  I caught three or four runs with Robert Jerry Alex and Marek and decided I’m better at participating than spectating.  It’s just much better to be in the air!

Michelle and CC Our …”First Ladies of PPG”


Elisabeth Dufour …  Eric’s  “First Lady of PPG”

After the morning flights Jim Doyle gave me a set of Pulstar iridium pulse plugs that he installed on the falcon.  It made a nice change, the idle came down slightly and top speed increased 250 RPM. It seemed to run smoother at idle and run up a little faster. Jim is representing the company for love of the sport and they are well worth the money! 

After lunch was the X-country Competition. Early in the event Dean Elderedge broke the world speed record with an early morning flight and a so it is not surprising that a common topic among the pilots was speed. There were 4 classes … Footlaunch reflex and non and wheeled reflex and non. I launched in the 3rd heat wheeled non-reflex. Initially I followed the beach until I climbed above the inversion then I turned inland and followed the highway out to the knob. Once at the knob I had a heck of a time spotting Brian who was monitoring the goal box. The idea was to overfly the box low enough to read the “secret number” painted inside. When we got back to the LZ we reported to Brian and gave him the secret number to prove that we had completed the objective.

On the way back to the LZ Bob Peloquin caught and trotted passed me . He was flying a  Viper2 26 with the Simonini Trike Buggy. There may be a controversy as to the stability of the reflex wing but there is no doubt as to it’s speed. He should have won the class except for a misunderstanding as to how to finish. ….Seems he needed to overfly Brian before landing and did not. I was not aware of the rule either but by pure dumb luck did the right thing. Pierre and Greg were also flying in my class and got off a little later than I. The Eden III was loaded heaver than their wings and unless I made a real mistake I should have been plenty faster.

Later I spoke with Brian and offered to help with next years race.  I’m sure using some of the techniques from yacht racing we can make it more competitive and fun to watch.  I shudder to think of the variables involved in PHRF ing different wings and weights but …At the very least a NOR ( Notice of Race can make it more competitive and fun to watch.  I’m sure it’s done in the European Comps. 

The Flock

After the race I had some Empanadas and wandered the vendor booths.  Alex Varv came with his modified Kangook paramotor.  He has helped me out over the years with parts and advice and I was looking forward to finaly meeting him.  It was too bad that his motor was getting so much attention because the booth was full and we didn’t really have an opportunity to chat.  Next Time.  The paramotor looked great and if his claim of low torque is correct it will be a great boon to the sport.  The harness was by far the nicest I have ever seen.  

That evening was the Banquet Hosted by Paul Anthem and Michelle Danielle.  They get better every year.  This year Paul showed his skill as a vocalist NOT! …  but it was better than last years outhouse skit.    Michael Purdy and Eric Dufour announced the winners of the first comp of the season and Jeff announced Dean Elderedge’s  World Speed Record. 

I received the trophy for Classic Wing Quad  X-country Race and  Michell gave away lots and lots of swag.  Mike Robinson said a few emotional words and a new Memorial Airfield was dedicated by the owner who pledged the land to us.  Later The Pilot Project Band entertained us with classic rock.  It was a great party followed up by the hot tub and bed.

My first PPG trophy !


Up early and into the sky.   Beautiful morning to go high and say goodbye.  Everyone was packing up when I walked the flight line one last time to say my farewells.  I hooked up with Pierre and Greg and we made plans to convoy to Glamis together.  When we got there the wind was blowing 8 mph gusting to 12 or 13.  I set up but aborted after seeing Greg parked at 50 feet.  Watching him fly the trike buggy made me remember just how great the combination of Simonini and a Trike Buggy is.  Very nimble machine.   We made a wolf camp and sat around the fire until well after dark telling stories and enjoying the moment.  I used Roberts Pop-out tent since my was broken and slept like a baby.


The next morning we all flew.  There was a good breeze but the surface winds were low enough for an easy launch.  I stayed up for a little over an hour the winds were against me on the way back but I was in no rush.  The non event of the flight was when I lifted off I realized that I’d forgotten ear protection.  No problem I looked around and saw the answer in the closed cell Styrofoam I was using to mount the tiny tack.  I pulled off a couple of pieces and stuffed them in my ears… Worked like a champ.

The trip home was a bitch.  The snow was back with a vengeance.  I drove straight through except for two 20 minute naps in the cab of the truck.  Lots of vehicles had run off the road including one little jerk who had honked at me earlier for going too slowly.  Good trip… Lots of good memories … Thanks Guys