Snowflake at Dawn #432 #433 #434 Test Filghts

Mike Bennett and & arrived at 6:30.  It was much better than yesterdays rain/mist, there was a fresh 7mph breeze from the SSW and clear blue skies. 

Trying to solve the chest pain I have made some modifications and this was the first time to try them out.  In order to position my arms farther forward I have moved the hangpoints 1 inch and to rebalance the rig, Mike and I mounted a 12 pound weight over the front wheel.  The brake lines have been lenghtened 3 inches and the brake pulley was lowered by the same amount and drawn in closer to the riser. 
I will have to heal before I know if the problem has been fixed but I think I’m on the right track.  It was definitely more comfortable and the pain is no worse.  The next step will be to remount the battery forward of the seat this will not ad weight to the rig but allow the hang points to be moved another inch forward.  Then I’ll play with the seat mount to get it dialed in.

Mike and I flew into the wind SSW and overflew the old ICBM Missile Silos.  The wind speed increased dramatically with altitude.  Mike flew low and I flew 400 feet higher at a much lower speed.  For the first time I flew with the trimmers out and enjoyed the Eden III ‘s much crisper response.  On the return leg downwind I exceeded 50 mph.
After a short break I went up again.  The last several flights have all been higher wind and its been a good experience.  The Eden comes up fast and sometimes pulls the trike back a couple of feet in the process but with a smooth surface it feels natural.  The wing comes overhead … I ad throttle, start the roll and usually rotate within 50 feet.  On soft terrain (sand) or worse…. bumpy (pasture) it may not be so easy.  On this flight I stayed close to the patch and worked on steering.  It is still not as comfortable as the trike buggy because I do not have the same range of motion.  I don’t seem to have the power and it feels like I’m using different muscles.  I can’t quite put my finger on the difference but I’ll work on it.
Paul M arrived just before I finished the second flight, so I decided to go for three.  It was starting to get thermic and was most bumpy over by the farm houses so I flew out to the gun range and crabbed back to the LZ.  The winds at the surface were twitchy as hell and I had to go around twice before I felt good to land.  Two of the three landings I popped a wheeley after touch down.  Next time I’m NOT going to kill the engine at two feet but will either go in dead stick or under power and taxi.  It was a good day.

431 Snowflke at Sunset

Snowflake at sunset.

Tonight I added a back pad to see if it would solve the chest pain.  Nope… I was more upright but it also moved me closer to the risers which moved my arms back even farther.  It was a beautiful flight anyway, the winds were about the same as yesterday.  Nice smooth laminer air.

This is the problem …my arms are being pulled back 

Flying Easter Sunrise Service at Red Rocks

Flight 399 and the Big number 400
It was 27 degrees at 0600 hours. The skies were clear with no discernible breeze. I’d left the Falcon in the truck so it was just a matter of pulling on my cold weather gear and getting on the road. One of the best things about living with Chip is that Simms is only 5 minutes away. The field is looking better than it has in a couple of years. The heavy wet snows have packed the weeds down and other than a general bumpiness I’ve no complaints.
The first attempt was botched when the wing came up crooked. The breeze had picked up a bit and I missed the shift. When I set-up the second time I adjusted and took off without problem to the West. Looking at the wing I thought the brake lines looked wrong. One line (left inside) seemed unusually slack. I couldn’t see a problem and when I tried some input it reacted ok, but… it didn’t feel right so I turned back and landed by the truck. On the ground I still could not find a problem, so I re-set and launched. The air was good and did not feel as cold as I knew it was.
It was more comfortable with the seat positioned more upright but the brake lines are still too far aft. It pulls my arms back and stresses my shoulders. I’m not sure what the fix is…move the seat back… put some kind of line guide on the hang point rails. Maybe I just need to work on upper body strength. It’s better but there are still a few tweaks to get it right.
The Falcon was climbing great. At 3400 RPM I had 290 ft/min and when I adjust the prop a little more I’m sure that will improve. Considering that I was 300 RPM below optimum 375 ft/min should be attainable.
As I traversed Bear Creek Park it started to get bumpy. I had a clear view of Red Rocks, there were lots of cars in the parking lot but it didn’t look like a full house because the top 2/3rds of the seats were empty. It looked like the wind was going to pick up, there was a bank of hard blown clouds to the North. Concerned that I would get into a wind storm or strong turbulence from the up slope meeting the down slope…I decided to turn back so that I would be over home field if I needed to get down in a hurry. It would have been nice to buzz the amphitheater but no sense pushing it.
The landing was good; the wind had come up considerably with a gust that popped me up on final. Fortunately I had plenty of room and landed close to the truck.
This was a good thing to do. Getting ready yesterday and climbing out of bed before dawn occupied my mind giving me a little respite from the troubles that have been consuming my attention the past several months.

Colorado Falcon lands in Denver !

The rest of my universe is a total disaster but after months of waiting the Falcon has landed!
I can honestly say this was the first time I’ve smiled in 7 weeks. Pam the u-ship gal showed up an hour early and we unloaded in no time. Best of all she was able to take the Thumper back to Terry on her return trip. He will have it in the first days of Feb.
Quick observations
1. It has the best visibility of any of my previous trikes. I can see all points of the compass. For the first time I will be able to look back through the prop and it will be easy to check fuel level. It will be much easier to launch when I can see the wing inflate without using a mirror. It’s going to be great to be able to look behind and see in all the traditional blind spots. I’m thinking that it will be closer to the foot launch experience. The bucket seat puts you “out there” so… instead of being cocooned inside of a harness or low down in the trike buggy… you’ve got your ”knees in the breeze”, as Brett Cam would say. The forward rail is narrower and the front wheel is out of view which also reduces the “visible stuff” out in front. I’m really looking forward to flying this thing!

2. The bucket seat was a good option, designed for go carts it is very suitable for the Falcon. It fits my small frame great and I think bug guys will like it too. The side rails make great attachment points for the reserve and if I want I can mount a “saddle bag” on the other side for cameras, water, mini parachutes… toys.

3. The electric start was smooth but there is no optional pull start like the Briggs & Stratton. It’s not really an issue… since I never had to use the pull start on the Thumper. Terry relocated the ignition to a central point just forward of the bucket seat. Good move since the first thing I did with the side mount was to break the weld. It also does away with the pivoting arm that the switch was mounted to. Last spring I launched with the hang strap inside of the pivot arm. The strap stressed the arm and I killed the motor trying to sort it out.

4. It’s BIG ! With a 66 inch prop and one piece construction the rig is too big to get inside of my store…except for the front double doors. I can’t get it into the shop for hang testing. So… I’ll just have to stop at an elementary school on the way to my first flight. I probably should have had Terry make it so I could remove the cage but it’s not a big deal. I’ll cope.

5. The 5 point seat belt looks like it came off of a Russian tank. It’s 3 inch webbing with rough cast hardware. When I cinch it up I’ll be able to fly but I won’t be able to reach the GPS or do any weight shift. Most likely after the first few flights I’ll ditch the crotch and shoulder straps. The waist belt is very comfortable and I like the way it snug’s me into the bucket seat. The buckle is primitive but it is a good clean quick release. I’ll braid a lanyard to the Q.R. to make it easy to find in an emergency.

6. I was a little concerned about the wheels but the new mags are bigger than I thought, it will be no trouble rolling over the rough stuff with these babies. Also the rims are split which will make it easy to change out a flat. The front wheel is small so…I might have to use ramps on soft surfaces … Time will tell. I do like the reverse camber of the nose wheel. It will keep it tracking if I decide to be a jerk and take my feet of the pegs… :).

7. The battery came off during transport, so I secured it with zip ties and filled the gap in the battery tray with some stiff closed cell Styrofoam. It will probably benefit from one more Zip tie but it’s not going anywhere the way it is.

Pros and Cons of the Thumper

The Rocky Mountain Thumper
is a very different kind of Paramotor
Two months ago I traded in the beloved Simonini and became the proud owner of a Briggs and Stratton Trike buggy. The 4 stroke power plant was designed and built by Terry Lutke and the Flexfoil Trike was developed for PPG by Chad Bastion.

The biggest downside to going 4 stroke is the lack of fun things to do while not flying. Having spent the last 4 years immersed in this sport, I was comfortable with all the the wonderful little things that are a normal part of a PPG pilots life. The nights spent in the garage replacing compression springs or driving to the airport after dinner to pick up AV Gas. If I wasn’t searching the Internet for the best buy on Castrol TTS, I was waiting for the UPS man to deliver a 160 dollar starter sprocket. It seemed like I was either working on the maching or flying it.
For every minute in the air there was an equal or greater amount of time occupied with the care and feeding of my 2 stroke paramotor. If it was blowing…no problem, I have a pull starter to rebuild.


These days… things are different, because the heart of the “Thumper” is a Briggs & Stratton, twin V, 4 stroke motor. Thousands of these motors are built every year and the economy of scale makes it possible to produce a very affordable motor with excellent manufacturing tolerances and a beautiful fit and finish. They are designed to run 10,000 hours at peak horsepower, so it’s not unreasonable to expect to fly hundreds of hours with nothing more than an annual check-up and oil change. When necessary, parts and expert service are readily available at the local lawnmower repair. Gone are countless hours tinkering with the machine. No mixing fuel, exotic tools or translating owners manuals. Now ,when it’s too windy to fly, the best I can do is wish for better air. You still have to be ready for a “motor out” and have an emergency landing site within the glide slope but the reliability of this motor instills a confidence that allows for flights that would not have attempted before.

But…. When it is flyable, the thumper is always ready to go and the first thing you notice is the happy rumble of the Briggs & Stratton. On my first flight it was so quiet that I completely forgot the step where I put in the ear plugs and put on the helmet. I realized my mistake just as I was taking off and few seconds later so did everyone at the Salton Sea when my ball cap went through the prop. …..WAAK….ear protection is still necessary but with a four stroke power plant, noise is reduced by thirty percent or more. At cruise with the RPM’s reduced it would not be impossible to use a cell phone.
The next thing you notice is that the thumper doesn’t suffer from the constant vibration that plagues two stroke motors. Its eerie, when the prop is in balance and the motor is running for level flight, its possible to forget all about the power plant and enjoy the ride. Occasionally you will find a node on the power band that sets up a harmonic vibration, but it’s easy to bump up or down the RPMs to stay in the sweet spot. Flying a two stroke I was often ready to land at 45 minutes or an hour. Without the vibration I’m much more relaxed and feel like I’ll be able to fly as long as the gas and weather will permit. Cross country flights of 100 miles or more are certainly possible.
Not for the con…Only one so far…There isn’t the instant power you get with the Simonini. I won’t be able to fly the contour of the surface like I used to. This year when I fly the dunes it will be from 30 feet above the tops instead of down in between the dunes. Flying the Thumper is going to require anticipating my power needs. It might be better with a different wing and it’s going to be fun to try them out.