Epic X-Country

Port Charlotte to Lake Wales

Flights #995 #996

Falcon 4 stroke APCO LIFT EZ. LG. 31

Miles logged 85.1

Time. 2 hours 37 minutes

1000 feet

Ave 31 mph

Trimmers in neutral

It was Mike Lange’s birthday last week and the crew got together to celebrate. After dinner we were sitting around the dining table and, as usual, the topic of cross country came up,and as usual, it was Port Charlotte to Lake Wales. However, unlike every other time, it came to pass.

Bob was the key. Early in the week someone posted about flying and I came back, Friday morning. Nothing came from it until Thursday afternoon when I got a message from Mike L, “Looks like we’re going to make that flight tomorrow!”. For the rest of the day the texts and messages were flying. We crammed 3 months of musing into half a day. Routes, logistics, misgivings, reassurances all the typical issues were brought up and handled. At 10:00pm, just as the texts were starting to slow down, I was ready.

At 4:45 the alarm went off. I went through the usual rituals and hit the road. Then everything went to hell. We were to meet at the Orlando LZ and I got lost. Nothing looked right. I turned on Orlando and drove right past the LZ. When I realized I missed it I texted Mike and he said they were launching from Yorkshire instead. Yorkshire?, Yorkshire? I knew I’d flown from there recently but I couldn’t for the life of me, remember where it was. I was fishing on the nav app trying to figure it out when I got a text from Mike that they were going back to Orlando. I’d just been there so I pulled a u-turn and after 5 minutes of driving around and once pulling within 500 feet of the gang and turning around again, we finally hooked up. Luckily we planned the meet a little early and it was still nautical twilight.

Bob the Pilot Harrison says it best.


Adventure flight #1

Mike Lange and Otten hv bn wanting to fly a x/c for a while. Well all the gears aligned for a North Port to Lake Wales flight via Avon Park Wally World for a slushie of all things.

We all gathered at Mike Lange’s house to reconfigure the chase vehicle. Meeting Joe at the LZ for a 06:45 departure.

Except for departing at sea level, it was a maximum effort takeoff having calm winds, high humidity/Temp and heavily laden with fuel, energy drinks and granola bars. Mike Otten kited my wing up nicely with a longer run than usual, then foot dragged half a football field mowing a new path in an already mowed grass median, eventually easing into the air. We weren’t sure if he was going achieve positive rate for gear up or a high speed face plant. Mike Lange and Joe Onofrio kited their wings into lifting position and were off with a bit longer runs.

I had programed road crossings into my GPSTest app for course monitoring. Was a bit of a challenge to keep up utilizing back country roads.

The Wally World stop was like adding an exclamation point to the adventure for Mike and Mike, I think Joe is still scratching his head. 😉 It was an open mowed lot with low obstructions for normal takeoffs. We used the philosophy of asking for forgiveness rather than permission, we used neither, so we’ll save it for next time.

On takeoff Mike Lange let the fast inflating Hadron XX get ahead of him, experiencing a 1/3 collapse, he kept the flying side straight while the other reinflated, throttled up and liftoff. Joe’s wing had a little waddle to it in the beginning. He straightened it out in taxi and throttled up.

Mike Otten controlled the wing nicely but didn’t have a normal takeoff. After mowing another path through already mowed grass, he had to add heavy right brake to counter a sharp left turn after liftoff while navigating between two oak trees a light pole while NOT stalling a strange wing. That took a level head and skill. Once through the obstructions he circled around to the left for another landing.

Mike was flying my APCO Lift and forgot to clear the four control lines or verify their proper connections. The L/Tip steer toggle was either wrapped around the risers or snapped into the brake snap causing an aggravated left turn.

Mike lange and Joe Onofrio were in a holding pattern until the event was over. I must say using radio communications, keeps everyone in the loop for changes and normal decision making.

The rest of the flight was a non event. They landed with fuel to spare at the AviatorPPG facilities located on Lake Wales airport. Jon allowed us vehicle access to load gear. After which we shop talked over lunch at the Depot restaurant downtown Avon Park before heading home.

Looking forward to the next cross country flight.

Bob the Chase Pilot


I’m afraid that my 1000th flight is probably going to be a let down. The last three flights have been fantastic! The weather has been remarkably cooperative. I look forward to the winter sun and longer flight windows.

Above solar farm … Below our pit stop LZ

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.

East Springs Airport *** Flight #283 & #284

East Springs Airport

Is a little farther east than Meadow Lake or the Soccer LZ but it’s a nice place to fly. There is one long North West runway with a dirt taxi way. The only people flying were us…no ultralights and no GA, just Matt…Kevin…Jerry…Alex…John…Shad and I with a half a dozen spectators thrown in for spice.

There was a fresh 5 to 8 mph breeze from the north, I set-up and was off the ground 5 minutes after arriving. I’ve been looking forward to flying here because I wanted to try the Eden III 28m at altitude and knew that I would need a long smooth place with lots of room for the climb-out and this was perfect. Even with a nice headwind the climb was poor. Never over 1oo ft/min and on the second launch I was only 25 ft/ min for a long time.

But …the Eden III was wonderful!
I could feel the wing so much better and the turns were smooth and much tighter. I didn’t try any hard carving but was able to get into nice banking turns with moderate brake. I expected that I would have to use a huge amount of brake pressure …thats what I remembered from the last flight at the Salton Sea, but it wasn’t much different than flying the Simonini. It just felt good and I’m going to hurry and get a new high altitude wing.

If I’m going to fly the Eden I’m going to need to lengthen the hang straps enough for the trimmers to be above the hang point. I wasn’t able to let them out today because they were friction locked on the safety webbing.

I spent an hour flying a right hand pattern around the airport… running south at 45 mph and then doing a low and slow into the wind above the taxiway. I never got really low because of ground turbulence but it was good practice. For a little while I chased a pronghorn and two coyotes but the real excitement came after the flying was over.

The second flight was short and sweet. I launched with Kevin’s help into 8 to 10 mph wind. The Eden came up clean and after clearing the north end of the runway I hauled ass back to the south end. It was blowing much stronger a couple of hundred feet up and it looked like it was going to continue to build so I turned for final. The landing was great, not exactly vertical but I was modulating the throttle and activly flying the wing to keep into the wind and under the wing. After I killed the motor I sat in the buggy and kited for awhile. Unfortunently I was paying so much attention to the wing that I didn’t notice that I was rolling backward. The next thing I knew the buggy was being hauled to the right by Kevin and the wing was pulling to the right.

the wing won…and I rolled over.

I should have killed the wing as soon as possible but I don’t think I realized how strong the wind was and it’s probable that I would have experienced a real incident if I’d yanked on the brakes. I hate to think what would have happened if I’d been flying the PowerPlay. I remember a couple of times that when I went to delate the wing the brakes would go so far and then no amount of pressure would buy me more imput.

Thanks Kevin…I didn’t realize the situation I’d put myself in … your quick action turned it into a so-mo roll instead of serious damage.

Terry…Your cage is stronger than I thought…it wasn’t misshapen at all!

Albuquerque Fly In The Trike Buggy

#46 & #47
June 9th 2007 Albuquerque New Mexico

After waiting 3 days for the weather to cooperate I’ve evolved to the trike. It is so much better on so many levels that it’s going to take a book to list them all. Of course the best thing is that you do not have to run with the damn motor on your back! But…That’s just the beginning. Instead of struggling to get into the harness with three buckles and lots of adjustments followed by the hassle of getting to your feet with the the motor threatening to quit if you bend over too much all you do is sit down and buckle the seat belt. On inflation it’s easy to look up at the wing and when it’s overhead you can look at the mirror between your legs. AND Landing…It’s a dream…all you do is idle the motor and when you’re a couple of feet up, flare and you glide in as smooth as a feather. It’s too easy!
The Albuquerque Fly-in was a good opportunity to meet a great bunch of pilots but it wasn’t the best weather for flying. I spent some time talking with Chad and a lot of time looking over the FreshBreeze Simonini Trike Buggy.
This machine is no stranger to flying, there are lots of chips and scratches, it’s not too clean and there are some distortions in the cage from being rolled. My biggest concern was a sprocket that the electric starter turns. The teeth are half chewed and I’m not sure if that’s the way it is or if I’m going to have to replace it someday soon. However it does have an electric starter as well as a pull start, the prop is carbon fiber, the whole unit seems solid and sound and Chat will trade my 24 meter Eden III for a Eden III 28. I was intimidated by the bigger motor with lots more wires and connections but I figured I had learned to work on the snap and I could master this machine too. So I loaded it into the pick-up and drove home a “Trike Pilot”.

19th & 20th Baja Seasons

19th & 20th BAJA SEASONS!

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

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