Repairs and Reconditioning

#939 Shell Creek Airpark

50 minutes clear skies …. Light breezes
This flight was the first after several modifications.
1) I raised the back of the seat and lowered the front.  I also put 2 inches of memory foam under the seat cover.  I’m trying to reposition my body so that the helmet will not contact with the cross brace (above the motor) and make it easer to reach the wing tip toggles.  
It worked but I’m not sure that it is the final solution.  The new seat position is a few inches forward of where I had it, putting more bend in my legs.  It’s not a problem when taxiing but it feels strange when I’m flying.  It has also reduced the size of the seat and its configuration.  Where the original seemed to wrap around me, this one feel likes I’m sitting on top.  I suspect it’s more perception than reality because I was just as exposed before this change….. it just feels like I’m, “hanging it out there”.  I think that I’m going to try it no pad and with the pad cut into two parts, seat and lumbar.
Never the less…. It worked.  My head was plenty clear of the crossbar and it was easy to reach the toggles.  Its definitely a step in the right direction.

To get a perspective, the back of the seat was touching the air intake pipes behind and below.

2)  I made was a new set of line keepers.  Over the last couple of months I’ve been having problems with lines being chopped.  In one instance for sure it was an outside wingtip line that was sucked in through the cage.  The other prop strikes … I saw lines below the keepers as the wing was inflating.  I don’t understand how slack lines were getting kicked out.  Even when I took care to position the lines in the keepers, in the same order that they would  leave, lines were being kicked out prematurely.  

The double loop is a bit artsy but the second loop puts a bit more pressure against the lines.  Hopefully this will keep slack outside lines under control until they are tensioned.  Aluminum tape covers the parts of the frame that the lines slide against including below the keeper in case one does go stray. There is electrical tape in the portion that hold the lines prior to inflation, it’s  slightly tacky and should protect against lines going slack between the hang-point and the keepers.
3) Belt has been replaced.  It was still serviceable but after 600+ hours, but what the heck?  I didn’t think it was slipping much … I could hear it squeal during take off and climb out occasionally but it never lasted long and the belt was never hot…..  I was wrong.  There is a noticeable increase in thrust and it is certainly quieter.

The flight was great.  I think the new configuration has moved enough weight forward that the front wheel is lower and the thrust line is more horizontal.  I will have to test it but my climb rate seems better and cruise RPM is lower.  This could be a huge improvement in efficiency.  It makes sense that a more horizontal thrust pushes me farther forward under the wing, increasing the angle of attack.  To think all these years I’ve been doing with a mediocre climb just so I could have my nose wheel a few inches higher.

Chase Camera Test #612 Vance Brand

Flash Gordon Chase Cam

It was blowing 8 to 10 when I got to the field.  The heavy snow from Monday had melted making it a little muddy but I thought it was doable.  I tied a bridal to the C lines in the middle of the right side of the wing.  The camera would come up and swing into the lines every time.  It was hard to tell if I had enough tether to get the camera flying in the right spot without going into the prop, but it looked right.

The launch was a mess.  The wind, that had been blowing hard, came down dramatically.   I set up the wing and took great care to prevent the camera from crossing any lines.  Well, … while I was setting up, the wind shifted. I wasn’t aware of it because, (like a dummy), I’d put up the wind sock by the truck instead of out where I could see it from the trike.  Needless to say the wing came up hard to the left and I had to abort.  I reset in nil wind.and blew it again because the wind had come up from the wrong direction just as I started my run.  This happened one more time before the wind settled down and I was able to get up.
I could see that the camera was flying off my right shoulder but I could also see that it was swinging left. and right.  The are was mixing and bumpy so maybe that was it.

When I got home and viewed the video the camera was positioned well but the swing was not acceptable.
Maybe Mike will have an idea when I visit him on Sat.

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.

#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.

Improved foot steering

The skies were ugly this afternoon so I used the time to try an idea I got from Johnny Fetz.
What I did was add a pulley to the foot steering line. It increases the travel by 50% it also increases the friction but I don’t think it will be a show stopper, I can hardly wait to see how it flies.

I had an e-mail conversation with Alex Varv yesterday he is sending me a set of filters for the airbox. NO CHARGE! Nice Guy.

Added some length to the tubing on the bungee holding the bottom of the air box to keep it away from the offending nut.

Flight #197

Simms LZ…..Light winds from the NE

30 minutes of smooth air…2 spectators. Because this was kind of a test flight I didn’t stray too far from the field. I did do a couple of low passes and it felt so good to be back in the sky!
I noticed that the left brake line is a tad shorter than the right one and will shorten the right.

Last night I took the critical tools and parts (spark plug and socket..wrenches…screw driver…safety wire…etc.) and mounted them to the Port side of the buggy with a bag desinged to be mounted under a bicycle seat. It seems to have helped balance the weight of the reserve.

The only problem was that the motor was a little hard to start at the first. After that it started on the first pull.

11th thru 18th

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

Paramotoring is the Art of Flying Nowhere Slowly

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

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

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

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

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

10th Flight

10th Flight
June 15, 2006

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