I saw God Today #350 & #351 Chatfield

Lucky guy

Intermediate syndrome is an affliction that usually affects a pilot after 40 or 50 flights, or whenever they first start to feel good about their abilities.

It’s characterized by over confidence in both man and machine and it usually leads to a blunder that endangers life. It could present itself in any number of ways… an error in judgement, or a bad reaction to Mother Nature. It might be technique or a mechanical issue. Whatever the cause, if the pilot survives the incident…he should think real hard about either quitting or redoubling his efforts to improve.

It might be time to go to a maneuvers clinic or have some quality radio time with a good coach. It’s absolutely a good day to go over the machine and wing with a fine tooth comb.

Optimistically, there is an epiphany that stays with the pilot for the rest of their career, because on that day… the bag of luck is now half empty and the bag of experience is not yet full.

When I realized that my life was being supported by a glorified key

chain and some thin 1/2 inch webbing…

I thanked the Creator that I was still alive.

Then I looked for the best way,

to proceed to earth…

as directly as possible.

I’m still shaking my head trying to figure out how it happened.I attached the riser on the left side to the cheap plastic beaner that I use for the foot steering instead of connecting to the heavy stainless beaner that ties the wing to the buggy. I didn’t realize my mistake until I noticed that the foot steering cable was pressing against my left side. When I saw that the rig was being supported by a glorified key chain and thin 1/2 inch webbing…I couldn’t believe that I was still alive. Not only was the beaner unrated and not designed to carry a load, the loop it was attached to was loaded against the stitching. There were two places where a failure was imminent. Looking at the materials it should have failed when I loaded the wing before take-off …and… I wish it had. It would have been more dramatic and made a bigger impression but it wouldn’t have killed me. As it was a non-incident, I hope that the magnitude of the error sticks with me.

I had to get down …right now! I was 400 feet AGL and about the correct distance to glide back to the field, so I did a slow flat turn toward the field and landed without incident.

What were the causes that lead to this huge goof ?

1. I had switched to the Eden III which does not require the extra loop of webbing to get the hangpoint right. When it is configured this way the hangpoint loops are not long enough to reach the normal keeper on the bullet bars. So…I end up attaching the beaner to a loop on the foot steering for transport.

2. I must not have had enough coffee because it is almost impossible to imagine an alert mind attaching a plastic carabiner to the riser. It is so much more difficult to thread the correct carabiner that it should have set off alarms when that slim plastic beaner tip slipped through the loop so easily. The length was about right and when I pulled on the riser to take out any slack, it pulled the hangpoint loop just as if it were correctly attached.

I thought perhaps I should move the foot steering forward on the bullet bars to get them away from the hang point straps, but I don’t think I’ll do that. Having the webbing behind my shoulders is cleaner and I doubt I’ll ever look at the foot steering again without remembering the day I hung from a cheap 2 inch plastic carabiner.

This is the first real stupid mistake I’ve made in PPG and certainly the first one that endangered my life! I was deeply affected by the experience, and it was heavy on my mind for several days. I will strive to learn from this and be a more responsible pilot.

I vote for better pilot.

#316 & #317 Meadowlake Airport

Perfectly calm morning! Jerry, Kevin and I delayed taking off for 30 minutes, while we watched Robert (John’s new student) attempt his first flight. No Joy but one hell of an attempt. after two aborted inflations, he got it up ok and was running with the wing stable overhead. Jerry commented that he was a little hesitant on the throttle and I could hear it running up and down. So…Robert got up some speed and was looking good when he jumped into his harness and started to come back down. Amazingly he went to his knees and managed to get back up and keep going without loosing control of the wing. After running right up to the edge of the cut grass he launched and climbed to 10 feet and let off the gas…., eventually coming down too fast to stay on his feet but not so bad that he was injured. Maybe a few bruises but thats it. He’s almost there. Probably next time.
I launched and flew for 40 minutes mostly down low. Jerry came alongside and we explored the north and east side of the area. It was a huge pleasure to fly low and I felt very comfortable. Cruise RPM was about 3200 to 3400 where the vibrations and noise are considerably reduced. Just a great little flight!

#317 was shorter and it was starting to get thermal, I landed before It was even close to being an issue. The wind was picking up above 150 feet where I was only able to penetrate at 8 mph. Coming down to 75 feet I was moving along at 17. Both landings I came in under power to very soft touch downs. Then, Jerry went up in Johns U-turn and seemed to like it… “mostly benign but when you “got on it” the wing became sporty”.

Later we went to Carl Jr’s for a bite and debrief.
Jerry over our freshly cut LZ


PPG News:

A fellow named Alex is trying to get a google Map PPG site going


…It could be great if the bugs get worked out…Stay tuned

Flight 270 Simms

The wind speed chart shows moderately high & gusty winds from the south south east. Sunset was at 7:00pm.

Very short flight. The predicted weather was to be 5 mph from the east but I got 10 to 12 gusting to 15-18 from the south. It came down a bit (see Weather chart) , I launched and did one lap before landing by the truck. There were a few issues.

1. It’s not a tumble weed…it’s tangle weed.

Wind from the south caused me to set up at the North end, by Hampden…It’s 500 yards and and a hassle. You have to push the buggy uphill and across the grain of a dense tangle of dry weeds. They are bone dry and flat to the earth…They are like a bunch of tumble weeds that had been run through the laundry… full dense branches 24 to 36 inches long and waiting to get hooked up in the lines. It reminded me of the first days of learning how to ground handle at Brian Smith’s home field. I tried kiting like I had been over at the truck but it wasn’t much fun. Every inflation the wing picked up a few branches and I spent way too much time “de-weeding the wing” and throwing the debris down wind. I suppose the good thing was that I realized the potential for fouling the wing and searched out the least congested spot to set up for launch.

2.When I powered up the buggy bogged down. It was almost a replay of the last flight of the Simonini. The wing came right up in the prop wash but the trike wasn’t moving…I threw my weight back and forth like a toddler on a play toy …luckily, first time…the buggy broke loose and began to accelerate. While this is happening I was watching the PPS start to fold …and just before gravity took over it miraculously re-inflated. The take off was crisp and the climb was better. Launching into a wind with this machine is kinda nice.

BUT… I could have done without the pucker of
imagining my wing getting sliced and diced by # 60
inch Ivo steak knives.
Once up…The air was mixing and rowdy…I decided to land right away…It might have been allot better 800 or 1000 feet higher… but it didn’t feel good… so I landed. The good news was that I set final approach for the truck and came in beautifully. The bad news was that I didn’t mash the throttle do a touch and go and fly for a couple of more minutes.

While I was packing up, it sure seemed flyable, but those are the breaks the weather was too marginal to hassle with the weeds for the last few minutes of light.

Note to self:

When you are launching on softer soil, push the buggy back and forth over the first few yard of runway to smooth the surface and prevent getting the wheels into a rut during the critical first second of power.

265 266 Vance Brand Airport

Biggest gathering of Denver area Pilots in a couple of years.
Paul Meyer Paul Crazy Ivan Marek Dan Robert Kitilla His son Mark Bennet Some spectators and maybe one or two who’s names I cannot recall.
Plus that’s not all…Wait there is MORE. Three flights of Scoop Divers.

I should have expected some weirdness when the temp dropped from 57 in Denver to 45 at Vance Brand. there were light winds from the North at 3:00. The first flight was ok …a little bumpy but ok.

I had to taxi for longer than usual to get off and the climb out seemed slow. First thing I noticed was that the left Brake line was bound in the risers. I was able to free it without problem since

nothing was crossed …just friction locked.

Max climb was 170 ft / min. I noticed that several of the guys were setting down so I did too. The landing was a bit hard. I killed the motor to0 soon or late and swung under the wing. No damage just didn’t look good. If I’m going to come in dead stick I should decide sooner than 10 feet.
Second Flight was a real pucker. After I set-up, the wind shifted. Rather than re-set I waited and launched when the cycle came around to me. The wing came up much better without the “A” Assists. This time I climbed at 180ft/min When I got to 1200 feet it started to get bumpy and I was climbing at 300ft/min! Even at idle I was still climbing over 100ft/min.
What a ride! The wing was alternately surging and falling back and a couple of times I found myself in a hard bank and starting to get weightless. It was one of those times that you can feel the wind shifting by the way it feels on your face. I was no longer flying in a stable mass of air..It was a good thing that I didn’t have the full height of pad behind me because the extra visibility came in handy to be able to watch the wing. There were several forward surges and while I never saw the trailing edge …it was hairy enough. I think that I was perhaps a little timid on the brakes because I couldn’t feel the wing and the forces working on it. I was contemplating Big Ears when I finally started to descend. I think I was in the worst of it for 3 or 4 minutes and I made the mistake of turning back into it again before I figured out that it was the west end of the box that was being pulled into the clouds…..NO FUN!
The good news is that the landing was better, I left the motor running and came in at idle.
I’ve found a better position to hold the throttle but it is still hard get fine control of the RPM’s. I look forward to using an FB throttle again!
The next time I see lenticular clouds I’m going to think twice. The didn’t seem to be moving but were hanging there sucking up the warmth.
Looking at the profile I was just getting into the nasty stuff when I decided to land on the first flight. It’s probably why I took one look at everybody landing and decided to do the same. The guys that stayed below 300 feet had very little turbulence but there were high winds aloft and the clouds were sucking the warm air from below…Big time…Maybe it was a clue when it got warm about 4:20. (from 45 to 50 plus in about 10 minutes. Be Aware when the temp is fluctuating…And watch out when there are lenticular clouds and signs of high winds aloft !
Later on the ground we stood around and it was so obvious to all of us, that it was ugly at altitude.

Today’s lessons…
1. Watch out when the temp is bouncing around especially if there are lenticular clouds.
2. To Hell with A Assists!
3. Ease the throttle cable
4. Don’t kill the motor at low altitude just to have the prop stopped when you land… come in under power and grease it.

#190 & #191

Simms….70 degrees….light breeze from ENE shifting to NE under light cloud cover

Marek had a hard time making up his mind and when he did decide to fly, he “tweaked his back on a very very long run out. I flew for awhile 15 -20 minutes and landed shortly after I saw Marek land. He was being chatted up by some guy that stopped to watch. Seemed like an OK guy ….Biker”.
After a few minutes of chat the wind had come down to almost nothing so I decided to go up again. The wing came up fine but the buggy was having a hard time getting started, I had to do a Fred Flintstone to get it started but I was too late the glider unloaded and did a frontal. I aborted but the wing came down nicely behind and from the pressure on the risers it felt evenly spread so I grabbed the “A”s” and relaunched without even getting out of my seat. Marek said it looked great. Next time I fly Simms I’ll add a little air to the tires and see if that helps the buggy get started
It was a beautiful flight! Just a few mild bumps to keep me honest.I don’t know why but I didn’t let the trimmers out for the whole flight. Looking back I wished I had because I was paying allot of attention to the way the glider didn’t want to turn into the wind. If I’d just thought about it I could have eased the trim and it would have been a nice sporty ride. But…it was slow and mushy and sometimes mushy is OK.
I spent the last 15 minutes doing touch and goes and flying low and slow. I think I circled the field 5 times before I decided to land. Once in awhile the conditions are right to go to the end of the field and float 2 or 3 feet above the earth all the way to the end.
I learned a good trick on landing. I came in cross the wind about 20 degrees and as soon as I touched down I turned into the wind and used brake to keep the wing turning with me. It will be handy when the LZ is not lined up perfectly for an into the wind approach.

Flights 66 thru 70

#66 & #67 Aug 18, 2007 Simms
Wonderful flight…I took off into 3-4 knots and flew west to Red Rocks Park. I didn’t go right up to the Amphitheater because it was after a hot day and I thought there might be hot air rising off the Rock mixing with cool air flowing down from the mountains. It is definitely a place to come for a sunrise flight. So I played it safe and climbed 2600 agl and checked out Bandamire Speedway and Red Rocks from on high.

#68 &69 Aug 19, 2007 Simms
Chip and I waited 45 minutes watching a scary bank of clouds over the foothills the winds were 8 to 12 mph and I didn’t think we were going to fly but very quickly the winds died and the cloud band broke up. It was amazing it was there and 5 minutes later it was gone. One thing of note was that I did my first Touch and Go on the second flight. Despite the scary looking sky earlier it was relatively smooth everywhere.

#70 Aug 22, 2007 Chatfield
Nice long flight! I’ll always remember this one because as I was coming back I saw lightning coming from Blue Sky. More on that later. I took off at 6:30 am with the wing coming from the South. After climbing 2000 ft AGL I headed south following Roxborough Rd. until I go into some turbulence that was being kicked off of Wildcat Mountain which is really only a little cone that sits along about 1 mile east of the hogbacks. So I turned east for a ways and then continued south until I was over Sedalia. This is really beautiful country. The homes are widely spaced and fabulous, the term estate better describes it. Some were Tuscon others were French chateus and there were a few plain old ranch houses. This was my farthest afield yet and when I got to Sedalia damn if the wind hadn’t turned 180˚, so, I was fighting a headwind all the way back. For a bit I was worried that I was going to have to “land out” until I dropped 500 feet and was better able to penetrate.
As I was approaching the LZ I was looking at blue sky ahead and all was well…then out of nowhere lightning struck in front of me. I didn’t loiter over the field like I had planned instead I checked the windsock and set it down on the first pass. While I was packing up the wing it started to rain with great big drops, not enough to get me wet, just a few minutes and then it was gone. I guess next time I’ll make it a point to check my six once in awhile.

51 thru 64th

#51 July 12, 2007 Chatfield
#52 July 13, 2007 Chatfield
#53 July 14, 2007 Chatfield
#54 July 16, 2007 Chatfield
#55 July 21, 2007 Chatfield

#56 July 22, 2007 Simms and Hamden
First time at this site. Good country with a golf course a state park and just a hop over to Red Rocks. The air was real bumpy so I just did a couple of laps and set it down.

#57 July 24, 2007 Chatfield
Great flight! Over an hour …went to 8230 ft AGL…Flew west between the hogbacks this was the farthest I’ve gone from the LZ.

#58 July 29 2007 Chatfield
Beautiful morning flight…flew south past the King Soopers. I had to move east because the air was bumpy near the foothills.

#59 July 31, 2007 Chatfield
Flew all the way around the lake, got some good video of the corn maze

#60 August 6, 2007 Chatfield

#61 August 8, 2007 Chatfield
7-10 knots highest wid yet on the buggy…dead stick landing.

#62 August 12, 2007 Chatfield
Dan Kamisar Monte Flemming Marek and I….Bumpy air short flight.

#63 Aug 13, 2007
High winds…Launched with the trimmers out…it worked just fine.

#64 & 65 Aug 14, 2007 Chatfield
First launch was so sloppy I landed and tried it again. On the first launch I went to full power before the wing was stable and I took off with a 30˚ yaw. The good news was that I was turning to the right with the torque so I just went with the turn and climbed out. On my second attempt I consciously kept off the throttle until the wing was good and stable. When it was time to land the wind had come up and my final approach was very steep.

Flights 21 to 33

9/4/06 #21
The morning of the wet wing… Strange takeoff “Lift no Lift” run out.

9/06/06 #22 Great Flight …Saw one man personal Balloon by the Swim beach… going farther afield

9/12/06 Incident with equipment damage

The whole fam damily showed up to watch a flight and I blew it when I got a wrap around the left hand and fell on takeoff. The wing came up good but started to turn during the run. I popped up briefly but came down immediately to the left side, breaking equipment and injuring my knee and wrist.

#23 9/25/06 Most Excellent Flight!
Got video of the whole thing…Including John Sieb’s exploding “cheap Mexican” propeller.

#24 9/28/06 Lots of People some didn’t fly. Sunset with layers of cold air mixing and causing bumps

#25 10/06/06 Short lap and landing after noticing a half twist in the risers

#26 10/13/06 Flew till out of gas . Pulled lots of break with no power and experienced quick turn and rapid decent Poor landing

#27 10/23/06 Clint Murphy was observing from home field…great to see him
Tweaked knee on run out

#28 11/03/06 Short flight Perfect takeoff and landing..Some virga scared me down…using knee brace all the time. video of landing is good and later ended up on my Ipod.

#29 11/8/06 Good flight …Broke exhaust bracket…exhaust was clipping prop.

#30 11/19/06 So So flight butt landing

#31 11/22/06 High winds Experienced extreme crabbing of the wing..Good reverse good landing

#32 11/25/06 Good long flight

No Fly Day 12/08/06 Rookie mistake… Jumped into sky …Broke prop and bent Frame…This was the end of my first season. It would be a long time till I flew again.

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.