971 Peachland

Winds from the south west.  Abbreviated flight due to vibration on the port side cage.   It was pretty dramatic, I looked back to check fuel and the outer cage rings and the tubing was vibrating like a concert grand bass string.   I’m thinking it’s prop balance…. possibly more… the bad weld that was repaired with gorilla tape perhaps.  I couldn’t spend any time with it today but will have to before the next flight.     I did find the Lake Suzi Airstrip.  It looks doable.

970 Peachtree LZ

It’s been too long.  I wasted a couple of weeks trying to re-establish clearance to fly at Shell Creek Airfield.  As of now I’m awaiting word from one of the landowners who is having a waiver drafted.   And, the weather has turned, we are past the winter and experiencing a dry but breezy period.  Either way it had been too long.  I wasn’t in any danger of forgetting how to fly….but it’s more fun when your skills are sharp.  Especially when your launching at an unfamiliar field.

This morning was just fine.  Dawn had an early flight so we were both up by 5:45.  There was nothing on weather radar and the winds were 7 at Placida.  I didn’t get out of the house early enough to make the drive around the Harbor to Placida so I crossed over the Peace River on I-75 and set up at Mike’s home field at Peachland.  

The surface was slower than I liked and a dense ground fog obscured the patches of weeds and occasional irrigation trench.  There was a very slight flow from the South West so I drove to the North East end of the field.  I was met by some dog trainers who met me and moved to the other side of the field.  By the time (10 min.) I was set up and ready, the ground fog had mostly burned off.  The wing came up clean and I quickly climbed to 1000 feet and turned north to follow I-75 for awhile.  With trims at neutral I was penetrating at 20 mph.  The air was smooth but I could see the clouds moving toward me and the beginnings of virga so I turned back at the 20 minute mark and scooted back just under 50 mph.  It was interesting that there was a pronounced layer with the wind almost 180 degrees opposed but in neither the accent or the decent did I feel the transition.  No Drama….  and it was good to get back into the air.

I finished off the flight with coffee and pastry at the top deck on Fishermans Village.

969. Shell Creek

I never thought I’d jump out of a plane but there is a time and place for everything.

Today is the birthday of my beautiful first borns.  I had to do something to celebrate….        so I flew …….like a rock.

This was under a chute but it was a tandem skydive instead of the usual PPG.  I had met my instructor, Carlos, a couple of days ago when I stopped at the field to drop off a waiver.  Actually we had been waving to each other from across the LZ for a couple of years while I  was packing up from a flight and he was opening the Skydiving Business.  Talking with him I got the idea that the best way to retain my rights at Shell Creek was to let the people get to know me.  So… I booked a jump.

Everything went off perfectly.  After a 10 minute video explaining the rights I was signing away with the waiver and a 5 minute orientation with Roy on how to exit the plane we were ready to go.  I was the first to board and sat facing back behind the pilot.  Carlos sat opposite me and two other jumpers sat by the door.  It took about 15 minutes to climb through a layer of cumulus to 13,000 ft.  The other guys exited first and Carlos and I took position at the door.  He gave me two rocking moves and on the third, we were out.  I’m not sure I had my arch just right but we stabilized quickly and he tapped my shoulder to indicate that I could release the harness and use my hands to steer.  I have to admit that I was looking at my hands, and his, more than the scenery.  It was surprisingly easy to turn just by using my hand like a rudder.  I was just about to experiment with pitching down when he pulled the chute.  

I was expecting to be jerked but the chute didn’t inflate that quickly,  in fact, Carlos had to use some brake to get one side open.  The decent was a blast.  The first thing we did was pull full brake to make sure the lines were running free.  Then we pulled some hard spirals.  I was surprised by the huge amount of pressure and length of pull required to get some response.  I could barely hold it in the full drawn position and even then I think he was helping me.  So we did a few turns.  Nothing too dramatic but I guess it was unusual for a first time jumper to go for a second and third spiral.  The landing was quick we overshot by a couple of feet and I came down gently on my butt, as requested.

On landing I was greeted by a group of 70 somethings who had obviously been jumping for years.  My response to, “How wiz it?” Was, “Its like flying a school bus!”  That got a few laughs and we chatted a bit more while we stripped off our gear.  Anne presented me with a certificate and advised me to drive carefully on the way home.

A good time was had by all… and I think there will be no problems with securing the rights to fly my rig at Shell Creek Airpark.


not really but almost …..Cross Country #967

Beautiful calm morning
59 degrees
3-4 ENE
1hour 36 minutes
53.9 miles
avg altitude 1000 ft.

Great Flight!  My definition of a cross-country is launching at one place and landing at another.  It is usually a longer flight.  Well this wasn’t officially a cross country but it did cover some miles.

After the blowout at Lake Wales it was a pleasure to get in a nice long flight.  I followed a triangle course from Shell Creek to Arcadia Airport and back via Red Neck Yacht Club and Tracks and trails.
No Drama….
The most interesting feature was Carlstrom Field. It was built in the early part of the last century to train pilots for WWI and later WWII.  Back in the day it sported a circular runway for the old bi-planes.  Imagine that?
Over the years it was a juvenile detention facility and insane asylum.  After being abandoned for several years it was sold for 2 million dollars to a motor sports company who were going to use it for a rally car track.  I did see one video on YouTube of a little rice burner, tearing around the abandoned buildings.  The asphalt roads are in poor shape, too narrow and not laid out for good racing.  From the air it looked much better.  Maybe they are going to spend some money and do it up. I’ll bet the old runway would be fun for a few laps.


Icarus Florida 2017

The Icarus Trophy is a paramotor race by The Adventurists in the U.K. 

Mike Lange and I were raring to go.  I spent the better part of a week going over the course looking for gas stops close to reasonable landing zones.  It looked doable …. scary … but doable.  To prepare for the challenges of long x-country I added a few pieces to the kit; a collapsible 5 gallon fuel container, a light weight sleeping bag and space blanket, a wing bag and small tool kit.    Finally I mounted my camelbac on the left of the seat.  It would serve two purposes, keep me hydrated and provide pockets for emergency food and misc. stuff.  It all fit nicely under and around the seat and would cover the most obvious needs.  My reserve was out of certification so I borrowed Tony Littell’s for the weekend.  I was ready.

When we arrived at the Avaitor HQ in Lake Wales, it was blowing like stink and raining.  Eric Farewell and Travis Burnes have put together the best and most professional PPG school in America.  Located at the Lake Wales Municipal Airport they have everything necessary to safely teach powered paragliding.   HQ is a great little building  that serves as classroom, showroom and shop.  It’s clean, well organized and hospitable.  Most impressive was the semicircle of posh recliners in the in front of a large flat screen and whiteboard.  Bravo!

The briefing was at 6:00p.  Mike and I sat in recliners and chatted with the other competitors while we waited.  Everybody was psyched but a little disappointed by the weather.  Tomorrow was looking bad, the winds were expected to be NE 10mph at dawn and building through the day.  Shane started the meeting on time with the disclaimer that this was an unsupported race and that the weather could be a show stopper.  We went over the course and they pointed out several things I’d missed in my own prep.  I was especially glad for Eric’s  knowledge  of the area.  He pointed out a few places that I thought I’d like to fly to, if not during the race then another time.  After the briefing, a few myself included, had resolved not to fly in the morning.  I was fairly confident about getting up and could probably penetrate the wind to the first waypoint but I didn’t like the idea of landing in 20+ mph at Valkaria Airport.  

That evening we went to the fish house for dinner.   While we munched conch fritters and grouper it became clear who was serious and who was casual.  Some of the pilots came completely unprepared, expecting  race management to provide everything needed to race the course.  Others were more like Mike and I with eyes wide open but slightly glazed over.  At the end of the meal, there was no question Johnson Qu and Trey German were the real competitors for this race.   Trey had competed last year in the big race and was favored but Johnson was the “hungry new guy” looking to win.  I could see him on a real TV show charming the audience.  Either one……They were prepared and fearless, they had it down, every possible stop and contingency seemed to be covered.  Confident, young and immortal.

It was a beautiful warm morning.  The winds were exactly as expected.  It was flyable at Lake Wales and not so much upwind at Palm Bay.  Mike went up for a quick flight and proclaimed it, ” not fun”.  That iced it for me.  Maybe this afternoon I would be able to shoot for the first waypoint but not this morning.  I asked Eric if he had any quick release carabiners which would have allowed me to “dump the wing”, in the case of a high wind landing.  Unfortunately it’s not exactly the kind of accessory people keep around.  Before I attempt another x-country I’m going to “get me sum”!

Trey and Johnson launched without incident.  Travis launched his drone and followed Johnson until he was out of range, about 5 miles.  A broke out a box of Rice Crispy treats and handed them out to the spectators.  Matt Minyard put on an aerobic show for the crowd finishing with a beautiful streamer flight.

The noon forecast was for more of the same.  

I never launched, it was just too dangerous to attempt landing in 20+mph.

Kudos to the winners!

Here is Trey’s write up.