Grounded

A surprise attack of Diverticulitis in November has grounded me. I have taken the opportunity to have a new paramotor built and will resume asap.

This is the first time in 15 years of blogging that there has been a significant gap between posts. The majority of the time lost has been consumed with the Diverticulitis Attack, resulting surgeries and recoveries. While this topic may be interesting to some , it holds interest for me, only because it is my body. Intellectually I appreciate that I must learn what’s going on but I have no desire to share and or revisit the experience.

In a nutshell….

I’ve got more portholes and thru- hulls than a than a 1980s McGregor. I was hoping that the last surgery would be the end of it but I won the
“5 percent of patients” award and earned another 4 months of bio-mechanical plumbing. All I can say is that if this had to happen ….. now is the time because I’m not missing anything. I’m not complaining because … The whole freaking world is having a bad year.

So… with that out of the way, there are some very good things that have happened and deserve to be included in the blog for myself and posterity. Primarily, Dawn and I took an Epic Cruise in Europe. I will put together a write up.

#1027 Placida

Nice flight. I managed to leave the house without my phone or IPad.

ITS JUST NOT SMART TO FLY WITHOUT A LIFELINE!

So…. I satisfied myself with a few laps around the patch, watching the birds and a couple of kayaks fishing in the backwaters.

Takeoff and landing were picture perfect. The wind was very light and turned to be a downwind launch at the last minute. I could feel the wing going slack as it passed through the prop wash but my forward speed exceeded the wind quickly. The rotation and climb-out were normal.

No devices means, no pictures or pretty flight tracks on google earth.

Nuff said.

#1026

Hooked up with Mike Nelson. There were multiple cells and one boomer offshore. We both flew about 30 minutes and set down due to impending weather. On the way out of the Meadows I got a little sprinkle and a “blue sky shower” at the Malachi bridge.

The air was great below 500 feet and moderately bumpy above.

#1025

Nice.

Cross wind take off and landing, 10mph steady from the SE.

Rowdy near the surface but butter above 300 ft. After the flight I spent 45 minutes kiting in moderately difficult conditions. Good workout.

#1023

Placida with Alvaro.

Light wind from West at Launch. Wing came up nicely so I kept off the brakes and really built up speed allowing the wing to reach trim speed before lifting off.

We flew Gasparilla Island. I mostly stayed high except for a a portion of the beach run. Ground speed out was 21 or 22 knots and return was 47 or so.

Winds had picked up considerably at the LZ upon return. After a nice touch and go

Alvaro took the opportunity to catch a reverse and got off twice. Two and a half years in the saddle and looking good.

Tony’s Incident Report

This Report was compiled from information gleaned from sheriff reports and interviews of eyewitnesses. It also contains information received from pilots who knew and flew with Tony.

PPG accident 18 May 2019 Arcadia, FL

This was 61 year old Tony Littell who passed away in a PPG accident on the 18th morning of May 2019. Tony received initial instruction from USPPA instructor Joe Onofrio between July – September 2016. Tony was signed off to take the USPPA written test though never did. A few weeks later Joe and Tony met. Joe discovered that Tony had been flying on his own. Tony decided not to continue with USPPA training, Instead he self trained.

Bob Harrison a local PPG pilot collected information from another PPG pilot, who arrived minutes after the accident. The other PPG pilot also flew that day in the same area without knowledge of Tony’s flight. He new of but had never flown with Tony. Bob had also collected information from a non-PPG pilot who was an eyewitness to the accident and first on scene.

This is what I assume:

Tony was flying straight and level between 200-300 feet AGL when the left side of the paraglider let go completely. This initiated a high speed vertical descent as noted in the picture showing heavy left side impact damage compared to minimal damage on the right. This supports a rapid descent corroborating the left side of the paraglider released.

I believe the power lines were missed. With only a few seconds before ground impact, Tony removed his reserve and started a toss. You can identify and see in the picture the reserve separate from the paraglider. The PPG pilot that arrived on scene minutes after the accident mentioned the reserve container was about twenty feet away from the paramotor.

I receive a comment from a USPPA instructor who flies a similar unit. He mentioned to Tony over a year ago that the risers were showing excessive wear and should be replaced. He also thought there might be a burr on the CG ring. Another USPPA instructor who flies a similar unit says he found no wear after checking four other wings that had been flown extensively with his unit. Therefore we believe the area causing abrasion had been repaired. It was also known that Tony learned to weld and his machine needed a few repairs since he began flying. Tony had recently ordered new risers which had not been received prior to the incident.

The equipment was impounded by the local Sheriff department and the FAA was contacted for inspection. The FAA said they were not sending anyone to inspect. Instead requesting specific photos to be taken. The sheriff department would not let anyone other than family retrieve or view the equipment. The photos were given only to the FAA and an NTSB Safety Investigator. They were asked and refused to view or share the accident photos. Visual inspection is the best method.

We made contact with the family the day of or after the accident and initially given hope to a visual inspection which turned into a delay which turned into a refusal within a weeks time.

Unfortunately the cause of this accident cannot be determined conclusively because the equipment was impounded and destroyed without a visual inspection, at the insistence of the family. I feel confident if the unit is maintained in its purchased configuration it is a safe PPG.

Things we did not get to visually inspect.

1. Paraglider lines pulled apart A/B/C/D

2. Riser mallions

3. Riser itself

4. Riser loop

5. Carabiner or Turnbuckle bolt backed out?

6. Carabiner attached point

7. Paraglider connection point

8. Strap

9. Weld point

10. Reserve lines pulled apart

11. Reserve attach point

12. Reserve riser or lines pulled apart

Joe Onofrio

Onofriojoe@gmail.com

Bob Harrison

@bobthepilot (twitter)

ppgswfl@gmail.com

#1020 4’s a charm

I was right. Fly once a month and every flight is a refresher course. This morning the air was butter. The launch was clean and the flight was fun. I worked on trimming out the torque and did some lazy wing overs. The only turbulence I encountered was above 2800ft and again below 200ft where it was cooking off pretty good.

After the flight I spent a good amount of time with post flight. Everything looked good except the reserve bridle needed to be cleaned up. I like the new routing. God forbid I ever need to toss the rags but if I do, I think it will fly clean.