APCO Lift EZ … First Flights 802 to 804

The LIFT EZ is APCO‘s latest generation of reflex wings designed as an “all round” wing for beginner or experienced pilots.  Mine arrived fresh from the factory via Terry Lutke who declined to demo the wing even though he had my blessing.  Terry claims that he wants me to have the honor of the first flight and that’s very nice of him…. But….I think he just didn’t want to take the chance blending it.  To that I say….ah Heck… It’s going to be up close and personal with Elizabeth sooner or later.   CHICKEN!!

The first thing I noticed was the fabric was lighter than my previous wings and it has been chemically treated giving it a slicker feel.  APCO claims it will increase lifespan by reducing UV damage and abrasion.  They also claim zero porosity over the life of the glider.  This wing is the large model measuring 29.2 m and 25 m projected area.  It’s rated to 407 lbs. all up, so we are right at the top of the placard.  The Brasiliera color scheme I selected is Red Yellow and Green, it is vibrant and totally out of character with the Falcon… But… I like it.  

The trimmer range is several inches longer than I’m used to and the hatch marks span both positive and negative trim.   It’s been suggested that the negative trim would be helpful when adjusting for crosswind flying or possibly anti torque.  It’s unknown territory for me.  I’ve requested info from APCO and would like to start a discussion of trim and characteristics on Facebook.   Hopefully I’ll be able to do an intelligent report on glider behavior with this wing. 
The manual says it is safe to fly at any setting, so I assume it is ok to fly with the trim fully closed.
I don’t know what to expect because it kites like a power mattress with trims fully closed.
Stay Tuned….

There are several safety features.  The SRS Stall Recovery System is a clever riser design that allow the A and the C and D risers to slide in opposing directions.  If the wing were ever to go into a parachutal stall the load would shift elevating the C and D risers and pulling the A riser down, accelerating the wing back into a flight.  Since I tend to fly like an old lady, I’ve never experienced  a  parachutal stall.There is also a series of valves at the top of the leading edge.  When the wing is in reflex and the Angle of Attack is lowered these HIT valves open up increasing internal pressure.  This feature really becomes important when using the speed system.  The tip steering is also a little different.  Instead of just pulling down the stabilo line the WSS Wind Scoop System cups the wing tips, creating drag without lift.  

For the first flights, I set the trim to neutral, the take offs and landing were clean and uneventful.  Climb is good in neutral but goes down fast in reflex.  At one point I was climbing at 250 fpm but the average seems to be around 175 fpm, descent was around 500 fpm.  Turning with the tip steering is smooth and requires minimum pull.  I did notice that we were losing altitude in turns and I’m going to experiment with different thrust to figure out what makes for a flat turn.  Turning against the torque is discouraged and when it’s also against the wind, the wing resists greatly.  It reminds me of the way the power play swing used to react.
Both days there was building wind and it was hard to judge the speed but I don’t think it’s any faster than I was with the Eden III, probably 30 mph.  I might think about the speed system

There were a few annoyances….
Its hard to see the scale marks on the trim tabs, and when closed, the loose webbing can get in the way.  These things are probably no big deal and after 10 flights I won’t even notice but right now, they  complicate the flight.
But I Really liked….
The new magnets, they really grab the toggles.
The Flexon Battons that shap the cell openings.
The butt holes to keep my wing clean.  🙂

Overall it’s a nice wing.  The flight characteristics are predictable and benign but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s clearly suitable for a beginner and I think the huge speed range possible with this wing will keep me interested for awhile.

# 667 A Assists

Notice the A line is pulled ahead of the rest of the rest

For the last two weeks I’ve been experimenting with A Assists.  The idea is to have the A lines uniformly pulled during inflation with an attachment just forward of the hang point loops.  The line that hooks to the A Mallon is adjustable and can be released in flight.
So far I’m undecided, the wing comes up slower than if I’m the one controlling the A’s and unless I’m doing something wrong they don’t always come up as straight as advertised.  One time it was because the assist line got snagged and another time the lines might have been uneven.  Another thing I’m not to fond of is that unless they are detached on landing the wing is prone to inflate itself.  This morning while I walked back to the truck to retrieve the wing bag, the wing inflated and built a nice little wall.  One little puff and I think it would have launched itself.   Yesterday it did!  If there is any breeze at all I’m going to have to remember to release the tension on the A’s.
I like holding the A lines during inflation.  It allows me to feel the wing and adjust with brakes or steering the trike.  Using the Assists I can only monitor the wing by watching it.  That may be better if my helmet doesn’t get in the way.  On the next flight I’m going to pull the A’s out another 1/2 inch and see if it does n’t come up a little faster.
This morning there was a light breeze from the south  I could see 4 balloons that had launched from the Gunbarrel area.  It was perfect, I could fly into the wind and meet the balloons half way, and then, hopefully, they would come back to Vance Brand to land.  The take-off was good and I passed through two layers of bumpy air, one at 300 ft. agl and another at 1600 ft. agl.  The breeze changed direction at 300 ft and died completely above 1600.  There was no way to know where the balloons would land.  So… what I thought was going to be a headwind toward the balloons turned out to be a tail wind.  When we met at about 2000agl  I couldn’t tell what direction the air was moving.  I did a few fly-bys and headed back.

At the field the wind had turned 180 degrees from when I launched and was picking up quickly.  I should have guessed it from the bumps I encountered returning.  Good Flight

 Egil came out but didn’t fly due to a tear in his wing.

Guest of Paratour

Dawn and I got up at 4:45 and amazingly were on the road by 5:10. It is a 50 minute drive from the Orlando World Center to Christmas Florida where Eric Dufour and Elisabeth Guerin have established Paramotor City East and Paratour. I was concerned that there would be no flying due to the ground fog, but when we arrived everybody was confident that it would burn off before they arrived at the field. Eric was training two new pilots and retraining an instructor who had started his career with Dell but seen the light.

Flight #482 &; #483 was at the training field with Eric Dufour and his students. Elisabeth was very generous and allowed me to fly her new Kangook trike with polini motor. Eric gave me a quick briefing on the machine. … How it started and to be aware of the left hand torque which, by the way was very mild and not really an issue. The wind was almost non existent but I would have to launch from a position that faced some tall pines. Not something I would be able to do with the Falcon but Eric didn’t make a big deal out of it so I took it on faith.
Then… Eric was gone to get his class together and I was alone on the foggy field. I taxied the Kangook at speed to get a feel for how it accelerated and around the corner to see what my options were for turning to gain altitude, just in case I couldn’t clear the pine trees at the get go. Ten minutes after Eric had pulled out,  I was set-up and ready to launch.  I waited another five, soaking in the quiet and thanking the gods.  Life is good.

local mascot
The Eden III came up clean and I was in the air very quickly. Climbing at 350ft/min I was able to clear the trees with ease and found the highway without problems. The terrain was thick pines all the way to the wetlands where Eric was training so I climbed to 1300 feet to give me lots of room in case of a motor out and then I headed East looking for the gang.
Where is the Training Field?
The sky was a beautiful pale orange softened by ground mist. Small lakes were scattered in the pines, off to the east I could see where the trees abruptly stopped and the wetlands began. Ten minutes into the flight I saw a mowed field 300 yards off the highway and a wing laid out ready for launch. In the top corner of the field I could just barely make out the word PARATOUR cut into the grass.

From high, I watched Eric coach one of the new guys into the air. It was a picture perfect launch and when he got to altitude I headed in his direction to ” go play”. Passing at 200 yards I swung behind and started to descend to the field. At the field Eric was gesturing strongly for me to move out of the area. The pilot was doing his first flight and he didn’t want me anywhere near his rookie. After 20 minutes I came in for a nice soft landing. Dawn and I chatted a bit and Eric explained where he was going to be working the new guys so that I wouldn’t be a concern. Then I reset and launched again.

training field
Dawn McLane looking good on the Kangook
After my second flight, Dawn and I watched Eric train his students and later he put on a motor and treated  us to a few minutes of the Dufour Magic…Foot Drags… wing overs … etc …  the master of fine wing control.  It was….a
Great day …
Thanks to Eric and Elisabeth of Paratour for making it happen.

Fathers Day Weekend Sat. 417 – 418

Beautiful Country !

Marek does a foot drag on the swoop pond

I knew this was going to be a very sad weekend so I scheduled myself to be as busy as I could. Friday night I slept over at Chip’s. I went to bed early and got up to go to Vance Brand airport by 0600. Once again the plan was to meet up with Robert and Marek at 0700. Last time they stood me up but I doubted they would do it again. It was a beautiful morning, as I drove by Boulder there were balloons lifting off… a good sign that the weather would be favorable.
At the field … Marek, Robert, Mike Bennett, Greg and Gary were admiring Kurt Hill’s prototype PPG Trike that Robert had dubbed the “Wheelchair”. It has two small counter rotating props and is configured as a tail dragging trike with a rudder. The seat is trick, it is an aluminum bucket that wraps around the torso and goes all the way up to provide full back neck and head support. It lays way back in the same position as a low hook in free flight harness. It will be great for watching the wing but it might strain the neck while watching the road during take off. He didn’t fly because he is having trouble steering while on the ground. Seems the trike looses control and starts to spin out when it comes up to speed. It has a rudder but it is more of an air baffle for the props than a steering vane. I’m no expert but it just seems to me that the small back wheel is just too squirrley and prone to over steer. But… it looks cool and who knows maybe one day he will work the bugs out and fly it.
Vance Brand is farmland flying. It’s pretty but there are no elevation changes and the landmarks are all major x-county flights. I wasn’t in the mood to get to far away from the patch so instead I worked on take off and landing and got in (4) 30 minutes flights. The best thing about this site is the nicely groomed field. It’s as good as launching off of a golf course. There was just barely a hint of breeze and for the heck of it I did one launch and landing with the trimmers full out. It’s a great feeling to keep off the brakes and see how fast you can go and still keep the wheels on the ground. When the machine does rotate I add power and watch her climb. Terry… I neglected to charge the batter on my GPS so I cannot document the climb rate but it was stunning! Landing with the trimmers out on a smooth field is also great fun. Hands up… till the very last second and then…with a nice smooth steady flare you can float at one or two feet for a long way while the energy is bled off, swapping speed for lift.
Sometime during my last flight, Dan K. suffered a motor out just after take-off. He got up to about 15 feet and was starting a hard banking turn when the motor died. With almost no time to flare he came down in a butt landing right into a small berm. Had it been a flat surface it probably would have damages the frame and we would all have had a good laugh but the berm was bad luck. Robert Kittila. and Mike Bennett loaded him into a truck and off to the ER. At the hospital Dan learned that he had two compression fractures, surgery was not required but he will be wearing a back brace for the next couple of months. I later learned that the day before he had a motor out at 200 feet. The problem was a loose spark plug which he replace with an old plug at the bottom of somebodies tool bag. The replacement plug was even worse.
After stopping at the piano store for a couple of hours I hit the sooper market and bought the fixings for the CSYC Raft-Up I was hungry and decided on Italian sausage and thanks to Stefania … chocolate crepes. The Raft-Up was nice all the usual suspects brought way too much food. I got a good chance to check out Dana’s boat which is much better suited to go to Blue Water than my Hunter. I think it is an Island Packet if not it is very similar. He has done a great job getting it ready for adventure, it has a generator and except for some more instrumentation it looks ready to go.

Larry Bob & Roy … Swapping stories

Good Food … Good Company

Greg provided entertainment by flying low and slow all along the shore.

I have to give him credit, 2 hours in the morning and another two that evening.
It’s the passion!

Roy Burley came out with me… planning to make it an early night but after the last boat peeled away we found ourselves below deck on the Hunter swapping stories and getting to know Dana and his companion. Good folk. Next week Roy will be racing in San Fransisco … Good Luck