No Fly Day.

Nine Hundred and Ninety-nine times out of a thousand

I would have cleared that stop sign.

This was the #999th.

It started with dog piss in the shower and continued to go south the rest of the morning. While unloading, I discovered that the battery was dead. The wind was light and forty five degrees off the runways. The plan was to launch into the intersection and turn down the runway. The wing was a little behind my turn and the outside tip steering line caught the top of the stop sign and popped the tip right off. I felt it and immediately aborted. I honestly think I could have hammered the throttle and launched only to find myself flying a badly compromised wing. The left side would have had very low pressure and who knows what would have happened. Anyway I aborted and the only damage was to wingtip and a couple of lines.

Elisabeth is months out and Paramotor City is 6 weeks, so it’s going to be awhile. Tonight I picked up a Paramania Revolution 36 for a decent price. It’s a couple of years old but very low hours.

I was worried that 1000 was going to be underwhelming … the wait is going to make it special.

Bummer!  No Fly Day

Perfect morning, warm, clear, zero wind.  The streets at Placida had just been repaved.  I had a full tank of gas and a belly full of coffee.


The battery was dead and the mini charger couldn’t turn it over.   So, I positioned the truck to jump and …. then…. discovered that the hard landing last flight broke loose a weld.  Two strikes and time to call it a wrap.

No Fly Day

This is the second line strike in a month.  I think it’s happening because the line keepers on the cage are holding the lines tightly together.  When the A’s are immediately tensioned they might be throwing other lines out of the keeper while they are still slack.  The outside may be very slack.  The chevron layout exacerbates this and one part of the cure may be to layout the wing in a slight curve.  Another thing I’m going to try is to inlay a zip tie inside the keeper so that the lines are laying in the crook instead of being gripped against the cage.

During inflation I heard or perhaps sensed the line strike.  I didn’t immediately abort and instead kept accelerating.  I looked at the lines and remarkably saw the damaged one.  It was intact but the sheath was severed.  That’s when I aborted.  On inspection I could have continued the flight.  The damaged line was the far outside Main D which does not carry a heavy load and is backed up by the brake lines.  However,  I could not have know at the time so it was the right thing to do.  

No Fly Day

This was a disappointing morning.  Bad weather and having my bride home has made it difficult to get in any flights.  Last night she worked late allowing me to hit the sack early.  This morning I woke 15 minutes before the alarm, jumped out of bed and arrived at the field at first light.  I was concerned that I might have left the key in the ignition but …. No, it’s all good.  Cranked up the theme to True Detective,  loaded the wing in my lap, taxied out to the launch zone and just as I arrived I heard/felt a crack.  Damned if the nose wheel hadn’t collapsed!  The last flight was normal with a normal landing.  I’m not sure if it had been damaged for awhile or if it rotted from the inside or I banged it into the earth on landing and just didn’t notice.

Oh well…
I’m off to San Fran tomorrow and will just have to deal with it when I get home.
Note to self….. Take pump and full tool kit to field when you go to replace the wheel.  It did seem to be coming up to full power and maybe the cable needs tightening.

Lazy Launch makes for NO Fly Day

Everything was perfect.  
The weather was beautiful with blue skies and a light breeze.

Beau was tied to the wind sock and I was ready to go.  No cam and only the Garmin to distract me.  The wing came up quick, I didn’t feel the momentary, “push me pull you”,  when the wing is fully in the prop wash.  I checked the mirror and there it was fully overhead and looking good. I was at full power and decided to go for it.  Next thing I see in the mirror that the wing is going frontal and before I could pull some brake the lines were in the prop and it was all over.  
I was lazy, I should have pulled enough brake to feel the wing as soon as it passed through the prop wash. The A Assists were tight but not any tighter than the last few launches.  They might have contributed to the frontal though. Whatever … The cage is bent in 3 places and I have several lines to replace.  It’s a good thing I’ve scheduled Wednesday afternoon to do welding with Mike Bennett.  We are going to replace the nose wheel and now we will repair the cage as well. 
Just as I was finished packing up, Marek showed up with Robert.  We motored over to the South West end of the field and Marek set up to do some foot drags in the swoop pond.  On his first attempt he got in a little too deep and submarine d.  Luckily there was no damage to man or machine.  At least nothing a little time in the sun couldn’t cure. 
Not a good morning for flying but it was nice to see the guys. 

No Fly Day

John got in a great flight but I didn’t!

Perhaps I will expand on this at a later date but suffice to say that I didn’t fly.  The wing and I couldn’t get together on launch until it dived into the prop.  The damage was a broken line and a few small tears in the trailing edge on the top right side.  I think it fell back … popped forward and fell back again into the prop wash. The nose wheel came up then down then the rear right wheel lifted enough that I though that I was going over.  I killed power steered out of the tip but the prop didn’t wind down fast enough and caught the wing.  The right axle was bent but the fiberglass struts were not damaged.

Time to fly the PowerPlay for a bit.

John Sieb does a fly-by

Powered Paraglider Trike, Snow Launch … No Fly Day

There was 4 inches of 3 day old snow on the field at Vance Brand.  We were planning on a mid day flight despite the clear blue skies.  Robert assured me that the thermals would be minor due to the cool air.  I had never flown inland mid day and was a bit apprehensive but it had been awhile and I was game to fly.  So after a short delay getting gas I arrived at the field where Eric ( new pilot … student of Robert’s) was waiting to launch.  He had brought his mother to see the amazing flying machine.  We chatted until Robert showed up and watched a stick of sky divers.  They were having a great time sliding in fast and skimming along the skin of snow.
My first attempt was from the pond toward the hangers.   I motored up and down the course a few times to test the surface and see how the Falcon handled on the snow.  The front wheel was tracking fairly well but as soon as I started a mildly hard turn the buggy would go into a slide.  It was slippery and kinda fun.  The CG is way behind the front wheel so when it broke loose it didn’t take much if any thrust to continue the spin.

Eric’s 5th flight

The launch was a bust.  When I got close to lift off the buggy started to slide to the left.  I was using minimal brake and max power.  When I aborted the wing came down clean with no damage.  Since there was no real breeze I layed out to try the other direction, moving 50 feet to the north to give me room to clear the swoop pond.  Second attempt was the same thing.  Looking at my tracks in the snow it was clear that as soon as the front wheel left the ground the trike would start torquing into a left hand turn.  I set down twice to get back on track and finally aborted.  The third attempt was the most dramatic.  I allowed the rig to lift off and when it drifted back down I was at a dramatic heading not the same as the wing.  When I touched earth the unit spun out and I was done.  If it had been on anything other than a skin of slippery snow I would have rolled for sure.  Remember Bubba’s? 
Robert said the wing was surging and falling back due to the drag of the trike as it passed through different thicknesses of snow and perhaps I would have been better off using more brakes.  It might have worked but launching with brakes leads to a slow takeoff and possibly coming back down, maybe at the wrong heading for the wing.

Robert setting up for launch

I think the “P” factor is at 2 o’clock …. pushing the trike into a left hand posture.  No problem on hard surface but a bear on a slippery surface.  Knobby tires on the back might have helped but I don’t think it would have stopped the left hand turn since the wheels turn independently.  If I wanted to go balls to the wall I would have gone no brakes till the wheel lifted then popped up and prayed that I had enough lift to keep from touching.  Risky business.

Powered Paragliding … Today was a comedy of errors # 509

I was excited to be flying from my new home field which was just a few blocks from home, unfortunately the winds were light from the west, which was exactly the wrong direction.  So… I drove 1/4 mile to the mesa above and set-up amid a group of stretching joggers.  There were two wonderful runways going in the wrong direction, so I decided to launch through the field.  The surface was smooth but the weeds were high, dry and thick.  I walked the projected route and tossed the worst of the scrub out of the way. 
The wing inflated well and while the run out was rough, it seemed doable until I drove into a large tangle of weeds and branches that I had missed during the preflight.  Abort … Abort … Abort…   

The mesa just wasn’t going to be suitable unless I had the perfect wind that would let me use the running path as a runway. While loading up and rubbing a sore elbow that had been whacked by a branch, I noticed that the wind was shifting to the south.  The sun was being covered nicely by the clouds and so I decided to give the lower LZ another try.

Here is where it starts to get interesting.   The first launch was successful but I had to set down quickly when I couldn’t shake out a cravat in the wing tip.  I could have stayed up and tried to work out the tangle, but since there was a good landing zone ahead of  me, I didn’t see any reason to tempt fate.  The landing was fine and I gathered up the wing and drove the rig back to my truck.  By now the wind had shifted to SSE which was perfect for the field.  I quickly layed out the wing, hooked up to the trike and jumped into the seat.  The wing came up straight and I was powering down the field when I noticed that I had picked up the wind sock, including the 20 foot pole!  This was a first,  I’d clipped wind socks on landing but never on a launch.  Apparently the right side was a little close or had oscillated to that side because, there it was, hanging from the farthest line and looking like it wanted to go for a ride.  I wanted nothing to do with it and aborted once again.  One more time, I gathered the wing and drove back to the truck. 

I was about to set up for my 4th attempt when I noticed that one of the rear tires had gone completely flat, which had probably happened during the aborted launch in the weeds.  Enough was enough, I really wanted to fly but I was going to have to be satisfied by a short hop across a couple of fields for flight number # 509

Abort …. Abort … Abort

 This was one of those dumb incidents
that should have been avoided
The wing came up crooked and I tried to recover.  I was pulling it just above the ground and reached the A’s and got it back overhead. When it was stable I powered up and noticed it was rolling rough and I was surprised at how bumpy the ride was… the wheel was probably wobbling.  I got some lift and floated back down when I touched the trike yawed and quickly rolled.  I think the bearing rubbed against the axle connection and trashed right away, slowing the trike.  I used a little brake to get off and didn’t have enough speed causing the trike to come back down on the bad wheel.  The lines got into the prop and chewed one blade pretty bad.  Mike is going to be able to receive it Tue. evening.  With luck I’ll be back in the air soon.

Whats Freakin Wrong with Me?

It seems like ever since the troubles began it has affected my ability to focus.  I have made one rookie mistake after another and while I have avoided hurting myself… it has been expensive.
This morning was another expensive and disapointing day. 

I allowed my left brake line to catch the prop.  It was a couple of seconds after I started the motor so I’m assuming that I had rolled the maching back too far after layout and the prop wash drew it in..  Listening to World PPG talking about trikes I remembered Jeff saying it was a good idea to give it some slack so the machine could get rolling before the wing started to inflate.   Bob Armond’s position is to have no slack and I have seen other pilots actually build a wall and get into the machine with the wing holding the trike back with the prop wash.  Possibly because of the huge cage and prop, slack lines might not be a good idea with the Falcon.  During layout I made it a point to position the lines out and away.  Something must have changed.

Anyway the wing was sucked into the machine and before it wound down I cut the wing in three places, severed the brake line and by some fluke popped a plug on the gas tank and doused a portion of the wing in in gas.

It sucks to be me this morning…