#1051 Placida. “Just a lovely morning”

Just a really nice day

Today was a bit of a milestone. I arrived at the field about 15 minutes after sunset. There was a 5 to 7 mph breeze from the SSE. The skies were clear and the temperature was 64 degrees. The ground fog had burned off and the field was very wet.

I set-up diagonally across the road NW of the usual field hoping to keep the wing dry. Taking Paul’s advice I had all the lines relatively tight to avoid the partial tuck I was getting during inflation. The prop pitch had been reduced 1.5 Degrees the day prior. It increased max RPMs to 9400 and greatly reduced thrust at Idle. It was a pleasure to be able to fire up the motor without the prop thrust grabbing the wing. Due to the cockeyed way the wing was laid out, the trike was straddling the edge of the road. I was afraid that it would slow down or otherwise disrupt the first moment of inflation so I tried an old trick from the Simms Landing zone. I used the ramps give the trike a smooth surface to start off. It also raise the back a tiny bit which might have helped to keep the wing out of the prop wash.

The launch was very easy. The wing popped right up into the breeze and stabilized overhead. I had to make a slight turn to correct the heading and when it was time , the slightest bit of brake popped me into the air.

It was 6 on the bump scale up to 400 feet, above was smooth with a strong breeze. I was surprised to learn that I had launched using the tip steering on the left side. It felt perfectly normal. As a matter of fact it felt better in my throttle hand than a regular brake handle. It might be a good idea to fool around with different toggles to see what works best. The winds were considerably stronger at altitude, 15 mph, at least.

I flew, crabbing against the Wind out to the Gasparilla Marina and back to Safe Cove. The Paramotor ran well with a lower pitch. I was climbing easily at 300ft/min at 3700 RPMIt was nice to have a wider power which made it easier to dial in the RPM. Best of all the torque steer has been reduced dramatically. My only complaint is the light action of the throttle. It’s difficult to hold a steady RPM when I stow the brake toggles or use the left hand to adjust the trimmers it’s too easy to rev or drop the RPMs. Just adding spring tension isn’t going to fix it , I need to add some friction as well.

The winds aloft were a steady 15 mph. I was able to penetrate at 15 mph at neutral trim. The upwind turns were fun and tight.

Landing was much better than the last two. Because of the rowdy air I had to actively fly the wing to keep control during decent. For the first time since I got sick I was flying with some weight on the toggles, feeling the wing instead of just giving input when I wanted to initiate a turn or something. When it was time to flair I was much more comfortable and was able to float the wing for a long way to bleed off energy. The lesson of the day was ….fly the wing! Hang a little weight on the toggles and feel what’s happening. I think it’s something that’s been lacking since the long sabbatical due to illness. It feels good to be getting my skills back.

Right after landing a flock of egrets landed right beside me. They even hung out for 45 minutes while I had an old fashioned kiting session and loaded up the rig. On the way out of the field, I pulled off the road for a minute to work with the IPad. While I was sitting there, head down, a couple older fellows rode up to take a look. The were fascinated by the motor but I was more interested in their expensive rides. Full Campagnolo groupos mounted on beautiful “big tube” carbon fiber frames. The kind of equipment that was only available to well funded professions just a few years ago. We shared pleasantries, said our fair wells and then, I headed home.

I stopped to add fuel and was surprised to add a .9 of a gallon for a 30 minute flight. If that’s right I’m burning 2 gallons an hour. I expected a higher fuel burn but this is almost double what the Generac burned. It’s going to limit my range but it’s not like I’m doing a lot of 3 hour flights, so…. no biggie.

Colorado Falcon lands in Denver !

The rest of my universe is a total disaster but after months of waiting the Falcon has landed!
I can honestly say this was the first time I’ve smiled in 7 weeks. Pam the u-ship gal showed up an hour early and we unloaded in no time. Best of all she was able to take the Thumper back to Terry on her return trip. He will have it in the first days of Feb.
Quick observations
1. It has the best visibility of any of my previous trikes. I can see all points of the compass. For the first time I will be able to look back through the prop and it will be easy to check fuel level. It will be much easier to launch when I can see the wing inflate without using a mirror. It’s going to be great to be able to look behind and see in all the traditional blind spots. I’m thinking that it will be closer to the foot launch experience. The bucket seat puts you “out there” so… instead of being cocooned inside of a harness or low down in the trike buggy… you’ve got your ”knees in the breeze”, as Brett Cam would say. The forward rail is narrower and the front wheel is out of view which also reduces the “visible stuff” out in front. I’m really looking forward to flying this thing!

2. The bucket seat was a good option, designed for go carts it is very suitable for the Falcon. It fits my small frame great and I think bug guys will like it too. The side rails make great attachment points for the reserve and if I want I can mount a “saddle bag” on the other side for cameras, water, mini parachutes… toys.

3. The electric start was smooth but there is no optional pull start like the Briggs & Stratton. It’s not really an issue… since I never had to use the pull start on the Thumper. Terry relocated the ignition to a central point just forward of the bucket seat. Good move since the first thing I did with the side mount was to break the weld. It also does away with the pivoting arm that the switch was mounted to. Last spring I launched with the hang strap inside of the pivot arm. The strap stressed the arm and I killed the motor trying to sort it out.

4. It’s BIG ! With a 66 inch prop and one piece construction the rig is too big to get inside of my store…except for the front double doors. I can’t get it into the shop for hang testing. So… I’ll just have to stop at an elementary school on the way to my first flight. I probably should have had Terry make it so I could remove the cage but it’s not a big deal. I’ll cope.

5. The 5 point seat belt looks like it came off of a Russian tank. It’s 3 inch webbing with rough cast hardware. When I cinch it up I’ll be able to fly but I won’t be able to reach the GPS or do any weight shift. Most likely after the first few flights I’ll ditch the crotch and shoulder straps. The waist belt is very comfortable and I like the way it snug’s me into the bucket seat. The buckle is primitive but it is a good clean quick release. I’ll braid a lanyard to the Q.R. to make it easy to find in an emergency.

6. I was a little concerned about the wheels but the new mags are bigger than I thought, it will be no trouble rolling over the rough stuff with these babies. Also the rims are split which will make it easy to change out a flat. The front wheel is small so…I might have to use ramps on soft surfaces … Time will tell. I do like the reverse camber of the nose wheel. It will keep it tracking if I decide to be a jerk and take my feet of the pegs… :).

7. The battery came off during transport, so I secured it with zip ties and filled the gap in the battery tray with some stiff closed cell Styrofoam. It will probably benefit from one more Zip tie but it’s not going anywhere the way it is.

Rigging the Reserve Harness

After much fussing and fretting this is the way I have rigged the Reserve Harness

The bridal is on a seperate attachment aft of where the riser’s straps attach to the buggy. They run through the saftey straps below the “hang point loops” and on top and outside of anything that could foul during deployment. I selected the right side because I fly with the throttle in the left hand. It will not help with any torque issues but I don’t think torque is to much of a problem with the thumper 4 stroke.