|Michelle Danielle…Joe Onofrio…Jorden Danielle
BOB ARMOND in SPIRIT
|Rich Kennedy “The Lost Pilot”|
|Jeff Goin…Joe Onofrio…Chad Bastian…Mo Shelton|
|John Fetz John Sieb Dawn McLane|
|Michelle Danielle…Joe Onofrio…Jorden Danielle
BOB ARMOND in SPIRIT
|Rich Kennedy “The Lost Pilot”|
|Jeff Goin…Joe Onofrio…Chad Bastian…Mo Shelton|
|John Fetz John Sieb Dawn McLane|
|Walking the Big Wheel|
The weather was terrible.
A huge storm , sweeping north and east from San Diego to the Great Lakes was shutting down the middle of the country. Denver was snow packed and frigid with snow showers and high winds. Driving to California without new rubber on the Ford was not an option. This was the first time in 6 years that the weather was an issue. The storm came in 24 hours early and I missed the window that would have insured dry roads. Mike Miller was a huge help when he cancelled his service calls to free me up to buy snows and get out of town a few hours quicker. The plan was to head south to Albuquerque and try to get under the storm instead of punching through the backside somewhere West of the Rockies.
Loading the truck was slapstick, all exposed surfaces were covered in ice and the blizzard was blowing into every nook and cranny. Every time I tried to pull the trike up into the pick-up the ramps would slip under the back wheels Finally after 5 failed attempts I figured a way to secure the ramp and loaded the Falcon. Wasting no time I just threw the tent, wings, gas, big wheel and everything else on top. The only silver lining was that 15 mph winds helped me kite the big tarp over the pile. Using my best frozen dock lines I lashed the tarp and said a prayer…
It wasn’t pretty but at 1:00pm I was southbound on I-25. The roads were packed with snow and visibility was horrible but I was feeling good driving a loaded truck with new tires. It was a tough drive, the average speed was 40mph with long spells of 10 mph when the visibility fell to 50 feet. I was happy to hit 50 miles per hour after passing Glorieta. Finally I arrived at the Route 66 Casino outside Paramotor City at 12:30pm. In Albuquerque the roads were wet with intermittent small storm showers.
The storm had caught up but the highways were plowed headed west. I had not noticed it yesterday because I never got up to speed but now the truck was bogging down and unable to get over 70 mph. I stopped in Gallop and wasted $300 bucks at the Goodyear store where they diagnosed the problem as a clogged fuel filter.
But… I thought it was fixed and headed out into the storm. It wasn’t until was 30 miles out of town and hit clear roads that I realized that the truck was still having problems. In Holbrook I bit the bullet and went to the Ford dealership. Even though it was 4pm they took the truck and thanks to a veteran Ford Tech the problem was diagnosed as a bad igniter coil. At 6:30 they cut me loose. I was at the very southern edge of the storm going in and out of blizzard conditions about every 30 minutes. It was amazing how the roads would be clear one minute and almost instantly turn to packed snow and ice. I’m guessing that the fast moving edge of the storm was being focused by the terrain with fingers of blizzard crossing the highway. The winds were gusting 50+ with only the big rigs and I braving the weather. I finally made Blythe and stopped for the night. So much for power driving all the way to the Sea.
Finally, I was out of the storm, the winds were still strong but the skies were clear. I had hoped to hook up with Jeff Goin and the Australian contingent at Glamis. The idea was to fly the dunes Wednesday night, camp there and head to the Salton Sea Thursday morning but after talking with Jeff and hearing that it was a blow out; I stayed on Hwy 10 and headed to the North Shore to visit Salvation Mountain.
|Pligramage to Salvation Mountain|
Salvation Mountain ( http://www.salvationmountain.us/ ) is located in the lower desert of Southern California in Imperial County just east of the Salton Sea and about a hour and a half from Palm Springs. Salvation Mountain is Leonard Knights’ tribute to God and his gift to the world with its simple yet powerful message: “God Is Love.” Leonard’s passion has lovingly created this brilliant “outsider art ” masterpiece resplendent with not only biblical and religious scripture such as the Lord’s Prayer, John 3:16, and the Sinner’s Prayer, but also including flowers, trees, waterfalls, suns, bluebirds, and many other fascinating and colorful objects. Salvation Mountain must be seen to be fully appreciated as those who have made the journey will attest. Its 50 foot height and 150 foot breadth is made totally of local adobe clay and donated paint and is truly unique in the United States and probably the world. From its Sea of Galilee at the bottom, to the big red heart in the middle, to the cross at the very top, the reoccurring theme of “Love” is everywhere at Salvation Mountain.
My daughter Olivia had seen Salvation Mountain in the movie INTO THE WILD and very much wanted to go there so I thought it might be fun to visit and send her a few pictures.
|Dinner at the Mexican Resturant|
Chad Bastian, Bob Peloquin John Fetz and I went to the local Mexican place which was packed with tables of pilots from around the country. It was great to catch up with the guys. Bob was enjoying his retirement; Chad was officially healthy and gaining weight. Greg and I were just plain glad to be out of town. After dinner Bob graciously offered me a berth in his RV. It was plenty cold out and I grateful to have a warm place to sleep.
Was a blowout. I spent the day catching up with friends. A few of the Professionals were flying and Jeff put on a display of reverse launching with a Paratoys quad.
|Jeff Going doing Quad Reverse|
Sometime when I was wandering around Leon Wacker put the complete set of charts for the Tom Bigbee and TVA and Mississippi River into the truck. He remembered talking to me at Bubbas about maybe taking the inland waterway down to New Oleans. What a Guy!
The big event of the day was Perry Molter’s amazing double riser twist. There were plenty of witnesses when he launched into 10 mph wind with a powerful and unfamiliar motor. Almost immediately he torque into a riser twist and started to spin into the ground. At 20 feet, he reapplied power and avoided impact but twisted again, at the last possible moment he regained control and flew off to enjoy a 15 minute flight. I wasn’t sure if it was a display of extraordinary skill or a very lucky newbie … Perry has amassed an amazing number of flights in just a few years and is a good pilot on his way to becoming a great one. He was awarded the Bonehead Award at the banquet for the double riser twist and accepted it with good humor.
|Mike Robinson presenting the Bonehead Award to Perry Molter|
That night we had dinner again at the Mex Place which was still struggling to handle the unexpected rush in business. Later at Bob’s RV after a shower and hot tub I watched the movie Danny Deckchair, about halfway through I fell asleep.
Was a good day, I got in two long flights. The first was an hour and a half spent mostly skimming the beach to the north. I visited the old dome site and practiced the low and slow. After lunch and a visit to the vendor booths I went up again and did the same thing to the south. The sea has receded a bit from last year and there were several areas where you could see a recent fish kill. The beach was loaded with dead fish and there were patches of carcasses visible just off shore. I would have liked to spent some time inland but the thermals were popping all over and it was really only nice on the beach. On thing caught my eye was a good size boat abandoned on the beach, it looked like it had been there a long time. But the best eye candy of the show was Jeff Hamman flying his Manta Ray complete with a remora fish hitching a ride.
|by Elisabeth Dufour|
As I was packing up the Nirvana team launched and did a night show. LEDs embedded into their props projected graphics linked to a computer. I don’t understand it but they were able to program lettering and graphic onto the spinning props.
View it here… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJWs-p0xefk
That night the Mex place was ready for us, we were greeted by Jose like long lost cousins. The food came quick and the portions were large. Lots of pilots having a good time, Later, back at the ranch I hit the hot tub with Marek and Robert we were entertained by a precocious little boy who so wanted to fly like his daddy.
Was the best!
I got in 6 flights including the X-country race to the Knob. The air was good all day. There was an inversion at 1800 feet that had to be powered through but the air at altitude was as nice as it could be. I climbed to 7000 feet and took in the sights. It wasn’t crystal clear but I was able to see from one end of the Sea to the other. Unfortunately my camera’s battery failed and there are no pictures.
|ParaToys new field Photo bt Para-Flyers of Florida|
The Falcon performed like a champ. It’s climbing at better than 500 feet/min from the beach and was still over 400ft/min at 7000ft ASL. Below the Japanese Slalom was taking place it was safer than the cloverleaf but not as interesting to watch. I caught three or four runs with Robert Jerry Alex and Marek and decided I’m better at participating than spectating. It’s just much better to be in the air!
|Michelle and CC Our …”First Ladies of PPG”|
|Elisabeth Dufour … Eric’s “First Lady of PPG”|
After the morning flights Jim Doyle gave me a set of Pulstar iridium pulse plugs that he installed on the falcon. It made a nice change, the idle came down slightly and top speed increased 250 RPM. It seemed to run smoother at idle and run up a little faster. Jim is representing the company for love of the sport and they are well worth the money!
On the way back to the LZ Bob Peloquin caught and trotted passed me . He was flying a Viper2 26 with the Simonini Trike Buggy. There may be a controversy as to the stability of the reflex wing but there is no doubt as to it’s speed. He should have won the class except for a misunderstanding as to how to finish. ….Seems he needed to overfly Brian before landing and did not. I was not aware of the rule either but by pure dumb luck did the right thing. Pierre and Greg were also flying in my class and got off a little later than I. The Eden III was loaded heaver than their wings and unless I made a real mistake I should have been plenty faster.
Later I spoke with Brian and offered to help with next years race. I’m sure using some of the techniques from yacht racing we can make it more competitive and fun to watch. I shudder to think of the variables involved in PHRF ing different wings and weights but …At the very least a NOR ( Notice of Race can make it more competitive and fun to watch. I’m sure it’s done in the European Comps.
After the race I had some Empanadas and wandered the vendor booths. Alex Varv came with his modified Kangook paramotor. He has helped me out over the years with parts and advice and I was looking forward to finaly meeting him. It was too bad that his motor was getting so much attention because the booth was full and we didn’t really have an opportunity to chat. Next Time. The paramotor looked great and if his claim of low torque is correct it will be a great boon to the sport. The harness was by far the nicest I have ever seen.
That evening was the Banquet Hosted by Paul Anthem and Michelle Danielle. They get better every year. This year Paul showed his skill as a vocalist NOT! … but it was better than last years outhouse skit. Michael Purdy and Eric Dufour announced the winners of the first comp of the season and Jeff announced Dean Elderedge’s World Speed Record.
I received the trophy for Classic Wing Quad X-country Race and Michell gave away lots and lots of swag. Mike Robinson said a few emotional words and a new Memorial Airfield was dedicated by the owner who pledged the land to us. Later The Pilot Project Band entertained us with classic rock. It was a great party followed up by the hot tub and bed.
|My first PPG trophy !|
Up early and into the sky. Beautiful morning to go high and say goodbye. Everyone was packing up when I walked the flight line one last time to say my farewells. I hooked up with Pierre and Greg and we made plans to convoy to Glamis together. When we got there the wind was blowing 8 mph gusting to 12 or 13. I set up but aborted after seeing Greg parked at 50 feet. Watching him fly the trike buggy made me remember just how great the combination of Simonini and a Trike Buggy is. Very nimble machine. We made a wolf camp and sat around the fire until well after dark telling stories and enjoying the moment. I used Roberts Pop-out tent since my was broken and slept like a baby.
The next morning we all flew. There was a good breeze but the surface winds were low enough for an easy launch. I stayed up for a little over an hour the winds were against me on the way back but I was in no rush. The non event of the flight was when I lifted off I realized that I’d forgotten ear protection. No problem I looked around and saw the answer in the closed cell Styrofoam I was using to mount the tiny tack. I pulled off a couple of pieces and stuffed them in my ears… Worked like a champ.
The trip home was a bitch. The snow was back with a vengeance. I drove straight through except for two 20 minute naps in the cab of the truck. Lots of vehicles had run off the road including one little jerk who had honked at me earlier for going too slowly. Good trip… Lots of good memories … Thanks Guys
This time, at Chad suggestion, I launched with the Eden III in a low hook in configuration. Surprisingly it worked great. I was able to let the trimmers in or out without any friction lock at the hang point rings. Perhaps because they were attached so much lower than on the Thumper, maybe because the load straps are more in line with the rings. Also the lower line guides on the cage were a help. I could grasp the A lines above the mallions which gave me a much better feel for the wing.
This flight was perfect in every way. I taxied at a slower pace and was able to recover the wing when it fell to the left and tip-touched. Most of the flight was flown with the trimmers out. The Eden III is so much more fun to fly at a place like the Dunes. I could yank and bank and even felt confident enough to get down and dirty with the sand. The 4 stroke winds up slower than a good two stroke so you have to anticipate need for power, it takes practice and it doesn’t approach the performance of a light guy footlaunching, but its do-able. At one point I was running along a sharp ridge with the right wheel kicking up sand on the crest. When I started to feel the trike lean to the left, I added power and it was no problem keeping things level. It is much easier to modulate the power with this machine, I think part of it is the longer movement with this throttle but also the Generic 32 has a wider power band than the Briggs & Stratton 22.
After landing I packed up… said my goodbye’s and set off for Albuquerque. It’s a long drive and I arrived at the Route 66 Casino barely in time for the $5 Buffet. My way of beating the casino is to avoid the slots and load up on the shrimp and prime rib. They didn’t make any money on me!
The next morning I was hoping to fly at Paramotor City but there was a front blowing in So I got back on the highway and headed for home. The snow started falling before I was got to Albuquerque and it was slow going all the way to Raton Pass. The rest of the trip was smooth and I arrived home by 3:00.
Trip Data: 2400miles 38 ½ hours 62 mph average speed. It was a good trip, I had a chance to clear my head and the flying was good for my soul.
Most Flights in one day. It should probably be 256.5 because I did a touch and go that was so long I taxied the full lenght of the field.
First time to fly a performance wing Spice 24 (or there abouts)
First time to fly a 4 stroke. I took up Bens machine with the eden 28.
The thumper flight was marred when I rigged the brake line thru the hangpoint rings and had a friction lock. Landed dead stick at the rocky end of the field. I had to take a wrap on the Brake line above the ring.
Tonight there was a prop burning and outdoor movies.
This was billed as the last Paratoys Fly-in at the Salton Sea and the absence of Michael Purdy…Jeff Goin and some others was conspicuous. Attendance was down a bit and the whole thing had a different feel than past years…There were still campfires at night and kiting wars but there was no Alan Chocolate Memorial Style Competition Somehow it was just more subdued than the past. One of the biggest differences was the large number of trikes and quads. Bob is all about selling his joint venture with Leon. The Paracruiser/Paratoys quad looks to be a winner. And I don’t think you will ever hear Bob calling the trike pilots girly girls again. The day of foot launch being the majority is going away. I hope he finds a wealthy young guy and flips Paratoys for a boat load of money. He deserves it.
John Black made a speech during the Banquet that was reminiscent of an AA Meeting….”HI I’M JOHN AND I’M A DUMB SHIT”….HI JOHN! It was a good thing he did. I guess he is a pretty aggressive pilot but I think he has seen his god. The near fatal crash had to be an eye opener and I doubt he will be doing any mid day flying again. The famous video is at the bottom of this post.
I did some trading and am now the owner of an Eden III 26m wing. It has about 100 hours on it but it’s in great shape and the same colors as my first wing. It handles much better at this altitude and I expect it will be real sporty back home. I slept better because of a new air mattress arctic sleeping bag. Food was more plentiful because the club house opened their kitchen but I still ate way too much junk food.