|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.
The wing started to fold up on takeoff but I was able to slow down taxi until it reenflated and stabilized.
Flew for just under an hour finishing with all three us us in the air. The new south taxi way is layed and is just perfect to practice touch and goes. Swoop pond is dry and also good but the surface is a bit soft.
|Risers out of balance causes right hand turn|
Despite being aware of keeping the trimmer cams above the hang point loops while setting up, the right side had somehow slipped down, hanging the trike from the hang point loop and the cam. This has happened to me before and a couple of times I was able to free the cam but for some reason perhaps the bad light and dark sunglasses I didn’t see the problem. It is not a good thing, the hang point loop isn’t designed to take a load and when the cam is caught below the steel ring it causes the risers to be off center by more than an inch. The wing will naturally cause a turn forcing me to used brakes and lose energy to maintain a straight line. Perhaps it happened when I was adjusting the wing or positioning the lines…. whatever the cause, I was having to use lots of left brake to fly straight and when it was time to land I was using a huge amount of brake on the left side to maintain. It is a small wing and needs speed to fly so I was a a distinct disadvantage, being forced warp the wing into an inefficient configuration to remain aloft. The Eden riser is different from the PowerPlay, it is more apt to do this and so I’m going to have to make it one of the last checks before starting the motor, expecially when I fly the Eden.
On the second morning of flying at Monument Valley in southern Utah four of us planned on flying together out to the monoliths and mesas so that professional paramotor photographer Franck Simmonet could get some photos.
“You don’t need to get close to the mesas” he said, “just stay close to me so that you are big in the frame”.
We launched into almost no wind. It could have been because we were in the wind shadow of the huge mesa beside the LZ. Whatever it was, as I flew out to the mountainous monuments, I was doomed to misjudge the winds.
The day before I had flown out to the large horse-shoe shaped area of monoliths and felt a few mild bumps when I was right in the middle and below the top of the mesas, some of which reach almost 1000 ft. Just about everyone was flying fairly close to the towering structures– but the wind was mild then.
Apparently, this day, the winds were much stronger AND I had completely misjudged the wind direction. I always stay away and above of the leeward side of any large obstruction but, as I slowly descended towards the largest mesa, I mistakenly thought I was on the windward side.
That’s when I heard Franck over the radio, “Go heighter, go heighter!” (Yes, I know it’s “higher” but he was saying “heighter”). By the time he radioed that warning I realized that I was NOT climbing very fast– in fact, I think I was sinking at full throttle.
Then, maybe 20 or 30 seconds later I felt my wing start to vibrate. This is not a very happy wing, I’m thinking. I can feel that I’m loosing brake pressure on the right side (the monolith was to my left several hundred feet). Franck and Matt are a few hundred feet above and behind me. My wing was deforming in such odd and obvious ways that it prompted Matt Witchlinski to radio his concern, “Paul, are you in some bad air ! ?”
I didn’t even try to answer. SOMETHING is going to happen soon, I thought. He had barely finished his sentence when my wing was smacked out of the air.
Now, I often play around with my wing and induce asymmetric collapses but the wing is STILL flying. This was nothing like that. My wing was batted down and folded up and I was falling instantly. It happened so fast all I had time to do was let off of the throttle and hope I didn’t fall into the wing.
The wing recovered with a few violent jerks as I checked the surge. I later learned that after seeing my predicament Franck and Matt instantly turned around to avoid the same fate– they didn’t get to see what happened next.
I’m pretty sure that Matt radioed back about ten seconds later to ask if I was alright. I didn’t answer. I was too busy concentrating and trying to control a wing that was dancing around and vibrating like I was on a drum. You know that feeling you get when you’ve vomited and you can feel it coming on again… I was waiting for it but nothing could have prepared me for the violent collapse that came next.
My wing was hit in the center and thrown back behind me and to the side. For a second I was laying back looking up at the sky. Then the balled up wing swung over to the other side and I was sideways. I dropped down and the wing swung me to the other side and on my back again. Then, next thing I know, it’s in front of me, below the horizon and smooshed up into a ball I could probably fit into my stuff sack. Well at least I can see the wing now. I drop under it again as I tense my arms in a braking position. The wing re-inflates with some rocking and surges, but thankfully, I’m flying again.
I look down and see that I still have several hundred feet of altitude. If I get hit again I might have to throw my reserve. I don’t want to do that while caught in a rotor with only jagged rocks and a cliff face below.
I don’t know if I can take another thrashing like that, I thought. I was lucky that I didn’t fall through the lines or get a major cravat… and I’m still being rocked.
I could feel that I was caught in the huge rotor- it was like a vortex. I couldn’t climb and I couldn’t get away from the monolith. The other guys had got away, maybe they can look back and see some way out. I pressed the radio button on my helmet,” I can’t get out! I’m stuck in the rotor! What should I do ?”
“Climb out”, they said.
“I can’t, it’s pushing me down!”
For a second, I considered going low but then decided that if I had another collapse like the last one that I wouldn’t recover in time. I thought about heading TOWARDS the mesa but decided that although it might get me under the down rotor, it might also suck me up and put me through the wringer again.
So I just kept at full throttle, heading away from the mesa, hands clenched on the brakes trying to keep the wing as stable as possible with every twitch and twist.
Finally, after what must have been 15 minutes, I felt the air smooth out and I started to climb again.
I headed straight back to the airport.
I had had my excitement for the day.
Paul is an accomplished pilot and the creator of the famous PPG for Morons Videos see more at:
|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
7 to 8 mph Good launch. I hooked the safety bungee into the D ring of the brake handle instead of the handle itself. Much better… Next flight take out one wrap so there is less brake presure.
No issues but I did fool with the seatbelt in flight. Having the brakes secured is a little like using the foot steering system.it’s very comfortable to go “hands free”.