#360 Chatfield

This morning I woke at 4:30
but couldn’t drag my butt out of bed.
Maybe not a first but certainly unusual. I tried to blame it on the weather but no matter how windblown the clouds looked it was calm at the surface and judging from the dirty air over Denver the inversion probably covered the first 1500 feet AGL.
I made up for it with a nice one this afternoon. There were lots of clouds mid day that built and diminished by 5:00pm. I was concerned about the virga dropping all over the place but once again I didn’t notice any “puffs” and figured that the virga was too high to be affecting the surface.
After watching and pacing for 45 minutes at the house I said to myself ….What the heck go to the field and if you don’t fly …it won’t be the first time. I arrived at 6:00pm, the winds were very light from the SW. The air was warm. It turned to the WNW while I set up and dropped to 1 knot or less.

My take off must have looked pretty bad but I was grinning from ear to ear. It fell to the left and overshot…started to frontal…fell to the right…came back up and when I finally felt good about it…I added some throttle and did a proper run-out. The new Throttle set-up is much better. The Brake toggle is held in the 3rd and 4th finger leaving my index finger and pinkie to work the throttle. I’m sure the control issues will go away as I get used to the low hangpoint.
As bad as it looked I never felt as if it were not recoverable. GO THUMPER!
The air was good 2 or 3 on the bump scale. I didn’t travel too far and mostly carved smaller and smaller turns over the patch. One thing that has been bothering me is the left beaner is one inch longer than the right. I was able to equalize them later and I’m glad I was able to take the time to examine it while in flight. The loops in the new footsteering got in the way but I’m not ready to change it until I’ve flown it some more.
When I started to notice the bumps were getting bigger I turned back to the truck and landed. It was a nice landing, I came in from the North and managed to stay just above the surface for 200 feet even though the grade was ascending. When I set down it was where I wanted to be, maybe a bit close because I almost took out the windsock with the wing. As I was packing up the breeze dropped 10 degrees and picked up. It felt good…It was a no muss …no fuss flight…just a nice taste of the sky before the cold front blows in. Tomorrow it’s forecast to be 23knots at 3:00pm. Think I’ll go sailing.

#352 & #353 Chatfield …Power on Landings

God made Days off for days like today!

The season is changing and it’s happening all too fast. Now days, when I get to the field at 6:00am, it’s O’Dark Thirty. Plenty of time to finish that Rock Star and let the caffeine get into the blood stream. It had been partly clouding all night and this morning was hazy and 55 degrees
The wind was SSW variable 4 to 7 which meant I had a slight uphill grade and rotor from the “Club House”. The wing came up fast and the buggy had stopped rolling after the first two feet, I was able to add a little “foot power”, but the wing stalled and fell to the left, by now, I was starting to roll, so I added right brake and watched the wing swing to the right until the tip was about 6 feet above the ground. Now some left brake and this time it centered and was rock solid over head. Small wing Heavy trike… The Eden III is easy to muscle around because it’s smaller, lighter material and more responsive than the Power Play. I don’t think this would have tipped the Trike Buggy Basic but I’m sure that I would have felt the trike start to lift on one side. Because of the extended wheelbase and low and heavy CG, the Thumper is incredibly forgiving. When the wing was about 40 percent loaded the “side pull “was just discernible.

When the wing is oscillating like that it’s a good time to be looking up at the glider. 🙂 The mirror is great for some pilots, but it tends to take up too much of my attention and I lose the big picture. The climb out was slow, which was made worse because the surface was sloping upward. Once up, it was mostly smooth air. The winds were flowing in a circle, clockwise around the area. I could fly downwind along the western edge of the park and still be downwind on the east side of the park coming home. The neat thing was that the area around the Balloon Port was calm, because it is inside the circle. I watched two balloons go up and hang right over the Port, they didn’t move 20 feet except vertically the whole time they were in the air.

I took some shots of the Marina, landed power on and practiced the low and slow. Then took a brake and did it again. The overcast had damped any thermal activity…I could have flown for two more hours it was that good!

Chad…Please bring some different length hang straps and help me dial in these wings for the Thumper Bullet.
1. Measure the current straps and Riser position in relationship to the hang point rings

Don’t buy a CT 4 stroke !

This year at the Salton Sea Fly-in I traded in my beautiful little FB Simonini Trike Buggy Classic for a hybrid CT Thumper Briggs & Stratton 4 Stroke on a Trike Buggy Deluxe. I’ve done some bone headed things before but this one is the worst.

I should have known this wasn’t going to work that first day on the Salton Sea. On the maiden flight I parablended my favorite cap right there in front of everybody. The 4 stroke was so quiet I didn’t think to put on my helmet and ear protection. Imagine….A machine so quiet you don’t notice your not wearing ear protection… until your cap goes through the prop. That’s a dangerous machine! Yea, I did go to idle the other day to use the cell phone… but so what?

Every day I find another flaw in this crappy machine. I used to love driving out to Centennial Airport for AV Gas. They let me drive onto the tarmac with the GA guys so I could fill my two 5 gallon gas jugs. I’d drive to the back of the line and wait my turn. Sometimes it took awhile to fill those big birds and when I got done reading the latest issue of Ultraflight I’d get allot of good thinking done sitting in the truck. Now, I don’t even need the jugs, I just stop at the gas station on the way to the field and fill the buggy right there in the truck. Where is the romance in that? And that reminds me of another thing. What am I going to do with those cases of TTS in my garage?
And speaking of the garage….my “Man Cave”… I haven’t had a good night working on the machine in months. Yeah sure, I can re-rig the footsteering or mount a strobe but mostly I just sit there and gaze at the machine. No changing tension springs on the exhaust or rebuilding the carb. Heck, I’m having a hard time finding a place that needs a little safety wire. It just isn’t the same I come in after 3 hours in the garage and I don’t even need to wash my hands. It just sucks!
And the flying is different too. Gone is that element of uncertainty, I sit down, buckle the seat belt and turn the key. There is no sense of accomplishment in that. No fooling with the carb or pulling on the starter till I’m bathed in sweat. The other day I flew 15 miles from the LZ and didn’t think once about what a drag it would be if I had to land out. Sure, I still keep an eye out for emergency landing sites but it’s really just an exercise anymore. I can still remember the thrill of an engine out, what a rush!

So take my advice, if you love the lifestyle, don’t by a 4 stroke.

# 280 Simms

Beautiful Morning…
65 degrees at 5:30 with light westerly breeze.

I didn’t plan on it but I woke early and it looked good so I went for it.
The launch was better because I found a nice smooth area on the North East end of the field. It makes all the difference when I can get a little momentum built up. The wing had a hard time getting fully inflated perhaps I was a little cross to the wind or it was different 20 feet above the buggy but eventually the right wingtip snapped out and all was good.
I’m going to talk to Terry today and discuss the hard left turns and general sluggishness of the PP Sting. I think there may be some torque issues and I’ll ask what kind of tests I can do to figure out whats going on.
The new leash isn’t secure enough to hold the throttle by the cruise knob so I’ll swap it for a beaner or clip of some kind.

#276 & #277 Flying Simms and Boating Chatfield

Dawn Flight

I awoke at 3:50 this morning when the cell phone’s low battery tone woke my bride. After 40 minutes of trying to go back to sleep I slipped into the closet and pulled on the thermals. It reminded me of the first couple of years when I routinely was out of the house before dawn. At 5:00am it was just beginning to get light and there was a fresh breeze from the SW. I took my time looking for the smoothest place to launch and was ready to go at 5:30. The wind was light and I launched after the longest run out ever. It was a little dicey because the climb was very slow and I ended up threading the needle between the trees on the south side of the field. The air was mixing and in some spots down right ratty. I climbed to 6000 and it was no better descending to 200 ft AGL it got very active with the wing yawing and generally making the front wheel describe circles. I set it down just as Marek was pulling into the LZ. I would have done a touch and go but this darn motor is so slow to respond and it felt like sinking air so i satisfied myself by greasing in by the truck

We chatted and I was glad to hear that his Chrysler Dealership was not on the hit list of thirteen to lose their franchise in Colorado. After 20 minutes or so it seemed to be mellowing and I set up for a second shot. Marek saved me the hassle of laying the ramps under the tires and the take off was much better. It was still a long run out but the climb was better. I stayed up 45 minutes and ventured away from the field because the air was much better. This was the first time I have hooked up the foot steering and it is absolutely easier than with the rig I had on the Simonini. I’m going to have to practice maneuvers because I cannot tell it I’m not using enough input or this wing is just plain doggy. I do notice that it seems to be a little more cranky when I’m turning to the left.

I love the way this machine is so problem free but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to adjust to the slow run up to power and general lack of punch.

The last several flights I’ve noticed that the motor is running between 3500 and 3600 but not coming up to 3700. At the house and before take off it had no trouble getting up there so I’m thinking it’s time to put in the high altitude jets to see if I boost the power. It might also help with gas consumption.

After packing up I rushed out to Chatfield where Spencer and I put in the Paradiso. The impeller seems to have frozen. Stay tuned for the damages.

273 Simms

There was cloud activity all day
65 to 70 degrees
Simms & Hampden

Big puffy cumulus over the plains and wind blown cumulus in the foothills. I got to the field right at 7:00pm and sunset was at 8:00. It was blowing 12 mph from the south west swinging all the way over to north west and back. Marek and I kited for a bit and Tracy even took a hand at kiting the sting. At 7:20 the sun set behind the foothills and we knew there was going to be a short window of good air. As I was getting the helium tank out some cool air flowed in without a breath of wind…I popped a black balloon and sure enough it was smooth and dead calm up at least 300 feet.

Marek got up first and with a little manual assist from Tracy to get the buggy rolling on the super soft soil I followed. The wind had started to pick up from the west a so I was forced to take off toward the wires and turn as soon as possible. The run out was a bit long and I noticed some bad friction on the right side but it didn’t prevent a clean right hand turn over Hwy 285. I followed around till I was heading toward the high school and took a minute to get some altitude and take the twist out of the right brake pulley. The air was nice and smooth at first but as I got to 6000 feet there were the beginnings of not bumpy but mixing air.

The Thumper was spinning at 3650 and I noticed that there is a little lurch when I goose it from idle. Probably getting a little belt slap as well. It sure sounded sweet when I backed off the throttle and…at idle I could not hear anything at all. For some reason I chose not to use the Emoitic plugs and IPOD and enjoyed the comfort of standard foam plugs. I’ve been missing allot by filling my head with music. It pays to be able to hear the motor and it would be great to flip back the ear cups when I’m descending or maybe even at level flight!

Over the High School I did some slow turns and worked on slight changes in the throttle. It would be nice if I could find a simple way to increase the throttle travel but I’m finally getting used to it. It helps to use the two little fingers on the throttle and the bigger two on the brake.

After climbing to 6200 I did slow descending spirals over Soccer field and and made an approach toward the truck. The air had “turned” down low…there were areas of sink and lift making it difficult to make a long low approach so I did a fly by at 40 feet and went around again. Turning clockwise at full power I was really disappointed with the climb but it was as much sinking air as lack of power. Hopefully a new set of blades that are two inches longer will be enough improvement to make me happy. Maybe I’ll even be able to get a little bank on a full power turn.
The second approach was smoother and I set down right by the truck. Tracy hung around while we packed up and promised to e-mail some photos if he got anything good. Short but sweet….Just what I needed to kill the funk after spending the last 4 hour stretch alone at the store.

Flight 272 Simms

70 degrees and sunny
winds 10-12 at 6:00
decreasing to 4-5 at 6}45
Smooth air / some puffs

Marek pulled up just as I finished driving the truck out of a mud bog.
In trying to avoid a muddy and rutted gully I drove right into it’s feeder and packed up the tires big time.
My first thought was to use the ramps to give the back wheels some traction but without a shovel to get them placed under the tire it was easier to work the transmission and power my way to the dry ground. The wind was northeast and strong enough to create a rotor from the water tank North of the high school.
Marek and I kited for 15 minutes while the strong winds that had been blowing all afternoon finally died down. We chatted with an ex skydiver during set up and Marek was the first off at 6:45…I followed by a couple of minutes climbing to 1000 AGL. Marek stayed low and did some touch and goes.
While he was playing in the dirt I finally took the time to let out the trimmers on Monte’s PowerPlay 250. There is more travel in the trim tabs and while I was fussing with them I discovered that it’s possible to get a twist to run through the buckle. Not a good thing…I could see the possibility of it jamming if I wasn’t careful. Without the GPS I can’t say how much faster the sting flew but the brakes felt better…less spongy but still not as firm as the Eden III.
I was able to modulate the throttle better than last time but I didn’t feel like messing with the cruise control . It was enough to do gentle maneuvers and get to know the wing. Inconsistent is the best word I can come up with to describe the turns. Sometimes there is a noticeable delay before the wing starts to turn. It sure doesn’t want to bank I wish that I had 62 inch blades because I could use some more power from the B&S 4stroke .

One thing to work on is the throttle. The way the risers are set my hands are even with the bullet bars and the kill switch is getting bumped. Tomorrow I’ll fit a piece of plastic hose to act as a guard.
Marek gave me a great helmet….Thanks buddy!

Flight 271 Simms

First flight in a long time
The wind was coming from the South and East at 5:00 pm.
It was a warm 65 degrees
For 45 minutes it shifted back and forth at 8 knots and for a brief time it swung around to the West. Marek stopped by on his motorcycle and while we chatted the winds came down…He left and I set up. First attempt in light breeze the wing over flew me and I had to re-set. Second was better when I damped the surge a little quicker. I must have got off a bit early because the buggy drifted down a bit. I was a little disappointed by the climb rate it hung at 140 ft/min for awhile but there were areas of lift where I was climbing at 260 and better.
The new FB Throttle is better but I still don’t have a good hold yet. I think it might help if I lowered the brakes a little bit. I was not comfortable in the mixing air and had to force myself to go “hands free”. I’m still working on fine motor control, the short throw in the throttle and quiet motor make it a real challenge to find the sweet spot.
I’m also a little disappointed by the Power Play Sting 250. It feels mushy compared to the Eden III. Maybe it will firm up with the trimmers out. The wing wanted to turn to the left and after fooling with the trimmers a bit I got it figured out. But I just felt like the wing was doing it’s own thing. There was a bit of weed high on the left side and perhaps the drag from it was what I was feeling.
Landing was good…. power on…
Next time try a moving the foot steering so that the arms can go farther back. Use the cruse control and go trimmers out.

Pros and Cons of the Thumper

The Rocky Mountain Thumper
is a very different kind of Paramotor
Two months ago I traded in the beloved Simonini and became the proud owner of a Briggs and Stratton Trike buggy. The 4 stroke power plant was designed and built by Terry Lutke and the Flexfoil Trike was developed for PPG by Chad Bastion.

The biggest downside to going 4 stroke is the lack of fun things to do while not flying. Having spent the last 4 years immersed in this sport, I was comfortable with all the the wonderful little things that are a normal part of a PPG pilots life. The nights spent in the garage replacing compression springs or driving to the airport after dinner to pick up AV Gas. If I wasn’t searching the Internet for the best buy on Castrol TTS, I was waiting for the UPS man to deliver a 160 dollar starter sprocket. It seemed like I was either working on the maching or flying it.
For every minute in the air there was an equal or greater amount of time occupied with the care and feeding of my 2 stroke paramotor. If it was blowing…no problem, I have a pull starter to rebuild.


These days… things are different, because the heart of the “Thumper” is a Briggs & Stratton, twin V, 4 stroke motor. Thousands of these motors are built every year and the economy of scale makes it possible to produce a very affordable motor with excellent manufacturing tolerances and a beautiful fit and finish. They are designed to run 10,000 hours at peak horsepower, so it’s not unreasonable to expect to fly hundreds of hours with nothing more than an annual check-up and oil change. When necessary, parts and expert service are readily available at the local lawnmower repair. Gone are countless hours tinkering with the machine. No mixing fuel, exotic tools or translating owners manuals. Now ,when it’s too windy to fly, the best I can do is wish for better air. You still have to be ready for a “motor out” and have an emergency landing site within the glide slope but the reliability of this motor instills a confidence that allows for flights that would not have attempted before.

But…. When it is flyable, the thumper is always ready to go and the first thing you notice is the happy rumble of the Briggs & Stratton. On my first flight it was so quiet that I completely forgot the step where I put in the ear plugs and put on the helmet. I realized my mistake just as I was taking off and few seconds later so did everyone at the Salton Sea when my ball cap went through the prop. …..WAAK….ear protection is still necessary but with a four stroke power plant, noise is reduced by thirty percent or more. At cruise with the RPM’s reduced it would not be impossible to use a cell phone.
The next thing you notice is that the thumper doesn’t suffer from the constant vibration that plagues two stroke motors. Its eerie, when the prop is in balance and the motor is running for level flight, its possible to forget all about the power plant and enjoy the ride. Occasionally you will find a node on the power band that sets up a harmonic vibration, but it’s easy to bump up or down the RPMs to stay in the sweet spot. Flying a two stroke I was often ready to land at 45 minutes or an hour. Without the vibration I’m much more relaxed and feel like I’ll be able to fly as long as the gas and weather will permit. Cross country flights of 100 miles or more are certainly possible.
Not for the con…Only one so far…There isn’t the instant power you get with the Simonini. I won’t be able to fly the contour of the surface like I used to. This year when I fly the dunes it will be from 30 feet above the tops instead of down in between the dunes. Flying the Thumper is going to require anticipating my power needs. It might be better with a different wing and it’s going to be fun to try them out.

Flight 269 Good Air at last Simms

Good flight….Trimmers-in launch.

55 degrees

Light wind from the NW

High overcast

(no gps track)

I’m getting used to the long take off but I was a little surprised by the way I floated at 10 feet for a while before it finally started to climb. I’ve been letting the buggy build enough speed to take off without brakes but it might be a good idea to ad some brake and see if it improves the climb.

So…I ventured away from the home field and went over to Bear Creek Park for a look see. I should have tested the foot steering but I think I’ll wait until I get some kind of cruise control to free up my hands. Same for the trimmers…next time I get into some decent air the trimmers are going out!

The biggest thing to get used to is the slow run up the power band or maybe it’s just flying with less power. Touch and goes are tricky because you have to be powering up for the climb-out before you touch down. Another thing is I don’t have the power to do any hard banking turns, it might be better with the trimmers out…I’ll have to wait for the next flight.

Next time the wind is coming out of the east I’m going to try the Eden III 28m…if it climbs slow at least I’ll have plenty of room to work with.