Glenn and Joe’s ……………………………Most Excellent Adventure

I admire those young guys
that sail North
Hoping to see seals
basking in the sun

But…I’m an old man,
who sails South, to see the wildlife on North Fort Myers Beach.

They say, it’s mating season.

Glory at anchor … Matlacha

By land or by sea….?

It was time for the traditional Bon Voyage dinner. The question was…. should we finish provisioning the boat and cast off to Fishville or would it be better to run over in the sports car?

Parking was going to be a challenge either way. Finding a place to tie up depended on getting there just as somebody was leaving. While securing a parking spot in the maze of Fishermans Village required shrewd tactics and a bit of aggression. After all, it was high season in Southwest Florida. We opted for for cunning and speed… jumped in the Toyota and sure enough, scored the number one parking spot in the whole complex……..It was an Omen.

It was Friday night and busy as hell so…. we got on a long waiting list at the Village Brew House and strolled down the pier to see what other options we had. At the next restaurant, my muscle memory kicked in and I led Glenn through the bar to waterside dining. One glance at the menu convinced us to keep looking. Neither of us wanted to start a night passage with a bellyful of edamame and sushi. At the end of the pier was Harpoon Harrys, it was packed, every table was filled, except a primo spot right on the water…..It was an Omen.

Glenn Cattanach at Harpoon Harry’s

Harry’s Blackened Grouper Sandwiches were excellent. We chowed down and watched the sun set and the moon rise. Then, when the Harbor Queen pulled in with her cargo of Pale Riders from up north, it was time to go.

The Harbor Queen

We made a last minute stop at the CVS and cast off at 2130 hours The ride down Harbor, wasn’t fast, The sky was clear except for a enormous full moon and few puffy little clouds. Only the very brightest stars were visible. The moon turned the carbon sails to shimmering gossamer. They looked the wings of a huge dragonfly. It was very cool.

Gossamer wings

When we set off, there was good wind on the beam but when we rounded Punta Gorda it was dead astern and decreasing. Sailing wing on wing, we ran 3.5 knots VMG. About 2300 hours the Fish and game officers came alongside, inquiring if we had seen a small (22ft) sailboat that had gone missing. We had not and that was pretty much the last boat we saw until dawn.

We approached Boca Grande after high tide and enjoyed a 3 knot bump that increased our ground speed dramatically. We rode the flood out to the gulf while I smiled. The view was amazing , I could see the details clearly on either side of the pass. There wasn’t any traffic to follow out but the chartplotter kept me on course until it was safe to turn south. The wind picked up slightly and the boat settled in at 5 knots VMG. The moon was high and the seas were light.


At sunrise we were approaching the southern tip of Sanibel Island. Glenn was fresh from a good nap so I laid back in the cockpit and let him helm the boat. An hour and a half later we turned East toward Fort Myers Beach. The approach wasn’t simple, we had to divert to the south before making our final approach to the entrance of Matanzas Pass. At 1000 hours we passed under the Fort Myers Beach Bridge. I spotted an open mooring ball at the front of the mooring field. We were about to pick it up when the field manager came alongside and informed us that the space had been reserved.

“But Sir…. it states very clearly, right here, on my chart plotter, that the balls are first come first served”. That’s when the “Ball Cop”, explained to us that the “transition of management”, from the Pink Shell Resort to the City of Fort Myers, was still a little blurry. I called the number they gave me and we were assigned ball #34, which was way back in the cheap seats just like the last time I was here. Rather than pay with the DockWa app as instructed, I called the office to cover the $17 ball fee. It’s going to be interesting to see who’s name is on the charge. Pink Shell Resort or Fort Myers?

After, catching old number 34, we did a little housekeeping and inflated the dingy. The trolling motor wasn’t fast but it got us to the bridge, against the current. At the dingy dock we hooked up with Dawn. Who had braved the traffic and driven down to deliver my AWOL shaving kit. She absolutely saved the trip. I’ve been on a steroid therapy since last May and I don’t want to imagine what my condition might have been without those Superman pills. Thanks Dawn, your… My Hero!

We strolled across the island to the famous, Fort Myers Spring Break Beach. The T-shirt shops were busy. Plastic sandals were going for $75 and the cash registers were singing. Glenn found a place selling white logo Tees, 2 for $10. I smiled, it’s exactly the weight and thread count preferred by Wet T-shirt Champions the world over.

Following the wildlife, we found ourselves at the mall where we had a classic “beach feast”, hot, greasy and good! All around us, America’s youth were dancing to a song they thought was their own invention. Just as we had, a half a century ago.

The tide turned while we were ashore so we ended up motoring “uphill”, against the current…. again. Someday I’ll get the timing right and the sea will deliver us to and from, the bar.

It had been a long day and an even longer night. I had visions of going ashore after dinner but once the sun was down, neither Glenn or I felt like raising hell. I watched a little YouTube and crashed in the forward berth.

Note to self…..We really need, two nights at Fort Myer Beach. One to recover and reconnoiter and one to celebrate. I mean….. after all … we sailed all this way to see the wildlife….and they say…….. it’s Mating Season”

The next morning, we woke refreshed and ready. There was a light fog that burned off as I brewed coffee and broke out pastries. Glenn and I sat in the cockpit and watched the commercial fishing boats, cruisers, speed boats, and sightseers transit Matanzas Pass, At 10, we dropped the ball and motored out from behind Fort Myers Beach.

For more than 20 years I have trusted Garmin. I was following the, “auto route”, to Pelican Bay, and noticed that it was not taking me under the 110 ft. Sanibel Causeway Bridge. It was telling me to go west and cross where there was only a 12’ clearance. I ran the auto route twice more and it kept taking me under the low part of the causeway. After all these years …. Garmin had let me down.

We turned back and motored under the bridge. There were dozens of fast movers in the channel, some without colors but many were flying the Trump Banner. They were churning up the waters pretty good but Glory powered through just fine. After heading North for a bit, we connected with the channel that lead to the ICW. (Inter Coastal Waterway). Glenn brought up the Bose and we cranked up the tunes. it was a beautiful morning in every way, clear skies, nice breeze, good company and nostalgic tunes. Everything was going great. Then, while I was re-telling an old story about our summer camp days, I felt the keel drive into the sand.

Grounded! It happens to everybody sooner or later. I’d been following the fast movers who were leaving the red marks to port. Wish I’d paid more attention to the chart, it was clearly marked that the red should be left to Starboard. When we hit bottom, I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I tried to drive out but it was obvious that we wouldn’t get off under our own power. I reached for my wallet and the TowBoatUS card. It’s the only insurance I don’t mind paying, $150 and your protected from huge towing fees. Well… as I’m retrieving the phone, who should be running down the channel TowBoatUS! We hadn’t been aground 5 minutes and there he was. It took 10 minutes to tow us off the bar and another 10 to do the paperwork. The gods were still on our side.

TowBoatUS to the rescue!

We crossed under Pine Island and caught the ICW North. I rolled out the Genoa and we drove North at 6+ knots, motor sailing. It was a gas. I’d forgotten how much the sail stabilized and smoothed out the bumps. Motor sailing, isn’t just for Fat Bellied Stogy Suckers. We sailed North with a steady stream of fast movers coming and going.

A beautiful “Point Boat”. This one is well north of One Point Five

We passed Cabbage Key, Useppa Island and arrived at Pelican Bay mid afternoon. Plenty of time to “drop the dink” and go exploring. From the Rangers dock there was a dirt rode leading to the other side of Caya Costa. A thick jungle rises up on either side making for a nice shady hike.

I knew Caya Costa was a state park but didn’t know they had campsites. As we approached the west side of the island, we passed several groups of primitive campers. No vehicles or electricity or any of the accoutrements of modern “Glamping”. For a moment, I was transported back 50 years, to when the Rainbow family held their festival at Strawberry Lake. Long haired kids with no inhibitions played in the jungle while their parents, looking very much like love children waved as we strolled past. When we got to the beach, I tested the waters and was surprised to find the gulf already warm in March. We took a few pictures and headed back on the path to our anchorage.

Same goofy kids, 50 years later

Dinner was steak with cold slaw and potato chips. The new ceramic briquettes were a big improvement to the MAGMA BBQ. The heat was distributed better and the steaks were the best I’d ever done aboard. As usual, I’d brought way too much food and it made me smile at the sweets and delicacies, I would be eating over the next few weeks.

After dinner, Glenn introduced me to the world of dance music re-mixes and medleys. I kind of knew what a mix was but not really. What Glenn played were time capsules of 80’s dance music that covered a wide range of the music that defined our twenties, Prince, Annie Lennox, Patty LaBelle. I especially like a grouping that I recognized from he Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. Good stuff! ….

After dark the anchorage was beautiful. It was dead calm and the lights from the other boats and the moon, lit up Pelican Bay, like a big garden party. The air was cool and the sleeping was good.

In the morning, we hauled the dingy , raised anchor and headed back to Cabbage Key. The plan was to stop at the resort, have breakfast and proceed to Matlacha and Burt’s Bar. When we got there I was delighted to see that we had beaten the crowd. There were plenty of slips available and a dock hand to catch us. We secured the boat and walked to the restaurant where Jimmy Buffet had been inspired to write, “Cheeseburgers in Paradise”.

When we entered the famous old Florida eatery, the manager informed us that we were too late. If we wanted to eat … wait 45 minutes for lunch. I grumbled but there was nothing I could do about it. Actually, it turned out to be a good thing, I climbed the tower and took some nice photos of the area. Glenn went in the other direction and discovered the bale of gopher turtles that inhabit Cabbage Key.

Cabbage Key Resort approach

While we were exploring the resort, the tour boats arrived. In thirty minutes it went from abandoned to packed. Every table was filled and the guests were borrowing pens to write their name on dollar bills to pin to the walls of the dining room. I’m glad we waited, Glen had scored an excellent table overlooking the Marina. I had smoked salmon and Glenn had their signature Stone Crab.

Wall to Wall dollar bills
Shallow entrance

We left Cabbage Key a little after noon. I was concerned about a strong wind pinning us from behind and there was a confusion of boats jockeying to get our slip. Fortunately, the dock hand controlled our bow with the painter and Glory backed out clean. I’d considered a shorter route to the harbor that had been suggested by Navonics but after the fiasco with the Sanibel Causeway, I opted to retrace our course back toward Pelican Bay and not turn up until we were well above the shallows.

The trip to Matlacha was wonderful. The winds were favorable to sail all the way to where the channel narrows down for the approach to Matlacha. Staying close to the markers, we avoided the shallows and arrived at the bridge. After a few big circles the bridge master stopped traffic and raised the span for us to pass through to. On the South side of the bridge, the Punta Gorda Sailing Club was at anchor on the last day of a casual cruise that consisted mostly of eating at the best restaurants on the causeway.

Our track at Matlacha

I circled around and we attempted to drop hook close to Burt’s bar but the anchor wouldn’t set in the grass close to shore. …. Probably a good thing. Our second attempt was 100 yards further out, close to the wreaks but in good holding ground. We took the dingy over to Burt’s and ate with my racing Co-Captain, Artie Sa and his wife Jacqueline. After dinner we walked the causeway. Most of the businesses are closed on Sunday night but at least Glenn was able to see and get a feel for the place. At our turnaround, there were a couple of kids seining for bait fish. They knew what they were doing and were absolutely enjoying the audience. Their casts were spot on, with the net opening nicely, but …. No Joy. We returned to the boat, told more stories, listened to old tunes and crashed by 10.

Artie’s Trawler

Last Day.

It was a cool morning with light fog. The anchor came up clean and soon we were spinning around, waiting for the bridge master to open the bridge. I embarrassed myself by touching bottom at the first marker but we’d hit it slow and were quickly off and making our way up the channel. Once back in big water, I raised a reefed main and let out half of the Genoa.

I kept the diesel running to get us home in time for Glenn to catch his flight and was shocked and dismayed when it surged a few times and stopped. The batteries were good but I couldn’t get it to start, so we sailed. Glenn and I ran through the possibilities , none of which were easy fixes. Finally, just because I could , I took the 1.5 gallons of diesel that was stowed in the lazarette for emergencies and dumped it into the tank. She fired right up! It’s a mystery, I’d just polished the gas and topped off the tank. There was no way we could have burned 11 gallons of diesel in the last couple of days. Maybe there was a problem with the fuel filter, or maybe, I’d only thought I’d filled the tank. Regardless, the engine was running again and I wouldn’t need to beg a tow or attempt to sail into the canal system. The ride back to Punta Gorda was a quick close reach, in 18 knots of wind. At one point the wind caught the dingy and I had to go forward to secure it.

Note to self…. Secure the dink!

When we landed , Glenn went inside to clean up and I offloaded the boat. It had been a great trip. The gods were kind to us.

Cheated Death Again!

Flight Day. #1114. Spinout!

Well…. That was interesting. This morning… the first day of 2022, I had two aborted launches with a tip over.

The whole thing was so smooth and gentle, that, the second it was over, I knew …. It was OK. Nothing was bent, crushed or broken. Man or machine. The only visible evidence was a scrape on the outer ring and the original keeper was bent flush to the cage. A perfectly acceptable crumple zone, that soft metal V just folded in and absorbed a lot of energy. And…. cage is still round.

The tip-over was the end result of the nose wheel catching an edge just at take off speed. I was drifting toward the boundary of the blacktop and dirt and had started to steer back to center, when (I think), the front wheel barely lifted and immediately touched back down. The sharp edge of the nose wheel appears to catch the edge of the blacktop causing the Falcon to pivot off it’s nose and spin 280 degrees to the left. Then, with it’s energy spent, the Falcon gently tipped over.

Video credit Jacob Niely

Could this accident been avoided? Yes, I can think of a couple of scenarios that would have saved the launch. If I just followed my course and run off into the weeds, it would have been fine. If I’d have popped a little brake before I caught an edge, I’m confident the Falcon would have flown but I like to build as much speed as I can so that the trike leaps into the air.

However if I pulled brake after catching an edge, it would have been a disaster. I’d have spun under the wing and without the friction of the wheels on the surface, it would have probably turned a lot more than 270 degrees. And….When I came back down , who knows what direction I’d be pointed. One things for sure, I’d still be at takeoff speed and probably would have rolled violently. Round tires would , have helped and that’s something not related to reactions or muscle memory. But I like the way the flat wheel steers and it’s small diameter helps to direct the prop wash above the wing before launch. So… I’m going to think a little more, before changing back to the conventional round nose wheel.

After quick check of the rig and lines, I reset and tried again. And… failed again! This time the A-assist ratchet slipped and the wing headed off to the right where I followed it off the field. It was an embarrassing non-event. So… I gathered up the wing and determined to fly, reset for the third time. By now, the wind had picked up to 5 knots and was coming from 90 degrees off the earlier heading. This time the launch was quick, clean and very lofty. No issues with the lines at all.

I’m still not happy with the A assists and I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to not having my hands on the A’s during inflation. Today, the wing was a little slow to come overhead. I’d like to dial it in so I can try Robert’s Throggle.

The air was trashy up to 300 feet, where it settled down but the breeze had increased to 18 knots. Jacob had launched earlier and was well on his way to the beach. I called him and we swapped position reports. He was over the causeway about to descend to the beach. The wind looked like it was going to continue to build so I stayed over the patch.

I landed clean by the truck and waited for Jacob. After waiting awhile for his return I called him again. He was having a slow time penetrating and it took him awhile to make the last mile. Unable to penetrate he eventually he had to descend into the turbulent layer below 300 ft to gain ground on the LZ. His landing was spot on, despite the strong breeze and bumpy air.

It wasn’t a good day but it wasn’t a disaster either. It’s been more than a decade since I crashed on takeoff at Bubba’s. These things happen… and… after all… I did get to fly.


A few days after this was uploaded, Tucker Gott, PPG’s YouTube phenom, put the video on a Blooper Reel. I thought! “Cool, at least there is a good write up “, maybe he’ll make a learning moment out of it.” But then, he called the rig “Rickety and Janky”, what’s Janky anyway? Maybe it’s Janky but Terry doesn’t build anything that’s Rickety. Geez!

Maybe I’ll have to buy a Risky Briskets Tee Shirt

Flight 1058 Placida

This was a very satisfying flight. Yesterday, I was at Lake Suzi and decided not to fly, it just didn’t feel right. The wind was cycling between 3 and 8 mph and shifting randomly through 45 degrees. I didn’t want to have another 2 minute pucker flight because I was being thrashed as soon as I cleared the trees. So, with not a small amount of reluctance, I turned back and headed for home.

It’s early in daylight savings time, the sun is rising at 7:30. Like yesterday, I got up at 5:30 and was out the door an hour later. The predicted winds were 30 degrees off the forecast, making for a cross wind launch at Suzi so at the last minute, I changed plans and skipped Suzi and went to Placida instead.

There was a beautiful pink full moon setting as I drove over the El Jobean Bridge. When we hit the dew point of 70 degrees the windshield fogged up. It was certainly a much warmer morning than usual.

The inflation and runout was,” the best overall “ in a long time. It took about 150 feet to reach takeoff speed but the rotation was clean. It was a little twitchy up to 300 ft and the winds aloft were 45 degrees further south. The clouds were coming in bands. Flying just above them, it looked like a total overcast. The cloud bands were moving southwest at about 12 mph. I’m adverse to landing blind, so, I paid close attention. I was confident that I would not lose sight of the surface but the overcast illusion was persistent until I was 1000 feet above the clouds. They were thickest to the north and very light over the Gaspirilla causeway.

I quit climbing about 15minutes into the flight and enjoyed “buttery air”. The only turbulence I encountered was my own prop wash after some button hook turns. The decent was smooth to 500 feet where it got spicy real quick. I setup to flyby the windsock and hit some nasty sink at 200 feet. In a heartbeat I was 100 feet lower and still descending . I powered up and flew level through some strong rotor coming off the jungle. Eventually I got above it and circled back to a surprising soft and slow landing.

The APCO Lift EZ did really well with the turbulence despite being trims in for landing. I was getting pushed around pretty bad but the wing didn’t oscillate. Today would have been a good day to experiment with 2D steering while I was at altitude in smooth air, I really should have tried flying the wing with both wing tip and brakes together.

After the flight I kited for a bit. Again, the wing felt great. It was a bit damp but still came up nicely. Another point of note; this was the first time I flew with the new flight suit and swamp boots. No bugs or wet feet. No weeds snagging my legs and at altitude I was warm and comfortable. It fits great, even after I landed and tied the top part around my waist. (The alterations cost more than the suit). I’m not sure I care for the color (red) but performance wise …. I’m happy.


#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.

Flight #1046 It was like butter…..

Sunday afternoon flights in the winter used to be a thing. I remember the warm glow driving home from the field after a magical twilight flight. The air was so calm that you could hear the sounds of nature with extra normal clarity.

I arrived at the field about 4:00. “GOOD NEWS….! The weeds have been cut down to stubble. I wasn’t restricted to taking off from one of the roads. There was just a hint of breeze from the east so I set up centered at the western edge. The clouds were thin and high, but still thick enough to dampen the bumps. It was the perfect recipe for buttery air.

I took my time laying out the wing perfectly flat with a tuck in the leading edge. It worked well to deflect the prop wash and today the motor was running about 30 seconds before starting the rollout. So we had that working for us, ….however, it took forever to get the wing up and inflated. There was a cravat on the left side which required brake input and looking to the right, I caught a glimpse of a poorly inflated and unloaded wing. It was a good thing to be in a field where I could look up and pay attention to the wing and not worry about staying on the road. It might have been lines snagging in the stubble or perhaps the 30 seconds of prop wash, whatever the cause, the wing was poorly prepared to initiate inflation. Eventually it got sorted out and I accelerated to liftoff.

It was a soft grey day. The overcast sky washed out the colors and removed any sharp edges. The horizon was indistinguishable over the ocean. I headed west to the Gaspirilla Marina climbing to 2000 feet. After a few turns I cruised over to the northwest corner of the Mangrove preserve where I observed a large sedan doing donuts and powering through shallow bogs. There was also a pickup that looked to be stuck in the mud. So Florida Man, was having fun tearing up the nature preserve and exercising his vintage sedan. Eventually they raced out of the bog and charged into the Meadows going at least 70mph.

I’d descended to 200 feet while watching the car play, so I added power and turned back toward the LZ, taking care to avoid the new houses that had sprung up over the last year. I flew to the far eastern corner looking for good launch sites and there was Florida Man, tucked way back into one of the wooded cul de sacs. There was a bunch of steam coming out from under the hood and kids pouring out of the back doors. I circled down and waved at “Florida Man and his family. They didn’t seem distressed by the clouds of steam and were happily waving so I did some mild wing overs and waved back.

I stayed low and enjoyed the calm air for awhile before returning to the LZ and landing. It was a great flight that reminded me of another Sunday afternoon in another place and another life.

Epic X-Country

Port Charlotte to Lake Wales

Flights #995 #996

Falcon 4 stroke APCO LIFT EZ. LG. 31

Miles logged 85.1

Time. 2 hours 37 minutes

1000 feet

Ave 31 mph

Trimmers in neutral

It was Mike Lange’s birthday last week and the crew got together to celebrate. After dinner we were sitting around the dining table and, as usual, the topic of cross country came up,and as usual, it was Port Charlotte to Lake Wales. However, unlike every other time, it came to pass.

Bob was the key. Early in the week someone posted about flying and I came back, Friday morning. Nothing came from it until Thursday afternoon when I got a message from Mike L, “Looks like we’re going to make that flight tomorrow!”. For the rest of the day the texts and messages were flying. We crammed 3 months of musing into half a day. Routes, logistics, misgivings, reassurances all the typical issues were brought up and handled. At 10:00pm, just as the texts were starting to slow down, I was ready.

At 4:45 the alarm went off. I went through the usual rituals and hit the road. Then everything went to hell. We were to meet at the Orlando LZ and I got lost. Nothing looked right. I turned on Orlando and drove right past the LZ. When I realized I missed it I texted Mike and he said they were launching from Yorkshire instead. Yorkshire?, Yorkshire? I knew I’d flown from there recently but I couldn’t for the life of me, remember where it was. I was fishing on the nav app trying to figure it out when I got a text from Mike that they were going back to Orlando. I’d just been there so I pulled a u-turn and after 5 minutes of driving around and once pulling within 500 feet of the gang and turning around again, we finally hooked up. Luckily we planned the meet a little early and it was still nautical twilight.

Bob the Pilot Harrison says it best.


Adventure flight #1

Mike Lange and Otten hv bn wanting to fly a x/c for a while. Well all the gears aligned for a North Port to Lake Wales flight via Avon Park Wally World for a slushie of all things.

We all gathered at Mike Lange’s house to reconfigure the chase vehicle. Meeting Joe at the LZ for a 06:45 departure.

Except for departing at sea level, it was a maximum effort takeoff having calm winds, high humidity/Temp and heavily laden with fuel, energy drinks and granola bars. Mike Otten kited my wing up nicely with a longer run than usual, then foot dragged half a football field mowing a new path in an already mowed grass median, eventually easing into the air. We weren’t sure if he was going achieve positive rate for gear up or a high speed face plant. Mike Lange and Joe Onofrio kited their wings into lifting position and were off with a bit longer runs.

I had programed road crossings into my GPSTest app for course monitoring. Was a bit of a challenge to keep up utilizing back country roads.

The Wally World stop was like adding an exclamation point to the adventure for Mike and Mike, I think Joe is still scratching his head. 😉 It was an open mowed lot with low obstructions for normal takeoffs. We used the philosophy of asking for forgiveness rather than permission, we used neither, so we’ll save it for next time.

On takeoff Mike Lange let the fast inflating Hadron XX get ahead of him, experiencing a 1/3 collapse, he kept the flying side straight while the other reinflated, throttled up and liftoff. Joe’s wing had a little waddle to it in the beginning. He straightened it out in taxi and throttled up.

Mike Otten controlled the wing nicely but didn’t have a normal takeoff. After mowing another path through already mowed grass, he had to add heavy right brake to counter a sharp left turn after liftoff while navigating between two oak trees a light pole while NOT stalling a strange wing. That took a level head and skill. Once through the obstructions he circled around to the left for another landing.

Mike was flying my APCO Lift and forgot to clear the four control lines or verify their proper connections. The L/Tip steer toggle was either wrapped around the risers or snapped into the brake snap causing an aggravated left turn.

Mike lange and Joe Onofrio were in a holding pattern until the event was over. I must say using radio communications, keeps everyone in the loop for changes and normal decision making.

The rest of the flight was a non event. They landed with fuel to spare at the AviatorPPG facilities located on Lake Wales airport. Jon allowed us vehicle access to load gear. After which we shop talked over lunch at the Depot restaurant downtown Avon Park before heading home.

Looking forward to the next cross country flight.

Bob the Chase Pilot


I’m afraid that my 1000th flight is probably going to be a let down. The last three flights have been fantastic! The weather has been remarkably cooperative. I look forward to the winter sun and longer flight windows.

Above solar farm … Below our pit stop LZ