Search This Blog

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tucson #230 #231 Wheeley Casters

The left side is lifting sooner than the right

Marana LZ
Higher winds gave me the excuse to try out the wheeley casters. I put the trimmers out and the wing came up quickly without pulling me back. It probably also helped that the surface was hard and smooth. One thing I noticed from viewing the video was that the left wheel lifted before the front.. I never felt like I was in danger of rolling but it is something to be aware of and possibly corrected before launching with the trimmers out. At the least I should hang the tool bag back on the left side. So while I wasn't able to see how the casters worked on launch I did get the impression that they were touching during the run out. On landing I felt them again but no problem.

First flight was about 30 minutes, I stayed in the general vicinity of the LZ and tried to get the feel of the area. Mostly farm flying but to the west there is a river that goes north. Scott Nicoles took that route and I wish I had gone with him. I was not able to be there when he returned because Mike Levine and I had to get back for dinner with the whole family.

The second flight was a quickie, I had to abort the first launch because the left brake line was twisted and I could feel the pulley wasn't rolling free....landing was sweet with the motor off...I flared at the last second and bled off the energy at just a couple of inches AGL.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2009 Road Trip Prep

Winter Fly In Prep

Coordinate with Ray NAMM DONE
Coordinate with Mo Service day process
Coordinate with Chad Santa Barbara Flying process
Coordinate with Saundra Santa Barbara process
Coordinate with Michelle Wing Inspection DONE
Coordinate with Mike Levin Truck storage DONE

Order Parts from Southern Skies DONE

Coordinate with Michael Purdy process

Airline tix DONE

Service / maintenance / Parts
1. Alternator does not seem to be charging the battery.
2. Electric Starter (Bendix) chews up the Starter Sprocket
3. No master kill switch
4. Seems hard to start with the pull cord
5. Tiny Tach does not read accuratly at low RPMs

Service Jobs...
1. New Rings
2. Install Temp Gauges

New Starter Sprocket
rings and any other parts need to rebuild the Simonini
kill switch parts
cht & egt gauge

all bearings that are recomended for replacement by 400
get additional jets for high low and mid ranges
inspect wings
new belt
new plug
broken spade connection

Airline tickets
PPG sites around Tucson

Fly-in registrations

Thursday, December 11, 2008

#229 Rowdy Air Shortens Flight Simms

Salton Sea campsight 2007
Two days ago it snowed leaving 4 inches on the grass....but...

this afternoon looked beautiful. Even if the field was going little wet I thought it worth going out there to see if I had a shot at flying. I arrived at 3 (1 1/2 hours before sunset). Set-up and launched quickly.

The 3 inches of wet snow slowed the taxi and from the nice way the wing came up and settled overhead ...It got me thinking that I'm a little heavy on the throttle and should practice short bursts of power to keep the speed down before committing to take-off.

Within seconds of leaving the ground I flew into some very powerful lift. and it was also clear that there was a strong breeze just above the surface. I decided to get down immediately, the only problem was that if I was going to land upwind and still be by the truck I would have to do some tricky flying. What I would have to do is fly clockwise around the trees and turn for final with enough room to avoid the wires. With all the bumps and mixing air I opted to come in fast and land downwind. There was almost no wind at the surface and even though I was technically downwind I was able to keep the wing up and taxi for over 150 feet back to the truck. Good thing too because the mud was sticky thick and I was wearing 2 inches of mud on the bottom of my boots by the time I loaded the rig back into the truck.

I think if I'd waited 30 minutes longer to launch it would have been allot better. I thought about it but decided not to because of the mud. I also wish I had launched a pilot balloon... even after landing it would have been instructive. I hope to remember this the next time the opportunity presents itself.

Before leaving the house I did change the jet to 155 and the motor started better and was more responsive. It even sounded better...deeper...more throaty.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

#228 Simms

I'm thinking that the motor is running lean.

Still hard to start...

Didn't burn much gas...

Throttle is not as responsive ...

it's not lagging just seems a little slow...

I've been flying a 150 jet all through the summer and fall at this altitude and higher...

The air is a little cooler but not as cool a it was this spring (during the AM flights). I'll change to the 155 if I fly again before leaving to Tucson.

Nice flight ,Nill wind on the surface but mixing at 600 feet. Tracy the RC pilot who is considering getting into PPG was at the field. He took some shots and I hope he has something good enough that he will send me a copy. I pretty much stayed over the field and practiced a few touch and go s. I really like flying the 24 m it comes up easier and because it is loaded heaver its firm and seems more stable I going to consider selling the 26 m and trading for a 24. Marek wanted to have me try the velvet 23 but I declined. Chicken I guess. But I really should see how the smaller wing feels.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

227 Quick Fix Simms

I got my fix, it was short but sweet. The wind was shifting on 220 degrees, not much but enough to blow a launch. I was flying the 26 meter and it fell back on the first attempt. Instead of re-setting I just stopped, grabbed the A's and tried again. Nice launch I got some decent taxi time before rotating. I've got to hold the A's longer with this wing, probably because the wing is getting older.
The 28m is on the way to Para Motor City for inspection. I'll pick it up on the way to Tucson and drop this one off.
The air was less than ideal, not bumpy but the wind was shifting and there was lots of sink and lift. When I went to idle and noticed that my decent was only 25 fps I decided to land. The sink had me at 450 fps at 1/3 throttle. The landing was sweet despite the weird air at 500 feet.

The motor wasn't starting so I swapped spark plugs and it started on the first pull...Yea ! I have to note that the plug that I took out looked good but it wasn't very tight so that might have been the problem. No IPod this time, I used ear plugs and it was easer to listen to the motor. I feel alot better about the motor, it's running well and I think it was just paranoia that had me hearing something other than normal.
Better luck tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

#226 4th Annual Birthday Flight at Chatfield!

It's been a week since my Knee was repaired with Arthroscopic surgery but I've healed enough to get in another birthday flight. Not the prettiest take off. The wing came up as cockeyed as the last time and I'm beginning to wonder what I'm doing or if it's the equipment. It would probably be a good idea to send them down to Michelle for inspection. I think it might help if I got on the brakes a little sooner. Any way nice flight... trimmers out ...59 degrees...almost no breeze. One spectator...same guy that was out the last flight. He sent me an e-mail interested in finding a used trike. I told him about Mo and Robert and promised to reply to his e-mail with some links.
The motor sounded different again and I noticed the rpms were 150 higher than normal. I kept it down to 5500. I'll feel allot better when Mo has done a ring job and "Pimped out the ride" with EGT and CHT gauges.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Flight 225 Simms

A small milestone

It's looking allot like the end of the season and in a couple of days I'm going to have my knee repaired...So...I REALLY WANTED TO FLY TODAY. Weather Underground was predicting 15 mph NE and later NW winds. Away from the foothills and out on the plains it look better with 4 to 5 mph. I was looking for places in Aurora and trying to find the old Aurora Air Park on google and map quest and decided to drive out east and take my chances. On the way home I noticed that the wind was considerably less than predicted. I decided to try Simms and sure enough there was a very light breeze 1 to 3 mph from the ENE. Perfect !

I set up and launched at 290 degrees. The wing came up wanting to turn left and it changed my intended bearing so that I was pointing right at the truck when I took off. Fortunately it was a non event because I had marched far enough out into the field so that I would be able to clear or turn once in the air. Later I realized that I had let one trimmer out an inch before taking off which explains the cockeyed launch. Some thing must have distracted me because I know to do things like that in pairs to keep things symmetrical. Anyway, I flew trimmers out as well and in this flight I really like the firmness of the wing with the trimmers out but the mixing air got me to thinking it was better to play it safe.

The air was smooth except for a few spots. I've noticed that when I get into rowdy air, I have a tendency to turn away and seek clear air instead of plowing through and getting to the other side of whatever is mixing the air. It really wasn't that bouncy but I was leery of the cut in the mountain and what could be flowing down the hill. So I turned and ran toward the home field. What I should have done was to turn 90 degrees and then when the air was good turn back to the direction I wanted.

When I was back over the field I did some low passes and apparently scared a dog who ran away from it's owners. I didn't know about it until I landed and met the family. Their little boy who was probably 13, approached me right away and asked if I'd seen their dog. I felt terrible when I met his mother and she said my PPG is what spooked him. I remembered flying right over the lady at maybe 30 feet. She was concealed by her truck until I was within 100 feet. I remember thinking, "That's not Cool", but I don't make a practice of flying over people, it was just one of those things" ...I wished it hadn't happened and apologized sincerely. She was very cool about it and said there was no way to know that the dog was going to react that way. I think she had more warning of me than I had of her and probably would have been able to secure her dog if she had thought it was necessary. At least I hope so ...

So I offered to go back up and look which she was all in favor of. The wind had shifted to the WSW and for some reason the wing hung back and came up crooked. I aborted when I started to feel it pulling.

Huh...maybe I'm finally starting to get a feel for the wing.

A breakthrough at 225 flights!

Anyway... I aborted the first attempt and when I was collecting the wing ...What should come on to the IPOD that was playing random songs? ....John Blacks near fatal accident. It was just the audio but that got my attention.

I could hear the paramotor clearly in the background and the camera man was saying oh o...oh shit.... John? Well it caused me to pause and when I set up the second time Damn if the wing didn't do the same thing coming up off to the side. I probably had room for one more attempt but the sun was getting low and I decided to call it quits. The lady still hadn't found her dog when I pulled out. I'll give her a call tomorrow to see what happened.

It was a nice long flight ! Over 50 minutes and if I hadn't heard some strange sounds from the motor I would have stayed longer.
I spoke with the owner the next day and...they found the dog!

#224 Simms

The wind was 8 mph from the north. I waited for awhile and went for it. There was rotor off the hills at the golf course so I came around and landed. Very short flight.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Flight #223 Simms

Just a quick 30 minute fix

Light to Nil Wind at launch. Lots of sand in the right wing tip.
50 degrees F and hands still got cold in winter grade gloves.
Flew into possible mountain cool air draining from Floyd Hill.
It was nice to get into the air. I didn't stay up for more than 30 minutes for a couple of reasons. First i was in such a hurry to get out that I forgot the earplugs. I used the Bose NR headphones but the seal was bad and the noise level was way to high. Second the sun was almost behind the mountain when I arrived and I had to fly to 1000 feet before I was back in the sun. and cold hands of course.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wheeley Casters

You want my wheels?
For What?
I've turtled the buggy twice. once on smooth surface and once in softer sand. Both times the wind was under 10 mph and it would have been an easy reverse. Until I have mastered the three wheel reverse I'd still like to fly.

I've designed a prototype set of wheeley casters for the trike buggy.
One inch aluminum square tube clamped to the bottom of the frame.
3/4 inch square aluminum strut inserted and pinned
The wheels are very light blown plastic toy wheels.
When the conditions warrant I can put them on in 2 minutes.

I look forward to trying them out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Glider Flight

The wind was blowing hard all day. Which was great as long as it was blowing my trailer north. I was afraid that it would not be flyable but Bob showed up 30 minutes early and we were in the air by 2pm. He joked that people often got sick , I assured him that I knew there was a wave out there waiting to turn me green but I'd been lucky so far. I knew when he broke out the reserves Doc Holliday was serious. Since I wasn't a paying customer he was entitled to do whatever he wanted . I challenged him to show me his stuff and he did. We rolled and stalled and a couple of other maneuvers where we dropped a wing and recovered by going inverted.

We got in 3 flights. 35 minutes...45 and 25. Each time we were towed to 3000 feet and on the second flight we climbed to 8500 feet. By the last flight the thermal activity had come down to where there was no lift...only stong wind from the south.

Someday I'll get poetic and try to discribe it....For now ...all I can say is awesome!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Galveston Texas WingNuts 1st Annual Fly-In

After spending Thursday night with Walt Burchfield and his bride in Dallas I headed south toward Houston. Just past the city I started seeing signs of damage from hurricane Ike. The first thing I noticed was the big McDonalds arches on posts high above the highway were missing parts. Then when I got to Galveston it was all beat up, there were blue tarps on the majority of roofs and lots of storefronts were closed. By the time I crossed over to the island it was total devastation, all the homes left standing were on stilts with the 1st floor blown away. Maybe one in 50 houses showed signs of people living there and the rest were either being worked on or waiting destruction. There were debris piles 6 feet high piled up[ along the Hwy. waiting for the trucks to come and haul it away. It's 18 miles from the center of the island to the west end where we were camping and 8 miles to the nearest convenience store.

When I got there the wind was blowing too hard for me to launch but the texas wingnuts are primarily foot launchers and several of the guys were in the air. I decided to wait till sunset and used the time to set up camp. Jeff Goin had arrived the day before, he greeted me warmly and at his suggestion we went out to the beach to practice reverse kiting with the trike. It took him a couple of times to get a feel for the risers being attached to the power loops but in 45 minutes he had it figured and with me behind the prop to provide thrust he was doing successful reverses no sweat. Later I shared some leftover ribs with Jeff in the Enterprise and we had a great time. No topic was left out (except politics) from pianos to particle physics.

The next morning I got up early and took 2 long flights. The wind was about 8 mph and no problem since I had some experienced guys who knew how to hold the trike so that I wouldn't turtle during inflation. Once up it was wonderful flat air near the sea I flew at about 700 feet parallel to the beach. Then when I flew over the scrub on the other side of the Hwy it started to get a little bouncy. The locals told me this is what to expect but I was thinking BUMPS and really it never got over about a two on the bump scale. I went about 5 miles up the beach and basically enjoyed the view.

Chris Page spotted a sea yak in the no mans land north of the residences so he and "Cowboy" went on a salvage mission. They got the kayak but I guess it was harder than dragging a bull elk through dense undergrowth. After Lunch I had three more flights. Two to figure out that I had left the choke on again and a nice long one. When it was time for the xc I had to stay behind because the wind had come up and "Cowboy" insisted that I would be asking for trouble. I still think if he had held the trike I could have gone for it but I wasn't going to argue with a local I licked my wounds and wished I was with the guys going out to Woody's Bar.

The XCountry was a long flight and several of the guys ran out of gas and had to be picked up. In fact, had I gone ,I would have been walking too because we were told that it was about 12 miles each way and it was more like 20.

Later that evening Beery broke out the boudin, Sonny built a huge campfire and we had a damn good campfire. Lon even brought out a couple of busted props for us to sacrifice to the gods of PPG. I hung at the fire till about 9pm and went to bed early.

The next morning I was up before dawn the wind was 6mph and I took off without assistance. It was a great flight. After more than an hour in the air I landed and had something to eat. Jeff had just landed so I took a couple of Monster coffee drinks over to the Enterprise and as usual he was more than happy to stop whatever he was doing to spend time with a fellow pilot.

Ever since the Monument Valley Fly-In when this log was used by various people and the address was given out during the PPG Radio show I've been a little self conscious about what I write. So... even though Jeff might read this someday, I'm going to put down my thoughts about this guy. Jeff Goin is a genuine person with a remarkable history and an amazing set of credentials. He is passionate about the sport and truly one of the finest PPG Pilots in the world. There wasn't a minute of the weekend that he wasn't flying ... kiting ...working on the equipment...or just talking flying with the guys. His knowledge of aviation is encyclopedic and his curiosity is without end. I watched him work on a reverse with my trike, he was having trouble getting the wing to come up straight and when one guy would have been cussing, Jeff was fascinated and said "Wow! Now why is it behaving like this". Then he proceed to work with the wing like a horse trainer with an unruly charge until eventually he figured it out and had the wing "behaving" as it should. He is selfless and tolerant and gracious about his notoriety. I'm honored to know the man and consider him a friend.

After a break I went up again and spent the better part of the flight flying as low as I could west along the beach. Most of the time I was at 6 to 10 feet but for huge chunks I was within two feet or less. Every once in a while the wind would pick up and I'd feel it pull me a little off to the side. It was a great opportunity to practice subtle wing control. I landed into much stronger winds and that was the end. I could have probably had someone hold the trike for me to get one more flight but it was time to pack it in.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wichita at the Glider Port #

Wichita Glider Port
The Mosquito helicopter

When I arrived in Wichita I was hoping to hook up with Bob Holliday, we had not seen each other for over twenty years but our lives have followed similar tracks having both transitioned from bicycles to aviation. Anyway Bob had flown down to Lake Texoma for a little fishing, so his wife Ruth gave me directions to the glider port.

When I got there the wind was a little strong, so I wandered around and checked out the gliders in the hanger. I met a mosquito (helicopter) pilot named Doug Bryant who had the most amazing little machine. It's a Far 103 legal helicopter. He stays pretty close to the ground and close to the field because he is new but it's got enough range to do some mild XC flights. I couldn't help thinking that this was an expensive toy because it didn't have the range of my PPG and the pilot was shy of leaving the confines of the airpark.

Last hour of light the wind came down and I went for a nice exploratory flight. I had to abort the first launch but it was a non event. The second launch was fine and I climbed to 100 feet to get the lay of the land. I noticed that the motor was sounding weird more throaty and the power was lacking. I had test run it earler when I put in the larger jets and it seemed ok but there was deffinitly something different now. I thought that perhaps I needed to try another jet but later, aftr landing, I discovered that I had left the choke on. No damage but I'm beginning to think the clip to hold the cable may not be such a great idea.

Here is a link to the Glider Port

Saturday, October 18, 2008

209 ...210...211 Simms

Bad Launches the first two. I should have aborted. Marek said I took off with a 40 percent collapse. It inflated as soon as I left the ground but stupid ...stupid ...stupid. there was a slight pull to the inflated side but it was not like the wing was oscillating. Once up, the air was nice. I launched the third time just to get a good one in. I think part of the problem was that the field is getting really bumpy.

Friday, October 17, 2008

207 & 208 Simms

nothing special...Solo with one spectator. Simms 25 min and 40 min respectively. Good launches and landings ...smooth air. Nil wind.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Flight #205 and #206 Simms

Light wind from North East
Dan Kamasar and Paul Dillon plus one spectator
Glass off was great. Played at pushing a coyote around from 20 feet.

Added Power in turn at low altitude. and made a beautiful hard turn to long final....flew the Nap of the field for the entire span and set down softly at the truck.
Engine is starting very well...It must have helped to clean out the decompression hole at Monument Valley.
It's interesting how comfortable the "Home Field" is after returning from the Monuments.
I was dismayed to read Dell's ugly rant after the Maxwell Incident.
This was a good confidence builder after the tragedy

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monument Valley Fatality

Fatality at Monument Valley,
Date: 09/27/2008
Time: 19:00
Location: Monument Valley Park, Arizona
Pilot Information Age: 38
Gender: MalePilot weight (without motor): 235 US Pounds
Rating: Intermediate (PPG2 or Equivalent) Experience: 10-50 Hours Solo
Incident Detail Information Type of Incident:
Collision with Terrain/Obstruction on Ground
Primary Cause: Pilot Error and Weather
Windspeed: Unknown
Wind Type: Gusting
Thermal Conditions: None
Visibility: clear with approaching thunderstorms and gust fronts
Surface: Dirt or Small Rocks
Terrain: Hilly Site Elevation: 5200 (feet above sea level)
Phase of Flight: Cruise Purpose of Flight: Recreation
Safety Gear Used: None

Damage to Pilot's Equipment:
Totaled Wing: Macpara Eden II 33, DHV 1-2
Motor: Fly Products Gold 115, Flash Trike
Injury InformationPilot/Passenger Injury Severity: Fatal Hosipitalization: None
Collateral Damage: None

Narrative: By Mo Sheldon:
On the evening of September 27, 2008, right at sunset at approximately 7:00pm, Martin Maxwell crashed his powered paraglider trike in Monument Valley Park, Arizona. Here is my account of this incident that is being submitted to the Sheriff's Office and that I am posting publicly with the pilot communities. As for my credentials, I am a experienced powered paraglider pilot and flight instructor, tow operator, and paraglider pilot. I had worked with Martin to teach him to fly a powered paraglider in the Fall/Summer of 2008. I also considered him a friend. We both separately decided to join an informal gathering of pilots to fly that weekend. Also, the following day after the incident, I volunteered to go to the crash site to help understand the reasons for the crash and to recover the gear. In knowing Martin his friend and flight instructor, I know that he spent a great deal of effort and time studying pilot incident reports, trying to learn from the experiences of others. I believe this incident report I have prepared is something he would have wanted me to do. And so in writing this, I believe I honor his memory. Also, considering he was my friend, writing this report has been particularly difficult for me. It is my hope that preparing this incident report will prevent future incidents and fatalities. Pilot ExperienceMartin was a very experienced recreational, licensed hot air balloon pilot, with over 23 years experience and many flights as pilot in command and as a crew. A number of years previously, he had also tried to obtain his General Aviation private license and came very close to completion. He was also actively involved in CAP (Civil Air Patrol) and flew regularly in small fixed wing aircraft on search and rescue operations. He loved to be around anything flying related. With powered paragliding he initially worked with me showing his talents as a professional videographer to create a video called "Introduction to Paramotoring" which can be seen here: When it came to his powered paraglider trike training, he completed this over several months in the Fall/Summer of 2008. He purchased a MacPara Eden II 33 paraglider, a Fly Products Gold 115 motor unit and a Fly Products Flash trike. Considering he weighed 235 pounds, this gear was ideally sized for his weight. I made sure his gear was set up and running as best as possible. He completed his solo flight on August 1, 2008. He exhibited a great deal of skill in launching, flying and landing, but by all measures was still beginner a powered paraglider pilot. Yet on several occasions myself and other local pilots felt that he was trying things too advanced for his limited powered paragliding experience. This was conveyed to him several times by me that it would be wise to progress slowly, safely and over time. He seemed to listen carefully and respectfully but clearly he disregarded these recommendations. His flight at Monument Valley was number 15 as pilot in command in his powered paraglider trike. Pre-Incident BackgroundA number of powered paraglider pilots (roughly 30) had informally gathered that weekend to fly near Monument Valley. Our staging area was Gouldings Airport, about 5 miles from Monument Valley Park. Martin had told a number of people he would be coming and indicated that he had dreamed his entire life to fly at Monument Valley. He arrived late Friday night with his wife Lynn and older teenage son Preston and 3 dogs. He set up camp at the Gouldings Campsite. He did fly twice early on Saturday morning and reported the conditions were bumpy. Last Flight TakeoffOn Saturday afternoon, a number of powered paraglider pilots informally met at Gouldings Airport to hopefully fly in smooth, late day air. We arrived around 4:00pm to find the wind gusting from the West. No one launched. There were a number of larger cumulus clouds developing 15 to 20 miles to the South and East and also to the North and West. Around 5:30pm conditions had calmed considerably at the airport. I was one of the first to launch to feel it out. The air was quite smooth, with minor bumps, and other pilots then started launching. Within a short time, the large clouds to the East and South had begun to grow and develop into formidable cumulus clouds and occasional lightning could be seen coming from them. Most pilots opted to stay close to the airport due to the warnings of the ominous growing clouds in the distance. The few that did venture out were mostly experienced pilots and they came back to the airport and landed even though the air was still quite smooth. It appears that Martin launched sometime between 6:00pm and 6:30pm and headed West by himself directly to Monument Valley Park, specifically towards Mitten Monument, which was over 5 miles away from the airport. He was also heading directly to the growing, ominous thunderstorms which were growing towards Monument Valley. By this time, most pilots had come in to land or were preparing to land. By approximately 6:45pm only two other pilots were still flying when the air at Gouldings Airport became very rowdy. The two remaining pilots were being tossed up and down, yet both landed without incident. The two thunderstorms to the West and South West appeared to converge and blowing dust and lightning could be seen around them in the distance. Most pilots packed their gear and headed for Gouldings Restaurant after sunset for an informal gathering. Martin's wife commented that her husband was missing. She had not seen him launch and inquired if anyone had seen him. No one had any recollection of him even launching. Later one pilot revealed he had helped him launch on the end of the runway. The CrashPreston, Martin's son, and Chad, a friend Martin had invited, were staged on a dirt road about 0.75 mile from Mittens Monument and were taking some photos of Martin flying around the monuments. Perhaps Martin became fixed on making those photos a reality. Right before sunset, at approximately 7:00pm, several eyewitnesses at Monument Valley Park, including Preston and people camping at the Park noticed Martin was flying towards and within 0.5 mile of Mitten Monument at 200 to 300 feet above ground when his craft began to get rocked violently in large up and down swings of 50 feet. The thunder storms had developed considerably and were now within a few miles of Martin probably throwing him some very strange air. The witnesses were approximately 0.25 to 0.33 mile away. 2 witnesses noted that his motor sounded to be running erratically up and down, but it was probably that the pilot was simply adding and reducing throttle to try to stabilize his violent ups and and downs in altitude. What happens next is uncertain whether he lost altitude from the severe weather (strong winds, downdrafts, gusts and/or rotors) that was moving on him, that he became scared and wanted to land quickly and reduced his throttle accordingly, or his motor began to "sputter" (the exact words of 2 witnesses) and he simply could not maintain his altitude. His son noted that he got a minor wing tip collapse and then turned around, heading back to Gouldings Airport. The severe rocking and loss of altitude began to quickly increase. As he lowered in altitude he began to descend into very unforgiving, hilly, canyon-like terrain. Preston noted the rocking continued to increase very violently as he descended and his motor was revving up and down. This was probably due to the strong rotors he was getting off the nearby hilly terrain. At about 50 feet above ground and well below the horizon of the canyon-like terrain, Preston noted he had a very severe full wing collapse and then he crashed with his motor running at full throttle into the side of a hill approximately 0.25 mile away from witnesses. Witnesses reported a large cloud of dust shot up and then the motor quickly became silent. 911 calls were made at just after 7:00pm. Preston and Chad rushed to the scene of the crash. Preston estimates he was there within a few minutes as he ran as quickly as possible to help his dad. When he arrived he found Martin in the wreckage unconscious, not breathing, and with what appeared to him as a very faint heartbeat. It was clear he had landed extremely hard as his gear sustained substantial damage. Considering the remoteness of the crash site, the difficult terrain, the crazy weather approaching, and that dusk and night was coming on quickly, rescue and recovery efforts were slow. It took rescue crew an additional 50 minutes to find the crash site in the pitch of night and difficult terrain. Martin was pronounced dead on the scene. Cause of Incident and DeathThe initial autopsy report reveals that the cause of death was "multiple blunt force injuries" mainly to his chest cavity. With any aviation related accident, there usually isn't one cause that can be labeled as the only cause. It is usually a string of multiple actions and choices. This incident has a number of contributing factors, all stemming from poor decisions of the pilot. First, was the weather. The warnings were all around calling out loudly and clearly. As an experienced, licensed hot air balloon pilot and with his powered paraglider training he was intimately aware of reading these warnings and fully aware of the risks of flying in unforgiving weather. It is not clear why he chose to ignore these warnings given his extensive experience in reading weather. Second, was the terrain he was flying over and landed in. It was extremely unforgiving, jagged, hilly, and dangerous. Given his paramotor training, he was fully aware of the severe risks associated with flying over and landing in rough terrain. Third was his experience level. He was flying over terrain and in weather that was well beyond his experience level of 15 powered paraglider flights. Fourth was getting caught up and hyper focused into a task or series of tasks (such as flying around the Monuments, being the center of some special photographs, showing off for family and friends). The Next DayEarly Sunday morning myself and Craig Squillante, a fellow experienced powered paraglider pilot joined the investigating officials to the crash site to try to piece together what happened and later carry out the gear. We found the point of impact and carefully examined the crash scene looking for details to unravel this puzzle of this incident. It was clear that the landing was very hard as the trike and motor cage was severely bent up and broken. He had considerable downward and forward forces on impacting the side of a steep hill. The propeller was cleanly shredded to about 16" long, with hundreds of propeller splinters scattered in a 30' radius. This indicated that the landing was at full throttle. Additionally, the force of the impact coupled with the gyroscopic forces of the shattering propeller at full throttle ejected the entire motor frame (motor, prop, fuel tank, carburetor, etc) approximately 8' away from the trike and cage. Final ThoughtsThis incident was caused by a cascade of pilot errors that all compounded onto each other. There was some question that perhaps his motor failed him, but these reports came from unreliable laymen witnesses who heard the motor from approximately 0.5 mile away. Additionally, there was conflicting reports from the eyewitnesses on how his motor sounded. I believe his equipment operated normally as there was no other indications to the contrary and previously it had operated flawlessly. There was a lingering question whether a helmet may have helped to prevent his death. The autopsy indicates that a helmet would probably not have saved his life, even though Martin chose to fly without one with full awareness of the added risks. Some pilots questioned whether a reserve parachute may have helped. I do not think so. Considering the terrain and the severe weather and his lack of experience, a reserve deployment would probably have made matters worse. If there is a major lesson to be learned it is first and foremost to fly within your experience level and push your skill levels slowly. Second, to stay cautious and respectful at all times on the weather and the terrain below you. Third, to recognize that flying is a continual process of learning, respect for mother nature, respect for the limits of your gear, and respect of your own limits.

Martin Maxwell's Autopsy

Blunt force injuries to the head: A. Abrasions- the two things on his forehead B. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage-bleeding into the space between the skull and the brain C.Atlanto-occipital dislocation- The crack between the neck and spine Blunt force- Chest A. Abrasions- Internal B. Sternum and Rib Fractures- He broke his 5th and 6th ribs C. Aortic laceration with bilateral hemothoraces- Collapse of the lung by puncture which bled out. D. Right Pulmonary Artery Laceration- E. Inferior Vena Cava laceration- cut of the main blood line in your chest, this line goes between your stomach and heart, but feeds to other lines that branch out to your extremities. 3. Blunt Force injuries- Extremities A. Abrasions and Contusions- scratches on knees, and hands etc. B. Left Humerus fracture- He broke his shoulder, or popped it out of place
So I am going to shorten this all up for you going from the Head to the feet: The brain plates in the head= The one in the back split from the rest and crushed the brain which would not have killed right away but if not attended to it would have. He broke the connection between his neck and his spine in bone. He broke his left shoulder. Many internal injuries including cracked ribs 5 and 6 on both sides, he popped his aorta making it bleed profusely. He popped the right pulmonary artery another artery that would bleed profusely. And the Inferior Vena Cava, another profuse bleeder. He had 640 ML of blood in his chest cavity. He punctured his lung when his ribs popped and made that bleed but there was a very small amount there, not enough to kill. He popped his pubic bone from his pelvis, so he broke his pelvis in turn. And if anything could get any worse, he broke his left femur. The big bone in your leg.
This was no soft run into the ground.
The Opinion of the Examiner is: The crack between the neck and spine and the aortic laceration which lead to bleeding into the chest cavity, so essentially he bled to death internally. My Thoughts follow the examiners- he bled internally to death because of the laceration to the Aorta, the laceration to the vena cava, which in turn leaked blood, and, killing him too and the puncture to his lung, which didn’t allow him to breathe,
For any one who was wondering- He weighed 242lbs and was 73 inches in height. He was stiff and not easy to move as stated by the examiner.
Mo's Final Comment

The injuries Martin sustained were certainly much worse than I had anticipated. I will concur, especially from how damaged I saw his gear, that he hit very, very hard. In my discussions with you, the other eye-witnesses, and from studying the wreckage, I estimate with a high probability that he was flying downwind and with a very fast downward velocity when he impacted the side of the hill. I also estimate he encountered some very severe air turbulence in the form of rotors seconds before he impacted.

Monument Valley Debrief

At the Banquet we learned that the pilot down was Martin Maxwell
I met Martin at the airstrip about 45 minutes before his fatal flight.
While we were hanging at the airstrip waiting for the weather to change I noticed an unfamiliar face and introduced myself to Martin. We chatted a bit about ballooning And he told me a story about where he had waited at a balloon festival with "hundreds" of pilots for the weather to cooperate.
Martin and I had corresponded extensively prior to the Fly-in, mostly concerning camping options and how much cheaper it was to stay on the reservation. He also contacted me to suggest ways to improve the event. I was peeved that he didn't want to spend the 25 bucks to stay at Gouldings with the rest of us, but it was an informal Fly-in, if he wanted to stay at the Dry camp in the reservation, that was his business. After his death I re-read our correspondence and came to realize that he wasn't so much trying to tell me what to do...but rather he was just very excited about flying the Monuments and I was the guy putting it on.
When Bill first informed me that we had a pilot down my first thought was: Who?... there are no vehicles in the lot. Who is missing? and mostly...
How are we gonna find this guy in the middle of nowhere, in the dark.
I forgot about the missing car keys and rushed up to the Lodge with Mark get the scoop. The first person I spoke with was Barbara, the restaurant manager, who informed us who the pilot was, she said, that he had been located and EMT's were en route. That was good news, I figured that he had broken his leg or something minor and at the worst it was going to be a whooping big fee for the evacuation.
The Banquet was anything but a celebration. Everyone was very subdued and in no mood for a rowdy good time. My "Master of Ceremonies" speech was short, stilted and totally unacceptable. I wanted to thank John Fetz for all of his help and recognise the famous pilots among us and have everybody stand and introduce themselves. None of that happened. I think I said something inane about this being the "Holy Grail" and looking forward to seeing everybody again next year.
After dinner I went with Mark back to the airstrip to retrieve my truck and 30 minutes later when I got to the campground, Ky rushed over and said, " The Guy...He Dead. I couldn't believe it, then he repeated "He Dead... Man" and I thought I was going to be sick. How could this happen? Everything was going so well. It was hard to accept, nobody saw an accident. There were no sirens or flashing lights, everybody I had been partying with was still here. From all appearances everything was just as it should be. How could somebody be dead?
Chris Page and Andy MCavin were sitting at a picnic table with several pilots talking about the conditions and what might have happened to bring Martin down. I sat and listened for awhile but it was hard to sit still. I wandered from group to group not saying much, just making an appearance and gauging their emotions.
The Colorado Springs guys were very quiet. At Alex's trailer I found Ky with Alex reviewing the footage of Alex tangling with the rotor. Lon only got part of it, one bounce up and then seeing him land on the downstroke, just enough to show the severity of the turbulence. I know Alex was thinking..."That could have just as easily been me". Mathew and Kevin were just sitting quietly and when I asked if they were planning to fly in the morning, Kevin who is by far the most experienced aviator said, "No, when somebody dies that's it, I won't be flying tomorrow.
Martin had been Mo's student, he was feeling a mixture of guilt, confusion, anger...but most of all sadness because he had come to know Martin and his family well during the last year. He had been down to the crash site and met with the Navajo Tribal Police, they were going to go to the crash site the next day to clean up and try to ascertain what had happened. I appreciate that he made a point of telling me that I was not to blame ....Martin was the "Pilot in Command".
Later after I had gone to bed, Craig came in after spending time with Martin's wife and son. He had a memory stick of photographs that one of the spectators had taken. There was some discussion of what to do with the pictures. Craig though we should erase the stick before Martin's son could ask for them. He was was worried that the photos would do more damage than good and we agreed. But...if there were pictures and possibly video of the incident, it would be valuable data that might prevent someone else from making the same mistake. Eventually curiosity won out and I booted up the laptop and we opened the files. The pictures were a bunch of nice shots of Martin Flying but there were no indications of turbulence or shots of the accident. There were some other files with pictures of the accident site but none of us needed or wanted to see Martin's broken body. The police had copies and that was enough.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Monument Valley Debrief

The wind blew consistently all afternoon and we could see some serious weather building in the west.

In the words of one pilot, "I think we are going to be snookered this afternoon".

But... Your not fishing unless your bait is in the water, and so at 4:45 the whole lot of us went down to the airstrip. The wind was 10 to 15 from the south and you could see by watching the flag at the top of the mesa that it was blowing much stronger aloft. Chris broke out the toys and was entertaining us by buzzing around the airfield on his scooter and shooting off a potato cannon.

John Fetz was holding court on a tailgate and the hanger stories were getting older and hairier by the minute. I drifted from one group to another enjoying the moment and watching the skies. As the sun got lower the wind started to abate, we were watching a fairly large cumulus building to the east, a couple of miles past the entrance to Monument Valley and although it was building, it was down wind and moving away from us. At 5:30 or a quarter to 6 the flag on the top of the mesa started to slow way down and soon after, Mo launched in almost no wind conditions. We watched him do a couple of laps around the LZ and there was no question that the air was flyable.

The scramble was on...

Everybody started laying out their wings, Johnny Fetz set up to launch to the south using the runway. He is still trying to "dial in" the buggy, (it can be configured to use either a Delta Wing, Paraglider, or Land Sail), and the thrust line was playing hell with his wing so he never got off the ground. I watched several guys launch including an exciting takeoff by one trike pilot who followed his wing around until he was pointed directly at a beautiful little Citation. He managed to pop it up before it got too hairy, but I was holding my breath the whole time. No harm no done and from the look on his face I could tell the lesson was learned.

A few minutes later the wind was a 4 to 5 mph from the South East so I laid out in that direction and took off. It wasn't glassy but it wasn't bad either. I went a mile or so East of the LZ and played around keeping an eye to Monument Valley where the skies were grey all the way to the horizon. After about 45 minutes I came back and started my approach at the far north end of the runway. It was probably the best landing I have ever had, I was 5 feet up when I crossed the end of the runway and with just the slightest brake pressure I managed to stay at that height or lower all the way to the helicopter pads, at least half a mile. Since the runway slopes up from the north I was climbing just slightly the whole way. When I touched down I kept the wing up and taxied to the apron turned off the runway and collapsed the wing. Man, it felt good! Lon was filming and I really looked forward to reviewing my little triumph on video.

Just a minute or two after I landed I watched Alex come in from the North East, He was obviously in some pretty rowdy air and I saw him being swung from side to side. At 50 feet he was hit by a rotor and bounced up at least 50 feet and just as fast as he went up I watched him come down then back up again. He managed to land on his feet during the next downstroke narrowly missing the fence at the end of the apron. I spoke with him later that evening, he said that was the most active piloting he has ever done and the most scared he has ever been in the air and I believe it. In all the DVDs and hundreds of times to the field I have never seen rotor bounce anybody so dramatically. I thought he was going to come down hard and at the very least break legs and wreak his equipment.

Video of Alex in the Gust & Rotor

It is a little over 2 minutes but worth seeing. At 30 seconds listen and you will hear Mo Sheldon commenting on the weather and urging people to secure their wings. Followed by Alex getting caught in the gust front.

here is a link to The Pikes Peak PPG Club website

Shortly after that, Chris Page played it smart and came in at the far North end of the runway. Wow ! It was amazing how fast everything went to hell. One minute I'm patting myself on the back for a sweet landing and the next minute guys are dropping out of the sky in emergency landings.

Thirty minutes later everybody had packed and left for the Banquet, I had lost my keys somewhere and was wandering around the runway apron looking for them when Bill Rowe drove up and told me that we had a pilot down and he had received a text asking for medical attention.

Monument Valley Sat Morning Sept 27th

Most of us were at the field by 6:30am. The sky was showing first light and the Monuments were coming into focus in the east. At 7:15 the winds were light on the surface and my launch was clean in every respect. This was the best flight of the trip. The winds aloft were between 10 and 15 mph and I encountered both lift and sinking air that was rather dramatic, I was glad that I had decided early to get high because it was definitely the right place to be. Heading north east I flew toward Eagle Rock and circled around it to Brighams Tomb and Bear and Rabbit Summit. I was level with the buttes and was starting to feel the bumps from mile away, so... I added some thrust and climbed 300 feet higher where it smoothed out. I wanted to take a picture of my shadow against the face of one of the buttes but it meant going down into turbulent air to be low enough for the sun so I made do with shots from above. In the picture below you can see my reflection which is the bright spot above the butte.

The ride was smooth and fast, when I realized that I was heading back at close to 40 mph I wished that I had used the extra gas to go all the way around the Big Indian. When I got back over the LZ there was still plenty of fuel So I stayed high just boating around and doing circles, watching the wings below me and generally enjoying the view. The surface winds were from the south and swinging around the southern Mesa at Gouldings so I decided to land at the northwest end of the apron to avoid the worst of the twitchy currents. Jon Zucala and Jim King were setting up and watching me come in. At 200 feet I caught the headwind and my glide got allot steeper... FAST. I modulated the throttle to smooth out the glide. At 50 feet I hit a bump and instantly dropped another 20 feet. Talking to the guys later, it looked alot worse from the ground. But the bump was over before I could do much so I just took it for what it was and stayed on short final as planned. The landing was nice, almost no forward speed and touchdown was light as a feather. Jon asked me, "How did you do that?", I wasn't sure what he meant but later I figured out that he was just paying me a compliment for the nice landing.

During the next 45 minutes most of the guys landed and at 9:30, right on the button, the first of the commercial tourist aircraft began to land. Jeff and Phil were the last guys down, they quietly packed their equipment and left before I had a chance to chat with them. I wanted to know where they went but from the amount time they were in the air, I'm sure they covered allot of ground. I expect that I'll see their footage on the next Light Touch DVD soon.

A couple of the commercial pilots came over and were asking questions about our sport. One of them seemed very interested and I think that, had he been alone, he would have stayed longer and hooked up with an instructor. We were teasing him about coming over to the "dark side" and from the look in his eye I wouldn't be surprised to see him at a fly-in someday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Monument Valley Fly-In Begins

It had all the makings of an Epic Fly-In.

There was a great group of pilots (27) including several who are considered elite. There were three experienced filmmakers, who combined, had produced the best of PPG videos available. The campground was complete with all the necessities including restaurant and swimming pool. The weather was decent and the terrain was awesome.

It was a quick drive to Monument Valley, eight hours, no stops except for gas. I was torn because I knew that Marek, Robert and Bryan would be flying Moab on Thursday but I wanted to get to the campground and make sure everything was ready before anyone else showed up. My campsite was beautiful, it was on the top level of the campground looking through the walls of the canyon at "Boy Scout Butte". I cooked a couple of Brats and went to bed early.

Thursday morning I was at the airstrip by 6:30am. The wind was blowing from the south at 10 -12 mph and gusty. Not a good thing... I hoped this wasn't a sample of what we were going to see for the next three days. After two hours of para-waiting, I decided to bag it and scout around a little bit. I stopped at the campground office and gave Yvonne a bunch of waivers for any pilots who didn't bring one signed and ready to go. We discussed the campground layout and tried to work it out so that everybody would be in the same area. Then I went to the Restaurant and met with Barbara to make sure they were ready for the Banquet planned for Saturday night. It was all good.

My next stop was at the Navajo Tribal Park Headquarters, I'd tried several times to contact ,"The Nation", but they were surprisingly elusive, rarely answering the phone and never returning calls. Some of the pilots wanted to stay at the Dry camp and I thought it might be a good idea to check it out. I paid my $5 to get in and asked who I should talk to about getting permission to launch inside the park.

I was directed to a fellow who informed me that the $5 entry fee wasn't going to "cut it". He said that Hot Air Balloons paid several hundred dollars a day and motorized aircraft paid even more. I explained that we were not commercial pilots and didn't have that kind of money but his response was ..."Well that $5 entry fee just isn't going to cut it". When I asked him if $10 would be enough he just shook his head and said $5 wasn't going to be enough. When I asked how much would be ...I got the same response...the $5 entry fee wasn't going to cut it. Since he wouldn't tell me how much it would "cut it", I figured that there was no clear policy and I was being fished for whatever we could pay. So... I thanked him for his time, promised to tell the guys and left. Since I'd paid my entry fee for the day I decided to check out the visitor center. In a few years it's going to be magnificent, "The Nation" is building a large motel with all the facilities but right now its just a very expensive gift shop and snack bar overlooking the valley.

When I got back to Gouldings, pilots were setting up their camps and watching the skies. The wind was still blowing but I was hopeful that it would come down as the sun set. At 5pm we went down to the airstrip and I got in my first flight of the trip. The winds were light and coming from the west. It was a little like the evening flight I'd had in August but not as windy. On that flight I took off, did a 360 and landed. The winds were twitchy with different currents pulling me all over the place. This time I could still feel the air was confused but it was much milder. I circled the field in a half mile circle and did a couple of touch and goes. The air was bumpy but not terrible. The Mapsource profile shows clearly that I was getting bounced around a bit. It was flyable but it wasn't great, so after 10 minutes or so I decided to land.

The morning of Friday the 26th was great flying as long as you were foot launched. Pierre, I and several other trike guys watched with envy as a good group of guys took off to the Monument Park. We spent he afternoon swapping hanger stories taking showers and hanging around the pool. About 4:30pm the winds started to come down and everybody left for the airstrip. The flying was great. I flew for 45 minutes or so and climbed to 1485 ft AGL. The winds were very light and I landed on almost on the same track as the one I launched from. It was really beautiful with the sun going down and wings all over the place. I went around the back side of the south butte behind Gouldings and saw a solitary glider cruising just above the surface. This was the kind of weather I had been hoping for. This was the afternoon that John F. went up on his homemade trike and had trouble with the power loops. I understand that he was firmly into a turn when one of the loops was pulled outboard.... he kept the turn until he was into the wind and landed without incident.

That evening I had dinner with John F. and Jon Z. who brought along his whole family. Later I hooked up with Andy MCavin, Chris Page and the "Fly Into the Wind" crowd. Ky and Lon Dzung were the heros of the night with the lemon turkey roasts that Lon cooked for us. Lon had a hard time the whole trip with his motor...seems like he couldn't get enough power. He messed with the carb and fussed all weekend but didn't get it running right until a they were on the way home when a 1 dollar part was discovered to be the problem. Ky is one of the strongest pilots I've ever seen. He would have a very long run out only to get a foot or two into the air and then would touch down and run some more. I thought I was tenacious when I had trouble foot launching but Ky never gave up. His wife Lon is a dear. Probably 4 foot 5 inches and there was nothing she wouldn't do to provide for the comfort of her husband and his friends. Every time I turned around she was pulling me to the cook fire to have some more to eat. I don't think she sat down the entire weekend...either filming or cooking or making the campsite better.

I am amazed and honored that such a great group of pilots agree that this place is "THE HOLY GRAIL". Chris and his crew took a great bunch of photographs which can be seen on their Website.

He is currently filming for Into the Wind 2 and I look forward to seeing the footage from this trip in the movie.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Gathering at Monument Valley 2008

September 26 27 28


The Gathering at Monument Valley is a non-sponsored event. There is no individual or company charged with monitoring our activities....So protect yourself and our sport by using common sense.

Below are the Ultra Lite procedures for Gouldings Lodge and Trading Post, please print, sign and turn it in at the campground office. Be advised the management expects a large amount of General Aviation traffic over the weekend, fortunately during the first and last hours of daylight the airstrip will be clear of commercial traffic, so we should not be adversely affected. If you desire to go thermal and fly midday, they ask you to launch and fly well clear of the airstrip.



The following are procedures to be used at the Goulding’s airstrip in Monument Valley.

-Overnight camping is allowed only at the campground.

-Please sign foot note below agreeing that the airstrip is “fly at your own risk”.

-Ground equipment(trailers, etc.)should be parked on the west side of the airstrip in the big gravel area south of the windsock. Do not park near the hangar or on the paved areas.

-No overflights in the areas south and west of the runway between the runway and the cliffs(mesas?). Do not “buzz” any of the Goulding’s Lodge buildings.

-Any ground equipment or aircraft that is to be left at Goulding’s airstrip after you leave must be cleared with management.

-The asphalt parking area at the south end of the airstrip is reserved for commuter aircraft and short-term parking. Other aircraft should use the dirt parking area west of the runway.

-No touch and go’s.

-Takeoff is from runway 34 and landing is on runway 16.

-CTAF is 122.9.

-Field elevation is 5,208’. Be aware of density altitude.

-The Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a separate entity from Goulding’s Lodge. The park superintendent has asked Goulding’s to please “suggest” to Ultralight individuals that they pay the $5.00 per person entry fee into the park if they plan on flying over the park. All Goulding’s Lodge is doing is following up on the park’s wishes. Goulding’s Lodge has no connection with the operation of the park, or their policies.


[1] I have read and understand these policies. I understand that Goulding’s airstrip is private and is “use at your own risk”.

Signature: Date:


1) What is the Registration Fee?
There is no fee...however the Navajo request a $5 donation for each day you fly into the park. There will be a envelope at the campground office which will be delivered to the Navajo Park Headquarters.

2) What Facilities are available?
Gouldings Lodge and trading post is a self contained village with Motel, Restaurant, Grocery Store, Fast Food, Gas Station and Campground. The campground includes a swimming pool, laundry, gift shop, Internet station and showers. There are also"Porta Johns" located around the campsites.
3) I have not reserved a campsite, can I still come?
YES ! Gouldings has promised plenty of overflow space for late comers.

4) Do I have to stay at Gouldings?
NO...The Navajo Tribal Park has dry camping available on a first come first served basis.

5) Is Aviation gas available at the airstrip?
NO ! If you require av gas....bring it with you.

6) What about the Banquet?
Several people have indicated they would like to attend a group dinnder Saturday night, but not enough for the kitchen to prepare a "Banquet Meal"...NO PROBLEM...The restaurant is going to hold the private room for us and everybody can order off the menu. Sorry booze served or brought in. Cocktail parties prior to the Banquet are encouraged.

7) Are there going to be T-Shirts?
Well sort of...A limited supply of Patches and Caps have been commissioned and orders will be taken for the "Official" Long sleeve denim shirt during the weekend.

8) Do I need to drive from the campground to the LZ?
Probably, it's 3/4 of a mile from the campground to the airstrip. If you have a trike you could probably drive it down but there is a grade and your boots are going to be smoking by the time you get there. Gouldings is going to assign an area at the airstrip where we can "park" our equipment if desired. There will be adequate parking at the airstrip.
10) What if my questions are not answered here?
Call me, I may not know the answer but I'll try....Joe... 303-594-6319 cell

Site Map
Most excellent Weather links to the most popular sites thanks to: Pikes Peak PPG Club

Link to the Lodge and Campground

Link to the Navajo Nation Park Service

Monument Valley Map

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fight 200 at Simms

The Stock market is bouncing like a super ball...Nobody is buying pianos.... but Today...I celebrate the big 200.

Unfortunately it was not a real noteworthy flight. Launched from Simms at 6 pm. The skies were sporting some bug cumulous and there was the threat of virga to the Northwest. I climbed to 6400 6500 and tested the footsteering. It works but there is too much friction. It's slow and sluggish. I am getting more travel and the wing turns quicker but it just doesnt feel right yet. I should have tried it with the trimmers out but I'll leave that untill the next time.

Time to replace the Tach.

Motor is hard to start the first time ,then it's ok.
The Monument Valley Gathering is next week....4 days till I leave.

Improved foot steering

The skies were ugly this afternoon so I used the time to try an idea I got from Johnny Fetz.
What I did was add a pulley to the foot steering line. It increases the travel by 50% it also increases the friction but I don't think it will be a show stopper, I can hardly wait to see how it flies.

I had an e-mail conversation with Alex Varv yesterday he is sending me a set of filters for the airbox. NO CHARGE! Nice Guy.

Added some length to the tubing on the bungee holding the bottom of the air box to keep it away from the offending nut.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Flight 198 & 199 Props strikes netting again

It was raining last night and cool today but the skies cleared by mid morning and at 5:30pm I was loading the rig. At Simms it was 60 degrees warm and sunny with little or no wind. I set up quickly and started a normal inflation. I believe the wing was up and stable when I heard that Tic Tic Tic sound which I've come to recognise as the prop cutting my netting. I probably should have aborted but the ticking stopped almost as soon as it started and I couldn't discern any problems with the motor. As soon as I had started my turn to clear the wires, I looked up at the wing and back at the cage to check for problems. Sure enough the Port top quad was cut. I could see a little loose line but the grid was intact so I figured that I wasn't in immediate danger of the line wrapping into the hub and stopping the motor. Never the less I didn't stay up long I turned back to the truck and killed the motor just prior to touching. Nice glide and even nicer touch down. I checked the play in the motor and it seemed a little sloppy but the mounts were tight. However when they were "pulled it seemed like it was a little too stretchy. Good for a rubber band but certainly not as stiff as the new mounts I'd ordered with the frame last week. At least I can dismiss the idea that my frame was already damaged when I cut the net at Snow Mountain Ranch. Tomorrow or the next day I'll replace the motor mounts and restring the cage.

I cut the lines away and launched again. Nice flight...I did some more low passes and flew most of the time with the trimmers out to keep it sporty. Landing was dead stick from about 100 feet Damn it feels good to fly without the the motor!

Big number 200 here I come !

Flight #197

Simms LZ.....Light winds from the NE

30 minutes of smooth air...2 spectators. Because this was kind of a test flight I didn't stray too far from the field. I did do a couple of low passes and it felt so good to be back in the sky!
I noticed that the left brake line is a tad shorter than the right one and will shorten the right.

Last night I took the critical tools and parts (spark plug and socket..wrenches...screw wire...etc.) and mounted them to the Port side of the buggy with a bag desinged to be mounted under a bicycle seat. It seems to have helped balance the weight of the reserve.

The only problem was that the motor was a little hard to start at the first. After that it started on the first pull.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

getting it all back together

New frame looks and fits great.
Prop was near horizontal with three washers on bottom 2 mounts
cleaned up choke,throttle lines with twist split plastic
4 hours to mount engine.
Found and repaired tears in the screen on the air box filters.
Fitted piece of fuel hose over nut which was abrading the filter caps.
Removed battery and had to zip tie switch panel because there are no holes in tubing for battery.
Andy McCavin might not make it due to storm

Monday, September 1, 2008

Grounded Again!

When I landed in the bog the stress from stopping so abruptly, tweaked the rig. It's possible that the tubing was compromised before I took off and thats why my prop got into the netting. I'm going to show it to Vince the welder but I'm 99% certain that it's time to replace the frame. There is a noticeable bend in the horizontal and three welds are needed to just repair the obvious tubing damage.
I was able to take the motor off in 2 hours and even if it takes 4 to put it back together I could possibly be back in the air by Friday.
Needed stuff:
1) FB simonini frame
are the velcro straps at the bottom already on?
Pulley for the pull start?
2)Convex nylon washers
3)All new rubber motor mounts

Camp Chief Ouray

Second Generation Campers
Blue Rag Sunrise
Blue Rag Sundogs

Boating Pond


Down Valley View

Snow Mountain Ranch

Camper's Cabins

Way Down Valley

Flight 195

Friday Aug 29,2008
The first thing after checking in I approached the camp director Marty Ferguson to get clearance to fly. He kicked it up the ladder until I was introduced to the President/CEO Kent Meyer who gave me permission without hesitation. I was prepared to argue my case with statistics and video but it wasn't necessary, seems like "The Chief" was till supporting my adventures after all these years. I had a USPPA waiver ready to go and gladly gave it to Juanita Muntz ( a friend of 40 years ) to file with the rest of the paperwork.
Sat. Aug 30 2008 #195 6am Light breeze from the SW

I decided to launch in front of the pavilion and dinning hall. It's a natural drainage with cool air flowing down valley. While I was setting up I chatted with Bob B. from 1976. Bob and I had talked about PPG the night before and I have to admit I was in full missionary mode when I pulled out the Ipod and showed him some of the better Acro videos. I guess it was no surprise that he got up early to see a flight. There were also a couple of CCO counselors who had slept by the council ring.
I made a mess out of the first launch. The buggy had a hard time breaking loose and when I did get rolling I heard a tick tick sound that I've never heard before. Turns out the prop had got into the starboard top part of the cage and taken out the netting. At first I thought I was going to be grounded for the trip but after looking and cussing I decided to cut away the lines and launch anyway. I couldn't see how I would be able to get my hand back far enough to hit the prop and I figured that if I was careful on landing it would not be a problem getting the lines into the rig.

The second attempt was better. The wing came up slightly to the left, instead of using brake to bring the wing around I decided to follow it with the buggy and follow the slope of the field. It was the right move because the buggy rolled better and the wind loaded up quickly. One thing I missed was that my convex mirror was fogged by condensation and I couldn't see the wing to get it centered. Not a big deal I slowed down. looked up and stabilized the wing when it felt good I hammered the throttle and resumed. The run-out took as long as I expected but once I had rotated the climb was quickly 150 ft / min. I climbed to 9600 asl and explored Snowmountain Ranch. After a few pictures and some easy wingovers I started a 30 degree spiral and descended to 9000 feet. After a couple of laps around the LZ I flew down valley and set up for final.
The landing was sweet but there was a wire I had not seen when I first scoped out the field. I was on final at 100 feet when I saw it 200 feet ahead and a bit below my glide path as long as there wasn't any sinking air I'd probably clear it by 20 -30 feet but just to be sure I powered up to give myself a little more space. As soon as it was past I cut power, let the wing surge and dived to get back on the glide path. Brian ...You would have been proud! The landing was right on spot
NOTE TO SELF...When flying a new place...
look hard for obstructions!

Aug 31 08 #196

This was a better flight! The air was as smooth as glass, no wind. Take off was perfect...It's always easier without spectators! I flew to the highway ...down valley and up to the pond. The air was sinking over the valley and rising over the ranch. I was suprised to find so much lift this early in the day, the buildings were probably giving off some heat but I think it was probably caused by the exposed earth where they had cut down dead trees. At one point I was still climbing 90 ft/minute at 4500RPM.

The only technical glitch was that the motor was lugging down at full thrust. I descended from 9700 to 9200 ASL and finished the flight keeping the motor below 5400RPM.

Get a 145 and a 148 jet for the carb!

Landing was a surprise...When I got back there was a group of people having church service right where I was planning to land. I was already feeling a little self conscious and didn't want to draw more attention, so I climbed out and set up an approach that would set me down closer to the horse barn. I was still going to buzz the service but at least I'd be at a higher altitude and not as noisy. The alternate LZ looked good ...the grass was a bit higher but it looked good and flat and it was still an easy walk to the truck. What I didn't realize was, that the grass was high because it was boggy. When the wheels touched down, instead of rolling, they stuck. No roll out at all! I went from 17mph to zero in about 2 feet! It was a rude surprise but I didn't think it was anything more than a hard landing.

Turns out the frame was damaged, and that was the end of CCO flying... just as well since I got my fix and was free to do other things.