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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Powered Paraglider Trike, Snow Launch ... No Fly Day

There was 4 inches of 3 day old snow on the field at Vance Brand.  We were planning on a mid day flight despite the clear blue skies.  Robert assured me that the thermals would be minor due to the cool air.  I had never flown inland mid day and was a bit apprehensive but it had been awhile and I was game to fly.  So after a short delay getting gas I arrived at the field where Eric ( new pilot ... student of Robert's) was waiting to launch.  He had brought his mother to see the amazing flying machine.  We chatted until Robert showed up and watched a stick of sky divers.  They were having a great time sliding in fast and skimming along the skin of snow.
My first attempt was from the pond toward the hangers.   I motored up and down the course a few times to test the surface and see how the Falcon handled on the snow.  The front wheel was tracking fairly well but as soon as I started a mildly hard turn the buggy would go into a slide.  It was slippery and kinda fun.  The CG is way behind the front wheel so when it broke loose it didn't take much if any thrust to continue the spin.

Eric's 5th flight

The launch was a bust.  When I got close to lift off the buggy started to slide to the left.  I was using minimal brake and max power.  When I aborted the wing came down clean with no damage.  Since there was no real breeze I layed out to try the other direction, moving 50 feet to the north to give me room to clear the swoop pond.  Second attempt was the same thing.  Looking at my tracks in the snow it was clear that as soon as the front wheel left the ground the trike would start torquing into a left hand turn.  I set down twice to get back on track and finally aborted.  The third attempt was the most dramatic.  I allowed the rig to lift off and when it drifted back down I was at a dramatic heading not the same as the wing.  When I touched earth the unit spun out and I was done.  If it had been on anything other than a skin of slippery snow I would have rolled for sure.  Remember Bubba's? 
Robert said the wing was surging and falling back due to the drag of the trike as it passed through different thicknesses of snow and perhaps I would have been better off using more brakes.  It might have worked but launching with brakes leads to a slow takeoff and possibly coming back down, maybe at the wrong heading for the wing.

Robert setting up for launch
I think the "P" factor is at 2 o'clock .... pushing the trike into a left hand posture.  No problem on hard surface but a bear on a slippery surface.  Knobby tires on the back might have helped but I don't think it would have stopped the left hand turn since the wheels turn independently.  If I wanted to go balls to the wall I would have gone no brakes till the wheel lifted then popped up and prayed that I had enough lift to keep from touching.  Risky business.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pros and Cons of the Falcon 4 Stroke Paramotor Trike

The Falcon 4 Stroke ... My "Sky Harley"

A couple of years ago I traded in a beloved Simonini Trike Buggy and became the proud owner of a Briggs and Stratton Trike buggy. The 4 stroke power plant was designed and built by Terry Lutke and the Flexfoil Trike was developed for PPG by Chad Bastion.   Last year I traded in my 23 horse Briggs  and Terry built  me a Falcon powered by a Generac 32 hp  with a 65 inch GSC triple prop..  The increased thrust more than made up for the increase in weight and and the climb rate increased from an average 125 ft/min to well over 300 ft/min.  After more than 100 hours it is still performing flawlessly.
In process ...note the low center of gravity

Unlike the Trike buggy that had the "Power Pod and Cage" bolted on,  the Falcon is a "one piece construction" of all mild steel.  With one piece welded trike...frame... and cage ... there are very few connections to work loose.  The motor mounts have been checked regularly but have never needed to be tightened.  The bucket seat is also bolted on but has remained tight.  On a couple of occasions I have had spectacular crashes that would have destroyed most paramotors but without exception the mild steel bent rather than broke and it was always an easy fix.  Either a few minutes with a bicycle frame bending tool or some quick welding.  When a section had to be replaced the raw material was easily obtained at Home Depot.

The biggest downside to going 4 stroke is the lack of fun things to do while not flying. Having spent the last 7 years immersed in this sport, I was comfortable with all the the wonderful little things that are a normal part of a PPG pilots life. The nights spent in the garage replacing compression springs or driving to the airport after dinner to pick up AV Gas. If I wasn't searching the Internet for the best buy on Castrol TTS, I was waiting for the UPS man to deliver a 160 dollar starter sprocket. I was either working on the machine or flying it.
For every minute in the air there was an equal or greater amount of time occupied with the care and feeding of my 2 stroke paramotor. If it was blowing too hard to fly…no problem, I always had a carburetor to rebuild or a pull start that needed maintenance..


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

When it is flyable, the Falcon is always ready to go and the first thing you notice is the happy rumble of the Generac. On my first flight it was so quiet that I completely forgot the step where I put in the ear plugs and put on the helmet. I realized my mistake just as I was taking off and few seconds later so did everyone at the Salton Sea when my ball cap went through the prop. .....WAAK....ear protection is still necessary but with a four stroke power plant, noise is reduced by thirty percent or more. At cruise with the RPM's reduced it is possible to have a cell phone conversation.


The next thing you notice is that the Generac doesn't suffer from the constant vibration that plagues two stroke motors. With a well balanced prop  its possible to forget all about the power plant and enjoy the ride.  Flying a two stroke I was often ready to land at 45 minutes or an hour. Without the vibration I'm much more relaxed and feel like I'll be able to fly as long as the gas and weather will permit. Cross country flights of 100 miles or more are certainly possible.

Now for the cons...
First...There isn't the instant power you get with a two stroke.   The big prop takes longer to wrap up and you can't modulate the throttle like you can with a two stroke.  It is still possible to fly the contour of of the dunes but you have to anticipate the power requirements and use the brakes very carefully to get that extra little bit of lift when you need it. 
It is not as agile or sporty but the more I fly the less I care to pull hard banking wingovers or swoop dive.  Another thing is the all up weight is almost 400 pounds and without going to a huge tandem wing, its way over placard.  I have no doubt that the wing can handle it but the brakes require more pressure and it will probable shorten the normal lifespan of the wing. 
Take offs are faster and require more runway.  You give up some flexibility when you go from foot launch to trike and you give up a little more when you go from a light trike to a heavy one.  The days of pulling off the highway and launching on a whim are not gone ... But  ... the opportunities are few and far between.  At the least you have too look a little harder for an LZ.  The trike itself is stable on the ground at high speed but trying to launch from a bumpy horse pasture can be a challenge, especially when a bump pops you up a little too soon.   My most spectacular crash occurred when I was launching at Bubba's "High Altitude Fly In" and was popped up at high speed, but... not high enough.  When the trike came back down I was not perfectly aligned causing a roll on two axis.  The buggy was slammed hard but the damage was minimal.  It bent but did not brake. 

The Falcon isn't the perfect paramotor but it is certainly the champ when it comes to affordability .... reliability ...and comfort. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

#527 Powered Paragliding in Turbulence Tonight

 I got to the field a little earlier this time.  There was a very light breeze from the East (Weather Underground predicted.)  While I was unloading the rig, the wind shifted to the West and increased to 8 knots. ( THIS WAS A 180 DEGREE SHIFT)  It didn't feel like a good time to launch so I hauled my wing out to the center of the field south of the runway and kited for a bit.  The Eden III was dancing overhead, there was plenty of lift but it kept shifting 30 degrees from left to right.   I had no trouble keeping it up  but it wasn't a stable air mass.  It continued to build with gusts every few minutes,  the air was bouncing between 6 and 12 knots and continued to vacillate.  It was not looking good.   There was a band of clouds running along the front range (mountain wave). There were also large lenticular clouds East of the wave that that I thought might indicate high winds aloft.  Whatever it was... the sky was not settled and I wasn't comfortable.

I  didn't think I was going to launch... but hope springs eternal.  The sun was behind the cloud band and I thought there might be a chance that when it dropped below the band that there would be a favorable change.  Sure enough it did... it was still from the West but it decreased slightly and the gusts were coming down.  I had walked back to the truck and was still uncertain.... So I loaded the kiting harness and powered out to where I had left the wing, that was built into a nice wall.  If I wasn't going to fly at least I could get some good kiting in.  Picking my way around the swoopers sandpit I drove out to the wing.  The wind was manageable but I was still concerned about gusts.  Taking extra care I hooked-in, this time making sure that the the trim cam was above the hang point loops and not likely to slip and get caught hanging the trike from the cam buckle.

Beaver moon over the runway

The launch was clean,  I did use brakes to get a little extra lift but quickly let them go and was climbing at 200 ft/minute.  The air was unstable with pockets of lift and sink.  The wing was surging and the wind speed was increasing with every foot of altitude. At 400 feet it was 20 knots and at 600 feet it was over 30.  I was glad to have flown but it wasn't a lot of fun. I was barely penetrating into the wind and being blown way over the hangers every time I turned downwind.  Eventually I was caught in some nasty turbulence and decided enough was enough.  Turning East I set up for final over the truck.  Decent was almost vertical and the touchdown was light as a feather.  I let the wing fly after shutting down the motor and kited from my seat for a couple of minutes.  If only the air had been as stable at altitude as it was at the surface.
Short but Satisfactory 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Opps ... Powered paragliding with the risers out of balance.

#525 and #526

Risers out of balance causes right hand turn

Daylight Savings changed to winter mode weekend  so....  I was a little off when planning what time to leave the house.  I could have tried the Saint Mary's site, its only a mile away, but I wanted a long runway with a smooth surface.  The rows of bumpy ruts and high tension wires at Saint Mary's just didn't suit me tonight... I needed a nice easy LZ.  Vance Brand was looking good, I arrived at 4:00 pm and wasted no time putting up the wind sock and and unloading the Falcon.  It was 40 degrees, not quite cold enough to warrant the Electric G gloves but I wanted to try them out so that this winter, when it really got cold,  I would be familiar with all the hook ins and where they went..  By the time I was ready to launch it was 30 minutes till sundown. 

The wind was light from the south, not unusual for this time of day but it was the first time I'd launched to the south at Vance Brand.  I layed the wing on my lap and powered to the north end of the LZ about 50 feet from the General Aviation runway.  There was plenty of room but with the Eden III lots of runway is a good thing.  The G-gloves were bulky but manageable when I was positioning my hands to hold the the A mallions for inflation.  The wing came up quickly ... I added some brake to allow time for the trike to catch up and started my run out.  The takeoff was sluggish and I found myself turning to the right.  Even at full power I wasn't gaining altitude and a couple of times I considered. aborting but I had turned 180 degrees and was flying toward the runway. 

The correct thing would have been to go with the turn but I decided to fight it and kept adding left brake until I was able to fly straight.  Eventually I was pointed at the west end of the runway and then turning back toward the truck.  The wing was climbing but slowly.  I looked and knew there was something wrong that was causing the turn but I didn't catch it until I landed. 

Despite being aware of keeping the trimmer cams above the hang point loops while setting up, the right side had somehow slipped down, hanging the trike from the hang point loop and the cam.  This has happened to me before and a couple of times I was able to free the cam but for some reason perhaps the bad light and dark sunglasses I didn't see the problem. It is not a good thing, the hang point loop isn't designed to take a load and when the cam is caught below the steel ring it causes the risers to be off center by more than an inch.  The wing will naturally cause a turn forcing me to used brakes and lose energy to maintain a straight line.  Perhaps it happened when I was adjusting the wing or positioning the lines.... whatever the cause, I was having to use lots of left brake to fly straight and when it was time to land I was using a huge amount of brake on the left side to maintain.  It is a small wing and needs speed to fly so I was a a distinct disadvantage, being forced warp the wing into an inefficient configuration to remain aloft.  The Eden riser is different from the PowerPlay,  it is more apt to do this and so I'm going to have to make it one of the last checks before starting the motor, expecially when I fly the Eden.
The second flight was just to prove I could
Take off was fine but the climb out was slow.  When flying the Eden I'll have to allow for more room to gain take off speed.  The place where I had set up was adequate but there wasn't a lot of room for error,  I found myself using brakes to get off and then I  had to stay on them to avoid dropping down.  Eventually I was stable I let up the brakes which allowed the wing to climb and the climb was good.   I circled up to 400 feet and pulled a couple of wing overs, circled over the hangers and landed.  It was all good and the landing was clean.

Two short flights...... Not much airtime... But
I got my fix and feel much better about
Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

524 Titan A Banner Day

Good company in the morning

Hanky Panky

Sailing in the afternoon

Tail chase

Marina is losing boats

Last race of the fall series
Flying in the Evening ...
Who could ask for more?

#523 Vance Brand

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Gathering at Monument Valley 2011

Day One Wed. Oct.12

Dawn and I puttered around most of the morning, packing the galley, loading the truck and deciding exactly which clothing was appropriate for the uncertain weather of Monument Valley Utah. We finally got on the road at 11:00AM and before I was out of the neighborhood I noticed that the "check engine" light was flashing at me. Last week I had replaced the clutch and brakes, changed the oil and checked all the necessary fluids and pressures. What could have gone wrong? When I got on the highway I noticed a lack of power, it was feeling like a problem with the coil, the same problem I had last year on the way to the Salton Sea. We searched the Internet for a Ford dealership but there were none in the area so I asked Dawn to look for a service center. We were in luck, the shop wasn't busy and he got us right in.  I was expecting another $400 repair and was delighted when it turned out to be the bolt securing the #7 coil was loose causing it to miss. One Hundred bucks and an hour later we were back on the road. The first crisis had passed without pain. 

It was a beautiful Fall morning and I was thinking back 45 years when I used to make this drive with my father hunting elk.  We used to stop at the Denver Hotel and "Fire up a Salute" to the hunt.  I remember my Dad lifting that shot glass to his nose taking a sniff and then raising his hand to toast our good fortune.  I'll never forget the old bar it had a model of the California Zephyr  complete with the airstream skin and "Vista Dome Cars" riding along the top of the bar.  I remember him telling me that he had done the same thing with his father and his father before him, same town, same bar, 4 generations, over a century of time.  Some traditions ... like memories, are just to good to let go.   

We made good time and were were approaching Moab by 6 where I made a command decision, which was happily agreed to by my first mate, to spend the night in a nice hotel rather than set up camp in the dark. We checked into the Hampden where Dawn was gracefully recognised for her travel status and comped a deluxe room.  Then we spent the rest of the evening wandering around town where I showed her, The Rim Bicycle Shop.  The Rim is arguably the place where the Mountain Bike Boom started.  Rob and Bill Groff Road that horse like champions and Moab's economy blossomed  into International Fame.  There are probably 15 bike shops in town now but "Rob em and Bill em" were the first.   I was proud to be working with them back then and delighted to meet Bill's son who was working the shop. Later we had a light dinner and went to bed early.

Day Two Thursday Oct. 13

We didn't get out of town as early as planned.  Business got in the way and so Dawn spent the morning working out on some medical sales reps instead of the treadmill she had planned on. I kept myself busy playing with the hotel TV and enjoying their free breakfast spread. We were on our way by noon and at the campsite by 3:00.   We quickly set up camp and went down to the airstrip for the first flight of the trip.

Several pilots had also arrived early and were lounging around waiting for the air to mellow. At 5:00 it was declared good and people started launching. The winds were light and coming from all the wrong places. On the Airport apron the wind was coming directly from the west face of a 900 foot wall of rock. It was hard to figure, I could see that it must have been a north wind that was being deflected but it was disconcerting to launch toward the rock and I didn't like the fact that the terrain dropped 30 feet into rough country and detention ponds. It was not going to be pretty if someone had problems right after launch and ... the go-no-go point was far too close to the start for my taste.

My launch was not without drama. The wing came up fine, I had committed to launch, and was just beginning to feel some lift when the wing collapsed about 30% on the right side. I stayed on the power and it popped out just before I would have had to abort. Two seconds later I was 50 feet over a detention pond and checking my wing to make sure everything was good. Later talked to Robert about the launch and he affirmed that I had done everything right. He couldn't tell what caused the collapse other than a pocket of bad air caused by the wind deflecting off the wall.

It wasn't a long flight; I stayed 500 feet above the flats just east and north of the patch. The air was warm and smooth, the monuments were bright orange contrasting hugely with the area around Gouldings that was already darkened by the shadow of Oljeto Mesa towering 900 feet above the airstrip. When I decided to land I flew to the far end of the 3700 foot runway and floated the entire length at 10 feet or less. I told myself I should to do more of this type of flying, 1/3 power and using the brakes to fine tune altitude.

IT WAS NICE! It's possible I've been blaming the Falcon for the bus like performance when the real issue is the wing. Next time I'm at Vance Brand I'm going to have to fly the Eden and see.

That evening we shared hotdogs with Robert Kittila and Andy McGavin.  After dinner I fired up the campfire where we sat and watched a nearly full moon rise over the monuments. Later, Scott Richie his wife Tamera and a couple of other pilots joined us where the discussion was primarily about the care and feeding of two stroke motors. Occasionally we slipped into metaphysics lead by our resident "guru" Andy but no matter how hard we tried to keep it meaningful the talk always came back to paraflying and powerplants.

Day 3 Friday Oct. 14th

It was another warm morning ... Dawn and I had no trouble getting out of bed and down to the field in time for the pilot briefing. I had been working on it for several days, Mo had reviewed it and I practiced the delivery while driving from Denver.  Cleverly, I loaded it into the I Phone so I would have a mini teleprompter . If I had remembered to bring my glasses I would have been able to read it .... Opps...Squinting and blinking I stood on the bed of Tom's pick-up and managed to cover the high points.  Basically "Use your heads ... Be Safe and DON'T PISS OF THE NAVAJO.

The wind was light with occasional puffs coming from the cut between Oljeto and Rock Door Mesa. Yesterday I had been amazed at the way the PPCs could disregard the wind direction.  They would just lay out the wing, pop it overhead and taxi to the runway.  I knew my wing required more input to keep it overhead but ..."I could do that too ... Couldn't I?". Seeing them motor over to the runway and roll down that beautiful long strip was very tempting. It would have been easier with the Eden III but I still needed to adjust the brake lines.   So… I compromised, instead of trying to taxi downwind across the apron and turn 90 degrees I set-up at the top of the apron, facing into the wind but 45 degrees off the runway. The wing came up clean and quickly stabilized.   I turned down the runway and made a nice crosswind.launch.  The POWERPLAY is sluggish and turns like a bus but it doesn't need much speed to fly and it doesn't dance overhead like the Eden.  Its all good.

I climbed to 7500 ft msl and toured the Navajo Park for the first time in several years. I crossed over on the south side of Mitchell Mesa and passed the Three Sisters then I turned to the right rounding Rain God Mesa. In the center of the flats is a single mound that is a sacred spot for the Navajo.              It was too early for the tour vehicles so I didn't think I would be spotted but just to be sure I stayed at least 2000 ft up.  Words fail me ... its majestic ... massive ... awesome. I could fly here every day and never see it all. Go low and the detail is everywhere Go high and 1000 foot monoliths become the detail, micro or macro its all amazing. This was my EPIC flight of the trip!  East of the sacred mound is Thunderbird Mesa, I flew between it and Saddle Rock and then over to the lava chimneys called the Totem Poles.  
Totem Poles

When I was past the backside of Spearhead Mesa I crossed the park border and descended to fly close to the Mittens.  I did a couple of laps around the West Mitten, took a few pictures of it and Sentinel Mesa then began the long passage back to Gouldings.
What a flight! It was perfect in every way, warm smooth air, not a soul around me and one of the most spectacular views in the world.  Thank You God.

When I landed things were wrapping up for the morning.  A few guys were doing acro around the airstrip but most were packing their wings and loading up.  Robert, Andy, Dawn and I went up to the lodge and had a celebratory breakfast.   I checked in with Barb who assured me that everything was good for our dinner on Sat. night. EXCEPT.... SURPRISE SURPRISE... We were not going to be allowed to bring beer or wine into the Banquet.  It's not really a big deal because most of us curb the booze in favor of flying but this is the third year that they have said yes you can then no you can't.  I'm going to stop asking.

After breakfast we lounged around the campsite and took a nap.  I was delighted to get the same site.  It is at the top of the campground and looks through the cut toward the Big Indian Monument.  It was easy to sit in the sunshine and relax while a light breeze came up the cut and played with the windsock.  A guy could get used to this. An additional bonus was, that this year, the fly in fell during a full moon and so during our campfires we watched the moon rise over the park.. 

After our nap and showers Dawn and I checked in with Bob who said he would be happy to take her on a flight.  At 5:00p we went down to the field and Dawn caught her first flight of the trip with Ken.   He took her around the backside of Oljeto Mesa over the campground and alongside Rock Door Mesa.  As soon as she landed Bob was ready so she hustled over to his machine and was up again.  This was a much longer flight and she got to see the backside of King on his Throne and Saddleback.

Kings on his Throne, Stagecoach,  Bear & Rabbit, Castle Rock

I flew North East to Eagle Mesa and did a lap around Eagle Rock and the Sitting Hen. I was going to go for a trophy shot on Stagecoach Rock but the winds were kicking up some rotor and I couldn't get low enough to put my shadow on the face. 

Big Indian

Big Indian

After swinging around Castle Rock and the Big Indian I climbed to 4000 feet AGL and took in the big picture. There were wings below me that looked like topical fish in a giant aquarium. Colorful little spirits playing in the rocks. I watched them moving in groups of two or three, some were flying nap of the earth and others were at 500 and 1000 feet. One group was playing follow the leader in tight circles and another was climbing to approach the West Mitten.  Excellent flight .... mostly smooth with a few bumps near the rocks.

Big Indian

That night we teamed up with the Richies and to cook at their fire.  Both of us brought ribs, there was plenty to go around.  Dawn also prepared one of our Zucchinis and some sweet potatoes for a side.  The campfire was made complete when we made samores with giant marshmallows.

Day 4 Sat. Oct. 15th
The wind was blowing just hard enough for me to pause.  None of the PPCs were flying but several of the foot launch guys were having a great time.  Dawn and I hung around the field and watched the show.  Once again we were launching across the apron but this morning there were a lot of vehicles at the field and Dell and Russ had parked their trailers at the far north end.  The veterans didn't have a problem with it but some of the newbies were dealing with the short launch area by jumping into their seats a little early.  There were three crashes in less than 5 minutes WAC ...WAC... Crunch.  Nobody was hurt but there were some damaged Flat Top cages and props. The wind was still a little strong for my taste at 9:30 so we bagged it and retired to the campsite.

During the afternoon several of us made up a small convoy and drove through the Navajo Tribal Park.  Mo and Tom bounced along in the bed and Dawn road shotgun.  Seeing the monuments from the ground gives a very different perspective. 

Its magnificent from the air but to really appreciate how big they are try it from the ground looking up as well.   It was a great opportunity to take some pictures and play tourist.  The View Hotel is finished and even at $200+ a night its fully booked ... . Before leaving the Park we wandered around the visitor center and gift shop where they traditionally have some of the most expensive T-shirts in the world ... this year everything was 30 to 50% off.  We would have probably gone into the new hotel but Mo had his dog with him and the management frowns on that.  :)

PM Flight
This was most excellent! Randy took me up in his weight shift Delta.  It was just too easy.  He lined up at the top of the runway and did a down wind launch.  Wow! For an hour and twenty minutes we flew and covered pretty much the entire area.  First we went to the North and did some ridge soaring on Train Rock.  The delta flys at a little over 60mph and could turn on a dime.  However, it was not tight enough for Randy who complained that he wasn't able to stay in the thermals.  I was impressed .... the way he would drop a wingtip and seemingly pivot over one point of the desert floor.  Randy apologised for not bringing training bars so that I could try my hand at the controls but he needn't have.  It was a pleasure not having to fly the plane,  I was free to sit take pictures and enjoy the ride.

The Mittens

After Train Rock we headed over to Eagle Rock and the Sitting Hen and did some close Fly-Byes.  I would have been worried about rotor flying all the way around but it is not the same issue with the Delta.  After exploring the entire group of "North East Monoliths" we entered the park and explored area containing the Mittens, Three Sisters and Elephant Butte.   When we left the park Randy went along the backside of Oljeto Mesa and flew the crack between Oljeto and Rock Door.  It is always fun to see my tent and the windsock from above.  The landing was as easy as the take off ... smooth and clean.  Thanks Randy! 

That evening we all met up at the Lodge for a "non-banquet" banquet.  Mo and I were sitting with a relatively new PPC pilot who told us all about his experience of being lifted to 16,000 ft and how he pulled an enormous stall falling over 15,000 feet before he recovered only to be lifted to 16,000 again.  It had to be the greatest fish story of the event.  Mo and I refrained from quizzing the fellow.  I didn't write up a speech and Paul Anthem wasn't there too entertain us ... so it was just  friends and new friends sharing a meal.  Later we met back at the campfire and continued the festivities.  One thing ... As in years past they told me we could bring adult beverages into the lodge and at the last minutes changed their mind.  Barb was embarrassed but it was really ... no big deal.

Day 5 Sunday Oct. 16th

This was a fun flight!  The wind was blowing 5 to 8 from the south.  When this happens the wind swirls around Rock Door Mesa and is generally confused air. South West along Oljeto's face it smooths out and once up, its fine, but the launches can be dicey, with people taking off on all points of the compass all over the apron.  I chose to go to the far end of the runway and launch up wind and up hill.  At the north end it was blowing a little harder.  Bob was having a hard time setting up because the wing getting caught by the wind and filling behind his PPC.  I had thought these guys could handle much harder wind than us but Bob was uncomfortable and decided to pack it in.

The View Hotel and Visitor Center
I set up on the far right corner facing the wind,  I would have the full width of the runway to get it overhead, stable and pointing slightly cross wind, (up) the runway.  I bent the wing into an exaggerated chevron hoping to slow down the inflation.  It came up fast!  And... before I had rolled 5 feet so did the front wheel!  It didn't feel good because as the front wheel came up, the trike started to yaw to the left.  So, I cut power, got the wheel back down and tried gain, same thing... on the third attempt I layed on the power and let the trike come around as it lifted.  It wasn't clean but it wasn't like at Bubba's where I came back down crooked at 25 mph.  I wasn't moving forward very fast and if I did hit some sink and come back down, I figured that I could handle the trike .  The rest of the flight much like the first one of the trip.  I stayed over the flats and played in the current of air coming from the south.  Then I climbed high enough to get out of any turbulence over Rock Door and took a last look around.  The landing was a good high wind landing, I approached from the North and set down soft and slow on the helicopter pad.

About half of us were availble for this shot

We met up with Andy and Robert for breakfast and spent the rest of the morning packing up and saying our goodbyes.  It was, by all measures, a good Fly-In.  The weather was great with every morning and evening flyable.  There were a few minor incidence but no major carnage.  We had a great campsite with wonderful neighbors to share the food and fire.  The Gathering 2011 is in the BAG.

The Photo album is a work in process ...Here is the link....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Powered Paragliding Colorado Flight #518

Wow 518.... It seems like just the other day I was working on my first 100.  Well this was a new site and it will probably be my new home field.  There are challenges... the surface is uniformly bumpy.  The launch was an accident looking to happen.  I started the roll out and the trike was slow to accelerate.  The surface was hard but bumpy and I was popped up by one of those bumps just a little too soon.  The machine started to yaw to the left but I didn't lose any altitude and so I stayed on the throttle and prayed.   Sure enough I started climbing and had no problem turning inside of the power lines.  I turned north and climbed easily over the hazards which are high power lines on two sides.  An e-mail from the owner assures me that as long as I stay within the fences I'll be fine.  So... Next time I'll explore crossing the ditch and maybe I'll find a surface that is a little more trike friendly.
This was an exploratory flight, there were balloons off to the north but a little too far to chase down, so I stayed close and explored the area.  It is beautiful... there are lakes and orchard and plenty to keep me busy for a long time to come.  I stayed up for 40 minutes and took several photos including one of Boulder where my daughter Stefania is living. 

New home field

Stefania's Dorm

Saint Mary's Church

Bad Helmet
 The landing was bumpy ... I touched down and was so busy negotiating the bumps that I just barely shut the motor shut down in time to protect the wing.  This place needs some work but it is legal... I have the owners permission and its close to home.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Powered Paragliding Colorado Flights #516 # 517

Beautiful day at Vance Brand

Dawn and I arrived at the field about 7:30, the was just the hint of a breeze coming from the west which lined up with the jeep track nicely.  I took my time, set-up and launched without fanfare. 

The air was smooth and clear.  I made a few climbing circles and flew off to the south where there were 6 or 8 balloons in the distance.  I would have flown out to meet them but I wanted to see when Robert arrived so I turned back and played around the field.   
Longs Peak
 About 20 minutes later two vehicles pulled in next to my truck, it was Robert and Peter with his PG wings.  I set-up to land but after touching down decided it was too soon to quit and relaunched in an extended touch and go.  When I did come down Robert Peter and I shot the bull and talked about the options for Peter to get into PPG. 

The first stick of Swoop divers came in and I took the opportunity to reset.  I wanted to get some air while it was still good the sun was getting high and I knew it wouldn't be long before the thermals started popping..  From 400 feet I watched Robert blow a launch and when it looked like he was going to wait for some breeze I turned south again to catch the sights.  The ballooons had all dropped to the nap and were playing chase the rabbit.  There were several Light sport aircraft in the area and just a great day to fly.

There was a new pilot at the field ... Chris ... who had a new Flat Top with the new ultra light trike.  He was a PG guy with some experience but had never flown motor before.  Robert and I spotted while he set up and launched in an amazingly short distance.  Impressive machine.  I wish it's dealer was a little more mainstream.  I was concerned because the pilot had no formal training and his landing was a bit scary ... but he got down fine and it was all good.

The only down side of the whole morning was when a light sport fixed wing ultralight crashed on takeoff.  I didn't see the whole thing but it looked like he bounced on landing (or takeoff) and cartwheeled.  Within 10 minutes the fire and EMTs were on site.  It didn't look like to bad a crash but I'm sure it was expensive.

Vance Brand Airport