Pine Finale & Beach Bliss
Jan 3, 2008
U Can Fly 2 Plus | See Part I
This is my way to welcome a new year. More accurately, to end an old
one, in this case.
The next day of flying was much like the first but with sprinkles. A
big trip was planned over to the islands so I topped off the tank and
headed up after Paul's blessedly brief briefing. It was informative and
necessary--there are some sensitive spots, as you can expect, that are
bad for varying reasons.
Heavy sucks but I never like leaving earth without my camera. This
new one is huge. At least I left one of the lenses behind. You'd
think that, given the clouds, I could skip taking pictures for a change.
Nope. The camera with pilot attachment had to go together. At least there was a bit
of breeze help with inflation.
The island is surrounded by innocuous looking mangroves--small trees
that grow in shallow water. Yes, water. Don't go in those. One pilot
apparently did (before I got there) and it was a 4-hour ordeal getting
him out. The rescuer (God Bless Him) told the gathered group that if
anyone went in there again to plan on spending the night. He was
kidding, of course, because in the briefing Paul cautioned us about
going into the Mangroves—don't expect a rescue to be quick.
The event was very well thought out and they had a rescue boat
service on call and access to another boat for non-emergency rescues. To
my knowledge, it was only used for the poor chap who went Mangroving.
I stayed local, it was fun buzzing about with Eric Dufour (left). His
precision control eases my nerve in close proximity. He's been trying
out a new wing that looked very similar to the Spice. Mostly he was
playing, as always, with a mastery that's fun to watch.
It's amazing how learning continues in this sport.
Frank Savignac, a Canadian instructor and gentleman, showed me some
bits about balance on Walkerjets. I knew about the lateral strap
adjustments for comfort but he showed how they affect balance. So
I took his RDM machine aloft to try it out. Sure enough, the adjustment
authority was significant. Pull those straps forward and it moves the
seat (and your body) forward. That moves the CG, too, so the whole unit
tilts forward from its leaned-back posture. Moving the adjustments in
flight netted a 5° change.
I also flew Paul's Titanium framed Fresh Breeze with the Wingman
harness. I've flown this unit before with their comfort bar harness and
liked it quite a bit. But I've never been a big fan of the soft J bar
system so I wanted to try it with Paul answering my concerns.
Since I'm light, Paul moved the motor's clip in point forward to make
the motor more upright. Some wind made for an easy reverse launch. In
flight it felt like I was slipping out of the seat a bit. After landing,
I explained that to Paul who adjusted said that the "boomerang" should
be level with the horizon in level flight. So he adjusted the motor back
one hole to reduce lean. That helped. Another flight found the tilt-back
and torque only slightly more than average. For sure the comfort bar system
confers less torque. Other comments: a kick-in strap was very helpful
getting into the seat. The "boomerangs" (metal pieces that the motor and
pilot hang from and wing clips to)
got in the way of my arms but tightening the
chest strap about 3 inches helped—it brought them in closer to my body.
Then I tried a forward inflation and, although it worked fine, the harness forced me into holding the A's about 4 to 6
inches forward (using a Spice). That tends to curl the leading edge and indeed that
happened. I'm told it doesn't happen with short motor risers and larger
comfort bar option does away with this issue and I really think new
pilots will do better with that option. Overall, I think new pilots will
have more success with Fresh Breeze's comfort bars.
One thing to note is my small size. Paul has found that larger pilots
do much better with the wingman harness than do smaller pilots. I'm
about as small as they come so take that into account.
Yes, yes, I need to put this in the Reviews section. So much to do.
But pecking it out here is so much easier. Less formal. I'm relaxing my
way to Chicago in row 14 at 35,000 feet. Ahhhh.
Scenes from Pine Island. I love
forward launch pictures—it's hard to capture more intense determination
than when someone is grunting for their fix of flight. Lets face it
folks, forward launching these things is a challenge—even the best
pilots blow 'em occasionally.
The cylinder in row 4 holds a burned,
seized piston next to the exhaust hole that precipitated it. Word to the
wise: plug those exhaust leaks! This was from a recently removed, but
not plugged, EGT probe.
Paul and Jenny in row 4 make a
wonderful team much like Tammy and Chris in row 1.
Weather & People
It was warm. What more do you want? Dry? Mostly. Enough that we flew
every day in spite of increasing wind each day.
I just love the people in this sport. Passionate lovers of flight.
Paul is wonderful. Professional, fun loving and very organized. I
easily recommend him and his school if you want thorough training. He
goes through the USPPA syllabus, checking items off—you'll cover it all.
That's important if you want to be assured of complete training.
His wife and kids are gems, too. Son PJ has quite a few flights under
his belt already.
on the Beach
After morning flights and farewells at Pine Island I joined the Ohio
gang for an afternoon at the. Oh is that nice!
We get out onto this 500 foot deep, hard packed, sand with a little 8
mph breeze. Brainless launching at will. Inflate, lollygag, turn around,
walk, look around a bit to savor the moment then go. Yeahhhh. Squeeze
off some push—ease into a trot then a turning foot drag to head up the
beach. I'm a simpleton, apparently, because even after many times, I
still love this stuff!
You wonder why I enjoy writing about these experiences? It's like
savoring a tasty leftover, I suppose
On a 3rd flight, Dominic and I headed south for some sand drags. It
dawned on my that I've flown this beach before. Many years ago I
departed from Naples and came all the way up here.
Mike had gotten permission from a property owner on the beach. After
we were nearly done flying the police showed up. Apparently someone in a
building thought we were too close. We agreed to stay farther away on
future flights. He was more interested in the craft than he was giving
any grief. But it's a good reminder that—more than just the letter of
the law—we must avoid unwanted attention. Being legal isn't enough,
especially at beach sites. Don't piss of the people. Our welcome will
last much longer.
1) Landing on the beach with the
police waiting. They asked us to stay farther from the buildings and we
complied. 2 & 3) Getting to the parasail boat then landing on the
parasail boat. 4)
That wound up being my last flight. Winter took a bite out of
southern Florida. This morning when I put the Enterprise to bed, it was
32°F. Ouch. My flying bug was well satiated, though, so I poured full
enjoyment into seeing family. I'm thankful to have two wonderful
parents, still together after all these years, that tolerate my visits
Welcome to 2008.
See Pine Island 1