Beach Blast 2017
2017-05-20 Resort Paramotoring |
Flying Tips Video
This year felt friendlier somehow not that anything prior felt mean.
It started with the first people we encountered, at Edgewater's counter
and entrance gate, who seemed happy to see us. Cool. It really gave me
the warm and fuzzies. Next year, if John and company is willing to do
this yet again, Tim & I will fly in, stay at the resort and make a
different kind of vacation out of it.
It was easier to fly this year. I never even mentioned this to John
but they made the approach surprisingly easier, at least with the common
Eastish wind, by angling it out toward the West. Check out the picture
Eddie has a bachelor in Chemistry, minor in math
and physics, continues leading a full life but wanted to fly a
Edward Thomasson isn't shy about making things happen in his life.
He's a 23 resident at Edgewater that has been watching our shenanigans
since they've been going on. Despite being in a Wheelchair due to MS, he
wanted to go paramotoring—it became, according to him, his #1 bucket
I'm not sure of the details but I remember it this way. At some point
he asked about how to make it happen, how he could get a flight, and was
told that his best chance was with Chris Santacroce who has become
rather accomplished at flying people with various disabilities through
his Project Airtime. When
Chris found out, he jumped on it.
Logistics weren't easy since Eddie's high tech wheelchair couldn't be
taken out into the sand so they had to improvise. And improvise they
Chris got everything ready, the motor running, inflated the wing and
turned to face forward while kiting. As he stood their "idling" with the
wing overhead, volunteers carried Eddie to the waiting harness
and strapped him in. For launch, they ran alongside him, supporting his
weight until the wing took over and flight soon followed.
The process reversed on landing with Chris kiting the glider overhead
while they captured, held, unstrapped and carried Eddie back while Chris
kited the wing, bringing it down when Eddie was clear.
Eddie said he loved the feeling of total freedom.
I talked with Chris afterwards and he seemed to get as much out of it
Thanks to tandem pilot Matt Minyard for offering the gear.
At some point there was a wedding. There always seems to be a wedding
during Beach Blast but then maybe there are lots of weddings there. In
this case our event helped them out since Eric Cote and Matt Minyard
took Bride and Groom up at the same time. I happen to be flying and
captured the happy couple nuzzling each other in flight. Well, maybe not
that close. They were both being introduced to paramotoring
there, learning something that will hopefully spike an interest to do on
It was great to see all the goodies, as always, and easy launching
made it possible to try just about everything I wanted to try. Aviator
PPG sponsored the event by providing a motor, very cool. They also
introduced a new motor there but, alas, I managed to miss the whole
thing. Hopefully I'll get to try it on a machine at some point.
There were new goodies to try and, as usual, I took great advantage
of it. First I wanted to try my own wing and motor so the above shot was
a selfie of that flight. Even though I've flown this beach a lot it's
always nice to get airborne.
The most surprising addition was Air Conceptions ridiculous-looking
counter-torque tabs, mounted on the netting. "That's got to be a
gimmick" I thought, and asked to fly it. Not only did they work, they
worked really well!!! I've only flown one
other machine that so thoroughly tamed torque; it belonged to Alex Varv
who offset his engine thrustline from the risers' center more than most.
That's still the best method because it incurs no loss of thrust, but
this has the advantage of working on any machine. It weighs almost
nothing, too. Very nice work.
The fact is that, if a motor is going to twist, it's going to twist
on my scrawny butt, and this one didn't twist at all.
I flew a Gin Carve, MacPara Power2Fly motor, another Air Conception
motor, a couple of the new Parajets and Robert Kitilla's new creation.
More on those in the months to come. I take audio notes right after
flying now so I can remember the details. Sitting here without those
notes a lot of the details escape me. One thing is true, though, we have
some really nice lighter weight motors to choose from.
You'll fly here a lot more by becoming one with windy conditions. To
take on the winds without being up for it is to provide immense
entertainment at significant cost to your gear and risk to others.
Tim didn't fly at all mostly because he's not as needy as I am and
also because he's not a fan of crowds, especially when winds start to
reach his limits.
1. Eric Farewell in 2016
unwittingly models the previous LZ border. 2. The extended area.
I'm sure it was mentioned in an early briefing but I didn't hear
about it: The LZ is bigger! One of the hardest things people did was
come in to land when the wind was blowing straight in, that's why I made
this video, but now it's a good bit easier. Landing to the East is
most common and this arrangement is optimized for that. Good job John.
The above two pictures tell the story. You can see how last year the
western edge only went to the stairs but this year it west well West of
that and angled further west nearing water, allowing a more gradual
arcing approach that remains clear of fleshy obstacles.
It's still not for the feint hearted but bring it within more pilots
comfort zone while improving overall safety to pilot and spectator
I flew so much, and baked in enough UV that on Saturday it became
clear I was damaged goods. After playing in the strongish winds a bit,
trying out a new Hike-And-Fly miniwing, I had to call "uncle." That
meant I didn't get to try the new Ozone miniwing but Eric is just down
the street from me so I'll try it later. I don't know how much was being
overdone in the sun and how much was the all-day flyfest but definitely
left me utterly spent.
"Brewster" is Bad Apple #1. He exemplifies what it means to live
life, to love life, and to help others do the same. I've known Bruce
since I got into powered paragliding and found him to be one of those
people that brightens a room. He's hilarious, to boot. And he's been a
huge supporter of Beach Blast, including helping to MC it on one
He's got cancer and won't be with us for much longer.
Saturday night, Dave Rogers, Alex Donaghy and Tim Gaskins awarded him
the "Goin' Above" jacket. I cried.
I'll remember Brewster for many things, but mostly for his skewed
outlook on life, always tilting towards getting more fun from it.
Tim Gaskins spoke, as much as he could while holding back tears, and
it was an emotional ride but a good one. Thanks to Tim, Lynn and the
The banquet was at one of the resort's rooms again and boy is that
nice, not having to drive anywhere. It was the perfect size, too, since
we filled it up even with probably about 150 people.
There was all-day flying for anyone into high-winds nearly every day
but Saturday where it got too strong by noon.
So much work is required to pull this particular event off that I
always treat it as the last and am pleasantly surprised if John Black
pulls it off again. No event in paramotoring has this level of
organizational complexity. It's more expensive than some, has more
restrictions than most, but has such a cool combination of comforts and
consistent flying that it's worth preserving.