2017-06-08 Working With EAA
I've been a long time member of EAA, longer than any other
organization, so it was cool to help represent the USPPA, along with
Vice President Alex Donaghy. It's an effort to promote powered
paragliding and work to keep it the unregulated gem that it is among
other things. The other things have to do with areas like insurance,
publication, awareness and promotion.
We've been working with them now for a few months on seeing what
areas make sense to cooperate on and have a memorandum of understanding.
They see the growth of PPG, and the number of young people getting into
it, as yet another way to help promote recreational aviation. We do,
too. Paramotor may seem like a gateway drug into "harder" aviation but I
suspect more people go the other way--starting with airplanes, maybe
even going pro, but then discovering our incredible freedom. Who
Their interest was piqued by a number of factors, starting with the
Paradigm team flying during Oshkosh last year, but also by at least one
board member starting to fly one. Ken McKensie. He's an airline
pilot-turned-executive with Airbus and, like all the people we met, a
lover of aviation. Rick Larsen ran the meeting and, it turns out, we
worked for the same airline, Midway, back in 1987. It's a small world.
These folks are not "stuffed shirts" at all. Quite the opposite,
they're passionate about flying; different areas, to be sure, but on
arrival at headquarters they had a sign promoting "Ultralight Day" so we
felt right at home. Plus, Pioneer Airport is a grass runway right behind
the headquarters. What an opportunity to mutually promote our little
piece of aviation bandwidth.
They bring an enormous audience, organizational acumen and resources
that we could not. I'm thrilled to see it happen. We brought up other
areas of interest to paramotor pilots, especially liability insurance
for events and pilots, and helping show the FAA why letting USPPA
certify instructors for wheeled tandems would increase safety. They're
gonna look into these things.
USPPA was offered a small presence at Airventure, too, starting with
a banner this year and possibly a booth in 2018. After years of absence,
there have again been PPG vendors (AviatorPPG, High Five Paramotor, and Blackhawk) in the last
few years. That's cool to see.
After meeting and eating we spent the afternoon touring EAA's
well-done Museum. Wow. I had no idea.
EAA is primarily about experimental aircraft but they're supporting
all manner of recreational aviation. That includes us!
USPPA was invited to come see where we could work
together with EAA to promote powered paragliding. It is, after all, a
growing part of recreational flight. We share the vision to minimize
regulation which partly means encouraging good training and responsible
behavior. Part 103 is a gem worth preserving. Alex (USPPA VP) and I came
to Oshkosh to go over a cooperation agreement that had already been
signed with EAA.
I knew there was a museum here but had no idea at
the quality and scope. I think because it's combined with the
headquarters people tend to under-assume. It's a museum with a
Talk about a piece of history.
This almost brought a tear to my eye as it
reminded me of my parents who let me live life so fully even as a young
teenager. They not only let me live it but enabled it, including the
whole glider flying thing starting at 13 years old.
Pedal-powered paramotor. At full tilt I got this
up to about 12 pounds of thrust. Tim Kaiser could probably get 14. We
need about 15 to fly level under an efficient paraglider so I'm thinking
that the 2-stroke will prevail for some time. Human powered flight
for me will have to wait.
There it is in the store, Airspace for Ultralights.
Alex at dusk, looking down the Fox River in
After EAA our next stop was to see the Midwest PPG duo of Scott
Baxter and Steve Reed who have grown their school a lot since I
left Chicagoland. They were kind enough to hook Alex and I up with some
sweet flying gear. It was great to see much of the old gang there, too!
Figures he waited until I left to build an 1800' runway there. What a
Alex Donaghy (left) and Steve Reed between
Alex, Scott and Steve with the most ingenius wing
storage contraption I've yet seen. It's good to have an iron welder
(Fred Warner) around!
Deb and Jim. Boy do they have an interesting
story. Deb landed a few minutes prior and walked over to greet her
husband who just landed. They have 5 grandkids. I'm hoping they'll share
their story for USPPA's magazine content.
Looking South you can see the scope of things.
Scott also uses the neighbor's land on the other side of the rode beyond
his shop. I've been to fly-ins with fewer pilots than showed up here.
Ahhh, the obligatory selfie.
Nick Sholte's place in the foreground, the "Paradrome."
Bummer I didn't get to land there but it was downwind of a turbulence
inducing power plant that I didn't want to tackle. Nick's was where I
first saw a paramotor, and he was extremely giving of his time
explaining everything about it. In 1999 he was the one who mostly
convinced me that paramotor was probably no more dangerous than the
craft I was already flying.
It's not whether your wing comes up perfect, it's
what you do when it doesn't that shows skill. Here Steve pulls off a
nice launch of the gear I had just flown.
Working with a student. This guy did a beautiful
inflation that went crooked. He expertly got under it, straightened out,
throttled up and the motor quit. Uggh. He got up on the next one.
Lance Marczak (Left) just landed. He's "Mr.
Motor:" If it fires he can fix it. Fred Werner, getting ready behind
him, is also the guy who welded up the cool creation shown below.
Scott Baxter shows off a really cool storage
solution. Clip the wings on, push the up button. Ingenious.