In December 2001–the beginning of Chicagoland’s deep freeze–I got an idea. It was winter, and I hate the cold, so why not buy a small RV that goes to a warm destination every winter and equip it with a complete PPG unit?
It would be an aircraft carrier. It would need to be nameed Enterprise.
Of course the “Star Trek” theme wasn’t far behind the name and, in fact, it sports William Shatner’s signature on The side (he rode in it on the way to some PPG training).
The vehicle was a 1995 Winnebago Rialto. Very compact and equally underpowered (which is endemic of the breed)…it is, however, sufficient and even comfortable at 70 mph on level road.
It sleeps three in relative comfort but they better be friendly! The pull-out shower and Pullman-style sink is minimal but functional although the various tanks don’t lend themselves to long showers.
It has a refrigerator that works most of the time, a stove that’s great for melting the ends of nylon rope and a generator so it can operate autonomously. That’s good because few PPG launch sites have hook-ups.
A year later, a rack was added that dramatically improved my carrying capacity. Then a bigger rack was employed when Tim Kaiser starting traveling with me and needed a place for his paramotor. While the enterprise is being stored, the paramotor fits inside mostly assembled with only the re-drive having to be removed and its arms slid inwards. While on the road the paramotor lives on the cargo carrier in back allowing full use of the limited living space.
This is the best looking of the two but alas, you spend more time on the inside enjoying the room than on the outside admiring its looks.
My paramotor lives inside when I’m away but reluctantly rides outside in back when we’re aboard. Of course I’m sure it’s happy to get some airtime so that makes up for the primitive accommodations.
Before graphics: the Original Enterprise with Brad Weiss on the right and me on the left. This was its first voyage around the country and before graphics were added. In fact, it hadn’t even left the state of Florida yet.
Enterprise “A” Moves On
After 35,000 miles, hundreds of flights, dozens of flying events and sites throughout North America, the paramotorhome “Enterprise” has been sold. Enterprise B has been commissioned, outfitted, and is exploring nicely.
It was sad, in many ways, to see the original go away. William Shatner had ridden in it it and even autographed the entrance during video production and PPG instruction.
It has shown up in three paragliding magazines (Powered Sport Flying, Hang Gliding & Paragliding, and Paraglider) and is featured in PPG’s best-selling video “Risk & Reward.“
It has served as a “launch and landing” deck for quite a few experienced pilots while parked at various beach sites. Much of the PPG Bible contents were done while riding in the back thanks to those who so graciously took the helm (Tim Kaiser, Steve Tustison and others) whilst shuttling about the countryside.
The original mission, to let me travel around the country for two years has completed and now I’ll be moving to the “Enterprise II,” a larger, less nimble but more comfortable BT Cruiser.
It is incredibly maneuverable, gets great gas mileage (unless you’re sucking paramotor fuel out of it), is quite comfortable for one or two and can park almost anywhere a car can. It spent a spell parallel parked in downtown Niagara falls while I roller bladed across the Friendship bridge to Canada.
In 2003 it got some cosmetic hail damage while returning from the Albuquerque PPG Camping trip. That was quite a story on its own.
Here were the particulars:
105,000 Miles. Transmission rebuilt by Aamco in 2003 with 1.7 years left on extended warranty. Motor runs great and burns no oil.
Cruise Control maintains 70 MPH on level terrain and eeks out 40 MPH climbing the steep slopes out west. It knows them well.
Manual door locks.
Has bathroom with pull-out shower, wash basin, cabinet and flush toilet.
Refrigerator works great on 110v AC but not on propane.
Furnace with thermostat. No more cold nights in the tent.
Generator (Generac) just professionally tuned up. Starts quickly and works great.
- Built-in inverter. All the AC outlets are powered all the time, either from the coach battery or external power. Even the engine’s charging system will keep you 110 powered. This was added by me to keep my various electronics plugged in even while driving. Its 300 watts is enough to run a big computer and charge all your small devices.
- Overhead coach A/C runs on 110v shore power or generator power. Car A/C is very powerful, good enough to cool the back too – it pipes the cold air from overhead vents located above driver/passenger seats. Just did $2000 worth of work (7/2005) to have the blower and evaporator core replaced.
- Microwave, two-burner propane stove.
- 2″ trailer receiver, perfect for paramotor platforms.
- Battery Master Switch. This was added by me so the coach battery wouldn’t go dead.