My phone beeped. The message “meeting at the polo field this afternoon” was from local pilot Gary Brown who was planning an outing at the polo field. I thought the weather was supposed to suck but obviously somebody else thought otherwise. Sure enough, a glance at LaunchCode agreed: it should be nice.

A check of our local email list showed that at least one other local pilot might be up there so I called him. For no particular reason I pretended to be an interested admirer looking at the sport. Dave was a great ambassador! More importantly I confirmed that he would be there and I had a new camera to try out.

I loaded up my little green paramotor into Ellie (the helicopter), got my fish scales, camera and other necessities together for the short trek up to Batavia. It’s nice to fly to the flying, I’ll readily admit.

From several miles out I could see unnatural color of nylon covering grass. A paraglider wing had been unfurled. Dave was preparing for flight.

The wind was light, this would be a perfect opportunity to try out my light-wind reverse technique again. Dave did too and it seemed to work quite well although when I tried in zero wind (it was periodically tailwind) it only helped get the wing up a few feet then I couldn’t run backwards fast enough and was unsuccessful.

Others showed up and Marc Damon wound up flying some of his growing R/C fleet.

1) More testing. Measuring and marking brake lines let me use scales to quantify certain qualities of handling on the Silex. 2) Dave Moore going for the beach ball. 3) It’s an illusion. That’s really a spark plug wrench made out to look like Vise Grips. 4) I had to surprise Marc in order to snap this shot. “I’m not gonna pose with an airplane this small!” he said. 5) Marc must have done this a dozen times for me. With better light and more brains I’ll get it to look good, too. First day out with a new camera.

(6 & 7) Dave and I went out for a ramp that was lots of fun.

The beach ball is a ball. This one was cheating, though–it didn’t have much air in it. That makes it a lot easier. No complaining here.

Marc was kind enough to fly his plane repeatedly between us whilst I snapped pictures. ISO is important, it sets the camera’s sensitivity to light. More is better up to a point since you can increase shutter speed. When lighting stinks, like it did this evening, the ISO is best set to 400. I discovered later that it was set to 100. Ooops. Sorry Marc! As you can see the pictures leave a lot to be desired but, at low resolutions, it’s not so bad.

Flying the helicopter home was fun. I watched a fuzzy moonrise over the darkening city. I don’t like flying at night. Where do you go if it quits? Fortunately there was enough light and, even more fortunately, it didn’t quit. The next issue is landing in my backyard. If it gets too dark that’s not safe and I have to do my approach to the lit runway then hover taxi all the way over. To be honest, that’s fun in it’s own right but I don’t think my neighbors are too keen on it.

All went well and Ellie went to bed, happy for a little outing amid the warmth. Me too.

Top: Dave almost gets the ball.

Above: Hopefully Alex Varv doesn’t see this. Mind you, Dave’s Black Devil has well over 200 hours including a flirt with high RPM death. That was where its “Mission Impossible” model Aztec prop (self destructs after 5 seconds) came apart during climb. The motor screamed at max RPM for a half minute until it died. Dave saw curtains but she started and has been running fine ever since.

He does, however, have this spark plug cap that falls off. It fell off while I was trying to get pictures, followed by a flawless little surprise landing. The threading has worn off. Yes, yes, a $2 replacement plug would help, but that’s what they’d expect you to do. Dave’s solution was so much more intriguing. You can see it in the pictures.