Eric Dufour offers competition tools

Is there no end to what can be learned in this sport? After nearly ten years I continue to enjoy learning new things. Both Michel Carnet, 7-times English national champion, and Eric Dufour, three-time U.S. champion are putting on this clinic for a group of experienced pilots wanting to improve.

My involvement was originally only to get footage for Master PPG but I’ve already got so much that it may turn out to be more. And that was day one! It may be an extra on disc three because the script actually only spends about 4 minutes on competition.

The coolest footage came from a frame-mounted camera using a new wide-angle lens. Eric flew a bunch of maneuvers and you can clearly see exactly what he’s doing with his hands and what effect it’s having on the flight path. Plus, I was recording the action from below. We’ll be doing more of that today although it’s almost not necessary at this point. Eric did his usual expert job including nailing a stop spot landing in difficult conditions. The combination of seeing what he’s seeing, his hand motions, and seeing it from the ground will be invaluable as a training tool for those wanting to advance their own flying.

The problem with having three cameras is that I’ve got copious amounts of material to go through. Oh well. Such is the lot I’ve cast and I’m happy to have the opportunity.

Days of Flying and Learning

Perfect weather early let the pilots play each morning, practicing spot landings, cloverleafs and other precision tasks. The wind picked up and Michel gave a clinic on kiting techniques including the Cobra inflation which I and others had been doing differently. I like his method best. I captured it all on video, too, and will be adding it to the script.

With Eric’s instruction and encouragement I did a first: the front flip. Of course it’s completely useless but sure was fun! I also barely managed a front flip which is more difficult.

We went out to the St. Johns River which has miles of flat space punctuated only by shallow water and distant trees.

I didn’t do much flying because there was better material to be gleaned from taping on the ground. I’ll be animating the initial competition tasks because it’s so clear but then will show them being flown. Michel flew my “camera ship” on several cloverleaf flights while I taped him from below. He uses the speedbar, too, which will be nice to show. I’ll be able to cut back and forth.

There were quite a few little bit that we learned and I captured. Many were small tips on equipment like the simple bungee foot hook for your speedbar. I keeps the bar out of the prop while insuring its exactly where you need it while also helping get in the seat.

During the mid-day sessions, Michel and Eric talked about every aspect of competition including the significance, and many specifics of in-flight decision making. There’s lots more than meets the eye.

New Tasks

There are some new tasks but one stands out as a very fun way to credit those pilots who best manage their energy on landing. It’s a spot landing, of sorts, where the idea is doing a power-off landing from 300′ and swooping down to knock over as many cones as possible in a 10 meter line. Four cones are lined up up in that space. Eric was the dude. Two times in a row he nailed all four cones. That’s not easy, especially since it had gotten quite bumpy. I only got two and three. Since I was doing video I only flew when there was an extra motor available and it wouldn’t take away from the clinic participants.

This task is easy to set up so I’m sure I’ll be practicing more at home once civilized temperatures return to Chicago.


Flying cross country is fun but doing it with precision and awareness of fuel burn adds a whole new dimension. A header tank lets you know exactly how much fuel you’ve got down to the last drop as it oozes through an IV-like tube mounted above the carb. We didn’t have one here but I’m going to get one for the Miniplane and show how it works.

About half the pilots flew a navigation task that Michel had worked out. It wasn’t that long but let them see what it was like to relate the map view to their view.


It’s always a blast to spend time with passionate people. And the Florida Paraflyers are one welcoming, friendly lot.

It was the first time doing any competition task for a lot of pilots, including Leslie Britt who expressed interest on being on a U.S. Team in 2010. That would be cool.

Paul Czarnecki may do a USPPA competition at his event on Pine Island.

We had an absolute blast and I thank Eric for putting this all together and letting me film it.