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Sep 28/04     Video from my line snag in speed system prop bust....

See news Sep 21/04  -  See video captured and edited by Mark here.

Sep 28/04     Flight in Ellicottville - report by Mark. With red remarks by Andre.

WOW, I now have 20 hours powered paragliding logged. The other day Csaba (CHUBBO) Andre and I went for a brief flight from Bieda's Powersports field. Progress was very slow because of the high wind speed and we quit after 45mins. We were not too disappointed because both Andre and I were on strict time limits from wives/girlfriends! 

This Sunday was a whole different story. Andre, Csaba (Narrow Arse!), Chris and I drove down to a place called Ellicottville in US. It is rolling countryside with a small ski resort. 

The hills are about 800 ft high but not too steep and most are tree covered. The area looks like a mini Alps.


 None of the slopes are accessible or soarable to non powered paragliders. We launched from a small airstrip and climbed up high to do some thermalling. My machine does not have an electric start so I cannot turn it on and off again in mid-flight. The others were able to go unpowered for extended periods as they thermalled (a definite bonus on the newest machines). This is a really good way to hone those XC skills! You can struggle in weak lift all the way to the ground and then just start it up again and have another go. This is a great way to save fuel or extend your flying time. The weather was perfect as there was very little wind. This is good for powered paragliding because you can fly equally fast in all directions and thermals are less sheared. It makes take off somewhat tricky however. 

Yeah, about the take off. Last year with Chris it took almost 2 hrs to get in the air. No wind just light and variable conditions. The most challenging ever. This is even worse because the take off here is on a narrow runway. 

Can you guess which direction the breezes were coming from? You got it! Across the runway so you either take off against industrial buildings or 70 ft tall willow trees. Needless to say we all went for the trees - they are somewhat softer to hit and more pleasurable to hang from.... The plan was as such: Chris will take off first as his RR full of fuel will last 3 and with some thermals possibly 4 hrs in the air. Next Cabbbe on Apache who will have 3 hrs, then Mark with Airwolf and me on my RR. Being last person on the ground can be quite bitch in these conditions as there is no one to move, or spread your glider if you bust your forward inflation. So after couple of attempts Chris was in the air, then Chabeee, then Mark. So they are all buzzing above as I am getting ready for some serious slavery. So I lined up, surged forward and to my surprise, the glider went up, nice and equally. From there it was walk in the park... power, brakes and I was off too. I think it only took about 20 min for all of us to get in the air. Under such difficult condition quite accomplishment.

We flew around nice and high to start with admiring the scenery as we went. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed movement. I looked up to see a tiny speck high above me and a little in front. I couldn't figure out what I was looking at for a split second. It was a helium balloon. Well, actually it was two balloons tied together with string. One was carrying the other. It was quite a bit higher than me, but it didn't seem to be rising quickly. The sky is a big place. I figure this doesn't occur too often...or ever so I had to investigate. I let the others fly off without me and started to climb on full power to see if I could reach it. Well, I reached it after about three minutes. The two balloons were neutrally buoyant so it was just floating there drifting with what little breeze there was. I was flying around it trying to catch it in by lines. Three times it went straight through the lines spinning as it caught on one of them, but I didn't manage to capture it. I spent about 5-10 mins doing this. It was excellent fun and I managed to boot it once. Eventually I had to leave my "friend" behind and catch up with the others. They saw me flying around the same spot but didn't realize what I was doing. Chris and Csaba saw the balloons, but didn't think they would be able to catch them. It was one of the most surreal/fun moments of my life. I think we are going to take some to the field next time we fly and balance them to float. In fact I know I am going to bring some. It is going to be great fun booting them about in the air. It is just very weird being able to fly around and boot something about at 1000 ft. 

I have to mention this one slope over Holy Mount private Ski resort where there was so much lift that we spent about 20 min just cruising back and forth with engines off or idling (sorry Mark) At one point I have caught nice narrow thermal that took me all the way to the cloud base. My vario did not change the pitch once that how smooth this thermal was. Chris had his vario on as well but he could not quite hear it + he is flying DHV1 glider and I was flying my Brontes by Sky Para which is DHV 2 so I was much better off. Mark was anxious to thermal as well but without vario it is nearly impossible but he was holding his own. Oh, and one more thing. On top of this hill 

was a flock of hawks circling around. I counted nine, a number  which was later confirmed by Mark. I joined them in the thermal and for couple spins there was 10 birds in one thermal - 9 hawks and one large loud specimen of beer drinking, cigar smoking, poker playing Czek bird.

We flew around for 2 hours 45 mins before I ran out of fuel and was forced to land. Andre was a little concerned to learn I was low on fuel and still messing about flying through the gap between radio masts, 

but I assured him I was "much higher than I looked". I think he bought it. My fuel ran out about a minute afterwards and I had to push out from the hill to avoid the trees. I chose the landing spot carefully. The options were: short grass with a flag pole in the middle (possible guide lines?) or rough grass. I chose the first option. It was a tight squeeze but there were no guide lines and what had looked like 'rough grass' was in fact 7 ft tall scrubby weeds and bushes. Everything just looks that little bit different from the air. An elderly couple seemed more than a little surprised to see me land in front of their house and kindly offered to give me a lift in their pick up truck. I accepted hopped in and off we went. We soon saw Andre's car and trailer heading in the opposite direction. He spotted me waving and we transferred glider and machine. 

It was simply awesome scenery. All the trees turning orange and red. People waving everywhere we flew low. An excellent day of flying. If you are reading this wondering whether if this is for you I would say this: "When I was a kid I always had the most vivid dreams of flying, dreams of complete freedom. The ability to go anywhere. Explore the countryside. Climb high and view the world as a map. Swoop down really low so my feet barely leave the ground. 

Now these dreams come true. The best part is sharing them with great people in the pub afterwards over a cool beer and nice food. This truly is an amazing experience. I have been flying for 10 years now. I look forward to every new flight. It simply gets better and better."

No kurva hosi to teda byla krasa. Na tenhle let tak dlouho nazapomenu.

Mark + Andre

Sep 27/04     Flight in Ellicottville.

  • Who:  Ciabia aka Chabe, Csebo, Cabo etc., me, Mark and Chris.

  • Time in the air: 2:45 min - one long superb flight

  • Pictures: None - I left my battery at home. Hopefully Chris will send some.

  • Take off: Difficult - 6 on scale 1 to10

  • Highlight: Mark - running out of fuel and landing in someone's front yard because he was too busy kicking helium balloons 1500 ft up and did not pay attention as to where we were thus  did not know how to get back where we took off from when his fuel was low

  • Damage: One very lightly chipped prop blade and small dent in the cage - Mr. Miller who was too late on shutting engine on no wind downdraft landing

  • Wind: Non existent especially on take off.

  • Ridge soaring and thermals: Abundant

  • Scenery: Spectacular, amazing, unbelievable - no other words can better describe it - hopefully Mark will create short video or perhaps write longer report (hint, hint) that I can put up on the web

Sep 22-25/04     I have flown almost every morning. Great flights.

Sep 21/04     Sunday Sep 19 at Sodom Rd.

Story by Mark.

Saturday's forecast had been completely wrong in terms of wind strength. The morning had been too windy to fly, but by 4pm the wind strength was down to 7 km/h. Sunday was looking good. Andre and I headed out for the Sodom Road field and messages were left for anyone that was interested. We were at the field by 11:30am to find Dennis had already had the same idea. The wind was a bit strong at this point in the day and Dennis decided to wait until conditions dropped off a bit. Andre and I got all the kit out and fueled up. Andre was all set to launch. We intended to get a flight over the Falls before training kicked off when everyone else arrived. With the wind coming from a northerly direction this was a good opportunity for me to finally make the flight over Niagara Falls. Andre's glider came up well enough and everything seemed ok, a large correction needed on the brake lines to maintain direction. He applied power and was off....briefly. His wing lurched violently to the left swinging him around to meet the floor, with the now familiar 'thwack' of a busted prop! With the weight of the tandem unit behind him this looked like a nasty 'landing', but Andre was fine, little confused though. What the hell was that? Fortunately I was ready with an instant replay to capture the incident. I had been wearing the helmet mounted camera that I fly with, to film the flight over the Falls. Reviewing the tape we could see no obvious collapse of the wing. After a bit of investigation it turned out that one of the tiny karabiners that connect the speed system to the harness (which was disconnected) was open and had snagged a line rerouting it and shortening its length by about six inches. It just goes to show there are always new ways to screw up! Pre-flight checks.....It is easy to become complacent when flying regularly. Had it been anyone less experienced it is doubtful they would have taken off in the first place. See video here. A few minutes later and replacement prop blades had been fitted and we were all set to go again. Andre launched first. This time there were no problems. I followed and we headed off for the Falls. Climbing as quickly as possible to get to the required 3500 ft I saw Andre turning back. He radioed me to say that the new blades were not well balanced and that the paramotor was shaking enough to make him turn back. I continued alone. Progress was painfully slow into the headwind and I soon realized if I was going to make it, it would be in an hour or so! I could see the Falls but I wasn't really over them. I turned back and turned the engine off to make a quiet decent. I quickly lost my height and was back on the ground to start training. Csaba (aka Csebo, Cabo etc!!), Dennis, Bob and Matt turned up with Imad making frequent calls updating us on his slow progress in traffic (never actually arriving). Bob spent the whole day working really hard on his inflation technique. This was pure hard work as he just continued to refine his technique. By the end of the afternoon he was ready to for his first launch. Andre talked him through it and he was ready to go. Bob it was a great first effort! He ran with determination and was soon airborne. There was no sign off 'sitting down' on take off which is fairly common for beginners. He was loving it exploring past the boundaries of the field at considerable height until it was time to land. The landing was even better! This is someone who learns fast. Dennis made two flights throughout the course of the day. They were both good take offs and landings. Another two flights to add to the log book. Matt launched several times throughout the day and was also looking very controlled and skillful. Towards 6pm the wind began to subside. The trip over the Falls was back on. Csaba, Matt and I were all up for it. We refueled and got ready. Matt was airborn first, then me, then Csaba. Since they did not have altimeters they were to follow me and make sure they were higher. Halfway there I saw Matt turning back to the field. Csaba and I carried on. I forgot that Csaba did not have a flight suit and thick gloves (just thin 'dollar store' gloves). I climbed to 5000ft just to get a good view. It was a bit 'nippy'. Csaba was staying even higher. When we landed he was freezing his tits off! Eventually the cold was too much and he too turned back. I made it to the Falls...SPECTACULAR!!!! I saw the helicopter tours directly below me, and the whole scene from a totally new perspective. It was superb. I too was a tad on the chilly side. I headed back at altitude for another silent, engineless descent. On landing I found out that Matt had only returned because he had accidentally turned his engine off whilst doing his jacket up! He was calm enough just to turn around and glide back to the field to land. Time to pack up. We headed over to Dora's, just the remaining four of us. Wings, pizza and beer for all. What a great way to spend a Sunday. Csaba paid for the food too. Thanks mate (I promise to spell your name right from now on) .....Oh yeah one other thing I've been meaning to write since 'The fly in (Aug 22)'....... Mete used to be a make up artist!!!! Ha ha ha ha. More on that next time. Safe flying,

Story by Andre + pictures here.

Sep 18/04     Sneaked out for flight on Fri morning.

Sep 17/04     Interview with Dell Schanze USA WJ importer.

Dixon White interviewed the owner of, USA exclusive importer, Dell Schanze, on January 28th 2004. His comments on the Walkerjet line of motors are as follows:

Walkerjet  a rocking company; we have the new Airwolf in stock with the RDM100 motor weighing in at about 50lbs with about 130lbs of thrust. We also have a similar unit with the new Sky100 liquid cooled motor of about the same specs. That with the venerable RR and the Spider at only 45lbs and 108lbs of thrust and we have a serious line of the best engineered and designed setups on the planet. When I first got involved with motoring I bought everything in the marketplace so I could really find the very best equipment, Walkerjet was clearly the best brand in every way.....Read more here.

Sep 17/04     Too windy? Never mind! Lets go kite buggying....

Kite bugging is a great fun. On those days when it is too windy to fly PPG you can take your traction kite out, sit down in your buggy and boot around like you would in a sail boat. The ground handling skills necessary to control traction kite are easily transferable from PPG. I just got my self a kite and a buggy and had a great time the other day.  My friend Roy saw me and convinced me to sell him the equipment. I have new kite but am waiting for another buggy to arrive. At the same time I am working on converting this buggy into a trike that would accept WJ paramotors. Once done I will master the triking technique and this may be a solution for those students that have a hard time handling the weight of the paramotor on foot. Cost is $ 500 for the buggy and $ 500 for the kite including handles and lines.


Sep 17/04     Ground spiral - do not try this at "home"....

See video here.

Sep 16/04     Even big planes must flare....

See video here.


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