Two more Defiants arrived this past week. Eric J and Matt S were the lucky two this time. Instead of the usual Gravity green color these are silver. With the matching white padded Apco harness the machines are quite striking. Eric has completed the assembly process but still needs to do the two hour motor break in. Matt was able to finish both the assembly and break in of his Defiant Monday. Matt returned Tuesday morning to take it on it’s initial flight. Everything worked flawlessly as expected.
Nick’s custom Spyder 3 arrived and he stopped by to pick it up and take his new smaller wing for it’s first flight. He really enjoyed the way the smaller wing handled, much more lively and sporty. With a good amount of experience in his logbook now the upgrade was appropriate.
Kellen and Matt S graduated this past week after successfully passing the PPG2 written test and completing the required flights and skills. Both are ready to fly on their own now. Congratulations guys!
Megan and Craig both made their first low tow flights down the runway. Their kiting skills had progressed enough to attach them to a tow line to get them off the ground for their first hops. The flights were only 20’-30’ high but that’s high enough to get a real feel for the brake controls and to practice the all important flare at landing. Those first flights can be overwhelming but both Megan and Craig did just fine. When the weather cooperates we will get them up there again for more practice.
Collin, Stuart and Henry are just a handful of flights away from graduation after last weekend’s training. They all did great on the written test and the other requirements. They too will be out on their own soon.
Mark J stopped by with his parents last week to show off his skills. They have seen Mark messing around with his four blade electric paramotor on the ground but have never seen him fly it. You could see the pride in their eyes when Mark took to the skies right in front of them. Well done Mark. Perhaps we can get your dad in a trike after all.
Admittedly the weather has been a bit challenging for paramotor training recently with the high wind and cold. Fortunately that gives us time to get out and play with some of our other gear. I’ve been out kite skiing with some of the crew the last few weeks. Kory, Karl and I spent time riding at Lacy Field. I met Curt and his son at Olin Park to ride with a dozen or so of the local kite crew last Sunday.
Adam and I were out ice climbing Friday along the Mississippi River. Adam got some new ice axes that are crazy cool. Super light and easy to swing.
I was also able to get out and do some winter camping with my son. We love sleeping in the tent during big snow storms.
With extremely cold temperatures forecast for this week I’m anticipating most of the training will be done indoors. It’s a great time to get those reserve chutes repacked. If you have not repacked yet this year it’s time. Get with Mariyan if you are not comfortable doing it yourself. Stay warm.
Matt S and I have been waiting for a good weather opportunity for a few days to attempt his first flight. Fortunately being a self employed home inspector he can move his schedule around a bit to take advantage of the conditions. January 2nd that day presented itself and we embraced it. All is practice and training paid off with a great flight. He even went on to make a few more flights that day. He has been back several times these past few weeks and had already completed his required 25 flights, the last few were with his brand new wing! Just the PPG2 written test remains for him to graduate. Nice work Matt!
Collin signed up with his friend and Epic coworker Henry just a few weeks ago but the two have been progressing rapidly. While Collin went back to Pennsylvania to spend Christmas with his family, Henry made his first flights. Upon his return Collin had some catching up to do. Deep snow and a cross wind kept Collin from flying until Saturday morning. The boys met me at the airport early that day. This time the runway was freshly plowed and the wind direction and speed were favorable. Henry went first and added a couple flight to his log book, now in the double digits. Then it was Collin’s turn. Nervous but willing would be an accurate assessment of his mental status. All geared up and hearing a “Full Throttle!” through his headset he squeezed the the lever, ran a half-dozen steps, tugged down on the brake toggles a little bit and was off! He then set off to complete the rehearsed flight plan with guidance from me in his ear. He did great! Flying is considerably easier the taking off or landing he soon discovered. Once airborne a paramotor practically flies itself. After a few laps around the field Collin set it down safely, overjoyed and relieved. Way to go Collin!!
Jae made his 25th flight and graduated Sunday. He will be renting gear from me for a bit until he’s ready to get his own setup.
Mark T completed his training this Tuesday. We celebrated with a nice long flight with Matt S. The three of us exploring the countryside by air. I love this job!
With the grey and sunless skies keeping thermals at bay we’ve been getting a lot of flying in the past couple weeks. Josh, Glenn, Stu, and Bill all were out to the airport and flying.
Kellen began training this week.
Andrea, Kellen and Matt L got airtime with some towing. Soon these guys will be taking to the skies on their own.
Ground school continues for Megan and Pat.
Thanks to Robert and Mariyan for helping out with training Saturday.
Henry started just a few weeks ago but he’s already made his first flight. In fact he made several flights. Stuck in Wisconsin over the holidays because of covid concerns at home back east, he had a bunch of spare time available. We made the most of it and finished up his ground school, simulator and even some towing to get him wing time before strapping on the motor.
He did great! We decided to use the Miniplane with the Top80 because he was of the appropriate weight. The 80cc paramotor weighs just 42 pounds compared to the bigger 185cc machines that are in the 55-60 pound range. Henry was calm and focused when he set up for his initial inflation. He brought the wing up nicely and added throttle as directed over the headset. A few running steps followed by a timely brake input and he was off! A few laps around the airfield as rehearsed including a couple practice approaches and we set up to bring him down. Moments later he was safely back on the runway. Congratulations Henry!
Andy and Pat O were back again to finish up the flight requirements for their PPG2 ratings. Both needed to do the mid-flight restarting drill which involves killing the engine and starting it back up with the pull starter. The task proved to be easier the either of them expected. Both started it again on their first pull. Nice work boys! Having done that Andy completed his training and officially earned his PPG2 rating. Pat just needs to pass the written test and he’s good to go too.
Jae and Orhun also added flights to their logbooks this past week. Both are nearly completed training. Glenn was out one morning as well.
Guy and Matt S were out to the airport for towing, one of the final steps before motorized flight. Both enjoyed the experience quite a bit. Guy strongly preferred towing to repeatedly hiking up the sledding hill. I certainly understand his reasoning.
Graduates Kory and Eric J were also out this week to fly.
What a fun way to spend the holidays!
Andrea, Megan, Pat L and Matt L all spent time this past week working on their kiting skills.
Monday Steve was out to the hanger to install a few new goodies on his Defiant. One of the upgrades was a new APCO SLT Harness. This will shave a bit over a pound over the base harness.
Tuesday morning I met Matt E and Mark T for some cold weather flights. Matt is a serious Mountain Snowmobiler and is well prepared for the snowy conditions. Looking a bit like Darth Vader in his helmet and face mask he found he was actually overdressed despite the temperature being in the low teens. He had no issues making back to back flights in the crisp air.
Mark R was out Tuesday afternoon to fly his new Moster 185 Miniplane. He was a little intimidated by the snow covered fields and the added challenge of running through the 4”-6” of accumulation. After a few pointers on how to compensate for these new problems he found it was actually much easier to launch than anticipated. The cold and very dense air helped him get into the sky quickly, limiting the number of steps he needed to make in the snow. His landings were soft, in part due to the thin layer of fluffy white. All in all a great experience. It opened his eyes to the joy of winter flying.
Wednesday morning Ryan, Brad, Kory and Willow were out to the airport early. Ryan had just a few flights and one challenge left to meet his requirements for PPG2. His last remaining task was to turn off the engine while in flight and start it back up again before touching down. We got him way up in the sky, high enough that he didn’t need to concern himself with the ground anytime soon. He grabbed the pull cord, gave it a practice pull then killed the motor. After confirming that the motor was off over the headset, he gave the handle a quick rip and she willingly fired back up. Well done Ryan. A couple more flights and he was done with the airborne portion of training. After that I released him to fly around the area with Kory and Brad while I worked with Matt S on his kiting.
Somewhere between 40 minutes and an hour later the boys were back on the ground trying to warm their hands. Electric gloves are on their Xmas wish lists if you are looking for gift ideas for them.
Mark T was back for more Thursday. Also intimidated by the snow, Mark soon discovered that it’s not that big of a deal and made a couple flights with ease. That is until he tripped over a snow pile left at the side of the runway by the plow on a launch attempt and did a face plant in the snow. No injuries, just a good face washing and some laughs.
We have been fortunate this year as the snow has held off for an unusually long time. We took full advantage of the last warm days of 2020 with more towing and paramotoring.
Mark T, Mark R, Orhun, Brad, Ryan and Andy all added flights to there log books this past week. John and Joe were back to try out the new Defiant, they both liked it quite a bit. The Marks were lucky enough to get the last warm weather flying. For everyone else this was there first time flying with snow on the ground. The snow adds a new aspect to the sport. It is a bit more challenging to run in the snow but the view from up above after a fresh snowfall is well worth the addition effort.
We were also out towing free flyers before the storm hit. Mariyan made a tandem flight with Jack as part of Jack’s P1 training. Steph, Pi and Nia were there. Matt E was on hand and took a flight. Mark T and Liz were checking out the towing operation. I took the Backbone Trike for a couple test flights before we start sending students up in it. Mariyan ran the winch while Matt helped me by controlling the trike on launch. Once the wing was overhead the trike is super easy. No running! Just sit there and roll into the sky. Mariyan also got to try out his new pod harness.
I think it’s safe to say that Winter is finally here. Now we just need the lakes to freeze over so we can play on them with or wings.
Bill has been watching paramotors fly over his farm since I began training at Syvrud airport years ago. His family’s farm boarders the airfield. After repeated conversations with him over the years I was finally able to get him training. Friday was the big day, all ground school completed and good weather set the stage for his first trip back into the sky nearly 20 years after his first paraglider flights in South America. I tailored his launch technique to take advantage of his past paragliding experience, adding throttle a bit later than others. It worked great. He easily brought the wing up, added gas as required and ran down the runway adding enough break at the right time to launch into the sky. Not accustomed to having throttle control while flying, he was a bit erratic with the power input at first but soon settled in to the role of pilot as well as throttle handle manipulation. A few laps around the airport and a couple practice approaches to get a feel for the machine and he was set up for final. He eased out of the seat and quieted the motor in preparation for touch down. He did great! Congratulations Bill!!
Josh began train in September of 2019. Yep, over a year ago. We’ve been battling the impact of the pandemic on his job and some gear issues. Working in the canned food industry his hours have been significantly increased because of the growing demand for home cooking. This left us with one day a week to train if his schedule and the weather allowed. Also, he purchased a Green Eagle paramotor and wing prior to training and we’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get him into the sky with this gear. We got so far as a full speed runs with wing overhead and only managed small front wheel hops.
Not to be deterred, we changed our plan of attack and decided to use my tandem setup in solo form. That proved to be the solution we were searching for because Sunday afternoon Josh made his first flight! The conditions were perfect and the gear was working wonderfully. I went up first to double check everything then turn the craft of to Josh.
The wing came up a little off center but he easily corrected it and was taxiing down the runway gaining speed as he went. As the front wheel began to lift he added additional break pressure and left the ground. Keeping the throttle pinned for the next minute or so, he was now sitting in the trike several hundred feet in the sky. A few passes over the runway and he set it down safely in the middle of the mowed grass. He went on to make a second a few minutes later. Congratulations Josh!
I spent some time with the free flying group towing. Mariyan had arranged a couple tandem flights for a brave couple and I pulled them up with the new winch.
Brad made his 25th flight. Ryan added to his logbook. Andrea and Guy were a at the sledding hill. Mark tried out the Moster 185 he bought from Greg. Lots of new gear arrived for the crew and so much more...
Ryan was so determined to learn to fly paramotors that he actually changed careers to pursue this dream. After switching jobs and talking endlessly about PPG to his new coworkers Ryan signed up. He also convinced his friend and new coworker Brad to join in the adventure. Unfortunately, soon after training began he found himself in the Emergency Room requiring surgery to correct an issue with his guts. The surgery put his quest for flight on hold for a bit. While he healed his friend Brad continued training and has since made several flights.
Saturday Ryan was feeling strong enough to return to training. We hoisted him up with the simulator a few times to be sure flying wouldn’t bother his surgery site. Having no issues getting into and out of the harness we headed to the field to have him try kiting the wing again. That also went well. Both of us were confident that he was ready to give it a try. We reviewed his flight plan and rigged him up.
It didn’t take long for him to be successful. A couple practice runs to be sure all was good and then we fired up the motor. Moments later he was in the seat of the airborne paramotor flying around the airport just as he had dreamed of doing for a very long time. Congratulations Ryan!!
John made the trip down from Fond du Lac several times these past few months to get his training in. Saturday he made the final few flights required. We also prepared for the written test which will be his final task for earning his PPG2 rating. He did manage to get himself turtled after one of his landings. Most embarrassing.
Guy, Pat, Matt and Bill continued their training. Bill was making short flights down the hill at the end of the runway. Next up for these two is a trip to the sledding hill to get those magical first motorless flights in.
Steve was back to fly his new Gravity Defiant. He was all smiles. That thing is awesome!
Mark, Jae, Andy, Orhun and Pat all made more flights this week as well.
Mark has been working towards this day for a while and Thursday we finally had a break in the weather. We rigged up, quickly reviewed the flight plan and set up to launch into the moderate Southwest breeze. A couple of trial runs with all the gear on and then success! Getting into the seat a bit early is a common rookie move. Fortunately Mark pulled it off and just skimmed the field with the motor as he was being lifted. We got him fully in the seat then began the preplanned inflight maneuvers, mild turns, break control, climbing and descending. After a few laps around the airport he set it down safely. Congratulations Mark!!
Jim passed the PPG2 written test and made his last remaining flights to complete training. His gear is on the way. When it gets here he will be able to fly from his backyard. He has a north/south runway as well as an east/west, lucky!
Matt and his son Pat began training last weekend. Being a fairly windy day we were only able to get the small training wing out for a little bit. Just enough to give the guys a good taste of what’s to come. We also started ground school and worked with the motors a bit. Welcome Guys!
Bill also started training this week. He actually learned to paraglide in Chile back in the early 2000s. Though it was years ago and only for a couple weeks his body remembered how to control a wing. Admittedly his brain didn’t recall much from the training he received from his Spanish speaking instructor all those years ago. He used his 1999 Swing glider at first to warm up and dust the cobwebs off. Then I hooked him up to a wing that was made earlier this year and he was blown away by the difference. He said it was cheating. The new Macpara Charger kites so much easier, practically effortless by comparison. Bill was quickly bringing the wing up forward and reversed, changing directions from forward to backwards and back again with ease. Welcome back Bill!
Kory and I remedied his binding clutch. Unfortunately rust had taken hold of some of the internal parts while it sat dormant in the hanger for months before he acquired it and brought it back to life.
Two new Gravity Defiants arrived with much anticipation. These things are awesome! It’s a new frameless design which reduces cost by saving on materials and labor. The engineering that went into the machine is impressive. The first one will be a school machine that we will use for training. The second is for Steve. There are three more on order. Jim, Eric and Michael are all waiting anxiously for their machines to arrive.
Jae did it! The weather has been super windy lately but we were patient and rewarded with great conditions last week. A nice breeze was blowing down the runway and we got him rigged up. Jae did great! He pulled the wing up, ran a few steps and brought the throttle to full, a little tug on the brakes and he was off like a pro on his first attempt! After getting all the way into the seat he made several laps around the field and set it down softly on his feet. Way to go Jae!!
Rod made the trip over from Iowa early Saturday morning to make his first attempt at motorized flight. He was up the previous week and spent the day at the sledding hill working on his launch and landing skills in preparation for this day. Though he was admittedly "scared shitless" he was ready to give it a go. A couple practice launches without the motor running to get in the groove and he was ready. We went over a few last minute pointers, checked the radios and fired up the motor. As expected he too found himself in the sky in control of his own aircraft after squeezing the throttle and taking a few steps. He said really started to enjoy the flight after the first lap and his fear mellowed a bit. A couple laps later he set the machine down safely, grinning from ear to ear and shouting with joy! Congratulations Rod!!
Dave has been very busy working on restoring cars, his business, this summer and has limited chances to come up and train. Having his own gear allowed him to practice wing control after work regularly which meant our time together was spent adding new skills and not practicing. A trip to the sledding hill and a couple hours in the simulator the last couple weeks and he was ready. His wing is a bit small for him which means faster takeoffs and landings but he was used to it by now. We geared him up and pointed his rig into the wind. Bringing the wing up and running quickly while adding throttle aggressively he was soon up to takeoff speed. A gentle pull of the brake toggles to add lift and he was off. We rehearsed the first flight in the simulator the night before so the sensations he felt were not unfamiliar, other than the distance to the ground! As expected, he came in hot but still landed safely. Nice work Dave!!
Glen made the trip down from LaCrosse to make the last few flight he needed to earn his PPG2. Eric J and Kory also finished up their training by passing the written test and completing the airborne requirements. Congratulations guys, have fun and fly safe!
Orhun had the week off from Epic and took a "stay-cation". Our hope was fly a ton that week, unfortunately mother nature had other plans for us. It wasn't until Friday that winds settled enough to fly. Ugh, fall weather can be frustrating.
Mark J brought his 4 blade electric paramotor out for his first flight with it. You might think "electric? that must be quiet", far from it. Picture a huge drone screaming as it pushes a human being into the sky. Every bit as loud as a gas motor just a different higher pitched sound. When he backed off the throttle it did go completely silent, that was cool.
Mark T spent time in the simulator prepping for his first flight. Now we just need the weather to cooperate.
Greg, Curt and I took a trip to Lake Michigan to soar the East winds last Tuesday. We all rode the lift band for a couple hours before succumbing to the cold. Electric gloves are key!
Mark completed his training Tuesday morning and earned his PPG2 rating. Congratulations Mark!!
A couple hours later Mark visited Dennis to check out the electric paramotor he built a while back. Dennis purchased and assembled a four motor unit from OpenPPG. It’s like a big drone you wear on your back, pretty cool. While at MIT Mark head up a project that built and raced an electric motorcycle in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race. Electric motors a kind of his thing. This machine is a perfect fit for Mark and he ended up buying it from Dennis on the spot. He then called me to order a wing. It arrived Sunday. Now all we need is a break in this wild fall weather to fly it.
Soren stumbled across some Tucker Gott videos on YouTube and just had to give it a try. He drove over from Iowa and took sunset tandem flight with me Wednesday evening. I rarely get to take long flights anymore. What a great experience. Thanks Soren!
Stuart, Steve, Brad, Matt and Kory all added fights to their logbooks this week getting them all closer to independence. Keep it up guys!
Michelle along with her husband Gim drove up from Chicago for an introductory paragliding lesson. We spent nearly five hours working on wing control. She did great. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her soaring soon.
When the weather is uncooperative I’ve been staying busy fabricating paramotor cages for Ken and Eric’s Trikebuggies. The plan is to build something much stronger than a foot launch frame for a fraction of the cost. I’ve already built one for myself and it is very stout.
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