Eric and Jade from Tomahawk met me at the sledding hill Saturday morning for some downhill training. The wind was pretty cross but Eric still managed to get a few short flights in. Just the thing he needed before we hopefully make a motor flight later today. Jade and I worked on kiting in the field at the bottom of the hill too.
Next to arrive at the hill was Glen from LaCrosse. After a little warm up session it was his turn to catch the wind when it turned north. The breeze was still much less north than forecast but Glen was able to taste flight enough to prepare him for a motor flight.
Then came Ben from Milwaukee. By the time he got to the hill with his family in tow the wind was much more reliable. He managed to repeatedly get the best flights of the day. His oversized wing helped keep him aloft.
Conditions were pretty gusty all day but Glen, Eric and I hoped there would be a calming of the weather before sunset so we could get them airborne. While we were waiting for the bumps to calm, Glen, Jade and Eric all took a spin in the trike. With Jade’s bad knee this maybe her best option.
It did calm somewhat but it was still kind of rowdy when I made my test flight just 1/2 hour before sunset. Knowing the conditions would be safe, Eric and Glen decided who would make the first attempt. Eric was chosen and we prepared him for his first flight. He did great despite the less than ideal conditions. He did everything as rehearsed wonderfully with his wife, Jade, videoing the entire flight. Congratulations Eric!
Unfortunately Glen would have to wait until the next morning to make his attempt. So, shortly after the 5:22am sunrise we met with that plan. The grass was a bit wet from dew so we laid out the tarp to help keep the wing dry and light. Winds were light at the surface therefore he set up for a forward launch. On just his second attempt he successfully launched into the morning sky, made the preplanned laps around the field and set it down nicely on his feet. Way to go Glen!
The rest of the week was just as rewarding. Some of the highlights include-
Matt E, Matt D and Corey began training.
Pat stopped by for an orientation, he begins training soon.
Alex and I worked on a new controller for the winch. We tested it on Sunday and it worked great for a little while. We just need to beef it up a bit and then it will be ready for full time use, I hope.
Sunday afternoon was towing in Sauk City. Dimitry had the best flight of the day and found himself a nice thermal that took him to nearly 4000’.
Sunday evening it was off to Joel and Jon’s runway for some PPG action. Mariyan took Dave from Hawaii on a nice long tandem flight around the Wisconsin river valley. Dave’s friend Reon flew with them on his paramotor.
These long warm days are a gift. We are able to get so much done, it’s awesome!
The new winch arrived from Lithuania Monday and we wasted no time getting it going. First task was a day of testing. Before we start towing students and the rest of the crew we needed to get comfortable with the controls and setup of this very different winch. Mariyan and I took turns towing each other up, experimenting with the settings with each tow to find the right balance of tension and speed. We spent the entire morning in search of the ideal technique. This thing is awesome and a welcome addition to our arsenal of free flying gear.
Curt with a “C” joined us after lunch. He also made several flights from the new winch. Mid afternoon we took a break to try out Curt’s “winch”. He’s had it for a couple weeks now and during that time the tiny winch has earned the name “Barbie Winch” as in it’s so small that it probably shouldn’t be used for full size humans. The tiny winch would look right at home on the back of a kids electric Power Wheels Barbie Jeep.
We set up Curt’s toy winch on his vehicle then went over all foreseeable scenarios to ensure we were taking the necessary safety precautions before attempting to tow him with it. Confident that Curt would be safe we hooked him up and gave it a go. I was driving his Honda with him attached to the 500# test fishing line. I started to pull away with the drag set as desired. Curt brought the wing up and began running with the line assisting him. As predicted the winch self destructed just a few seconds into the tow. Curt never even left the ground.
The PG crew gathered at Bender park again this past week. Forecasts indicated that the lakeside ridge could be soared potentially. Jeff, Curt and I were the first on the scene and as such were rewarded with good soaring. Curt and I had nice long flights before the conditions died down and we could no longer stay aloft. Unfortunately that’s when everyone else showed up. David, Adam, Ken, Greg and Mariyan all missed the best part of the day. Most of them
spent the rest of the afternoon kiting and making short sled runs down the bluff to the lakeshore. Still fun but...
TJ and Dave made more flights at the airport. TJ has over 20 under his belt now and Dave isn’t that far behind. Soon these two will be out on there own.
Tony and Gareth continue there training. Both are ready for a day at the sledding hill. Just waiting on that north wind. Looks like it should be here the end of the week.
We had another impromptu fly-in Friday evening with the usual people and several pilots I’ve not seen yet this year. Chuck brought up his trike and showed everyone how a trike launch is supposed to be done. Kevin stopped by, even Ken made the trip over from Waukesha to play.
Deb witnessed a couple guys, my guess is Curt and Greg, flying around Verona the other day and just had to learn more. She stopped in to the hanger while Tony and I were working on some ground school tasks and got a quick introduction to the sport. She is also interested in checking out motorless flight to see which is more her thing.
Glen came down from LaCrosse to train with us for last few days. Thursday’s weather made it an indoor day. We polished off most of the PPG1 ground school and even got a few minutes in the simulator. Friday was beautiful and was forecast to have a nice breeze up the sledding hill so we met there to start training with the wing. As is the norm, he struggled at first but was keeping it overhead consistently after a couple hours of guidance. Unfortunately the wind never really turned from west to north as needed to soar it, so were limited flat land practice.
Several other paraglider pilots were at the hill Friday as well, all hoping the wind would change as predicted. Curt, Josh and David caught a few decent rides. Mariyan was there to with his new paragliding student Nick. They both had a productive day. It’s great to see out community of flyers growing.
Friday evening it was back to the airport to get a couple guys back it the sky. It’s been months since either TJ or Jeff F flew. Covid has really been effecting everyone’s schedules. After a quick review and some kiting to get everything fresh in their heads they took turns and made several flights that night. Much like riding a bike, their bodies remembered what to do and they both flew flawlessly. Welcome back guys!
Because the evening was so nice, many others stopped out to fly and practice as well. Tony and Glen were working on their wing control with the help of some of the more experienced guys. Nick was aiding Tony while Jeff F was guiding Glen. Though Jeff as still learning to PPG, paragliding is not new to him. He has over a thousand PG flights and as such is quite an accomplished pilot and good coach. Thanks for helping out guys!
Saturday the PG crew traveled to the shore of Lake Michigan with hopes that the ever elusive Bender Park paragliding site would be ripe for soaring as some of the forecasters predicted. The boys made a valiant effort but unfortunately were not able to stick and were only getting short sled runs. Still, a good time was had by all.
While the PG guys were on the East Coast, Glen and I were back in the hanger finishing up the simulator tasks. After that we prepared for and took the written test. Next up for Glen is a return to the sledding hill for a couple hours of bunny hill sled runs. After that it’s for his first flight!
With Sunday’s Bigfoot looking storm overhead it’s a much needed day for rest and the repair of gear.
The weather hasn’t been kind to Dave lately. Two times we’ve been set up in the field and ready to make his first flight but we’re forced to reschedule because of gusty conditions. Well, Tuesday’s weather made up for that. Conditions were great and Dave pulled off his first launch attempt cleanly. Just as we rehearsed in the simulator, he made three laps around the airport and set it down safely back in the middle of the runway. He did so well that I sent him right back up two more flights. Congratulations Dave!!
Because the weather was so nice, everyone wanted to fly. There were so many pilots and friends out Tuesday evening to enjoy the sky it felt like a fly-in. Robert, Arrow, Curt, Greg, Adam, Chris, Josh, Steph, Pie, Nick, Lindsay, Jeff, Alex, Dave, Randy and Myself were all out savoring the wonderfully calm evening. There was nothing formal planned, we were all just excited that the spring conditions finally let us out to play and we had to take advantage of it. I counted 10 pilots in the sky at one point!
Randy was with me all afternoon learning to control the wing. As is the norm, he struggled at first but a few hours later was consistently bringing the wing up under control and kiting it while running. Way to go Randy!
Friday morning Gareth began his training. It was too windy to get the wings out so we completed the motor section as well as the simulator and ground school requirements for PPG1. Monday’s wind was much more favorable for wing training so Gareth and I met again, this time at Elver Park. David dropped in to make several flight down the hill. He is working from home during the pandemic and needs a little outside flying therapy now and then.
Saturday morning Curt and Mariyan met me in Sauk City to finish up Curt’s P2 training. Curt had just a few more flights to complete and the P2 written test to earn his paragliding independence. He did great and has successfully passed, congratulations Curt! Towing during the outbreak calls for a lot more chemical cleaners than normal. No big deal if it lets us fly again.
During Sunday’s foul weather Randy began his training. Blowing and raining/snowing it was the perfect time to knock out some of the PPG1 ground school tasks. Welcome Randy. He will be back today to start working with the wing.
Shortly after sunrise Monday morning I met Dave S at the airport with the plan of making his first flight. Unfortunately the winds were considerably stronger than forecast the night before. Erring on the side of safety, we begrudgingly decided to hold off until Tuesday’s better forecast. We will try again tonight.
After time at the airport with Dave and the park with Gareth it was Joe’s turn. We met at Elver Park to give the sledding hill a shot. As a special treat, I unboxed a brand new Macpara Charger for him to use. His kiting skills have really progressed. Considering how challenging the wind direction was he did awesome. The hill needs the wind to be out of the north to work well. Monday afternoon’s wind was much more west than ideal. Still he managed several short hops down the hill and learned a lot. Next north wind day he will be back to have a real shot at longer flights. Well done Joe.
Thanks to the governor loosening the restrictions on outdoor recreation during the outbreak last week, Madcity Paragliding is in full swing again. We are of course practicing proper Covid procedures while instructing. As you can imagine, there is a bit of a backlog of people that were in training when the lockdown began as well as a sizable list of folks that signed up during the stay-at-home order. As a result we have been extremely busy lately.
Some of the highlights of our activity since the last post include -
A trip to the Lake Michigan shoreline to fly with members of the Chicago Paragliding group. Dimitry, Ken, Preston and I all made the pilgrimage to Bender Park to enjoy the rare opportunity the strong East winds provided.
Time at Elver Park kiting and making flights down the sledding hill with Jade, Eric, Tony, Greg, David M. and Mariyan. Jeff even stopped by for a bit.
A couple kiting practice sessions at the park in Oconomowoc with Ben, Ken, Matt, Eric and Dave S.
A new BGD Luna 2 wing for Alex, sweet!
Passing the PPG1 written test for Glenn, Jade, Eric and Dave S. Congrats guys!
Making our first tows off the new land in Sauk with Curt and Mariyan. This is going to perfect once the grass thickens up!
Too much happening to cover it all in our regular updates. It’s so nice to be back at it.
Ken, Nia, Mariyan and I spend last Saturday working our land in Sauk City. For those of you that don’t know, Madcity Paragliding along with our partner, Compass Airsports, is renting 3 acres of land along the Sauk City tow road. It’s just a short distance from the beautiful Wisconsin River and the hills of the driftless area.
This land will be available to all Madcity Paragliding and Compass Airsports pilots all year long ensuring we always have a place to fly from. The lot is surrounded by farm land and can easily be flown with winds in any direction. The property has been leveled and cleared of corn stalks. It is ready for flying now. Grass seed is down and should sprout soon. Happy flying!
Friday we did some towing. Adam, Ken, Mariyan, Curt, David and Greg were all there. We practiced proper Covid precautions and had a great time. Adam had an amazing flight. I towed him to a little over 2,000’ and from there he rode a thermal up to over 5,000’ ! The lift was impressive and easy to catch and hold. He only came down because his fingers got too cold. He worked his way up to where it was snowing. Next time he will be wearing warmer gloves so he can stay up.
Also this week, Chris came out to test out his new three blade moster miniplane. This thing is going to be a ton of fun.
Alex took the Air Conception for a spin. Not his favorite machine as it turns out but now he knows for sure that he wants a weight shift frame when he gets his own paramotor.
Keep flying everyone and stay safe!
I haven’t flown this much in a long time. Normally my flights are limited to short hops around the airport to demonstrate a specific skill or to test the air conditions before a student takes to the sky. However, with the lockdown in place I’ve got a lot more free time. I’ve been spending much of that time flying with past students, practicing proper social distancing of course. It’s been wonderful!
Saturday Greg and Nick met me for some flying. Nick can’t get enough of his new rig. Greg is improving his spirals.
Sunday it was a trip to Reon’s place to fly with Robert, Sean and Reon. Sean tried out his brand new all black 21m Charger. He loved it! It is much faster and more lively than his 25m.
We were up for over an hour. I’d forgotten how much I love long cross country flights. There was a decent wind that night so our downwind run was nice and fast. We spent over an hour gradually working our way up wind but it took us only 10 minutes to get all the way back. We were hitting speeds over 40 mph all the way back! So fun!
While the PPG guys were staying local with me, the PG guys traveled north to Hager City to ridge sore with Mariyan. Adam, Ken and Mariyan all had nice flights. Adam was able to soar his new wing for over 40 minutes in the ridge lift before dropping out.
Also this week, we’ve been given permission to tow paragliders at the Bong Recreation Area south of Milwaukee. There is a nice 2+ mile long runway there that was used my the military long ago. The rangers just asked we post signs whenever we are towing. The new signs arrived yesterday. I’m really looking forward to trying out this new place!
Surprisingly productive week at Madcity Paragliding despite the Covid-19 lockdown.
Chris’ machine arrived by FedEx. A blue dual start MY20 Moster 185+ Miniplane. Normally I get together with the students and help them assemble their new paramotors. Unfortunately, with our social distancing request that just isn’t practical. However because of the shut down of nonessential businesses I’ve got extra time on my hands so I offered to assemble and break in Chris’ machine for him. That way it would be ready to fly the next time the weather allows. He thought that was a great idea and gave me the go ahead. Chris went for the optional 3 blade prop. It looks sweet and I can’t wait to see him fly it.
Nick stopped out to practice some extreme social distancing and take his new rig out for it’s first flight. He’s got a pretty sweet setup now, Atom80 Miniplane paired with a super light Ozone Spyder 3. Robert and I joined Nick in the sky for his flight. We explored the skies for the better part of an hour before succumbing to the cold. I could tell by the size of his smile on landing that Nick loved his new setup.
With the help of several text messages from Steve at SDI Paragliding, the maker of the Airtime Solutions winch, I was able to diagnose and fix the problem with our winch. Seems the clutch control unit failed. After adjusting the settings on the replacement circuit board the winch is back to full strength and ready to tow again!
A box full of props arrived from Eprops. Half of which have already found there way onto someone’s machine. Ken and Chris got a new 3 blade props, Matt picked up a 130cm prop for his moster and I put one on Nick’s Atom80 too.
I’m excited to see that you guys are still out flying despite the lockdown, you can’t get anymore socially distant from people than by yourself several hundred feet in the sky. Please practice proper Coronavirus precautions while traveling around to fly.
Alex has graduated and is now in the market for gear. He’s been flying the MacPara Charger since day one, which is an awesome and very popular wing. I use them exclusively for training, safe, full featured, stable and very easy to launch and kite.
However, there are a lot of really nice wings on the market now. One of them is the new Luna 2 by BGD, the replacement for the much loved Luna. As the local BGD rep, Mariyan just happened to have a Luna available in the appropriate size for Alex to try.
Tuesday evening Alex and I met Mariyan in Sauk City. Not to worry, we all drove separately and stayed 6’ apart when on the runway. Alex first flew the Charger to see what the sky felt like with the wing he was familiar with. Then he clipped into the Luna 2 and gave that a go. Being a higher performance wing, it’s a high B, the take off run was noticeably faster. Not an issue for Alex and his long legs. Once in the sky the differences were noticeable too. The trimmers were labeled more clearly, the speed was faster, the breaks were rock hard when held in neutral but didn’t require much additional effort to induce a turn. It’s a semi-reflex design so has some of the benefits of both classic and full reflex wings like the Charger. All in all a fun wing to fly. Too advanced for a training wing but a fun choice for after. Probably more similar to MacPara’s Colorado.
Alex and I took the opportunity to fly over the Wisconsin river and enjoyed then sunset over the driftless area’s rolling hills.
In other news, Nick’s Atom80 Miniplane arrived by UPS around lunchtime. I volunteered to assemble it for him since I’ve got time available now that Madcity Paragliding is closed for a little while. It’s a pretty sweet machine. The Atom80 is like on modern take on the Top80. Shortcomings have been cleaned up and the look and design updated. Can’t wait to get this thing airborne!
Owner of MadCity Paragliding and Adventure Addict