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!
Jeff is already an experienced paraglider pilot with over 500 flights. He spends a great deal of time soaring the mountains of Utah every year. Monday was his first paramotoring flight.
Jeff arrived at the airport Monday about 2 and we started with some kiting practice. We begin training months ago but hadn’t met in quite a while so we need to dust off his skills. Wing control with a 50 pound pack on your back is a little bit more difficult than kiting with a lightweight paragliding harness on. Your balance is off and your mobility is somewhat hindered. We tweaked his technique a little to adjust for the differences between free flying and motor flying. Paragliding pilots are taught to lean forward when they run to keep their feet under them. Paramotoring pilots stay upright while running and lean back against the thrust of the motor which can be difficult to get comfortable with.
Jeff quickly gained confidence in the motor and his new kiting style. Then it was back to the simulator to go over the take off procedure several times to make that more automatic for him. Landing would be exactly the same as he’s done hundreds of times since PPG pilots usually land with the motor off anyway. After several simulated flights it was time to give it a go for real.
We moved all the gear to the field and set up. Jeff botched the first couple attempts as he is still struggling to overcome a few of the habits he picked up during years of PG launches. Things came together on his third attempt and he successfully made it into the sky. Wing control is almost second nature for him now so the only new thing is throttle control. He was a bit erratic initially but about 20 seconds into the flight he seamed to embrace this new addition to paragliding and climbed smoothly to a comfortable altitude.
He made three laps around the field as directed by me then prepared for the landing. As soon as we got him over the landing area and killed the motor he was back in familiar territory. Trusting his skills, I stopped giving instructions and let him land on his own as he’s done hundreds of times before. He easily set it down softly in the middle of the field. Congratulations Jeff! Welcome to the incredible world of powered paragliding.
Greg, Robert, Alex and Dave were also out Monday evening and got to watch Jeff make his first flight. Then they all took off and explored the area by paramotor for a while. Upon everyone’s return we went back to the hanger to celebrate. We drank Corona and other beers while observing Corona virus protocol.
At this point Madcity Paragliding is officially suspending training until the governor lifts the “stay at home” rules.
Saturday was too nice to stay inside and self quarantine besides, even the guys from Illinois that are on “lockdown” are permitted to go outside and recreate, we just need to practice proper Covid-19 precautions. So, our small group of less than 10 people all stayed outside and at least 6’ away from each other in the sky (and on the ground too).
We tried out Mariyan’s modified winch and made some additional mods during the day too. By dark it was working pretty good and Dimitry was able to get quite high on tow. Just a few more tweaks and it will be dialed in.
Jeff and I rigged up his new reserve.
Conor added a bunch of flights and worked on his motor-on and motor-off landing accuracy. Just 5 left for him to reach the magical 25th flight.
Alex made a couple longer unsupervised flights until his hands got too cold.
Adam and Ken played with their new wings. Yes, Ken got another wing.
Robert gave a little flying demonstration for his best friend and his daughter.
All in all a great day playing outside in the sun. A great way to escape from all the craziness going on right now too.
Unfortunately the governor just announced that all non-essential businesses close starting Tuesday. So today looks like the last day Madcity Paragliding will be actively teaching for a while. Hopefully this will be sorted out sometime soon and we can get back to our regular shenanigans. Stay healthy and keep flying!
Alex showed up Tuesday with just five flights left to complete the PPG2 requirements. Conor, Greg, Jeff and Curt were all there too. Alex even brought along his better half, Reba, so he could show off his newly acquired skills.
Conor’s flight count is nearing the halfway point and we are adding skills to his arsenal rapidly. Alex generously offered to let Conor go first. Conor executed four flights then turned the gear over to Alex so he could finish up, they are about the same weight and are therefore using the same setup.
Alex wasted no time cranking out the last few remaining flights. I threw one last challenge at him and that was a touch-and-go, a task that isn’t as easy as you might think. This maneuver requires a near perfect landing and then immediately transitioning into taxiing, a quick glance at the wing to confirm its good to go again, then smoothly back on the throttle. Lots of things need to happen correctly in rapid succession to pull it off successfully. Alex did great! His first attempt was a bit rough but he did it. His second attempt was much better, he made it look pretty easy. Way to go Alex and congratulations on earning your PPG2 rating!!
When Alex was done he gave the rig back to Conor so he could continue training. Conor and I quit flying a few minutes before sunset. Then it was back to the hanger for a couple beers with Curt and Greg. I love this job!
Alex is flying (pun intended) through training! Monday he doubled his flight count and is now up to 20. He passed the written test Sunday. He’s completed all the ground school tasks and nearly all of the in flight requirements. I expect he will finish this evening.
Chris stopped out and tried out the new Apco SLT harness. We then put together an order for his paramotor which we hope to see soon.
Sunday the crew met in Sauk for some towing. Unfortunately the winch stopped rewinding for some reason which ended our day prematurely. Replacement arts are on the way.
I got the Air Conception reassembled and broken in so it is ready to fly again. A bit of a challenge since the timing has to be set the old school way with a dial, gauge and timing light.
Daylight savings has really increased productivity. We can now fly until 7:30 which means training after work again for everyone.
Conor met me at the sledding hill Tuesday morning. The winds were forecast to out of the north as needed to make the hill work. We warmed up with a little kiting in the field at the bottom of the hill. Then we gradually started working our way up the hill, kiting down it from higher and higher. At first Conor was all over the place like a baby bird attempting their first flights. Conor gradually gained control with each subsequent pass down the hill. By the time we stopped for lunch he was soaring the length of the hill and setting it down gently in the field at the bottom. After a lunch break it was back to the hanger to run drills in the simulator.
We took a short intermission from the simulator to give Dave some guidance as he rebuilt his carburetor, an annual task for us paramotor pilots. After Dave reassembled everything and gave his machine a test run, Conor and I finished up his simulator session and prepared for his first flight.
Alex was also planning to be out Tuesday after work with hopes of making his first flight too. He rolled in as we were shuttling gear to the runway. The motor I planned on using was the brand new Mostor 185+ Miniplane I broke in the previous day but it hasn’t been flown yet. So, I took it for it’s initial test flight and used the flight to check the sky conditions before sending the new pilots up. I demonstrated the flight they were about to do so they would know exactly what to expect. It was a little bumpy and I decided to hold off their first flights for a little while to let the gusts settle down a bit, half an hour later it was much nicer.
Conor was first and successful pulled off his second launch attempt. A little erratic in the sky at first but soon found control. He completed the three labs just as we had practiced in the simulator then set it down nicely on the runway on his feet. Way to go Conor!
Alex was next. He managed to nail his first takeoff attempt. Having made over 500 skydives, his wing handling was obviously more controlled and his landing was perfect. He really enjoyed the ability to go up while under canopy, a new situation for him. Congratulations Alex!
both Alex and Conor went on to make another flight that evening and thus complete all the requirements for the PPG1 rating.
The two of them were back again the Wednesday afternoon and made several more flights. We worked on many different in-flight skills and improve their takeoff and landing ability. Training continues for Alex this Saturday and Conor next week.
Alex was back Tuesday after work. The breeze was perfect so we practiced wing control until sunset, how to clip in forward and reverse, controlling the surge in heavy winds, turning from forward to reverse and back...just getting comfortable with the wing. Alex even had a go with the dummy throttle. We talked about when to add gas and how much, all while controlling the wing overhead. After that, Alex and I did some motor training and watched “the Scary Movie”. Hopefully Friday he will be able to test his new skills at the sledding hill if the weather cooperates.
Conor spent all day Tuesday with me knocking out most of the PPG1 indoor tasks. We did lots of ground school stuff and motor training. We prepped for the PPG1 written test which he later aced. Conor also watched the Risk and Reward DVD. He too is bound for the sledding hill soon.
Brothers Brad and Andy were out Wednesday afternoon to do some kiting and make a couple flights. They both did great.
Mariyan has been working on building a new training winch and wanted to test it. We tried it with an empty line first then hooked up Mariyan to try the winch with a pilot attached. It’s coming together nicely but still needs a few modifications before it’s ready to use with students.
The school’s new paramotor arrived this week. It’s a MY20 Moster 185+ matte black Miniplane with the new two piece exhaust and Apco harness. So sweet!
I hope to see many of you Friday evening at the carburetor rebuild party. Soft landings!
Alex contacted me while I was still in Ecuador to schedule an orientation upon my return. He brought his friend Piarre along with him to the appointment. Both are sky diving instructors based out of at Mathaire Airport located northeast of Sun Prairie. With over 500 jumps a piece, in flight wing handling and landings should be a pretty familiar to them, we just need to work on everything else. The Orientation went well and Alex signed up for training Wednesday. His friend was a last minute invite and so needs a little more time to check his availability and finances.
Alex was out Wednesday and Saturday this week preparing for his first motorized canopy flight. It’s the slow season for him and therefore the perfect time to add a new sport, a sport that he can do when it’s too cloudy to jump.
Conor and Matt drove over from Milwaukee Saturday morning for an orientation. They contacted me separately but after meeting each other at the hanger soon discovered that they live just a few miles apart.
Conor is in his medical residency and has an easy rotation this month. Therefore he thought it would be the perfect opportunity to learn to paramotor. Good plan! He signed up Saturday and started training immediately. We took advantage of the sun and breeze by practicing wing control for the rest of his time at the airport.
Matt showed up thinking he was just doing research for the future. He was under the impression that he would need $15,000 to get into the sport and just wanted to learn more before he started saving. When I told him I could set him up with a complete used setup for under $5k and we could start lessons with as little as $500 down, he was blown away.
Nick’s new custom Ozone Spyder arrived Friday and he couldn’t wait to fly it. I met him at the hanger Saturday morning before Conor and Matt showed up so he could do just that. It was only 10 degrees so his flight wasn’t long but he definitely approved of his new ride. This thing is so light it just wants to stay in the sky. His motor should arrive sometime soon.
Jeff and I rebuilt the carburetor on his machine before I went to Ecuador. Carburetors should have the soft innards replaced every year because they slowly loose they flexibly over time. The plan is to hold a pizza/carburetor rebuild session next weekend for anyone interested. Details coming soon!
Owner of MadCity Paragliding and Adventure Addict