Feels like Summer…
The weather is changing– It even hit 74ºF yesterday. I took my rig out to Biddeford Airport and got a quick 10 minute flight in before sunset. I could have easily taken this flight in my T-shirt. Not bad for April!
When you drag your motor out of winter storage, give it careful checkover before taking your first flight. Launch is the most likely time to have a motor failure, and a motor that hasn’t flown in a while may have degraded parts or issues from last year that you’ve forgotten about (Did you replace those vibration isolators? Did you check your sketchy-looking-but-still-holding exhaust screws?). Your motor changes even when it’s sitting inactive in a garage or basement. It’s still chemically active.
One of my motors (the PAP 1450 Moster 185 Classic) has a recurrent pull-start issues that seems to crop up every 10 or so flights. The starter pawls that extend out to grab the crankshaft pulley unscrew themselves from the rest of the starter assembly and fall out. This then cuts up the crankshaft pulley, and usually damages parts of the pull-starter. After replacing damaged parts from my bucket of pull starters (this is starter #5), I put it back together with some PermaTex Threadlocker Blue on the medial screw that holds everything together. Hedging my bets, I also ordered several more pull starters that fit this motor. If you need a pull starter that fits many of the paramotors out there (Cors-Air, Vittorazi, Minari), let me know!
My other motor, the venerable Solo 210, has a power issue that I’m troubleshooting. The motor starts great and runs up until mid-throttle great. Somewhere between mid- and high-throttle, the engine feels like it’s “skipping” a stroke. I checked belt tension, fuel supply to the carb and motor, electrical resistance of the primary coil, and carburetor settings. Everything is normal when I test it. Electrical can be tricky though– If there’s a short in my primary coil, it may not appear until heat causes the wires to expand. I’ll keep on trucking. In the meantime, I’m reading up on two-stroke medicine. I found a great YouTube video about bogging 2-strokes (not exactly my problem, but I’ve had it before):
This weekend I invited a couple of students out to a former airstrip in Byfield, Massachusetts, for some pre-season practice. I delivered one student’s pre-purchased gear, and taught the other student on school-owned equipment. Watching how easily the student kited his new 2017 Dudek Universal 1.1 in comparison to the school’s 2010 MacPara Eden 4 has convinced me I need new wings for school. The Eden 4 is a docile, safe wing, but it was created in a time before plastic-rod reinforced leading edges and light fabric.
Johnson (Massachusetts instructor) also showed up with a student, and many friends from the flying community came out to knock the rust off their flying skills. We had 8 pilots and students kiting and flying on the gorgeous weekend, and everyone was enjoying themselves. Just about when everyone was tired out, the police showed up and asked us to leave. They thought a permit might be required for using the land. That would be highly unusual, as the public walk their dogs and fly RC planes there. 8 wings in the air might have been too much attention. Nevertheless, we’ll work with the town to see what, if any, permitting requirements are involved. In 7 years of PPG flying, this is the first time I’ve been asked for papers.
When dealing with the police, recognize that they have jurisdiction over the ground, not the air. If they are motioning for you to land, absolutely do not put yourself or anyone else in danger by landing without due planning. Land only when and where it is safe to do so.