Back to Neverland

Neverland Flight Park Camp
Home Sweet Home for the next 2 weeks.

After having such an educational experience at Spring Fling and ECPC last year, I’ve returned again, so here I am in the woods of southern Florida immersing myself in payout-tow paragliding. The past two days have been too windy to fly during the middle of the day. One pilot who brought his motor to camp took a quick paramotor flight this morning and came down after a few minutes, reporting high winds and unpleasant turbulence. Nevertheless, I am confident that the weather will get better soon. Late afternoons have been flyable, and calmer weather is in the forecast for next week, the start of Spring Fling.

Typically Maine is a frozen wasteland well into May, but this past winter has been extremely warm, and it’s been flyable a few times already in April. I did not anticipate such an early season, and I feel a tinge of regret and guilt that I can’t be in Maine to take advantage of the extended season.

A pilot preparing to reverse-launch his paraglider while connected to a pay-out tow line. In a few seconds he'll be pulled to nearly 3000 feet by a pickup truck.
A pilot preparing to reverse-launch his paraglider while connected to a pay-out tow line. In a few seconds he’ll be pulled to nearly 3000 feet by a pickup truck.

The day prior to driving south with all my paragliding and powered paragliding gear, I enjoyed a laminar but strong-winded flight with a friend. As the sun set, the air on the ground became cold (40’s) while the wind up high remained comfortable warm (50’s to 60’s). After a downwind leg to the Saco River, we turned into the strong headwind and climbed high into the warmer air above. Three thousand feet above the ground the headwind wasn’t as strong, yet the temperature was still warm. We were experiencing an inversion, where the air closer to the ground was colder than the air up high. This often happens in Spring here, at sunrise and sunset. The Earth is still very cold from the winter, so as soon as the sun stops heating the surface, the earth absorbs all the residual heat from the air around it. It’s not unusual for these two air masses to be moving at different speeds, or even different directions.

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A preseason flight

Last Saturday 3 pilots snuck in a flight between wind and rain storms and it was beautiful, if only a little cold. The weather forecast websites were completely thrown off by the 24-hour lull in storminess, and at 1000 feet, was even drawing a square-edged micro-weather pattern over us. The sky was telling us that the winds were light and laminar, and knowing that real weather doesn’t swirl in perfect squares, we discounted the forecast and drove to the field to check it out.


The real weather turned out to be excellent. Usually the jet stream precludes most flying (most comfortable flying) until May because it is still shifted South from winter months. On a typical early Spring day, a PPG pilot in Maine can expect 30-40 mph winds just over the tree tops, with extra gnarly rotor between ground level and 100 feet. This Spring, we have been getting breaks from that typically strong wind approximately every two weeks. These breaks seem to coincide with the shifting of temperature- We’ll get two weeks of mild weather, and two weeks of typical winter weather. The wind is strong during the shift, but there’s a one- or two-day lull while the temperature stabilizes. On Saturday, the windsocks indicated 5-7mph, varying in speed by 2-3 mph and direction by 45ยบ.

Our flight path took the three of us down a river and out to the ocean. The tide was going out, and the beach was wide. The first pilot to the beach noted that a high school student piled debris to form the question “PROM?” on the beach sand. We all flew over to take a gander and play on the beach. This time of year the beaches are mostly empty, and we had plenty of space to drag our feet in the sand and carve around low. There were other messages written in the sand; most of them were romantic in nature. Since the tide had only just started to recede, I figured that the messages were carved recently. I made it a game to guess which walking couple had written it.

During this flight, I had a hole in my left glove, at the tip of my index finger. It was the only part of my body that was cold to the point of pain. Earlier in the evening I flew low to stay in the warmer air near the ground, but as the sun set into a red, blue, orange and purple sky, the temperature dropped as well. After landing, I took my glove off and saw that the colors in my hand matched the colors of the sunset!

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Migration to a WordPress-based website

Hi Folks,

Though I think my bootstrap-based website was elegant and functional, I feared that maintaining it would be become a hassle as the school grows and the website expands. I decided to move to a real content-management systems, WordPress.

WordPress was a blogging platform– and still is– but it’s exceedingly common for businesses and organizations to gang-press its content-management attributes into an effective website. If you’ve been watching the web closely, every website is approaching the same look and feel, particularly small-team upstarts. This is with good reason; successful websites haven’t changed, and became role models for the future. Even the big boys like Apple have the same “little menu – big picture – call-to-action button in the middle” visage.

This move also allows me to change my online store to something I hope will be refreshing and simpler to navigate. The existing store ( is still functional and is taking orders. The new store will have new equipment and a stocked “Used Gear” section for those on a budget.

In order to grow the functionality needed by School of Personal Flight, I’m using a WordPress Framework called “Beans” that enables me to remove the parts of WordPress that I don’t need. In the end, I hope to have a website that offers quick performance and small-screen (phone) functionality similar to the bootstrap site.

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