This past weekend I attended the Blackhawk Flyin up in Valley Springs, CA. The fly-in is put on by Blackhawk Paramotors. They offer training and sales of powered paramotor equipment. Normally the field is only open to their customers but once or twice a year they open it up to everyone. This past weekend was their Spring fly-in. I towed my PPC to work with me on Friday so that I could drive directly to the fly-in after work.
After work on Friday I drove up Highway 26 to Linden where I tanked up my truck and mixed up some fuel for my PPC. I continued up to Blackhawk Ranch located on the south end of New Hogan Reservoir. I pulled onto the field and found a spot on the northwest side of the field. After parking I pulled my PPC out into the sun and started walking the field checking out all the other flying machines. It was also fun to pause and watch the takeoffs and landings. Some of them showed some very interesting…um… techniques.
I ran into some friends that I fly with at New Jerusalem and talked with them for a while. Then I decided to cook dinner.
Yes, I had a heaping helping of MRE’s for dinner. If you don’t know what that means it’s “Meals, Ready To Eat.” You either love them or hate them. I think they are just fine. You can store them for years, they don’t need refrigeration, and come with water-activated heater to heat the food up. After dinner I watched the evening flights and after dark listened to the coyotes calling to each other around the valley.
The next morning I put on my thermal layers under my clothes and started warming up my PPC. It was cold and dewy outside as taxied over to my selected launch spot. I laid out my wing in the driest spot I could find. There was no wind as I launched into the air. The ground run was longer than I was used to I was coming up on the end of the field so I kicked my rudder bars a couple of times to get off the ground. When I relaxed my feet the PPC sunk back toward the ground. So I held a little rudder in until I was climbing and then slowly let it out. Climb rate was not stellar, I was just above the tree tops as I climbed out of the small valley. After a few nerve wracking moments I was comfortably above the trees and climbing over the hills.
I tried to relax and just enjoy the scenery. I’ve flown over this area for over 25 years but something about flying slow in a PPC give you time to notice details you’ve never seen before. I spent about 45 minutes flying over the lake and rolling hills.
Given all the activity at the field I was a little nervous about the landing. However, there really was no problem landing. I just picked an area that no one was in and set down there. I folded and stowed my parachute, put the PPC back at the trailer and then went to socialize some more. I also took the opportunity to change my main carburetor jet to one size leaner. I was hoping that this would give me a little better engine performance. Given that the engine temps were so cool, my RPMs were so low (only 5900 rpm on climbout) and my climb was so poor, I thought maybe the engine is running too rich.
After changing my main jet afternoon slowed down quiet a bit. Kind of a lazy warm Spring day. Spent the rest of the day napping, socializing, and then having dinner with the other pilots. The fly-in organizers put on a dinner. After dark I went back to my trailer and called it a night.
The next morning (Sunday) it was just as dewy as the previous morning. Since I really didn’t feel good about my climb-out performance the previous day I decided to sit out the morning flight and just pack up. I’d rather do my engine testing in friendlier terrain. I said my goodbyes to everyone and headed for home. Even though I only got one flight in I really enjoyed the weekend. It was great to get off the grid, fly, and do nothing at all.