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To be a "real" FlyingMonkey

FlyingMonkey

Stuck in Sunny FL
Staff member
Admin
#1
If you're like me, you got into the hobby for more than the excitement of building, and flying model aircraft, but because of a love of full scale aviation, the history of the aircraft, or the thrill that idea of flying brings.

I've always loved airplanes and flight. It's probably my father's fault. During WWII he served with the Army Air Corps. The aircraft he worked with was the B26 Martin Marauder. He traveled all over north Africa and then into Europe.

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After the war he became a pilot himself. He was a member of flying clubs, and flew around the country. At one point he even owned the all time classic, a Piper Cub (which he told me he had taken apart and stored at home, and his parents "threw it away" while he was traveling one time).

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His last aircraft was a Cessna 170 that he quit flying about when I was born. It sat in the back yard with the tail and wings off from it. Even if he didn't fly it anymore, as far as my child self was concerned, I was putting some miles on it.

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My father encouraged my interest in aviation, and we traveled to the greatest air show in the world several times, Airventure in Oshkosh Wisconsin.

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Unfortunately I never showed enough interest in becoming a pilot myself for him to justify the expense of getting me into pilot training.

I tried my hand at model aviation several times through my life, finally getting some success after I got out of high school about the time GWS came out with their foam bodied battery powered planes. I really jumped in with both feet about ten years ago, and have been happily crashing RC aircraft ever since.

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At some point within the last few years I discovered FPV. Now this was as close as I've come to actually being a pilot. Other than a flight or two in a small private plane, nothing has given me the thrill of "being in the air" like video piloting has. Anyone that has spent the time and expense getting into this niche of the hobby knows what I mean.

Chances are that if you're flying RC aircraft, you secretly, or maybe not so secretly long to actually climb into the air yourself, leaving the ground, and soaring around the sky. Not all of us can afford the expense of getting a private pilot's license. Even the less expensive "sport pilot" endorsement is financially out of reach due to the costs of training, buying and upkeep of an airplane, as well as the additional hidden expenses of hangar fees, insurance, and fuel. I know the feeling. So for years I've made the excuses that I prefer being on the ground. That I like watching the aircraft more, than being in them. But as someone who enjoys flying through the lens of my FPV camera, I know deep down those are just excuses.

Well, a friend of mine has been encouraging me to get into PPG flying. What is PPG? It stands for Powered ParaGlider. Basically it's a special parachute that you fly with the assistance of a "big fan on your back. Recently I was able to save up enough money to get my foot in the door. My friend that had been encouraging me for the last few years had a unit he was selling, and I bought it.

Here's my friend Russ flying the beach.

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And the proud new owner...

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Russell just so happens to be an instructor, so pretty much right away he got me down on the beach, and my training began. There's a technique called "kiting" that teaches you the basic handling skills you'll need to control the wing while you're on the ground.

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It's not as simple as using the motor to inflate the wing, and off you go. Too little wind, and you're struggling to get it the wing up, too much wind, and you're fighting to keep you down. You need to be able to get the wing up into the air, and keep it there while you run at least a few steps with the right wind, and sometimes many more in no wind at all. This is easier than it sounds. The wing isn't naturally balanced to stay up in the air. So it's up to the pilot to know how to steer it so that it's up there long enough for him or her to get situated, and into a take off run that will result in a successful launch.

I highly recommend finding a good instructor. There's plenty of videos online that show people who are able to "fly" with little or no instructions. These are the ones whose wings are collapsing on take off, or stumble and slide to a stop for their landings. Often ending up with damaged equipment and bodies. A good instructor will help you get the best gear for you. Too big or too small of a motor will make your flights impossible to enjoy. Likewise the wrong size wing can be unpleasant at best, and life threatening at worst. I'm currently borrowing a wing that Russell owns. It's a 24 meter Ozone Speedster. A fantastic wing, but for my weight and the weight of the gear I'd be using, if I was to stick with the Ozone Speedster, I'd need something in the 28 meter range. So, before I take to the air, I'll have to save up some more money to buy myself a larger, more beginner friendly wing. (I have not opened up a Kickstarter campaign yet... but I might end up needing to sell off a plane or two. :D)

I've not had many days that the weather has cooperated for me to practice what Russell has taught me so far. One evening I went out, and the winds were too low, and the wing kept collapsing. The next morning, the winds were so strong that when the wing wasn't trying to blow down the beach without me, it managed to jerk me down the beach a hop and a skip at a time until I was able to collapse it on purpose, at which point I packed it up and brought it home. Soon the rain will stop, and I'll get back out there.

Stay tuned here for more updates as my pursuit to become a "real" FlyingMonkey continues.
 
#3
I can somewhat relate because my grandfather worked on an aircraft carrier during WWII, but i cant remember its name or exactly where. He loved aircraft and I had a lot of great experiences with him too, just like your father. My grandfather's brother flew a corsair in the pacific, and after the war he brought back a random airplane prop that is sitting in my grandmother's garage. A separate brother of my grandfather, flew in the korean war, I cant remember which kind of plane he flew, and was shot shot down then taken prisoner. He was later rescued by the red cross. I guess you could say that flight also runs in my family.

Im turning 16 this year, and will start training for my private pilots license soon. I think lots of people here could also relate to how they underwent a journey to become a "FlyingMonkey". I wish you luck and safety on any of your future "FlyingMonkey" experiences.
 

bmsweb

Site Moderator
#4
Awesome write up Fred!! Loved it and looking forwards to more on your progress and some videos in the future!!
 

johnmw

propulsion impromptu
#6
nice write up,
hope your pursuit finally materialized soon and don't forget to share us some clips.
happy flying (literally & finally)! :cool:
 

makattack

Winter is coming
Moderator
Mentor
#10
I'm so excited to hear about your new adventures in PPG! That's interesting how you have the airfoil on backwards for the kiting practice (or so it looks to my inexperienced eyes) -- is that to make it easier to look up and see what the chute is doing in the wind?
 
#11
With my yard/runway I've often talked about getting a PPG. There are a few places that sell and teach here in Ohio.
Thanks for sharing your progress and your history. :)
 
#12
I almost pulled the trigger on buying a PPG about 8 years ago but never did. I still really want one but I just started ground school this week to get my Private Pilots License. Pretty excited about starting to fly. It was interesting seeing how much RC flight related to the information we're starting to learn in ground school. Aside from RC, I have zero experience with aircraft. Good luck with your PPG!
 

FAI-F1D

Free Flight Indoorist
#13
Dude, don't be adding more stuff to my bucket list! There are a bunch of people near here that fly PPG...looks like a whole lot of fun.

I'm a third generation commercial pilot and have been privileged to fly a variety of aircraft and even made a living at it for a brief time. Just after starting college, I soloed my first student in the same airplane I first rode in at age 5 and later soled in on my 16th birthday. Thankfully, I'm no longer depending on my piloting skills for a living--I do the engineering voodoo so someone else can fly them! And the spare money is enough to go flying myself on occasion, although aircraft rental is obscenely high. Looking forward to buying one of those $15k Piper Pacers in a few years--fantastic airplanes, by the way.

Can't wait to see more of your progress in all this. In time, you might also look at ultralights--get a good instructor of course, but the Flying Squirrel (not to be confused with the Flying Monkey ;) ) is a nice little inexpensive airplane.
 

AkimboGlueGuns

Biplane Guy
Mentor
#14
That's pretty sweet, I found out about PPG's at an EAA chapter meeting a few months ago and it has been rolling around in my head ever since then. It looks just like the purest form of powered flight you can get. Keep us posted, and maybe fly a cross country to FTFF2015? ;)
 

Tench745

Well-known member
#15
If you do get involved in ultralights, due diligence is definitely required on your pre-flight checks. While general aviation aircraft require annual inspections, ultralights do not, so you as the operator are responsible for monitoring any and all parts of the aircraft that may fail. This warning is probably redundant for anyone who has actual flight experience, but I felt it needed to be said. We don't want to lose anyone.
 

FAI-F1D

Free Flight Indoorist
#16
If you do get involved in ultralights, due diligence is definitely required on your pre-flight checks. While general aviation aircraft require annual inspections, ultralights do not, so you as the operator are responsible for monitoring any and all parts of the aircraft that may fail. This warning is probably redundant for anyone who has actual flight experience, but I felt it needed to be said. We don't want to lose anyone.
That is a very important point. Thank you for mentioning it.
 

FlyingMonkey

Stuck in Sunny FL
Staff member
Admin
#17
That's pretty sweet, I found out about PPG's at an EAA chapter meeting a few months ago and it has been rolling around in my head ever since then. It looks just like the purest form of powered flight you can get. Keep us posted, and maybe fly a cross country to FTFF2015? ;)

Will a drive cross country, and a flight around the field with the PPG be good enough?
 

Balu

Moderator
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
#18
Will a drive cross country, and a flight around the field with the PPG be good enough?
How about a drive cross country and the final approach via PPG, carrying some kind of Flite Test gear while awesome rock music is being played?

Don't you guys do stuff like that all the time at sport events, etc? =)
 

FlyingMonkey

Stuck in Sunny FL
Staff member
Admin
#19
How about a drive cross country and the final approach via PPG, carrying some kind of Flite Test gear while awesome rock music is being played?

Don't you guys do stuff like that all the time at sport events, etc? =)
Maybe this can be arranged...