We all have random moments in our lives. Some big, others not so much. However this particular event takes the top 10 most random journeys in my book. It all began with the most expensive website an aviation buff will visit. It's called "barnstormers.com" and its essentially a "Toys r us" for adult aviation nutball's.
Our browsing led us to a plane for sale that caught our eye. It was an FP303 low wing airplane. Not the first choice of aircraft by many, underpowered and slow, but it was priced at a number too good to be true. I contacted the guy the next morning with hopes it would still be for sale. After talking with the owner about the plane and finalizing details, it was time to make the journey happen.
I gave my buddy Kevin a call and asked him "wanna drive to Texas to pick up an airplane". I received the typical "hell yes" from him. The car of choice for this journey was his beastly 2001 Pontiac Grand Am with 240,000 miles on the clock. This car has been through war and back but it was trust worthy.
That night we packed up, hooked up my flat bed trailer and we were Texas bound.
I took the night shift, good music selection, and a mind that never slows down is a recipe for driving at night. Morning arrived and we had crossed halfway through Kansas. Along the way we stopped at the Cessna factory in Independence, Kansas in hopes of test flying a new 172. That wasn't going to happen, but cool place nonetheless. Back on the road we were, we had to make Corinth, Texas before dark. Back on the road we were, the excitement was building. Thoughts of flying this plane, the adventures, the sound, the feel of the controls, all cross your mind repeatedly. Also the thought of, does this plane even exist? does it run? were the photos the guy sent me even the actual plane? Thoughts like this cross your mind, i'm a veteran of craigslist deals, and i've seen just about everything imaginable. People will do anything and say anything for a buck. My goal was to stay positive.
Several hours later we arrived to our destination of Corinth, Texas. The sun was setting, we were loosing light and I wanted to see the plane. As the owner greeted us, there I saw the plane in the back. I was filled with excitement. She was rough around the edges, but she fired right up, hearing that Continental engine was music to the ears.
I handed the man cash, and then we were confronted with the dubious task of figuring out how to mount this plane on to this small flat bed trailer.
It was quite comical when the owner looked at us and our trailer. I would of loved to of known what he was thinking. I'm guessing in the area of "these guys are freaking nuts,thinking they can put that plane on that little trailer".
An freaking nuts we were. Trying to fit this damn plane on the trailer with the wings was an absolute pain in the a$$. 6 hours later, 15 tie down straps, 4 pillows, 2000ft of shipping suranwrap, 5 feet of foam padding, she was not going anywhere, or so we thought.
50 miles into the journey home, the wings came loose from their hold and if I didn't look back at just the right moment, we would of been driving home with a paper weight of hopes an dreams. Once again we resecured everything, double checked tie downs and watched the rear view mirror like a hawk. This was a battle of wind, vibration and nonsense that persisted several more stops throughout the trip, but we slowly figured out this plane securing business once and for all.
The rest of the journey was going smoothly, the plane was holding tight, Kevin's car was running like a champ. All was good except a growing concern of the developing weather ahead of us. I knew a storm had blown into Colorado. What we did't know is that storm had grown considerably and was now in northern New Mexico, and we were directly in its path.
The closer we drove to Raton, New Mexico, it was becoming apparent we were in for a long ride. The temperature plummeted, the clouds grew even darker, and the snow began to pick up. We arrived in Raton, a large number of people were at the gas station, just hanging out. Something was going on, then a gentlemen filling his truck next to us asked, where were we headed with that plane. I told him Colorado, he then told us that all of I25 and Raton pass was closed due to the blizzard/white out conditions. He then told us that every hotel in Raton was booked up, and the local church was allowing people to stay there. I was angry, we got so close to our destination, yet a storm had just stopped us in our tracks. I looked at the map again, watched the radar and found a route that was 2 hours out of our way on county roads , with questionable conditions and no plow services. It was a gamble, but I sure as heck wasn't going to sit around and wait for this giant storm to pass, it could days if all we know. We filled up the car, and headed north east on our new destination.
80 miles into the drive the conditions were getting bad, a few cars that followed us I saw turn around and headed back to town. The snow was falling so quickly that I couldn't see the road lanes anymore, and had to drive the center of the road hitting the markers to help guide me. I've driven in some bad weather in my time, but when you have questionable tires, and an airplane in tow behind you, it can complicate things. Hour 3 into the journey, a big sign of relief had came, the snow was slowly subsiding. The plane was covered in ice so heavily I was worried about damaged, but we couldn't stop, we had to keep going.
We finally arrived in Denver at 2am, you could say I slept well that night.
This journey had to quite possibly the most random and last minute trip of my life, but we had made it. It's moments like this that define who we are, how we deal with situations and grow from problems that arise. The plane had made it home safe and sound, we finally got her in the hangar and she was essentially unscathed.
Kevin and I came to the conclusion, if we ever buy another plane. We are flying it home!
20 Signs You’re Succeeding In Life Even If You Don’t Feel You Are.
We all feel like failures from time to time. While this is a normal feeling, you have to find a way to see yourself and your life from a different perspective. Sometimes we ignore the “little things.” Just because you are not a millionaire, don’t live in a mansion, and you don’t drive a fancy car, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.
Here are 20 signs that you are succeeding in life:
1. Your relationships are less dramatic than they used to be.Drama is not maturity. As we age, we should develop maturity. So maybe your relationships were drama-filled in your past, but if you have moved beyond that, then you are successful.
2. You are not afraid to ask for help and support any more.Asking for help does not equal weakness. In fact, it is a strength. No person has ever succeeded in isolation. It takes teamwork to accomplish goals. Asking or help is a sign that you have grown as a person.
3. You have raised your standards.You don’t tolerate bad behavior any more – from other people, or even yourself. You hold people accountable for their actions. You don’t spend time with the “energy vampires” in your life anymore.
4. You let go of things that don’t make you feel good.No, this is not narcissistic even though it might seem like it. Self-love is success. Love yourself enough to say ‘no’ to anything that doesn’t make you happy, doesn’t serve your purpose, or drags you down.
5. You have moments where you appreciate who you see in the mirror.Ideally, you should appreciate who you see in the mirror at every moment. But even if that doesn’t happen, if you do it more than you used to, then that is success. Love yourself. You are awesome.
6. You have learned that setbacks and failure are part of self-growth.Not everyone can have success 100% of the time. That’s just not realistic. Life is about victories and losses. So look at your setbacks as stepping stones to something better. In reality, there really is no such thing as as setback. It’s all just part of a wondrous journey.
7. You have a support system that includes people who would do anything for you.If you have figured out the people who “have your back” and recognized the ones who only pretend that they do, then you have succeeded. This is a painful realization, but once you learn to see the signs of betrayal, you can stay away from those people.
8. You don’t complain much.Because you know there really is nothing to complain about. Unless you really have gone through some horrific life experience and had unimaginable losses, most of what we all experience on a day-to-day basis is just mundane. And successful people know that. And they live in a space of gratitude.
9. You can celebrate others’ successes.Just because other people succeed, that doesn’t make you a failure. Applaud the people who rise to the top. The more positive energy you give to other people’s victories, the more you will create your own.
10. You have passions that you pursue.You are not stagnant. You know you have something wonderful to contribute to the world. You have unique talents and gifts. Not only do you know that, you pursue it.
11. You have things to look forward to.If you don’t have exciting things going on in your life that you are eagerly anticipating, then you are slowly dying inside. Successful people create goals that they are passionate about pursuing. They let this excitement drive their life.
12. You have goals that have come true.Even though “failures” are a part of life, you have stuck to your goals and dreams long enough to make them come to fruition. You have some tastes of victory. It fuels you.
13. You have empathy for others.A person without empathy is dead inside. Empathy equals spreading love and positive energy into the world. Successful people know this. They love others as if they are family.
14. You love deeply and open yourself up to be loved by others.Love is risky, and sometimes scary for people. It’s the one thing we all strive for, but it’s also intimately tied to the one thing we fear the most – rejection. If you open your heart enough to love and be loved, then you are successful.
15. You refuse to be be a victim.You know that life doesn’t always happen to you. Many times, you are a co-creator of your life experiences. Successful people know this and refuse to be kept down by life experiences. The rise up and conquer anyway.
16. You don’t care what other people think.You know you can’t please everyone. You know that the standards with which society judges people is many times unrealistic. So you just keep true to yourself and love the person you are.
17. You always look on the bright side.Life can be full of disappointments – if you choose to see them that way. Otherwise, they are learning opportunities. No negative experience is ever wasted as long as you learn from it.
18. You accept what you can’t change.Let’s face it – there many things you can’t change in life. All you can change is how you view what happens. If you can change your negative perspective on situations to a positive one, then you are successful.
19. You change what you can.And let’s face it again – there are many things you can change in life. Successful people don’t sit around accepting the negatives that are changeable. They get out there and do something about it!!
20. You are happy.To me, this is the ultimate definition of success. It doesn’t matter what the balance is in your bank account, how big your house is, or how many fancy vacations you take. If you are happy, then you are succeeding in life.
Even if you don’t see yourself in many of these 20 things, don’t fret. It’s okay. Be happy that you see yourself in just a few. In time, the rest will come. You just need to keep moving onward and upward.
Set a goal for yourself
"Failure is unavoidable in our lives. But if I can learn something from it every time, the chance of success will only increase."
I remember when I was bit by the Mustang bug. I was in the 8th grade, the movie was "Bullitt" with Steve McQueen. A 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback with a 390ci, finished off in a delicious highland green paint job. I wanted that car like a 6th grader today wants an Xbox. I dreamed day and night to own one, unfortunately Mustang fastbacks back in the day were a pretty penny, and today they are out the roof in terms of prices.
13 years later I was bitten by the bug again, this time thanks to a Craigslist ad.
I was doing my usual morning cup of coffee and browsing good old Craigslist for those typical Ferrari barn finds a gearhead like myself yearns for. Then an ad for a 66 Mustang popped up. I clicked it with skepticism. And of course it was the typical one sentence craigslist sale pitch "Runs good, needs work, come get it". I was hesitant but his $6,000 price tag intrigued me to call him. An hour later after a brief phone call I was driving enroute to go look at this 50 year old rolling pile of metal.
When I arrived to the address, I had to laugh, it literally was a barn and a small house, ironic. A young kid came out and greeted me. He proceed to show me the car which had a tarp strewn over it. Before me this fine gem stood, beyond filthy on the outside from dust collected from who know's how long ago. I could barely tell what color it was. The interior wasn't much better, with various parts to the car filling the passenger seat and rear seat. The owner claimed it ran good, so I was waiting for him to prove just that. To my surprise it fired right up, and the exhaust note of that 289ci V8 was music. Hearing the exhaust note pretty much sold me, which sucks, because i'm a sucker for a good sounding car which means my wallet is going to hate me. After an hour of asking questions, test driving and negotiating, $4000 later I was the proud owner of a 1966 Ford Mustang GT.
I was running out of daylight and needed to get this car home. I parked the car I drove up in a safe place to be picked up later, loaded up my dog, and the 90 mile journey home began. The car drove great, I was all smiles up until 15 miles into the drive. Things got interesting, it begain to hesitate, and then out of no where the motor shut off. 75mph , and I coasted onto the highway shoulder with a disgruntled look you only see in a movie. I had a dead car 45 minutes into owning it, and I was not happy, but you can't dwell on issues, you only can fix them. I popped the hood, and began the checklist, I had spark, motor turned over freely, nothing was out of the blue, except one thing. No fuel was flowing to the carb, which was odd, because the fuel gauge indicated half a tank. Bad fuel pump? Nope, I could clearly hear it pumping. I walked to the back of the car and smacked the fuel tank with a piece of bumper that was sitting in the box of parts that came with the car. A clear hollow sound, the damn fuel tank was empty, my fuel gauge was stuck.......I laughed and began my walk to the gas station I could see 1/2 mile down. Good news is, I got fuel, the car fired up and the remaining journey home went smoothly, with the intentions of never trusting that fuel gauge again.
Several months went buy, I fixed various parts. The car was an absolute blast, drank gas like a garden hose, but the sound, the feel, and the simplicity of the vehicle was more than therapeutic. I owned the car for more than a year after purchasing it. Upgraded many parts on the car, it looked nice, it drove nice, but no matter how many parts of the car I upgraded, I seemingly had a notorious gremlin that followed behind me everywhere I went. I can't recall how many times I got stuck on the side of the road. Infact I carried a jack, and a tool box with me in preparation if I went outside of the city. Whether it was electrical, or the braking system over pressurizing. Owning the car was beginning to take a toll my love of the car and my wallet. I had my eyes on a new project and it was time to let her go. With that being said, would I discourage anyone from owning a classic Mustang? Absolutely not! This project was an absolute blast. I learned an enormous amount of information, met some great individuals and scratched that Mustang itch that i've had for the last 20 years. The car probably was one of the top 5 most respected cars I owned. Anywhere I went the car received an enormous amount of respect. I admired that, it is usually a hit or miss with any other car, some love it, others hate it, but with the Mustang, it was solid thumbs up. It forever will have a special place in my heart.
-Breed of Speed
The MEGA R01 kart engine has been on the market now for a few years, but with it now gaining popularity in Europe, and more recently in the USA, we thought we would have a closer look at it.The MEGA R01 is a high performance 650cc (Yes 650cc!) two stroke, single speed, water cooled TAG kart engine with an impressively compact design and a reasonable weight of 26 kg for the complete package.
The engine has the highest possible power to weight ratio, with the total kart and engine package weight coming in around the same as DD2, but with 65hp at 6700rpm and a massive 73Nm of torque at only 5800rpm! .No need for gears with those figures, the centrifugal clutch does the work for you. The engines size creating vibrations is counteracted with the use of two balance shafts. The package runs an inboard drive set-up and 428 chain, a large rotax style exhaust system, that runs from the front of the engine and wraps around and then across the back of the kart, this was done to allow room for such a long expansion chamber required for the 650cc capacity. This then tucks back underneath to a silencer similar to a KZ2 set-up. The radiator is of similar size to a KZ2 and the system runs an axle driven waterpump. The best feature of all for such a big capacity engine is the onboard electric starter.
What are my thoughts on this machine after some serious laps on it? Absolutely bonkers! But a controllable bonkers. The power was out of this world, but it was smooth and a real joy to drive. The type of power you could put down some solid lap times, or just drift it in every corner possible. Very impressed with this motor. You almost need a large track to truly let this motor breathe. I approve, and I'm pretty sure anyone else who likes ridiculous gobs of power in a gokart will too. This is the motor!
I'm not going to lie, I have never been good with politics nor involved in them, and frankly my interest lately in them won't change my overall outlook of them. To me today's determining factor for president in my eyes comes down to who has the bigger bank account, and who can BS to the world better. It's sad, but true, what was once a prestigious bid to run for president back in the day has changed to essentially one big joke in modern times. Every "joe schemo" is coming out of the woodwork and running. The current runners up for president frankly aren't impressive, but more of a disappointment. I'm going to get flak for this, but the one candidate that seems to have a backbone in my eyes is, Trump. Yes he has many traits that need work, such as his ego, running his mouth when he shouldn't, the list goes on. Yes he is an experienced businessman, but politics can vastly differ from business, and one has to be careful combining both.
Many ask why do I like Trump? It's not his sweet hairdo, he's not a great speaker, he's kind of a loudmouth, his idealism on population control is not appealing infact at times shows Nazism. In fact many other candidates such as Carson, Bush, etc seem to fit the job of president better than Trump would. Except for one aspect, its something that I rarely see in the rest of the candidates currently running. One of the most important traits a president should carry, that little fire that burns inside some of us us called "Patriotism". Which sadly is a foreign word to many American's today. That in my eyes is true gold for a president, and why may you ask? Today's society in America has to be politically correct to such a degree it screams "weak minded", sorry but it's true. What happened to individuals who stood up and professed their love for being a citizen of the United States? What happened to the individuals who have a back bone in their body in which being offended is doesn't exist? Trump in my eye's is one of the few in the current race that truly loves America, that has hope for the country and its individuals. He has a fire inside that burns "I am an American" many haven't seen for 40 years. Call me crazy, call me stupid, don't worry I can take it, I don't get offended like everyone else in this world.However, what happened a few day's ago at one of Trump's rally frankly has me disturbed to a point. I was not there, but from every video I've seen, a Muslim woman attending the even't stood up and silently protested. She didn't do anything out of the blue besides stood silently in a normal Muslim head dress. Long story short people became angered and Trump had her escorted out. Now I understand ISIS is a Muslim affiliated group, I understand there is a great turmoil with the Muslim religion in many parts of the World and America. I understand Trump want's to "register every Muslim in America" which frankly won't happen. I understand he wants to curtail Muslim immigration, due to its origin to Terrorism.
However that is not the issue I'm focusing on, the issue is how this Muslim woman was treated. I feel that it could of been approached in a much better way than it was handled. In my eyes what I witnessed brought me back to the days of segregation. The scowling looks I saw in the eyes of the individuals around the woman made me feel sorry for her. No I don't know her, and if all I know she could of been a member of ISIS, but until that is determined no-one had the right to treat an individual like that. I felt that whole situation was very "un-American" (not sure if that's a word). It was not what America is about, and frankly she is the one with the backbone to have the courage to even stand up in that situation knowing the possible outcomes, not the individuals surrounding her. I give her credit for her courage, and I feel that escorting her out simply for silent protesting was wrong on Trump's part. She wasn't causing a disturbance, she wasn't causing harm, she simply was speaking her mind, something that we as American citizens have the privilege to do so. Now you're going to ask am I a Muslim? No, and in fact many aspects of the religion scare me, but we have to realize, there are good apples and bad apples in every religion. I know some absolutely fantastic people that are Muslim. In which would take the shirt of their back for anyone, and we must not judge until we know the facts. We must not point our fingers with anger until we know both sides of the story. This situation my friends, was not handled the American way, and it angers me. If Trump want's a chance at presidency he needs to close his mouth and open his ears, and take a good hard look at how he handles certain situations. For all eyes are on his actions, and that can have a snowball affect if not dealt the correct way. This woman deserves an apology, I know she didn't like Trump from the get go, but she also doesn't have to like trump. If she wants to speak her mind, she can! That's why I am an American, I can speak my mind freely.
The question is, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think it was handled the correct way?
Tags: trump , nathan finneman , nathan james finneman , politics , president ,
The 80's are definitely an era of the past, but that doesn't mean you can't relive them in style. I got the opportunity to pick up a mighty 1987 Plymouth Horizon (most have never heard of one) for a steep $400. Think of it as the Geo Metro of the 80's. Creme of the crop in terms of aesthetics, where having a passenger mirror or FM radio was an costly option, which this car had neither. However its lack of options did not deter us from having a jolly good time with this beast. Yes this car was incredibly slow. Yes it was incredibly basic, and at times I could not tell if I was driving a car or a boat due to the flex in the suspension while going down the road, but there were parts of the car I loved. Its size made parking a breeze, infact C.J and Kevin easily moved the car by picking up the rear-end, literally picked it up. The simplicity of the cars interior made you appreciate the view outside the car. It was time my fellow hombre's and I busted out our neon, bundled up for the cold, and unleashed the inner beast of this Plymouth Horizon. Enjoy the video, its stupid, funny at times and gives you an idea what the Horizon is all about in sub freezing temps.
I've always been know as a man of fast machines and of all the individuals that would be caught riding let alone own a scooter, I'm the last guy on earth, except this one time.
Long story short, I traded a gentleman a large quantity of old BMW E30 parts I didn't need anymore for this old 1972 Vespa Sprint Veloce he didn't want. My intentions of keeping it were non existent, but rather a plan to just get it running and re-sell it for a profit.
Fast forward a few days, after rebuilding the carb, and giving the motor a much needed tune up, it came to life, and of course I had to go test ride this lawnmower on two wheels. I'm not tooting my own horn, but i'm a pretty good rider, that has ridden just about every motorcycle to date. This scooter had to be one of the weirdest transmission/riding platforms i've ever ridden.
To my surprise this little scooter was an absolute joy to drive in the city, and probably still the fastest scooter I have yet to ride. I hit a top speed of 78mph, and frankly I was more terrified than doing 165 on my Ducati. All in all my verdict? The vintage one's are really cool, quality is outstanding, they are reliable, and exceptionally fun to ride.
Enough said, enjoy the video, its quite comical,
I was hesitant to go, but my buddy Chris Montes was pushing me to attend the Salton Sea Fly in with him. It was early spring 2013, my girlfriend Nikie and I packed up my 1987 BMW 325 convertible, loaded up the trailer that I would be towing behind it and met up with Chris and his wife Tukky. The drive from Colorado to California was long and monotonous, but we endured the dreaded 18 hour trek in hopes of adventure of flying our paramotors in California. The drive over the I70 pass came with no surprise, being early spring meant that we would be dealing with potential snow storms in the mountains. Given the fact that I was pulling a trailer behind a rear wheel drive BMW convertible in winter conditions I could only believe looked ridiculous to others, but it was a good combo. The BMW was incredibly reliable, got good gas mileage, and my trailer in which I called the “cheese wedge” due to its looks, mated a good combo for the car in ease of pulling at highway speeds. As we expected we got caught in a snow storm in Utah, it was cold, the roads were icy and lets be honest a convertible top doesn't insulate heat very well. We endured the storm and drove on, behind Chris, time seemed to pass by slowly but the reliving sight of the “Welcome to California” sign was in distance and our minds soon filled with excitement.
Midway through California, Chris’s Ford truck went “bang” and broke down. He was stranded as the parts needed to fix the truck wouldn’t arrive for a few days. He left his truck at the Ford dealership, packed what stuff he could manage to fit in my already tight trailer (he was always known to pack too much stuff), and Tukky and him hopped in my car and we continued onto Salton Sea.
Ten miles away from Salton Sea we were created by a horrendous smell. It was a concoction of dead fish and a salty sea water cocktail. It was pretty bad and only seemed to get worse the closer we got. Paramotor’s could be seen flying in the distance and we knew we were close. As we pulled into the gate, dozens of RV’s were lined up with a variety of tents and beneath them flying machines lurked. There is something strange about arriving at a fly-in, you get filled internally with an enormous amount of excitement and it never fades. Its rather hard to explain to a non flyer this emotion. We were greeted by friends and acquaintances and I was relieved to step out of the car after such a long drive.
Excitement soon lessened and a sadness seemingly lurked amongst the pilots, I could tell something was horribly wrong, but was not sure what it was. Mike Robinson the president of the event came up to me, shook my hand, I asked him what’s wrong. His face showed sadness, he explained to me that Michael Mixer was practicing for the pylon race they were hosting that mid morning, was hit by a dust devil while flying and took a major wing collapse in which caused him to crash. When medics arrived, he was unable to feel anything below his waist and was determined to be potentially paralyzed. With any sport comes risk, when you launch your body into the sky on essentially a fabric wing with lines holding your soul and a fuel tank beneath your butt with a motor attached to your back, you can’t expect total safety from the gravity of the earth. Its hard to see a pilot crash and hurt, let alone a friend. Michael was the most genuine of guys, had a heart of gold and was a class act pilot. I couldn’t imagine what he was going through.
Still eager to fly and catch a glimpse of the scenery that gave the gift of stink, I got setup for take off, launched, and climbed into the sky. Flying sea-level is always a treat coming from the high altitude of Colorado, as you have nearly twice the thrust and lift that you normally would have. The Salton sea is a mystery for sure, its a large lake, that at one time was a bustling resort with boaters and outdoor enthusiasts in the 50’s and 60’s. The history behind it is quite fascinating, as well as the deterioration of the lake and slowly becoming a ghost town due to the water becoming incredibly salt ridden from farming, that it was deemed unsafe to humans. It was a lake that had no inhabitants, what made it even more strange was the millions of dead fish floating on the surface. My nose was not pleased and my flight time was cut quite short due to my focus being overtaken by the stench. I landed and we went exploring around the lake. My enthusiasm of seeing a beach soon turned to disappointment when we walked closer. What I thought was nice white sand turned out to be millions of fish bones obliterated over the years. Why in gods name would you host a fly in here is beyond me, but a pilot will do what a a pilot has to do to simply fly.
We dipped out from the Salton Sea early, and decided seeing the Pacific ocean and a real beach was a better plan of attack, our noses couldn’t take it anymore. We planned on meeting up with some flying buddies of ours near Huntington Beach. Shane Denherder and Byron Lesiek from Utah were waiting in a parking lot when we arrived. California is quite restrictive when it comes to flying, but the nice thing with Paramotoring is we get quite the flexibility from the FAA and parks. I was looking forward to taking off from the huge beach that laid out before our eyes, but was soon met with disappointment from the beach ranger. Turns out we couldn't legally take off from the beach, but he told us we could take off from the creek side bar that was between the beach. I looked at it, and thought to myself there is no way I’m getting airborne of that bar before crashing into the water. We had no other options though, and I really wanted to fly. We all got lucky, and had successful take off’s in such a short area. The air was warm and buttery smooth. Seeing the waves crashing below your legs as you skimmed just a few feet above the ocean was magical. Chris was next to me just skimming the surface, flying free as a bird with a smile on his face. We flew north up the coast. The ocean was loaded with surfers trying to catch the best wave. They seemed shocked yet thrilled as we flew in between them, it was an experience i’ll never forget. We landed and said our goodbyes and parted ways with Shane & Byron.
.We headed south down PCH, en-route to Laguna Beach to visit Nikie’s mom who lived close to the area. Of course as we are driving down, Chris spots an empty beach and insists we stop and fly it. I agreed and drove into the parking lot, in which was at the top of a cliff and the beach was below. We unloaded our gear, strapped our units on our back and proceeded to hike down the long trail to the beach. As we got to the beach, a white truck approached, it was a ranger. Chris and I looked at each other and knew this was not good. A park ranger got out of his truck and walked towards us just as I was laying out my wing for take off. He was a big gentleman, with broad shoulders, he asked what we were doing. We told him we were planning on taking off from the beach. The look on his face was very serious, and I knew we were in for disappointment. He told us we could not fly here, that it was a protected beach and we would have to take off somewhere else. I looked at Chris who I could already tell was furious and about to blow on the inside. Our units are quite heavy *70lbs+ with fuel, and we had just hiked 25 minutes down a cliff trail, and now we were instructed to have to hike back up. I pleaded with the ranger, I told him we cause no issue or damage to the beach and we were skilled pilots who knew what we doing. I still was not hopeful as the serious look on his face remained unchanged. I pleaded with him one more time, promising him I would be airborne in just a few steps and we would be gone. Right then and there a glimpse of hope emerged and I saw the ranger smile. He said “alright let me see this contraption fly, but I was never here” with a wink in his eye. A huge relief overcame Chris and I, we setup our gear as the ranger watched us with eagle eyes. I told Chris, “don’t you dare fail your take off, you only get one”, he smirked and nodded. Wing was setup and I fired my motor, I was nervous, I usually don’t mess up take offs, but this ranger was watching us hardcore, and I knew I could pull this off only once. I popped my wing overhead, and throttled my engine to full power, felt my feet leave the earth, looked back and waved to the ranger. I yelled in excitement, what we had just pulled off, and caught up to Chris who was only a few hundred yards ahead of me. We headed toward Newport beach, which was 15 miles north, watching the jagged rock cliffs move underneath me as I flew over made me worry about having an engine out with nearly no landing spots in sight. Seeing those waves crash against the cliff sides below, made me realize if I went down here my chances of survival were slim, and the odds of getting torn to shreds on the rocks were high.
With Newport beach in sight, I made my approach and landed, Chris then proceeded to land as well. We were greeted by people on the beach who were quite curious about our machines. We hung out and talked for a bit, and then figured it was time to head back to the LZ south. We got everything laid out for take off, and Chris proceeded to launch first. I could hear his prop drive belt slipping as he went to full throttle, his running seemed to never end, and as he lifted into the air, my calm state soon turned to worry. He was not gaining altitude as he flew over the crashing waves, rather he was sinking closer and closer to the water. I knew his belt was slipping, but it had to of been slipping really bad as he was not gaining altitude. I feared he was going to crash into the ocean below, but then out of the blue he started climbing dramatically, his belt must of heated up from the friction of slipping and his propeller regained the thrust it needed to climb. I was relieved, and I cant imagine how Chris felt as he climbed into the sky. My take off was much smoother, I climbed up a few hundred feet adjusted my trims and flew next to Chris headed south. The air from when we landed at Newport beach to when we took off took a big change. I had a hell of a tail wind, and I was moving fast, I don’t know what my ground speed was, but it was fast. We flew right over multi million dollar homes which seemed to hang off the cliffs only Hollywood actors would own. I got cocky and dropped lower to just only 10 feet off the ground, and I was moving fast, as I flew directly over an oncoming cliff face that was quite high. Rotor is an aspect that can put a paramotor pilot in a heap of trouble if not respected. Rotor is essentially disrupted rotating air that can make a pilot fall out of the sky. My wing violently surged upward, and then I felt a paraglider’s dreaded feeling, a collapse. As my wing surged upright, I felt my brake control toggles go completely soft which means you are no longer in control. My heart sank and I was filled with fear, as you become helpless in the sky. I looked up and in a split second what was a perfectly good flying wing had turned into a crumpled ball of fabric and lines. I was falling towards earth and fast, I tried everything in my power trying to get the wing to recover. The ground was approaching fast, I knew if this wing didn’t recover any second, I was dead. I kept pumping the brake toggles trying to breathe life back into the wing, 40ft...20ft...10ft..this was it, it wasn’t recovering, destined to impact the ground. And then just as I closed my eyes, I felt lift, the pressure in my brake toggles regained. I opened my eyes, I was maybe 6ft from the ground, and I was climbing again. I was numb, almost in shock of what just happened. It was a miracle, my wing had recovered, if it had been one more second I would of been history. To make the whole incident of events even crazier, was the gate lock on my carabiner failed and was open. My riser could have easily came out, or a carabiner failure and that was a guaranteed death wish. My heart was still racing, I was breathing heavy, I pretty much brown stained my paints (not really, but close) and I still had to land back where the car was. The flight back to the LZ seemed to linger on forever, maybe it was because I was so mentally and physically drained from the prior events, or time was still in slow motion from the adrenaline flowing through my body. Seeing that parking lot with the girls and Chris waiting for me was the best sight I could hope for. I landed safely, packed up and watched the sun set with my friends with a whole new level of appreciation.
The trip had come to an end, but I sit here typing this and every time I think about the turn of events, the experiences of this adventure, it fills me with fear as well as happiness. Its moments like this that last a lifetime, and it makes me appreciate life and what it brings before my eyes.
Until next time..
Our good friend Shawn Osen from Wyoming wanted to put together a flying gathering of our squadron pilots in a small town known as Hulett, Wyoming. I initially was skeptical due to Wyoming being widely famous for a PPG pilots arch enemy "strong wind". However I was not going to deny an opportunity to fly new scenery. The event was strewn out over a 4 day period. There was a small problem, this event was in conflict over Father's Day. Why not turn it into a roadtrip of epic proportions with my Dad? It took some convincing, but my father was in for an adventure. We packed up my vintage camper "Squarestream", loaded up the flying machine, and embarked on a 6 hour drive North. After fighting 50mph+ winds north of Cheyenne, it was a relief to be able to do more than 55mph, a box on wheels for a trailer being towed by a 180hp car rarely fares well against strong winds.