Story by Steven M. Cart
It's not like I already don't do enough things that are dangerous, like riding motorcycles, mountain climbing, hiking alone in bear infested areas, riding my bicycle in rush hour traffic, golf, and of coarse being married. So why did I think I needed something else in my life that has the potential for cutting said life short. I am not worried about dying young, it is way too late for that !
The answer to the above question is a very confidant, "I don't know" ! Or even the more definitive answer "Why not" !!!
I know what your thinking, sure Steve, what could be more dangerous than golf or being married, well there is always playing golf WITH your wife !!!!!! Now that is dangerous! However that is not what I am referring too. What I am referring too is my new adventure ...................my aircraft ...........
Now this isn't just any old aircraft, this is an aircraft that I built myself. Not only that but it doesn't have any wings !!!! I figure it is much safer if this aircraft never leaves the ground. So most of the time I just sit in it in the garage and make airplane noises. However I know that one day this thing is gonna get me hurt, and that is because if I don't get it out of the garage pretty soon my wife is gonna kill me, as it is taking up her parking spot.
I wasn't quiet truthful about it not having wings, it does have one wing, and I guess that's better than none. It uses a rather large parachute for it's wing. This particular type of aircraft is called a Powered Parachute, aka PPC.
It came in a rather large box, kind of like the model kits we used to make as kids, only on a larger scale. Remember those old model kits? All those little pieces connected to each other on rows of plastic? Remember how much fun it was to put it together, and paint it. Then with pride and a sense of accomplishment you would take it outside and put a few firecrackers in it then cover it with lighter fluid, then blow the whole thing up..........now that was fun !
Well this is what I felt like when I was looking in the box, except for the blowing it up part, which by the way I haven't completely ruled out. Looking in the box I saw what seemed to be about a bazillion little pieces, and even more larger pieces. Each one individually wrapped and labeled with names like, whizzel thruster, boing adapter, and pretzel straightener. Also one rather large bag with a label that read "obligatory left over spare parts". Some how, some way I was going to put all these pieces together, well most of the pieces anyway, and when I was done it was going to be an aircraft, either that or a really cool yard ornament.
Three months have passed and I am proud to say that it is 95% finished and I have only about 90% more to do before I take to the skies. It is odd how there always seems to be another thing to do, just when you think you are done.
Putting it all together proved to be a real challenge. The directions were terrible, and I got about half way done before I realized I was reading the directions for my new weed whacker. Be that as it may it kind of "looks" like it will fly ...................maybe .............................
Which brings me to the next phase of this project. Sooner or later, someone, somewhere is going to have to actually get in this thing, start it up, and, well, taxi it down to the corner store and get some chips, salsa and beer.
OK just kidding. One day, somewhere, someone is going to actually have to get in this thing and, here's the > really funny part, actually leave the ground !!!!! What a concept. I guess I never really gave it a lot of thought, but that someone is going to be ME !!!! I am afraid to eat my own cooking, let alone fly in a plane I built myself !!!!!!!!!
So there you have it, the PPC sits in the garage, and I am waiting for favorable weather for my, and my PPC's first flight.
My instructor has given me very valuable advice, such as:
Take off's are optional, landings are mandatory.
Try to keep the pointy end in the front as much as possible.
Push the stick forward and the houses get bigger, pull it back and they get smaller.
The only time you have too much fuel is when you are on fire.
I would be less than honest if I said I wasn't nervous about my first flight. This is truly one of those things that only happen once in a life time. There can only be one "first flight" of this aircraft. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am.
I will be sure to pass along the story of this first flight in my next note.
Steven M. Cart
Flight Test Engineering