Patrick Zaczyk's First Flight (From
the PPC emailing list.)
I've been a semi-luker on this list for a year or so now. It's
time to un-lurk
, with cause.
I first saw a PPC - a Buckeye - at a boat show in Salt Lake City, UT
- O - Man - I really liked the idea of getting airborne
without all the red
tape/expense/hassle usually associated with piloting aircraft .
I hung around that Dream Machine watching & rewatching that video,
manner of questions - I'm sure that Mr. Moder (I hope I got that right)
ready to scream. It seemed too good to be true ; I COULD
fly !!!! THIS was
something I HAD to try !!!!
I started getting information on the WWW about flying PPC's; lurking
list. The more I read, the more I knew I HAD to try it .
I had an opportunity to try to fly on a trip to the west coast
in May that
year - Bob Vatter in Yucca Valley, CA - a Six Chuter this time
. The wind
that day just WOULD NOT let up ; 25+ MPH, way too much for an intro
DID get to give that plane a good looking-over though.
A few months later, I hooked up with the folks at Parascender in FL
( I was
traveling quite a bit). I met with R.B. and Tina Brady, and just
my luck - the
weather just wouldn't get right. But I got to inspect the
I'm getting to the good part - honest !
After ALL these failed attempts, I thought that the Power-That-Be just
want ME flying.
I was going to the San Jose area on business & hooked up with Inland
Paraflight. I talked to Phil Dietro, set up date &
was countin' down the
days, just like I did all the times before !!!
The fateful time arrived - Friday evening - I found my way to
Phil's home and
I got to look over the birds in his garage. I watched his
video & got the
paper-work out of the way (you know, the kind that makes you responsible
everything ! ).
1st impression - dedicated to the sport, knows his planes, loves to
The forecast looked good for the next day & he had
me follow him to the field
I'd be flying out of ( boy, did THAT sound weird - "I'd" be flyin'
!!!). The local weather forecast indicated Saturday would be
a perfect day for
I have to admit - I was more than a little restless THAT night.
It was finally dawn - Hooray ! I'll find out NOW, whether I have
the nerve for
this flyin' stuff or not, FOR SURE !
It was dead calm, cold but the sun was bright & warm !
At long last, A
PERFECT DAY !!!!!
By the time I got checked out of the motel, grabbed a cup of
coffee & got to
the field, Phil was already there & giving the planes a going over.
I stayed out of his way while he fired each one up & tested them.
awesome to just get THIS close to these marvelous flying machines.
He got each
of them airborne & took a few laps around the field &
some Touch-and-Go's with
each bird. WOW ! Like a feather !!!!
By the time Phil got done having his way with those 2 birds, his brother
1st impression - knows his stuff, really wants to get more people into
all around nice guy - Hey, you can ALWAYS trust a Fireman !!!!.
He then proceeded to check-out the birds & fired up the Golden
Eagle II , he
left the ground in what appeared to be 2 - 3 car lengths. Holy
climb. A few laps, a few TNG's & he's back down. Just
like his brother, like
a feather !
It's now time for my first flight in a PPC !!!!
They get me suited up - (thank goodness for that insulated coverall
brought), strapped in behind the pilot (the GE II has some pretty good
my 6'1"/235lb frame), radio check (getting close now) , PROP
CLEAR , fire the
beast up, get the CHT up, one last "Are you ready?" -
10 -4 !!!!!
Power on, chute jumps up & steadies.
In almost no time, I'm watching the ground fall away ! I knew
RIGHT then: I
HAD to try this myself.
Stu explained exactly what he was doing and showed me the "pattern"
for a solo
training flight and a touch and go.
Almost too good to be true. - ME, a SOLO flight !!!!!
We landed & quickly rolled to a stop.
YA BUDDY - I'm goin' SOLO !!!!!!
Over to the solo machine I went, buckled in & ready. Stu went
over the whole
flight plan, all the risks, the paddles, the responsibility, practiced
throttle, left turn, right turn, landing.
Since I've been lurking on this list for a year, I felt calm, felt
that what he
was saying was "familiar". Pretty sure I could handle it.
Then the big
" ARE YOU COMMITTED TO THIS FLIGHT?" - Yes sir - lets go
Radio check, OK, - paddle check, OK - prop clear, OK
- The beast fires up
Last minute once over for the flight pattern while the CHT comes up.
Temps right - Check the sock, still dead calm - It's time to ROCK 'N
Power up, start to roll, check the mirror, chute jumps up & stable;
power up, full power !
It seems I'm off the ground in a flash.
HEY - I'M FLYIN' - ME, BY MYSELF & THIS MARVELOUS FLYING MACHINE
I won't try to explain the feeling - I don't think I could put it into
For those of you that have been there; you know.
For those of you that have not had the thrill - get out there and JUST
The THRILL of a lifetime; a DREAM come true.
Stu talked me through the whole flight. I did the laps, practiced
boundaries. He let me just fly around a little bit, getting used
to how the
bird acted. WOW, better than I imagined it, a bird's eye view.
There's a jack
rabbit scurrying around under the greasewoods, an old washing
on it's side, a van pulls over to watch me, prairie dog holes . . .
Stu's voice breaks into my wonderland.
My first stab at a touch-and-go. I aimed right at Stu.
I got to admit I think
I slammed pretty hard (it sure SEEMED hard) full power and it's
up I go.
Around I went again; I started my approach a little further out this
Added a little throttle to slow my descent, headed right for Stu &
orange paddles. - Oops, cruised well over his head, we'll call that
"Let's try it again," Stu calmly says on the headset.
I remember a quote from the list - "Take-offs are optional, landings
This time a little less gas & a little softer touch. Stu let
me go-it-alone on
the next time around. Felt a little hard, but not as bad
as the first time.
By golly, I do believe I'm gettin' the hang of this thing!
"All good things must come to an end . . . " come the words over
It's time to land the bird. With only a little advice to "line-up",
I set the
bird down. A little firm perhaps, BUT -
" I " DID IT !!!!!!!!
Touched down, cut the engines, flared, dragged in some steering line,
few feet & stopped.
I had made my first SOLO flight !!! INCREDIBLE !!!!!
To you lurkers & PPC pilot-wanna-be's out there - I tell you
true, IT'S EASY &
IT'S FUN !!!!!!!!!!
My advice to anybody that even THINKS they'd like to try this PPC stuff
FOR IT !!!! Believe me, if " I " can
do it, ANYBODY can !!!!!!!
Many thanks to Phil & Stu Deitro from Inland Paraflight. I'd
recommend them to
anybody, they're top notch.
Hope I didn't bore you folks, but I had to tell SOMEBODY !!!!
If anybody would care to reach me for an off-list correspondence: