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 2/98.  Man
 - 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, asking all
manner of questions - I'm sure that Mr. Moder (I hope I got that right) was
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 on this
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 flight.  I
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 Parascender  - 

I'm getting to the good part - honest !
After ALL these failed attempts, I thought that the Power-That-Be just DIDN'T
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 for
everything ! ). 
1st impression - dedicated to the sport, knows his planes, loves to fly.
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' out of
!!!).  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
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.  It was
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 Stu
1st impression - knows his stuff, really wants to get more people into the sky,
 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 Moley, whata'
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 they
brought), strapped in behind the pilot (the GE II has some pretty good room for
 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 the
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 ROLL

Power up, start to roll, check the mirror, chute jumps up & stable; power up,
power up, full power !
It seems I'm off the ground in a flash.


I won't try to explain the feeling - I don't think I could put it into words. 
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 DO IT
The THRILL of a lifetime; a DREAM come true.

Stu talked me through the whole flight.  I did the laps, practiced the field
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 machine laying
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 time. 
Added a little throttle to slow my descent, headed right for Stu & the bright
orange paddles. - Oops, cruised well over his head, we'll call that one a
missed approach.  
"Let's try it again," Stu calmly says on the headset. 
I remember a quote from the list - "Take-offs are optional, landings are

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 the radio. 
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, coasted a
 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 - GO
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 !!!!

Patrick Zaczyk

If anybody would care to reach me for an off-list correspondence: