Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Perigine Falcon is an amazing bird. It has a very natural ability to master the energy trade-offs that are necessary for amazing speeds that have been clocked at over 200 mph. I have taken it upon myself to take up birdwatching as I continue to study hang gliding. The birds are the ultimate mentors of all ultralight pilots.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

19 Days

And in time, I will be this good. :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dan Buchanan is a trike stunt pilot. In the above video, he is seen flying at night, performing several acrobatic manuvers while releasing a brilliant display of fireworks. To make matters even more impressive, Mr. Buchanan cannot walk, and uses a wheelchair.

Who was James S. Adams

After the Wright Brothers invented the airplane, a frenzy of adventurers, hobbyists, engineers and inventors began to concentrate their heads together on ways to improve the speed, longevity and altitude of aircraft.

Here, we have arrived at a patent filed by a man named James Sloan Adams. Other than the fact that Mr. Adams was a Black man, not much else seems to be known about him. I have also been unable to find information on any particular aircraft that Mr. Adams' propulsion system may have been used for.

The patent was filed in 1918 and approved in 1920. This could mean a variety of things. World War I reached it's end in 1918. The airplane had just seen its first applications in warfare as fighters, bombers and scouts. Dogfighting had created the need for faster and more manuverable planes. Bombers needed to be able to fly high, carry heavy loads, and fly for a long distance. It was also around this time that commercial aviation was born. There are many possibilities for which this propulsion system could have been used.

I am going to continue to look and see what turns up. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

23 Days

This video sums up everything...

Man, I can't wait. :)

Ultralight Airships?

So a couple of years ago, this man duplicated the attempt to fly with a bunch of helium balloons that was done by a man some years earlier...

... now, this isn't exactly the safest thing to do. This is mainly because the fact that even the most professionally manufactured hot air balloons can only control their vertical position. Hot air balloons must have a ground crew to follow them and literatly go wherever the wind blows.

"Lawn Chair Larry's" attempt to do this almost ended in the loss of his life, and made national headlines. He went into airspace occupied by commercial aircraft

But the success of Kent Couch proves that there is hope for this type of ultralight airmanship, if better designs are put into place. There are several ideas that come to mind:

Video courtesy of Journeyman Pictures

  1. Make this a structly indoor activity: There is a french inventor that made an indoor 1-person airship that allows a person to fly around like a bird. What if "indoor flight parks" could be made for people that want to make personal airships?
  2. What if Electric Duct Fan (EDF) motors could be made to help control the steering of personal airships of this type that fly outdoors?

Hang gliding once started out as this super psychotic thing that only the most hardcore thrillseekers did, and many of them got killed in the early days. But as time went by, the technology improved and organizations such as the USHPA began to develop a body of knowledge for pilots to enter the sport safely, and now hang gliding deaths are extremely rare.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

27 Days

I've had the opportunity to talk with several experienced pilots on the forum, and asked about plyometric exercises to prepare for my training. The consensus among them was to stick with basic walking exercises, and to try not to overprepare. One interesting point was that human habit normally causes a person to slow down when running down a hill so that a person will not loose balance and fall over, while this is a bad habit in hang gliding.

I am going to stick with my regular workout routine.

Meanwhile, I am reading Dennis Pagen's Hang Gliding Training Mannual and observing the many different hang gliding videos on youtube. I make it a point to observe videos of good flights, as well as videos of crashes and bad landings.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

29 days: The workout routine begins.

Different websites describe the level of physical activity in hang gliding in different ways. My general idea is that hang gliding is much easier when you are in good shape. You must be able to lift a glider, run at a good speed (when foot launching), and move your body by using the armbars to shift your weight while airborne. Endurance, arm strength, and leg strength seem to be essential.

I have always been physically active. I walk a lot, and I have always been capable of moderate to extensive workouts. But this month, I have been stepping it up a notch in preparation for the first week of April.

In the book Hang Gliding Techniques, Dennis Pagen explains that a lot of pilots have to land their gliders after having grown weary from shifting their weight after long flights. I have responded to this by beginning a pull-up routine. On any given day, I can do at least 30-40 pull-ups or chin-ups with without having had a meal or even a good nights sleep. By month's end, I want to raise this number to 60-80 (albeit, I want to avoid loosing sleep and missing meals as much as possible). I love pushups and think that they certainly wouldn't hurt, but I want to focus on pullups, as this exercise involves me pulling my own weight from a bar. as a hang glider pilot would do.

Running is also important. I don't have an airplane so I won't be doing much aerotowing, unless I am at a flight park like Lookout Mountain, Kitty Hawk or Wallaby Ranch, and even truck towing and scooter towing would take a considerable amount of investment that I'm not ready to make yet. So I'll need to be able to foot launch with ease. I can sprint pretty quicky already, and I also have a reasonable amount of endurance. But I'll be seeking to increase my running speed, as well as the ability to run at full speed while carrying the weight of a glider. An instructor at Lookout Mountain Flight Park advised me to practice running down a hill while looking straight ahead at a target, and I will be doing this as well.

I'll also practice jumping exercises that will challenge my foot-eye coordination to prepare for my foot landing skills. Today, I will be purchasing some jump rope and a soccer ball, as well as cheap materials that could be used to put together an obstacle course. I already have exercise cones and they will be put to use.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kid Controlling Air Traffic at JFK

So today my lady tags me in a note today on Facebook, putting me on to a news article where a guy brought his kid to JFK airport and allowed his son to direct the air traffic. I found this video on youtube that plays the recording...

Now, I have mixed feelings about this event. Overall, I think it was dangerous and unprofessional of the air traffic controller to bring in a child to direct planes filled with hundreds of passengers at one of the world's busiest airports. A plethora of things could have gone wrong within a matter of seconds that could have costed many people to die. Air Traffic Control is no small matter. It requires knowledge of meteorology, mathematics, management, telecommunications, and an understanding of the principles of flight.

My father brought me to work many times during his tenure with the Atlanta Police Department. I got a chance to meet Eldren Bell (who is now the Commissioner of Clayton County), Thetus Knox (who went on to become the Chief of Police of the City of Riverdale). But never did I respond to a call with my father. Bringing me along taught me a lot about the police profession and about how police departments work.

I am not against the fact that this guy brought his kid to work... only that he allowed his kid to control airplanes with passengers. There are ATC simulators that can simulate the duties of being an Air Traffic Controller, where a person can learn by wrecking virtual planes, instead of real ones, and only virtual lives are lost when someone makes a mistake.

Now... what if this was a very small airport with very little traffic? Perhaps a gliderport? It would be really cool if the FAA could set up internships or summer camps where high school kids could get a taste of being an air dispatcher, after having gone through weeks of training. That would be really good for the FAA's development of future air traffic controllers.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Springtime Approaches...

As of today, I am officially one month away from seeking my Hang II certification and foot launch rating. During the week of April 3rd, I will go off for a week of training. Sometime after this week, I will then look into procuring a hang glider that I can use to continue to fly and accumulate flying time. I believe that Hang III by October is a realistic goal.

I love hang gliders, but I certainly do not want to stop there. There are other aircraft that I want to move into. Immediately following my Hang Gliding studies and practice will be a transition from hang gliders to foot-launchable ultralight gliders that move with rudders, ailerons and elevators. And this video has made me wonder about the possibility of lighter-than-air flight.