9/16/2014 - 8:10 am - 20 min flight (?)
WEATHER: Wind Calm. Occasional barely noticeable breath from the SE.
The motor... running on my back... feels so incredibly real. It feels... and sounds... exactly like being in a Cessna. But I'm not in a Cessna. That propeller is behind me. That is so scary. I'm being pushed, not pulled... by the throttle. I AM the airplane. I AM the control surface while I'm standing here.
This feeling is so foreign. So frightening. What does this throttle do to me when I run? It pushes. Will it shove me? What will happen?
Brought wing up ok. It drifted right, so I moved that way. Too much brake used to dampen the surge, so wing lost some energy, and so I had to run harder to keep wing up.
Ran harder, and I knew I was too bent over. When I straightened up, my balance was too much rear. I throttled up, lost my footing, and felt some lift in the wing. I didn't know what to do, ... so I stopped running. I fell back on my butt. The cage hit the ground. I gunned the throttle just enough to pop back up. Caught my footing, and kept running. Checked wing. Left, Right. Wing looked square, so added throttle smoothly to 80%. kept running, and the ground went away. I was now heading left, and concerned about trees that way. I looked down at the trees, and realized I was flying....
(and, I never did go higher than 80% throttle)
I later learned that my roll-out was over 200-yards of running.
Difficulty getting my legs up. I just couldn't do it. Eric told me to lift my legs, and I just ended up wagging them "no". Eric had me stow the right brake take my right hand down, and push down on the seat. Hard to find it: the place to put my hands for the seat board. My muscles would not respond to lifting my knees. well.
Eric had me turn to 270. After a while, I got into my seat.
OH MY GOD. SO MUCH BETTER. I let out a feeling of exasperated exhaustion and complete relaxation. This is so comfortable, I could fall asleep
I became filled with a feeling I've felt before: I'm extremely happy: happy to be flying. But this was WAY different. It was tempered, and also accelerated... with a feeling of danger, respect, and exhilaration... of being so vulnerable... so dangling... so reliant upon being strapped in correctly. Never before. Maybe never again. This shit is so real, I don't know if I can do this. Well... I have to do this. I'm flying.
Finally, I broke my silence. I let out a blood curdling scream of WOOOOOOOOOOH!!! Until my lungs had not even a wisp of air left. Abdominal convulsions followed immediately... of Joy, and Fear... and Love... and Faith (in physics, in God, in my equipment, and in Eric). A rush of life so powerful that these words, nor a film, nor an audio recording could ever capture a 1/10th of the emotion or energy or feeling. It's simply not possible to share such a feeling. The most exhilaration I've ever felt, bar none. Tears streamed... backwards towards my ears....
Everything below looks like a model. Some kind of incredible simulation. People are pinpoints. I see Eric and James, and Randy on the ground... but I couldn't possibly recognize them. They're so small below me. I can see so much. So many houses. So many farms. So many lakes. So many pastures. So much land.
I keep looking up at my wing. It's so foreign to me to have a wing way up there. It should be right here, next to me. But it's way up there. I'm controlling it.... remotely. I'm just an accessory to that wing up there. And this motor... is just an accessory to me and the wing.
Eric said take another deep breath, and enjoy the flight. Yeah... that sounds good. And I'm definitely doing that. Huge smile on my face. Eyes WIDE open, like a 6-year-old in a Disney ride.. looking at straps, and the earth, and the horizon, and my brake toggles. And the throttle. Scan for air traffic: left to right, Are these straps ok? Is my seat ok? Don't touch the risers. Are the lines looking ok? Wing shape? Whoa that was a bump. Track the airport I took off from. Look for other landing zones. Look for wind signals. There's a smokestack. I see the wind direction. And now... there's nothing else .... everything is... just............. quiet. Eyes are still WIDE open, and.. I'm just looking. Watching. Marveling. Loving the world below me. Loving the sky that I'm in. Loving the clouds. The clouds seem to say, "Welcome. We're glad you finally made it up here. We've been waiting for you. I've been waiting ... for so... long.
Eric had me turn 90 right to 360, and then again to 090. He was bringing me back east to the end of the runway. I liked that.
I overflew the airport at ~800-1000ft. Eric had me look to my right. OH MY GOD... There's Mark! He had taken off before me... Last time I saw him, he was far away but now, he's slightly above and behind me. He started kicking his legs in a fun way... like a kid on a swing. I kicked mine back... There's someone else up here. I'm not alone... We're having fun, and it's so beautiful. I couldn't believe the feeling of incredible happiness. I let go, and believed it. I'm flying lead in a formation. So _____ amazing. In that moment, the bar for my life... for love, for happiness, and for people around me... was reset. Everyone I know... lives down there. That's all they know. They're on that flat world, thinking that's all there is. They're going to be fine. I'm going to be fine. I'm so alive.
Eric talked me in from the North. I noticed there was a quartering crosswind from the SE. He had me extend downwind & base because I was high. Had me reduce throttle, then turn right base. Kill the engine here. Ok. It's dead.
Turn right final. ok. Make it steeper. ok. Roll out smoothly. Doh, that wasn't smooth. I'm swinging like a pendulum slightly. Weird sensation. Wondering if I should do something about that. Eric said look at him. Ok. small pressures. Ok. I'm over the lake
Come out of the seat. Ok. I'm dangling again.
I'm set up ok, I've got a good glideslope, I'm totally just trusting Eric's voice.
I get down to 50 feet, the world starts looking like I'm back in it.
8 feet, he has me begin to flare. I pull, pull more. and I'm on the ground. I had to run pretty good. My legs were so weak. My wing surged over top. I fell to my knees, on purpose. and it was over. I let out a huge scream of elation. Eric came and got down and hugged me. Sheer happiness. I cried a little. So great.
I got out of my gear, and all the guys said I set a school record with my 200-yard launch (with recovery in there too.) For days, Eric, James, and Randy commented on what a launch it was... having the presence of mind and continued ability to spring back up and continue controlling the wing down the field.
Scott Olipra, Pilot
451 S Airport Rd
Lake Wales, FL 33859