by Mike Sandlin ................................ Last edit:  February 18 , 2018

February 17 , 2018.....As the motor warms up, I snap a quick photo of the ferocious nose art on the front of my pull starter. Someday I might re-paint the brown air inlet bulb, maybe red with a label "nitrous oxide boost" to see who believes it. My paramotor system is still just a hopped up lawnmower engine with a displacement equal to about half a soda pop can, trading high thrust for low reliability.

The question was asked if I was using a lot of turnbuckles, but I don't use them, you can see here I am using multi-lacing for cable tensioning.

Flying around as usual, good vision all around and well ventilated, with my pant legs in my socks. I don't think I would like flying in the open behind a propeller.

I sometimes wonder if seeing everything makes flying more intimidating, as opposed to looking out a few windows. That would be a blow against the easy flying experience I am trying to create.

The two white cords in the nose frame are the pitch trim bungee, going out to a pulley and back. This long trim cord is working very well and is enjoyable to fly with, a good hands off system.

The small bicycle tire forward has no inflation pressure and does not turn freely, it's still just a skid, a low maintenance ground brake (the only ground brake). The nose down stops seem a little awkward, but it's good to do them about half the time to stay in practice for when you might need a brake, or for landing in a strong wind. Rough landings tend to become nose down landings because the nose is already being held low during the ground roll anyway.

I had to land into a setting sun, poor visibility, which allowed a good approach and line up on the field but made it hard to judge height, so my touch down timing was off. The field was rough, so I had do a little extra maneuvering to get good stability for takeoff during my practice go around. I'm going back to the runway, anyway, since open field operation seems to result with my tires full of thorns.

February 4 , 2018....I'm starting to use Draftsight 2D, free download computer assisted design software. With this I hope to eventually post the Bloop 4 drawings in an Autocad file format (dwg. format) which will be of high quality, wide useablilty, and in a file format that will be sustained, supported, and used as a native format by readily available software. To learn to use this new system is a challenge, and it has its own bugs that I must learn to work around, but I will make a sustained effort to get something done with it.


January 18 , 2018...Floyd Fronius and I have been flying around in the Bloop, at right he is on route to an adventure spot somewhere ahead (seen in the glasses?). We were landing in a significant cross wind and bumping around on the runway just after touch down in the normal manner. These slightly sideways landings remind me of having an excited dog on a leash pulling me around.


Today's mission was a flight to the border to see the prototype wall designs. Here are the eight sections in a row, with the existing steel wall running along the border behind them.

In the photo you can see the strut mounted mirror I use to determine how much gas I have left in the translucent fuel tank behind me, although at the angle seen by the camera in this shot the mirror is not showing anything useful.

November 1, 2017...Here are some friends out to fly the Bloop, one is demonstrating his own way of getting into the seat.
I installed stepping stirrups on the plane but then removed them because they were hard on me, I got strained and sore using them.
I went back to just climbing in.

October 29, 2017....Test flights with the new triangular horizontal stabilizer have shown its flight characteristics to be spectacularly normal. The pitch trim might be better with a little adjustment, but this is no big event.

The triangular stabilizer has a slightly larger area than the former rectangular panel.
The elevator and tail struts are the same as before.

The pulley block has been moved back about six inches to keep the elevator control line well clear of the propeller.

An added benefit is that the pulleys are now out from under the wing and in plain sight, where all of the control mechanisms should be for the most effective pre-flight inspections.

Back at the tie down, the high visibility color scheme is Halloween

October 18, 2017....I forgot the camera yesterday, so I'll put in this recent shot of me flying around with one spark plug and the rectangular horizontal stabilizer, soon to be triangular if it works.

I flew four touch and go landings and one full stop, all a little high but on the narrow runway (!) so I didn't pick up many thorns.

At one point I did a full back snatch on the throttle, a quick move from cruise engine speed down to idle, something I seldom do since quick throttle moves may cause a marginally running engine to quit (I did this because I wanted to make a radio call without too much background noise). Usually I would push the nose down to maintain airspeed, but this time I was staying off the stick to see the plane's trim response. The response was a sedate but large change of pitch, from nose up to nose low, at the lowest of flying speeds. I just sat there and observed, wallowing at low speed until the trim caught up with the power change and stabilized the nose angle. On ordinary ultralights with bigger engines this would probably have been even more dramatic.


Here's a video of a VJ-24 demonstration flight, low and slow, turning back and flying sideways, nothing spectacular, just the things that can be done at a low wing loading. A Bloop or Zigolo would probably look very similar to this. The ailerons and rudder look very decoupled, I suspect this is an example of a rigorous three axis airplane that requires a high degree of coordinated flying skill.

Link to video of motorized Volmer VJ-24 doing low turns and slow flight, 2016

The Bloop 4 motorfloater flying video:
Bloop 4 Slow Flying #2

August 24, 2017....The Bloop is under power but not moving! I am tethered by a long line (about 60 feet) to a ground anchor while operating the engine and flight controls. The forces of balance and alignment are supplied by the propeller wake on the tail surfaces and the tether line pulling on the tail.

Here in the Bloop 4 I am performing a simulated ground roll and flight without actually moving. This is a training and orientation idea, so the pilot can operate all the controls and have them respond while not actually having to steer the plane.
With a little ear protection an instructor could be standing right next to the pilot, providing guidance.

Tethered operation is not the same as ground rolling or flight, the throttle setting has too much influence on pitch angle, but sustained operation is fairly easy and all the controls are doing what they should do. A more elaborate harness that tethers the plane at the same level as the engine might  produce more realistic results. Drills on a tether might be a good starting point for a transitioning pilot who wants to know what a motorfloater feels like, although once again the ground operation is more difficult than actually flying.

This method will work best for a two axis plane like this one. If there were ailerons they wouldn't be doing anything.

For clarity I used some photo enhancement to make the tether line more visible.

July 8 , 2017....Some bird in distress has perched on my cables and splattered my wing, but that's not what this photo is really about. Rather than fly with an altimeter, I use the local peaks as altitude indicators in order to stay out of restricted airspace. I am about level with the peak in the picture, and jet liner territory doesn't start until about a thousand feet above that, so I'm good.

I'm about two thousand feet above my take off, at mid point in a cross country flight. I thought I was following a trio of paramotors and might catch up to them, but they went somewhere else. In a jacket and hiking shorts I was a little warm most of the time, but lower down, near the field, the air was much cooler and refreshing.

Here I am flying at a more or less normal pitch attitude (close to having the nose level), in a slight left turn.

The paved runway can be seen running visually from my knee to my chin. I  usually land there in the lower right to upper left direction when I use the pavement, but normally I'm on the dirt strip, the edge between the light and dark fields leading up to my nose. I have to approach that strip over the scrubby hill to the right, which is actually pretty steep. My major
goal there is to come down close to the hill and use as much of the runway as I can. Without a headwind, about a third of my runway is unusable because of the need to maintain clearance from the hillside. This is why I say if I was to add more controls, it wouldn't be ailerons, it would be airbrakes, to allow steeper approaches.

Floyd flew out to a local mountain top, looking south toward Mexico at the bottom of the canyon. The outskirts of Tijuana can be seen off to the right, this is not a clean air day down there.

I haven't been in this area, I want some place to land when the engine quits. You could land uphill in the brush, but it would probably wipe off the landing gear.

Floyd prepares for data gathering as the engine warms up (notice the spinning propeller, my paramotor power pack does not have the increasingly popular automatic clutch that would disconnect the prop at low engine speeds).
Not much warm up was needed, I had made an earlier flight into the back country to check out the new Indian reservation casino (no activity, parking lots are still dirt).

It's wonderful to be able to take action shots with people in them instead of the usual static machinery photos I have to use for my news page.

I took some takeoff shots with Floyd leaving the vicinity, walked away, turned back, and he was still there, still leaving. This is a really slow airplane!

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