Gorilla Blog - Florida Flight Sports

Time Flies!

My Path To Instructor
How I got here

For years I've had a love of aviation. I was fortunate that my father was a flight instructor and owned an airplane. Because of this I was able to obtain my private pilot's license and had an airplane at my disposal to use whenever I wanted. We spent a lot of time flying around the state eating $100 hamburgers. If you don't know, they call it that because by the time you gassed up the airplane flew somewhere and ate lunch it was about $100. Nowadays is probably more like the $300 hamburger due to cost of fuel, airplane maintenance, hanger, landing fees, etc.

A yearning to fly

N3614L was a beautiful 1965 Cessna 172. Eventually we sold the airplane due to the increasing cost of storage and maintenance. We just were'nt using it enough to justify the cost. I didn't realize what I had until it was gone. There was an incredible freedom being able to hop in "Bluebird" and fly across the state anytime we wanted.

Filling the void

FPV (First Person View) filled the void for a few years. These remote control aircraft had on board live video cameras that would transmit the image back to the ground. This gave me the sensation that I was in the plane. We had long range platforms that could fly 20 miles away from the launch at great altitudes. This was pre mainstream drone time. Now this type of activity is illegal so I have ceased flying FPV.

A New Door Opens
Where to start?

Like so many others I had seen Tucker's flight to McDonald's and I was intrigued. What really got me was seeing the guys from Flite Test go through training at Aviator paramotor. At that point I knew I had to do this and my journey began.

After spending countless hours on YouTube I decided to train with a local guy. I was always taught if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all so we will just leave it at that

The Love of Flight

My journey begins

Could've been better

Okay, I'm not in the business of bad mouthing people but this needs to be shared. I just met another guy that went through the same thing here.

I somehow survived my training. My buddy that started with me however did not. While he did survive he was injured during short dangerous tows on his 3rd day. He was not able to return or finish his training.

The training field and equipment was in my opinion inadequate and unsafe. I decided to continue on my own at this point. I have since talked to numerous students who had the same or similar experiences.

My 1st Paramotor
Decisions decisions...

After training I worked really hard to make all the money I could. I was an HVAC technition at the time. I scoured the internet looking at all of the available brands. I live reasonably close to Aviator Paramotor in Lake Wales Florida. Those guys have always treated me great so I put a deposit down on an Air conception Tornado 280. This was a pre-order because it was a new model. I started to get a little bit antsy and tired of waiting so I asked and they graciously refunded my deposit. I ended up purchasing a Power2fly RS from Kyle Matula in Texas.

Fly Baby Fly!!!

After training was when the true learning started. I spent the next few years flying and making Youtube videos. We built a thriving community in Central Florida. We adventured all around the countryside our merry band of Sky Pirates. We traveled all around the South visiting different airports and fly in events. I hadn't really given much thought to becoming an instructor at this point. I recieved a lot of messages and calls about flying and my equipment. I found I really enjoyed sharing with others.

YouTube Changed My Life
Opening doors daily

I started making videos of my progression as soon as I got my wing and started training. I really enjoy sharing the experience and it's a creative outlet for me as well. Through these videos I have met some awesome folks within the community. I've made contacts and connections that allowed me to progress quickly. For the first 4 years I immersed myself in the paramotor world. Always training, practicing, and learning new skills. I never really had any intention of becoming an instructor, I just had a thirst for knowledge and knew I loved this form of flight and everything that goes with it. I was flying every chance I had and building skills. During this time I got to train with and apprentice under some of the best in the industry.

Why I Fly A Trike
Danmed Foot Launchers

When I signed up for paramotor training I had the desire to learn foot launch. My instructor tried to push me towards wheeled launch. Later I found out he did not have equipment for my size to foot launch. After several days of abuse I still did'nt have kiting skills and agreed to trike launch. Once I got away from his outdated equipment and purchased my first Power2fly trike I was in love with wheels. Why would I risk a botched launch or landing and risk damaging myself or my expensive equipment? I have some back and knee issues and it only made sense. I soon found that I could do anything that my foot launch freinds could. I was able to launch and land in the same feilds and share all of the adventures.

Goal Accomplished
A little help from my friends

I was very happy flying my wheel launch paramotors. However, I always wondered what it would be like to foot launch a paramotor. I was very fortunate to continue my training under Mike Cotter of FlyMiPpg and Travis Burns of One Up Adventures. These guys worked to refine my kiting and foot launch skills. After that I purchased a Skymax paramotor with a Vittorazzi Moster 185 engine. While I am able to foot launch, most of the time I'd rather ride my trike. The Skymax with Retracta Trike lets me have all of the benifits of flying a foot launch motor. Once the wheel is back I enjoy full weight shift and flying in a paramotor harness.

Training Apprentice
Working with OneUp Adventures

Soon the people I idolized on Youtube were my friends and fellow pilots. I had the opportunity to work as an apprentice and shadow Travis Burns and Kyle Mooney as they taught a new pilot. It was Josh Bixler from Flite Test's Son! I learned a lot that week.

Sharing The Love

Soon I found myself lending a hand with friends and other training pilots. I really enjoyed training others to fly foot launch and trikes. I was spending all my spare time in the evenings and weekends training. I had to turn guys away because my work schedule wouldn't allow it. One week I declined 3 students who wanted to pay for training. I did the math and realized at this rate I could make enough to pay my bills. I was horribly burnt out as a 30 year HVAC Tech so I pulled the trigger and went full time!