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Paul
Air-Bike Photo Page
BEING AFRAID
The Air-Bike has no doors
Flying an airplane is said to be inherently
dangerous, therefore I stay within my
Air-Bike's performance envelope and
never violate the laws of physics nor test
Mother Nature's benevolence.  Both are
very unforgiving; gravity never loses (the
best you can hope for is a draw), and
Mother Nature doesn't like surprises.

Occasionally an air show visitor will ask
me where are the doors to my Air-Bike.  
This question was once posed by a
white-haired lady in her early 80's who
obviously was quite concerned about
seeing so much "openess" in the fuselage.  
She noticed that I never quite got "inside"
of the plane.  She felt I would be safer if
the plane had doors.
After explaining that doors would make the
plane wider thus increasing drag, heavier
therefore reducing performance and they
would need to be openable for ventilation,
she agreed that they probably were
unnecessary.

Then, pondering my absolute exposure to
the elements while flying, she expressed
additional concern for my safety.  Explaining
that safety is paramount and that I always
want to have the number of landings equal
the number of takeoffs.  Also, a four-point
seat belt/shoulder harness keeps me
securely fastened to the plane.  Finally, I
wear a helmet.

Noting that she still wasn't satisfied, I
pointed out the little blue "suitcase" attached
to the aft cockpit area and proudly
announced that it was a parachute.  The
immediate inquiry was "how do you put it on
when you're buckled in?  Now I had an
opportunity to describe the Ballistic
Recovery System parachute.

Because pilots like me fly at low altitudes it
would be unlikely to exit the plane and have
a personal parachute open before splatting
on the ground like so much bird do-do.  
Therefore the parachute is attached to the
plane, not the pilot.  Opening the 'chute
brings both the pilot and plane together
down safely,  Some injury and damage may
ocurr but that is a fair trade-off for the bird
do-do alternative.
Still not satisfied with my precariously perching
on that little seat the lady asked what I do when
seeing something that scares me.  Like any
red-blooded, virile hairy-chested man in a scary
situation, I told
her that I tightly grasp the seat cushion with
both hands and close my eyes.  When asked if
that helps, I answer: frequently, but not always.  
"Well, what then?" is the next question to which
I responded that I scream a lot and that makes
things seem better.  Needless to say, in this
open cockpit plane I get plenty of practice
screaming.  She looked at me with an
incredulously blank stare and seemed to say
"you are just plain (plane) nuts aren't you?"

At that the white-haired lady turned and walked
away shaking her head while mumbling to
herself something about the reason God did not
give man wings.
Ballistic Recovery Systems parachute
attached to aft cockpit area.
The above and similar conversations with air show visitors is one of the reasons
it is so much fun to put my plane on display.  You meet the most interesting foks
at an air show.  I hope to meet you at one soon, stop by and introduce yourself.