Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stationary Winch for Paragliders and Hang Gliders

The winch will be installed on the trailer after some retrofitting.

Inspired by the success of Rolf Dunder in the utilization of his 300 hp stationary winch to launch his sailplanes at Rancho Caridad, I commissioned the same individual who created Rolf's winch, Jonathan Tayamora, to create a much more modest stationary winch to launch paragliders and hang gliders at Rancho Caridad. This one has the classic 16 hp Briggs and Stratton cast iron engine as its prime mover and a torque converter to provide the necessary fluidity to launch paragliders and hang gliders into the air. It also has several features for the safety and convenience of the users (i.e., paragliders, hang gliders and the winch operator) including:
  1. an idle mode (versus the engaged mode)
  2. operator-friendly accelerator handle/swing
  3. brakes with dual controls (by the right hand and/or the right foot)
  4. a tension gauge (to measure the "pull" of the cable)
  5. a guillotine (to cut the cable in case of an emergency)
We are modifying the trailer of my microlight aircraft to accommodate the winch, which we will henceforth be able to transport easily around the airfield.

This undertaking has taken about three (3) years from its inception--starting from my first email to Jonathan (March 9, 2011) bouncing-off my initial choice of prime mover up to the delivery of the winch to Nampicuan on February 13, 2014. It is by no means complete as I am still having the spool aligned and balanced to minimize the wiggle on the winch. I am also having the rope manufacturer run a continuous two (2) kilometer rope for our particular application. Bottom line, it's a homegrown piece of equipment with all of its parts readily available in the Philippines, so we can repair it easily and make it over and over again if we have to . . . cost-effectively.

Then, there's the parachute for the rope, the tow release bridles for paragliders and hang gliders, and the paragliders and hang gliders themselves. This is where the expensive imported stuff comes into the picture.

There's plenty of testing ahead before we launch individuals outside our immediate circle of enthusiasts but it's going to be lots of fun . . . hopefully with minimal or no injuries along the way.


Jonathan is fabricating the casing of the return pulley.

After calling several shops that allegedly could undertake dynamic balancing, I finally found Rurex in Malabon, which specializes in balancing turbochargers of large marine diesel engines like the ones Enron operated and maintained at Batangas and Subic. The proprietors, who were young, enthusiastic and hard-working Filipino-Chinese entrepreneurs, knew all the managers at the plants. In a few days, my spool was balanced for a reasonable service fee.

I ordered my cable from Manila Cordage Company. The longest continuous length they could produce is 1,500 meters, so that's what I am getting. As soon as this is available, we'll be ready to do some test winching of paragliders in Rancho Caridad.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Farewell Old Tree

If you look closely, you will see a man at the base of the large left branch of the tree.

A brief film clip--Farewell Old Tree

In this age of overpopulation and cavalier exploitation of natural resources, I am keenly aware of the few precious centennial trees we have left at Rancho Caridad. One such tree had expired probably about two years ago. I am not sure exactly when, as I seem to recall her bearing fruits as recently as two years ago. Then, the inevitable. She didn't flower. She shed her leaves and her branches withered to death.

I would have left her alone for her statuesque beauty. However, the certainty of her rotting core, typhoons and her proximity to the house forces me to cut her down. I reflect on the many thousands she has delighted with her sweet mangoes, the birds she has sheltered, the children who have climbed her branches, the snakes and lizards that have burrowed under her roots and the fresh air she has produced for all to breath.

To honor her life and death, we partition her carefully to ensure we use all the wood she has left behind as best as we can. Solid tabletops from her trunk, cooking fuel from her branches, vermiculture fodder from her saw dust--not an ounce wasted and a fitting farewell to a grand old tree.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Casabangan Bay Dives in February 2014

Casabangan Bay Dives, Feb 2014, Part 1

Casabangan Bay Dives, Feb 2014, Part 2

A compilation of a few film clips of my recent dives at Casabangan Bay, Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro. On February 6, 2014, the Barangays of Don Pedro and Cabalwa conducted a public consultation on the establishment of a 200+ hectare "no take" marine protected area or MPA fronting my father's private forest reserve. At long last, the political will to do the right thing appears to be gaining momentum and the MPA (by way of a municipal ordinance) may become a reality in a few months.