Foggy day with Low Cloud Base
This was a weird one, I woke before the alarm which I fully intended to switch off and ignore. When I went downstairs and opened the garage door I was surprised to see that we were completely socked in. The cloud base was very low. It hadn’t rained and the grass was barely damp. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go but I loaded up and drove down to the gas station for coffee and a sip of gas for the buggy. 30 minutes later I was at Simms driving in circles tying to find the place where the weeds were low enough to launch.
There were banks of fog in the area south of Red Rocks. I was wishing there was another pilot with me but the air seemed so still I had to go up and see what it was like. The launch was normal and for the first 30 minutes it was glass off. I went to 700 feet and started to lose site of the surface so I stayed there and kept a good eye on the ground. A couple of times the base lifted and them came back down…or maybe it was me but I was seeing the Denver skyline come in and out of the fog. The last 10 minutes the air started getting bumpy so I landed. As soon as I was down, I regretted it, There was a slight West breeze and with the thick overcast, I’m betting I could have flown past 10. But…It didn’t feel right flying in soup without back-up so i packed up and headed over to Chatfield. I spotted a couple of balloons through the fog and drove over to the port to see if I knew anyone. A couple of them had landed out so I drove over and assisted them in getting deflated.
Later I stopped at the old Titan LZ and was surprised to see that it had not been visited and seem to be dormant. I think the Rush Soccer Club has postponed the development which means that we will probably be able to fly out of the old field without anyone complaining. I’m going to go for it, even if it’s only once.
This year at the Salton Sea Fly-in I traded in my beautiful little FB Simonini Trike Buggy Classic for a hybrid CT Thumper Briggs & Stratton 4 Stroke on a Trike Buggy Deluxe. I’ve done some bone headed things before but this one is the worst.
I should have known this wasn’t going to work that first day on the Salton Sea. On the maiden flight I parablended my favorite cap right there in front of everybody. The 4 stroke was so quiet I didn’t think to put on my helmet and ear protection. Imagine….A machine so quiet you don’t notice your not wearing ear protection… until your cap goes through the prop. That’s a dangerous machine! Yea, I did go to idle the other day to use the cell phone… but so what?
Every day I find another flaw in this crappy machine. I used to love driving out to Centennial Airport for AV Gas. They let me drive onto the tarmac with the GA guys so I could fill my two 5 gallon gas jugs. I’d drive to the back of the line and wait my turn. Sometimes it took awhile to fill those big birds and when I got done reading the latest issue of Ultraflight I’d get allot of good thinking done sitting in the truck. Now, I don’t even need the jugs, I just stop at the gas station on the way to the field and fill the buggy right there in the truck. Where is the romance in that? And that reminds me of another thing. What am I going to do with those cases of TTS in my garage?
And speaking of the garage….my “Man Cave”… I haven’t had a good night working on the machine in months. Yeah sure, I can re-rig the footsteering or mount a strobe but mostly I just sit there and gaze at the machine. No changing tension springs on the exhaust or rebuilding the carb. Heck, I’m having a hard time finding a place that needs a little safety wire. It just isn’t the same I come in after 3 hours in the garage and I don’t even need to wash my hands. It just sucks!
And the flying is different too. Gone is that element of uncertainty, I sit down, buckle the seat belt and turn the key. There is no sense of accomplishment in that. No fooling with the carb or pulling on the starter till I’m bathed in sweat. The other day I flew 15 miles from the LZ and didn’t think once about what a drag it would be if I had to land out. Sure, I still keep an eye out for emergency landing sites but it’s really just an exercise anymore. I can still remember the thrill of an engine out, what a rush!
So take my advice, if you love the lifestyle, don’t by a 4 stroke.
Pilot Down ! ?
I launched into light Westerly breeze just as the sun was coming up. The lift was amazing, 150 to 250 ft/min climb everywhere I went. I was thinking I shouldn’t have ordered the Power Fins, but no…if they can give me a 25% increase in thrust, it’s going to be well worth it. Conditions like this morning are few and far between.
About 20 minutes into the flight I noticed a pick-up truck pulling up next to mine and since I didn’t see a motor I assumed that it was an observer. I stayed around to keep an eye on the guy and eventually he started laying out a wing so I came in to say hi. It turned out to be Greg who had flown with the gang a few times before moving to Arizona. I remember that we had hooked-up at the Flying Circus and stood under a tent in the rain and chatted for quiet awhile. Anyway Greg has moved back to Colorado and saw my post about flying this morning, so he came out to join me. We talked for a bit and watch the wind go nil and then switch from the West to East by North East. I had already set up the wing and buggy, heading into the west, I figured that it was less than a knot and I would be able to do a down wind launch… but it didn’t work this time. The wing came up crooked and I never was able to get it pressurized enough to get control. Since it was pretty close to my time limit I started to pack-up and before leaving I helped Greg get into the air. He did a couple of laps and took of to the North West. Twenty minutes later, no Greg…thirty minutes later, no Greg. I waited a while longer and drove Morrison Road trying to spot him. When that didn’t work I stopped at the Bear Creek Park entrance and asked it they had a paraglider down in the park. No Joy… By now I was certain that Greg had gone down and was walking out through hip deep weeds. After leaving the park I continued around in a big circle and returned to the field, I saw his truck, but no Greg.
Tracy had come out and was getting ready to fly his RC Copter and while we chatted I caught a glimpse of Greg flying low in the depression to the South West. Now that I knew he had not been forced down I felt free to leave and did so.
…But that is not the end of the story. I spoke with Greg later in the day and after we saw him he circumnavigated Bear Creek and worked his was East of the Prison. Somewhere by the prison Greg’s motor died ( maybe he ran out of gas because he had been up for well over two hours by then ) and he was forced down in Federal Property. He was greeted by some agents and escorted off the property. In situations where the field is bumpy or overgrown with weeds, I lay out my
loading ramps to give me a few feet of smooth surface to build some inertia.
The low pressure is gone and we are enjoying a couple of days of “High Pressure System” Bliss. At 6:00am the wind was too high to fly but it came down nicely while I set up. Simms has dried out and there are patches where the grass/weeds are low enough to launch the trike.
The launch was allot like last night, I got up to speed and used a little brake to get me out of the weeds. Of course, when I do this I’m going to float at 5 feet for awhile before I start climbing. This time was no different except that I felt an obvious pull to the left. When I looked up there was a fairly large tumble weed caught in the lines, up high, near the left tip. I have no idea where it came from. I’d policed the area and relocated several large twigs during set up but somehow it found it’s way into my flight. I couldn’t tell for sure but it looked like it was distorting the lines and possibly drawing a few together. I noticed a slight pucker in the airfoil and that was enough to convince me to abort the flight.
The air was moderately bumpy, but I still took two laps before landing. The landings are getting better. I just have to really muscle the brake during the final flare.