#360 Chatfield

This morning I woke at 4:30
but couldn’t drag my butt out of bed.
Maybe not a first but certainly unusual. I tried to blame it on the weather but no matter how windblown the clouds looked it was calm at the surface and judging from the dirty air over Denver the inversion probably covered the first 1500 feet AGL.
I made up for it with a nice one this afternoon. There were lots of clouds mid day that built and diminished by 5:00pm. I was concerned about the virga dropping all over the place but once again I didn’t notice any “puffs” and figured that the virga was too high to be affecting the surface.
After watching and pacing for 45 minutes at the house I said to myself ….What the heck go to the field and if you don’t fly …it won’t be the first time. I arrived at 6:00pm, the winds were very light from the SW. The air was warm. It turned to the WNW while I set up and dropped to 1 knot or less.

My take off must have looked pretty bad but I was grinning from ear to ear. It fell to the left and overshot…started to frontal…fell to the right…came back up and when I finally felt good about it…I added some throttle and did a proper run-out. The new Throttle set-up is much better. The Brake toggle is held in the 3rd and 4th finger leaving my index finger and pinkie to work the throttle. I’m sure the control issues will go away as I get used to the low hangpoint.
As bad as it looked I never felt as if it were not recoverable. GO THUMPER!
The air was good 2 or 3 on the bump scale. I didn’t travel too far and mostly carved smaller and smaller turns over the patch. One thing that has been bothering me is the left beaner is one inch longer than the right. I was able to equalize them later and I’m glad I was able to take the time to examine it while in flight. The loops in the new footsteering got in the way but I’m not ready to change it until I’ve flown it some more.
When I started to notice the bumps were getting bigger I turned back to the truck and landed. It was a nice landing, I came in from the North and managed to stay just above the surface for 200 feet even though the grade was ascending. When I set down it was where I wanted to be, maybe a bit close because I almost took out the windsock with the wing. As I was packing up the breeze dropped 10 degrees and picked up. It felt good…It was a no muss …no fuss flight…just a nice taste of the sky before the cold front blows in. Tomorrow it’s forecast to be 23knots at 3:00pm. Think I’ll go sailing.

#359 Snowflake Breezy Day

After 5 days of cold and rain the forecast was for warm sunny skies and wind…I was luke warm about the conditions but it appeared that Sat. morning was going to be the only flyable time until Monday so I got everything together and as usual awoke before the alarm.

When I got out to the field, it was blowing 10 mph, just a tad more than I wanted to tackle. Mike Bennett showed up and shortly I was happily surprised to see Paul Dillon from Pagosa Springs. The wind abated to 8mph and with Mike and Paul holding the nose down I took off. I’m not going to be shy to ask for a spotter in the future because it was great to have those guys. I was able to stabilize the wing and start the run-out almost instantly and to have the buggy locked down like it was on tracks is a real treat.

(catching air under the wing)
Once I was clear of the rotor being thrown off of the Farm buildings, I started a climb into some beautiful laminar breeze. It’s been so long since I’ve flown in smooth wind that I forgot how it feels. The Eden was dancing but not so that it caused the buggy to rock. I let the trimmers out halfway and think it will work just fine with a little more practice. The trick is going to be getting them to run out equally. There is still some friction and the position of the cam buckles is to far aft making it awkward to operate. I think I found the fix a different way to grab the cam so that I have control helping it to ride up the riser. I’ve also taped the pull side of the webbing so that it will be easer to adjust the tension on the foot steering.

I flew for 50 minutes and basically explored the area. The air was warmer at altitude and I’m sure there was an inversion because I noticed a bumpy wind gradient when I came in for landing. Lotsafun, chased some antelope and checked out the gun club which is in full swing getting ready for hunting season.
I could have flown longer but work was calling. I waved to mike as I drove away

2008 Gathering Recap From UltraFlight Magazine

The terrain was a labyrinth of massive buttes and delicate spires towering a thousand feet above the desert floor.

The first “Gathering at Monument Valley” was held last September at Gouldings Lodge and Trading Post near the border of Utah and Arizona, altitude 5500 ft. ASL. It’s a long way to go, the accommodations are limited to R.V’s and tent camping, and, it’s only flyable during the first and last hours of daylight. Not exactly the elements that draw a big crowd but despite that, turnout was excellent. In the group of 30 were several of the sport’s most recognizable pilots including filmmakers, instructors and other assorted characters, hailing from as far away as New York and San Diego.
Gouldings Lodge proved to be an excellent site, with all the necessities, including restaurant, grocery, and a well appointed campground with an indoor swimming pool.
During the non-flyable hours Gouldings provided jeep tours into Monument Park which allowed the pilots an opportunity to explore the park from the ground and to plan their next flight. It is also the trailhead for several fabulous hikes to hidden box canyons and spectacular vistas.Unlike most fly-in’s where you can roll out of bed and climb right into your paramotor, the LZ was three fourths of a mile below the campground. We used Goulding’s 3500 foot airstrip and for the most part it worked out nicely. Some of the pilots left trailers at the airstrip others drove down and were ready to go. The runway apron was sufficient to launch in any direction and the trike pilots really enjoyed the luxury of the long gently sloping runway. This airstrip also services tourist flights to the Monument Park and nearby Lake Powell, conveniently they didn’t begin until 9:30am after most of us had landed and were gone before the evening flights began.Friday evening we discovered that Flying Monument Valley has its own unique set of challenges. The airstrip at Gouldings is sheltered by 900 foot buttes on the south and west side. That evening the wind was light and from the west so the majority launched toward the western butte and then turned east, staying low to avoid any turbulence from the top. It was a picture book flight, as the breeze dropped to zero I flew south and watched as a couple of pilots made low level passes over the southern butte. Later after sharing a “potluck BBQ” we sat around the campfire we were entertained with their experience of going from 20 ft. AGL to 920 ft. AGL in the blink of an eye.

Everyone agreed that while the terrain was rugged there were plenty of places to make an emergency landing, provided you had some altitude. There are jeep trails and tourist roads throughout the park. It’s very likely, that if you were forced down, it would be a short walk to where you could be picked up by one of the tourist rides. However while this is true for the morning flight, anybody finding themselves down in the park at sunset, had better be equipped with a cell phone and gps or else be prepared to spend the night. The most rugged terrain were the areas near the base of the monoliths which were marked by steep slopes covered with scree and deep arroyos. Unfortunately, for many these were also the most attractive places to fly. The consensus was that unless the conditions were perfect, it was best to stay high or at the very least, keep to the weather side of the rocks and bear in mind that the weather side of this monolith is also the lee side of that big rock up wind !
Saturday morning provided the best flying and most of us were at the field by 6:30am. The winds were light on the surface and 8 to10 aloft. Heading northeast, I flew toward Eagle Rock and circled around it to Brigham’s Tomb and Bear and Rabbit Summit. Flying level with the top of the buttes I started to feel the bumps from mile away so I climbed 300 feet to smoother air. I had wanted to get a trophy picture of my shadow against the face of one of the buttes but decided to make do with shots from above rather than risk the turbulence below. The ride home was smooth and fast and checking my tank I wished I’d stayed in the park longer. When I got back I stayed high and enjoyed the view, it reminded me of a dozen of butterflies playing in a rock garden.The most satisfying aspect of the event was watching the veterans return from a flight. Pilots with hundreds of flights would land after a long cross country. I’d watch them gather up their wing and swagger back to the staging area. Only, instead an “Ah Shucks Ma’am” look on their face was more like the look of a beginning pilot after their first flight, grinning from ear to ear, totally amazed at what they had just experienced.

Tachometers and Rain

Summer ended and the next day it seemed like winter. For the last three or four days the highs have been in the 40s with 7 inches of snow in Evergreen. I hope this isn’t an indicator of a cold fall and even colder winter.

I’ve been having trouble with the SenDec Max Tack ever since I remounted it on the forward tube next to my GPS. It would read half or two thirds of what I knew the motor to be turning. After trying three different gauges of wire and getting bad advise from the manufacturer, I stopped at the local hardware store where a good ol boy listened to my problem. He suggested that I use a heaver gauge of wire and try to avoid running it anywhere near a ground source. Bingo! It’s reading true and the heaver gauge of wire is mounting in the receiver on the tach more snugly.

The last thing is get the thrust up. Chad is bringing a set of 62 inch IVO’s and a set of GSC’s for me to try at the Monument Valley Gathering.

#358 Chatfield Marek breaks a Prop

This was an interesting flight. I didn’t plan on flying tonight but I glad I did. The air was smooth and the breeze was light. Marek and I flew south over the open fields. We are both a little wary of the massive group of high Power lines and got plenty high to cross the 5 sets of parallel wires. It was similar to this morning with Greg. I stayed high and shadowed the pilot down low. Both Marek and Greg are pleasure to watch Greg with great wing control.

I moved the hang point rings to a horizontal position attempting to lesson the friction on the trim tab. No Joy…the problem is in the webbing that acts as a back-up in case the ring brakes loose from the bullet bar. I’ve replaced the heavy webbing with a slightly lighter and longer one which will hang loose over the risers and hopefully I’ll be able to use the trim tabs. If I end up hanging from the reserve or the H.P. ring brakes, the hangpoint will spread about two inches but I don’t think it will adversely affect how the buggy hangs or the how wing flys. The next flight will tell allot.

The wing came up crooked again but, like yesterday, it stabilized quickly. I think I’m not lining up square with the wind. I did notice that when I went from idle to full power the front wheel would dip about 6 inches and return to about 3 inches below the starting position. I expect that it will be even more pronounced when I am able to use the trimmers. I’ll move the H.P. Rings forward 3/8ths and see if It helps with the wheelbarrow effect.

The incident of the evening came as we were returning to the field. Marek’s hero camera came off it’s mount on top of the cage and went through the prop. He landed without issues in the LZ but was a long walk from the car. I knew something was wrong so I landed by the truck and walked out to meet him. We wandered around the field finding parts of the prop and eventually found the camera. Up on top is probably a good position for the camera but the vibration was working the mounting bolts loose…some lock tight would help if it does not have to be changed after every flight. I hope Marek got video all the way back to earth but I’m betting it stopped when it got whacked by the prop.

#356 Simms with Marek

I love three flight days!

I set-up on the far North end in a patch of shallow weeds. There was a nice down hill grade and even if I had to Taxi into some tall stuff, I figured that I would be moving fast enough to plow right through. Marek got off first and I was right behind him. We both went north past the dam and I chased him west into the sun.

When I was at the West end of the lake I cut the corner and approached Marek from behind getting several good shots and i caught and passed him. Then we headed over to the High Schoola and Marek played low while I played high. I did a tight spiral dive and flew through my wake. WOW! The Thumper has a much bigger footprint than the Simonini had. Marek flew through it as well and he claims that the WACK bounced him 3 inches above his seat.