Despite the drama of damaging the rig I got a good nights sleep and was at the field by 6:45. Ivan came to the rescue, with three other pilots, he put his auto body skills to work and was able to straighten the frame beautifully. It’s round and stiff and unless you know where to look… invisible. THANKS IVAN!
The morning was a blow-out, gusty and switching winds. We stood around and some of us kited. A couple of guys even went up for very…very short flights but it wasn’t good air and since there were going to be lots of opportunities over the next few days I didn’t sweat it. About 10:00am I met with Jerry and a few other guys for breakfast at Gouldings. Other than flying, the topic of the day was the foul weather that our families were experiencing only 8 hours away. Denver had just broken a 100 year low temp record. Black ice had put the city in gridlock …but at the gathering… we were enjoying 72 degrees and beautiful skies.
The afternoon was spent with housekeeping, showers and a nap. At 4:30 we headed down to the field and waited for the winds to come down. It was coming from the Northwest and I set-up downhill, across the runway expecting to lift off at the helicopter pads. I missed it, but Ivan was setting up to the left with the same plan and we started our launch together. I saw him …he saw me…we aborted together and it was just dumb luck that kept his wing out of my prop. We apologised to each other and started over. Of course Beery got the whole thing on video
The Eden III felt good but the climb was miserable. Once I was aloft I planned to stay up awhile and enjoy myself. It felt good to be back at Monument Valley, it’s taken on the feel of “home field” I had flown here in similar conditions several times. The wind was moderate from the west which meant it was going to be twitchy at the south end of the runway, possibly rotor more likely sink. It flows through the cut from the campground and has to be churned up when it comes out of the channel. It’s best to go down the runway at least 100 yards below the hanger. I cruised the open country between the LZ and the highway, enjoyed a few mild wingovers and took in the scenery. Other pilots were laying out their wings and I knew it was going to be a good weekend. The air was a little too rowdy to be getting close to the rock faces but it was fine for playing at 350 ft out in the open. When the air went from level 2, to level 4 bumpy, I turned back to the airstrip and practiced low level approaches from the far north end of the runway. It’s a little more tricky with the thumper because the motor is slow to power up. I touched the runway several times before finding the right combination of power and brakes and finally managed to float several hundred yards before setting down to taxi the wing back to the truck. It was a trick, to keep the speed high enough to control the wing, but not so loaded that a puff of wind would lift me. It is easy to get complacent and let the wing wander because the buggy is so stable, but when the wing is off center and a puff hits… you get light on one side in a hurry!
That night a bunch of us had dinner at Gouldings restaurant. The salad / soup Bar was a big hit and when they ran out of minestrone they replaced it with chili …big mistake… Ivan and Uri probably had 5 bowls apiece. Later, Ivan, Uri, Chad and I watched Sycro-Acro Freeflight videos with Bob Peloquin’s in his RV.