Rush things and Pay the Piper

I met Marek at Simms at 7:30. There was a cop at the gate who told me “no motorized vehicles allowed”. He was cool about it though and overlooked the motor on the machine I agreed to park outside and push the machine into the field. There was no wind at all, so I set up right at the entrance and was going to use the road to launch. we were both in a rush to get airborne and I really didn’t spend enough time scoping out the site or laying out the wing. I didn’t build a wall with the motor and the surface was filled with fist sized rocks and mud nobs to grab the lines.

The wing came up crooked probably because a line got caught and instead of aborting like I should have, I tried to save it. The left tip caught a piece of steel fence post that was hidden in a patch of weeds and tore the wing pretty badly. The tip is torn and some panels are going to have to be replaced. I’ll give the wing to Michelle at Bubba’s and let her determine if it is worth repairing. I won’t be surprised if she declares it dead because between Monte and I there are probably 350 to 400 hours on the wing. Maybe it’s a good thing…it was time.

If I’d looked the area over better I would have seen the post and maybe set up differently. Doesn’t matter… the wing is out for several weeks.

1. If I had used the motor to build a wall … I think the lines would have been above the surface and I’d have had a good inflation.
2. I could have laid out the wing better
3. Don’t rush it !

#420 Simms

Simms… Good Flight… Tough Launch … I’m going to have to find a place that is smoother or cut some weeds! The reserve got snagged pulling one pin and opening the front half of the container. I spotted it right after launch and closed the velcro but it was not a good thing! Chip and I rethreaded it later that evening and I was happy to see that the chute will not need to be repacked but I will need to spend some time picking the weed and seeds out of the velcro.

I flew for an hour at Red Rocks Amphitheater and was headed back to the field. Even though it was 70 degrees on the ground I was getting chilled from flying in the shadows. And so…I’m hightailing east chasing the sun and there right in front of me was Chip who had just taken off. Well this was fun… we danced in the sky for the first time in a long while. I’m reminded of the time we were West of Chatfield and confronted by a News chopper. I turned tail and ran for cleaner air while Chip charged right at the chopper kind of like young Saint Bernard. Our flying styles haven’t changed, tonight I was content to float above and take pictures while he put on a beautiful show above the lake. Lots of freeflight in that boy… nice smooth diving turns and hard banking spirals.

The sun set… I was cold and Mr. Lutke’s CT Marvel was running on fumes. Time to go home! The landing was nice, there was just enough breeze to slow way down and when I touched , I could hardly feel it. Seriously nice… Chip stayed up till the approaching darkness forced him down. Typical free flight guy, he boated around the field for 5 minutes before setting up to land.

You meet the best people 500 feet above the earth!

Fathers Day Weekend Sun Simms #419

I took the machine with me to the lake and woke up an hour before the alarm. I had a hard time getting out of bed because it was cold in the boat but I dragged myself out of my nice warm berth and got to the field early.
The take-off was terrible. The field has been posted no trespassing and so I was forced to use a small section by the High School. The surface is rutted and the mud has dried leaving lots of little nubs that love to grab and hold the lines. In the field the weeds are thigh high and the ground is bumpy as hell.
This place is the opposite if Vance Brand, the run outs are bouncy slow challenges. The trike is trying to power through the weeds and the wing is bouncing above the trike. I can only imagine the lousy air flow over the wing. Invariably I get airborn too soon at too low an air speed. It is more like lurching into the air. Looking back, I should have aborted but once up, the air was smooth as butter. There was a fresh breeze from the West making it turbulent over by Red Rocks so I spent 90 minutes playing over the golf courses and Bear Creek Park. Not much activity this early… just me and the coyotes

I did go east to Wadsworth and circle the big lake there. On the way home just to remind myself that things could be worse I flew to the prison. There were some people walking around the quad and I thanked god I wasn’t one of them. I climbed to 8700 feet ASL and did a hard spiral over the prison. The Power Play Sting isn’t a aerobatic wing but with enough pressure I was able to achieve the steepest dive ever. I dropped 3000 feet in short order and pulled out over the prison at 300 feet.

It’s good to be alive
Back at Chips house I layed out the Eden III and did a serious inspection, the damage was much worse than I thought. Seven lines need to be replaced and there is a 1/4 puncture by the left wingtip. While I was doing that Chip fixed a wonderful breakfast and debated whether to fly, run or bike. Terrible dilemma… but the conditions were perfect and the sky won. I sat on the deck and sipped coffee while he hiked up and got in three flight over the next several hours. My thoughts kept drifting back to my girls, I wondered what they were doing and if they were thinking of their “Ol Man”.

How cool to be able to land in your own back yard !

Chip’s last flight of the day with a pal

Final approach

Fathers Day Weekend Sat. 417 – 418

Beautiful Country !

Marek does a foot drag on the swoop pond

I knew this was going to be a very sad weekend so I scheduled myself to be as busy as I could. Friday night I slept over at Chip’s. I went to bed early and got up to go to Vance Brand airport by 0600. Once again the plan was to meet up with Robert and Marek at 0700. Last time they stood me up but I doubted they would do it again. It was a beautiful morning, as I drove by Boulder there were balloons lifting off… a good sign that the weather would be favorable.
At the field … Marek, Robert, Mike Bennett, Greg and Gary were admiring Kurt Hill’s prototype PPG Trike that Robert had dubbed the “Wheelchair”. It has two small counter rotating props and is configured as a tail dragging trike with a rudder. The seat is trick, it is an aluminum bucket that wraps around the torso and goes all the way up to provide full back neck and head support. It lays way back in the same position as a low hook in free flight harness. It will be great for watching the wing but it might strain the neck while watching the road during take off. He didn’t fly because he is having trouble steering while on the ground. Seems the trike looses control and starts to spin out when it comes up to speed. It has a rudder but it is more of an air baffle for the props than a steering vane. I’m no expert but it just seems to me that the small back wheel is just too squirrley and prone to over steer. But… it looks cool and who knows maybe one day he will work the bugs out and fly it.
Vance Brand is farmland flying. It’s pretty but there are no elevation changes and the landmarks are all major x-county flights. I wasn’t in the mood to get to far away from the patch so instead I worked on take off and landing and got in (4) 30 minutes flights. The best thing about this site is the nicely groomed field. It’s as good as launching off of a golf course. There was just barely a hint of breeze and for the heck of it I did one launch and landing with the trimmers full out. It’s a great feeling to keep off the brakes and see how fast you can go and still keep the wheels on the ground. When the machine does rotate I add power and watch her climb. Terry… I neglected to charge the batter on my GPS so I cannot document the climb rate but it was stunning! Landing with the trimmers out on a smooth field is also great fun. Hands up… till the very last second and then…with a nice smooth steady flare you can float at one or two feet for a long way while the energy is bled off, swapping speed for lift.
Sometime during my last flight, Dan K. suffered a motor out just after take-off. He got up to about 15 feet and was starting a hard banking turn when the motor died. With almost no time to flare he came down in a butt landing right into a small berm. Had it been a flat surface it probably would have damages the frame and we would all have had a good laugh but the berm was bad luck. Robert Kittila. and Mike Bennett loaded him into a truck and off to the ER. At the hospital Dan learned that he had two compression fractures, surgery was not required but he will be wearing a back brace for the next couple of months. I later learned that the day before he had a motor out at 200 feet. The problem was a loose spark plug which he replace with an old plug at the bottom of somebodies tool bag. The replacement plug was even worse.
After stopping at the piano store for a couple of hours I hit the sooper market and bought the fixings for the CSYC Raft-Up I was hungry and decided on Italian sausage and thanks to Stefania … chocolate crepes. The Raft-Up was nice all the usual suspects brought way too much food. I got a good chance to check out Dana’s boat which is much better suited to go to Blue Water than my Hunter. I think it is an Island Packet if not it is very similar. He has done a great job getting it ready for adventure, it has a generator and except for some more instrumentation it looks ready to go.

Larry Bob & Roy … Swapping stories

Good Food … Good Company

Greg provided entertainment by flying low and slow all along the shore.

I have to give him credit, 2 hours in the morning and another two that evening.
It’s the passion!

Roy Burley came out with me… planning to make it an early night but after the last boat peeled away we found ourselves below deck on the Hunter swapping stories and getting to know Dana and his companion. Good folk. Next week Roy will be racing in San Fransisco … Good Luck

#415 & #416 Simms

Wind was 4 to 5 oscillating on 45 degrees from the SW. First launch was easy and clean but the air was very bumpy. I landed after a few minutes. The second attempt was witnessed by Marek who said the leading edge tucked at the center and never did open to inflate. The wing fell off to the left and I aborted.

I built a wall with the motor and launched without problem. The air was still very mixed but I was able to get above it and flew at 700 feet mostly over the patch. Much higher winds at altitude and still oscillating so after 20 minutes I landed clean.

On approach I saw a sheriff pulling up the the entrance, he waited by the gate while I was packing the wing. I took my time and for some reason he left just as I was ready to leave. Simms is still ours to fly!

#415 And I forgot my camera !

It had been cloudy and threatening to rain all day but at 6 pm the skies started to clear and the conditions mellowed. While I was watching, Marek called and we both agreed that it was probably going to be flyable. Marek could not go but it looked good and was certainly better than sitting around feeling sorry for myself so I jumped in the MR-2 and raced over to Chips house. In record time I was at Simms and launched quickly without incident.

As predicted … it was glass. I flew straight toward Red Rocks and as I came over the hogback I could see that there was a concert tonight. I flew the perimeter of the Amphitheater about 800 feet above the crowd being careful not to overfly the congestion.

Damn I forgot the camera! BUT from all the flashbulbs going off I knew that there were hundreds of photos being taken so the flight was documented (if not by me). From the west I could look right over the seating into the stage where they were doing light and sound checks. Perhaps 2/3’s of the seats were filled with lots more coming.

After a couple of circuits around the park I headed east, as I was halfway to the hogback I noticed a strange craft to the south. At first I thought it was a balloon but within 10 seconds I could tell it was moving toward me and no balloon. It was coming straight at me and at about 3000 yards I decided to wag my wings and turn back to the Amphitheater. I did a small wingover and just as I began to turn west it must have seen me because it made a hard turn to the east and descended rapidly to 500 feet below me. When it turned and I could see the profile, I was surprised to see that it was Chinook cargo copter. I’m glad he saw me when he did … I’m sure they throw a monster propwash… not something I ever want to experience.

The return was uneventful, I descended to 300 feet after crossing I-70 and overflew Soda Lake and the campgrounds which were mostly empty. The landing was easy, the wind had picked up and I was able to land on the dirt road and taxi right to the truck. Good Fight! Almost Epic but no pictures 😦