#452 PM White Pelicans

I’m getting closer

Friday afternoon.  The air was great!  I did a long slow pass around the marina and went to the east end to take photos of the White pelicans.  I was able to get closer but I’m afraid that I’ll have to wait for next year to get the trophy shot

Both take off and landing were perfect.  It helps to have such a smooth and broad surface to work with.  I’m not in such a hurry to get off.  Roll a ways before punching it…

The hanger is starting to take shape

#450 & #451 and a half

This was my 451st launch.  It looks bad but I just knew I could save it.  Probably should have aborted but I backed off the throttle two times till i got it sorted out.  Mike and I flew till the chill and sun forced us down. 
 The wing loading was too slow…. I’ve also had problems when the loading is too fast… if it begins to oscillate
There was a group of pronghorns I just couldn’t help following across the highway. 
Ground handling. 
Ground handling with a frame like the Falcon is much different than the trike buggy, Both work fine but it takes some different techniques.
Falcon vs. Trike Buggy 4 stroke
  Trike Buggy…Built to take a pounding (stiff frame) for kiting over rough terrain 
Falcon ……Built with suspension has wider wheelbase and springer rear axle …
could be described as loose goose… it dances over the surface but at close to take off speed can get bouncy.  I do not recall the buggy coming up with a twist to the left or right.  Could it be that I’m being lifted on the outbound leg of an oscillation and because one wheel is on the ground a split second longer… it causes the trike to twist in that direction.  ???
The only suspension in the buggy was the slightly bigger tires.
It’s a puzzlement …I’ll have to work on

#449 Snowflake

Today was supposed to be the day that Dan Kamisar resumed flight so the bunch of us agreed to meet at Snowflake by the crack of 9am. 

I had planned to get up extra early and fly Titan then head out to Snowflake but common sense prevailed and I found myself setting up at Snowflake well before dawn.  I only had the aft strobe working but I figured that I would be able to see any oncoming traffic.  I set-up in the dark and launched as soon as there was enough light to make an emergency landing The wind was very light out of the WSW almost in line with the SW runway but not exactly.  The first attempt was aborted when the wing fell off to the right because I tried to steer it onto the runway a little too soon. I re-set without all the micro alignments and launched.  I had to use some brake to get up because there wasn’t allot of nice runway to work with and I think the brake input I was using to steer the wing helped.

Climbing to 600 feet the the air started to get rowdy, (about a 3 on the bump scale) and the winds were 15 mph pulsing to 20.  Even so…it was a good flight… I tolerated the mixing air and practiced modulating the motor.  It comes up slow but smoothly and I’m beginning to get comfortable flying low again.  It’s interesting that I was moving back and forth between the upper and lower toggles, I didn’t notice any back pain and the wing absolutely feels better with the top toggle or when the trimmers are out…the bottom.  An hour after launch the gang started to arrive and when I landed everybody except Dan was setting up.  Apparently he was still having some issues with his new rig and opted out.  I landed a little after 8am, the winds had picked up but were still manageable. 

John Sieb, Paul Dillon and Mike flew while I watched with the new trike pilot Doug Michell.  He is taking it slowly and planned to taxi rather than fly this morning.  John went high and away while Mike stayed low and did the yank and bank boogie.

netting eater

Paul Dillon landed out when his netting got caught in the prop.  It stripped the netting off clean with no damage to the cage but it did wind up in the hub and kill the engine.  The best thing about Snowflake is the whole area is an emergency LZ… Paul landed without incident.

Paul Dillon

The winds continued to build, pulsing to 12 mph so we stood around and chatted. till a little after 11am.
Dan …Sorry you couldn’t make it but it might have been for the best.  I’m sure you want your first flight after the incident to be a cakewalk.

#447 & #448 Titan

Got up early and launched at sunrise minus 20.  Nice 40 minute flight.  I practiced power on landing a few times with increasing power each time.  Finally getting this machine dialed in.

Back at the field at 4:45.  Good launch.  The highlight was a huge flock of white pelicans all hanging out at the east end of the Lake.  The air was mostly good with some mixing air toward the end.

Marek Flew over from Simms.  We flew around for a bit and landed at Titan.  While we were packing up Steve Abby came by to chat.   Beautiful night.

#446 Snowflake

7 to 8 mph    Good launch.  I hooked the safety bungee into the D ring of the brake handle instead of the handle itself.  Much better… Next flight take out one wrap so there is less brake presure. 

No issues but I did fool with the seatbelt in flight.  Having the brakes secured is a little like using the foot steering system.it’s very comfortable to go “hands free”.

#445 Titan

Waited 45 minutes for the wind to settle down and launched into 4mph breeze.  When the surface is smooth these conditions are great, the wing comes up fast and straight and the trike is rolling as soon as the wing is out of the prop wash.  When the surface is rough it’s a different story, the wing comes up and the trike is slow to start rolling.  If I cannot get it moving quickly the wing could come down on top of me or start to fall off to one side.  In light breeze and a rough surface I try to hold the trike for a couple of seconds while the prop is wrapping up to let it develop sufficient thrust to get rolling.  In the past I have kept the throttle mashed and accelerated too fast …sometimes before I got the wing stable.  Lately I’ve been  better at letting off the throttle as soon as I’m rolling …let the wing get stable… then punch it.

The flight was good …launch and landing.  I stayed close to the field because it was getting dark and above 800 feet I couldn’t penetrate.

#444 Titan with Angelica

Angelica and I met up at 5:00pm and went to Titan.  Beautiful take-off.  I took Terry’s advice and layed out the wing with the lines taunt.  Long run out and launched with no brakes.  The bungee for the brake extension came unhooked….use a different fastener.  Flew to the corn maze and back.  Greased the landing.

Angelica is on the tailgate

Corn Maze

 We topped off the night by going to JackAss 3D. 

Trike has mid air with balloon

I will let the experts analyze this incident.  I was disapointed and revolted by the bashing from all quarters of the paraflying community.  I will say this…. I knew the pilot and flew with him and his son at the “Gathering”.  He was a healthy and mature pilot with a good conservative attitude toward flying.  While at first blush it is easy to assume the accident was the cause of careless or reckless flying, I prefer to believe that it was “just one of those things that could have happened to any one of us.  Of course mistakes were made but flying with other craft in the air adds risk.  If the pilot had more hours it might not have happened but all of us have been in situations that could have ….. should have bit us in the ass.

Thank God no one was killed

More later

The Gathering at Monument Valley 2010

Brief Account of the 3rd Annual Gathering …

Official site for “The Gathering” here    http://flyingtheholygrail.blogspot.com/

3:00pm Ollie and I leave for the event.  I forgot to pick-up the flight jacket.  We stop at Steve Katers and spent an hour catching up. Steve has been a great friend through thick and thin, we left with fresh vegetables, bike parts and a big smile.
Stopped in Grand Junction had “brenner” at the IHOP and bought a cheap jacket at Wall Mart.  Spent the night at the Travel Lodge.

Drove to Moab and toured Arches.  Pulled into Gouldings about 3:00pm.  Olivia held her own playing Texas Hold Em with Sky King, Sean and some other serious players.

Good flight in the AM. (#440).

At the beginning there was a small problem when one pilot flew too close to the resort at the Navajo Tribal Park.  We had not had a formal briefing and unfortunately he wasn’t aware of the sensitivities of the Navajo about flying around their facilities and habitations.  A good time was had by all when he ascended from the valley floor below up to the Scenic Overlook, the resort guests waved happily and took photographs.  However what appeared to be a good opportunity to showcase our sport turned out to be exactly the opposite.   The Navajo Police promptly visited our landing strip and forbid us from entering the Navajo Tribal Park for the duration of the event.   Since there were still thousands of acres of beautiful country and more monuments than we could fly in a month, we chose not to argue the legalities of who controls the airspace and politely agreed to stay out of the park.   The Gathering continued and everyone was able to get as much airtime as they wanted.  Future pilots should be able to fly the whole area unencumbered provided that they keep 1500 above the desert floor.  It would be  prudent  to fly at least that high anyway to have enough glide to find a safe landing and pick-up if needed.   The moral of the story was … If you find yourself at a Fly-In a day or two early, be sure to READ THE RULES and know the particulars of the area before launching. 

Sat.  Blew the first attempt and noticed the axle rods were cracked.  Spent the morning replacing the rods.
Ollie and I went for a a very short bike ride,  I wanted to take her west behind Goldings Butte but we had to turn back when my Myata Cyclocross bike couldn’t handle the soft sands on one inch knobbys. 

We did see a good sized  tarantula that we watched walk across the road..  After a good downhill to the LZ we watched the Navajo High School Homecoming Parade.  It was sweet … Beautiful children riding all kinds of contraptions throwing candy to the crowd.

At 4:30 we met at the LZ and Olivia went for her first flight with Randy on his beautiful orange PPC.  I wanted to fly with them but by the time I set up they were coming in to land.  My flight was a  short one, the winds were starting to get twitchy and I didn’t see any need to fight it since Olivia was already down. (#441) 

That evening we were treated to some spectacular flying by Dell and some others.  One of the Paradrenalin guys flew well past dark.  Very spooky, there was no moon and the only way to discern the rocks was … there is black and blacker.  I watched him ridge soar on the southern butte and wondered what it must have been like.  The lights rigged to his motor were impressive and I was thinking that he might have had a way to slant them down to use for landing lights but didn’t hang around to see how he managed to land.  Later that year I saw the amazing Nirvana Show at the Salton Sea.  LEDs imbedded into the carbon prop with a graphics program running … very cool.

The banquet at Gouldings was well attended.  The new assistant manager created some problems and asked us to remove the alchol that we had permission to bring in. Barb was off so i had to make peace with the local officer.  Paul Anthem got up and told us of their trials getting to the event and I said a few words.  The night was topped off when  Ryan asked Olivia to pick the raffel winner of a new Paradrenalin Paramotor.  It was good to see new and old friends sharing a meal. 

Sunday Nice flight in the morning. (#442) The Trim cam jammed in the hang point loop but I was able to free it with a few hard smacks.  Dell, Russ and Sean put on a great show.  Olivia packed her stuff and I took a shower with a scorpion… poor guy couldn’t take the hot water.  On the road by noon.  Went home through Pagosa Springs and Salida.  Beautiful drive.  Home by 10pm