When I kited the PP 250 it came up clean and stable so I built a wall and set-up for launch. The take off was normal, but as soon as I was in the air, I realized that it was going to be bumpy. Almost immediately the wing was swung hard to the left and I was in a huge pocket of lift. I climbed out over the neighborhood and found the air was now moving from the southwest… 180 degrees away from where it was on the surface. When I got over the field east of the LZ the air smoothed out but the winds were still strong. I continued around and was soon back into the bumps over launch area. This time I turned to the left and found myself in some incredible sink. I was at full power and descending at over 100 feet / minute. South of the horse ranch I hit the lift and was climbing 300ft/min at idle. Now I was too high to set up a landing without hard maneuvers, so I decided to turn east and make a slow descending circle but the wind picked up and I found myself parked just south of the LZ. At this point there must have been a hard wind shift because the wing folded on the left side. It was at least a 1/3 collapse but it popped right out and I was still pointing toward my selected landing spot. My decent was vertical and fast, I flared at the last second and touched down. It wasn’t a hard landing but the wing pulled back and to the left, rolling me to the side and dragging the trike a few feet, which bent the foot peg that was damaged at Bubba’s last year. On the ground I looked over the trike and found no other damage. Dawn saw the collapse but did not see the landing or roll over because I was out of sight on the other side of the Rush Building. …. That was a good thing.
Looking back … Perhaps this could have been avoided … A test balloon might have shown the twitchy air. I knew there was high wind aloft by the blown out edges on the clouds and… I should have been alerted when I saw the dramatic wind shifts. BUT … It looked so good…. the next time I’m faced with similar weather signals I will try to be more patient and if the wind is shifting wait to see if it is a pattern.
It was a short hairy ride … the good thing was … I didn’t freak out and kept flying the aircraft until I was able to get down without real damage to man or machine.