A hazy morning at Vance Brand.
I arrived at 6:00am and it was still too dark to launch. The air was still and moist and there wasn’t a soul moving at the airport. I took my time setting up and took a minute to get familiar with the Go Pro. There were a bunch of geese at the swoop pond and when the took off flapping and honking I took it as clearance to launch.
This was my 5th morning at Vance brand this week and I was feeling good. Not a blown launch in the last several dozen flights and the Generac was running good.
Yesterday there weren’t any balloons but I was hoping they would be flying so I could take some video and I wasn’t disappointed. I could see one flying low over the Gunbarrel neighborhood and 3 others inflating at the balloon port. I made a beeline for the flyer who was beginning to ascend. When I was 1000 yards out he was 300 feet above me I powered up and started to circle around him. He must of seen me because he slowed his accent and allowed me to come level with him. We waved and circled for awhile and I turned back to the LZ.
Heading back to the field there were several aircraft up. A Bonanza heading South flew over and a ultralight circled about 100 yards off my wing. The NEK Airborne were dropping 60 skydivers at a time with 3 planes. I loitered to the South of the field until the sky divers were down and landed by the truck.
I hadn’t planned to launch again but the ultra lite was doing touch and goes on the dirt strip along the South fence and the air was still good. So I set up and launched. This time I was getting allot of lift and was climbing at 350 ft./min. Climbing to 2000ft AGL I shut down the motor and enjoyed the quiet for 10 minutes. At 500 feet I restarted and landed clean.
While I was packing up a fellow came over and introduced himself. Craig Frank is a PPC and Light sport pilot. He was waiting for the ultralight to land so that he could try it out. There were several PPC guys who were planning to fly later and he invited me to go along with him on his Six Shooter. When the little single seat Quicksliver landed Craig introduced me to Barney. Barney has just just rebuilt the Quicksilver and was planning to fly it to the Fly In in Fort Lupton the next day. He briefed Craig who then climbed in and headed over to the main runway. I chatted with Barney for a bit and watched the skydivers who were finishing their 3 jump of the morning.
After an hour and no sign of Craig I decided to go over to the other side of the airport to see if I could find my ride. It didn’t take long to spot them. They had the quicksliver on dollys and were wheeling it into Barney’s hanger. I took a minute to figure out what was wrong with the picture but eventually I got it. The wheels were missing and the landing struts were bent. Craig had stalled 5 feet above the runway and pancaked. He felt terrible and had decided to find a way … somehow.. to repair the plane so that Barney could fly it to the Fly In. Barney is a fixture at Vance Brand and has been the Ultralight guru there for 20 years.
The hanger is filled with Ultralight parts. and more than a couple broken planes. We located some landing struts and determined the nose wheel was repairable. The only thing missing was a set of axles. Barney made a cal and 5 minutes later “Bob showed up. Bob is a retired Mechanical Engineer and collector of small aircraft. He offered to make a set of axles if we would follow him back to his home and work shop.
So off we went, Bob has a wonderful shop complete with all the tools to machine just about whatever was needed. While he worked on the axles I poked around and tried to absorb as much as I could. His son stopped by and the four of us chatted about Bob’s aircraft. I was taken by the Hovey Delta Hawk, a tiny little biplane that in another time I would have bought in a heartbeat. Bob offered to sell it to me for $4,000 which shocked me but he was serious. Wow a real airplane for $4,000! Later I thought about it and figured that $4,000 was just the down payment. By the time I got flight instruction and all that would be needed to keep the wonderful little plane it would be closer to $25,000. Well I guy can dream.
Dawn and I planned to drive out to the fly in but the weather didn’t cooperate so we stayed home. Sunday was no good because Obama was going to be speaking in Boulder and all but the big commercial flights were grounded.