I arrived later than normal and was in a hurry to get set-up and launched before it got thermal. The field was wet with dew and there was a thick haze to the east. I was frustrated by the tough low weeds that kept hooking my lines during set-up and spent several minutes working to get them ready to fly free during inflation. It didn’t work…. The first launch was aborted when the wing came up high on the right . Probably some lines on the left were snagged. I tried to recover the launch but was wasn’t worth the risk. The second attempt was flawless. I climbed to 1000 feet with smooth air all through the accent. Returning to the field 40 minutes later I encountered some bumps at 400 feet as it was beginning to get thermal. When I landed I took a wrap on the brakes and had enough flair authority to fly along the surface for several hundred yards under power. Flying such a heavy unit makes this kind of fine control much harder. It will be interesting to try it with the Eden III.
Yesterday was a no fly day. I got to the field at 5 and set up at the west end. The winds were light and I wasn’t in a hurry. By the time I had put on my gear the winds had shifted to the north west which would have me launching over the runway. Not a good idea. Rather than drive the trike to the other end of the field I decided to wait and see what was going to happen. The winds continued to shift north and I could see virga forming. So … I laid down on the wing bag and waited some more. 10 minutes later a wind front came through that would have been horrible, had I been flying. The wind was bouncing between 20 and 30 mph and bouncing between North and West. I quickly bagged the wing and got it in the cab just as a short rain squall came through. Who would have figured? It looked so mild when I arrived.
This morning was beautiful. I set up by the skydiver tent and launched on the apron. I was surprised to see that the wing was slightly wet … guess I didn’t get it bagged as quickly as I thought. It came up slow and wanted to hang back but I stayed on the “A’s” and managed to get into the air. It took about twice the distance I had expected but with plenty of room to clear the swoop pond. Nice flight.
Wow ! This was exciting. The first launch was to the East with mild winds. I quickly saw that two of the lines were tangled and so I turned back to the field. No big deal but I didn’t want to fly with the wing out of balance. I landed without mishap and noticed that the skydivers had set up an extra tent for spectators. After clearing the lines I launched 180 degrees from the first flight. Funky winds. I headed toward the fishing lake and encountered some very turbulent air. The trike was swinging big time and the wing was being pulled hard to the side. I gently eased it around and headed back to the field. It is an often over used term but I felt like a puppet on a string . Bounced to the left and right. Being lifted at over 400 feet per minute and dropped accordingly. I don’t have a good reason but I was not freaked out like I have been the last few times that I’ve been in ratty air. I was swinging but … ok … I was hanging under the wing but it was well loaded and even though it wanted to fly in a different direction … it was flying. Perhaps I’m finally getting a little bump tolerance. When I got back to the field the winds had increased dramatically. they were coming from the west and I was barely penetrating. With the trimmers full out I began to move forward and set up to land by the truck. As I was descending the gust passed and I landed 100 feet beyond my mark. I waited a few minutes and re set. the second launch was fine but after flying over the windsock I think it was 60 degrees cross wind. The wing did come up high on one side but I was able to bring it overhead with some hard brake input. It was a great flight. Lots of bounce but I was good. When I landed the second stick of skydivers were landing. It’s all good
Perhaps I will expand on this at a later date but suffice to say that I didn’t fly. The wing and I couldn’t get together on launch until it dived into the prop. The damage was a broken line and a few small tears in the trailing edge on the top right side. I think it fell back … popped forward and fell back again into the prop wash. The nose wheel came up then down then the rear right wheel lifted enough that I though that I was going over. I killed power steered out of the tip but the prop didn’t wind down fast enough and caught the wing. The right axle was bent but the fiberglass struts were not damaged.
I awoke with the star Betelgeuse shining in the bedroom window. Dawn was asleep and i didn’t see any way that I was going back to sleep so I packed up and headed out to Vance Brand……Set and ready by 6:15. The first launch was aborted after trying far too long to save it. I even went so far as to reacquire the A’s and try to get the wing back overhead. What I think happened is that some lines on the right side got hooked in the weeds causing the wing to come up very high on the left. There was absolutely no breeze and when the wing fell back it was playing “push me pull you” with the prop wash. I do remember seeing the right side collapse forward so it’s possible the cart decelerated and the high side overshot. Anyway I launched and headed of to the South East at 150 feet. It was a joy to fly low because i was able to see what was going on below me. People were heading off to work… Kid were leaving for school. At one little “house on the prairie” I roused a bunch of kids who ran out into the front yard to greet me. The Balloons were flying either way too high or playing down low over the neighborhoods, so I decided not to hook up and headed back toward the LZ. When I returned to Vance Brand there was a wing layed out. I circled and landed. The wing turned out to be a new pilot who was going on his 2nd or 3rd flight with the ppc. Turns out he was a hanger partner with Barney and Craig. Experienced Ultra light pilot but new to Para Flight. Good launch I turned home.
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.