#681 Vance Brand

Gotta watch that cam buckle.
I had to reset after blowing a cross wind inflation and missed that the trim cam buckle had slipped below the hang point rings … again.  The wing came up crooked and I wrangled it  overhead and launched.  Almost immediately I recognized the problem as the wing turned left toward the manufacturing plant.  I was able to free it but had to fly with lots of right brake to stay over landable terrain and climb high enough to use both hands to work the cam through the ring.
Dumb Chute!
Once that was sorted out I chased the Balloons and did a fast tight turn around the one at my altitude.
I could probably fly a lot closer than I do but my proximity tolerance is about the same as my bump tolerance …. not too high.
When I landed I noticed that the nose wheel seemed a bit sloppy and upon inspection discovered that the hub was out of true and the castor had far too much play.  One gofer hole or hard landing and its going to be spitting bearings. So… I visited Harbor Freight and bought a new wheel which came with a caster assembly.

#679 Vance Brand

This was a very nice morning.  Warm and almost nil wind… Not a cloud in the sky.
Climb rate was below 100ft/min.  and the belt was squealing above 3200 rpm.
I put up with it and flew with the balloons for 20 minutes climbing to 8000 ft. then turned back to the field.  The return was noticeably different because rpms were below 3000, the machine was quiet and I was able to enjoy some of the smoothest air of the season.

When I arrived at Vance Brand there was a light breeze from the south so I flew around the hangers and did a short final to land by the truck.  At the last minute I decided to make it a touch and go where I experienced a very long run and very slow climb out.  The belt was screaming and I barely had the power to clear the southern fence.  This has to change!

Vance Brand # 678

Good morning.
EXCEPT … I did it again,. left the key in and had to jump the Falcon.  I’m getting good at it now.  I had walked the wing 200 yards away from the truck and was thinking about starting the motor and taxiing out to the wing and hooking it up with the motor running….. BUT reason took over and I did it the right (albeit risky) way with the motor off.
It rained last night and it has been hot hot so the air was humid and the density of altitude was probably around 10,000 ft.  .I was glad to have gone to the far end of the field because it was one long run to get airborne.  There were 4 balloons up but they were climbing above 9,000 feet and I didn’t feel like listening to the belt squeal while I climbed, so I made do with 6,000 feet and some wing practice.
The Eden III had come back from Paramotor city.  It’s all clean and crispy.You can’t even see where the repair was.  It seemed to want to pull to the left and I had to use trimmers to keep on course.  I’ll fly it a few more times before I call Michelle to see what she thinks.

Flying the Easy Long with Ion Flights 676. & 677.

A damn good day

The morning flight was a combination of screw ups.
A combination of events made for a a crosswind launch.  First I made the mistake of leaving the key in the on position and had to jump start the Falcon.  When I got it started I noticed that the wind had picked up and was coming from the south which was exactly the wrong way for me to get a decent run out.  I didn’t want to shut down the motor and start all over with the jumping the truck so I looked things over and decided it was probably light enough to go for it.   Inflating the wing 90 degrees off the wind should have been challenge enough, what I didn’t notice was that in the rush to get unhooked from the truck the port side riser had slipped leaving the cam below the hang point loop. During the inflation this mistake worked in my favour because the wing started turning into the wind right away with very little brake input  I was a little surprised that the strange crosswind launch was going so smooth and didn’t realize the reason why until I was up.  With the port riser riding low the wing naturally turned to the left The safety strap had been pulled into the hang point loop and the cam was bound inside of the strap.  I stayed on the throttle and climbed to 250 ft and used both hands to pull on the strap.  When it finally pulled loose the cam was still jammed and I had to worry it until it slipped through the loop.
Once that little bit of drama was over the rest of the flight was SOP.

That evening I met up with Ion who took me up for a flight in the Easy Long.  There were big thunder heads with the classic anvil shape to the east and west.  We flew out to Lake Granby slaloming between the clouds.

It was a great flight!  We topped of at 18,000 feet and were in and around the clouds.  Returning to the front range Ion flew level with the hogbacks and pointed out old Indian animal traps.  Places where they would drive the animals to a dead end where they would be taken by the hunters.  These were developed over the thousands of years prior to the “Indian Horse Renaissance”, when they had to do all of their hunting by foot.  

Flying the EZ LONG with Ion from Joe Onofrio on Vimeo.

Very Cool…Flying the fast and low.  Air Time 1 hour and 20 minutes, cost 30 bucks.

#675 Beautiful Sunset Flight

No Drama ….
I learned that when there is no wind the AAssists need to be tighter and because the attachment at the frame is on a ring the clip moves up on the circle as the wing inflates and comes overhead.  It doesn’t get so tight that it puts extra tension on the A lines.

The air was interesting on landing.  There was a cool downslope from the west on the surface and 10 degrees warmer from the East.  I had a hard time deciding which way to land.  Was the inversion so low that I would be downwind even after I touched down?  It turns out not and at about 5 feet I slowed down cones rabble as the wind passed through the layer suddenly going into the wind.

#673 & #674

Aug. 14th

Two mornings at Vance Brand
Yesterday was good except that I melted a hole in the wing with the muffler.  I did a long low approach in nil wind on landing and the wing took a little downwind puff at the last moment I saw it change direction during deflation and tried to scoot the trike forward but just wasn’t fast enough.
Bummer !
I did have some repair tape and a nice large patch so it was no problem to repair it.

Aug 15th

This morning was also a nil wind day.  At least until I got to 500 feet where there was a 10 mph breeze from the NNE.  I tried to catch the balloons and followed them all the way to Louisville before I turned back.  Outbound leg was 40 mph … home leg was 20 mph.  It was 8:30 when I got back to the field and the thermals were starting to pop.  By the time I’d folded the wing and loaded the trike it was blowing hard from the NNE.  Long flight!

# 671 & # 672. Vance Brand

Two short flights.  It rained last night but the field was dry enough to lay out the wing.  This was the first flight since I shredded the Eden III.  The A Assists worked great and my shoulder was spared.  The winds were gusty but not too much to keep me from going for it.  
Strong currents in the air were pulling the POWER PLAY SWING all over the place.  The brakes felt mushy and I just wasn’t comfortable .   So… I landed and tried again when it seemed better…..it was not.

Joe & Dawn’s Most Excellent Adventure

Villa del Palmar. Loreto, Baja Mexico

So far we have had 5 dives including a night dive.  The conditions are OK.  Certainly not the best diving but, like some things in life,  even the worst of it is wonderful.  Visibility is about 30 feet the water temp varies between 75 and 95 and the Marine life is abundant.  We have seen the typical assortment of angle fish, puffers, needle fish, stars and urchins.  There are also moray eels and last night we saw sea cucumbers and an unusual bottom fish  called a guitar fish (Rhinobatidae).  It looks like a cross between a ray and a shark.  The one we spotted was about two feet long and grey in color.
Dawn was a little spooked before the dive but she had suited up and did great.  We stayed down 54 minutes and went to 55.

This was the shallowest dive of the trip.  It’s interesting how much deeper we dive these days.   On both of the two tank dives we hit 100+ feet and it was no big deal.  Twenty years ago that would have been huge.  All of our dives have been off Corinado Island North West of Loretto.
The most notable thing about diving here is the dramatic changes in temp.  There must be a serious upwelling from deep water.  The current has been consistently 2 to 4 knots and its like going from a warm bath to an ice chest in the blink of an eye.  Certainly it was warmer near the surface but even at 50 feet you could go around a rock and find the water 20 degrees warmer or colder.
The sea lions were found in groups of 10 or 20.  They were on there backs with their flippers in the air.  I didn’t know what I was looking when I saw what appeared to be clumps of black bird wings sticking above the surface.
There is only one serious PADI Dive Shop in Loreto (Dolphin Dice Center) and even they use a panga instead of a big expensive dive boat.  The pricing is about the same as anywhere else.  $120 for a two tank dive and lunch and $65 for a night dive.