Moved to Florida

708 to 712
Dawn was out of town last week so I took the opportunity to fly at every chance.  
I got in several flights, all 45 minutes or longer, all at the North Port Charlotte LZ.  The site is not my favorite, it’s narrow and bordered on all sides by tall trees.  So far, so good but I can see problems if the wind changes after I’m up.  The rotor from the trees would force me to land out at the least.  I have driven the area and located some alternate landing zones but all of them are marginal and a good hike from the launch.  More disturbing is that some of the LZs that I’d spotted from the air were absolutely not acceptable.  Hopefully, I would have seen the hazards and aborted the landing … but… if it had been a motor out or some other emergency I would have been in a world of hurt.  
Note to self…. Just because it looks good from 500 feet doesn’t mean it’s  landable  terrain.
One morning, I launched in what I thought was nil winds, only to find, there was a strong tail wind at the treetops.  There wasn’t any rotor because the wind was inline with the road but I was moving fast and the climb rate didn’t leave much margin to clear the trees.  Fortunately the landing was a non event, I lined up with the road and landed into the wind, between the trees. There was some turbulence at 20 feet but it didn’t do anything but bounce me around a bit.
Two days ago I was finally able to speak with Frank Moss, the owner of Shell Creek Airport.  He started the conversation with , “I don’t want anybody running commercial operations at Shell Creek”.  Apparently Kurt Fister had done some training there and left them with a bad taste for Powered Paragliders, I assured him that I was a respectful pilot and had shared the field with the largest skydiving company in Colorado.  Apparently he was willing to reconsider because he is letting me fly his field.
Shell Creek is a great LZ.  There is a long grass strip with 20 acres of grass for the skydivers.  The whole area is wide open and there aren’t any wires to catch.
The grass is trimmed like a golf course and the LZ is trimmed like a putting green.  There are a handful of abandoned DC-10s and an old cargo copter rusting along the edges of the property.  Some day I’ll be there when somebody is around and I’m going to ask to poke around the wrecks.
The last two weeks have been the beginning of a new chapter.  Yes, we started this move back in February and there are still some major challenges ahead but for the first time in almost 5 years I go to bed looking forward to the morning.  There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

707 North Port Charlotte

The last three flight have all been at the NPC LZ that Mike showed me.  It’s confined and if the wind changes direction or picks up over 8 or 10 MPH the mechanical rotor will be a problem.  But… it’s 20 minutes from home and very close for Mike.

 On flight 703 I discovered that I had stepped on a fire ant colony while I was gearing-up.  Everything was wonderful, the take-off was clean and I was climbing to altitude before heading off to explore. At 550 feet I felt the first bite, it was sharp like a shot but it was also hot.  I jerked and pulled at my pants thinking that something might be pinching me but almost immediately came bites 2 through 10 and I let go of the brakes and was smacking at my leg like it was made of wood.  Eventually I managed to smash the invaders inside my blue jeans.  Later when I got home I could see the bites starting at my sock line and thinning as they marched north.  NOTE TO SELF… When your outdoors …. look before you stop, you might be standing in a fire ant colony.

My new wing man Mike Lange

After Flight Hot tub action

New Home Field North Port Charlotte, Florida 702 to 704

702, 703, 704 Vance Brand a few days after 701

We arrived in Punta Gorda three weeks ago.  I’ve been frustrated by the fact that Pine Island Airport is unavailable due to some ambiguous legal dispute. Paul Czarnecki  has assured me that the issue will be resolved in his favor shortly and I hope he is right.  After 2 disappointing trips out there I finally posted to Facebook looking for local pilots.  Within 20 minutes Mike Lange contacted me and invited me to his home field  in Port Charlotte only 25 minutes from our temporary quarters in Seminole Lake Country Club.

Take off was sloppy but the air was smooth and warm.  I climbed to 700 feet and followed Mike North out of the forest and into wet pasture country.

North Port Charlotte

27°02’14.1″N 82°04’22.5″W  

Lots of wildlife  Deer, Hogs, gaters, Birds

No Pictures this time but they will be coming soon.

Thanks Mike