741 Back to Gasparilla Island

Mark , Bob and I launched in light wind and played around for an hour.  
Here is the video

   The climb out to 1100 ft was smooth with a 10 mph tailwind.  I was aware but not concerned to be flying downwind of the landing zone.  It might be a long slog back and at worst the wind would pick up and I would have to land out, but I was careful to keep an emergency LZ within reach by following the road instead of overflying the mangrove swamps.  

At the causeway I descended to 500 ft and kept it right under me until I could glide to the island.  

I suppose a wind front could have come through and blown me out of the safe zone but the clouds were offshore and either moving away or stationary and the skies were clear back to weather, it was an acceptable risk.  

As expected, I wasn’t able to fly the beach because of rotor caused by the wind coming across the island.  When I dropped down to 50 ft it was starting to get bumpy and at 30 ft, I called it quits.  Someday,  I will get down in the sand, but not today, on a lee shore.  I did pop up and check out the windward side but it was too thick with houses and palms with no place to land.


 So… I turned back and slowly flew back across the sound.  There wasn’t much going on, a few boats were heading out to the gulf and some kayakers were out enjoying the morning cool but no dolphins, rays, manatees or any wildlife, except for the birds that are everywhere.

Since I wasn’t able to follow my original plan and fly the length of Gasparilla, I turned north and did some sightseeing on the mainland.  It’s not Aspen…. too shiny and white, and probably rebuilt after Huricane Charlie but from what I saw its a very well monied place.  Big beautiful mansions and even bigger condominiums populate the verdant shoreline.  

I was especially taken buy an 80 ft sloop, snug in her berth behind a particularly palatial estate and I wondered who owned the private jet port just nort of town.

Pick your own runway fellas!

The wind was picking up back at Placida where Bob was playing on the low and Mike was practicing wing overs above 2000 ft.  His last was spectacular, two robust swings and a high energy dive, culminating in a hard turn 100 ft above tree line.  I was satisfied with a slow floaty landing, the trike had almost zero rollout.
After packing up we headed over to Ryan’s for breakfast.

737 to 740 Lots of air time!

It’s been windy the last two mornings.  Yesterday I landed after only one lap around the air park and this morning I stayed up but only because I could penetrate and it was predicted to start moderating after dawn.
After the flight I stopped at the house where 4 separate crews were taking care of business.   Garage doors, roof,  floors and pool.  I has an hour before an appointment to have my hearing tested so I went over to the lot by Eric’s house and kited the wing until it was dry.  It’s a pretty good trick with 2 big palms, one at each wingtip.  As soon as I let the wing drift it would catch the rotor off the palm and start to loose pressure.  Its a nice area to dry things out.

The best news was that while I was trying to decide what I was going to do this afternoon, Mike texted and invited me to fly his LZ at 6:30. Good air and good times.


                          Playing “Mast Monkey” while servicing the wind indicator.

I have been waiting for a morning where the weather was  favourable and this was not it.   Strong winds from the East, combined with incoming tide made exiting the canal system a challenge.  The air was moving but it was dirty twitchy stuff caused by flowing between the houses and round the palms.  The best you can do is find the puff , sprint through it and coast to the next, keeping in mind that the next area of wind could be coming from any point of the compass.   It’s good practice but not very satisfying.

Fortunately, it’s a short distance to open water.  Unfortunately, the last leg the one that leads out to the Harbor, is 250 yards long and today it had a strong tidal current. As the tide came in, the entrance was like the mouth of a bottle being filled.  I tacked several times with zero velocity made good.  Ferrying back and forth I felt like  I was in a kayak paddling up stream.  At one point I caved in and broke out the short blade paddle that is stowed in the bow.  Stroking furiously,  I moved the boat through the canal into Charlotte Harbour.  There, I was met with 12 to 15 knots of wind directly on the nose.  The water was confused, with a two foot swing from peak to trough.  No matter what point of sail I chose, there was no path that would prevent water from sloshing over gunnels, swamping the boat.  Perhaps a couple hundred yards farther out there was a proper fetch with consistent seas but I would be sitting in a bathtub long before I got there.

So, I turned downwind and raced back into the main Canal.  I had planned on sailing North, past Fishermans Village and stopping at the Tiki Bar for lunch. But, since that wasn’t going to happen I thought  it might be a good time to try flying the Spinnaker.  I rigged it for a long downwind to the last turn at the end of the gran canal.  It flew with mixed success occasionally it would fill and draw but mostly it sucked up to the jib. To be honest, I should have taken in the jib to allow clear air for the spinnaker but that would have entailed stopping at somebody’s dock and I didn’t feel like doing that after the fight to the entrance.  I got it up and inflated….that’s good enough, for the first time.

Back to Shell Creek and the Red Neck Yacht Club Flights 734 735

After flying Gaspirilla Island I returned to Shell Creek for a couple of nice long flights.  Mike and I went north and played around past the Walmart Dist. Warehouse and enjoyed smooth air.

This morning we flew with Bob H and Rodman Gomez out to the Red Neck Yacht Club.  I climbed to 1200 feet and caught up with the guys just as we were arriving at RNYC.  It looks like a lot of fun, there are tracks for ATV races and what looks like strips for drag boats.  There is a small ultra lite airstrip and if we sign a waiver there is no fee for flying there.
After landing we went out for breakfast and back to the airport to see if we could hook up with Frank Moss.  He wasn’t there but we did stop at Sky Dive SW Florida to see about getting a reserve repack.
I don’t think they are too fond of us.  We got another lecture about what we were allowed to do and where we were not allowed to launch and land.  The next time I go out there I’m going to bring a USSPA Waiver for their files.  

Red Neck Yacht Club

Joe.                                   Bob.                     Rodman.                        Mike

733 Placida to Gaspirilla Island

This was the best flight Florida flight ….so far.
 I arrived at the LZ while it was still dark.  The skies were clear except for one cell off to the SouthWest.  Launch was fine except that there was a layer very low to the ground and I found myself flying with a tailwind almost as soon as I launched.  When I came back to land it was the same thing.  Dead calm at the surface and a 10+ mph at 30 feet.

I followed the road to the Gaspirilla Toll Way and crossed over to the island at about 1100 ft MSL.
The wind was 10 mph heading out to sea but there wasn’t any weather that looked to change anything so I flew down the beach and took in the sights.  I decided to stay at 100 ft. because the wind blowing over the island was making for rotor at the beach.  I look forward to being there when it’s blowing on shore. 

On the return I spotted my first Manatee but that was the only non flying  wildlife I saw.  There is a private jet port on the other side of Gaspirilla Road.  I was temped to do a touch and go but the tall fences with concertina wire dissuaded me.  I could picture some security guys with fully automatic weapons meeting me on the tarmac.  

When I was coming back to Placita I noticed the guy in the closest house taking pictures and waving.  No trouble there, thank The Lord.
Tomorrow I’m heading down to Fort Meyers to fly with those guys.


Notice the budding storm cloud lit by the sunrise

I woke before the alarm and was on my way by 5:00am. Arrived at the field an hour ahead of the other guys. The mosquitoes were thick and it was 78 degrees and humid.  I had been watching the lighting off to the North since leaving the house and encountered a small rain showers just past Jobean bridge.  The guys arrived at 6:15 and we were ready to fly by 6:30.
There was a storm cloud NorthWest and Bob suggested that we fly around it to the South.  I thought the beach was closer than that and when he said that the cloud was between us and the beach, I pretty much decided that I wasn’t going to the beach.  

Mike and Bob launched about 5 minutes ahead of me into very light breezes from the Southwest and headed off directly at 300 feet or so to the south.  I launched and stayed near the patch climbing to to 1200 feet.  Instead of chasing after the guys I took in the sunrise and the beautiful clouds over Punta Gorda.
Rain clouds forming  6:45
Thunder head building (looking southwest). 7:00 am
10 minutes later!
About 10 minutes into the flight I saw lighting in the north and rain coming down hard.  I wasn’t sure but the storm was possibly heading toward the LZ and I didn’t want any part of it.  So,  I went to idle and descended to land.  The air was smooth with lots of lift..  My best descent was well under 300 feet / minute and The whole time I was watching the rain moving toward me. At 200 feet there was a layer of bumps but the landing was very smooth.  Thinking I was about to get soaked, I bagged the wing and prepared to stash it in the cab.  As it turned out the storm passed to the North and the wind never picked up.  I stood around and listened for the sound of two strokes between the thunder claps that were 5 seconds away,  thinking about the old adage, ” It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than, in the air wishing you were on the ground”.   Forty five minutes later Mike and Bob returned from a great beach flight.  DAMN!
I’m wondering how the  lack of elevation changes change the way I perceive distances?  Or is it just that these particulars storms were small and localized. Or both…. I should have been better able to predict the storm’s path.  It was flowing with the ocean breeze toward the Northeast.  
This is a great place with lots of open space and the streets are laid out beautifully for triking.  I’m going to return soon.