I was doubtful about flying tonight. The weather pattern has been pretty consistently late afternoon thunderstorms and tonight was no different. BUT…. After this mornings flight there were four of us watching the sky …. peer pressure is a powerful thing. At 5:30 I left the house and 20 minutes later I was parked under an abandoned car wash waiting out the rain. Bob and Mike Otten were already at the field and as soon as the rain stopped so were Mile Lange and I.
The weather gods answered Bob’s prayer. The rain had moved off and the skies were mellowing nicely. Mike Otten didn’t wait long, while the breeze was still a little twitchy he pulled up his wing and was gone. As soon as Bob had cleared the runway I set up and launched. Only glitch was realizing I’d forgotten to put in the ear plugs. Fortunately they were in my camera bag and I quickly put them in and took off after Otten. When we got to the Gasparilla Marina, Mike took off for the beach and I loitered over the golf course to shoot the sunset. Making slow turns I climbed to 1100 feet and enjoyed the scenery.
The landing at 7:30 was without drama
Bob Harrison wrote this one up for FaceBook and so I’ll let his words say it all.
“Enjoyable flight once I got up. The wind was light an changing 180deg. As I learned from my previous failed launch don’t run faster then u can taxi unless the wing is ready. It wasn’t and I aborted.
Had to take my Moster off twice to get it started and clear it out before I got it started on my back. Electric start is without a doubt worth the weight.
Joe Onofrio and David Muench had flawless launches. The ease at which David’s wing rose overhead with a very short launch flying a GTR 20 makes me want one bad.
Mike Lange and I overcame our struggles and flew off with Joe on a big loop with a little water foot-dragging.
Above the low scud clouds was smooth air though I’m not much into altitude so back on the deck I went.
If the weather Gods allow we’ll be flying this evening, I think Placida.”
I don’t have much to add except that the winds were fluky. Switching 180 degrees up and down the corridor we were launching from. I was set up on the road when it changed from a nice gentle up wind launch to a puffy downwind. I waited for a lull but was still over 30 mph when the wheels left the ground. The air was mostly smooth above 300 feet but pretty bumpy down low and around the scud.
No Drama. Nice flight out and back. Used both wing tip and brake toggles on landing by grabbing brakes at the attachment swivel. Good control …. I’ll need to try it some more. It was bumpy down low.
This was a good one. Bob and I launched just after sunrise in calm air. I flew out to the Gasparilla causeway climbing to about 1000 feet. Once across I turned north but only for about 1/4 mile because I wanted to stay with Bob who had turned South toward Boca Grande. We went to the end of Gasparilla Island, played around a bit at the end and turned back. I stayed high because the last time I was here it was really bumpy near the surface but looking back I wish I’d gone down to the beach where the surface winds were probably very manageable. If I get another chance, I’ll go for it.
The return trip was beautiful. Both of us stayed high and I got some decent pictures. Not close enough for a trophy shot but nice never the less. As I came back across the causeway I noticed that the scud was moving in from the North. It was starting to cover the jet port and would be over the LZ by the time I got there. I had to decide if I was going to stay high and drop down to the LZ or go low, and get under the scud and hope there was enough altitude to stay above the lines. I dropped down while still in clear air and decided to fly the scud. It turned out to be pretty patchy and I had no trouble finding the truck. The wind had picked up from the north making for an easy landing on the road.
Bob did pretty much the same thing except that he decided to land upwind of the vehicles. The wind died on final and he just barely touched down before hitting his car.
Weather permitting I’ll do it again tomorrow.
If your sitting inside watching the snow, click the link below for Bob’s video of the flight.
First launch was textbook except that my right brake line was wrapped around the riser. I’m sure I could have flown that way. There was no fear of it locking or changing wing shape in any significant way but because it was wrong I circled and landed. The second launch was also clean. This morning after I’d set up I stood behind the wing and checked that the center A lines were even. Ordinarily I would have mounted up and launched but I decided to check it from the side and was shocked to see that while the center was properly aligned the wing in general was tilted a couple of feet to one side. I occasionally make this check but not religiously and expect that on those times that the wing is launching crooked for no apparent reason. The reason was apparent. Note to self.
The air was bumpy until 250 feet where it settled down to a smooth 15 mph easterly breeze. I flew out to the Redneck Yacht Club and in full reflex and took a few pics. My plan to drop down and do a few touch and goes was aborted when I decended to 500 feet and encountered moderate turbulence.
On landing I had to change my plan and land on the runway rather than gliding up to the truck. The wind was gusting and what started out as a very steep decent turned into an overshoot during a brief lull on final approach.
Outbound speed 14mph, inbound 51mph