Two days … Two Flights 842 & 843

SYesterday was a shorty.  Mike Lange and I met at Placida.  There was heavy ground fog covering the whole area but two weeks of heavy wind had us jonesing for a flight and we were both hopefull that it would be thin enough to launch.  

Well, yes and no…. Yes….We both launched but … in the blind.  I climbed out of the fog quickly but there was a thick white blanket below as far as I could see.  If I had been pleased with the Paramotor I might have kept climbing and waited out the fog but I had changed the prop to a coarser pitch hoping to increase thrust.  It had the opposite effect on my climb, the Paramotor felt rough and the prop sound was a terrible roar.  I poked down into the fog to see if I could get a glimpse of the LZ and decided to land.  Two quick circles and I set down 100 yards from the truck.  Mike didn’t fair any better. He had a motor out shortly after taking off and landed 1000 yards to the south.  Any farther and he could have had problems with canals and wires. As it was he had a long damp walk back to the vehicle.  

I wished that I had pictures but I wasn’t exactly feeling good about the flight and didn’t want to go hands free for even a second.  Never the less….It was beautiful.  My shadow on the top of the fog created the perfect rainbow halo.  I’d been hoping to get that shot for ten years but I’ll have will have to wait a little longer. My only impression from the flight was that I was all alone … Blue Sky above and cotton candy below, it was a vast two color universe.  
Max RPM 3400
Max Climb rate 180
Flight 2 (today) SCA   
50 minutes 3500 agl.  Changed prop to slightly less course pitch …. 
Max RPM 3600 but settled at 3540 most of the time.
Climb rate 200 – 250.  Prop noise was smoother.   
Finally met Frank Moss.

Sailing on Paradiso

The winds have been strong, dawn and dusk, for the last two weeks making it impossible to fly.  

It’s frustrating because I’ve changed the pitch on the props so that max RPM is 3500, 200 below norm.  Hopefully this will increase my thrust and climb rate.  My friend John Fetz who has over 10,000 logged hours isn’t as optimistic, he expects higher vibration and decreased thrust.  He is thinking that this course pitch would be helpful after gaining altitude but useless during climb out.  We will see.
It’s too windy to fly, So…. Dawn and I rounded up the SW Florida contingent of Colorado Sail and Yacht and went for a sail yesterday afternoon.  Best weather and best sail since we sailed the boat back from Burnt Store Marina with Bill and Katie last spring. Everything fell right into place.  Steady 14 mph winds out of the North East made for an easy broad reach out and back.  The repairs to the diesel and electronics all seemed to be holding together and we had a high high tide.  There was a ton of food left over from the SCA meetings earlier in the week and Dawn did me proud making by making sandwiches and finger foods for all to share.

A good time was had by all.

First Florida Cross Country 841

It’s about time.  
My old friend Rex came down from Colorado to study with Paul at Planet PPG.  I had a pretty full week but still managed to get down to Pine Island a couple of times to cheer him on.  The first time was Wednesday and they were towing.  Poor Rex.  One new hip and another about to be replaced… He got up though and was making it work.  I caddied the wing a couple of times and when Rex had had enough I surprised myself and asked for a sled ride.  Paul hauled me up and I enjoyed my first foot launch and landing in a long time.  It was only a short hop but I think I’m hooked.  Foot launching is almost effortless when you don’t have to worry about running it  out with a motor on your back.  I will definitely try it again.  
Thursday morning I drove down even though the winds were predicted to be a bit on the high side.  When I arrived it was blowing about 10mph.  In the wind shadow of the runway it felt much lower but it was coming from the North North East across the runway.  I inflated fine but wasn’t able to stabilize the wing and aborted.  I’m not exactly sure what all my problems were but from the way the wing was reacting I think I should have damped the surge a little better and probably moved the trike a little slower.  Anyway before I could reset, Paul went up in his Falcon 38hp,  he got off fine but it was clear that there was some rotor to contend with.  He landed within 5 minutes and pronounced it “sporty”.  I choose to bag the wing.
That evening I drove back down and had dinner with everybody at Pine Island.  Somehow during the course of the meal Paul suggested that I fly down from Shell Creek.  My first reaction was, Hell No!….but of course I said , ” Sure that would be fun”.
  ……Well, I got to thinking  about it….and it has been a couple of days since my last flight…. and there is a low front moving in which is going to nix flying for awhile….and they did offer to provide a shuttle back up to the truck… The more I thought about it, the better it sounded.  Later back at the house, I fooled with FlySkyHy and managed to lay a few waypoints that would steer me around the Restricted airspace and get me over Pine Island Airport.
I wasn’t convinced that I was going for it but decided to plan on a SCA flight regardless and if it felt good …  go for the cross country.
The next morning the winds were 10mph from the North East, almost a straight shot to Pine Island Airport.  The launch was clean and quick.  Without missing a beat I headed South West and made my way around Punta Gorda Airspace.  The air was pretty smooth with occasional patches of bumps.  I had to crab around the airport and even so was flying between 35 and 40 mph.  After clearing PGA and hwy 75  I was able to turn directly downwind and race toward the Burnt Store hwy.  Acending to 2800ft agl I encountered turbulent air and so I decended a few hundred feet until it smoothed out.  Just past Burnt Store Marina I had to turn and crab the wing South East to stay onshore until I was lined up to cross over to the Island.  I was thinking to continue south till I got to the causeway, cross there and work my way back to PIA but the winds were picking up and I decided it was better to go with the flow.  I certainly had enough altitude to make the crossing without power so I turned South West, crossed my fingers and instantly I was “feet Wet”.   My biggest concern was without merit.  I was worried that I would not be able to spot the small airstrip….. Nonsense, Pine Island is tiny and the airstrip stuck out like a beacon.  AND…. There was Paul and Rex flying a couple hundred feet over the patch.  I was still pretty high, they looked like a toy Paraglider pulling circles down there.  Shortly after I spotted the guys they landed and so I over flew the patch and glided into the wind for a nice steep landing.
Rex, Paul and I fooled around the airport for a little while and then Rex and I set of to retrieve my truck at SCA.  Later we stopped at Peace River Seafood for blue crab.  It was a victory lunch for both of us.

The Mile High Club. SCA 840

This was a good one.  I woke up at 5:30 without an alarm.  What’s to do ?  While performing morning ablutions I checked the weather and saw it was calm with nill winds expected.  I arrived at the field at 7:00 and was airborne by 7:10.

Fabulous Air! I climbed out over the sand quarry just as the sun was rising. There was ground fog in patches for as far as I could see.  The sky was clear to the East and the clouds that we’re building were all to the West over the gulf.  The winds were light but increased steadily as I climbed.  When I reached my goal of 5280 it was 20 mph from the Nort North West. 

At 5333 I trimmed the wing to full out, fast reflex and shut down the motor.  It was wonderful, I pulled a few wing overs and finished with a hard spiral descending at over 700 fpm.  At 3500 feet I restarted and climbed back up to 4500 so that I could shut down again and glide back to the field.  The landing was clean, I pulled in the trim at 100 feet and put it down dead center on target.  Sometimes things work just as they’re supposed too.

On funny thing that happened was a glitch in my sound system.  For some reason I select only songs that were stored on the IPhone.  At first it was fine but when Dianne Reeves cut out and restarted two times I started to get annoyed.  Eventually it went silent which was just fine with me.  The crazy thing was that when I reached the top and shut down the engine the tunes came back on with a vengeance.  All the way to touch down I listened to Queen finishing with “We are the Champions”
It wasn’t epic but it was wonderful.

838 Placida at Dawn

Mike Lange and I.  I Blew the first launch when I let go of a brake toggle to catch my sunglasses.  Dumb chute…..  Air was good except for a layer at 400 feet.  Both Mike and I went for altitude. He climbed to 3800 feet and I topped out at 2500.  No drama. Need to work on grabbing both wing tip and brake toggles for landing.

839 SCA. Dawn Launch

Nice flight climbed to 4800 feet where the cold stopped me.  First experience with the selfie stick in flight.  Very light northerly breeze clear sky.  Dead stick from 500 feet.

  Last night I got out too late.   Almost funny, the weatherbug said sunset at 7:30 but it was way too dark by 7:15.  Winds were building and storm clouds were approaching.  Aborted launch and settled for some kiting.

836 & 837 Shell Creek and Placida

To thing spectacular to report.  Nice flight with a dead stick landing.  The kill switch was found to be inoperable during preflight.  I killed the engine at 200 feet with the key and enjoyed a quiet landing.

Two days later I drove up to Placida because I found myself awake at 5:00am and didn’t see any reason to go back to sleep.  It was dead calm at the house but there was a steady 10 mph wind at the LZ.  Since I was there before sun up I got the rig ready and waited.  About 15 minutes after sunrise the winds started to abate.  When  I got out of the truck to check conditions, I heard before I saw, a rain shower.  It was really quiet strange to hear the rain smacking into the earth but not seeing the shower.  I pulled the wing into the cab and waited, the rain only lasted a couple of minutes.  I wiped off the seat set up the wing (three times due to shifting winds) and eventually launched down the road in nill wind conditions.  It may have been calm on the surface but it was anything but at 350 feet.  Strong turbulence began at 300 and worsened the higher I got.  At 400 feet I was doing the puppet on a string thing and decended back down to 300.  It was lumpy but manageable.  If it had been just a little calmer I would have tried out the new selfie stick but no sense in that.
After 20 minutes of loitering at 300 feet I went back up to 350 to see if it had mellowed but the air was still unstable so I landed.  The repair to the kill switch was done before leaving so i field tested it by killing the motor at 50 feet and just for fun greased the landing.
Over Shell Creek

New Selfie stick.