This was a crazy day. The jetport had 3 or 4 Small jets arriving and instead of coming in from the South West and landing , they were flying over us at less than 1000 ft turning onto final and landing from the North East. There wasn’t any weather, I don’t know what their reason was. If anything you would expect they wouldn’t want to land with the setting sun in their eyes.
The fatal midair last week was on my mind so as soon as I saw the first jet, I descended to 300 feet and made my ceiling 500 ft. It was much smoother at altitude but …. Better to live with a few bumps.
I launched from the grass using the A-assists. It felt weird not having the risers at hand and I noticed the left brake line trying to get tangled but it worked. Once up I saw that I had misjudged the length of the A-assist lines and pulled one in to what I think is going to be correct. I was surprised at how much I was able to shorten the line. I hope it doesn’t put too much pull on the A’s. I’ll have to watch carefully because it might cause a frontal.
The landing was fine. After touchdown there was still plenty of brake left to drop the wing safely behind.
There were two other guys launching 1000 feet to the north. Turned out to be a couple of the Colorado Flock. Instructor Daniel West and his ex student Ryan Cook. Thanks for the nice photo Ryan!
This was my 5th flight with the Colorado. I had planned to fly tomorrow morning. But…Deep down, I wasn’t looking forward to it. The forecast was for 57 degrees F with 1knot of wind. The thought of crawling out of a warm bed in a cold house just wasn’t calling me. I’d spent the morning at the brokerage stewing over the results of a transmission fluid inspection and watching the Christmas tourists milling around the Village. There wasn’t anything going on at home… the winds were light…. Change of Plans.
Todays flight was delightfully ordinary. For the first time in awhile there was no Drama. I launched from the field into a light breeze toward the Boca Grande. There was enough wind to kite a little bit which made layout a snap. The unsheathed lines are much easier to keep snag free when I can pressurize the wing. The lines tend to lay down in nice straight lines lines with the stubble keeping them in place. When I was hooking up to the rig I took care to line them up in the keepers in the order of their departure.
It worked like a charm. With my right hand in position. I started the engine, then, after it was running i quickly took the right brake and A-riser to hand. I could feel the wing tugging but there was no threat of it pulling me backward. When I added power it came up straight and clean. There was a slight hesitation before there was enough thrust to get the trike rolling but it felt familiar. The roll-out was noticeably slower than on pavement. It was easier to monitor all the “moving parts”, and I could feel the trike getting lighter which isn’t something you get on asphalt. Rotation was smooth and the climb began after a very short pause to gain airspeed.
I spent the next 8 minutes flying toward the gulf and climbing to 2000 feet. It was chilly and the breeze had dropped significantly. The Jetport to the north was quiet. All the hangers were closed and the few vehicles in their lot could only have been for a security guard or two. Gaspirilla Sound and Placida Harbor were beautifully calm with a single boat running full throttle toward the gulf. After a few turns I headed back toward Safe Cove. Decending to one thousand feet I enjoyed the warmer temperature.
The Colorado was rock steady, handling the convergence very benignly. It felt like something was dampening the bumps. The new risers are an improvement, to be sure. The modified trim cams are much easier to use. I didn’t try to adjust both at the same time but did let the right side out a bit to trim for drift and torque. It’s hard to see the trim tabs unless I turn the buckle toward me. It will probably be more a feel thing than setting the cam visually.
I landed after 25 minutes when the fields were in the shadows. My dark sunglasses made it a little difficult to gauge height but the wheels touched very lightly and there was still plenty of flare authority in the wing. I buried the brakes and the wing dropped nicely behind the rig with only the brake lines not falling into the keepers.
While loading the rig I noticed that the pin holding the wheel onto the right strut had come out and was in danger of throwing the wheel. So… there was a little Drama. Cheated Death Again.
Notes… wing was laid out a little ragged to prevent the prop wash from prematurely inflating the wing. I rolled a few feet and dragged the wing for maybe 5 feet before it started to lift. Next time lay it out more uniformly but roll back the center nose section. The new line keepers worked brilliantly.
I noticed that the Colorado flies farther back that the APCO or any other wing I’ve owned. It presses against the hangpoint loop at 5 o’clock instead of 3 o’clock. Its touching at the right spot, on the riser and I do not expect to see wear at the rub point. There is too much friction with the WST. Later, back at the house I couldn’t see a better routing , I’ll have to take another look in flight.
There was a strong onshore breeze above 100 feet but a very light countervailing wind at the surface. The convergence did not cause noticeable turbulence. I landed in the opposite direction to take off because even at 100 feet I was moving 40kts downwind. When I reversed and encountered the light tailwind it wasn’t dramatic and touchdown was feather light.
During the flight I played with the trimmers. They let out much better and I was able to trim in but with difficulty. I hope they will smooth out with time. The 2D steering is starting to make sense. I tried the horizontal arm pull and was making slow flat turns. The straight down pull that activates the wing tip first and is more responsive. I liked the the non-linear response to brake input. WTS was clunky but convenient. It didn’t require much pull but I didn’t try to see how far I could pull the WST toggle. The friction wasn’t enough to prevent full retraction of the line.
Dispite the 100 % humidity. I was flying level cruise trim 2900 RPM. Climb was great and decent was about 300 ft/min. Density of Altitude was a factor.
While packing up I noticed that a county sheriff was chatting with an RC pilot a couple of blocks away. I didn’t want to join the conversation so I “booked it”quickly.
The tangled lines issue seems to be resolved, so now, I will work on a better way to position my hands while starting the motor. maybe it’s time to try The A-assists. Then Robert’s Throggle.
Flight was aborted. The pull rod on the choke disconnected causing loss of power. The good news is that the wing repairs and modifications worked perfectly. So while this was a very short flight it was without mishap.
I floated about 10 feet above the surface for 200 yards and tried to coax some power out of the motor. When it was clear that it wasn’t going to happen. I set it down as light as a feather.