It’s been blowing consistently for the last two weeks. I’d been looking forward to trying out the cruise control and the new camera mounts. This morning was one of those days that you get everything ready and hope it will be flyable in the morning.
This morning there was a light breeze from the NNW, blowing right down the runway. The grass has been good for the last few flights but the road was wide and freshly paved so I decided to go for the luxury of a smooth surface.
I took a little more time with the equipment and launched with both cameras running the seatbelt attached and everything else where it should be. Unfortunately the Hero 7 was set to 4K which I discovered does not work with my current software. Didn’t matter, the skies were mostly cloudy and the light was terrible.
Aloft, the winds were strong from the west. I’d thought about heading to the causeway but it would be a long slog and the air over the beach would have been rowdy and heading out to sea. I satisfied myself staying over the patch and fooling with the cruise control. At 800 ft the air was warmer with a bumpy thermocline.
The landings are getting better. I did a long final with power that allowed me to grease the landing on the blacktop.
Short but nice flight. The winds were coming in from the SSE. Launching from the patch was a problem because it had me flying right into the rotor coming off the east side so I moved into the development a bit. The surface was bumpy but with a good breeze I would be “rolling light” fairly quickly.
The launch was clean except that I forgot to start the cameras, check list needed. As soon as I’d cleared the wires at the west end of the field it started getting rowdy. The wind shifted to East and I was pulled pretty hard to the right. By 400 feet I’d cleared the bumps and was climbing steadily at 350 rpm toward Gasparilla. The sun was 20 minutes from sunset and I was approaching 1000 ft. when I saw what looked like a light rain shower to the north. On the second look, I worried about a possible wind front ahead of the rain.
So…. I cut power and turned back to the LZ. After passing through the bumps I greased the landing right by the truck. The rain and wind never arrived, I could have stayed up another 40 minutes but it was already twilight at the surface and if I launched again, I’d be packing up in the dark.
Reducing the pitch was a real eye opener for me. With the lower pitch my top RPM is betweenn 3800 and 3900. I’m able to get the idle to stay near 1300 to 1550. The motor surges and searches a bit, but it’s not a problem. The big thing is that the prop wash isn’t catching the wing, before I’m ready. I don’t like to sitting there with the motor running but it’s important that I be able to turn the key and still have enough time to get my hands in position for launch. Terry’s suggestion was a good one. Another thing I’ve noticed with the “new pitch” is that I’m better able to modulate engine speed and there is a wider powerband.
It was a great flight and I’m disappointed I cut it short but it feels good to be getting my chops back. The next few days are not promising but I’m getting back up soon.
Preflight…the hang points have been moved forward 3/8th inch to raise the front wheel slightly. Idle has been decreased slightly and cable adjusted to correct lost motion. Replace nose wheel tube and tire.
Weather is predicted to be perfect. 4 mph out of the south west. 80 degrees. Leaving early to rig cameras.
When I arrived at 4:45 , there was a fellow kiting at the field. Turns out he was waiting for Joe Tayler and a couple of fellows who were going to get a demo. The wind was approx 8 to 10 and twitchy. I decided to take my time and let it mellow a bit.
I left them to their devices and went to the Lee side of the field to set up. The launch was fine and I noticed the front wheel getting lite just before lift off. In flight I was not able tell if the front of the trike were any higher. Maybe… just a tad. It did feel better and I’ll make several flights before considering changing it.
The air was mostly smooth with the occasional bump. The winds were decreasing, at launch it was approx 5 mph. Not mentioned earlier, but adjusting the steering bars back and raising the heel loops, made for a much more comfortable ride and more control on the ground.
Joe Taylor is looking good. Look fast and find him starting in the top right corner.
Landing was better but there is room for improvement. The decent at idle is fast and I’m starting the flare too early. Next time try a little more power.
Tech note….. Change the “cruise control” mounting to allow loop over the end of the throttle lever…. I think it’s backwards.
Aborted first launch because I couldn’t stabilize the wing. Second attempt was successful but it was so bumpy that I immediately turned back and landed. The good news was that I met the airport owner and his wife who seemed very nice and happy to have me there.
Adjust idle and possibly cable slack
Test phone mount, interfered with my leg.
Nose wheel needs to be moved back 2 inches and inflated.
Camera boom needs to be shortened. Hero 7 on helmet or chest and Hero 9 on main spar.
Today was a bit of a milestone. I arrived at the field about 15 minutes after sunset. There was a 5 to 7 mph breeze from the SSE. The skies were clear and the temperature was 64 degrees. The ground fog had burned off and the field was very wet.
I set-up diagonally across the road NW of the usual field hoping to keep the wing dry. Taking Paul’s advice I had all the lines relatively tight to avoid the partial tuck I was getting during inflation. The prop pitch had been reduced 1.5 Degrees the day prior. It increased max RPMs to 9400 and greatly reduced thrust at Idle. It was a pleasure to be able to fire up the motor without the prop thrust grabbing the wing. Due to the cockeyed way the wing was laid out, the trike was straddling the edge of the road. I was afraid that it would slow down or otherwise disrupt the first moment of inflation so I tried an old trick from the Simms Landing zone. I used the ramps give the trike a smooth surface to start off. It also raise the back a tiny bit which might have helped to keep the wing out of the prop wash.
The launch was very easy. The wing popped right up into the breeze and stabilized overhead. I had to make a slight turn to correct the heading and when it was time , the slightest bit of brake popped me into the air.
It was 6 on the bump scale up to 400 feet, above was smooth with a strong breeze. I was surprised to learn that I had launched using the tip steering on the left side. It felt perfectly normal. As a matter of fact it felt better in my throttle hand than a regular brake handle. It might be a good idea to fool around with different toggles to see what works best. The winds were considerably stronger at altitude, 15 mph, at least.
I flew, crabbing against the Wind out to the Gasparilla Marina and back to Safe Cove. The Paramotor ran well with a lower pitch. I was climbing easily at 300ft/min at 3700 RPMIt was nice to have a wider power which made it easier to dial in the RPM. Best of all the torque steer has been reduced dramatically. My only complaint is the light action of the throttle. It’s difficult to hold a steady RPM when I stow the brake toggles or use the left hand to adjust the trimmers it’s too easy to rev or drop the RPMs. Just adding spring tension isn’t going to fix it , I need to add some friction as well.
The winds aloft were a steady 15 mph. I was able to penetrate at 15 mph at neutral trim. The upwind turns were fun and tight.
Landing was much better than the last two. Because of the rowdy air I had to actively fly the wing to keep control during decent. For the first time since I got sick I was flying with some weight on the toggles, feeling the wing instead of just giving input when I wanted to initiate a turn or something. When it was time to flair I was much more comfortable and was able to float the wing for a long way to bleed off energy. The lesson of the day was ….fly the wing! Hang a little weight on the toggles and feel what’s happening. I think it’s something that’s been lacking since the long sabbatical due to illness. It feels good to be getting my skills back.
Right after landing a flock of egrets landed right beside me. They even hung out for 45 minutes while I had an old fashioned kiting session and loaded up the rig. On the way out of the field, I pulled off the road for a minute to work with the IPad. While I was sitting there, head down, a couple older fellows rode up to take a look. The were fascinated by the motor but I was more interested in their expensive rides. Full Campagnolo groupos mounted on beautiful “big tube” carbon fiber frames. The kind of equipment that was only available to well funded professions just a few years ago. We shared pleasantries, said our fair wells and then, I headed home.
I stopped to add fuel and was surprised to add a .9 of a gallon for a 30 minute flight. If that’s right I’m burning 2 gallons an hour. I expected a higher fuel burn but this is almost double what the Generac burned. It’s going to limit my range but it’s not like I’m doing a lot of 3 hour flights, so…. no biggie.
This could be the start of something wonderful. I met with Paul Czarnecki at 8am at Lake Suzi Airpark. It’s a very nice airstrip that has 3000ft of beautifully groomed weeds. When I arrived the fog was too thick to launch so I watched Paul teach “carb tech” for 30 minutes. The weed were a little bit “grabby and I’ll have to be more attentive when launching there. The first attempt was aborted because the port side lines got caught causing the wing to come up very crooked. The second try was much better.
Yesterday I reduced the pitch by 1.5 degrees which brought the RPM up to 3900. The difference was significant, there was very little thrust at idle which made the problem of the prop thrust grabbing the wing go away but it also took much longer to get up to speed for take off. The machine seemed to be smoother and I used a lot more of the power band in flight. Today I think I’m going to add just a tiny amount of pitch to see if I can find a happy medium.
Paul took up his student’s wife for a quickly and then the student. We didn’t fly in close proximity but I did maneuver so that they could see where I was. Toward the end of the flight it started to get bumpy and a couple of times I was pulled dramatically to the side. On the surface the air was 90 degrees left of at the runway.
After landing Paul suggested that my A assists were too tight causing the leading edge to tuck a bit during inflation. I’m thinking that it isn’t the A’s it’s me putting too much pressure on them at the start of the launch.
I took a second flight with the lines tighter towards the center of the glider and it was a little better. That flight was cut to a quick circle because it was very active air.
Landing was a little harder , probably because the thrust is lower and my glide slope was steeper. I was a little surprised buy the harder landing and my inability to really pull down on the brakes. I’m going to have to work on my strength and remember to add a bit more throttle next time.
This was a first. After more than five decades a sailor I was dismasted. Truly, it was a non event , thanks to the Isles Yacht Club’s support boat. It was a challenge towing it due to the mast and sail acting as a Chinese rudder.
Back in her slip we stripped, dried and stowed the sails. About then Rudy Trejo came down from “The Yardarm” and inspected the damage. He has the parts and will have her back in service by Wednesday s club meeting.
Tomorrow I have been invited to the IYC Sailing Club Meeting where our incident will be discussed and Rudy will perhaps tell us what failed any why. I suspect the forestry shackle had a sloppy pin.
My sailing buddy from the IYC earned her wings, bought a plane and is tearing up the sky. The plane is a Ercoupe that was built in the late 40s. The first thing you notice is the distinctive twin vertical stabilizers. The fuselage has a metal skin and the wings are fabric. Its painted in USAAF blue and yellow. The two part canopy opens from the top sliding into the fuselage allowing open flying with windscreen. Very cool! There are no rudder pedals all controls are in the yoke. Very simple and fun aircraft.