Flight #1115

Good flight after the crazy last one. Launch/landing was clean. Need to check if A assist ratchets are slipping and clean up left keeper where the lower was bent. Used WTS by leaving toggles attached and directly pulling the line. Next time use a little more brake pressure while launching to feel and control the wing.

NO DRAMA!

Flight Day. #1114. Spinout!

Well…. That was interesting. This morning… the first day of 2022, I had two aborted launches with a tip over.

The whole thing was so smooth and gentle, that, the second it was over, I knew …. It was OK. Nothing was bent, crushed or broken. Man or machine. The only visible evidence was a scrape on the outer ring and the original keeper was bent flush to the cage. If it had happened at the Salton Sea Gathering ….it would have gone viral .

The tip-over was the end result of the nose wheel catching an edge just at take off speed. I was drifting toward the boundary of the blacktop and dirt and had started to steer back to center, when (I think), the front wheel barely lifted and immediately touched back down. The sharp edge of the nose wheel appears to catch the edge of the blacktop causing the Falcon to pivot off it’s nose and spin 280 degrees to the left. Then, with it’s energy spent, the Falcon gently tipped over.

Video Jacob Nisley

Could this accident been avoided? Yes, I can think of a couple of scenarios that would have saved the launch. If I’d have popped a little brake at that moment, I’m confident the Falcon would have flown. A little more brake pressure might have allowed me to feel and steer the wing more precisely. If I’d been a little lighter of foot, the wheel might not have been turned as sharply and might not have caught an edge. The “slop” in the front wheel caster might have allowed it to cant causing the edge to catch. Round tires might have helped and that’s something not related to reactions or muscle memory. But I like the way the flat wheel steers and it’s smaller diameter helps to direct the prop wash above the wing before launch. So… I going to think a little more before changing tires.

After quick check of the rig and lines, I reset and tried again. And… failed again! This time the A-assist ratchet slipped and the wing headed off to the right where I followed it off the field. It was an embarrassing non-event. So… I gathered up the wing and determined to fly, reset for the third time. By now, the wind had picked up to 5 knots and was coming from 90 degrees off the earlier heading. This time the launch was quick, clean and very lofty. No issues with the lines at all.

The air was trashy up to 300 feet, where it settled down but the breeze had increased to 18 knots. Jacob had launched earlier and was well on his way to the beach. I called him and we swapped position reports. He was over the causeway about to descend to the beach. The wind looked like it was going to continue to build so I stayed over the patch.

I landed clean by the truck and waited for Jacob. After waiting awhile for his return I called him again. He was having a slow time penetrating and it took him a long time to make the last mile. Unable to penetrate he eventually he had to descend into the turbulent layer below 300 ft to start gaining ground on the LZ. His landing was spot on, despite the strong breeze and bumpy air.

It wasn’t a good day but it wasn’t a disaster either. It’s been more than a decade since I crashed on takeoff at Bubba’s. These things happen… and… after all… I did get to fly.

Flight #1113

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!

Flight #1112

Christmas Eve 2021

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.

Flight #1111

This was a good confidence builder.

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 way the non-linear response to increased 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 #1110

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.

Adjusting the Colorado to the Falcon

It’s not a flaw with the wing but I’m taking it out of service until I can resolve an issue with the unsheathed lines that are getting tangled with the keepers. This situation wouldn’t be a problem for a foot launch pilot or even one on a smaller two stroke trike. But… This is a big rig and probably not a configuration the designer considered when putting this wing together.

… pinch/stretch to zoom

This video is an aborted launch caused by the brake and 2D lines tangling with the line keepers on the outer ring of the cage. The unsheathed lines have no “stiffness” to withstand the turbulence and “suck” from the prop.

Part of the problem is that there are two line keepers. Why Terry Lutke did this, I’m not sure but he encourages using both. Also… I noticed that prior to starting the engine I pulled several inches of 2D and brake line to allow me to reach the ignition key. Even if I’m not pulling the brake far enough to reach the ignition , just grabbing the risers and preparing to start, brings the junction of the sheathed and unsheathed lines right up to the keeper where the tangles occur. The “Y formed by the A1 line is at risk for getting hooked on a keeper. Also… The unsheathed lines have little or no tension as it runs back to the wing.. I fear that eventually, that incredibly limber line is going to get whipped into the prop.

There are some things I can do that will help. An electric start button on the throttle would help, allowing me to have most of the slack out of the lines because I would not have to pull line creating slack while reaching for the starter. Also…. The line keepers must be modified to eliminate the possibility of lines snagging at the bottom of the V.

I think, with this large paramotor trike, there is an inherent danger with a thin unsheathed line this close the the propeller, especially during the take-off sequence, when line position and tension can be so dynamic.

I want to note that I did not use the A assist. The A line on the Colorado riser is shorter than other wings I’ve flown. The assist line would have only been about 6 inches long. I wasn’t confident that the A assist would be effective and was uncomfortable with a short A assist tugging on the wing while in flight. Also…., I wanted to feel the new wing during inflation.

One way I’ve thought to fix this issue is by adding 1 meter (maybe more) of sheathed line to the brake and A1 lines where they leave the risers. This will of course, require shortening the unsheathed lines and lengthening the 2DmBR the 2D steering line and the A1 line. This will put stiffer lines around the keepers and move their connection point, with the unsheathed lines, away from the rig where they have been getting tangled. I don’t think this change will have a material effect on the wing’s behavior…

But…. I look forward to Mr. Recek’s thoughts. If changing out a few lines is going to be the best solution. Then, I’m all for it. It’s just a matter of calculating the correct measurements and ordering the line. If he has a better solution…. I’m all ears.

No Fly Day It just didn’t feel right.

It just didn’t feel right. I woke and hour before the alarm and went through the usual routine. The winds were predicted to be 6 but were 10 in Punta Gorda. When I got to the field it was a little strong but doable. I waited 15 minutes and it was coming down nicely. It was very flyable.

BUT… It just didn’t feel right. Maybe it was the new wing, maybe I didn’t drink enough coffee, maybe it’s because I’d flown the two previous days and was tired. Maybe it’s because Jeff Goin has stepped down from the USPPA. Whatever the reason, I didn’t feel like going up.

BUT … The sunrise was awesome so I enjoyed the sight and drove home. The next several days it’s going to be high winds and a wet cold front.

Flight #1108

Another great flight with the Colorado. The XL wing fits the new machine perfectly. It is so much more efficient than the APCO. Both accent and decent are improved by over 100 ft/minute. The engine isn’t working as hard and cruise is almost 400 RPMs lower. It’s a particularly smooth spot on the power band and makes for a very comfortable ride. I haven’t paid much attention to speed but it is a slower glider. On the next flight I’ll see if I can figure out exactly how much slower.

The risers are complicated, with the tip steering threading through two d rings and a bungee thrown in to confuse. The brakes are set in the upper magnets but can be stowed in the lower ones. Its a bit disconcerting to have the wingtip line totally unconnected from the risers only attached at the brake toggle. I do like the way they have put two magnets on the toggles making it easier to stow. The WTS is stationed way down low, just a quarter of an inch above the hangpoint rings. The plastic hose loop toggles are very positive and there is a metal snap in addition to magnets to lock them in.

This mornings launch was interesting. The first attempt was aborted. I had a hard time finding the left A line after starting the motor and I let the motor die. Then I neglected to have the left brake in my hand before I started the motor and reach for the A riser. When I stated to move saw the super fine brake line tangled in the line keeper. Later viewing the video I was able to watch the slack line wrap itself up. The whole situation was caused by pulling extra line through the keeper to have enough reach to turn the key. Either I use the right hand to turn the key or I find a way to start the motor without having slack line. Maybe I should look at routing the finest lines through only one keeper

.

On the second attempt the wing went off to the left and pulled me up on two wheels. I was right on the edge of tipping over when I turned into the wing and prepared to abort. I looked up to see the wing had stabilized overhead, but… I was off the runway, rolling in a field with the grass armpit high. I could have continued on that course but I didn’t relish the thought of hitting an unseen hole so I decided to taxi back onto the runway. And it worked! I was reminded of the day I flew with Mo Sheldon 16 years ago. He inflated his wing and slowly taxied around for the longest time before committing to launch. I was struck by how slowly he was rolling with the wing happily bouncing along above him. So…When I got back in the hardtop, I turned down the runway and slowly applied power. Takeoff didn’t require brake input and once again the climb out was spectacular!

This morning I figured out the 2D steering. When my arms are outstretched horizontally and I pull down I’m activating the entire trailing edge. It’s very stiff and I doubt that I have enough strength or weight to try a landing moving my arms from 90 degrees straight out arcing downward. If I were 25 and a gymnast with hours on the parallel bars…. Maybe, but not now. Its fine for a slow flat turn. If I pull straight down, I’m activating to outer third of the wing which turns the wing nicely. A strong pull will start a banking turn very quickly. When using the WTS, it’s right there at eye level on the hangpoint and it’s very responsive.

I haven’t tried the reflex yet because the trim tab cams are incredibly stiff. It’s going to take two hands to release them and hopefully I will have enough strength to pull them in before landing. I understand that there were problems with the old style of cams not holding position so they replaced them with super heavy duty. I’ll run it by Andy McGavin but I might try epoxying a button on the center of the lever and see if that helps.

Decent is so much slower than the APCO that I’m going to have to find a better way to lower the RPM without killing the motor. Next time I go high, I should shut it down and free fly for awhile. I’m sure when I try a dead stick landing this wing will be wonderful.