It’s been awhile, mostly because I was balancing and refinishing the blades, poor weather and a bad case of bronchitis.
I had a boat showing at 9:30 at Safe Cove which worked perfectly to get in a morning flight. There was a large storm cell offshore which was predicted to be overhead shortly after nine. It was destined to be short and sweet.
The launch and landing were perfect. I powered up slightly during the flare and touched down so lightly, I didn’t even feel it. Twenty minutes after landing a gentle rain started that didn’t let up for 3 hours.
The blades felt great. The vibration has been reduced to almost zero and it’s probably only in my head but it seemed quieter. I neglected to bring my IPad so there was no way to gauge performance but I think that cruise is a lower RPM. Next flight will confirm. The torque seemed higher but I don’t know why that would be. Also there is a strange friction in the throttle.
On it’s way! Black wire is ground, red to the coil, the other two blue and yellow to the electric start relay.
My first impression was, “this is too big for my hands. I couldn’t reach all the buttons and controls unless I could changed hand position on the fly.
But… The biggest issue on my mind, was that, the throttle was going to be integrated into the brake handle. Which meant, that, I wouldn’t be able to modulate the motor while using the WTS. And… With my current wing, (APCO LIFT EZ), the WTS is what you use when in reflex mode. The brakes are forbidden and using them in Reflex could cause a collapse. I suppose, I could hang up the brakes, set the RPM and fly but it would be a different style of flying. There would be no backing off the throttle coming out of a hard turn to dampen the bounce or adding power to steepen the bank. Perfect for X-country but not for high speed banking and cranking.
How hard would it be to disengage the brake lever to use the WTS? It would probably mean another strap to attach the throttle to the hand, the same as a conventional set-up. I fashioned a strap using one wrap and an adhesive backed piece of “male” Velcro attached to the body of the throttle. Moving the strap around the handle I was able to find the sweet spot that put all the controls within easy reach. The twist ties are not necessary. The brake handle nestles into its groove nicely. I don’t think the throttle would fall out of the brake toggle, even if it were hung in the risers. Yet… it can be removed easily, allowing the pilot to go to the WTS. Day 2 This morning after a nice sunrise flight, I started the swap. After a trip to the hardware store and a few bruised knuckles, I was ready to test it… First attempt was a huge success. It started right up and the kill switch worked. The second attempt was a disaster. It took awhile to figure it out. What happened was, the start button failed and stuck in the start position. I think the machine is alright, the starter was red hot but I was able to pull the battery cable before it burned. I spent the next hour removing the throttle. I wanted to reinstall the old throttle but it needs a new brake cable that won’t be available until tomorrow. Day 3 Today, I reinstalled the original throttle and happily the starter works. I was able to find a 5’ cable and housing, at, “Rich’s used bike shop, across the street from the new Trek/Bicycle Center. So now, at least, I’ll have full extension with my left hand. I don’t think I’ll be able to reach my reserve but everything else.
Another silver lining from this “field trial” was discovering Rich’s Bike shop. It is so old school! OMG … IT was like the good old days of Pettee Cycle. I was instantly transported back 35 years to when I was an independent rep to the industry. I introduced myself, disclosed that I was an old J&B Rep. and … we were off to the races. Instantly we were brothers of the wrench. Richard showed me around his shop and …. Low and behold … they also do small wheels. Go carts, wheelchairs, novelty vehicles and…. Ultralights. I’ve finally found my wheel and tire guy. The next project is going to be new rear wheels and eventually a front brake.
Day 4 Today I spoke with Terry and we figured out what caused the problem. Instead of two wires attached to both posts on the starter I just néed one wire attached to the post between the solenoid and the relay. What I had done was run a direct circuit through the button and the battery. We welded the button in the closed position. I’m going to try it with the SkyTec throttle and see what happens.
It’s been a good streak, eight mornings out of the last eleven, I’ve flown. Unfortunately, now…. I’m grounded due to mechanical issues with the new throttle. Hopefully, all I’ll need, to get back in the air, is a brake wire.
The last two flights were uneventful and truthfully they are starting to blend together. Perhaps it’s a good time to pause and do something else for awhile.
No Drama … Well maybe a little. It was a clear dry and altogether beautiful morning. I launched clean at the main intersection heading into the sun. I then flew over to the golf course north of Gaspirilla Marina and dropped down to 200 ft and carved a few turns around the landscaping crew. At the far North end of the course I spotted a small business jet on final to the jetport. My mistake. I hadn’t paid any mind to where I was crossing the flight path. Dumb Ass. In 7 years I’ve never seen any activity while I was in the area and on the one day I cross the flight path…. They have traffic. I doubt I was spotted and if so, I was well clear when the fast mover was making approach. It was a really dumb move that will not happen again.
Landed with just the brakes at neutral trim and found it well balanced with acceptable pressure.
Attached one A” assist to the second A. Oppps! I remember compensating with a little more reach but the wing popped up smartly and we were accelerating down the runway. The wing was steady overhead the first 200 feet of runway. The last half of the runout was twitchy with gusty air. At 150 ft the wind increased quickly and we were being pulled dramatically to the left. Some of it was torque related but the air was also very active.
Climbing through 400 ft. I noticed the A assist goof. I don’t think it was an issue but the new line was obviously tight and it seemed a good time to test my quick release knots. It worked beautifully. Tension released without any of the problems I’d experienced with previous A assists lines.
I cut this flight a little short. The air was alternating between 2 and 8 on the bump scale. Just about the time, you think your through the layer, bang it’s another pocket of spicy tamales. The clouds were multi layered with small dark puffers starting at 100 meters across.
1088 was great! The plan was for Alvaro and I to fly to Gaspirilla Beach. He had a problem with his 1st launch an called me to to on ahead without him.
I got as far as crossing the causeway and decided to stay there and play with the clouds that were forming off the island. I caught one that went from a wisp to a city block of thick white puff in 3 minutes. It was small enough to fly around , over and under. Great fun! The highlight for me, was a beautiful Glory Rainbow on my pass in the clouds.
Tech note: I set the trim two notches out for landing and wasn’t able to push through a complete flare. The next flight I set at neutral and it was better. Next I’ll try a little more trim in.
The highlight of #1089 was the launch. It was 76degrees and 99 percent humidity. I set-up on a wide road into light to nil wind. The wing came up clean and I accelerated quite a bit before lifting off. No brake input. About one second after lifting…. Whoosh the climb was dramatic. FlySkiHi showed 400 fpm.
I didn’t stay up very long, the clear sky was filling with puffers and it was getting bumpy quickly. I got into a little “cloud suck” and was climbing at 300 rpm. I went to idle and worked my way to the edge of the cloud. When I crossed into the sink, it was as though the down button had been pressed on the express elevator. I grinned like a kid, altitude is my friend.
Today was a bit frustrating. I challenged myself to get out to the field before sunrise. And, I did, even though I stopped for gas. Then I prejudged the wind, it looked to be exactly like yesterday. But No!
I set up in the middle of the intersection, 30 degrees off the runway (30 degrees true). Then, to the truck to get suited up and take a picture of the view over Gaspirilla. In those few minutes, the wind shifted to straight down the East/West runway. I hemmed and hawed trying to talk myself into a launching into a 90 degree crosswind.
So…If I turned the wing just so and applied lots of left brake and the wing came up just right and all the other variables dropped in my favor. … Yeah! I could do it!). Eventually, I bagged up the APCO and taxied West to reset.
The launch was clean but I was 30 minutes late for a trophy shot. Instead of going for altitude I climbed to 1000 ft. and played with the wing. The chase cam was in position and a good time was had by all.
The landing was better than yesterday. I’d set the trimmers a notch faster than neutral. I had better flare authority and was able to control the pressure all the way to “brakes below thighs”.
When I got home, the video was disappointing. Once again the cam rode upside down. It looks like one side of the bridal got hung up. It was set too close to the wing and got knocked down at the start of inflation.
SAFETY NOTE…. The sheath is broken on the First right D line. Probably from the day I wrapped the chase cam.