Blew Launch and Blended the Wing

I waited a week to write this one up because I’ve been trying to figure out what was the cause of a very expensive incident.  During the last few launches I’ve been having trouble with the lines getting bit during inflation.  Was it the keepers kicking out lines or perhaps it was the APCO Lift EZ doing some crazy dance where the outside lines were slack and getting grabbed while the center of the glider was going through the prop wash?  I’m still not sure what the problem is but I’ve decided it didn’t have anything to do with this incident.

Here is what happened.  The wing came up crooked and I pumped the brake to get it back on track, at the same time I was reducing thrust.  I expected the wing to overshoot but instead it did what APCO said it would, it went overhead and stopped. Then, because I was still decelerating, it stalled and fell into the paramotor.  I added power too late to get ahead of the wing and killed it only after the wing was being sucked into the hub.  Apparently it’s a fine line between having too much power and not enough when you are trying to stabilize an oscillating wing.  Too much and you get rolled, not enough and the wing  stalls.  Its also very possible it that there was a tail wind which would have stalled the wing almost as soon as I started to slow down.
One of the cons to flying at Shell Creek is that the vegetation on either side of the runway can make a wind shadow.  I had motored out to the LZ leaving my wind sock 100 yards away attached to the truck where it showed very light and variable air.  There could well have been a nice northern breeze just over my head and I didn’t catch it.  The airflow at the Parking area has it’s own issues, between buildings etc.
No matter how I analyze it ….pilot error.

There are no pictures because I wasn’t of a mind to document a perfect wing slashed to ribbons.

Beautiful night that turned out to be a pucker # 653 at Vance Brand

I labeled this post with bad launch and Hairy Flight but really it was not bad just challenging.

It was hot all day and 89 degrees when I got to the field at 6:45.  I took my time setting up to let the air mellow.  At 7:15 I had set up with my new A Assists and blew the first launch.  The keeper I had used to attach the ratchet to the Assist wasn’t strong enough and it blew out.  I reattached them with heavy zip ties and tried again.  This time I wish I had someone with a video camera.  The wing hung back and so I reached up and gave the assists a little help.  I must have got a better push with the right arm because the wing shot up but was only flying on the right side.  I looked to the left and the whole left side was hanging down like a limp dick but the air was still and I had lots of room so I backed off the throttle and coaxed the wing back up with a few pulls on the brake.  It was the longest roll out and take off since the time in Meadow Lake with the 23 hp Briggs.

The air was OK until I got to 500 feet where there was a layer of rowdy air.  I powered through that and found good air at 1000 feet AGL.  I went South and West until I found my self at Boulder Reservoir I was at 6000 feet MSL and there wasn’t a puff on the lake so I descended to about 200 feet AGL and cruised the shoreline.  When I got over the Marina area it started to get bumpy so I climbed out and started back.

About half way home I encountered a headwind and was flying at 10 to 15 mph.  The air temp dropped several degrees and I was feeling “puffs which is not normal.  I was able to pick up speed by crabbing but it still took a long time to get back to Vance Brand.  The wind had shifted from Northerly to Easterly and I was about 1 and a half miles west of the field when I encountered some really nasty air.  I was starting to get some minor tip collapses and being bounced up and down 50 to 100 feet at a time.  Earlier I’d flown through some patches of big lift and sink but that was at 6500 ft. It was a whole different story at 300 feet and it stayed that way all the way back to the field.

The landing was very steep and after touch down I pulled a couple of yards of the right brake to disable the wing.

618 & 619

618 & 619
The winds were higher than expected when I got to the field at 6:30.  I put up the wind sock and waited a bit .  It seemed to be cycling about every 7 or 8 minutes.
At 7:30 the crew started to arrive. Mike bennett and Tom P. came ip from Snowflake followed by Paul and Dan.  prett soon we had a good crowd.  The winds were still strong but after watching several footlaunches I decided to go for it.  I was set up by the truck with the windsock directly to my left.  I wanted to watch it and time the launch for when the wind came down.  BIG MISTAKE!  The wing came up and immediately started to ossolate, it settled down and I started to roll out.  The launch was without drama but when I looked up to check the lines, there was my windsock streaming from the port side C lines.  The wing was flying fine and I didn’t notice any tendency to pull to the left but it looked bad and so I lapped the field and landed.
The next attempt was a fiasco, the wing came up fine but collapsed during the run out.  I was able to recover it only to have it collapse again.  After getting it overhead a third time I was probably 30 degrees off the original heading and the wing was flying straight, just as I powered up to launch it folded up again so I shut it down.  The kicker was that just as the prop wound down the wing reenflated and there I was sitting in the middle of the field power off kiting the wing.  I could have probably started the motor and launched without incident but enough is enough.
While I was hauling my gear back to the truck Mike Bennett went up to demo the new Eden 5.  It’s a whole new wing,  certainly not DHV 1-2 anymore.   He pulled several impressive wing overs and one very scary looking barrel roll.  He wasn’t phased by it but I was puckered.
Finally I launched and enjoyed a little windy airtime.  The chase cam was tracking well and I was looking forward to seeing the footage from all the early morning shenanigans.  Unfortunently the data got erased forever.  I was able to see it once before i erased it and could clearly see the wing dip down and pluck my windsock off the pole and later flying from the lines off to port.  Too bad it would have made a great “dumb chute” video.
As we were packing up a fellow came by asking about the generac.  we got to chatting and i was invited to go for a ride in his EZ LONG.  It is a light sport X-perimental.  …Got a ride on a EZ L experimental craft.  WOW ….fast,  Long range,  aerobatic, tiny, and did I say cheap?   They are online used and flyable for under $40,000.  We flew out to Winter park over to Granby and Grand Lake.  Then to Estes and a couple of times around Longs Peak and back to Vance Brand.  90 minutes of airtime and he even let me fly a bit.  The first time I grabbed the stick I gripped it like it was a mountain bike on a hard downhill but once I settled down it was easy with just the lightest touch required.
GREAT DAY!

dumb chute story
What a great plan….Thanks Ian

#454 & #455 Snow Flake

Good day at Snowflake




low and slow

 

First Launch was good .. mike got video and stills.
Mike Bennett,  Robert Archer, &  Dan Kamisar
Started calm but the winds picked up shortly after sunrise. 

photo by Mike Bennett
Second take off was not good.  The wing was ossolating … I backed off the throttle and powered up again but the wing was still swinging.  I proceeded into the weeds and launched with a slight swing.  When I finally saw the video I was shocked at how close I came to another rollover.  Just like at Bubba’s I was bounced up and came down at a 90 degree angle to the origional heading.  This flight should have been aborted… no question about it.

Next time…. Power up   Once the wing is up and the trike is rolling… back off and taxi until it is stable, then add power and launch!  Watch the wing!  It’s elementary stuff but I seem to be having a hard time of it lately.  It is easy to blame the machine… it winds up too slow … or it’s so much heavier.  None of these things are flaws…it is just the nature of the rig.  Know how it performs and fly accordingly.
The answer is focus. 


good launch    Photo by Mike Bennett



Bubba’s High Altitude Fly-In

I’ve been home from Bubba’s Event for almost a month but for a number of personal reasons I haven’t posted my report.  In a nutshell I had two good flights and one spectacular crash with minor equipment damage and no injuries.  For a complete report on the Fly-In, see Mike Bennetts Blog.  He picked up the ball and has written a very comprehensive post.     http://mbppg.com/info/bubba.html 

After two successful albeit fast launches I rolled the Falcon. 
The irony is within this You Tube Video

As with most incidents there were several things that contributed to the mishap.  Here is the way I remember it.  The first two launches with Mike’s 30 meter Eden III were fast.  In both cases I took off and touched down again before getting off.  In both cases I floated for a couple hundred yards before starting to climb.  Once up, the flight and landing was pretty standard.  Flight speed was around 32mph and my climb was about 125 feet/min.

On my last launch I touched twice and on the second touch I came down crooked with the trike contacting the ground with the front and right rear wheel.  The trike flipped and rolled once landing on the wheels, I was then ejected to the right in the opposite direction of the roll.  I immediately turned off the motor but not before it damaged the wing. Here are some of the things I did wrong:
1) I did not fasten the seat belt.   This is not a common mistake for me but I have done it twice… both times with witnesses.  It was fortunate that I was able to stay with the machine during the roll…  One effect of not being belted in was that when I hit a bump and got bounced, I lost contact with the right steering peg.  It could have caused the cart to turn so that when I did get lifted the thrust was out of alignment with the wing.
2) Once the wing came up and stabilized I didn’t check it again.   After the first touch the wing started an oscillation, which unknown to me, got progressively worse as I accelerated.  I lost situational awareness as to what my wing was doing relative to the trike.   HUGE MISTAKE !
3) I did not abort or reduce throttle after the first touch.  Despite the fact that the launch was obviously going bad I stayed on the throttle when I should have aborted or reduced power and stabilized.  The first thing Bubba asked me was … “Did your throttle get stuck.  It is very telling that I thought I could salvage the launch right up until the trike started to roll.  Looking back I my head wasn’t in it.  The weather wasn’t expected to be flyable and going out to the field was a last minute decision.  I rushed to get ready and like my last post “Rush and Pay the Piper”,  BOY DID I !
4)  The front wheel on the Falcon was bent and not appropriate for the terrain and speed required for lift-off.  The guys pointed out my bent front wheel when I first arrived.  It must have suffered from some of my lurching launches at Simms when the trike is rolling full speed over a bumpy surface.  This might have also contributed to the reason I didn’t abort.  The Falcon does not handle high speed taxiing as well as the Trike Buggy did … it was a little like trying to foot launch in no wind or down wind … It felt too fast to abort, and if that were the case I shouldn’t have tried to launch.. 
Looking back … I was an accident looking for a place to happen.  I was rushing to get up and in the wrong frame of mind to be flying.  My previous two flights were successful but my head was not in the game and it was dumb luck that prevented serious injury.

Time to take a break from flying.

Here are a series of pictures that Shelia Boulten took … See if you can follow the sequence.

Good inflation
Still good gaining speed
Bumpy ground
foot off peg
Emergency take off
Back down …foot off peg
Emergency take off
two point touch down
Trike is 100 degrees off course
Trike is 180 degrees off course and rolling
back on wheels / pilot is ejected
Turns off motor
Here is a link to Mike’s photos of the repair
Mike Bennetts’s Video

#420 Simms

Simms… Good Flight… Tough Launch … I’m going to have to find a place that is smoother or cut some weeds! The reserve got snagged pulling one pin and opening the front half of the container. I spotted it right after launch and closed the velcro but it was not a good thing! Chip and I rethreaded it later that evening and I was happy to see that the chute will not need to be repacked but I will need to spend some time picking the weed and seeds out of the velcro.

I flew for an hour at Red Rocks Amphitheater and was headed back to the field. Even though it was 70 degrees on the ground I was getting chilled from flying in the shadows. And so…I’m hightailing east chasing the sun and there right in front of me was Chip who had just taken off. Well this was fun… we danced in the sky for the first time in a long while. I’m reminded of the time we were West of Chatfield and confronted by a News chopper. I turned tail and ran for cleaner air while Chip charged right at the chopper kind of like young Saint Bernard. Our flying styles haven’t changed, tonight I was content to float above and take pictures while he put on a beautiful show above the lake. Lots of freeflight in that boy… nice smooth diving turns and hard banking spirals.

The sun set… I was cold and Mr. Lutke’s CT Marvel was running on fumes. Time to go home! The landing was nice, there was just enough breeze to slow way down and when I touched , I could hardly feel it. Seriously nice… Chip stayed up till the approaching darkness forced him down. Typical free flight guy, he boated around the field for 5 minutes before setting up to land.

You meet the best people 500 feet above the earth!

#373 Falcon Walmart

This was an off day. I met with Kevin on the corner of Woodman & Markscheffel, it was too wet and muddy so we went to his 2nd choice which they call Falcon Walmart. I’m sure it was a better site a year ago but the construction has continued and the field we selected wasn’t that big. No problem for foot launch but a little tight for me. The field has recently been cut but the cuttings were still there and perfect little chunks of tangle weed.

The wind was fresh from the South and while we set up it shifted slightly to the east. My first launch was aborted when the throttle cable snagged a line and I couldn’t get it free…even with the wing mostly loaded. There wasn’t alot of room to fool around so I aborted before I got too far down the runway. While I reset Kevin took off and soon I was ready for
#2 This was a mess…The wing came up fine but my acceleration was poor and it fell back. I tried to save the launch. Big mistake… The PPS will not come back up unless you have control of the A’s. I’ve been thinking of reinstalling the A assists and this would have been the perfect time to have them. I would have probably got the wing back overhead but what happened instead was …the wing fell back and caught in the propwash, it pulled the buggy back and turtled. Fortunately I was able to kill the engine quickly. The cage was tweaked a bit but the spinner and soft damp earth saved the prop.

Kevin landed and encouraged me to try again. I wasn’t too keen after two bad launches but the air was good. So…I started the motor to be sure the prop was still balanced and tracking clear of the cage. The motor came up to 3600 but I couldn’t get any more.
#3…The wing came up clean and started to overshoot but I added some brake and accelerated. The run out was long and I barely had enough room but eventually I got up and started circling the field. Climb rate was lousy and I noticed that the RPM’s had dropped to 3400. After several laps I started to get some altitude. The air was good with just the slightest currents. After 10 or 15 minutes I did a fly-by and landed. It was a nice landing, with a low & slow turn just before final and a 3/4 throttle gentle landing.
Kevin…thanks for the ear plugs!

Today I dressed for cold weather but didn’t need to. The gloves I selected were not nearly as supple as I thought, it hard to handle the lines and when I had to reset twice I was clumsy and hot in the “snow suit”. Next time …set up the wing ….test fill it … then put on the heavy clothes.

To Dos…
1)Add washers to the cruise control nob. DONE
2)Check the PPS for snags and debris…check the mallions on both wings
3)See about pulling the cage back into round.
4) Rig the A assists for winter flying
5)Check pitch of the props