No Fly Day.

Nine Hundred and Ninety-nine times out of a thousand

I would have cleared that stop sign.

This was the #999th.

It started with dog piss in the shower and continued to go south the rest of the morning. While unloading, I discovered that the battery was dead. The wind was light and forty five degrees off the runways. The plan was to launch into the intersection and turn down the runway. The wing was a little behind my turn and the outside tip steering line caught the top of the stop sign and popped the tip right off. I felt it and immediately aborted. I honestly think I could have hammered the throttle and launched only to find myself flying a badly compromised wing. The left side would have had very low pressure and who knows what would have happened. Anyway I aborted and the only damage was to wingtip and a couple of lines.

Elisabeth is months out and Paramotor City is 6 weeks, so it’s going to be awhile. Tonight I picked up a Paramania Revolution 36 for a decent price. It’s a couple of years old but very low hours.

I was worried that 1000 was going to be underwhelming … the wait is going to make it special.

Almost my last flight! Flight 937

During my last two flights I noticed a shift in the frame as the wing started to load up.  I did post flight inspections both times and inspected the main spar by lifting the front wheel and eyeballing the frame from the bottom.  This time I was launching at Shell Creek for the first time since returning from the road trip and the shift was a noticeable shrug.  Once up, I decided that whatever it was … probably wouldn’t reappear until I landed, so I put it out of my mind and enjoyed a nice long flight.  The landing was uneventful.
Back at the house I the post flight exposed the problem.  The main spar is made up of two one inch square tubes.   From the bottom they looked fine but from the side I could see a crack.  I took off the seat and discovered that both tubes were cracked on the top and both sides.  With a little pressure I could make the cracks open slightly.  When I lifted the front wheel and rocked it up and down I could see that there was very little holding the rig together.  Conceivably,  if it didn’t collapse during take off, the spar could have let go with me on the breakaway side, only connected to the wing and motor by the seat belt.  I suppose its possible I could have stayed with the rig and landed but more likely, I would have fallen through the seat belt, completing my last flight.  Wow!  It was obvious that the cracks had been there for awhile but I hadn’t seen it.

It probably started when I had the crash at Bubba’s.  The trike came down hard and bent the frame downward, behind the seat.  I didn’t worry about it at the time.  Actually I liked the new configuration because it moved the prop wash slightly upward and lowered the seat and center of gravity.  I joked that it was more like the geometry of the trike buggy.  Well… the top of the tube is were it crimped the tubing and thats naturally where the crack would form.  The side cracks probably opened up recently. At least I hadn’t noticed them and I think I would have.

It took Mike Lange no time to repair the spar.

 While I was at it I balanced the prop and installed some bullet proof line keepers.  I also raised the seat about 5 inches and padded it with 2 inches of memory foam.

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.

Lazy Launch makes for NO Fly Day

Everything was perfect.  
The weather was beautiful with blue skies and a light breeze.

Beau was tied to the wind sock and I was ready to go.  No cam and only the Garmin to distract me.  The wing came up quick, I didn’t feel the momentary, “push me pull you”,  when the wing is fully in the prop wash.  I checked the mirror and there it was fully overhead and looking good. I was at full power and decided to go for it.  Next thing I see in the mirror that the wing is going frontal and before I could pull some brake the lines were in the prop and it was all over.  
I was lazy, I should have pulled enough brake to feel the wing as soon as it passed through the prop wash. The A Assists were tight but not any tighter than the last few launches.  They might have contributed to the frontal though. Whatever … The cage is bent in 3 places and I have several lines to replace.  It’s a good thing I’ve scheduled Wednesday afternoon to do welding with Mike Bennett.  We are going to replace the nose wheel and now we will repair the cage as well. 
Just as I was finished packing up, Marek showed up with Robert.  We motored over to the South West end of the field and Marek set up to do some foot drags in the swoop pond.  On his first attempt he got in a little too deep and submarine d.  Luckily there was no damage to man or machine.  At least nothing a little time in the sun couldn’t cure. 
Not a good morning for flying but it was nice to see the guys. 

#673 & #674

Aug. 14th

Two mornings at Vance Brand
Yesterday was good except that I melted a hole in the wing with the muffler.  I did a long low approach in nil wind on landing and the wing took a little downwind puff at the last moment I saw it change direction during deflation and tried to scoot the trike forward but just wasn’t fast enough.
Bummer !
I did have some repair tape and a nice large patch so it was no problem to repair it.

Aug 15th

This morning was also a nil wind day.  At least until I got to 500 feet where there was a 10 mph breeze from the NNE.  I tried to catch the balloons and followed them all the way to Louisville before I turned back.  Outbound leg was 40 mph … home leg was 20 mph.  It was 8:30 when I got back to the field and the thermals were starting to pop.  By the time I’d folded the wing and loaded the trike it was blowing hard from the NNE.  Long flight!

Dumb Chute Story … Flight #670 Vance Brand

This one I’ll be kicking myself for a long time.  The flight was nothing dramatic.  No Balloons … No Bird strikes … just a nice AM flight.
BUT… After I landed and bagged the wing I was driving the trike back to the truck and saw Ian was at his hanger so I thought to go over there and shoot the breeze with him.
Well,  as I was along side the truck I tossed the wing off to the side and as soon as I did it I heard that horrible sound of a wing getting parablended.  Apparently it took a bad bounce and I didn’t toss it hard enough because the prop sliced right through the wing bag and took out two top panels plus a rip on the bottom.
Another technical note:
The belt has been squealing more the last few flights so I took Terry Lutke’s advice and removed the belt, washed it with soapy water and applied conditioner.  Well, now it’s not making any noise but I noticed that there was rubber on the pulleys.   Maybe it was the conditioner.  Maybe it’s too tight.  I’m going to fly one more flight and evaluate it then.