The Big 900

I awoke without an alarm at 5:00.  Not having prepared to fly but remembering the Strawberry moon and it being the first day of Summer, I decided this was a good excuse to crack off another century mark.  The wind was blowing from the North East at 8 mph with little gusts and puffs up to 13.  It was cool (67 degrees) so I pulled on fleece top and bottom with a wind breaker.

The launch was excellent.  The wing came up smartly and my run up was short and steady.  Once airborne I was climbing at 350fpm at 11 mph ground speed.  Wow!  I don’t usually get excited about things like that but this was really well above the average.
Flew slowly against the wind out to Track and Trails and fast back to the patch.  The landing was sweet.  It was a little bumpy on final but the touchdown was slick and there was enough wind to keep the wing up after I’d come to a full stop.  I sat in the trike and kited the wing for a couple of minutes before pulling break and calling it for the day.    Nice……

Strawberry Moon … Solstice and the first day of summer…. First Strawberry moon in 70 years.

Ten Years of flight #847

Foggy day.  The first launch was aborted at the last minute because I was running out of runway and the fog closed in.  I reset and waited twenty minutes and launched into spotty fog.  I could see that it was going to be totally socked in quickly.  Even staying over the field was a challenge because There would only occasionally be a hole that allowed me to see through the fog to get my bearings.  The first time I set up to land I was too high and I had to circle around to the north end of the runway.  The second time I was lower but the fog was almost a perfect white out.  Just as I was about to give up and climb back over the fog I saw the trees on the West side of the runway and I followed it down to the surface.

The rest of the day was spent with the CSYC guys sailing on Charlotte Harbor.

First Florida Cross Country 841

It’s about time.  
My old friend Rex came down from Colorado to study with Paul at Planet PPG.  I had a pretty full week but still managed to get down to Pine Island a couple of times to cheer him on.  The first time was Wednesday and they were towing.  Poor Rex.  One new hip and another about to be replaced… He got up though and was making it work.  I caddied the wing a couple of times and when Rex had had enough I surprised myself and asked for a sled ride.  Paul hauled me up and I enjoyed my first foot launch and landing in a long time.  It was only a short hop but I think I’m hooked.  Foot launching is almost effortless when you don’t have to worry about running it  out with a motor on your back.  I will definitely try it again.  
Thursday morning I drove down even though the winds were predicted to be a bit on the high side.  When I arrived it was blowing about 10mph.  In the wind shadow of the runway it felt much lower but it was coming from the North North East across the runway.  I inflated fine but wasn’t able to stabilize the wing and aborted.  I’m not exactly sure what all my problems were but from the way the wing was reacting I think I should have damped the surge a little better and probably moved the trike a little slower.  Anyway before I could reset, Paul went up in his Falcon 38hp,  he got off fine but it was clear that there was some rotor to contend with.  He landed within 5 minutes and pronounced it “sporty”.  I choose to bag the wing.
That evening I drove back down and had dinner with everybody at Pine Island.  Somehow during the course of the meal Paul suggested that I fly down from Shell Creek.  My first reaction was, Hell No!….but of course I said , ” Sure that would be fun”.
  ……Well, I got to thinking  about it….and it has been a couple of days since my last flight…. and there is a low front moving in which is going to nix flying for awhile….and they did offer to provide a shuttle back up to the truck… The more I thought about it, the better it sounded.  Later back at the house, I fooled with FlySkyHy and managed to lay a few waypoints that would steer me around the Restricted airspace and get me over Pine Island Airport.
I wasn’t convinced that I was going for it but decided to plan on a SCA flight regardless and if it felt good …  go for the cross country.
The next morning the winds were 10mph from the North East, almost a straight shot to Pine Island Airport.  The launch was clean and quick.  Without missing a beat I headed South West and made my way around Punta Gorda Airspace.  The air was pretty smooth with occasional patches of bumps.  I had to crab around the airport and even so was flying between 35 and 40 mph.  After clearing PGA and hwy 75  I was able to turn directly downwind and race toward the Burnt Store hwy.  Acending to 2800ft agl I encountered turbulent air and so I decended a few hundred feet until it smoothed out.  Just past Burnt Store Marina I had to turn and crab the wing South East to stay onshore until I was lined up to cross over to the Island.  I was thinking to continue south till I got to the causeway, cross there and work my way back to PIA but the winds were picking up and I decided it was better to go with the flow.  I certainly had enough altitude to make the crossing without power so I turned South West, crossed my fingers and instantly I was “feet Wet”.   My biggest concern was without merit.  I was worried that I would not be able to spot the small airstrip….. Nonsense, Pine Island is tiny and the airstrip stuck out like a beacon.  AND…. There was Paul and Rex flying a couple hundred feet over the patch.  I was still pretty high, they looked like a toy Paraglider pulling circles down there.  Shortly after I spotted the guys they landed and so I over flew the patch and glided into the wind for a nice steep landing.
Rex, Paul and I fooled around the airport for a little while and then Rex and I set of to retrieve my truck at SCA.  Later we stopped at Peace River Seafood for blue crab.  It was a victory lunch for both of us.

838 Placida at Dawn

Mike Lange and I.  I Blew the first launch when I let go of a brake toggle to catch my sunglasses.  Dumb chute…..  Air was good except for a layer at 400 feet.  Both Mike and I went for altitude. He climbed to 3800 feet and I topped out at 2500.  No drama. Need to work on grabbing both wing tip and brake toggles for landing.

#500

I’ve been looking forward to number 500 since before my first flight and this was a good one. 

Yesterday, I hung and pitched the spare blades to 3750 RPM.  Mike’s did a great job repairing the rig, he replaced the bent steering bar and broken cage parts, made two new axles and repaired the broken wheel where the bearing failed.  After tuning the blades, I rolled around the complex at moderate speed.  It would be nice to have some brakes other than the soles of my feet, but thats a topic for another posting.
It was a bit of trouble getting out of bed but the snooze feature saved me and I was at the field before 6:30.  The surface was wet and muddy from last nights downpour.  I used the fan to blow as much of the water out of the hay as possible.  It was a good trick using the motor like a hair drier.
I wanted the trike to get rolling a little easier and keep the wing as dry as possible so I layed out on the jeep track.  Luck was with me, there was no breeze so I could take of in any direction and… why not have a runway if you can?  While I was getting ready to hook in the risers, I noticed the line keepers were missing.  Mike had taken them off when he was repairing the machine and even though he pointed it out to me I’d missed it when preparing the machine..  At first I was devastated, my tool bag and spare parts were at the apartment and  I had just cleaned the truck, and  knew, there would be nothing in the cab to cobble together a temporary set.  But … in the truck bed under the 4 by 8 plywood sheet I found some broken zip ties and a few feet of 6 ml line. AND …Wa Laa … the new keepers were in place and not necessarily temporary.
Flying in the Clouds

Pilot Rainbow

The launch was perfect.  Climbout was slow because of the high humidity and possibly because of the new blades at a different pitch.  But soon, I was climbing with enough authority to make a go of it.  I headed out to the lake, and…there they were… a huge bank of low clouds.  There was a large cluster that went up maybe 2500 feet and around it were  several dozen smaller clusters with little floaters going down to about 400 feet. 
For the next 50 minutes I played in the clouds.  Several times I got chilled to the bone but this was too good to quit.   I went above, below, between and around but avoided going into the cotton candy.  It was cold and wet and a little scary.  I did fly right along the tops and kick a few just so that I could say that I did.  I knew that I was technically bending the rules but…. at this altitude …. in this place.  I wasn’t worried about encountering any other aircraft.   The sun was obscured most of the time so I wasn’t able to get any spectacular trophy shots of my shadow but I did get one with a faint pilots rainbow. 

What Fun!