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.

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!

Flying Easter Sunrise Service at Red Rocks

Flight 399 and the Big number 400
It was 27 degrees at 0600 hours. The skies were clear with no discernible breeze. I’d left the Falcon in the truck so it was just a matter of pulling on my cold weather gear and getting on the road. One of the best things about living with Chip is that Simms is only 5 minutes away. The field is looking better than it has in a couple of years. The heavy wet snows have packed the weeds down and other than a general bumpiness I’ve no complaints.
The first attempt was botched when the wing came up crooked. The breeze had picked up a bit and I missed the shift. When I set-up the second time I adjusted and took off without problem to the West. Looking at the wing I thought the brake lines looked wrong. One line (left inside) seemed unusually slack. I couldn’t see a problem and when I tried some input it reacted ok, but… it didn’t feel right so I turned back and landed by the truck. On the ground I still could not find a problem, so I re-set and launched. The air was good and did not feel as cold as I knew it was.
It was more comfortable with the seat positioned more upright but the brake lines are still too far aft. It pulls my arms back and stresses my shoulders. I’m not sure what the fix is…move the seat back… put some kind of line guide on the hang point rails. Maybe I just need to work on upper body strength. It’s better but there are still a few tweaks to get it right.
The Falcon was climbing great. At 3400 RPM I had 290 ft/min and when I adjust the prop a little more I’m sure that will improve. Considering that I was 300 RPM below optimum 375 ft/min should be attainable.
As I traversed Bear Creek Park it started to get bumpy. I had a clear view of Red Rocks, there were lots of cars in the parking lot but it didn’t look like a full house because the top 2/3rds of the seats were empty. It looked like the wind was going to pick up, there was a bank of hard blown clouds to the North. Concerned that I would get into a wind storm or strong turbulence from the up slope meeting the down slope…I decided to turn back so that I would be over home field if I needed to get down in a hurry. It would have been nice to buzz the amphitheater but no sense pushing it.
The landing was good; the wind had come up considerably with a gust that popped me up on final. Fortunately I had plenty of room and landed close to the truck.
This was a good thing to do. Getting ready yesterday and climbing out of bed before dawn occupied my mind giving me a little respite from the troubles that have been consuming my attention the past several months.

Colorado Falcon lands in Denver !





The rest of my universe is a total disaster but after months of waiting the Falcon has landed!
I can honestly say this was the first time I’ve smiled in 7 weeks. Pam the u-ship gal showed up an hour early and we unloaded in no time. Best of all she was able to take the Thumper back to Terry on her return trip. He will have it in the first days of Feb.
Quick observations
1. It has the best visibility of any of my previous trikes. I can see all points of the compass. For the first time I will be able to look back through the prop and it will be easy to check fuel level. It will be much easier to launch when I can see the wing inflate without using a mirror. It’s going to be great to be able to look behind and see in all the traditional blind spots. I’m thinking that it will be closer to the foot launch experience. The bucket seat puts you “out there” so… instead of being cocooned inside of a harness or low down in the trike buggy… you’ve got your ”knees in the breeze”, as Brett Cam would say. The forward rail is narrower and the front wheel is out of view which also reduces the “visible stuff” out in front. I’m really looking forward to flying this thing!

2. The bucket seat was a good option, designed for go carts it is very suitable for the Falcon. It fits my small frame great and I think bug guys will like it too. The side rails make great attachment points for the reserve and if I want I can mount a “saddle bag” on the other side for cameras, water, mini parachutes… toys.

3. The electric start was smooth but there is no optional pull start like the Briggs & Stratton. It’s not really an issue… since I never had to use the pull start on the Thumper. Terry relocated the ignition to a central point just forward of the bucket seat. Good move since the first thing I did with the side mount was to break the weld. It also does away with the pivoting arm that the switch was mounted to. Last spring I launched with the hang strap inside of the pivot arm. The strap stressed the arm and I killed the motor trying to sort it out.

4. It’s BIG ! With a 66 inch prop and one piece construction the rig is too big to get inside of my store…except for the front double doors. I can’t get it into the shop for hang testing. So… I’ll just have to stop at an elementary school on the way to my first flight. I probably should have had Terry make it so I could remove the cage but it’s not a big deal. I’ll cope.

5. The 5 point seat belt looks like it came off of a Russian tank. It’s 3 inch webbing with rough cast hardware. When I cinch it up I’ll be able to fly but I won’t be able to reach the GPS or do any weight shift. Most likely after the first few flights I’ll ditch the crotch and shoulder straps. The waist belt is very comfortable and I like the way it snug’s me into the bucket seat. The buckle is primitive but it is a good clean quick release. I’ll braid a lanyard to the Q.R. to make it easy to find in an emergency.

6. I was a little concerned about the wheels but the new mags are bigger than I thought, it will be no trouble rolling over the rough stuff with these babies. Also the rims are split which will make it easy to change out a flat. The front wheel is small so…I might have to use ramps on soft surfaces … Time will tell. I do like the reverse camber of the nose wheel. It will keep it tracking if I decide to be a jerk and take my feet of the pegs… :).

7. The battery came off during transport, so I secured it with zip ties and filled the gap in the battery tray with some stiff closed cell Styrofoam. It will probably benefit from one more Zip tie but it’s not going anywhere the way it is.