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.

Epic X-Country

Port Charlotte to Lake Wales

Flights #995 #996

Falcon 4 stroke APCO LIFT EZ. LG. 31

Miles logged 85.1

Time. 2 hours 37 minutes

1000 feet

Ave 31 mph

Trimmers in neutral

It was Mike Lange’s birthday last week and the crew got together to celebrate. After dinner we were sitting around the dining table and, as usual, the topic of cross country came up,and as usual, it was Port Charlotte to Lake Wales. However, unlike every other time, it came to pass.

Bob was the key. Early in the week someone posted about flying and I came back, Friday morning. Nothing came from it until Thursday afternoon when I got a message from Mike L, “Looks like we’re going to make that flight tomorrow!”. For the rest of the day the texts and messages were flying. We crammed 3 months of musing into half a day. Routes, logistics, misgivings, reassurances all the typical issues were brought up and handled. At 10:00pm, just as the texts were starting to slow down, I was ready.

At 4:45 the alarm went off. I went through the usual rituals and hit the road. Then everything went to hell. We were to meet at the Orlando LZ and I got lost. Nothing looked right. I turned on Orlando and drove right past the LZ. When I realized I missed it I texted Mike and he said they were launching from Yorkshire instead. Yorkshire?, Yorkshire? I knew I’d flown from there recently but I couldn’t for the life of me, remember where it was. I was fishing on the nav app trying to figure it out when I got a text from Mike that they were going back to Orlando. I’d just been there so I pulled a u-turn and after 5 minutes of driving around and once pulling within 500 feet of the gang and turning around again, we finally hooked up. Luckily we planned the meet a little early and it was still nautical twilight.

Bob the Pilot Harrison says it best.

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Adventure flight #1

Mike Lange and Otten hv bn wanting to fly a x/c for a while. Well all the gears aligned for a North Port to Lake Wales flight via Avon Park Wally World for a slushie of all things.

We all gathered at Mike Lange’s house to reconfigure the chase vehicle. Meeting Joe at the LZ for a 06:45 departure.

Except for departing at sea level, it was a maximum effort takeoff having calm winds, high humidity/Temp and heavily laden with fuel, energy drinks and granola bars. Mike Otten kited my wing up nicely with a longer run than usual, then foot dragged half a football field mowing a new path in an already mowed grass median, eventually easing into the air. We weren’t sure if he was going achieve positive rate for gear up or a high speed face plant. Mike Lange and Joe Onofrio kited their wings into lifting position and were off with a bit longer runs.

I had programed road crossings into my GPSTest app for course monitoring. Was a bit of a challenge to keep up utilizing back country roads.

The Wally World stop was like adding an exclamation point to the adventure for Mike and Mike, I think Joe is still scratching his head. ūüėČ It was an open mowed lot with low obstructions for normal takeoffs. We used the philosophy of asking for forgiveness rather than permission, we used neither, so we’ll save it for next time.

On takeoff Mike Lange let the fast inflating Hadron XX get ahead of him, experiencing a 1/3 collapse, he kept the flying side straight while the other reinflated, throttled up and liftoff. Joe’s wing had a little waddle to it in the beginning. He straightened it out in taxi and throttled up.

Mike Otten controlled the wing nicely but didn’t have a normal takeoff. After mowing another path through already mowed grass, he had to add heavy right brake to counter a sharp left turn after liftoff while navigating between two oak trees a light pole while NOT stalling a strange wing. That took a level head and skill. Once through the obstructions he circled around to the left for another landing.

Mike was flying my APCO Lift and forgot to clear the four control lines or verify their proper connections. The L/Tip steer toggle was either wrapped around the risers or snapped into the brake snap causing an aggravated left turn.

Mike lange and Joe Onofrio were in a holding pattern until the event was over. I must say using radio communications, keeps everyone in the loop for changes and normal decision making.

The rest of the flight was a non event. They landed with fuel to spare at the AviatorPPG facilities located on Lake Wales airport. Jon allowed us vehicle access to load gear. After which we shop talked over lunch at the Depot restaurant downtown Avon Park before heading home.

Looking forward to the next cross country flight.

Bob the Chase Pilot

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I’m afraid that my 1000th flight is probably going to be a let down. The last three flights have been fantastic! The weather has been remarkably cooperative. I look forward to the winter sun and longer flight windows.

Above solar farm … Below our pit stop LZ

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.

680 Vance Brand 8500 feet

8500 feet ….Carter Lake in the distance.

This was much better, I tightened the belt one full turn and the problem was solved.  There was even some tiny belt slap so I know that it is not over tightened.  I climbed to 8500ft. MSL (3000AGL) and was able to see Carter Lake in the distance. 
¬†It is 13 miles away … good cross country… someday.


#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.