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.

————————————————-

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

————————————————-

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

952 & 953 WOW 2017

#952

Dawn launch, Shell Creek.

50 minutes 
1200 ft.  AGL
Light ground fog.
Chase cam footage.

#953 
Dawn Launch, Lake Wales Municipal Airport WOW 1017
1200ft AGL
Foggy conditions.  
Hung around the airport for 40 minutes and landed when it looked like it was closing in.  
No Drama

WOW was a bust.  Well, not exactly but the weather looked like it would shut down aviation after Friday. It was pretty obvious so I changed my plans and drove up Thursday afternoon.  Mike Lange and another pilot and I had a Mac Dinner and it was off to bed.  The next morning I  flew early and left after visiting a few friends.  Jeff Goin said it best in his blog post.  lots of new blood.  The most poignant moment was standing with Leon Wacker and Eric Dufore while The Aviator Staff and students put on a show for the cameras.

Conway Arkansas Flight 936


The drive from Woodward to Conway was 450 miles. ¬†I checked into another Indian operated Motel. ¬†The area looked a little sketchy and I was worried about the rig. ¬†Fortunately I was able to back the truck right up to my door and there was a super market just across the street for dinner. ¬†I’d selected this hotel because it was just a few blocks from the municipal airport.
The next morning I was out and rolling an hour before first light. ¬†I planned to launch as soon as I could see my boots on the pegs. ¬†Following the GPS, I arrived at the airport in 8 minutes … but … it wasn’t there! ¬†Instead it was a pile of rubble and muddy pits. ¬†I got on the internet and found that there was a brand new airport a few miles out of town. ¬†Back on the road.
The Dennis Cantrell Field is a gorgeous new airport. When I arrived there was nobody around. ¬†I unloaded the rig and waited. ¬†I was beginning to think that there wasn’t going to be anyone to ask permission so I started the motor to warm it up. ¬†That woke em up. ¬†A fellow came out of the formerly locked terminal and he quickly gave me a thumbs up.
I rolled around to the back of the terminal and laid out the Eden III. ¬†Perhaps it was the smooth tarmac that allowed the lines to be sucked into the prop. ¬†Maybe I missed something during lay out. ¬†Whatever it was, the Eden III was out of the game with all the B and C mains on the left side damaged. ¬†I was bummed but smiled at my spectator and said… “Time for Plan B” but I also said as I was laying out the Apco, if that happens again, my trip is over. ¬†This launch was flawless. ¬†I flew around the area for about an hour and landed on the apron behind the terminal. ¬†This was the first time I had flown the Apco since Albuquerque. ¬†I found it hard to reach the tip steering toggles and the brakes felt stiffer than I remembered. ¬†It should have been a very comfortable flight but it just didn’t feel right. ¬†When I landed there were a couple of new guys watching and I don’t think they had ever seen a PPG, ¬†they might not have even seen a PPC. ¬†We chatted for awhile and the first guy I talk to told me that he really enjoyed watching and said I was welcome back any time. ¬†I don’t know who he was but I’m beginning to think he was the airport manager. ¬†Thanks Conway!

926 Flying the Katy Circle with the boys

I woke up before the alarm and was at the field by o dark thirty. ¬†The Katy Boys were already there and setting up. ¬†What a wonderful LZ! ¬†It’s a 5 lane circle, a mile across with a smooth well mowed field in the middle. ¬†All around is the city of Katy with Houston to the south. ¬†There is open space to the north for xcross country and a major highway intersection and urban structure on the other three quadrants.
It’s a trike paradise. ¬†No matter which way the wind is blowing you can find a spot on the circle that points you into the wind with a super highway to launch from. ¬†Someday soon it will be developed but right now it’s as good as it gets.
After the introductions…. One fellow looked at me and said….. “Your a lot smaller than I imagined”….
I laughed….. It wasn’t going to be the last time I was greeted with that on this trip.
We launched.  I went high and took in the area.  Houston was in the south east looking surreal with low haze.  The highway was a modern sculpture of concrete.  Turning and twisting with huge graceful circles and ramps leading off in all directions.  There was a smallish one man ballon launching close to us and another pair upwind starting to inflate.
I played with the balloons and pulled some wing overs while the Texans showed me their stuff. ¬†After 90 minutes, I’d had my fill and landed.
We packed up and headed over to a French Cafe (less than a mile away) for a huge breakfast filled with good stories and laughter.
Great group…. Thanks for the warm welcome!
Here is the video from the flight.

The Boys from Katy Texas


After the late breakfast I drove back to Galveston and killed a few hours cleaning up the rig and hanging at the West Marine Store. ¬†It was far and away the best one I’d ever seen with almost the entire catalogue in stock. ¬†Fortunately, needed a temporary knife to replace my regular one that had gone missing , so I was not temped to waste money on something I didn’t know that I could live without.
After buying my knives and playing with the new hardware, Ronnie Ginsberg called and I followed him to his beautiful home.  We sat on the pool deck and caught up.  Ronnie had been my best Baldwin Rep and we lived through the best times together.  It was hard to believe that it had been almost 15 years since we had seen each other.

That evening I drove north bypassing Allen Texas where my little sister lives. ¬†I was hoping to share a meal with her and the kids but she was leaving town and I so….I would have to catch her on the way back.

924 Texas City Dyke

I Texas City Dyke

Four Flights at Texas City Dyke



The winds were blowing when I arrived at the Texas City Dyke. ¬†I’d been blocked at the entrance by a foot race that closed the Dyke Road. ¬†So I broke out the coffee and waited. Soon Another pilot arrived ….equally snookered. ¬†Nothing else to do, so we hung out at the entrance until the race ended.


Eventually 8 or so guys showed up.  Andy started teaching and I watched and waited for the winds to lay down.  By noon it was flyable and I did a quicky to get the lay of the land.  My next flight was much longer exploring the levy and the coast to the north.


Chris Page and I went up for his first tandem flights with his new rig. ¬†He is a very strong and talented pilot so I didn’t hesitate when he asked me if I would be his first tandem passenger. ¬†We guessed at the hang points and never did get ¬†it right. ¬†On the first race I was way high with my butt level with Chris’s head. ¬†It spoiled his view to say the least. ¬†And…on the second flight, I was way low with Chris’s knees pressing into my shoulders. ¬†This was a little more concerning to me because I would be landing first and would have to stay on my feet and ahead of Chris to avoid disaster. ¬†It was not a problem though, when it was time to come down, Chris did a great job his power on landing was flawless making me look good.



https://www.facebook.com/chris.page.756/posts/10211141254954080


It was a very good day.  Andy and I had a chance to catch up.  I watched one guy get his first flight and reunited with Chris Page who I had not seen since 2008.  


Near the end of the day I arranged with the Katy Texas group to fly with them the next day.  I did the 50 minute ride to Katy, had dinner at Hoother and crashed at the local cheap motel.

Lithia Mini Fly In #908

This was a fun day.  I met up with Mike Lange and Mike Otten at 4:45.  We followed a marginally quicker but significantly more convoluted route to Lithia Florida where London Ivy had obtained permission for us to fly a 900 acre sod farm. Miles and miles of flat. 

Flight time 1:04
max.alt.      1300 msl
Steady breeze starting at 6 and building to 10 by 10:00am
I hung at the ceiling of 1200 and explored the area.  there were several large sand quarries. The highlight was the state trooper gun range and fleet park where they had a large commercial airliner as lawn sculpture.  Go Figure?

Road Trip 856 to 858

Drove up to Palm Bay and spent a day with Rex. ¬†We flew the “compound” the first night. ¬†It’s the location of the coming Palm Bay fly-in. ¬†While there, I met Don Jordan who is probably the oldest American foot launch pilot. He trained Mike Bennett 5 years ago and he faltered me by mentioning the Gathering and this blog. ¬†I think he is winding down but even though he’s not at the top of his game his piloting skills are pure grace. ¬†Don, it was a pleasure!

The next morning we hooked up with Eric Dufour at the Valkire Airport where I cracked off two flights.  The second one was cut short due to an approaching rainstorm.  
Afterwards we stopped at Elizabeth’s shop. Their new home is beautiful and she looks very happy to finally have a real house down here. ¬†The Eden III was being inspected and surprisingly its good for another year….but it did need to have several lines replaced. ¬†Rex is going to take it back to Colorado and kite it for awhile.

New LZ. Yorkshire 832

Bob and I crossed wires so I flew alone today. ¬†The new site is in the section of North Port Charlotte where I first flew with Mike over a year ago. ¬†It’s bordered on both sides with trees (like the other site), but it’s wider and the trees are lower and slightly less dense. ¬†It was not a problem today since there was no wind at all. ¬†There has been a huge amount of rain lately so the surface on either side of the road was wet and boggy. ¬†I set up dead center (blocking the road) and sure enough….just as I was about to buckle in, a octogenarian named Clayton cycled up on a very nice high dollar triathlon bike. ¬†Rather than get into the bog or Fidel over my bike he asked how far he would have to go back to allow me room to take of. ¬†I smiled, stepped around the wing and offered to carry his bike around the wing. ¬†It really wasn’t that bad but since I was wearing rubber boots it wasn’t a problem to get him behind me. ¬†We chatted a few more minutes before I buckled in and launched. ¬† It really makes a difference to double check the alignment of the wing when launching without slack in the lines. ¬†It came up clean and straight and I taxied down the runway for double the usual distance before tapping the brakes for lift off.

It was a beautiful flight.  I climbed to 1000 feet and found the wind which was blowing 5mph from the east.  Then I closed the trimmers (all the way) and played with the tip steering, descending to 300ft.  The birds are back!  I had no problem scaring up a large flock of egrets and with the tip steering was able to stay on the outside keeping the flock if not under control at least inside the patch I chosen for low flight.
50 minutes after launch I returned and landed (downwind) on the road. ¬†I kept the wing up and taxied 200 yards back to the truck. ¬†It’s All Good!

I’d love to get permission to launch from this sweet little RC Airport