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.

952 & 953 WOW 2017


Dawn launch, Shell Creek.

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

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.

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

APCO LIFT EZ flight 805 806

The first flight was at Placida in 5mph breeze.

EZ Launch and better climb.  Probably because the density of altitude was much better than the first few flights.  I did see a post on the Big List where Dan Dimov has been flying a lift for about a year and mostly at sea level.  He mentioned he was not pleased with the climb when flying at 5500+ ASL.   It’s climb will be less, of course, but thats true with any wing.  It’s possible that the thrust of his motor had as much to do with change in climb as the wing.  Anyway he has moved onto faster more sporty wings
It would really be interesting to have him fly the EZ and comment on any difference he noticed with the latest generation of the lift.
The manual recommends that you fly straight for a time to gain altitude and speed before beginning a turn.  That could be a problem when the LZ is small and you have to circle the field.  Perhaps, that would be the time to apply the tip steering?  After 5 launches, 4 required some brake to take off  and only one (where I had a paved runway) was I able to get enough speed to launch without any brake pressure.  At negative trim the wing will not launch but it is acceptable to go “all closed” after .  I have not yet flown the wing with the trimmers “all closed”, but it will be interesting to see how much it slows down the wing and how it handles.  APCO states the speed range is three times faster at full reflex with speed bar than with trims all in.

The LIFT EZ features an innovative riser design allowing to slow down the glider to minimum speed without risking getting caught in deep stall.

The manual states, “in powered flight the Lift EZ behaves more like an airplane than a Paraglider, and it is a good idea to regard it as such.  LIFT EZ in a steep climb does not stay behind as much as a conventional glider.  The SRS prevents or delays a possible stall”.  So… Perhaps a little brake pressure is needed to get max climb.
I flew for awhile in neutral and discovered that a little more brake pressure made a lot of difference in handling shifty air…. No surprise there!….. I was just being too timid  with a new wing.  In fact, the latest generation of magnetic toggle keeper is so strong that I was startled when  the brake came off the keeper.  I thought I was applying minimal pressure to the wing but was just pulling against the keeper.  When it let go I felt the brakes go slack it surprised me.  Next time I’m going to experiment with using the brakes with increasingly open trim.  The question is… At what point of trim is it necessary to switch from brakes to wing tip steering?  APCO states that at full reflex, the brake input will require much more force and increase the possibility of collapse.  I’m guessing somewhere around 1/3 to 1/2 reflex will be the shift to tip steer.  They also mention flying with both brakes and tip steer which should be interesting.
APCO has designed the tip steer to form a wind scoop / drag parachute that produces drag without lift.  They claim it will make for agile and efficient turns with less input pressure and also cause more stable tips.  I might have to increase the length of the tip steer.  Next time I’m up, I’ll watch for the little pooch where the stabilo pulls the material together.
The second launch was that evening  at the intersection of Veterans Hwy and Peachtree.  The winds picked up as the sun was going down and we were forced into quick laps around the field.  I landed after about 20 minutes when I noticed the air starting to get gusty.  The landing was one for my memory book.  I was returning to the SW corner of the field downwind at 50 mph and decending  at 750 fpm.  As I approached the LZ I started turning into the wind and was on final for only a second or two before touching down.  Mike was saying to himself, “that’s going to hurt”, but it felt correct and in control to me.  I was in neutral and will try it next time with the trimmers fully closed.
After landing, Mike Otten showed up.  It was too windy to fly so we kited.  Mike tried out my wing and I had a good opportunity to see it in flight.
Nice looking wing.