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.

Active Piloting at Yorkshire #997

This was a Quickie

The air was almost nil inside the woods of the Yorkshire LZ.

AFTER, I’d set up the wing, the windsock started to twitch and a few puffs blew in from the rear.

Damn! ….But Hell, it was so damn calm down in these trees. So, I sat, glancing over my shoulder for a quiet moment and when the sock fell slack, I pulled the trigger and started the launch. The roll out was long and the climb out even longer. I stayed above the road, following the turn, while the trike dragged into the sky. At treetop, it was about a 5 bump level and stayed that way to about 400ft. Continuing to climb I saw numerous small bands clouds blowing toward me, about 500 below. I was penetrating at 9 mph bearing 020 degrees. I could really only fly over heavily wooded or swampy ground, the wind wanted to blow me over the city! I suppose, I could have crabbed to the south toward Lake Suzie but every time I passed over one of the baby cumulus, it got thermal and I suspected it would probably get worse as the earth warmed.

So… I turned left back over the labyrinth of blacktop and tall trees. Like Placida and The Salton Sea, the area was a Real Estate Developers failed project. The roads and drainage were in but nothing else. The critical difference is that instead of mowed fields or wind blown desert, it is a Jungle of cabbage palms reaching 30 feet on either side of neatly layed out cul de sacs. Fortunately, if you can find it, there is a wide arc at the end of the Yorkshire loop,that has been cleared. If you know the wind direction ahead you should be able to set a good line for launch. Same thing for landing, and now after riding the currents up to 1000ft, I had a clue. When I got a sufficient distance below the LZ I began my decent. In order to line up with the wind I had to go past the truck about 3/4 of a mile. I bumped into a cloud at 500ft and emerged at 300, right on my line. It was active piloting all the way to the ground and I must say, the APCO EZ glider handled the rotor so much better than any of my older wings. I was getting bumped but I had plenty of flare authority and fine control.

I stashed the wing in the brush and taxied back to the truck.

Later looking at the Google track I could see that if I’d had a better feel for the wind direction when I was launching, I could have taken off where I landed and probably enjoyed a longer and safer flight.

After breakfast at Deans, I drove to Chenago Supply and met Tuck who agreed to service my motor after Oct 25.

It’s all good!

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. 😉 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

Placida #994

This was a friggin great flight n all respects. I launched a little before the sunrise and climbed to 2600ft. The sunrise was good but the best part was me flying south and watching the boomers. They were a pretty pale pink and in a heartbeat as the sun crested the horizon they turned orange. It was fantastic. I saw the color change and immediately turned my head toward the East and there was a brilliant orange sliver of sun burning brightly.

Staying at 2500ft I flew over Gasparilla causeway and north to Stump Pass. The Return was South East over Rotunda and much quicker than I imagined. This flight was all about the photos.
Here are the numbers and some nice photos.

Placida 993

First launch was aborted when I feared that a line had been cut. First, I heard the distinctive click of a line being cut and when I pulled some left break there was no pressure, so I killed the motor. Turned out to be nothing. Second launch was fine except that at 500 feet I could see rain west of Gasparilla Island moving my way. It was not huge and I hoped it would move off to the North but when I saw a powerful wind line form on the Intercoastal Waterway, it was apparent that I was in the path of the precipitation. So…. I turned back and landed without incident. On the surface the wind was picking up and a nice rainbow had formed by the Marina. I could probably have stayed up longer because when I was pulling away from the LZ, the rain had not yet arrived but there was nothing to be gained by staying in the air and daring it to get me. It's all good.

My Heart was Pounding

The following is a totally fictional log entry.

The photos are stock images.
Night flights are against FAA Regulations.

Flight 992.
It would have been great if this had been #1000 but today was the day.
I’d been wanting to do this for as long as I can remember.

Last night the moon was full, the skies were clear and at 3:00am it was 75 degrees. The wind was 4 mph from the East. I set up on the freshly blacktopped road. It was a bit of a trick to clear the lines. Even with a full moon I couldn’t follow them all the way back to the wing to make sure they weren’t crossed and I was doubly surprised when I found one wrapped around the wing while squaring up and folding the tips.

I pre-flighted the rig, mounted the iPad and turned on the Garmin. Everything was done. Try as I might, I couldn’t find anything to keep me from sitting down and buckling up. So I did. My left brake was in my hand and all I had to do was turn the key to start the motor. I was launching to the East the moon was at my back and looking down the runway it was pitch black. The runway was clear but if I was forced to either side, I would have to abort or risk catching one of the Stop signs, 200 feet ahead of me.

It was time, but …. My heart was pounding. I released brake and forced myself to relax. It didn’t take long. It was maybe 30 seconds, when I reached for the left brake, turned the key and started the inflation. The wing came up clean and I knew it was going to be good, the trike was accelerating nicely right down the center of the road. I didn’t need to mash the throttle or pump the brake, it was a clean launch.

I stayed on an easterly course while climbing over the pond south of the RC Airpark. It was exhilarating to see the lights of Punta Gorda across Charlotte Harbor. I started a slow right hand turn and there was the Gulf with that big beautiful moon reflecting back at me. Looking down at the field I could make out the roads but not as clearly as I expected. I knew where the truck was but it was only visible from the west. Worse case, I could navigate back to the launch and that was reassuring.

For the next hour I did laps around the meadows. Going as far west as Gasparilla Marina and back to the Rim Canal. I watched the eastern sky lighten and a few little clouds float across the Harbor. The views were amazing. To the west was Boca Grande, the Gasparilla Causeway and Stump pass. The lights of the Marina and jet port were convenient landmarks, the moonlight reflecting off the gulf outlined the coast and at first light I began to see the details of Cape Haze. To the East was the Myakka and Peace rivers and South was Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island. I’ve flown from Placida dozens of time but this was special.
After the sun was clearly above the horizon I descended from 1800ft and landed without drama.
Cheated Death Again!