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Monday, November 26, 2007

105th Flight 52nd Birthday

Three Birthday Flights in a Row!
It was clear and cool all day with very little wind. I was getting antsy at the store and at 1:30 both Marcia and I were outta there. I hustled home to change and was at Titan by 3:30.
I knew it was going to be smooth by the haze hanging over the city. There was a very faint breeze from the SSW that was not moving anything. The tails of the wind indicator were hanging at a strange angle about two feet away from the poll and frozen into place like they had been starched. It w2as just enough to point the way less than 1/2 a knot.
The take off was one of the messiest yet. I popped up a bit early and set right back down. I was a little spooked because the wing surged and the front wheel dropped. I think if I had used a little brake I could have gotten off on the first bounce, instead I backed off the gas a bit ...set it down and taxied until I could re-launch clean. Either way it was a non event...just another testament to the wonderful qualities of the Trike Buggy.
The temp was 43 degrees and I thought I could get along with golf gloves...and I did, but just barely. Much of the flight I kept my hands in my lap and when i got down they were damn cold!
The winds were about 10 mph at 1500 ft AGL. I went over by the Marina and cruised back to the field against the wind. I landed just after sunset and went home to enjoy a great birthday dinner with the whole family...including Mom

Thursday, November 8, 2007

100th Flight!

john was already at the field when I arrived. I took of about 3:30 and played around the marina & LZ for about an hour.
Got into sink during landing but no problem. held the risers a little higher and the wing came up better.
Big List
Today was my 100th flight. …And …I'm looking forward to the1000th.I've swallowed three props a couple of frames a bit of pride and two years (plus a day). For a long time it was all about take off and landing , but it's been 55 flights since I've had a difficult landing or really stupid take-off and now I'm learning to fly. What a ride ! Foot launch is king but I love my buggy.There have been a couple of engine outs, broken muffler springs and semi"puckering' moments, but for the most part...all were non events.I've flown ocean beaches, dry lake beds, rocky mountains and cornfields. With hot air balloons, powered parachutes, gyro copters and a mess of PPG's.During three major fly-in s and lots of mini s I have met instructors and manufacturers veterans and newbies. I've lost track of some of the guys I started with, one moved away another sold his rig early, and one was killed in a during a fly-in …people come and go…but allin all, a great bunch.. Several have been key and I really thank you.And look forward to the next time we meet.So…Brian, Doug and Roshanna, Leon Wayne and Suzi, Bubba, Alex andBo, Michael , Bob and Jeff, Michelle Eric and Jim. Casey and Chad

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

98 & 99

Two botched launches The wing came up slow and off to one side. When i did get up the left brake line was locked in a loop around the pulley. I sorted it out without problem but it was disconcerting not to have any pull at all. Another problem was that I started with the risers a little lower in my had and so I wasn't able to "get on the A's" with as much pressure as I usually have.
The landings were great! 1/3 power and brake. I have no doubt that I could have eased off the brakes added power and lifted of any time.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

96 97 Simms

Bad launch that looked great. I was launching 90 degrees off a very light wind. The wing was oscillating and I took off with the wing far to one side. Instead of centering I stayed on the brake and turned hard into the sky. It worked because the Simonini has plenty of power for my weight but if I had been in another machine with less power it could have been bad.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

95 Simms

Chip Marek and I. Also a very strange little dude who had followed me from the gas station. Not the best of days, Marek and Chip were planning a long flight and I had only enough gas for about 45 minutes.
Marek got up quickly and I went north to the golf course and then to the Park. When I got down Chip was standing by his machine which was badly damaged. he explained that he had put it on his bumper rack to check out a problem and forgot to bolt it down properly before testing the machine. It jumped out of the rack and broke the prop...cage...and muffler. $1000 + in damages.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Nice long late season flight with john Sieb. No Ipod and it made me more sensitive to motor noise. I heard a sympathetic vibration between 4400 and 4700 RPM. I also heard the spare"non vented" clipping against the frame. I hung over John while he flew low at the south west end of the lake. The landing was a hard surprise, I remember feeling a drop in temp just before flare. Proof that Vince's repair was good.
I'm working on getting as much speed as possible before lift and trying not to use any brake.
I reversed the throttle to be able to get to the kill switch easier.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Broke the top left joint by the motor mount. Probably flew with it that way because the take off and landing were very smooth. I seem to remember that the motor was moving a little more on its mounts during the pre-flight.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

91 92 Simms

Chip Marek and I .... Beautiful! Spoke with Bear Creek problems.
Problems with GPS. Great pictures of the guys with the moon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

88 89 90 Chatfield

Light and variable winds. Chip was also there. I did the pre-flight twice because I felt like I was missing something. Halfway through the taxi I found Leukemia Cup has was on my head instead of the helmet. I located the cap after the 3rd flight in tiny little pieces. I hope this is the last time I lose a trusted hat this way.

Monday, October 15, 2007

86 & 87 Chatfield

Two quick flights Moderately bouncy air. Forgot seat belt. The only thing to note was that I had sink on final and then at the last lift. I floated for a long time before setting down

Saturday, October 13, 2007

85 Titan

High Humidity and low cloud cover. Nil winds
Taxi was a little long with one take off bounce, but the wing was well centered and so was the buggy. I stayed low below the clouds probably 300 to 400 feet. The whole area over by the marina was socked in. The new exhaust is quieter and the whole unit feels stiffer somehow.
After the flight I was feeling nostalgic and walked around the field to the site of my last foot launch . The crash site was very apparent with bits of cage and tubing scattered around. I picked up a big piece of sun bleached prop and took it home to hang in the shop as a keepsake.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

83 & 84 Apex

Dry Lake Bed Apex

Dry Lake bed 30 miles North North East of downtown Vegas called Apex. I got to the field at 6:15 and flew with Pierre and another pilot that he had invited. One of those guys who acted like he knew everything but didn't know anything! He had a 7 year old monster that he had owned for three years but never flown?! What a goof! He started it and walked around with the motor running but never set up for a flight.Apex is a nice place to fly. Big Dry Lake bed with smooth air. I noticed that it started to get bumpy when you flew past the border of the lake. Huh?Mechanical:I had to bush out the motor considerable to get the thrust line back to horizontal. The frame damage is all too abvious when you can see the curve in the vertical tubes that should be straight. The 176-C his still shutting off. It's been a problem ever since I moved it to the trike...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

81 & 82 Lake Jean

Climbed the slopes around Jean. 3000 feet of climb but never more than 1200 AGL.
Noticed big crack in muffler which I tore down and had welded at a local muffler shop.
Lots of touch and go's

80 Lake Jean Nevada

Great Place! Thanks Pierre!

Natural Dry Lake Bed Protected on 3 sides from the wind
4 touch and go's

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

#79 Chatfield

Had problems with GPS and rebooted it in flight. Worked on the low and slow at 1/4 throttle. Thinking about going up with some extra weight to see what the wing feels like more heavily loaded. I'm learning how to use the brakes with power...finally!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

#78 Chatfield

Good long flight .Practiced touch and gos. Take off was a circle jerk with me re setting twice trying to chase the wind.
Note to self: if the wing changes after you set-up...wait a while before you reset...It could be a short wait...or the wind may change again and surprise you twice!
Several balloons were up including "The Big Blue Guy" who went high and headed North on a X-Country flight. The corn maze is looking good!


Very light winds. I took some pictures of the Marina and generally flew all over Chatfield. My landing was hard and I've got to learn to come in with power.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Great day! Marek and I took of in moderatly strong winds. It was great crabbing around the south end of the park. There were areas where it was blowing hard enough that there was no way to penitrate and just 100 feet away it was lite air. I really felt like a leaf in the stream.

That evening I won the last race of the season by a good margin.

A very good day!

Sunday, September 2, 2007


John Sieb and I covered alot of ground all over Chatfield and Roxboro Park. Three Ballons were up with us and I was digging it. On landing I broke the lower motor mount on both sides of the frame. it was not a hard landing so I think it was just metal fatigue. Also damaged were the prop tips and netting.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Not a long flight and I was lucky to get it! I slept on the boat and was out at Titan ready to go by 6:00. The wind was blowing and getting stronger. I waited until 7:30 and when I saw the Balloons taking off at the air port I packed up and hustled over didn't look like they had any wind at all. When I got to the port the balloons were off and the Pikes Peak guys were starting to launch. I aborted the first attempt because the wing was oscillating but got off clean on the second attempt. Later Paula told me that the crowd let out a big cheer When I launched. I saw several people I knew in the crowd including my family, the Riggeros and Mike Steel and his fiance. I decided to land out to avoid the crowd

Sunday, August 26, 2007

#73 Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival

This was the best flight of the festival! I took a bunch of pictures and gritted my teeth through the turbulent air. Bubba gave me some good tips on putting a little presure on the brakes (just the weight of my arms), it smoothed the ride by cupping the trailing edge. The air was really bad over by the inlet.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

#72 Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival

The evening before the Festival. We launched from the South end of the Balloon Port to the North. It was not an ideal site because you had to clear the trees and if there had been an engine out there were no places to put down safely. But...nobody had a problem and we floated around the area in perfect glass off conditions. Earler in the afternoon Bubba Alex and I went for a sail. Good start for the weekend!


Motor Out!
Take off was a normal early morning launch. I was heading to the Balloon Port and approaching the crook of Chatfield Res when the engine died. I tried several times to restart but gave up and landed in a field of tall grass. It must have been 5 feet high and almost caused a hard landing because I didn't realize how tall it really was and flared a bit early. I hitched a ride to the port and Alex gave me a shuttle out to the truck. When I got back to the park Bubba quickly diagnosed the problem as a broken wire which we repaired immediately.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Flights 66 thru 70

#66 & #67 Aug 18, 2007 Simms
Wonderful flight…I took off into 3-4 knots and flew west to Red Rocks Park. I didn’t go right up to the Amphitheater because it was after a hot day and I thought there might be hot air rising off the Rock mixing with cool air flowing down from the mountains. It is definitely a place to come for a sunrise flight. So I played it safe and climbed 2600 agl and checked out Bandamire Speedway and Red Rocks from on high.

#68 &69 Aug 19, 2007 Simms
Chip and I waited 45 minutes watching a scary bank of clouds over the foothills the winds were 8 to 12 mph and I didn’t think we were going to fly but very quickly the winds died and the cloud band broke up. It was amazing it was there and 5 minutes later it was gone. One thing of note was that I did my first Touch and Go on the second flight. Despite the scary looking sky earlier it was relatively smooth everywhere.

#70 Aug 22, 2007 Chatfield
Nice long flight! I’ll always remember this one because as I was coming back I saw lightning coming from Blue Sky. More on that later. I took off at 6:30 am with the wing coming from the South. After climbing 2000 ft AGL I headed south following Roxborough Rd. until I go into some turbulence that was being kicked off of Wildcat Mountain which is really only a little cone that sits along about 1 mile east of the hogbacks. So I turned east for a ways and then continued south until I was over Sedalia. This is really beautiful country. The homes are widely spaced and fabulous, the term estate better describes it. Some were Tuscon others were French chateus and there were a few plain old ranch houses. This was my farthest afield yet and when I got to Sedalia damn if the wind hadn’t turned 180˚, so, I was fighting a headwind all the way back. For a bit I was worried that I was going to have to “land out” until I dropped 500 feet and was better able to penetrate.
As I was approaching the LZ I was looking at blue sky ahead and all was well…then out of nowhere lightning struck in front of me. I didn’t loiter over the field like I had planned instead I checked the windsock and set it down on the first pass. While I was packing up the wing it started to rain with great big drops, not enough to get me wet, just a few minutes and then it was gone. I guess next time I’ll make it a point to check my six once in awhile.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

#70 Cross Country

Nice Long Flight !

I’ll always remember this one because as I was coming back I saw lightning coming from Blue Sky. More on that later. I took off at 6:30 am with the wing coming from the South. After climbing 2000 ft AGL I headed south following Roxborough Rd. until I go into some turbulence that was being kicked off of Wildcat Mountain which is really only a little cone that sits along about 1 mile east of the hogbacks. So I turned east for a ways and then continued south until I was over Sedalia. This is really beautiful country. The homes are widely spaced and fabulous; the term estate better describes it. Some were Tucson others were French chateaus and there were a few plain old ranch houses. This was my farthest afield yet and when I got to Sedalia damn if the wind hadn’t turned 180˚, so, I was fighting a headwind all the way back. For a bit I was worried that I was going to have to “land out” until I dropped 900 feet and was better able to penetrate.
As I was approaching the LZ I was looking at blue sky ahead and all was well…then out of nowhere lightning struck in front of me. I didn’t loiter over the field like I had planned instead I checked the windsock and set it down on the first pass. While I was packing up the wing it started to rain with great big drops, not enough to get me wet, just a few minutes and then it was gone. I guess next time I’ll make it a point to check my six once in awhile.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

51 thru 64th

#51 July 12, 2007 Chatfield
#52 July 13, 2007 Chatfield
#53 July 14, 2007 Chatfield
#54 July 16, 2007 Chatfield
#55 July 21, 2007 Chatfield

#56 July 22, 2007 Simms and Hamden
First time at this site. Good country with a golf course a state park and just a hop over to Red Rocks. The air was real bumpy so I just did a couple of laps and set it down.

#57 July 24, 2007 Chatfield
Great flight! Over an hour …went to 8230 ft AGL…Flew west between the hogbacks this was the farthest I’ve gone from the LZ.

#58 July 29 2007 Chatfield
Beautiful morning flight…flew south past the King Soopers. I had to move east because the air was bumpy near the foothills.

#59 July 31, 2007 Chatfield
Flew all the way around the lake, got some good video of the corn maze

#60 August 6, 2007 Chatfield

#61 August 8, 2007 Chatfield
7-10 knots highest wid yet on the buggy…dead stick landing.

#62 August 12, 2007 Chatfield
Dan Kamisar Monte Flemming Marek and I….Bumpy air short flight.

#63 Aug 13, 2007
High winds…Launched with the trimmers out…it worked just fine.

#64 & 65 Aug 14, 2007 Chatfield
First launch was so sloppy I landed and tried it again. On the first launch I went to full power before the wing was stable and I took off with a 30˚ yaw. The good news was that I was turning to the right with the torque so I just went with the turn and climbed out. On my second attempt I consciously kept off the throttle until the wing was good and stable. When it was time to land the wind had come up and my final approach was very steep.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Big Five Zero !

July 8th 2007
Chip and I. Blue Sky, clean take off and landing. There was a convergence at 50 feet that caused a wobble just before touchdown making the landing slightly exciting for both of us. A couple of mechanical issues; the C-176 is losing satalite lock. I’m not sure if the unit is just getting old or vibration from the buggy is messing it up. The little fortrex is working fine and I like having it for rate of climb and decent but I really want to have the big screen of the chartplotter. I’ve found a way to wire the muffler so that if it breaks again it won’t swing into the prop and I insulated the rubber with a nylon washer so that it won’t get as hot. I flew for 40 minutes and came in as soon as it started to get bumpy.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Flight 49 Flew with Chip and a chopper

July 5th 2007
Good Flight. I’m still getting used to the new throttle and all the buttons (starter and Kill). This morning I hit the starter when I was trying to kill it. I hate the sound if metal on metal. Chip and I flew for at least an hour. We covered a lot of ground and I spent some quality time getting to know the new machine. At one point the Fox News Chopper was snooping around, I tried to wave him off but Chip just turned straight at him like he wanted to play chicken. That worked …the chopper pilot took his picture and bugged out. Sure enough the next day Chip was on TV.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

48th Flight

July 4th 2007

I can’t believe it’s been a month! I was a little nervous but there was a light breeze and I figured that if I started my turn right away I would be able to clear the wires. It didn’t take much the torque helped me to turn and my climb was about the same as with the Snap 100. I fooled around for a bit with the foot steering and went for awhile with the trimmers out. 40 minutes into the flight the rubber mount that attaches to the exhaust broke. I was forced to shut it down and come in dead stick…No worries..
I spent the afternoon repairing the prop and replacing the exhaust mount. I was good to go.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Albuquerque Fly In The Trike Buggy

#46 & #47
June 9th 2007 Albuquerque New Mexico

After waiting 3 days for the weather to cooperate I’ve evolved to the trike. It is so much better on so many levels that it’s going to take a book to list them all. Of course the best thing is that you do not have to run with the damn motor on your back! But…That’s just the beginning. Instead of struggling to get into the harness with three buckles and lots of adjustments followed by the hassle of getting to your feet with the the motor threatening to quit if you bend over too much all you do is sit down and buckle the seat belt. On inflation it’s easy to look up at the wing and when it’s overhead you can look at the mirror between your legs. AND Landing…It’s a dream…all you do is idle the motor and when you’re a couple of feet up, flare and you glide in as smooth as a feather. It’s too easy!
The Albuquerque Fly-in was a good opportunity to meet a great bunch of pilots but it wasn’t the best weather for flying. I spent some time talking with Chad and a lot of time looking over the FreshBreeze Simonini Trike Buggy.
This machine is no stranger to flying, there are lots of chips and scratches, it’s not too clean and there are some distortions in the cage from being rolled. My biggest concern was a sprocket that the electric starter turns. The teeth are half chewed and I’m not sure if that’s the way it is or if I’m going to have to replace it someday soon. However it does have an electric starter as well as a pull start, the prop is carbon fiber, the whole unit seems solid and sound and Chat will trade my 24 meter Eden III for a Eden III 28. I was intimidated by the bigger motor with lots more wires and connections but I figured I had learned to work on the snap and I could master this machine too. So I loaded it into the pick-up and drove home a “Trike Pilot”.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Last Foot Launch

May 28th, 2007
Today is a good day to look at the options. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks rebuilding the motor. The little incident did more damage that I first thought and I had to take off the motor and bend and weld the frame to get it straight enough to fly. Probably 12 shop hours. After all that I was more than ready to fly.
Yesterday was a “No Fly Day” The wind was very light and I has several botched attempts. The last one was a doosey. I fell during the run and really trashed the machine. The frame has to be replaced as does the prop and airbox. My wrist is sprained and as usual the knee is going to have me limping for a couple of weeks.
I’m strongly considering going to a trike. So here I am sitting on the front porch waiting for the girls to come home and looking at the pros and cons.
Pros of going to trike
1. I’ll break less equipment
2. I won’t have to get the knee operated on
3. It will reduce the number of no fly days due to lack of breeze and sore knees.
4. It will take the drama out of take-off
5. Less stress on body mind and soul
1. You can do it! You have done 45 of them already.
2. When you are foot launched you have more flexablilty for sites.
3. There is something special about running into the sky. If I go to trike I’ll be driving instead of running.
4. Foot Launch is king!

The question is …Have I lost my MOJO? It seems like I’m not running as hard as I was. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been dislocating the knee even with the new brace. I do know that I’m not able to look up at the wing during launch. Partly because I have to watch the ground to keep from tripping and partly because my helmet hits the frame and makes it hard to look up. The best I can do is see 10 and 2 o’clock which is great when the wing is already out of balance but by then it’s usually too late. I don’t think I’ll ever get much better and probably will get worse as I continue to damage myself.
Maybe it’s time to quit foot launch and continue my carreer in aviation with wheels.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Emergency Landing !

There is an old saying that any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. Well today on my 43rd flight with my daughter Stefania watching I had my first difficult emergency landing. It made the engine out at the Salton Sea look like a piece of cake. Stefania and I got out to the field about 4:30 pm. The heavy winds of the last several days seem to have subsided and it looked perfect with a light breeze from the nnw. The big lenticular clouds that dominated the majority of the day had broken into smaller versions of the same thing.
I kited for a bit and decided it was just not enough for a reverse but perfect for an easy forward.. Stef got the video camera and went upwind while I set up. After sitting on my box for a minute the wind was right and I pulled it up and started to run. The wing came up nice and straight and I moon walked at half throttle toward Stef.. I was feeling good, leaning back int the thrust and at just the right time I made a clean lift-off with just a touch of brake. The climb out was a bit shallow 40f/min but I easily cleared the lines and flew over Titan Rd at 100 feet. Just past Titan I turned to the east and the motor stopped, no burp or sputter , it just stopped. I should have turned back to the north and glided in but stayed on an easterly course and came in between the barns and several corrals. At the last minute I turned 90degrees toward the south and came down hard in a turn. It was a bit of a slide and I tweaked my knee again. The motor frame was slightly bent but no major damage.
I don’t know why I didn’t turn into the wind. I think there would have been room to find an LZ, perhaps I was thinking of heading back to the field. Landing where I did was foolish and if there had been significant wind I would have been in the rotor of the barns. As it was I landed in a small corral downwind.
It took Stef and I about 45 minutes to get the glider out of a small willow like tree and I was glad to have my extra long windsock pole to use for the job. I never was able to determine what caused the motor to die. The best guess is that when I fooled with the high screw on the carb I messed up… but it acted ok during the warm up.
Anyway, we were able to get the equipment back across Titan and I kited the wing to make sure everything was untangled and undamaged. We watched Ty go for a quick flight and chatted with his wife about my “incident”.
I hope the lesson was learned, I dodged what could have been a real bad thing and was able to walk away.
Stefania got the whole thing on video and her reaction to my experience was revealing. I hope she will come out to the field again soon so that she can see that her old man is a better pilot.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Salton Sea 2007 a

Salton Sea 2007
#34 #35 #36 #37 Feb.1, 07
One memorable thing was the time I killed the motor while trying to get into the seat. I had just enough time to turn back into the wind and land at the downwind end of the field. Nobody raised an eyebrow …a non-event.

#38 #39 #40 Feb. 2 07
A Grand Day

NO Fly Day Bad Knee Feb 3, 07
It was ironic that the orthopedic surgeon called me while I was hanging out on the field watching and wishing. He had reviewed my MRI and was suggesting surgery as soon as convenient.

#41 Feb,4, 07
Johnny Fetz "Allen C's Memorial Style Competition

Last day at the Salton Sea I blew the first launch but got of clean on the second attempt. Great flight! Over an hour in the air at both high and low altitudes. I was nice to revisit the area and say goodbye. I’ve come a long way from last year but there is much to master.