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Saturday, May 30, 2009

East Springs Airport *** Flight #283 & #284

East Springs Airport

Is a little farther east than Meadow Lake or the Soccer LZ but it's a nice place to fly. There is one long North West runway with a dirt taxi way. The only people flying were ultralights and no GA, just Matt...Kevin...Jerry...Alex...John...Shad and I with a half a dozen spectators thrown in for spice.

There was a fresh 5 to 8 mph breeze from the north, I set-up and was off the ground 5 minutes after arriving. I've been looking forward to flying here because I wanted to try the Eden III 28m at altitude and knew that I would need a long smooth place with lots of room for the climb-out and this was perfect. Even with a nice headwind the climb was poor. Never over 1oo ft/min and on the second launch I was only 25 ft/ min for a long time.
But ...the Eden III was wonderful!
I could feel the wing so much better and the turns were smooth and much tighter. I didn't try any hard carving but was able to get into nice banking turns with moderate brake. I expected that I would have to use a huge amount of brake pressure ...thats what I remembered from the last flight at the Salton Sea, but it wasn't much different than flying the Simonini. It just felt good and I'm going to hurry and get a new high altitude wing.

If I'm going to fly the Eden I'm going to need to lengthen the hang straps enough for the trimmers to be above the hang point. I wasn't able to let them out today because they were friction locked on the safety webbing.

I spent an hour flying a right hand pattern around the airport... running south at 45 mph and then doing a low and slow into the wind above the taxiway. I never got really low because of ground turbulence but it was good practice. For a little while I chased a pronghorn and two coyotes but the real excitement came after the flying was over.

The second flight was short and sweet. I launched with Kevin's help into 8 to 10 mph wind. The Eden came up clean and after clearing the north end of the runway I hauled ass back to the south end. It was blowing much stronger a couple of hundred feet up and it looked like it was going to continue to build so I turned for final. The landing was great, not exactly vertical but I was modulating the throttle and activly flying the wing to keep into the wind and under the wing. After I killed the motor I sat in the buggy and kited for awhile. Unfortunently I was paying so much attention to the wing that I didn't notice that I was rolling backward. The next thing I knew the buggy was being hauled to the right by Kevin and the wing was pulling to the right.

the wing won...and I rolled over.

I should have killed the wing as soon as possible but I don't think I realized how strong the wind was and it's probable that I would have experienced a real incident if I'd yanked on the brakes. I hate to think what would have happened if I'd been flying the PowerPlay. I remember a couple of times that when I went to delate the wing the brakes would go so far and then no amount of pressure would buy me more imput.

Thanks Kevin...I didn't realize the situation I'd put myself in ... your quick action turned it into a so-mo roll instead of serious damage.

Terry...Your cage is stronger than I wasn't misshapen at all!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Flight 282 South Park

South Park
This is a difficult field. There are tall power lines to the west and buildings to the north. The weeds are getting high and if you do not get off quickly the field drops off dramatically at the south end. The first launch was a bust when the wing over shot and the second was ugly when I had to recover the wing from wild swings with both tips touching the ground.
I'm going to take a wrap next time and see if the problem is the brake lines are too long. the landing was similar to the fiasco at the Salton Sea, I bounced and did a wheelie. The problem was that the field is short and I was trying to land as close to the front edge as possible unfortunately there isn't allot of room to make a shallow approach. I came in steep at idle and looking back I should have added power during the final. When I pulled brake it felt very hard and I would have like another 6 inches of travel.
John Sieb was also out ...he got off a few minutes before me and took off to the foothills. I flew back to the house and landed fairly quickly. The winds were picking up and it was not comfortable around the LZ. My climb was 100 ft / minute and when I was circling the field looking to land I didn't like the fact that I didn't have a good alternative if things went bad.This place is best flown by getting high and getting away. And only when the winds are out of the south. It sure is close to the house and I'd love to fly here more often but I'm going to have to be really careful.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Colorado Springs PPG Sites

This is a list of sites in the Colorado Springs area. Thanks to the PPPPG Club

Calhan Airport Northeast side of landing strip. Camping is OK.
Springs East Airport Southeast side of landing strip. Camping is OK.
Meadow Lake Airport Southeast side of airport. Camping is OK.
Falcon Wal-Mart 1/2 mile south of Wal-Mart, in Falcon.
Jimmy Creek 5 miles east of Hwy 24, on Hwy 94. North side.
Marksheffel North North side of Woodmen and Marksheffel intersection.
Marksheffel South 1/2 mile south of Woodmen on Marksheffel. West side of road.
St Francis Hospital Southeast side of hospital in fields.
Cowpoke 1/2 mile west of Black Forest on Cowpoke Rd. Enter from Tutt Road off of Wooden Rd.
Flea Market 1 mile west of Power on the Platte. South side of the road. West of the flea market.
Centennial & Fillmore 100 yards south of Fillmore on Centennial. East side of road.
Baptist Rd & I25 1/2 mile west of I-25 in Baptist Rd. South side of road.
Garden of the Gods Open field on front of Rock Ledge Ranch. West of 30th, south of GOG's east entrance.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Flight #281 Falcon Colo.

Good Morning !

Light Winds 47 degrees Blue Skies
I left Denver at 5:30 and drove down to the Soccer LZ by Falcon on the North East side of Colorado Springs. John Black passed me with a big smile just before I arrived. It's a pretty good LZ but there are a few challenges: tall power lines to the south and the road and lines to the north. The field is great with hard pack and astro turf. There is a cut in the fence to the left of the locked gate but it is a bear getting the Thumper over the berm. As luck would have it as soon as John Kevin and I finished lugging the Thumper, a lady came along and unlocked the gate for us. The winds were light from the South West. Kevin and John took off quickly and I blew my first attempt.

BUT... It was a good thing because I have finally discovered why I've been blowing so many launches. My A lines are getting caught on the bottom of the line guides. It is going to be easy to fix by using the guides or taping the bottom so that they will not catch the lines. I climbed to 1000 feet and watched John carve it up. Lots of open area for low and slow with a great view of Pikes Peak. I stayed up 35 to 40 minutes and landed when my hands started to get really cold. The wind had picked up some and was more from the South but the landing was smooth.

Great Air and a beautiful morning. Kevin landed and went up again to mark his 300th flight. John also launched for a quickie but it was a strange launch because one of his trimmers was out and the wing was giving him fits. I thought he was trying to do a cross wind take-off and it took a long time for him to get off the ground. He figured it out after running halfway down the soccer field and adjusted with more left brake.

Congratulations Kevin ! ...

We talked about the Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival and he thought it was still on but after checking the web site I confirmed that it is definitely cancelled this year. The site says that they will return next year in partnership with another Festival Promoter...Big Words...I hope they can do it.

The ride home took an extra 30 minutes because VP Joe Biden was speaking to the Air Force Academy Graduation and they were stopping traffic until he passed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

# 280 Simms

Beautiful Morning...
65 degrees at 5:30 with light westerly breeze.
I didn't plan on it but I woke early and it looked good so I went for it.
The launch was better because I found a nice smooth area on the North East end of the field. It makes all the difference when I can get a little momentum built up. The wing had a hard time getting fully inflated perhaps I was a little cross to the wind or it was different 20 feet above the buggy but eventually the right wingtip snapped out and all was good.
I'm going to talk to Terry today and discuss the hard left turns and general sluggishness of the PP Sting. I think there may be some torque issues and I'll ask what kind of tests I can do to figure out whats going on.
The new leash isn't secure enough to hold the throttle by the cruise knob so I'll swap it for a beaner or clip of some kind.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Strobes and Throttle Leash

The SCUBA style Throttle leash has broken twice...So... New Low Tech Bungee Leash

Fore and Aft Strobes

Flight #278 & #279 Meadow Lake Air Park

Meadow Lake Air Park Colorado Springs, Colorado

Up at 4:30 am and on the road by 4:50. It was a beautiful morning without a cloud in the sky. The night winds were blowing at 15 kts but I was confident that it would come down with the sunrise and I was right. I had no trouble finding Meadow Lake Airpark which is located 20 minutes east of Colorado Springs. The LZ is a nice grass field east of the runways. Matt was laying out his wing as I bumped across the field and while we caught up I saw Kevin crawling out of the bed of his pick-up where he had spent the night. While we were setting up Jerry Kerr arrived and everybody took off.

I had a hard time getting off. The wing was coming up very fast and falling to one side or the other, once it overshot and tucked. I tried using the ramps but it didn't seem to make any difference. Finally after 3 aborted launches Jerry gave me a little pull and I had enough forward speed to keep the wing inflated. I think the problem wasn't so much the altitude (6800msl) as it was that the wing was in a wall and the lines were tight before I started to power up. If I had layed out the wing in a V so that I could start building some momentum before the wing started to inflate it probably would have worked out better. The climb out was slow but smooth. I flew south to the pond and then turned East around the housing development and into the huge open area where there are no altitude restrictions.

I stayed at 800 to 1000 feet while Alex played below. Watching him I was very aware that I missed the power to weight that I had with the Simonini. The hardest bank I could achieve was pitiful compared to compared to a good two stroke. Maybe a different wing will help but I don't think so. After 20 minutes the whole gang was in the same area. I danced with Jerry on his trike and eventually followed him back to the LZ to land.

The second flight was short because it was starting to get thermal. It came on fairly quickly it was smooth at 500 feet and when I dropped to 300 there was lots of sink and lift. It wasn't abrupt and shocking but more like riding a river with gentle transitions from lift to sink and back to lift. I had to do a couple of approaches because I got lifted causing me to overshoot.

Good Group...Alex, Jerry, Matt, Kevin, and Mike Bennett

Marek Crashes !

Last night I spoke with Marek...Seems that he got his throttle cable caught (I'm not sure on what) during take off and threw himself in a spiral. I think the throttle hand was pulling massive brake. Anyway...He is ok except for a sore leg...but his rig is reduced to motor having destroyed the cage and frame. I told him that John Black has some Walker Jet stuff that cost him nothing so hopefully he will be able to get back in the air soon.

Friday, May 15, 2009

#276 & #277 Flying Simms and Boating Chatfield

Dawn Flight

I awoke at 3:50 this morning when the cell phone's low battery tone woke my bride. After 40 minutes of trying to go back to sleep I slipped into the closet and pulled on the thermals. It reminded me of the first couple of years when I routinely was out of the house before dawn. At 5:00am it was just beginning to get light and there was a fresh breeze from the SW. I took my time looking for the smoothest place to launch and was ready to go at 5:30. The wind was light and I launched after the longest run out ever. It was a little dicey because the climb was very slow and I ended up threading the needle between the trees on the south side of the field. The air was mixing and in some spots down right ratty. I climbed to 6000 and it was no better descending to 200 ft AGL it got very active with the wing yawing and generally making the front wheel describe circles. I set it down just as Marek was pulling into the LZ. I would have done a touch and go but this darn motor is so slow to respond and it felt like sinking air so i satisfied myself by greasing in by the truck

We chatted and I was glad to hear that his Chrysler Dealership was not on the hit list of thirteen to lose their franchise in Colorado. After 20 minutes or so it seemed to be mellowing and I set up for a second shot. Marek saved me the hassle of laying the ramps under the tires and the take off was much better. It was still a long run out but the climb was better. I stayed up 45 minutes and ventured away from the field because the air was much better. This was the first time I have hooked up the foot steering and it is absolutely easier than with the rig I had on the Simonini. I'm going to have to practice maneuvers because I cannot tell it I'm not using enough input or this wing is just plain doggy. I do notice that it seems to be a little more cranky when I'm turning to the left.

I love the way this machine is so problem free but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to adjust to the slow run up to power and general lack of punch.

The last several flights I've noticed that the motor is running between 3500 and 3600 but not coming up to 3700. At the house and before take off it had no trouble getting up there so I'm thinking it's time to put in the high altitude jets to see if I boost the power. It might also help with gas consumption.

After packing up I rushed out to Chatfield where Spencer and I put in the Paradiso. The impeller seems to have frozen. Stay tuned for the damages.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

No Fly Day...

It was just one of those days. The ground was more firm and since I'd added air to the tires...the buggy rolled pretty well. It started calm from the south then when I was finished setting up when a medium sized dark cloud with virga rolled in from the west. I waited for it to pass and launched a pilot balloon. I wasn't until I went to hook up the glider that I realized that I had brought the 28m Eden III instead of the PP Sting 250. I was willing to try.
So...I Switched the Hang point straps for the smaller wing.

When the cloud passed I was ready. The first launch was aborted when the lines seemed to snag on the cage somewhere. The hang point is higher but not to high...? Later I noticed that the Tubing over the line guides was missing so it might have been thats where the problem was.
The second attempt was a bit scary. The wind had shifted from the West and so I had to either climb or turn in front of the wires. The wing came up ok and I could feel it starting to lift but I started drifting down right after lift off. The buggy touched down on the back right wheel and centered nicely but I was moving fast and It didn't look good for getting back up and having enough room to turn I aborted.
I'll try the Eden III again down in the springs east airpark where I have plenty of room for climb out but this wasn't meant to be.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Rolling Resistance & A Assists

It might be a good idea to add some pressure in the back tires to reduce rolling resistance during inflation and roll out. If that does not work ...then try some wider tires. The downside of bigger tires is that the buggy will not fit into the bed and will have to travel with the back of the buggy riding on the lowered tailgate. It might not be a problem but I don't think I'll be able to handle rough terrine as well if the tailgate can bounce up. Maybe if I use the ramps I can dampen the tailgate.
Today I saw the benefit of the A assists. If I'd had them engaged I wouldn't have blown a launch I could have grabbed the assists and added some forward pressure. I think I'll hook em up next time and use them as a guide to the A's.

#275 Simms

Same beautiful conditions as yesterday.

The recent rains have jump started the prairie grasses making it a much slower surface to launch from. It took 3 attempts this morning. the first two because the buggy bogged down after clearing the ramps. I think if I'd kept the A's in hand I might have saved the second launch but the wing fell back and I just couldn't get enough speed to get it back overhead.

Then...on the 3rd attempt I didn't clear the brake lines properly and the right hand line was looped up and over the b risers. It cleared itself quickly but there was a moment when I was considering an abort.

The RPMs have come down 150 to 3550-3600 and it's decreasing the climb. I'll back off the pitch a little bit and see if I cannot get it back up to 3750.

The Garmin 176-C is shutting down when shaken so I've removed the mount and will do everything with the Foretrex 102 from now on.

This morning the air was very calm until 6200 MSL where I ran into mixing air and some early thermal activity. It seemed to get worse the higher I went so I came back down to 500 AGL and enjoyed making turns over the patch as well as the High School and Prison.

I look forward to trying another wing...this powerplay likes to dance and I'm not so fond of the way the buggy is dancing under it.

Next flight I'm going to move the hangpoint loops 3/8 inch forward to increase the thrust vector and hopefully improve the climb.

All in All after the hassle of launching....It was a good flight. Only 25 more to 300!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

274 Simms

This was the first morning flight of the season

I left the buggy on the truck last night and so it was easy to hop out of bed and get out to the field. Conditions were great, a light breeze out of the SSW and 45 degrees. Takeoff was noticeably easier with the higher density air. To help the buggy get started I laid the ramps under the back wheels and it worked just fine. I climbed 1500 AGL and did a little exploring.

The only glitch was that the throttle cable tip got caught behind the idle stop and I had to force the lever back to get it to idle. This was fixed by putting a cord stop on the end of the throttle problem!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

273 Simms

There was cloud activity all day

65 to 70 degrees
Simms & Hampden
Big puffy cumulus over the plains and wind blown cumulus in the foothills. I got to the field right at 7:00pm and sunset was at 8:00. It was blowing 12 mph from the south west swinging all the way over to north west and back. Marek and I kited for a bit and Tracy even took a hand at kiting the sting. At 7:20 the sun set behind the foothills and we knew there was going to be a short window of good air. As I was getting the helium tank out some cool air flowed in without a breath of wind...I popped a black balloon and sure enough it was smooth and dead calm up at least 300 feet.

Marek got up first and with a little manual assist from Tracy to get the buggy rolling on the super soft soil I followed. The wind had started to pick up from the west a so I was forced to take off toward the wires and turn as soon as possible. The run out was a bit long and I noticed some bad friction on the right side but it didn't prevent a clean right hand turn over Hwy 285. I followed around till I was heading toward the high school and took a minute to get some altitude and take the twist out of the right brake pulley. The air was nice and smooth at first but as I got to 6000 feet there were the beginnings of not bumpy but mixing air.

The Thumper was spinning at 3650 and I noticed that there is a little lurch when I goose it from idle. Probably getting a little belt slap as well. It sure sounded sweet when I backed off the throttle idle I could not hear anything at all. For some reason I chose not to use the Emoitic plugs and IPOD and enjoyed the comfort of standard foam plugs. I've been missing allot by filling my head with music. It pays to be able to hear the motor and it would be great to flip back the ear cups when I'm descending or maybe even at level flight!

Over the High School I did some slow turns and worked on slight changes in the throttle. It would be nice if I could find a simple way to increase the throttle travel but I'm finally getting used to it. It helps to use the two little fingers on the throttle and the bigger two on the brake.

After climbing to 6200 I did slow descending spirals over Soccer field and and made an approach toward the truck. The air had "turned" down low...there were areas of sink and lift making it difficult to make a long low approach so I did a fly by at 40 feet and went around again. Turning clockwise at full power I was really disappointed with the climb but it was as much sinking air as lack of power. Hopefully a new set of blades that are two inches longer will be enough improvement to make me happy. Maybe I'll even be able to get a little bank on a full power turn.
The second approach was smoother and I set down right by the truck. Tracy hung around while we packed up and promised to e-mail some photos if he got anything good. Short but sweet....Just what I needed to kill the funk after spending the last 4 hour stretch alone at the store.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Explanation of two stroke power by Mike Noland

Marek and I cancelled due to bad weather
This was posted on the "Big List" ...Worth saving
Note to nubes about thrust 'tests:
Two stroke engines are about managing very rapidly oscillating pressure pulses. The pulses are managed by intake tract configuration, intake valving(usually by flexible reeds), shape, size, angle, and timing (position and angles of edges) of ports, ignition timing, and timing of exhaust pressure pulses reflected back by expansion chambers.

When intake and exhaust pulses are timed to push the most fuel/air mix into the cylinder as the ports close, you get the most power. The speed of the pulses is affected by rpm; it's not possible to make the engine charge at maximum efficiency over its whole rpm range.

Tuners are left with some choices. Motors can be tuned to produce a high power number across a narrow rpm range, or lower number across a much wider range. Engine makers who tune for peak power, like a motocross bike, like to compare their peak numbers to FBs, because FBs are tuned to produce a lower number across a wide range, like a street motorcycle or a conventional airplane engine.

The engines tuned for peak power work best for flying styles that resemble motocross racing; if you do a lot of acro such that your throttle is always either wide open or idling, you'll be happiest with something tuned for a peak power number. The engines tuned for useful power across a wide range of rpm are better for level cruising. They easily hold constant rpm over a wide range, which means you don't have to pay close attention in order to cruise along in level flight with your engine running smoothly and happily.

Engines tuned for peak power very much want to run in their narrow zone of efficiency, which is often at a power level too high for level flight. If you run them where they are happy, they climb. If you insist they cruise level, they are harder to hold constant, and because they are out of their zone of harmonized intake pulsation, port timing, and exhaust pulsation, they run raggedly and blow a lot of unburned fuel right through.

A while ago, a friend who had only flown motors tuned for peak power asked to fly my FB Solo 210. He ran it up on the ground, and was concerned that it might not make enough power. When he launched it, he ran 20-25% farther than he did on his peak-tuned motor. His climb rate was not as good as it was on his peak-tuned machine. Not good so far.

His attitude dramatically changed once he leveled off and went for a cruise. His radio chatter was all about how incredibly smooth, smooth, smooth the 750-hour-old FB was. He went on and on about how easy and relaxing it was to fly. It appeared to him to be more powerful flying level than his peak motor, and at those low rpm levels, it probably was. He landed smiling, and ordered a FB Simo the following Monday.

No matter what your salesman tells you, your two-stroke can't have both killer power and Cadillac cruise. If you want a motor that runs like a car over a wide range, cruising comfortably and economically over long distances, the peak power guys will out-climb you. If you want the thrust king, it won't be as pleasant to fly on long cross-country trips. Those are two-stroke facts of life.

Fly high,
Mike Nowland