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Thursday, December 9, 2010

#467 & #468

Yesterday I psyched myself out and this afternoon I almost did it again. It was probably the right thing not flying yesterday... my head wasn't in it ... but today there was no excuse. It was a real effort go get myself moving but once started everything went smoothly.
It was 48 degrees at the field with a light North Easterly breeze. The first launch was quick but I noticed a pull to the right.   My first thought was the cam buckle was under the Hang point loop but instead it was a serious root tangle just right of center.  The brake lines had been twisted together near the wing and there was a obvious pucker where those three lines attached near the trailing edge.   The air was a bit switchy and the wing was dancing overhead so I turned back and landed on spot. 

The second launch was good.  The wing came up high to the right but it centered and I taxied another 40 feet before adding power for liftoff.  The weeds here are nasty, it is easy for a line to get under the base of the plant and it takes a hell of a tug to break it loose.  Usually a snag makes the wing come up crooked but on the first flight it pulled out a 6 inch root and really twisted up the brakes. 

The air was still twitchy so I pretty much stayed near the patch and below 1000 feet.  I practiced a wingovers for awhile and finished with a good hard spiral.

It wasn't Epic ... not even special but I'm glad I went.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

#466 Titan

52 degrees at 3:30  light breeze from the North East. 

John Sieb took off first ...My launch was clean partly because I layed out on the dirt with fewer weed stubs.

John and I returning to the field after sunset... but the sun was still shining at altitude

 Just a few Pelicans are left at Chatfield

A side benefit of experimenting with the throttle strap is that it is forcing me to do a slow roll out.  The strap is a little too wide and right now it inhibits my ability to "mash the throttle" until after I released the "A's" and rearranged my fingers   I was rolling and accelerating slow which gave me so much more time to pay attention to the details. The wing comes up...release the "A's" ...stabilize the wing ... reposition the hands to get more throttle ... accelerate ... and take-off.
I'm going to trim the Velcro before my next flight and should have better throttle control but I 'll remember how it felt to get the wing stable over head at a third to one half power ....

6th Annual Birthday Flight

#464  &  #465 

Double Nickles
Titan with a fresh breeze ... 54 degrees and John Sieb to round things out.  The goose hunters were hoping to bring in a flock and did !  Dispite us flying around. A large group came in as I was making final approach they got 4.
The first was short because the air was ratty but the second was nice.  I was having trouble with the weeds snagging the wing during inflation and had to abort when a tip was nailed firmly to the ground.   BUT I made it a point to keep the taxi slow for a good long time before committing to launch.and was pleased with the landings.
John and I flew around the patch a bit but it was getting chilly and we landed about 4:30

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No Fly Day

     At 3:00 John was already up and climbing to the North.  

I unloaded and watched the wind shift through 290 degree arc.  It was a cold wind with lots of moisture (well ...lots for this country) and for some reason I didn't feel like flying.  I watched and waited for 45 minutes and it was cycling South East to North and North West about every 20 minutes.  I almost pulled the trike back down but once I decided not to fly my head wasn't in it.

As the sun dropped to the foothills it calmed down for about 5 minutes and John Sieb came into sight, high following Roxbourough Rd.  He said, "it wasn't too bad", but then he told about getting tossed and  a partial collapse with serious altitude penalty.  John always has had a better bump tolerance than I so I felt good about sitting this afternoon out.  He had a good flight and I was glad for him...

We chatted a bit about wings and the Salton Sea Fly In When the cold started to get to me I headed home.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

#463 Titan

Spontaneous Aviator

My appraisal was done by 2:30 the sky had a thin skin of high clouds and it looked like it might glass off.  So.. at the last minute I decided to fly.  I hurried home, pulled on my boots and was at the field setting up 3:30.The wind was light from the south so I triked to the south end of the field and set up.  While I was going through the final checks the wind picked up freshly from the west.  I didn't expect success but waited for a lull and gave it a try.  No Joy the wing did just as expected and came up way too crooked to attempt correcting it.  Moving to the center I reset and launched without brakes to the South West.

The air was smooth for the first 500 feet but at 600ft. I was starting to get buffeted by small puffs which could have been some rotor off the foothills.   Flying East over the big open fields I went downwind at a pretty good clip.  A couple of times I was swung fairly hard with the wing banking 30 degrees so I turned back and slowly made my way back to the field.  The throttle was not fastened as tightly as usual and it did not like going to idle so when I got to the power lines I was still at cruise and just barely penetrating.  I was actively flying the wing and didn't want to let off brake to change the trim so I just tufted it out and took my time.  I was glad to be high when I caught some sink and dropped 50 feet before leveling off.

Below 200 was down right rowdy.  Twice I came in on final and bolted, once when I was popped up and then some serious sink had me dropping to fast for comfort.  The third try was nice. The breeze was strong and I came in at less than 10 mph and touched down as light as a feather. 
Steve Abbey flew by just after I landed, my wing came down behind ready to inflate and for about 2 seconds I considered relighting the motor and joining him.  He overflew me going East and when he turned back was parked right over my head.  I watched him slowly make his way back toward home and collected my wing.

By the time I was ready to go the winds were way beyond flyable.  I smiled at my good timing and threaded my way between the goose decoys back toward the highway.

Friday, November 12, 2010

#461 & #462 Snowflake

Calm ...Clear ... and Cold
38 degrees but the air was as sweet as it gets. 

Mike and  I both got in two flights and I had a chance to try the radio.  It needs a little tweaking to be reliable but Mike did a great job getting it operational.  Both take offs and landings were good, I really liked the last landing I touched down way up the runway and did a long taxi to the truck

The weather looks to be bad for the next several days so I was glad to get this one in.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

#459 & #460 Snowflake

Nice light breeze.  Mike, Robert P. and I flew well into the morning.  I practiced no brake landings and cross wind launches.  The PPS 250 made it easy.
Pictures to follow

Friday, November 5, 2010

#457 & # 458.5 Titan... A repeat of last night

No Breeze ...

60 plus degrees
Clear skies

I launched at 4:30 and flew till 5:45 low on fuel...  getting chilled....  and could barely see to land.  I even did a touch and go to squeeze a few more minutes of airtime.  In other words.... another perfect evening.

PPS 250
This is the second day that I have flown the Power Play Sting 250.  What a great wing for the 4 stroke.  This wing has had several hundred flights.  First with Monte Flemming a flying his big powerful Monster and then a year with the Briggs & Stratton Trike Buggy.  Yeah...Its had a couple hundred flights and been repaired once...But.... for pure comfort... I can't beat it.  It  inflates slow but it always seems to lumber up and center over my head as it hardens for takeoff.  The brakes hang at a comfortable place so I don't have to mess with a second toggle and the climb rate was a respectable 275ft/min and decent was 400ft/min

This wing flies.... like a  big boat sails. 
Big smooth banking turns that say...
"I'm in no hurry". 

Not a puff on the water

#456 Titan

Perfect Day  
John Seib and I met at 4:30 and enjoyed
a perfect dead calm evening.

Monday, November 1, 2010

#454 & #455 Snow Flake

Good day at Snowflake

low and slow
First Launch was good .. mike got video and stills.
Mike Bennett,  Robert Archer, &  Dan Kamisar
Started calm but the winds picked up shortly after sunrise. 

photo by Mike Bennett

Second take off was not good.  The wing was ossolating ... I backed off the throttle and powered up again but the wing was still swinging.  I proceeded into the weeds and launched with a slight swing.  When I finally saw the video I was shocked at how close I came to another rollover.  Just like at Bubba's I was bounced up and came down at a 90 degree angle to the origional heading.  This flight should have been aborted... no question about it.
Next time.... Power up   Once the wing is up and the trike is rolling... back off and taxi until it is stable, then add power and launch!  Watch the wing!  It's elementary stuff but I seem to be having a hard time of it lately.  It is easy to blame the machine... it winds up too slow ... or it's so much heavier.  None of these things are is just the nature of the rig.  Know how it performs and fly accordingly.
The answer is focus. 

good launch    Photo by Mike Bennett

Sunday, October 31, 2010

#453 Titan at dawn

Titan with John...  Beautiful Sunrise ...Got parked over by the Marina...

After flight we pulled the Paradiso for the season. It's a bitter Sweet Day...

It's a bitter Sweet Day...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

#452 PM White Pelicans

I'm getting closer

Friday afternoon.  The air was great!  I did a long slow pass around the marina and went to the east end to take photos of the White pelicans.  I was able to get closer but I'm afraid that I'll have to wait for next year to get the trophy shot

Both take off and landing were perfect.  It helps to have such a smooth and broad surface to work with.  I'm not in such a hurry to get off.  Roll a ways before punching it...

The hanger is starting to take shape

Friday, October 29, 2010

#450 & #451 and a half

This was my 451st launch.  It looks bad but I just knew I could save it.  Probably should have aborted but I backed off the throttle two times till i got it sorted out.  Mike and I flew till the chill and sun forced us down. 

 The wing loading was too slow.... I've also had problems when the loading is too fast... if it begins to oscillate

There was a group of pronghorns I just couldn't help following across the highway. 

Ground handling. 
Ground handling with a frame like the Falcon is much different than the trike buggy, Both work fine but it takes some different techniques.
Falcon vs. Trike Buggy 4 stroke

  Trike Buggy...Built to take a pounding (stiff frame) for kiting over rough terrain 

Falcon ......Built with suspension has wider wheelbase and springer rear axle ...
could be described as loose goose... it dances over the surface but at close to take off speed can get bouncy.  I do not recall the buggy coming up with a twist to the left or right.  Could it be that I'm being lifted on the outbound leg of an oscillation and because one wheel is on the ground a split second longer... it causes the trike to twist in that direction.  ???

The only suspension in the buggy was the slightly bigger tires.

It's a puzzlement ...I'll have to work on

Monday, October 25, 2010

#449 Snowflake

Today was supposed to be the day that Dan Kamisar resumed flight so the bunch of us agreed to meet at Snowflake by the crack of 9am. 

I had planned to get up extra early and fly Titan then head out to Snowflake but common sense prevailed and I found myself setting up at Snowflake well before dawn.  I only had the aft strobe working but I figured that I would be able to see any oncoming traffic.  I set-up in the dark and launched as soon as there was enough light to make an emergency landing The wind was very light out of the WSW almost in line with the SW runway but not exactly.  The first attempt was aborted when the wing fell off to the right because I tried to steer it onto the runway a little too soon. I re-set without all the micro alignments and launched.  I had to use some brake to get up because there wasn't allot of nice runway to work with and I think the brake input I was using to steer the wing helped.

Climbing to 600 feet the the air started to get rowdy, (about a 3 on the bump scale) and the winds were 15 mph pulsing to 20.  Even was a good flight... I tolerated the mixing air and practiced modulating the motor.  It comes up slow but smoothly and I'm beginning to get comfortable flying low again.  It's interesting that I was moving back and forth between the upper and lower toggles, I didn't notice any back pain and the wing absolutely feels better with the top toggle or when the trimmers are out...the bottom.  An hour after launch the gang started to arrive and when I landed everybody except Dan was setting up.  Apparently he was still having some issues with his new rig and opted out.  I landed a little after 8am, the winds had picked up but were still manageable. 

John Sieb, Paul Dillon and Mike flew while I watched with the new trike pilot Doug Michell.  He is taking it slowly and planned to taxi rather than fly this morning.  John went high and away while Mike stayed low and did the yank and bank boogie.

netting eater

Paul Dillon landed out when his netting got caught in the prop.  It stripped the netting off clean with no damage to the cage but it did wind up in the hub and kill the engine.  The best thing about Snowflake is the whole area is an emergency LZ... Paul landed without incident.

Paul Dillon

The winds continued to build, pulsing to 12 mph so we stood around and chatted. till a little after 11am.
Dan ...Sorry you couldn't make it but it might have been for the best.  I'm sure you want your first flight after the incident to be a cakewalk.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

#447 & #448 Titan

Got up early and launched at sunrise minus 20.  Nice 40 minute flight.  I practiced power on landing a few times with increasing power each time.  Finally getting this machine dialed in.

Back at the field at 4:45.  Good launch.  The highlight was a huge flock of white pelicans all hanging out at the east end of the Lake.  The air was mostly good with some mixing air toward the end.

Marek Flew over from Simms.  We flew around for a bit and landed at Titan.  While we were packing up Steve Abby came by to chat.   Beautiful night.

Monday, October 18, 2010

#446 Snowflake

7 to 8 mph    Good launch.  I hooked the safety bungee into the D ring of the brake handle instead of the handle itself.  Much better... Next flight take out one wrap so there is less brake presure. 

No issues but I did fool with the seatbelt in flight.  Having the brakes secured is a little like using the foot steering's very comfortable to go "hands free".

Saturday, October 16, 2010

#445 Titan

Waited 45 minutes for the wind to settle down and launched into 4mph breeze.  When the surface is smooth these conditions are great, the wing comes up fast and straight and the trike is rolling as soon as the wing is out of the prop wash.  When the surface is rough it's a different story, the wing comes up and the trike is slow to start rolling.  If I cannot get it moving quickly the wing could come down on top of me or start to fall off to one side.  In light breeze and a rough surface I try to hold the trike for a couple of seconds while the prop is wrapping up to let it develop sufficient thrust to get rolling.  In the past I have kept the throttle mashed and accelerated too fast ...sometimes before I got the wing stable.  Lately I've been  better at letting off the throttle as soon as I'm rolling ...let the wing get stable... then punch it.

The flight was good ...launch and landing.  I stayed close to the field because it was getting dark and above 800 feet I couldn't penetrate.

#444 Titan with Angelica

Angelica and I met up at 5:00pm and went to Titan.  Beautiful take-off.  I took Terry's advice and layed out the wing with the lines taunt.  Long run out and launched with no brakes.  The bungee for the brake extension came unhooked....use a different fastener.  Flew to the corn maze and back.  Greased the landing.

Angelica is on the tailgate

Corn Maze
 We topped off the night by going to JackAss 3D. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Trike has mid air with balloon

I will let the experts analyze this incident.  I was disapointed and revolted by the bashing from all quarters of the paraflying community.  I will say this.... I knew the pilot and flew with him and his son at the "Gathering".  He was a healthy and mature pilot with a good conservative attitude toward flying.  While at first blush it is easy to assume the accident was the cause of careless or reckless flying, I prefer to believe that it was "just one of those things that could have happened to any one of us.  Of course mistakes were made but flying with other craft in the air adds risk.  If the pilot had more hours it might not have happened but all of us have been in situations that could have ..... should have bit us in the ass.

Thank God no one was killed

More later

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Gathering at Monument Valley 2010

Brief Account of the 3rd Annual Gathering ...

Official site for "The Gathering" here

3:00pm Ollie and I leave for the event.  I forgot to pick-up the flight jacket.  We stop at Steve Katers and spent an hour catching up. Steve has been a great friend through thick and thin, we left with fresh vegetables, bike parts and a big smile.
Stopped in Grand Junction had "brenner" at the IHOP and bought a cheap jacket at Wall Mart.  Spent the night at the Travel Lodge.

Drove to Moab and toured Arches.  Pulled into Gouldings about 3:00pm.  Olivia held her own playing Texas Hold Em with Sky King, Sean and some other serious players.

Good flight in the AM. (#440).

At the beginning there was a small problem when one pilot flew too close to the resort at the Navajo Tribal Park.  We had not had a formal briefing and unfortunately he wasn't aware of the sensitivities of the Navajo about flying around their facilities and habitations.  A good time was had by all when he ascended from the valley floor below up to the Scenic Overlook, the resort guests waved happily and took photographs.  However what appeared to be a good opportunity to showcase our sport turned out to be exactly the opposite.   The Navajo Police promptly visited our landing strip and forbid us from entering the Navajo Tribal Park for the duration of the event.   Since there were still thousands of acres of beautiful country and more monuments than we could fly in a month, we chose not to argue the legalities of who controls the airspace and politely agreed to stay out of the park.   The Gathering continued and everyone was able to get as much airtime as they wanted.  Future pilots should be able to fly the whole area unencumbered provided that they keep 1500 above the desert floor.  It would be  prudent  to fly at least that high anyway to have enough glide to find a safe landing and pick-up if needed.   The moral of the story was ... If you find yourself at a Fly-In a day or two early, be sure to READ THE RULES and know the particulars of the area before launching. 

Sat.  Blew the first attempt and noticed the axle rods were cracked.  Spent the morning replacing the rods.
Ollie and I went for a a very short bike ride,  I wanted to take her west behind Goldings Butte but we had to turn back when my Myata Cyclocross bike couldn't handle the soft sands on one inch knobbys. 

We did see a good sized  tarantula that we watched walk across the road..  After a good downhill to the LZ we watched the Navajo High School Homecoming Parade.  It was sweet ... Beautiful children riding all kinds of contraptions throwing candy to the crowd.

At 4:30 we met at the LZ and Olivia went for her first flight with Randy on his beautiful orange PPC.  I wanted to fly with them but by the time I set up they were coming in to land.  My flight was a  short one, the winds were starting to get twitchy and I didn't see any need to fight it since Olivia was already down. (#441) 

That evening we were treated to some spectacular flying by Dell and some others.  One of the Paradrenalin guys flew well past dark.  Very spooky, there was no moon and the only way to discern the rocks was ... there is black and blacker.  I watched him ridge soar on the southern butte and wondered what it must have been like.  The lights rigged to his motor were impressive and I was thinking that he might have had a way to slant them down to use for landing lights but didn't hang around to see how he managed to land.  Later that year I saw the amazing Nirvana Show at the Salton Sea.  LEDs imbedded into the carbon prop with a graphics program running ... very cool.

The banquet at Gouldings was well attended.  The new assistant manager created some problems and asked us to remove the alchol that we had permission to bring in. Barb was off so i had to make peace with the local officer.  Paul Anthem got up and told us of their trials getting to the event and I said a few words.  The night was topped off when  Ryan asked Olivia to pick the raffel winner of a new Paradrenalin Paramotor.  It was good to see new and old friends sharing a meal. 

Sunday Nice flight in the morning. (#442) The Trim cam jammed in the hang point loop but I was able to free it with a few hard smacks.  Dell, Russ and Sean put on a great show.  Olivia packed her stuff and I took a shower with a scorpion... poor guy couldn't take the hot water.  On the road by noon.  Went home through Pagosa Springs and Salida.  Beautiful drive.  Home by 10pm

Saturday, October 2, 2010

#439 Titan

It was 54 degrees when I left the house but cool air flowing down from the hills reduced the temp at Titan to 41 degrees!  I left the cold weather gear at the house thinking the temp was the temp...wrong.  Lesson learned.  The launch was great, it sure helps to have a nice smooth surface and plenty of room.  I inflated and taxied for a long way before I powered up and committed to launch.  At 1000 feet it warmed up considerably so I flew over to the marina and took pictures.  Not much going on over there. 
My friend here is landing on just a spit of land with water on three sides ... Good Job !
The "Ol Balloon Man" was launching 30 minutes into the flight, I was thinking about landing but the opportunity to fly with balloons comes far to seldom so I turned back and played tag for awhile.  I circled him a few times and then passed over the top to catch his thermal.  What a rolercoaster that is!  On the last pass he opened the vents to decend and I shot up like a bubble of champane in a long stem glass.  It's a very small but intence thermal and wanted to see if I could hold a power on climbing spiral and stay in but joy.  What a rush. Looking back I should have taken some pictures but flying around those massive things spooks me and I stayed "hands on"  the whole time we were together"  He had a hell of a day and was still flying after I had packed up and drove back into the park.   I caught up with his wife and asked if they needed any help packing up, she said that they had a ton of crew, but thanks.  We stood around and watched while he thrilled his passengers by landing on a little tongue of land sticking out of the SCUBA pond.

Low Water
calm day

near the end of the season

Thursday, September 30, 2010

#438 Titan

Another beautiful fall day! 
No issues...cops...problems...or pain. 
Light NW breeze.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

#437 Aurora Reservoir

Aurora Reservoir

Beautiful Day!  85 degrees with a light SSE breeze.  
The last flight convinced me that the back pain was caused by flying with my hands positioned too high  The Eden III hooks in with the trim tabs just above the hangpoint loops.  I could reach the brakes with but when flying, I wasn;t able to get my shoulder muscles into play, putting stress on my sterum and upper back. This caused the cartilage in my rib cage to be inflamed which hurt like hell when I took a deep breath and also caused a chronic pain right between my shoulder blades. 

Removed the 12 lb weight from the nose
Moved hangpoints back

Everything was working fine including me.  This was an extremely satisfying flight.  I was able to spend the time enjoying the flight instead of trying to find out why I was hurting.  Now I'll be able to get to know this machine and what I can do.  The 28m wing is fine.  I'm fast so I need a good runway but it turns hard and with the trimmers out it is very sporty.

Monday, September 27, 2010

What a Difference a Day Can Make

Bronco Sunday Sailing with John Sieb then a great flight from Titan.  The Eden III 28m  was fast but fine.  Finally got to try brake extensions and it felt much better.  I'm still sore but I think I've found ou what was causing the problem.  Good advice from John Fetz..."You're flying in the Jesus Position ... use brake extensions and a bungee to keep them out of the Prop"  thanks John! You were spot on.

T-Shirt Weather... Notice the arm position much better

2010 Botanic Garden Corn Maze

The CSYC race was a floater but the flying was wonderful