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Friday, August 31, 2012

Vance Brand 563 & 564

A hazy morning at Vance Brand. 

Moon Set 

 I arrived at 6:00am and it was still too dark to launch.  The air was still and moist and there wasn't a soul moving at the airport.  I took my time setting up and took a minute to get familiar with the Go Pro.  There were a bunch of geese at the swoop pond and when the took off flapping and honking I took it as clearance to launch. 

Sun Rise

This was my 5th morning at Vance brand this week and I was feeling good.  Not a blown launch in the last several dozen flights and the Generac was running good.

Yesterday there weren't any balloons but I was hoping they would be flying so I could take some video and I wasn't disappointed.  I could see one flying low over the Gunbarrel neighborhood and 3 others inflating at the balloon port.  I made a beeline for the flyer who was beginning to ascend.  When I was 1000 yards out he was 300 feet above me I powered up and started to circle around him.   He must of seen me because he slowed his accent and allowed me to come level with him.  We waved and circled for awhile and I turned back to the LZ.

Heading back to the field there were several aircraft up.  A Bonanza heading South flew over and a ultralight circled about 100 yards off my wing.  The NEK Airborne were dropping 60 skydivers at a time with 3 planes.  I loitered to the South of the field until the sky divers were down and landed by the truck. 

I hadn't planned to launch again but the ultra lite was doing touch and goes on the dirt strip along the South fence and the air was still good.  So I set up and launched.  This time I was getting allot of lift and was climbing at 350 ft./min.  Climbing to 2000ft AGL I shut down the motor and enjoyed the quiet for 10 minutes. At 500 feet I restarted and landed clean.

While I was packing up a fellow came over and introduced himself.  Craig Frank is a PPC and Light sport pilot.  He was waiting for the ultralight to land so that he could try it out. There were several PPC guys who were planning to fly later and he invited me to go along with him on his Six Shooter.  When the little single seat Quicksliver landed Craig introduced me to Barney.  Barney has just just rebuilt the Quicksilver and was planning to fly it to the Fly In in Fort Lupton the next day.  He briefed Craig who then climbed in and headed over to the main runway.  I chatted with Barney for a bit and watched the skydivers who were finishing their 3 jump of the morning.

After an hour and no sign of Craig I decided to go over to the other side of the airport to see if I could find my ride.  It didn't take long to spot them.  They had the quicksliver on dollys and were wheeling it into Barney's hanger.  I took a minute to figure out what was wrong with the picture but eventually I got it.  The wheels were missing and the landing struts were bent.  Craig had stalled 5 feet above the runway and pancaked.  He felt terrible and had decided to find a way ... somehow.. to repair the plane so that Barney could fly it to the Fly In.  Barney is a fixture at Vance Brand and has been the Ultralight guru there for 20 years. 

The hanger is filled with Ultralight parts. and more than a couple broken planes.  We located some landing struts and determined the nose wheel was repairable.  The only thing missing was a set of axles.  Barney made a cal and 5 minutes later "Bob showed up.  Bob is a retired Mechanical Engineer and collector of small aircraft.  He offered to make a set of axles if we would follow him back to his home and work shop.

So off we went,  Bob has a wonderful shop complete with all the tools to machine just about whatever was needed.  While he worked on the axles I poked around and tried to absorb as much as I could.  His son stopped by and the four of us chatted about Bob's aircraft.  I was taken by the Hovey Delta Hawk, a tiny little biplane that in another time I would have bought in a heartbeat.  Bob offered to sell it to me for $4,000 which shocked me but he was serious.  Wow a real airplane for $4,000!  Later I thought about it and figured that $4,000 was just the down payment.  By the time I got flight instruction and all that would be needed to keep the wonderful little plane it would be closer to $25,000.  Well I guy can dream.

Dawn and I planned to drive out to the fly in but the weather didn't cooperate so we stayed home.  Sunday was no good because Obama was going to be speaking in Boulder and all but the big commercial flights were grounded.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vance Brand #562

This was a good one.  I arrived at the field 20 minutes before dawn.  The launch was clean but the air was very twitchy between 50 and 100 feet.  Once above the layer it warmed up and was very smooth.  There were no balloons today unlike the last 3 mornings so I explored the south and returned to the field.  Not a real long flight but very enjoyable.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Powered Paragliding at Vance Brand Airport #559

Dead Calm  I had to share the field with NEK ATC training operations.  Para Military Security Training.

Flew with the Fairwinds Balloon and hooked up with them later at St Mary's Field.  The Pilot "Jay" invited me to launch with them at Gunbarrel LZ.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Flock Assaults Chatfield from the Titan LZ

Flight #557 was a pleasant surprise.  A week ago I posted to the Yahoo forum that I was planning to fly Chatfield on the Sunday morning after the Fagawie Sailboat Race.   In the beginning we would race from Sunset till Sunrise but over the years as we have aged, it has been shortened to a sunset till midnight race.  Since I was going to get some sleep I thought it would be a good time to schedule a Chatfield flight.  It was a disappointment when nobody responded but I figured John Sieb would want to go and even if he didn't,  I hadn't flown my old home field in over a year and it was time.

The Fagawie was a floater with little wind at the start eventually dying to zero.  Our speed was measured in inches per minute so we decided to abandon the race in favor of getting an extra hour of sleep.  At 6:00am the alarm went off and Dawn and I struggled to crawl out of the berth.  The air was considerably cooler than the last couple of days and I pulled on long johns to wear under the light pants I' thought would be sufficient. At  7:00am we were pulling out of the Marina and encountered Chris Montes who had made the wrong turn at Roxbourough.  He waved and follow us to the field where we saw a big part of the Front Range Flock. John Sieb was getting ready to launch and I counted several others including, Mike Bennett, Ty, Nate, and Marek and amazingly Chip who hadn't flown with us for ages.

The wind was light from the east and so I set up at the west end of the field and waited while Nate cleared the runway.  The launch was clean and I quickly turned to fly back over the parking area.  Dawn was shooting pictures and so I threw the monkey on a drogue.  I'd been promising to do it for months but always seemed to forget.

There were 5 balloons ascending over the west end of the lake so I set course and caught them in a string stretching from North of the corm maze to the south end of the Reservoir. 

Except for one, they were climbing fast, so I headed over to take some pictures of the corm maze.  This year it is half the normal size and not very elaborate. I expect it's a victim of the budget crunch but they could have been a little more creative in their selection of design.  Oh Well.....
On the way back to the south end I encountered a red white and blue balloon close to my altitude we blew by each outer with a wave and I turned around toward the bottom of the lake. 

Last nights huge 50 boat raft-up was greatly reduced but still impressive.  This is the first year but I'm sure the Annual Mega Raft-Up will be a regular event.

I flew over to the marina and RC Airport before heading back to the LZ.  What a great flight!  I was back on home turf and the conditions were perfect.

Thanks to everybody for coming to enjoy it with me.. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

549 Vance Brand

Another one just like the last one.  Calm .... Balloons ... Go Pro ... CHEATED DEATH YET AGAIN :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Beautiful Cross Country 547 and 548 at Vance Brand

What a beautiful morning to fly with the Balloons!

There was absolutely no breeze at Vance Brand airport this morning.  The sky was clear and I could see one lone balloon at altitude off to the south.  After launching I noticed there were 3 others at low altitude east of the Boulder Reservoir.  I climbed to 500 feet and went to meet them.  There was a 10 mph breeze from the north and the Falcon picked up to 40+mph.   Smooth air all the way.
I did encounter a small fixed wing GA at the same altitude who was heading right at me.  He turned away 1000 yards off my nose.  It could have been that he did not see me until I started to bank away giving the wing more visible surface area.
The return was slow and it started to get bumpy when I dropped altitude to get out of the head wind so I climbed back up opting for the smoother air.   I cant really call it a cross country because I was only up about 40 minutes but it was 14 miles ... 7 out and 7 back.

This weekend is the Fly In at Bubba's.  Have a great time guys ... I cannot make it this year.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

#545 & #546 Vance Brand

I awoke early and decided to go for it.  The air was warm and still when I arrived at Vance Brand about 6 am.  The first launch was picture perfect.  I lined up on the dirt track and launched right down the runway.  There was a good strong breeze from the South West above 50 feet.   As I was setting up to land I noticed a couple of balloons to the south.  So I landed .... gassed ... and set up to reach launch.
This one was a little different.  I didn't damp the wing quick enough during the inflation and it folded up in a frontal.   I watched it in the mirror as it collapsed and fell behind.  I contemplated aborting the take off but I had plenty of room ahead and decided to see if I could save it.  I throttled down and rolled along for quite a long distance with half the wing but eventually  it inflated and I powered back up.  I was rolling over the grass and waiting for my speed to back up until I came adjacent to the swoop pond. Eventually I got off and went to chase the balloons.  There were 5 in the air with one playing very close to the ground.  Since he was the closest I headed that way and we danced together for a few minutes before I turned back toward the LZ.  I aborted the first landing attempt because the wing was oscillating.  I think it was the result of a hard turn as I descended through the temperature inversion.  Anyway it wasn't settling down and rather than come in swinging I went around again and landed without trouble.
The balloon was landing east of the field so after packing my gear I drove over and said hello.  There was an FAA inspector who showed up shortly after I to do a "ramp inspection".  The captain was an elderly gent who seemed a bit forgetful and I didn't like the idea of the FAA guy quizzing him.  Or me!  I said a quick good by and was on my way back to the house.