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Friday, December 11, 2015

851 Placida

Mike Otten.... BobHarrison and I enjoyed a sunset flight in 6 to 8 mph breeze.  My gas flow problem has been solved. No Drama except that Otten stretched his flight to the very last second.  We damn near had to turn on the headlights for him.
Time aloft 1 hour 8 minutes
The last picture was not tonight.  It was taken Wednesday during the IYC  Social Sailing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Engine Out!

This was a last minute decision.  The winds that were predicted to last into tomorrow had started to mellow. There was a high cloud cover and I thought it just might be flyable at Placida.  After texting Mike Lange that I was planning to fly and pulling on some long pants I jumped into the truck and headed on out.  At the LZ the wind was steady 6 mph out of the North East.  Trying not to waste any time i warmed up the motor, set-up and prepared to launch.  This flight was going to be naked, no GPS, Helmet, GoPro and it turns out..... No ear protection.  Two seconds after launch I realized my mistake and knew it was going to be a short and naked flight. 
This was guaranteed when two seconds after that, the motor died.  I was about 50 feet up and still above landable terrain, so it was a non event to glide into a smooth landing.  I checked the gas tank and discovered the problem was that the fuel had been turned off at the tank.  Probably by Mike when he repaired the cage.  I turned the fuel back on and motored back to the truck.  
What I expect happened was that I burned the fuel that was still in the pipeline during the warm up and there was very little left when I began the launch which was exhausted in seconds at full power.  
Back at the house I ran the motor for several minutes without a burp, so I should be good to go the next time my schedule and weather permits.

Last week Mike had been kind enough to to weld up the damaged cage and replace the nose wheel.  

Saturday, December 5, 2015

849 850

It's not really a milestone but it feels like one.  I popped off a quick launch and landing and reset for 850.  Ground fog and nil winds were the order of the day.  Nice long flight, one hour and 45 minutes.  I flew down to the RNYC at 850ft and dropped down to do some touch and goes on their parking lot.  The air was so still that the only bumps I encountered were from my own prop wash and because it was so still, the vortex was undisturbed and packed a real wallop.

No Drama... No company... Just me and the birds.

Tech Note.... The new GoPro is not working on my iPad.   Try 30 frames/sec instead of 60.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

448... It's been awhile

                                                 Chilling with Angelica
Wow.!  It's been three weeks since my last flight.  The First week was for a good reason .  Dawn and I were sailing the Eastern Caribbean on the Carnival Cruise Ship Glory.  Then there was a high pressure area north of us that was encouraging a North East wind. It was blowing 10 to 20 mph constantly for more than a week.  Then, last week was my birthday Thanksgiving and the girls visit.  It blew so much that we didn't even go sailing.   Go Figure?  It's beautiful here in the winter and would be the best time of year to fly except for the wind.
Today was the first decent day in awhile.  Mike rallied the troops and we met at Placida about 4pm.  Lange and Otten were testing the air as I arrived.  They both landed when I pulled up.  It was still a bit thermic.
I took pity on Beau and brought him along.  Big mistake...... When the two Mikes decided to cruise over to Englewood Beach I had to content myself with staying near the patch so that I could check on Beau every once in awhile.  The wind was blowing about 8mph toward the Gulf,  I was cruising downwind a couple of miles and working my way back.  After being above 1000 feet for 15 minutes I decided to drop down and check on Beau.  After 3 loud "BEAUs", out he came, bouncing out from under the pickup.
I stayed up about 90 minutes and only landed because the sun had set and it was getting dark.
The Mikes showed up a few minutes later.   I didn't stay around to chew the fat due to mosquitos.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ten Years of flight #847

Foggy day.  The first launch was aborted at the last minute because I was running out of runway and the fog closed in.  I reset and waited twenty minutes and launched into spotty fog.  I could see that it was going to be totally socked in quickly.  Even staying over the field was a challenge because There would only occasionally be a hole that allowed me to see through the fog to get my bearings.  The first time I set up to land I was too high and I had to circle around to the north end of the runway.  The second time I was lower but the fog was almost a perfect white out.  Just as I was about to give up and climb back over the fog I saw the trees on the West side of the runway and I followed it down to the surface.
The rest of the day was spent with the CSYC guys sailing on Charlotte Harbor.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

846 ... Might as well go for a flight.

This morning at 4:47am, my darling bride woke up smelling gasoline.  Fearing for our safety, she prudently woke me up so we could search out the toxic fumes that would  snuff our lives if not discovered.
No obvious culprits presented themselves.  I opened the sliders and we moved to the garage thinking perhaps a fuel can had spilled.    I had my doubts but Dawn was sure the cause of the odor was coming from the bed of my truck.  
Well... There was nothing else to do, I opened the garage and rolled the truck under a clear, calm pre-dawn Sky.  With the offending vehicle out of the house the danger was past, so, Dawn went back inside, and hopefully.....back to bed.  
I climbed up into the back of the truck and checked for a gas spill.  After all,  I had a brand new wing and I'd hate to damage it.
An exhaustive search turned up nothing.  No gas .... No oil ... Just my Paramotor and me under the Stars.  Did I mention that the air was calm and that the sun would be rising soon?  
Total flight time 105 minutes.  
The flight was great.  Unlike yesterday, I had my lucky camera ready to go and even though the wind was out of the East, there was enough of a southerthly element for me to set-up  for a crosswind launch on the runway.   I flew East 9 miles with the trim out and came back crabbing 45 degrees off the wind.

Damn that was nice of her.  Looking out for our safety like that.....
All the way home I thought about rigging something that would emit a strong gas smell about 90 minutes prior to sunrise.  You know..... Something Wireless.

Friday, November 6, 2015

845. Sunset flight

It was not a big one.  It was not a long one.  
The best way to describe this flight was .... I don't know....maybe? Dicey.  
First....The winds were from the East giving me the shortest angle on the field.  I had to thread the needle between several obstacles and...  if the Lift EZ decided not to live up to its name, I would be apologizing to the rancher for scaring his cows.   In my favor .... there was a healthy 8 mph to help me climb.  So... I kited a bit.  The air was only slightly twitchy and most of it was caused by soft edge rotor from upwind trees.   I decided to set-up the wing in a chevron with the center tucked in.  

It inflated beautifully and I only needed to taxi for a short time before committing to launch.  The climb out was acceptable.  It was one of those times I missed the old simonini trike buggy but the Falcon did fine.  I headed upwind and tasted the air.  With the trim still in neutral Airspeed was 16 mph with mildly bumpy air.  The first turn downwind was sluggish.  Subsequent turns I used more brake pressure and found it better.  I suspect that had I let trim out I would have been much more comfortable.  
The real problem was that I just wasn't feeling good about the flight.  There were too many little things less than perfect.  I was pissed not to have my camera available and was trying to use my iPhone to shoot the sunset.  Try as I might, I couldn't settle down and go hands free.  An angel looking over my shoulder would have thought that I was spastic seeing the convoluted way I was trying to hold the phone and shoot with one hand.  The sunset was stunning .... The pictures were not.
Then,  I noticed an unusual amount of play with the nosewheel.  I could feel the caster moving way too much in the mounting plate and wondered if the whole thing would fall off when I touched down.  I couldn't see where the problem was from my perspective but it was, "hillbilly sloppy".  It wouldnt have been a good idea to land after  sunset, when my nosewheel was acting funny.  The winds were good for a slow landing, right now.  But, after the sun sets, they have a tendency to decrease, meaning that my landing speed would be faster.
Time to land.  
After an uneventful landing, I inspected the wheel and found that the caster bearings were gone.  Without the 3/8 balls filling the caster plate there was a huge amount of play with the whole wheel assembly.  It was ugly but I can probably fly it that way forever.  

When I got home and did a more comprehensive post flight inspection, I discovered that a weld had broken in the center of the cage.  It happened after my preflight and I'd like to think that the vibration from the broken weld played a part in my unease.  Probably not.  Either way,  it wasn't structural and not a showstopper in itself. 
So.... I cheated Death yet again and flew like a bird.   Gawd love this sport.


That was fun!  I got up early and flew for 90 minutes.  Out past the Red Neck Yact Club and back.  The winds were light out of the east.  Good Climb rate.  Stayed between 1200 and 1800 feet.
No Drama

Friday, October 30, 2015

Two days ... Two Flights 842 & 843

SYesterday was a shorty.  Mike Lange and I met at Placida.  There was heavy ground fog covering the whole area but two weeks of heavy wind had us jonesing for a flight and we were both hopefull that it would be thin enough to launch.  
Well, yes and no.... Yes....We both launched but ... in the blind.  I climbed out of the fog quickly but there was a thick white blanket below as far as I could see.  If I had been pleased with the Paramotor I might have kept climbing and waited out the fog but I had changed the prop to a coarser pitch hoping to increase thrust.  It had the opposite effect on my climb, the Paramotor felt rough and the prop sound was a terrible roar.  I poked down into the fog to see if I could get a glimpse of the LZ and decided to land.  Two quick circles and I set down 100 yards from the truck.  Mike didn't fair any better. He had a motor out shortly after taking off and landed 1000 yards to the south.  Any farther and he could have had problems with canals and wires. As it was he had a long damp walk back to the vehicle.  

I wished that I had pictures but I wasn't exactly feeling good about the flight and didn't want to go hands free for even a second.  Never the less....It was beautiful.  My shadow on the top of the fog created the perfect rainbow halo.  I'd been hoping to get that shot for ten years but I'll have will have to wait a little longer. My only impression from the flight was that I was all alone ... Blue Sky above and cotton candy below, it was a vast two color universe.  
Max RPM 3400
Max Climb rate 180

Flight 2 (today) SCA   
50 minutes 3500 agl.  Changed prop to slightly less course pitch .... 
Max RPM 3600 but settled at 3540 most of the time.
Climb rate 200 - 250.  Prop noise was smoother.   
Finally met Frank Moss.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sailing on Paradiso

The winds have been strong, dawn and dusk, for the last two weeks making it impossible to fly.  
It's frustrating because I've changed the pitch on the props so that max RPM is 3500, 200 below norm.  Hopefully this will increase my thrust and climb rate.  My friend John Fetz who has over 10,000 logged hours isn't as optimistic, he expects higher vibration and decreased thrust.  He is thinking that this course pitch would be helpful after gaining altitude but useless during climb out.  We will see.

It's too windy to fly, So.... Dawn and I rounded up the SW Florida contingent of Colorado Sail and Yacht and went for a sail yesterday afternoon.  Best weather and best sail since we sailed the boat back from Burnt Store Marina with Bill and Katie last spring. Everything fell right into place.  Steady 14 mph winds out of the North East made for an easy broad reach out and back.  The repairs to the diesel and electronics all seemed to be holding together and we had a high high tide.  There was a ton of food left over from the SCA meetings earlier in the week and Dawn did me proud making by making sandwiches and finger foods for all to share.

A good time was had by all.

Friday, October 16, 2015

First Florida Cross Country 841

It's about time.  
My old friend Rex came down from Colorado to study with Paul at Planet PPG.  I had a pretty full week but still managed to get down to Pine Island a couple of times to cheer him on.  The first time was Wednesday and they were towing.  Poor Rex.  One new hip and another about to be replaced... He got up though and was making it work.  I caddied the wing a couple of times and when Rex had had enough I surprised myself and asked for a sled ride.  Paul hauled me up and I enjoyed my first foot launch and landing in a long time.  It was only a short hop but I think I'm hooked.  Foot launching is almost effortless when you don't have to worry about running it  out with a motor on your back.  I will definitely try it again.  
Thursday morning I drove down even though the winds were predicted to be a bit on the high side.  When I arrived it was blowing about 10mph.  In the wind shadow of the runway it felt much lower but it was coming from the North North East across the runway.  I inflated fine but wasn't able to stabilize the wing and aborted.  I'm not exactly sure what all my problems were but from the way the wing was reacting I think I should have damped the surge a little better and probably moved the trike a little slower.  Anyway before I could reset, Paul went up in his Falcon 38hp,  he got off fine but it was clear that there was some rotor to contend with.  He landed within 5 minutes and pronounced it "sporty".  I choose to bag the wing.
That evening I drove back down and had dinner with everybody at Pine Island.  Somehow during the course of the meal Paul suggested that I fly down from Shell Creek.  My first reaction was, Hell No!....but of course I said , " Sure that would be fun".
  ......Well, I got to thinking  about it....and it has been a couple of days since my last flight.... and there is a low front moving in which is going to nix flying for awhile....and they did offer to provide a shuttle back up to the truck... The more I thought about it, the better it sounded.  Later back at the house, I fooled with FlySkyHy and managed to lay a few waypoints that would steer me around the Restricted airspace and get me over Pine Island Airport.
I wasn't convinced that I was going for it but decided to plan on a SCA flight regardless and if it felt good ...  go for the cross country.
The next morning the winds were 10mph from the North East, almost a straight shot to Pine Island Airport.  The launch was clean and quick.  Without missing a beat I headed South West and made my way around Punta Gorda Airspace.  The air was pretty smooth with occasional patches of bumps.  I had to crab around the airport and even so was flying between 35 and 40 mph.  After clearing PGA and hwy 75  I was able to turn directly downwind and race toward the Burnt Store hwy.  Acending to 2800ft agl I encountered turbulent air and so I decended a few hundred feet until it smoothed out.  Just past Burnt Store Marina I had to turn and crab the wing South East to stay onshore until I was lined up to cross over to the Island.  I was thinking to continue south till I got to the causeway, cross there and work my way back to PIA but the winds were picking up and I decided it was better to go with the flow.  I certainly had enough altitude to make the crossing without power so I turned South West, crossed my fingers and instantly I was "feet Wet".   My biggest concern was without merit.  I was worried that I would not be able to spot the small airstrip..... Nonsense, Pine Island is tiny and the airstrip stuck out like a beacon.  AND.... There was Paul and Rex flying a couple hundred feet over the patch.  I was still pretty high, they looked like a toy Paraglider pulling circles down there.  Shortly after I spotted the guys they landed and so I over flew the patch and glided into the wind for a nice steep landing.
Rex, Paul and I fooled around the airport for a little while and then Rex and I set of to retrieve my truck at SCA.  Later we stopped at Peace River Seafood for blue crab.  It was a victory lunch for both of us.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Mile High Club. SCA 840

This was a good one.  I woke up at 5:30 without an alarm.  What's to do ?  While performing morning ablutions I checked the weather and saw it was calm with nill winds expected.  I arrived at the field at 7:00 and was airborne by 7:10.
Fabulous Air! I climbed out over the sand quarry just as the sun was rising. There was ground fog in patches for as far as I could see.  The sky was clear to the East and the clouds that we're building were all to the West over the gulf.  The winds were light but increased steadily as I climbed.  When I reached my goal of 5280 it was 20 mph from the Nort North West. 

At 5333 I trimmed the wing to full out, fast reflex and shut down the motor.  It was wonderful, I pulled a few wing overs and finished with a hard spiral descending at over 700 fpm.  At 3500 feet I restarted and climbed back up to 4500 so that I could shut down again and glide back to the field.  The landing was clean, I pulled in the trim at 100 feet and put it down dead center on target.  Sometimes things work just as they're supposed too.

On funny thing that happened was a glitch in my sound system.  For some reason I select only songs that were stored on the IPhone.  At first it was fine but when Dianne Reeves cut out and restarted two times I started to get annoyed.  Eventually it went silent which was just fine with me.  The crazy thing was that when I reached the top and shut down the engine the tunes came back on with a vengeance.  All the way to touch down I listened to Queen finishing with "We are the Champions"
It wasn't epic but it was wonderful.

Friday, October 9, 2015

838 Placida at Dawn

Mike Lange and I.  I Blew the first launch when I let go of a brake toggle to catch my sunglasses.  Dumb chute.....  Air was good except for a layer at 400 feet.  Both Mike and I went for altitude. He climbed to 3800 feet and I topped out at 2500.  No drama. Need to work on grabbing both wing tip and brake toggles for landing.

839 SCA. Dawn Launch

Nice flight climbed to 4800 feet where the cold stopped me.  First experience with the selfie stick in flight.  Very light northerly breeze clear sky.  Dead stick from 500 feet.

  Last night I got out too late.   Almost funny, the weatherbug said sunset at 7:30 but it was way too dark by 7:15.  Winds were building and storm clouds were approaching.  Aborted launch and settled for some kiting.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

836 & 837 Shell Creek and Placida

To thing spectacular to report.  Nice flight with a dead stick landing.  The kill switch was found to be inoperable during preflight.  I killed the engine at 200 feet with the key and enjoyed a quiet landing.

Two days later I drove up to Placida because I found myself awake at 5:00am and didn't see any reason to go back to sleep.  It was dead calm at the house but there was a steady 10 mph wind at the LZ.  Since I was there before sun up I got the rig ready and waited.  About 15 minutes after sunrise the winds started to abate.  When  I got out of the truck to check conditions, I heard before I saw, a rain shower.  It was really quiet strange to hear the rain smacking into the earth but not seeing the shower.  I pulled the wing into the cab and waited, the rain only lasted a couple of minutes.  I wiped off the seat set up the wing (three times due to shifting winds) and eventually launched down the road in nill wind conditions.  It may have been calm on the surface but it was anything but at 350 feet.  Strong turbulence began at 300 and worsened the higher I got.  At 400 feet I was doing the puppet on a string thing and decended back down to 300.  It was lumpy but manageable.  If it had been just a little calmer I would have tried out the new selfie stick but no sense in that.
After 20 minutes of loitering at 300 feet I went back up to 350 to see if it had mellowed but the air was still unstable so I landed.  The repair to the kill switch was done before leaving so i field tested it by killing the motor at 50 feet and just for fun greased the landing.
Over Shell Creek
New Selfie stick.