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Friday, December 2, 2016

944 & 945

944 was last Wednesday before Stefania came to visit.  No Drama 1 hour 10 minutes
945 was this morning.  Strong winds aloft.  45 minutes.  Hazy morning with level 4 bumps the first 100 feet. Landing was fun with very active flying all the way to the ground.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Flight # 943 Peachtree LZ

I was running hard to meet up with Tony.
Before I could head out to the field....

I needed to dive on the boat.  The prop was fouled with barnacles and there were a few patches where the bottom paint wasn't working.  The zinc was rotten and fell apart during inspection.  One more dive coming up.
I had an appointment with Kurt (GM of Scotty's Brewhouse) to pitch sponsorship of the Leukemia Cup Regatta.  I got there early and had a burger.  He was polite but not too enthusiastic.
Then... drop a bike out to Tire Kingdom.... drive the MR-2 to Tire Kingdom ...  ride the bike home.

Beau was waiting for me as I cycled into the garage.  He knew I was leaving again and was not about to be left behind this time.  He was, begging and pleading the whole time I changed into warmer gear.
I relented and put on his harness.

I almost made it.... As I was getting off the highway I saw Two wings heading south.  It looks like my student has signed himself off.  He called me yesterday and confessed that he has been flying alone for several weeks.  It seems.... the flight I witnessed the last was not his first flight.  Looking back , he didn't act like a guy who had just finished his first flight.  Too cool and composed.

Anyway I launched and flew till sunset without seeing anybody.  Returning to the field I saw their wings by the trucks.   I was still pretty high so I spiraled down and at 300 feet spotted an RC flying over the LZ.  Keeping an eye on him I turned onto a short final, landing mid field.

Mike Lange, Mike Otten, Tony Litten and I jawed for awhile about a possible cross-country to Lakeland.

Launch and landing were clean.  I think I've finally overcome the line cutting problem.  I just wish I knew exactly what was causing the lines to be cut and which of the changes fixed it.
New keepers?    maybe
More careful layout?   maybe but I doubt it
Prop balance?  could be, vibration is certainly lower
Frame repair? nah....
Don't know...Its a mystery.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

942 ShellCreek

Good flight
45 minutes
North wind 8 mph

Launch and landing were clean.
The cold and dark made me land.
Otherwise I'd still be there.  :)

940 Shell Creek

Flight 940   One hour and fifteen minutes.  Clear skyStrong breeze above 50 ft, calm at the surface.

This is the first launch without A assists since the shoulder surgery 3 1/2 years ago.  It came off  ok  but I need to move my shoulders back from the hang points.  During the beginning of inflation my arms are pulled back to an unnatural position that could re damage the shoulder.   It also effects normal flight but is only uncomfortable, not a danger.  I'm wondering if the solution would be to change the hang point assembly to a power loop configuration similar to the trike buggy.  The nice thing about the power loop was that I could have my arms behind the beaners.  I'm afraid that major changes would have to be made to make it work.  (Like removing the bar behind my head and reworking the cage bracing and cutting some square tubing and re bracing the hang point bar.

As to the change in the angle of the frame.  Thrust is more horizontal, there is a significant improvement in climb rate. However, cruise RPM is only slightly lower.  With such a difference in climb I would expect cruise would also be dramatically better.   Go figure?  The landings are different in that I burn off energy for a long way before touching down and when I do touch, the Rig is slow enough that there is barely any roll out.  I noticed that toward the end I was putting tremendous pressure on the brakes before touching down.  Prior to this, the back wheels would touch down and the rig would roll a good distance with the front wheel at chest level.   

Friday, November 18, 2016

Beautiful Sunset Flight

#941 Shell Creek Airpark
Winds 5 mph from east
30 minutes

Took out the memory foam from the back of the seat but leaving it on the seat to lift me another inch.
Much better position and I still have plenty of room behind my head.  It's easer to see the trimmer setting and it certainly feels better.
I reinstalled the A assists.  They are easer.  I will see what it feels like in this configuration and decide which way I want to go.

Great Sunset.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Repairs and Reconditioning

#939 Shell Creek Airpark
50 minutes clear skies .... Light breezes

This flight was the first after several modifications.

1) I raised the back of the seat and lowered the front.  I also put 2 inches of memory foam under the seat cover.  I'm trying to reposition my body so that the helmet will not contact with the cross brace (above the motor) and make it easer to reach the wing tip toggles.  
It worked but I'm not sure that it is the final solution.  The new seat position is a few inches forward of where I had it, putting more bend in my legs.  It's not a problem when taxiing but it feels strange when I'm flying.  It has also reduced the size of the seat and its configuration.  Where the original seemed to wrap around me, this one feel likes I'm sitting on top.  I suspect it's more perception than reality because I was just as exposed before this change..... it just feels like I'm, "hanging it out there".  I think that I'm going to try it no pad and with the pad cut into two parts, seat and lumbar.
Never the less.... It worked.  My head was plenty clear of the crossbar and it was easy to reach the toggles.  Its definitely a step in the right direction.
To get a perspective, the back of the seat was touching the air intake pipes behind and below.

2)  I made was a new set of line keepers.  Over the last couple of months I've been having problems with lines being chopped.  In one instance for sure it was an outside wingtip line that was sucked in through the cage.  The other prop strikes ... I saw lines below the keepers as the wing was inflating.  I don't understand how slack lines were getting kicked out.  Even when I took care to position the lines in the keepers, in the same order that they would  leave, lines were being kicked out prematurely.  

The double loop is a bit artsy but the second loop puts a bit more pressure against the lines.  Hopefully this will keep slack outside lines under control until they are tensioned.  Aluminum tape covers the parts of the frame that the lines slide against including below the keeper in case one does go stray. There is electrical tape in the portion that hold the lines prior to inflation, it's  slightly tacky and should protect against lines going slack between the hang-point and the keepers.

3) Belt has been replaced.  It was still serviceable but after 600+ hours, but what the heck?  I didn't think it was slipping much ... I could hear it squeal during take off and climb out occasionally but it never lasted long and the belt was never hot.....  I was wrong.  There is a noticeable increase in thrust and it is certainly quieter.

The flight was great.  I think the new configuration has moved enough weight forward that the front wheel is lower and the thrust line is more horizontal.  I will have to test it but my climb rate seems better and cruise RPM is lower.  This could be a huge improvement in efficiency.  It makes sense that a more horizontal thrust pushes me farther forward under the wing, increasing the angle of attack.  To think all these years I've been doing with a mediocre climb just so I could have my nose wheel a few inches higher.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Back in the Air ... Flight 938

I layed out the Apco and launched.  The new belt is noticeably better.  It might need to be tightened a little more but it is not slipping at all.  When you start the engine there is a noticeable jolt as the prop starts turning.  There was no wind at the surface but I launched into where I thought it was and was rewarded with tremendous climb as soon as I left the surface.  The wind was pulling hard to the left because I had not set the trimmers correctly.  No Excuse....  I noticed that the wingtip steering was not threaded through the loop at the tip.  It still operated fine but it was not cupping the wing in the same way.  The seat needs to be changed.  I'm leaning too far back and my helmet is touching the cage frame.  It's very uncomfortable.

When I got home, I lowered the front of the seat and fixed the wing.  I'm farther forward in this configuration.  My knees are more bent and it might have changed the balance so that the front wheel is lower than I like.  I don't think it is likely to wheelbarrow but I'm going to have be careful.  A nose wheel landing isn't a disaster but it would be tricky.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Tony's First Flight

Today was a milestone.  My first student got his first flight :)
Arrived at the Placida LZ at 6:30.  Winds were 7 from the NE, cycling every couple of minutes.
Tony set up and launched perfectly.  He flew for 30 minutes at 500 ft.  The winds were strong enough at that altitude that he was just barely penetrating.  Landing was excellent.  

His belt needs to be tightened.  It was slipping a little and made his climb-out too slow for my taste.  I could hear it squealing and possibly slapping although I don't know how it could slap with a pulley on the slack side.
He needs to practice with the kill switch ... He had a little trouble finding it and killed the engine late.
I'm going to encourage him to transition to trike.  The rig was bobbling too much for comfort.  I think those big wheels up front are catching the air.  

I'm glad this phase of training is over.  He's finally popped his cherry now and can start gaining experience.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Great MV video

Here are some of the best videos from this years Gathering

Almost my last flight! Flight 937

During my last two flights I noticed a shift in the frame as the wing started to load up.  I did post flight inspections both times and inspected the main spar by lifting the front wheel and eyeballing the frame from the bottom.  This time I was launching at Shell Creek for the first time since returning from the road trip and the shift was a noticeable shrug.  Once up, I decided that whatever it was ... probably wouldn't reappear until I landed, so I put it out of my mind and enjoyed a nice long flight.  The landing was uneventful.
Back at the house I the post flight exposed the problem.  The main spar is made up of two one inch square tubes.   From the bottom they looked fine but from the side I could see a crack.  I took off the seat and discovered that both tubes were cracked on the top and both sides.  With a little pressure I could make the cracks open slightly.  When I lifted the front wheel and rocked it up and down I could see that there was very little holding the rig together.  Conceivably,  if it didn't collapse during take off, the spar could have let go with me on the breakaway side, only connected to the wing and motor by the seat belt.  I suppose its possible I could have stayed with the rig and landed but more likely, I would have fallen through the seat belt, completing my last flight.  Wow!  It was obvious that the cracks had been there for awhile but I hadn't seen it.

It probably started when I had the crash at Bubba's.  The trike came down hard and bent the frame downward, behind the seat.  I didn't worry about it at the time.  Actually I liked the new configuration because it moved the prop wash slightly upward and lowered the seat and center of gravity.  I joked that it was more like the geometry of the trike buggy.  Well... the top of the tube is were it crimped the tubing and thats naturally where the crack would form.  The side cracks probably opened up recently. At least I hadn't noticed them and I think I would have.

It took Mike Lange no time to repair the spar.
 While I was at it I balanced the prop and installed some bullet proof line keepers.  I also raised the seat about 5 inches and padded it with 2 inches of memory foam.