The cold has me slowed down a little.
I just spoke with Phil at Coastal Valley Aviation and he is going to look into the IAS error tomorrow, December 22. I have been having a hard time coordinating with him.
I havenít had a chance to pick up the tubing as Jeff Tipton suggested.
The cold has me slowed down a little although it is 61 degrees F now it is supposed to get into the low 40s tonight.
That didnít work out.
I launched later than expected and Phil went home early yesterday. He does not appear to be open today.
Light rain and gusting winds will keep me at home today.
I donít know when Phil will be back.
I will let you all know what I find out.
Tomorrow doesnít look good for flying either.
I hope to go flying Sunday, December 25.
What happens when it rains?
I get wet.
It was supposed to be blustery and windy all day so I planned to do things other than fly.
I looked out the window at the Santa Maria Valley at 11:00 and the leaves on the trees weren’t blowing hard and the sky was a lovely blue with fluffy white clouds. I checked the weather and the forecast and it appeared to be a lovely day to fly to San Luis Obispo for lunch.
I had not flown the Predator from the front seat in the last 41 days so waiting till tomorrow seemed like a bad idea. Tomorrow is promised to no one.
It was almost noon by the time I made it to SMX.
I called Leidos and the very friendly weather briefer cautioned me to stay low. Freezing levels were 2,000 feet and there were some cumulonimbus clouds popping up.
Precipitation was unlikely.
I worked through a careful preflight and pushed The Predator outside.
I checked the ATIS and winds were 270 degrees at 14kts gusting to 20kts.
I have never heard ATC speak so fast. I am glad he doesn’t do it with my clients. There were very few pilots to talk to so I don’t understand his need for speed.
The run up went well, I changed from ground to tower, turned the transponder to mode C.
I heard the magic words; “experimental gyroplane 142 Mike Golf; straight out approved; runway 30 clear for takeoff.”
We were wheels up by 12:15.
I went through my pre-rotator and takeoff instructions aloud and followed them well.
I was a little slow to add power and The Predator leapt into the air at 55kts as soon as I advanced the throttle.
It is hard to understand the trouble my clients have keeping the nose down.
There were dark shadows and when I would emerge from one I could feel the warm sun on my face. I love the sensory overload I get flying The Predator.
The throttle was moving constantly as the building clouds tried to suck us up and the nearby down drafts would cause a sink. Level required anywhere from 1,800 engine rpm to 2,320 rpm. I loved the challenge of straight and level.
The recent rains are turning the hills a rich green and I love the smell of the wet earth.
My microphone muff does not work as well in the front seat and I had some wind noise.
I called San Luis Obispo ATC from eleven miles to the south east, inbound with Zulu. He asked me if I wanted direct or a left downwind for runway two niner. I had already told him I wanted to come in through the Avilla pass (left downwind for two niner) so I tried to put it in his words.
“Experimental two Mike Golf, make left traffic for runway two niner; report midfield.”
I dutifully read back the instructions.
Over Shell beach he asked me my position and altitude and again in the Avilla pass. The only traffic was coming from the north plus someone working left closed traffic.
When I reported left downwind for runway two niner to land he gave me two wind checks as I made my way toward the ground.
Apparently I was not to too rusty because the landing was one of those where I wonder if I have touched down.
“Experimental 142 Mike Golf taxi to parking; remain this frequency.”
I was the only aircraft in restaurant parking and no one was on the patio. I was concerned the Spirit of San Luis was closed.
It was not and both the owners were there treating my like an honored guest.
I ate inside the heated restaurant and was slow to depart.
I felt a single drop of rain during my preflight that was quickly joined my many more. It was pouring as I taxied to self-serve.
The fast moving rain storm passed as I was filling up but had some friends behind peaking over the mountains.
ATC launched me with a helicopter less than a mile out.
“Experimental 142 Mike Golf, I have lost sight of you in the rain; would you please let me know when you are clear of my Delta?
I climbed out quickly at 75kts indicated air speed making 95kts of ground speed. I was getting sucked up into the clouds so I backed way off the power when I reached 1,200 feet.
I was looking for some blue sky and found it over the Oceano Dunes. I was surprised to see BB sized hail bouncing off my kneeboard. The nearest cloud was 15 miles away.
I called Santa Maria Tower and I was to make right traffic for runway 30 and report midfield.
That took me right through what appeared to be rain but when I got there is was dry.
The landing was as nice as could be and ATC wished me a Merry Christmas.
No pictures from the flight home because my camera is not waterproof.
I pushed her into the hangar just before the skies opened up and drove home in a pouring rain.
Average speed was 46kts for the 58 nautical mile flight (44kts direct) with a maximum ground speed of 96kts.
What a great way to spend a few hours on the day before Christmas!
Merry Christmas to all!
Last edited by Vance; 12-25-2016 at 04:18 AM.
The last flight of The Predator for 2016.
Thank you Leigh; and a Happy New Year to you.
It seems there is always something to do at the hangar.
The other day a client was performing a preflight on The Predator after I had already done one before he arrived.
I find teaching too much of a distraction so I do my preflight before the client arrives.
He said the strobe lights weren’t working. He thought I was checking his work.
I was not and the anti-collision lights had worked when I checked them.
I checked them and he was correct so today was the day to find the problem and fix it.
There are eight single pole switches across the bottom of the panel and I have replaced most of them. They are not easy to get to and it is easy to drop the little brass screws when trying to hook them up. It was pretty straight forward and I only had to remove one other switch to get to the nut on the back side.
Mark Givans uses Loctite on the knurled screws and I don’t so I knew this was one of the originals. The brass terminal failed when I tried to unscrew the terminal screw and I ruined the knurled nut getting it off.
Fortunately my new switch had a similar knurled nut so it was pretty straight forward swap. Somehow I didn’t drop the screws and it all tested fine.
The repair finished it was on to the bigger project, a panel outlet for the power for my active noise reduction headset. I have had a panel mount outlet in the front for a long time and have been using a battery pack in the back. The nine volt battery last a long time but they seem to fail at inopportune moments.
It makes a wonderful difference on how loud the engine sounds to me and makes it much easier to understand both the tower and the intercom.
It meant installing an outlet in the panel behind the seat and wiring the filter and fuse into the system. I needed to mount the little package of electronics and find power and ground.
It ended up being pretty straight forward. To save time I didn’t take the side panel off so I had to manage the wire ties one handed because there is no way to get a second hand into the tower. This is not easy with the small wire ties but the longer ones are straight forward.
I want to fly tomorrow so I needed to get a maintenance flight in and I wanted to do it before dark.
Naturally I dropped one of the little screws that connect the wires for the navigation lights. By some miracle I was able to retrieve it and was finished with my preflight and check by a little after four.
I was not on my game so I slowed down and carefully used the check lists. The sun was in my eyes and I couldn’t read the numbers on the radio. I called ground on the tower frequency. I quickly realized my mistake and ground (the same guy) got right back to me.
The run-up went well and I asked for left closed traffic. By now I was on my game and the windless takeoff was elegant.
As I was coming in for my final landing of 2016 I needed a lot of right pedal despite the windsocks being flaccid. It is no wonder as a storm had just passed through.
The landing was nice as could be and I taxied to self-serve and monitored ground.
On my way back to the hangar I wished ground a happy new year and thanked him for all his help.
“See you next year Vance!” was his response.
The final flight of the year and finishing up the two tasks left me in such a good mood all I can say is Happy New Year!
And yes the brown grass at the airport has turned green form the recent rains.
Last edited by Vance; 01-01-2017 at 12:58 AM.
A cold flight to Santa Paula.
I was ready for an early launch Sunday, January 1, 2017.
Open hangar day seemed like a good way to start the New Year.
The 42 degrees F slowed me down a little but I was encouraged by being able to see the hills on the other side of the Valley about 18 miles away.
I just purchased a brand new Nomex Flight suit and Ed spent a lot of time trimming threads and ironing it Saturday night. I was anxious to try it out.
It was too cold for her so I was solo.
Silk thermals, a couple of layers, warm socks and the flight suit had me feeling pretty good with the top down in the Roadster. I had Hank Williams on the CD; his rendition of Amazing Grace got me in the Sunday frame of mind and I marveled at the beauty that surrounded me as I made my way across the Santa Maria Valley.
I finished up the preflight that I had begun the night before and checked the weather.
Freezing levels were down to 3,000 feet with an AIRMET for moderate turbulence below 8,000 feet. The temperature/dew point spread was one degree C and my minimum is four so I worked at cleaning up the hangar waiting for things to warm up a little. The skies looked blue with some high wispy clouds.
It tends to be colder in the hangar in the morning so I had the doors wide open. I actually got a little hot from the activity.
10:30 and the ATIS had the temperature/dew point spread at four degrees so called Flight Service and asked the briefer for an abbreviated briefing.
She fired right up but almost died as I leaned to taxi prematurely.
There was a crackling popping in the radio that almost had me turning back to the hangar as I taxied to runway three zero. I did a couple of radio checks with ground and it was loud and clear.
Winds were calm and when I called the tower ready for departure I was told to hold short for a C130 doing touch and goes.
I watched the lumbering beast land and then crawl into the air and asked the tower if I could make an early cross for wake turbulence avoidance.
ďExperimental Two Mike Golf, early left cross wind approved; runway three zero clear for takeoff.Ē
I was careful to keep her on the ground till I was past the touch down point and could feel the rotor being a little unsteady. The density altitude was -579 feet so we were off quickly and I turned left well before the point the C130 had lifted off.
I needed to cross the centerline for three zero to fly through the San Marcos pass and ATC kindly told me to go ahead because he didnít have any traffic.
I was seeing 84kts of ground speed at 65kts indicated air speed and still climbing at 500 feet per minute with the power pulled back for cruise. I found it hard to stop at 3,500 feet and had to pull the power back a lot. The Predator felt wonderfully serene responding gently to the moderate turbulence.
The air felt crisp and clean and I picked up a lot of very pleasant aromas from the still wet ground below. The hills are greening up nicely.
Santa Barbara Approach was surprisingly busy so I made an abbreviated call. He eventually got back to me and gave me a transponder code and position and altitude were verified.
When he lost me on radar near Lake Cachuma he told me to stay out of his class Charlie airspace so I climbed to 4,600 feet (the top of the SBA Charlie is 4,000 feet msl) and followed along the ridgeline. Radar contact was established and I again verified altitude and I descended to 2,500 feet. It was warmer down there.
I love the way the sun reflects off the water in a shimmering silvery way. The Channel Islands looked mysterious in the mist.
I canceled radar services over Carpentaria because the radio was getting weak and made my way through no name pass and over Lake Casitas. I found some strong lift and moderate turbulence over the hills.
The CTAF at Santa Paula was very busy because they had just changed from runway four to runway two two. This always causes a lot of confusion.
I had the power so far back descending over Saticoy was somehow a little spooky. I hit a sink at about 1,600 feet and had to quickly get the power back in before reaching the 845 pattern altitude.
I made my ten mile call and called near the Saticoy Bridge. There was still a lot of traffic so I ran her up to 85kts and reported the Junkyard. There were pilots unfamiliar with the area and reporting badly. Santa Paula has a close pattern because of the proximity of a hill on down wind. I reported down wind, turning base turning final behind a Baron. It was very turbulent over the numbers so I landed with some speed chirping the tires.
I was surprised to find the Fight 126 Cafť open and after securing everything I made my way to the busy diner. I was going to sit at the counter till some friends waved me down. I had a lot of fun catching up with their adventures. One of my friends is 84 and flies a YAK 52 and a Pits S1. He has a helicopter rating and may end up training with me for his gyroplane rating.
I stopped by Pat Quinís hangar and it was well populated with interesting people.
As I was about to get my weather briefing Al Ball stopped by thrilled with his new hearing aid. He is hearing words he has missed for years. His beautiful 18A is still for sale. I was feeling a little pressed for time but it was great to have a two way conversation with Al.
The briefer had some pilot reports of turbulence near Santa Barbara. Sunset at SMX is was listed as 5:03PM PST and the ceiling was 1,800 overcast. I was surprised and disappointed that it had not warmed up more during the day.
I was wheels up by 3:40 between a Yak and a Stearman.
Over Lake Casitas I could see a thin layer of clouds creeping over the ridgeline.
I contacted Santa Barbara approach 20 miles from the San Marcos VOR and was given a transponder code and altitude was verified. I was already at 4,500 feet but I might need to descend through the San Marcos pass to clear the clouds and it seems a curtesy when I am close to their airspace.
The sun reflects of the mist making picture taking a lot harder in the late afternoon heading west.
We were pushing against an eighteen knot head wind so even at 70kts indicated air speed progress seemed a little slow. It got worse as we neared Santa Barbara and Approach reported moderate turbulence and mountain wave activity report from a Robinson 22. I didnít like the look of the San Marcos Pass and decided to climb to 6.500 feet and fly over the ridgeline instead of flying through at 3,500 feet. I felt there was a good chance of the wind pressing the overcast against the hills and shutting off my flight path.
The head wind got worse as I climbed higher but the lift from the ridge was still strong. For what seemed like a long time I saw 42kts of ground speed at 70kts indicated air speed. I found the clouds, the low ground speed and the extra altitude disorienting. It felt as though we had just stopped in the air. I watched as some water on the windshield turned to ice in a snowflake pattern.
Once clear of the ridgeline I dropped down to 1,500 feet and it was surprisingly dark as I followed highway 101 toward SMX. I still had 15 mile visibility but the things I could see were a little fuzzy and dark. I found it intimidating and was glad to be over familiar territory. Things seemed to lighten up as I neared SMX as light streamed through a hole in the overcast. I noticed the ice on the windshield had not melted.
Because I was low it was hard to get the ATIS and I was pleased to hear ATIS November had eighteen hundred overcast and VFR. Runway three zero was in use. Winds were 030 degrees at 14kts and runway three zero was in use.
I reported three miles and runway 30 was clear to land. When I get cold I find my lips donít work well and my radio call tend to be compromised.
As I approached I could see the windsocks were pretty much straight across and I prepared for the challenge by drifting right on the hundred fifty foot wide runway.
It is surprising to me how much faster the Predator sinks when I am flying uncoordinated testing my rudder effectiveness.
It was just dark and gray enough that it was hard for me to judge the distance to the runway and I was pleased when it all worked out and we set down gently at the taxiway. I had some difficulty getting the rotor slowed down below 100 rpm so I could engage the rotor brake. It was clear the wind had picked up since the ATIS and the hangars redirect the flow so it was hard to form a clear impression of the wind direction.
I felt like I had a mouth full of popcorn as I responded to taxi instructions.
The flight down had taken 1.3 hours and the flight back took 1.7 hours.
What a lovely way to spend three hours. The friends at Santa Paula added to the quality of the day.
I headed straight to the hangar and after hooking up the charger and a quick post flight inspection I headed for home still wearing my flight suit. My head was a little colder without the helmet but I feel wearing a helicopter helmet a convertible would attract a lot of unwanted attention. I had the heater blasting and it felt good as I relieved the flight. There were a lot of intoxicated people on the road so I was on high alert. The pedestrians stumbling around wearing dark cloths at dusk are the worst.
It was a fitting end to a lovely day to be back in the arms of my loving wife.
Always enjoy your flights Vance.
Thanks for sharing!
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Cable Air Show 2017 January 14-15!
Thank you John, glad to have you along.
I am getting ready to fly The Predator in the 41st Annual Cable Air Show.
The National Weather Service is showing a 49% chance of light rain for Thursday January 12.
Practice day is Friday January 13 with a 26% chance of rain in Upland.
It is too far out for the predicted weather to have much accuracy.
The show lost a day to rain in 2015 and the weather has always made it a challenge to fly down and back.
I will be watching the weather closely as my departure date nears.
There doesnít appear to be snow on the mountains at this time but I expect that to change.
The kids and grandkids are going to be in town so Ed is going to be enjoying being grandma. I will be on my own without ground transportation in Upland.
This will be my fifth time flying in the Cable Air show and it is my favorite Air Show.
The Predator is always well received and parties at the end of each day are a great chance to visit with old friend and meet new ones.
I feel a part of the Cable family and enjoy that status a lot.
Here are some pictures from last yearís show.
And a video that Gerald helped piece together:
A Transponder for The Predator.
December 24th I encountered rain at San Luis Obispo (SBP) and hail on the way back to Santa Maria (SMX).
The transponder in The Predator is kind of an afterthought and unprotected from the rain.
It is a Bendix King KT 76A, a very common transponder.
Coming back from Santa Paula Santa Barbara Approach let me know that my transponder was intermittent.
Flying to Cable airport (CCB) in Upland puts me into the bowels of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) class B airspace and beneath the mode C veil. A transponder is required and it is required in or above Santa Barbaraís Class Charlie airspace.
A transponder needs to be certified every two years so that it is not sending out wrong altitude information. I will be ramp checked by at least two representatives from the Riverside FSDO at the Cable Air Show. The will inspect the log books including looking for the transponder certification.
In anticipation of impending doom I went on eBay and bid on another KT 76A with a return in 14 days if it doesnít work for you for $200. It came with the tray, antenna and altitude encoder.
Today The Predatorís transponder was pronounced dead at Coastal Valley Aviation and my eBay transponder was slid into place and certified. I love it when things work out.
The weather is still looking iffy with a 40% chance of rain on Thursday.
Friday is looking good but I will miss practice.
I am going to be prepared to launch Wednesday but there is currently a 47% chance of rain.
I love managing the details of participating in an event like the Cable Air Show.
Plan C is becoming probable.
Plan B was to leave today, Wednesday, January 11.
It looks like that is not going to work out.
Even if I could find a window to get out of SMX it is likely I would get rained on at Santa Paula or Upland.
Thursday is plan A. It is not looking good with more rain predicted along the route.
Plan C is to leave at 7:30 AM on Friday in the hopes of getting there before the TFR that will probably start at noon. It is not listed yet. Sunrise is 7:10 at KSMX and it is about a three hour flight plus a stop for gas at Santa Paula.
It is doable but not how I like to fly and doing the final preflight in the semi darkness is not ideal.
I will do the bulk of packing and preflight today. I have a new packing scheme and I am still working it out. It is harder to remove the rear stick with all the wires going to it so my suit case doesnít work very well because it hits the stick with its new ratio. I purchased a large back pack and am still working on the details. Computer, helmet and warm cloths take up a lot of space. Fewer days make the job easier.
We had a great EAA meeting last night with a talk from a friend who has time in a U2. He had some great stories to share.
It is 4:00 AM and I am headed back to bed.
That didnít work out.
I saw some blue sky this morning and checked the National Weather Service hoping I could slip out after 12:00 local time.
It is supposed to rain all day today at Cable.
I called Mary to tell her I did not need accommodations tonight and it was so loud in her hangar from the rain that she couldnít hear me. She yelled at me to fly safe and I called her back later.
It looks like an early start for me Friday Morning. I am flying almost the same direction as the storm is traveling so I will have to be careful not to overtake it.
They issued the TFR today and it begins at 18:00 Zulu (10:00 local) so I canít get to Cable till after the TFR begins unless I was wheels up at sunrise (not likely) and had a very quick stop at Santa Paula for gas (not likely) and it lasts till 23:30 Zulu (15:30) local.
The cell number I have for the Air Boss (Ryan) appears to belong to someone else now. Mary thinks Ryan will be on the CTAF and can ok me to enter the affected airspace in between practicing aircraft.
I would like to get some practice in myself but I need to be briefed and The Predator inspected before I can fly. I suspect this will pose some logistical challenges.
My rucksack is working out great as I keep pulling cloths out of it as the number of days gets shorter. I am down to three days. I found a new use for one of those AOPA bags. It fits perfectly in a little compartment in the top of the rucksack and handles my toiletries and chargers (cell, radio, GPS, still camera and Video camera) nicely. I think it will be a big improvement over my suitcase. Ed managed to roll up the cover for The Predator well enough to get it where the sleeping bag is supposed to go so worst case I can say somewhere like Santa Paula and still make it in before the show starts. That is plan D.
I just had a call from Philip in Tujunga who saw me fly over his house both ways last year. He is coming to the show on Saturday but still wants to wave as I wander by. I am a little over 1,000 feet AGL there beneath Burbankís class Charlie airspace so I am going to try to wave back this time.
I donít like being down to not having a weather day. I am hoping tomorrow goes well.
I will be heading back Monday but I donít have any clients scheduled till Wednesday just in case of weather or something wrong with The Predator.
I made it without getting wet and was able to practice.
I was finished with preflight and ready to go at 7:00.
I checked the weather and it looked like the storm would stay ahead of me. The only bade news was scattered showers were expected at Ontario at 2:00.
I spent a lot of time waiting for the temperature dew point spread to reach four degrees and there was frozen fog over Santa Ynez. I was wheels up by 8:45 fighting a 20knot plus head wind all the way to Santa Paula fir a 1.7 hour flight. I visited with Al Ball for a while and then headed off into the threatening sky.
I had to make circles for a half hour while an aerobatic pilot had the air box. I was inspected by three nice fellows from the Riverside FSDO and got to practice some before the TFR expired at 3:30. I hope I fly better tomorrow.
I am off to the first party at Mary’s hangar and will write about all this when I get back to Santa Maria.
After talking about all the battery chargers I forgot to bring one for the computer.
Home safe from Cable!
I spent some time this morning enjoying the wonderful family I have at the Cable Airport. They treat me well and I love being a part of the magic. I did a very careful preflight at the hanger and I finished breakfast at Maniac Mikes around noon.
I called for a weather brief and except for some mountain obscuration and cold things looked great for my return flight.
She climbed out well in the cold air (there is still snow on Mount Baldy) and I made my way west calling each of the airports along the way to Santa Paula. It was smoggy so I didnít take pictures on the way to Santa Paula.
I had a 20kt tail wind over the riverbed so runway two two was in use. I made an upwind over the city and crossed over the departure numbers for a left downwind for runway two two.
A helicopter CFI, Tony Santeramo; stopped by while I was fueling her up and we shared some instructing stories. Nice man. Part of the fun of flying The Predator is everyone wants to know about her and I meet the most interesting people.
I got another briefing and it was as benign as the first.
For some reason I picked up the speed a little and it felt good.
The hills have turned green from the recent rain and the air was thick with the fragrance of spring.
As I neared the runway at Santa Maria I was not ready for it to end and regretted speeding up.
Lots of friends were at the airport and a few of my clients.
There was a hangar party every night.
The way I flew it was 167 nautical miles (192 statute miles) and I loved every mile of it.
I will write about flying in the air show when I settle down. Now I just want to take a hot shower and hold Ed.
I have a client for training tomorrow.
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