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  • More fun flying The Predator.

    I found myself procrastinating about flying on Sunday.

    It was gusting to 32kts when I had lunch with a potential client at the SMX.

    I went to the hangar to begin to inventory the parts required for repairs to my friends Cavalon.

    I spent a lot of time tapping around the mast area to see if there was any evidence of delamination.

    I had recently serviced the nose gear on The Predator and I wanted to make a maintenance flight before I took anyone up in The Predator. I am still experimenting with the nose gear.

    I checked the ATIS at 4:00 and the wind was blowing 270 degrees at 16kts. I walked out and checked the windsocks and they did not exactly agree with the one up high on the old hangar moving through about 30 degrees looking a lot like a snake getting ready to strike.

    About 4:30 I finished my preflight and figured I would be much happier if The Predator was finished up and ready to go.

    This would be a simple maintenance flight with no video camera or radio hookup.

    I climbed in and felt at home as I went through the start list. Master on, magnetos off, boost pump till the low fuel pressure light goes out, full rich, one third throttle, check brakes, CLEAR PROP. She caught right away and settled into an uneven idle as I continued. Lean for taxi, alternator on, transponder on, GPS on and set to destination. Radio on and check ATIS, ground frequency in the radio and tower on standby. Radio call sheets organized.

    I taxied to Mike and called ground for a taxi to runway 30 with Juliet. I repeated; gyroplane one four two Mike Golf, taxi to runway three zero via Alpha, Alpha Eight.

    She was steering nicely despite the quartering tail wind.

    When I reached the run up area temperatures and pressures were in the green and the magneto check when well with a drop of 28 rpm on the left and 32 rpm on the right magneto. Transponder to mode C, radio to tower frequency and taxi to the hold short line.

    I asked for left closed traffic and runway three zero was clear for takeoff, left closed traffic approved. I love this pilot stuff.

    I taxied directly into the wind toward the centerline and was half back at 100 rotor rpm before I reached the centerline, full back at 120 rotor rpm as I turned right on the centerline. I left the power where it was until I started backing up. I like to feel the rotor get hold of the wind and I opened the throttle at 220 rotor rpm. The takeoff roll was less than 50 feet. The magic had begun. The Predator lifted and turned her nose into the wind as I climbed out at 50kts showing 27kts of ground speed on the GPS.

    I found a lot of lift and sink and had fun trying to manage my airspeed and altitude. I was seeing ten to twelve knots of wind shear. I could feel the wind whipping around my face and the magic continued.

    I was seeing 78kts of ground speed on downwind at 50kts indicated air speed. On final I found some lift and had to reduce power twice to hit my spot. I moved to the right of the runway in case I needed to land across the 150 foot wide runway. I had plenty of ruder and decided to land straight ahead. We caressed the runway and as soon as the rotor began to gain rpm I gave her full throttle and she leapt into the air wagging her tail as the wind whipped around.

    On the second landing a wind shear took the lift away and I needed to flare aggressively. I took pleasure in managing the situation. Takeoff was short and I called left downwind for 30 to land and gyroplane two Mike Golf was cleared to land. To make taxi way Alpha four I needed to fly quite a ways down the runway and I found her making uncommanded climbs and descents. Touch down was as nice as could be but the rotor became a little unruly as I taxied across the hold short line. ďYou going to the hangar Vance?Ē Experimental Two Mike Golf; taxi to the T hangars via Alpha, Mike, monitor ground. Have a good night!Ē I asked for a wind check and it was 260 degrees at 17kts gusting to 25kts.

    I had only flown for four tenths (24 minutes) and made three takeoffs and landings.

    I spent 25 minutes in the afterglow before I even pulled out my log book.

    The simplest flight can really get me going.

    Thank you for coming along.
    Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

    Comment


    • Fun Not Flying The Predator.

      I just rolled in this morning at 1:00 AM from a lovely three week trip across the country in a rental Prius Visiting Josh and friends at Air Gyro in Spanish Fork, Utah; Steve at Autogiro of Louisiana and lots of friends at Bensen Days and Sun N Fun. Thank you for your hospitality Steve.

      I visited with a lot of friends all across the country and am always amazed at how cordial the whole gyroplane community is.

      I made some new friends along the way.

      The drive to Utah, Louisiana, Bensen Days and Sun N Fun was casual with stops along the way; the drive home was more hectic. I had a great time at the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola.

      I drove a 2017 Prius with forward looking radar that manages distance to the car in front on cruise control, warns you when you cross a line without the turn signal and helps with the steering to keep between the lines. I tried letting go but it told me to hold the steering wheel. She used 132 gallons of gas and managed 49.8 miles to the gallon for the entire 6,533 mile trip. Across most of Texas and some of New Mexico and Arizona we were fighting a 30 plus mile per hour headwind and driving at 84 miles per hour.

      I had a rooster and a train just outside my window at the Tiger Villa Motel in Lakeland and had trouble staying awake during some of the seminars. I visited the shrunken Fantasy of Flight Museum on Sunday after Bensen Days.

      I had extended my stay at Sun N Fun through Friday because my friend Kyron was going to join me Friday and it was his first Visit. We had a lot of fun at some seminars and wandering around Paradise City where many of the gyroplanes were. Kyron got an introductory flight in a Cavalon and an American Ranger. He balked at $200 for a ride in the Xenon. This surprised me as he is a side by side kind of guy but enjoyed his ride with Greg a lot. It was time well spent for me and Kyron. I talked to him this morning and he is ready to go back and may go to Rotors Over The Rockies (ROTOR) June 6-10 at Nephi. Nephi is more than an hour closer for me.

      I left the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport late Friday afternoon and quickly encountered stop and go traffic. I only made it as far as Mobile, Alabama the first night. Traffic was bad through most of Florida and I lost about three hours.

      Saturday was more of the same with some construction in Houston that slowed me for an hour and an accident that had things slowed up for quite a while. I spent the night in Fort Stockton, Texas so I still had 1,200 miles to go Sunday. I was managing some business and didnít get rolling till almost 8:00.

      There were five big events in Phoenix on Sunday so I took Interstate 8 to El Centro before heading up past the Salton Sea to Banning to miss the Phoenix traffic. It was kind of a long day arriving home at 1:00 AM. It was a nice drive and I met some interesting people.

      I realize this is not fun flying The Predator but it is all part of the gyroplane adventure for me and is a lot of fun.

      I want to do a better job as a flight instructor and this is all part of the process for me.
      Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

      Comment


      • Many, many thanks to my good friend (first and foremost) and CFI - Vance Breese! I had such an amazing time with you at Sun-n-Fun! Thank you for introducing me to so many people. Vance you are a Legend in the gyro community!! So many people know you. A big thank you to Michael Burton and the AutoGyro folks for letting me fly the pattern in the Cavalon. We had to be extremely vigilant with the collision avoidance while in the pattern. There was lots of traffic and it seemed like many of them did not have radios. AutoGyroUSA also had an awesome after party on Friday evening with a DJ who was dressed like a flying Elvis...great fun and thanks for the great eats and drinks! ! I also met Dan Johnson (ByDanJohnson.com) and thanked him for all the great video reviews he does for the lightsports and ultralights. I also got some good flying time with Greg in the American Ranger. What an well designed flying machine. Abid you are a great designer and engineer! It was a dream to fly. Thanks again Greg for letting me take the controls and fly around a bit and then rejoin the pattern. You are a great instructor! I won't forget the kindness and knowledge you shared so freely.
        I also spent time with the Light Sport fixed wing mfg's as well. The actual airshow portion was amazing with the Blue Angels. I managed to attend a couple of forums and learned advancements being made in weather and how it can help pilots. I also met and learned from people who have flown around the world. Sun-n-Fun has so much to offer. As a student pilot who is just getting into aviation, I want to thank everyone who made me feel so welcome and comfortable. I will be back!
        Kyron

        Comment


        • Good seeing you at Sun n Fun Vance. My friend Phil enjoyed chatting to you; he does not agree that you do not have a sense of humor, even though it may be a little drier than most. :)

          Comment


          • Thank you for the kind words Kyron.

            You added to my fun at Sun N Fun.

            I am glad you enjoyed yourself and got some time flying with a Michael and Greg.

            The people are a big part of what makes gyroplanes fun and that is why I worked to introduce you to so many of my friends.


            It was very nice to see you too Jeff.

            Phil seems like a good friend to have when building an airplane.



            Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

            Comment


            • I live surrounded by beauty and sometimes overlook it.

              Even a simple flight from Santa Maria to San Luis Obispo in The Predator reminds me of all that surrounds me and leaves my head filled with magical images.

              She is our motorcycle in the sky.

              The flight back from SLO.

              I could feel the ocean air on my face as the wind picked up.

              I caught lift along the hills and pulled the power well back just rumbling across the sky at 45kts.

              SMX was busy and I was number three to land.

              I sat for a half hour in the afterglow before climbing down and rolling her into the hangar.

              I have two new clients on Saturday, one for primary instruction that wants to become a CFI and one who has not flown in 20 years.

              I love sharing the joy I find in the sky and helping people to realize their dreams.

              Life treats me well.
              Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

              Comment


              • I have been making changes to The Predator to make her a better trainer.

                Since I have been training I have had trouble with the brake line fitting to the left caliper leaking.

                We replace the fittings and/or the line and it is good for a while and then begins to leak again.

                We are using 1,000 psi nylon tubing and fittings from Aircraft Spruce.

                I have replaced the complete line and fittings twice since I started training and replaced just the fittings twice.

                It works for a while and then begins to leak again right at the caliper.

                The master cylinder has a very small reservoir and the steering is by differential braking so we can only make left hand turns when she runs out of fluid. The brakes work fine till we run out of fluid.

                The Predator has 1,700 hours and this challenge has only shown up since I began training in her in the last 150 hours.

                We think we know what is going on and have a fix in place. It seems to be working well but that is what I thought in the past.

                The right pad wears down about twice as fast as the left pad because we taxi almost a mile to the runway and the typical quartering tail wind pushes the aircraft to the left so the pilot rides the right brake.

                As an instructor I am trying to teach good habits so I have the pilot under instruction taxi at 10kts or less of ground speed.

                If the pilot under instruction is unfamiliar with differential braking for steering they tend to ride the right brake.

                We think the right caliper is getting hot enough to damage the nylon tubing enough to compromise the compression fitting.

                We are going have isolated the nylon from the heat of the caliper with a length of aircraft brake line between the caliper and the nylon brake line compression fitting.

                I donít have brakes in the back so this is something I want to have working well.

                It is my understanding that some experimental aircraft with a similar set up have caught fire when the brake fluid leaked onto the caliper when it was hot so this may be a safety issue too.

                There is nothing about it in the Aircraft Spruce catalog.
                Last edited by Vance; 05-02-2017, 01:13 PM.
                Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

                Comment


                • Wondering if the use of the Nyloseal p259 fitting inserted into the end of the tubing before installing on the fitting would have helped. I can see where the tubing could become soft from the heat and with the end inside the fitting being unsupported, it could move.

                  I like the an fitting idea better.
                  PRA member 41204
                  PRA Chapter 16

                  Comment


                  • Good observation and advice as always Jeff.


                    I hope this is the fix because I have had it interfere with clients twice.


                    Fortunately they were both experienced aviators and understood the nature of aviation.




                    It had not occurred to me that my clients were getting the brakes hotter. I figured The Predator was just getting old and was getting ready to replace the caliper.


                    The mechanics at Coastal Valley Aviation came up with the hypothesis.

                    Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

                    Comment


                    • Yesterday I was flying my second mission with a new to me student (Craig).

                      He is an experienced fixed wing pilot with an instrument rating that has developed an interest in the special qualities of a gyroplane. He took some instruction a couple of years ago in a Cavalon from Brandon in Utah.

                      The first day he felt awkward in The Predator and I could see he was stiff and I could feel his discomfort. He flew the ground reference maneuvers well by working hard at it.

                      He came back two days later to practice takeoffs and landings and was doing well when the traffic got so heavy we decided to just head out to the practice area on the west side of the Santa Maria Valley to practice steep turns (an advanced maneuver). I could feel his relaxed confidence dealing with the gusting winds and saw him lean into the turns as if to embrace the maneuvers.

                      I love that transformation as it is an indication I have successfully shared the joy I find flying a gyroplane and that is the essence of why I love to instruct in a gyroplane.

                      Weather permitting I will see him again Friday for more pattern work and perhaps sign him off for his proficiency check ride. Short field and soft field landings are all he still needs to do.

                      Craig is a quick study and I have yet to take the controls from him in the air.
                      Yesterday I was flying my second mission with a new to me student (Craig).

                      He is an experienced fixed wing pilot with an instrument rating that has developed an interest in the special qualities of a gyroplane. He took some instruction a couple of years ago in a Cavalon from Brandon in Utah.

                      The first day he felt awkward in The Predator and I could see he was stiff and I could feel his discomfort. He flew the ground reference maneuvers well by working hard at it.

                      He came back two days later to practice takeoffs and landings and was doing well when the traffic got so heavy we decided to just head out to the practice area on the west side of the Santa Maria Valley to practice steep turns (an advanced maneuver). I could feel his relaxed confidence dealing with the gusting winds and saw him lean into the turns as if to embrace the maneuvers.

                      I love that transformation as it is an indication I have successfully shared the joy I find flying a gyroplane and that is the essence of why I love to instruct in a gyroplane.

                      Weather permitting I will see him again Friday for more pattern work and perhaps sign him off for his proficiency check ride. Short field and soft field landings are all he still needs to do.

                      Craig is a quick study and I have yet to take the controls from him in the air.
                      Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

                      Comment


                      • A lovely flight to a lovely airport.


                        Strong winds were predicted in the afternoon and I expected that many wouldn't fly. It also canceled my two clients so I was free to go. Ed was going to drive because she wanted leave early to go camping.

                        The hangars were already banging as I worked through my preflight.

                        There was an AIRMET for moderate turbulence below 18,000 feet.

                        ATIS had the winds at 290 degrees at 15kts.

                        The windsocks were moving through about 20 degrees.

                        The Magneto check went well and I worked my way through my pre-takeoff check list.

                        I asked for a straight out with a slight left and heard the magic words:

                        "Experimental 142 Mike Golf, runway 30 clear for takeoff, slight left approved."

                        I wrestled with the cyclic a little when I pressed the pre-rotator button as the wind tried to get ahold of the blades.

                        I saw 100 rotor rpm as I reached the centerline showing 35kts of indicated air speed at 10kts of ground speed.

                        The Predator seemed to leap off the ground as I saw 50kts of indicated airspeed showing 25kts of ground speed.

                        There was an inbound RV from the north and the tower asked me for my on course heading. I shot back 280 degrees although my compass was reading 255 degrees.

                        It was pretty smooth as I made my way across the Santa Maria Valley and became smoother still as I headed up the coast slightly offshore with her nose pointed well off shore. I made my firs radio call ten miles to the South East abeam Guadalupe at one thousand feet, inbound for runway two niner to land. I called every odd mile to the south at five hundred feet and 40kts and a couple of reports to respond to traffic. I was making 60kts indicated air speed. The ocean had the faint white lines that only show themselves with over 20kts of wind.

                        I called turning base and final and had the airspeed indicator right on fifty knots when suddenly I saw it drop to nearly thirty knots and lost about a hundred feet of altitude. I advanced the throttle to arrest my descent and that helped with rudder control and made for a very slow descent and she caressed the runway. I stopped just off runway two niner and reported clear as I managed the rotor. I donít use the rotor brake till I am below 100 rotor rpm and it took a while to get there. The promotor of the even was trying to marshal me to a special place to park at the entrance to the camp ground and didnít understand I didnít want to get near people with the rotor spinning.

                        I put signs on the side for the more common questions and try to answer the unusual ones.

                        Oceano Airport days is a lovely little event at a charming airport honoring our veterans. They were there from World War two to Afghanistan and there was a nice color guard as their names were read. It was started when a developer was trying to close the airport nine years ago.


                        After a great lunch and lots of friendly conversations I felt it was time to leave.

                        The wind had come up as predicted at Santa Maria; 290 degrees at twenty nine knots gusting to 35kts. The wind was somewhat stronger at Oceano making standing and conducting my preflight difficult.

                        A curious pilot came up as I was about to leave and asked incredulously; ďare you going to fly THAT THING in THIS WIND?Ē Oceano is on the beach and the winds tend to get a little turbulent.
                        I answered in the affirmative and he asked isn't that thing difficult to fly in the wind? I hope not; was my reply.

                        I said my little prayer (please donít let me screw up with everyone watching) as I lined up for takeoff on runway two niner and the wind quickly took over for the pre-rotator. I fed the power in staying in one place and takeoff roll was about ten feet. The wind got a hold of The Predator as I waved goodbye and pretended to wag her tail intentionally.

                        The effect of the wind on the water was stunning as we climbed out with much stronger wind lines and whitecaps as far as I could see.

                        We rocked and rolled across the Santa Maria Valley making 96kts of ground speed at 50kts indicated airspeed. From ten miles out the airport was completely obscured by dust.

                        I made my call to the tower and I was to make left traffic for runway three zero and report midfield down wind. After I acknowledged the instructions I heard ATC say: ďremember Vance; no paperwork.

                        There was a twenty knot wind shear over the end of the runway but the landing was as nice as could be. It did take quite a while to get the blades stopped.

                        I love any excuse to fly.

                        I turned her around in front of the hangar as sat in the afterglow for almost a half hour.

                        The winds were worse today so I have been catching up on paperwork.

                        I have a lesson planned on Wednesday and they are predicting twenty three to thirty five knot winds and this is his third lesson so we may not get to fly. I have lost a lot of days in the last two months to weather.

                        I would like to fly to Redlands for the Hangar 24 Air fest Friday and Saturday but the weather makes it iffy. It is too soon to make a decision. I am not flying in it, I would just like to attend.
                        Last edited by Vance; 05-14-2017, 04:47 PM.
                        Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

                        Comment


                        • Vance, great story and pics as always. How are you accurately obtaining airspeed and groundspeed on your takeoff roll? Are you getting this from your GPS?

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by loftus View Post
                            Vance, great story and pics as always. How are you accurately obtaining airspeed and groundspeed on your takeoff roll? Are you getting this from your GPS?
                            Thank you for the kind words Jeff.

                            The ground speed I report comes from the Garmin 196 and indicated airspeed comes from the air speed indicator Jeff.

                            My airspeed indicator doesnít come alive until about ten knots so it gets my attention when I see it moving when I am pre-rotating at less than ten knots.

                            The Sport Copter blades are pretty controllable at anything over 60 rotor rpm but I donít go half back till at least 80 rotor rpm typically and under these conditions with the gusts and turbulence I wait till I see 100 rotor rpm before coming half back to avoid striking the rudder. At 120 rotor rpm it is full back even under the windy conditions.

                            Rotor management during spool up and spool down can be a challenge in The Predator.

                            One of the lessons I continue to learn is the ATIS, ASOS or AWAS is only at one place on the airport and conditions may be very different elsewhere on the airport and even more divergent just a few miles from the airport. Oceano doesnít have any weather reporting and using San Luis Obispo weather just eight miles to the north or Santa Maria weather just 15 miles to the south east may not be indicative of the winds at Oceano. San Luis Obispo is in the Edna Valley with mountains protecting it from the ocean winds and Santa Maria is on the edge of the Santa Maria Valley with the winds working their way toward Bakersfield making the winds often circular at SMX.

                            Oceano is at 14 feet msl and close enough to the ocean to hear the surf with buildings between it and the ocean putting it is sort of a hole making for very inconsistent wind on the surface as you move down the runway. The runway is 2,324 feet long by 50 feet wide so the sight picture for landing is very different than Santa Mariaís 8,004 foot by 150 feet wide runway.

                            Both pictures of Oceano (l52) are from 1,000 foot pattern altitude, one on approach to downwind and the second departing downwind toward Santa Maria (SMX). You can see the dust cloud just 13 miles away over SMX in the second picture.
                            Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

                            Comment


                            • OK; my only comment on groundspeed with GPS is that it is not likely to be very accurate during acceleration and deceleration as in takeoff and landing, just due to the GPS lag and sampling rate etc. It is however very accurate when speed is at a steady state. There's an article on that here, which makes sense. https://www.researchgate.net/publica...ed_Measurement
                              Last edited by loftus; 05-15-2017, 08:48 AM.

                              Comment


                              • I felt the GPS was accurate enough to give a feel for how strong the wind was in the story.

                                I donít accelerate much beyond taxi speed (10kts) until I see 180 rotor rpm and then I am off pretty quickly.

                                I use the airspeed indicator for all my flight maneuvers and for me the ground speed is just an interesting piece of information that may give me a feel for what the wind is doing.

                                At Santa Maria the wind at 50 feet is often much stronger and sometimes in a different direction than the wind near the ground or that reported on the ATIS.

                                At this time my air speed indicator reads about 15% low.
                                Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

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