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  • Flying to the Hangar 24 AirFest in Redlands.

    I loaded up my rucksack and checked the weather for the flight to Redlands.

    There was an AIRMET for moderate turbulence below 12,000 feet. Visibility was 6 miles in mist.

    I started climbing to 3,500 feet for the San Marcos Pass as I made my way over the rolling hills.

    Lake Cachuma looked less empty than it has in quite a while.

    Flying through the San Marcos pass is always magic for me. The ground drops away over 2,500 feet, the ocean air sweeps over me and the shoreline stretches into the distance. The Channel Islands appear to be floating in the distance.

    I descended to 2,500 feet as I made my way toward Carpentaria and no name pass.

    Lake Casitas is just on the other side of no name passes and looked full.

    Conditions were lovely till Santa Paula where the Santa Ana Winds had kicked up with gusts to thirty five knots. The landing was uneventful and I filled up with gas. The takeoff was quick with the wind socks out straight.

    There was a twenty knot plus head wind up to Magic Mountain and severe turbulence in the Newhall Pass.

    I was going under Burbank’s class C and having difficulty managing my altitude. Whitman ATC (WHP) approved my transition.

    I checked in with El Monte ATC and my transition to the east was approved as requested. I suddenly had a tail wind and only moderate turbulence.

    I checked in with Bracket ATC (POC) for a transition and it was approved.

    Housing became less dense (more places to land) as I passed Upland.

    There was a Cobra just ahead of me as I approached San Bernardino (SBD) and asked for a transition to Redlands.

    The wind changed direction as I was inbound of the 45. The wind sock had seen better days and I could not tell which way the wind was blowing. Some flags showed a direct cross and then a tail wind. My ground speed seemed high as I got ready to touch down on the downhill runway. The landing was as nice as could be but it took quite a while to slow the rotor down in shifting winds. They found a place for The Predator and the signs are up.

    The Enterprise experience did not go well and it was an hour and a half before I had a car.

    I was staying with David and Heather.

    The air show was great and I met some wonderful people and saw some old friends. I learned a lot about flying clubs and hopefully will get to fly in next the 2018 airshow.
    Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


    • Sunday morning I took the car back and got a ride to the airport from Enterprise. It was a much better and less time consuming experience.

      I carefully secured my rucksack and performed a very careful preflight (lots of little fingers had been in the cockpit)

      I checked the weather and it looked good all the way to Santa Maria with some minor headwinds.

      I went to the pilot lounge for a personal preflight and tripped over a curb on the way back; landing on my face and badly spraining my left hand. It would have been a good aviation decision to abort the flight. I had to make some accommodations for the pain and lack of strength in my hand but managed the run up and announced a right turn out to the north with a turn to the west. I lost my side tone when I made my crosswind announcement and asked for a radio check. I could faintly hear “loud and clear” so I returned to the airport to try to repair my radio.

      I fussed with things for a while and became convinced the problem was in the helicopter plug. I unpacked my other helmet at the very bottom of my rucksack and it had the same problem. I plugged my helmet in and it worked fine. I wanted to make fewer stops with an intermittent radio so I filled her up at the Redlands self-serve. I loaded her up and checked the weather again and again lost my ability to hear the radio in the pattern. The pattern had become busy so I took me longer to return.

      I local friend called the on field avionics shop and he had just arrived at the airport. He cleaned up the plug and pulled the radio to clean the connectors. It worked and I felt we had the problem solved.

      I had a hand held but I did not know how long the battery would last so I didn’t plug it into the system although I did prepare the adapter chords.

      I checked the weather and did a quick preflight. The radio seemed to be working and I called San Bernardino for my transition to the west. They seemed a little faint so I turned up the radio to full volume and could hear “transition approved”.

      When I was ten miles from Brackett (POC) I could not establish two way radio communications so I went around their airspace. I managed El Monte and Whiteman the same way.

      I stopped in Santa Paula for gas and decided to spend the night with some friends in their hangar and see if I could get the radio fixed in the morning.

      I did not want to manage Santa Barbara’s class C airspace without a working radio and my hand was getting worse.

      We worked on the radio for an hour the Monday morning and the fog had come in so my departure was delayed till after 14:00.

      I called Santa Maria ATC and told them I might be having radio challenges and they told me to squawk 1201 ten miles out and look for light gun signals at the Orcutt Y.

      The radio stopped working before I reached Lake Casitas and I climbed to 6,500 feet to stay well clear of Santa Barbara’s airspace.

      I could not understand SMX ATC but they could hear me so I plugged in the handheld and it worked great ten miles out.

      I thanked the tower for their help and put her away knowing I had a lot of work to do. In my experience intermittent problems are the hardest to manage. I also had a crack in a body mount that I wanted to address.

      Tuesday I pulled out the seat and welded the body mount and Wednesday I worked with an avionics expert and we found it was a taped bundle of wires between the intercom and the radio where the shielding on one wire had abraded the insulation on another wire. We covered the wire with RTV and secured the junction with zip ties.

      I put her all back together and test flew her Thursday evening and asked the tower to check the transponder because we had removed in for the TIG welding. Everything seemed fine for my Friday client but he didn’t show because his airport was IFR and he wasn’t current. I felt it was a good aviation decision. I need to learn from him. That is why I had time to write about my adventure to Redlands.
      Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


      • As I finished up with a client on Saturday I checked my emails and there was an invitation to join Paul, a gyroplane friend from San Martin, Sunday at Oceano L52 between 12:30 and 1:00. I had not planned to fly Sunday because it was supposed to be foggy in the morning and crazy windy in the afternoon with very little time between the two. I made my way down to the Santa Maria airport (SMX) at 11:00 and went through the process of getting ready to fly. The weather didn’t look good and my hour old satellite picture clearly showed fog over L52. I called flight services at 11:45 and VFR flight was not recommended along the route, although his satellite picture showed a mist over Oceano with the heavy fog was offshore. San Luis Obispo was clear so that was plan B. Despite the overcast the beach was littered with campers for Memorial Day and the smell of barbeque was in the air. I arrived at L52 at 12:30 and Paul arrived shortly after carrying a young fixed wing pilot who was with six people camping who had flown up from Long Beach. They were a delightful group of young people and we had a wonderful time eating barbeque with the Elks. As I flew home I marveled at how nice the day had turned out. At SMX the wind was 320 degrees at 14kts. I love to fly and I love the people I meet flying!
        Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


        • Vance, sorry to hear you got banged up!

          Originally posted by Vance View Post
          I worked with an avionics expert and we...covered the wire with RTV and secured the junction with zip ties.
          Just a note to be careful when using RTV silicones to repair wiring. Most give off corrosive vapor while curing. Dow-Corning 3140 is an exception, and is designed specifically for protective coating of electrical circuits.

          Paul W. Plack
          Private ASEL, SP Gyroplane
          Secretary, URA & PRA2
          Editor, Western Rotorcraft


          • Thank you Paul; good information!
            Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


            • I love to fly as much as I love to teach people to fly.

              It has been hot the last couple of days In Santa Maria and our natural air conditioning kicks in (the fog rolls in).

              AIRMET sierra was in effect for ceilings less than 1,000 feet, visibility less than three miles and mountain obscuration.

              I flew from Santa Maria (SMX) up to San Luis Obispo (SBP) for lunch at the Spirit of San Luis.

              SMX departed two faster planes behind me and asked me to turn left thirty degrees for clearance.

              It took me out to Guadalupe and a wall of fog along the shoreline intruding inland as I headed toward Oceano.

              I enjoyed the cool, moist air as I rumbled across the sky maintaining cloud clearance and mindful that the fog might roll in all the way to the hills and close both SBP and SMX to VFR traffic.

              I met a father teaching his nineteen year old son to fly and I thought what a lovely way to celebrate father’s day.

              I gassed up and headed for home finding that the fog had moved much closer in to SBP.

              It felt wonderful to climb up over the top of the fog into the cloudless sky.

              I love to fly!
              Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI