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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


              • I planned to fly to Camarillo for lunch at the Way Point Café and then on to Santa Paula for open hangar day.

                A thick fog filled the Santa Maria Valley as I headed down to the Santa Maria Airport to search the sky for signs of blue beginning a little before eight.

                As is so often the case things didn’t work out as planned.

                Santa Maria didn’t go VFR till a little before ten despite my straining to find patches of blue and the temperature/dew point spread didn’t reach four degrees till eleven.

                There was a lot of blue in the sky and lots of scattered white clouds.

                As I approached Lake Cachuma I could see the fog spilling over the ridge with a solid layer completely obscuring the ocean.

                Santa Barbara was visual meteorological conditions 1,800 foot ceilings and six miles visibility in mist but there was no visual way to get down through the clouds.

                There was a strong on shore breeze that pushed the fog hard up against the ridgeline with it spilling over a little in places.

                The San Marcos pass was completely blocked so I decided to climb up to 5,500 feet over the wilderness area. I love the freedom to climb over all the obstacles in my way. My world of rugged mountains expanded as I climbed higher.

                With the head wind I was only making 50kts (58 miles per hour) of ground speed and it felt like we were stopped from that altitude. The terrain kept rising and I kept looking at my chart. It looked like 5,500 foot would manage the highest obstacle. With the mist blocking my distant vision it was hard to tell. Normally you can tell if you are high enough because the terrain behind the ridge gets taller as you get closer. The mist added mystery to everything.

                The mist even dulled the normally jewel like Lake Casitas.

                Because of my late start I decided to go directly to Santa Paula and found a spot in the heavy traffic picking my ground speed up to ninety knots (104 miles per hour) to fit in with the faster planes in the narrow pattern (two RVs and a Twin Comanche.

                I had a delightful ham and eggs at the Flight 126 Café and had a nice visit with a helicopter flight instructor from Tehachapi who may get a gyroplane add on to his commercial helicopter certificate. He had been one of the RVs in the pattern.

                I stopped by Pat’s hanger and got all the latest on recent aviation mishaps. As usual Pat’s hangar was filled with aviation luminaries.

                Several people asked me if I had seen the Red gyroplane and it tuned to be a different friend Pat in his red Calidus.

                Things didn’t work out like I had planned but they were wonderful never the less.
                Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


                • Vance, hope all is well in Santa Maria, I see fires were close to S.M.
                  Jay Gunderson

                  "Wise men talk because they have something to say;
                  fools talk because they have to say something."



                  • We have two nearby fires Jay. The Alamo fire is over the Twitchell Reservoir about ten miles east of our home and a new one started Saturday near Lake Cachuma called the Whittier Fire about 20 miles south east of our home. So far we appear safe with no plans for evacuation. If the winds shift it could head our way.

                    Sunday ATC asked a tanker how the Alamo fire was going and he described it as a sleeping giant.

                    The Whittier Fire has grown to 7,800 acres and is five percent contained as of this morning.

                    The Alamo Fire is 29,000 acres and fifteen percent contained as of this morning.

                    This should be a particularly bad fire season because of the recent rains has more than the usual amount of vegetation.

                    I did not take the picture of the fire near Lake Cachuma and pulled it off local Chanel 7. It appears to be close to the beginning and you can see the vertical development. That is what we saw from Lompoc.

                    Saturday morning the sky had black layers going across it and there was a lot of tanker traffic. It had cleared up a little by the time I flew to Lompoc (LPC) with a client for the Cub Fly In. We looked off to the east from Lompoc and saw what appeared to be a thunderhead. Apparently the fire is so hot it causes a convective event. When I called for my weather briefing before the flight back to Santa Maria (SMX) there was a new temporary flight restriction (TFR) over Lake Cachuma and the one over Twitchell reservoir had been expanded from a five mile circle to a larger polygon.

                    I flew The Predator up to San Luis Obispo (SBP) Sunday being careful to stay out of the TFR and out of the track of the tankers. On the way back I was number nine in the pattern at SMX and made three standard rate (two minute) three hundred sixty degree turns for clearance over the Guadalupe VOR. The big tankers are heavy and slow and don’t maneuver well. They like to launch them in groups for their bombing runs so traffic can be a challenge. With fires in two directions and restricted air space on one side there are fewer places to hold.

                    As you can see in the pictures from Sunday’s flight; the smoke was in layers and in a layer visibility was down to about 3 miles. I worked to stay out of the layers.
                    Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


                    • Thanks Vance for your update on the local fires, glad to hear there not affecting the Santa Maria area, but of course, the fires can be a tragedy where ever they are.
                      Jay Gunderson

                      "Wise men talk because they have something to say;
                      fools talk because they have to say something."



                      • A client canceled his flight today so I decided to fly to San Luis Obispo (SBP).

                        My path was limited because of two firefighting temporary flight restrictions (TFR) for the Alamo fire just to the North East and the Whittier fire to the South East.

                        I heard the magic words, Gyroplane Two Mike, runway Three Zero clear for take off, straight out with a slight left approved and as I launched I delighted in my three dimensional playground and the freedom of the skies.

                        Winds were light but there was still enough turbulence to where I had to work to maintain my altitude. SBP tower was busy and we found out spot.

                        As I taxied to parking I was pleased to see a gaggle of Mooneys; some with familiar paint jobs.

                        Palmdale, Los Angles, San Jose, Fresno and Santa Maria were represented by Mooney enthusiasts. Mitch invited me over to the table on the patio of The Spirit of San Luis restaurant and we had some nice hangar flying with some remarkable aviators.

                        My route back to Santa Maria was limited to the coast so I asked for a left turn out to the east with a turn to the south along California Highway One through the Avilla Pass.

                        Take off was short and quick with winds 300 degrees at 16kts and I asked for an early left cross. It was approved as requested.

                        It was a little warm and humid at SBP so I loved the cool ocean air washing over me as I exited the Avilla over Shell Beach. That is part of the magic of flying an open aircraft low and slow.

                        Pismo Beach looked like a popular place on Saturday with a steady line of RVs headed for the dunes.

                        I was set up for a left down wind but tanker traffic had ATC move me to a right down wind and I was to report midfield so I flew along the bluff of the Nipomo Mesa where we live.

                        I was about to report when I heard; “Gyroplane two Mike Golf; make short approach; runway 30 clear to land I have a tanker on a two mile straight in.”

                        I take this as a high compliment because if he wasn’t sure I could get off the runway quickly he would have simply told me to extend my downwind.

                        I dove for the taxiway Alpha Four running her up to 100kts (115 miles per hour) making a steep turn around the tower and setting her down as nice as could be at Alpha four and scooting across the hold short line.

                        ATC said; “Thanks for the help Vance, Gyroplane two Mike Golf taxi to parking via Alpha, Mike; monitor ground.

                        Some friends were watching the tanker operations and clapped as I went by.

                        It was a lovely end to a magical day of flying.
                        Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


                        • I love the freedom of the skies and the people at the airports.

                          Sunday the blue skies called to me. I thought I would go visit with people at Oceano and walk to any number of nice restaurants for lunch.

                          As soon as I was up about 300 feet above the ground leaving Santa Maria (SMX) I could see a line of fog along the shoreline and it was not a good day to fly up the beach. I let the tower know I would be making a slight right instead of a slight left.

                          Oceano was just on the edge of the fog but I didn't want to get stuck there if the fog bank shifted so I told San Luis Obispo Air Traffic Control (ATC) I would be coming in through the Avilla Pass. As I approached the shoreline I could see the fog in the pass so I stayed at 1,200 feet and flew over the entrance to the pass and dropped down to 700 feet through the pass. I love the freedom altitude gives me.

                          On down wind I was number two behind a reginal jet; "caution wake turbulence". I watched their take off roll and they rotated well past taxiway Foxtrot so I was good to go. I had set up to touch down early in case the jet lifted off early so I flew down the runway at about 50 feet and set her down right at Foxtrot and scooted off the runway. As soon as the rotor stopped I slipped between a Mooney and a Cherokee Six.

                          As I was working through my post flight list a uniformed attendant from ACI Jet stopped by and began by admiring my parking job and asked if he could help me with anything. I am too cheap for full service so I told him no thank you.

                          There were two young men in camo flights suits who waited till I put my post flight checklist away before approaching. They were the mechanics for the two Ospreys out of New Mexico. They have been flying around Nipomo lately. I was very impressed with these two that give hope for the future of the USA.

                          After lunch a Cobra pilot was fascinated with The Predator and asked a lot of good questions. I also met a fellow from South Africa, his wife and two friends who had flown out of San Carlos. I love the people airports seem to collect.

                          As I taxied for takeoff the two Cobras and two Ospreys were off to my left so I pulled out my camera.

                          I still wanted to visit Oceano so I thought I would get gas there. ATC launched the two Cobras before me and I made a left crosswind departure and soon saw the Avilla Pass was filled with fog so I turned left and climbed to 1,500 feet and made ATC aware of my altered flight path. I love that freedom and reveled in it as I flew over the low hills on the edge of the Edna Valley and saw that Oceano wasn't going to work out. All of Arroyo Grande had disappeared beneath the fog and there I was with blue skies making my way back to Santa Maria.

                          I sat in the afterglow in front of the hangar for a half hour and was grateful for the freedom aviation provides for me.
                          Last edited by Vance; 07-24-2017, 11:08 AM.
                          Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


                          • Great photos, Vance. The Ospreys are so unusual looking parked on the tarmac.

                            Your shots of the fog banks are beautiful.