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  • Thank you for continuing to share the fun you have in your gyro adventures ... Vance ! I know how it can be discouraging to continue to post on a "dead forum" & mostly silent ( even if appreciative) audience!

    you are still the flag bearer for many here ..... thanks for your continued efforts in sharing, inspiring!
    Chris T.
    3Rs - Rotors rock & rule!

    "Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape." Buck B.

    Time flies if you can but only the slowest.

    PRA# 4212
    EAA# 1126845


    • Thank you for the kind words Chris.

      I am proud to have you along.

      I love the picture stories you write and usually read those two or three times to make sure I have not missed anything.

      I write my stories as part of the afterglow of flying and often learn something about what I was feeling or my decision making process.

      I like posting on The Rotary Wing Forum where people know me because I feel like I need to explain myself less and I can be more expansive than on a format like Facebook.

      Fifty people have read the most recent story since I posted it so I don’t feel like the forum is dead.

      It is not easy to connect with that many friends.

      People on The Rotary Wing Forum have always been generous with their praise and sparing with their criticism.

      I have taken to posting some of the stories on my website to remind people of the fun that can be had flying a gyroplane.
      Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


      • I agree with Chris very much. It is great to be able to read all the things that you post, Vance. I am one of those mostly silent but appreciative people. This is my first post on the forum, because mostly I don't have anything to say. Thank you to, Vance, for letting me tag along with you while you were judging the gyros at Mentone. That was great, and really added to my experience at Mentone. (I was the guy who came from Colorado with my daughter).


        • Originally posted by farmboy View Post
          I agree with Chris very much. It is great to be able to read all the things that you post, Vance. I am one of those mostly silent but appreciative people. This is my first post on the forum, because mostly I don't have anything to say. Thank you to, Vance, for letting me tag along with you while you were judging the gyros at Mentone. That was great, and really added to my experience at Mentone. (I was the guy who came from Colorado with my daughter).
          Glad to have you along Jay and a very nice first post.

          I love to share the fun and usually learn something in the process.

          Life treats me well.
          Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


          • The hardest thing for most student pilots to learn is takeoffs and landings so a lot of training time is spent in the pattern. There is a lot going on and a lot to focus on.

            As an escape from the pattern Steven joined me on a flight up to Paso Robles airport day 8/26 and learned about waiting for the weather, crossing into different weather systems. He learned more about pilotage, basic navigation and managing radio communications with towered and pilot controlled airfields. He studied the chart and we saw that the Cuesta grade was probably our best option because further inland is the California Condor study area would have requested us to fly well over 6,000 feet above mean sea level (MSL) over the 3,000 foot ridgeline and further west we were more likely to encounter fog. For me flight planning is aviation foreplay and the key to a successful flight.

            The Paso Robles airport (PRB) would close at noon for the airshow so we wanted to leave with time to spare for the approximately hour long flight. When we arrived at the Santa Maria Public airport the sky conditions were 200 feet over cast. Searching the gray we saw a small patch of blue and soon the mountains to the southwest emerged out of the mist. Within a half hour the sky had gone from hopelessly grey to blue and the field was visual flight rules. San Luis Obispo was still instrument metrological conditions.

            As we climbed into the sky it became clear we were going to need to fly over the top of the fog. We wanted to fly over the top of San Luis Obispo’s class D airspace (SBP) and that required us to be at 2,800 MSL so we began a casual climb.

            I called air traffic control at SBP and our transition was approved at 2,000 feet or above.

            It was blue skies over SBP by the time we reached it but the fog still looked menacing to the west.

            We went from pleasantly cool ocean air to feeling like someone had opened an oven door. The temperature increased more than 15 degrees in less than a mile well before we reached the grade.

            Steven was flying a nice straight course as I tried to describe our path to and over the grade. I took the controls briefly to manage a traffic alert and then gave the controls back to Steven. He flew the pass at 2,500 feet dealing with the turbulence well.

            We wanted to follow the 101 so I could accurately report my position on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) for PRB and I called in from ten miles out.

            It was a little busy and I was uncomfortable with some of the reporting so I made every effort to stay out of the way and make accurate position reports. I took the controls five miles out expecting trouble that never came. The landing was nice and we were quickly off the runway and taxiing toward the display area. Directions were a little haphazard and I sent Steven off in search of an official.

            I waved to my friend Paul in his Magni who was giving the local press a ride. This was going to be his first airshow and I had been helping him manage the details.

            It was a wonderful small town air show where they send everything that flies past the crowd and have marching bands and color guard. They also had a bit of a car show.

            I put the signs up on The Predator and spent a fun afternoon answering questions about gyroplanes.

            Paul did his routine well and was well received. He did not do anything that made me nervous.

            We stopped at SBP on the way back for gas and then made the quick hop to SMX.

            It was very different than practicing in the pattern and a lovely way to spend the day.

            We flew patterns yesterday (9/2) and Steven’s pattern work was markedly improved demonstrating again that there is more to learning to fly that the pattern. His flexibility with ATC instructions was also improved.
            Steven had a large step in the learning process when I demonstrated the steps of a turn as I described what I was doing.

            In my opinion Flight Instruction is an iterative process and each time a concept comes around the student is confused on a higher level.

            I just got off the phone with Steven and we were discussing the round out on a conservation of energy level instead of you just apply back pressure and slow down to arrest your descent.

            Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


            • I recently replaced the teeter bearings in The Predator in preparation for a flight to El Mirage Dry Lake for the Ken Brock Freedom Fly In. I am typing this instead of flying there because more wind than I am comfortable with is predicted in the high desert this afternoon. I hope to leave Friday morning.

              In addition to the paper work I like to make a short maintenance flight any time I have been working on flight critical parts.

              Three times around the pattern was just enough to wet my appetite for flying so after another through preflight I headed off to San Luis Obispo for lunch.

              I love how The Predator climbs out solo so I leveled off at eight hundred feet (550 feet AGL) less than half way down the 8,000 foot runway.

              My new taller yaw string (so I can see it from the back seat) confused the autofocus on my camera.

              Air traffic control asked me to turn left thirty degrees for inbound traffic so I was pointed right at restricted airspace R-2516. There was enough wind to make the heading sort of a guess. Fortunately I was asked to resume own navigation well before I reached the restricted airspace.

              It was bumpy heading toward the shoreline as we neared the shoreline. I was crabbing about thirty degrees left as I headed north along the shore line and loving the feel of the ocean air. The way the wind caught wisps of the waves and made it appear as separate brush stokes was magnificent. The picture does not do it justice.

              Five hundred feet, forty five knots indicated airspeed at 2,000 engine rpm is the personification of low and slow to me. We just sort of rumbled along toward Oceano (L52) surrounded by beauty. L52 is a very special airport so near the shoreline.

              I made my last radio call on the L52 CTAF over the Pismo Pier before checking the San Luis Obispo ATIS and calling the SBP tower. I climbed to seven hundred feet and still could not reach the tower over the hills so I climbed to eleven hundred feet and called again with success. I love this feeling of freedom. There was traffic over Avilla Bay and ATC managed it well.

              After a nice lunch as we headed back toward SMX I saw a column of smoke just south east of Lake Lopez. When we returned to SMX we found lots of tankers busy with a fire in the Huasna valley. ATC asked me to pick up my speed and make a short approach. I ran her up to 100kts and it was fun diving for the runway making a big sweeping turn. We were off quickly and taxied to fuel for Thursday’s early departure that didn’t happen.

              I have been watching the weather and I am happy to not be flying in the strong gusting winds.
              Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


              • The El Mirage adventure.

                It was a perfect day to fly and I was delayed by the minutia of life. I got a call from Mary, a private pilot who flies out of General William J Fox Field in Lancaster who really wanted to learn to fly a gyroplane. I had been insisting that I don’t do training at events and I failed to communicate so I agreed to meet Mary at Fox Field at 3:00 and give her an abbreviated introductory lesson. This would give me time to visit my friends and have lunch at Santa Paula and still get to Fox field on time. I figured after the flight I would head off to The Ken Brock Freedom Fly In. I was going to camp in John Steven’s camper on the lakebed.

                I did a careful preflight and loaded up my rucksack. I called up flight service and they were predicting good weather along the entire route of flight throughout the day. I was wheels up at 10:30 heading for Santa Paula with wind 290 degrees at 6kts.

                I found my camera’s autofocus would focus on the new taller yaw string and it was a great day to take pictures. I started experimenting with taking a picture from the right side of the windshield and it seemed to work better.

                As I neared the San Marcos Pass things became a little bumpier and I had to work to manage airspeed and altitude. I contacted Santa Barbara Approach and they gave me a squawk code and verified altitude.

                The sun was just right over Lake Cachuma making a silvery shimmer that is only partially represented by the picture. I didn’t have much chance to enjoy the view before approach warned me of an opposite direction Piper at my altitude 12:00 3miles. I began frantically searching the skies and climbing figuring he was probably descending to land at Santa Inez. Relived when I finally had the traffic in sight and I was about 700 feet above him. Approach said they had lost radar contact and expect radar contact over the San Marcos Pass. Approach said the Piper was at my six o’clock at 3,800 feet same direction; “I am not talking to him!” I dropped down to 3,000 but never saw him. I needed 3,500 feet for the San Marcos pass so I began to climb when I felt enough time had passed.

                Radar contact was restablished over the pass and altitude verified.

                I was disappointed it was not clear on the other side of the hills.

                “Gyroplane Two Mike Golf, maintain VFR at or above 3,000 feet.” I had already descended so I climbed back up.

                It was a little bumpy over the hills coming into Santa Paula but they weren’t very busy. I called ten miles, five miles, over the junkyard, over the golf course turning left base and turning final. The touchdown was sweet and I taxied to fuel calling clear of runway 22. I fueled up, secured The Predator and headed for lunch at the 126 Cafe.
                Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


                • On to General William J Fox Field!

                  I checked the weather and everything was still good to go.

                  No one was in the aerobatic box or the practice area as I made my way toward Santa Clarita.

                  Abeam Magic mountain things got pretty bumpy as I crossed the Newhall Pass so I began a climb to 6,500 feet so I could go straight over the ridges toward Fox field. It was bumpy over the first ridgeline with Bouquet reservoir was tucked against the second ridge and I could see the high desert and barely make out Fox field in the distance. I checked the ATIS and called Fox tower nine miles to the southwest descending through 6,000 feet inbound to land with Victor. I had to repeat type aircraft twice. I was to make left traffic for runway 25 and report established on the downwind. I asked for a long landing and it was approved as requested.

                  I started working on the preflight immediately as it was very near 3:00. Just about the time I was finishing up I got a call from Mary that she was running late and would be there in 15 minutes. The new plan was to meet at 3:30. The restaurant was closed so I hung out in the lovely air-conditioned lounge.

                  Mary is an exceptionally bright inquisitive woman working on her PHD in neurology. She is single engine land working on her multi and instrument. She had some very good instructors in her logbook. She understood my desire to teach on the ground and demonstrate in the air. She did not rush any of my explanations and asked a lot of good questions. An hour and a half later I thought we were ready to fly. Mary being a good pilot wanted to go through a preflight despite my having already done one when I arrived at Fox Field. An hour later I felt we were ready to fly. Conditions were still great but during my weather briefing I was reminded that Sunset was at 6:46. I figured I had better get going if I was going to make it to El Mirage and Mary kindly consented to meet me at El Mirage the next day. In the high desert the surrounding mountains can make darkness come early and twilight tends to be short. I called Mary back for a ride to a motel and she offered to put me up in a guest cottage attached to her house. We rolled The Predator into the historic Barns Aviation Hangar and headed off to dinner with some wonderful friends of Mary’s who live in the Rosamond Skypark; an airport community that attracts some aviation luminaries. I love how the love of aviation allows complete strangers to carry on exciting conversations so quickly. We had great fun till 10:00.

                  A little after 8:00 AM we rolled The Predator outside and worked through our preflight and checked the weather. I reviewed much of yesterday’s ground instruction and Mary had retained everything and had more questions.

                  Mary followed me on the controls as I talked her though the takeoff process. I gave Mary the cyclic and she managed airspeed beautifully so I gave her the throttle too. First flight in somewhat challenging wind conditions and she flew to practical test standards for airspeed, altitude and heading. We used pilotage to make our way toward El Mirage Dry Lake and I got us a little lost. I demonstrated steep turns, rudder turns, slow flight and a power off vertical descent and gave Mary back the controls. We saw some of the circles left by central pivot irrigation and I demonstrated turns around a point. We had about a 15kts wind so it was a great way to lean about flying in a crab. Mary flattened her first one and the second one was perfect again managing airspeed and altitude to practical test standards. As we came within sight of El Mirage I took the controls and Mary became an amazing spotter. She had everything in the air or on the ground reported well and I had just told her that we would be higher than everybody when she spotted Britta at 12:00 at our altitude. Britta descended to land to the west so after a lap around to see which way the wind was blowing I landed to the west touching down a little fast and becoming airborne again.

                  We were warmly greeted when we reached the flight line and had a hard time getting away to debrief. It turned the 15 minute debrief into over an hour for the hour flight. Weather permitting she will be taking off and landing by the end of her next hour. She did everything well and what she muffed the first time she did well the second time

                  We had lunch and walked the flight line so I could show Mary all the different gyroplanes and explain the effect of the differences. We headed off to Sothern California Logistics for gas and my fuel pressure light came on even though we had an hour of fuel on board when we sticked the tanks at El Mirage. I took the controls and made a precautionary landing. I sticked the tanks again and we had 6 gallons. I could not diagnose the problems under those conditions so we parked The Predator at Tim’s house in Adelanto and John Stevens came and picked us up. He went 100 miles out his way to help his friends. We all had dinner in Lancaster and John headed for home and Mary dropped me off at her guest cottage and headed off to a meeting.

                  Ed is on her way from Santa Maria with the trailer in tow and we are going to trailer The Predator home and properly diagnose the problem.

                  I didn’t get to spend much time with my friends at the Ken Brock Freedom Fly In and that is part of why I don’t give instruction at events. I want to enjoy the event and I can do a much better job of instructing at my home airport.
                  Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


                  • Ed picked me up at Mary's house in Palmdale at 5:00 and we made it out to Tim's in Adelanto a little after 6:00 PM. A neighbor of Tim's stopped by with a truck complete with a crane and lights and we were loaded up and ready to head home by 9:30 PM. Ed and I made it home safe with The Predator in the hangar at 3:00 AM. I am going to start working on the fuel injection asap.
                    Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


                    • Michael called me up to satisfy his desire to learn more about gyroplanes. He lives about three hours away so we decided to make a day of it Sunday. He had never flown small aircraft so I wanted a nice gentle experience for him. Saturday the winds were pretty strong at Santa Maria (SMX) often exceeding my gust spread limit of ten knots but it was supposed to be nice Sunday so after I completed my maintenance flight I sent him an email to come on ahead.

                      We spent a couple of hours getting familiar with The Predator aircraft and checked the Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) for the latest weather and the winds were reported at 020 degrees at 7kts. I checked the weather on flight service for San Luis Obispo (SBP) and they were reporting a strong wind shear at 1,000 feet and moderate turbulence. SBP is in a valley with mountains all around so the wind can swirl around like the water in a toilet bowl.

                      I suggested we change our destination to Lompoc to stay out of the wind shear but Michael had heard how well gyroplanes handle winds and wanted to find out. He also wanted to fly up the beach because he had seen my pictures.

                      There was an incident on the main runway at SMX (30) so runway 2 was in use. The wind had shifted to 290 degrees at 13 knots gusting to 23 knots so I was anticipating a challenge on the narrower crosswind runway. Take off was better than I expected and after having Michael wag the tail I gave him all the controls. We worked on his technique a little as we flew across the valley. I briefly took the controls to demonstrate steep turns and a power off vertical descent and gave Michael back the controls and told him to fly straight to the beach and descend to 500 feet and heading up the shoreline.

                      Usually the winds along the shoreline are more stable than inland but not today. Michael did a great job of managing airspeed, altitude and direction of flight and I didn’t touch the controls till we were on final for runway 7 at SBP. The tower let us know of several pilot reports of wind shear and moderate turbulence and offered us the shorter, narrower runway 7. I had full right rudder over the numbers and I was about to go around when the wind simply stopped (middle of the swirl) so I dropped her in a little fast. Before we exited on taxiway Kilo I was on the left brake because I encountered the other side of the bowl. We had a nice lunch and debrief with a few of the usual interruptions asking “what it is like to fly that thing in this wind”.

                      A Black Hawk pilot and a Chinook pilot who were transitioning to fixed wing in a Piper Archer stopped by during our preflight and told of their wild ride into the airport over the hills. They recommended we stay away from the mountains because of turbulence. They had just been where I was going.

                      I wanted to get away from traffic so Michael could explore the freedom associated with flying so I headed toward Lake Lopez and the Huasna Valley. On takeoff from runway 11 it was a direct cross wind sometimes changing to a tail wind and except for being a little long; take off was nice. We were on the lee side of the mountains and The Predator didn’t want to climb above 1,500 feet because of the turbulence (we would get stuck in a rotor). At one point when we should have been climbing at 500 feet per minute I saw 400 feet per minute of descent so I gave Michael the controls and we headed for SMX. We were pointed about thirty degrees left of our flight path and Michael handled it beautifully. I needed a year of experience before I handled turbulence as well.

                      Michael was able to find the airport from twelve miles out (very unusual) and entered the downwind for runway 2 correctly. I took the controls on down wind and talked Michael through the landing. Just as I was explaining I was going to aggressively plant her because of the turbulence we caught a lot of lift from a gust and ballooned up. We floated along knowing that on the other side of lift is sink and lucked out on the timing and set her down as nice as could be. We headed back to the hanger to debrief and plan Michael’s path to becoming a gyroplane pilot. I love being a gyroplane CFI and I look forward to sharing Michael’s gyroplane adventure!
                      Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


                      • Recently retired Bob called me up to satisfy his curiosity about gyroplanes and we decided to make a day of it Tuesday. Bob is a 3,000 hour plus single engine land, instrumented rated private pilot so he already knows much of what I teach and just wanted to find out if gyroplanes were as much fun as they looked. He flew his RV10 in from Fresno that he built over three years.

                        We still had the remnants of the Santa Ana winds so we had record heat reaching 108 degrees F in San Luis Obispo. We had occasional whirlwinds that made for some interesting touchdowns. Most of the winds were seven knots or less.

                        He had done his homework and read the gyroplane portion of the rotorcraft flying handbook:
                        So most of what we did was review and familiarization with The Predator.

                        We flew straight out and I gave Bob the rudders about 50 feet above the ground so he could get a feel for the rudders and the rest of the aircraft controls about 100 feet above the ground. Bob climbed to 800 feet and managed airspeed and altitude to better than practical test standards (PTS). I did my little demonstration of steep turns, slow flight and a power off vertical descent and gave Bob back the aircraft controls and headed toward the shoreline. Bob did a great job of following the shoreline and continued to exceed the PTS for airspeed, altitude and heading.

                        The ocean seemed a richer darker blue.

                        As we made our way up the shoreline one of my fuel level gages was acting funny so we stopped at Oceano (L52) and dipped the tanks. There was plenty of fuel for the mission but as long as we were stopped in front of self-serve Bob filled her up.

                        Oceano’s runway 29 is fifty feet wide by 2,325 feet long with a 25 foot bush at the end at maximum gross takeoff weight on a hot day in no wind conditions. I was pleased when we lifted off at about 800 feet and climbed out nicely. We found a whirlwind about half way down the runway and it just moved us around a little, slightly delaying our climb out.

                        Coming into San Luis Obispo we were to report down wind mid field for runway two niner. The tower said we were number two behind a Cessna for runway 29; report in sight and Bob saw him before I did. His roll into turns was exceptional and he had a little trouble adjusting to how fast a gyroplane can turn 90 degrees.
                        I took the controls just before touch down and talked him through the landing as I set her down nicely. Before we had taxied more than ten feet we hit a very strong whirlwind and I was glad I had the aircraft controls as it walked us around the runway.

                        We secured The Predator and debriefed in the air-conditioned Spirit of San Luis Restaurant over a nice lunch.

                        During preflight a couple of fellows came wearing shirts from a flying club in the valley came by and added to the fun. I feel any hangar flying is good hangar flying.

                        I asked for a left down wind departure to the east but inbound traffic and a departing Bonanza had Air Traffic Control (ATC) asking us to make a right down wind with an early right cross wind for the faster Bonanza. Our right down wind departure was a little challenging because we needed to remain north of the centerline for inbound traffic against the lee side of the mountains so I kept the controls until ATC cleared us to cross the centerline.

                        The heat had my oil temperature in the yellow and wondering what to do if it reaches the red. Fortunately it did not although we discussed landing at Oceano if it continued to rise.

                        I told Bob to follow the 101 and checked the Automatic Terminal information Service (ATIS); wind was three two zero degrees at ten knots. I called Santa Maria ATC and we were to make a right downwind for runway 30 and report downwind abeam. Just before round out I took the controls and talked Bob through the landing. We headed to the non-movement area and debriefed the flight and briefed Bob on his first gyroplane landing. We took off and I demonstrated a landing and gave him the controls. The first day with each student has a memorable magic moment (MMM) and my MMM with Bob was when I let him know he had flared a little high and I felt the stick move slightly forward to regain air speed. I feel it is completely counterintuitive to put the nose down to pick up airspeed when the ground is rushing up to meet you and that is why I spend a lot of time on that subject. To transfer an intellectual concept into muscle movements is not a simple process in an unfamiliar environment. Bob greased his first landing after 1.9 hours of dual.

                        Bob is flying back to Santa Maria next Tuesday suggesting that it is as fun to fly gyroplanes as it looks. I suspect I will be able to sign him off for his proficiency check ride in around ten hours of dual.
                        I love being a gyroplane CFI!
                        Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


                        • It doesn't take much to get me excited about flying.

                          I had done a little work on the gyroplane (The Predator) and I have a client tomorrow so I wanted to take a quick maintenance flight. A few flights around the pattern would be more than I needed. Winds were 320 degrees at 11 knots and fairly steady.

                          The first takeoff was so nice I was still giggling when I turned crosswind and leveled off at pattern altitude. It had been a while since I had flown The Predator solo so her performance seemed lively. I set up for a stabilized approach and talked myself through a power on landing like I would a client. She floated about 20 feet past my target and I never felt her touch down. I waited for the blades to start accelerating again and smoothly brought the power back in and pulled out the camera as I flew the pattern so I could share the fun with my friends.

                          I was off again in about 100 feet still laughing and loving the feeling. I pulled the power in the middle of my turn to final and I hit my spot as nice as could be. This time the blades took a little longer to start accelerating again and I was off in about 150 feet. I was right on my speed and pulled the power back at 750 feet and leveled off at exactly 800 feet.

                          The winds were changing around a little and I asked for a wind check. "280 degrees at 16 knots." Another power off landing on the mark and I felt like I was stopped as I touched down on my target.

                          I ran the speed up to 85kts seeing 100kts of ground speed on the down wind, I made a more aggressive descent and still managed to land on the mark. A Fed Ex Caravan was taking off so I extended my down wind and climbed to 1,300 feet for rising terrain. I was cleared for the option number two behind the departing Caravan.

                          The wind had shifted again and I needed full right rudder at the beginning of my takeoff roll and she straightened out as I reached about 40kts. She lifted off as sweet as could be at 50kts. "Gyroplane 142 Mike Golf left down wind for runway 30 to land." "Gyroplane Two Mike Golf runway 30 clear for the option" I read the clearance back and arrested my descent with power at about ten feet above the ground. I held that until I thought I was going to overshoot taxiway Alpha Four and set her down and scooted off the runway.

                          Before I could ask I heard; "gyroplane Two Mike Golf Taxi to parking via Alpha Four, Alpha, Mike; monitor ground point niner; have a nice night Vance."

                          I had replaced the rotor brake pads and the blades stopped perfectly aligned with just a little squeeze at the right time.

                          I had Spot tell Ed I was down safely and sat in the afterglow for about 20 minutes before a post flight inspection and putting The Predator away for the night. I love to fly!
                          Last edited by Vance; 10-31-2017, 09:33 PM.
                          Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


                          • Like the description of your maintenance flights, Vance.

                            What are the rectangler shapes on the ground below the nose in your photo of the hills that has your yaw string also in the picture? They almost looks like poured concrete pads...


                            • Originally posted by Kevin_Richey View Post
                              Like the description of your maintenance flights, Vance.

                              What are the rectangler shapes on the ground below the nose in your photo of the hills that has your yaw string also in the picture? They almost looks like poured concrete pads...
                              Good evening Kevin and good question,

                              History of Santa Maria Public Airport
                              In the early 1940's, during World War II, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed what was then known as Santa Maria Army Base to provide training facilities for crews of B-25 aircraft. A few years later the B-25 groups left and the facility became a training field for P-38 pilots and ground crews.
                              In 1946, following the war's end, the County of Santa Barbara acquired the property by means of an interim permit issued by the War Assets Administration. The County retained control of the facility until 1949, at which time the City of Santa Maria obtained an undivided one-half interest. This dual ownership/management proved cumbersome to administer, and in March of 1964 transfer of the airport to the newly formed Santa Maria Public Airport District was accomplished.

                              Those are what it left of the concrete pads to park the military aircraft on.

                              The strange round concrete things are the vaults to store the Norden Bombsite in.
                              Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


                              • As much as I love being a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) for rotorcraft, gyroplanes I take it very seriously and am always trying to improve. I have several CFI mentors and belong to the Society of Aviation and Flight instructors (SAFE) and the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFTI). I have over 126 hours of dual instruction with 28 different flight instructors.

                                I seldom miss the opportunity to spend time with other CFIs and when I met Don Bradley while I was working through my pre-flight list at the San Luis Obispo airport (SBP) I offered to take him flying. We had talked on the phone but had not met face to face. He had flown down from Cameron Park in Northern California for some Thanksgiving time with family.

                                Apparently Don has a family very supportive of his aviation as do I so we agreed to meet Thanks giving day at 10:00 PST.

                                I briefed him as I would any client. I fly a one of a kind gyroplane (The Predator) designed and built by Mark Givans. She first flew in 1999 and Don listened respectively as I tried to explain the differences.

                                One of Don's goals was to get more experience flying different gyroplanes and The Predator is very different than the Magni M16 he flies. I handed him the two check lists I use and put him in the front seat where he has to manage the brakes for steering, all the engine instruments and the radio.

                                Don carefully followed the startup procedure and The Predator fired up at the first touch of the button and settled down into her somewhat rough idle. We had an odd reading on the tachometer during the magneto check so we did it a second time. It was nice to see another pilot as fond of checklists as I am.

                                With a client I demonstrate each maneuver first but decided to just let Don work his way through. He carefully followed the takeoff procedure with very little coaching from me.

                                The takeoff was as nice as could be and we headed to my practice area with Don getting a feel for The Predator and trimming her for 60kts. We did some clearing turns and then quickly worked through slow flight, recognition and recovery from low airspeed and high rate of descent, a vertical descent and steep turns. Don wanted to try some pattern work so I took the controls while he checked the current weather (ATIS) and called the tower (ATC).

                                We were to make left traffic for runway 30 and report downwind. I have a road that leads us to a nice forty five degree entry to the pattern and Don followed the directions well as we descended to our pattern altitude of 800 feet msl.

                                There was an outbound Cessna that was not doing what he said he would do and I am glad we were low enough to go below him. ATC warned us and scolded him.
                                ATC asked us for a short approach for inbound traffic and I didn't want that sort of pressure on Don for his first landing in The Predator so we made a low approach.

                                Don,s first landing was a thing of beauty as were all his subsequent landings including an engine at idle (simulated engine out) landing.

                                I never touched the controls except when asked and had very little trepidation when Don was flying.

                                Don is what I hope my clients will turn into as an aviator and is a CFI I am comfortable recommending.

                                I just went over my list of 28 CFIs I have flown with and there are only six I would recommend although I learned something from each of them.

                                What a delightful flight with a new friend!
                                Last edited by Vance; 11-24-2017, 09:45 AM.
                                Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI