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More fun flying The Predator.

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  • Because of intermittent showers I had not flown it two weeks.

    Many of my clients are coming from out of the area so if there is a good chance of rain we reschedule.

    I don't fly when it rains.

    Saturday's flight to Santa Ynez was canceled for rain.

    Sunday was looking good and there was an EAA meeting with a representative from Cal Fire giving a presentation at San Luis Obispo (SBP).

    As is often the case there was some winds trailing behind the storm but I had the fever and wanted to fly.

    It was 43 degrees F when I left the house with the top down so I was bundled up. The temperature had risen to 45 degrees by the time I reached the airport.

    Because I had not flown for a while I was extra diligent with check lists and procedures.

    As I taxied to the run up area the wind changed directions so many times it wrapped my yaw string around the mount. Each of the wind socks was blowing in a different direction and indicating a different wind velocity.
    I asked for a right turn out to the north.

    Air Traffic Control (ATC) came back with the words that start each flying adventure; "Gyroplane 142 Mike Golf, Runway three zero clear for takeoff; right turn out approved."

    Takeoff and climb out was lively in the cool air and I pulled the camera out as I reached 1,000 feet.

    There were lots of people out barbequing in Santa Maria and a few of them waved as I skirted the edge of the city at 1,000 feet above the ground.

    As I crossed the dry Santa Maria River he air tasted clean and I could see all the way to Avila Bay. The hills were starting to turn a lush green from the recent rains. I marvel at how quickly that happens.

    The turbulence made holding my altitude take constant adjustment of the throttle.

    I meandered along California 101 past the five cities and started to work my way toward the Edna Valley.

    SBP ATC greeted me and asked me to make a straight in and report four miles. At five miles I was cleared to land runway two niner but it had to be amended several times as I made my way across the Edna valley and toward SBP at 45kts of ground speed.

    I asked for a long landing and taxied to the hangar where the EAA meeting was. I was warmly received and needed about ten minutes to bask in the afterglow before I secured The Predator and joined the meeting.

    It was a great presentation with lots of interesting information. I found myself reliving my recent flight and longing to be flying again. I feel more at home in the sky than on the ground.
    Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


    • Sundays flight from SBP to SMX.

      As I listened to the speaker at the EAA meeting I felt distracted by the call of the sky. I was very interested in Cal Fire but a part of me was planning the flight back to Santa Maria (SMX).

      San Luis Obispo (SBP) is nestled in the Edna Valley with two thousand foot hills to the east. I am often haunted by the childhood question of what is on the other side of the hill.

      After a careful preflight and checking the weather I asked SBP ATC (air traffic control) for a right down wind departure to the east.

      “Gyroplane 142 Mike Golf, runway two niner clear for takeoff; right downwind approved.”

      Flying The Predator solo is a somewhat different experience and she sort of leapt into the air and was climbing out at eleven hundred feet per minute as the Edna Valley opened up before me on down wind.

      I pulled the power back a bit and caught some lift as we came closer to the hills. The clouds ahead had some vertical development and dark bottoms suggesting turbulence ahead. Once over the ridgeline I pulled the power well back and just sort of floated along marveling at the view and our capabilities.

      The ridge line ends abruptly with a 1,300 foot drop off to the surface of Lake Lopez. I pulled the engine to idle and began my descent to the swishing sound of the rotor blades. It doesn’t matter how many time I do it, it still feels like magic to me. Once on the lee side of the ridge the sink increased and I added power to enter the Huasna Valley above the wires from the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant that march across the hills.

      I like flying around the Huasna Valley on a windy day because there is very little air traffic and there is beauty in every direction. I could smell the wet earth and feel the clean cool air on my face.

      I followed the winding river to Twitchell Reservoir banking left and right in a wonderful expression of the freedom of flight.

      I checked the weather over Twitchell Reservoir and called SMX ATC inbound to land.

      “Gyroplane 142 Mike Golf; make right down wind for runway three zero; report downwind abeam.”

      As I got closer traffic picked up and ATC restricted a Piper’s altitude to stay above me and a landing jet. As I was about to call downwind abeam I heard; “Gyroplane Two Mike Golf make short approach, no delay on runway.” I pulled the power and turned right around the tower making one steady descending bank and touching down as nice as could be at taxiway Alpha 4 and scooted off the runway.

      “Gyroplane Two Mike Golf, taxi to parking via Alpha; monitor ground. Thank you for your help Vance”

      What a lovely way to end a lovely day of flying.

      It took me about a half hour of siting in the afterglow before I was ready to climb down and push The Predator into the hangar.

      I down loaded the pictures from my little camera and relived the flight.

      Now I get to fly a third time as I share this with my friends.

      I love being a flight instructor because I get to open the door to this magical world for others.
      Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI