A lovely surprise!

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,440
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
I checked the weather on Monday and Tuesday was supposed to be a repeat with a cold wind blowing 20kts gusting to 28kts.

I had a Tuesday ten o’clock appointment with my CPA who is just a little over a mile from the airport so I felt I might go flying afterward despite the apparently less than ideal weather.

As is my way with work I waited till the last minute to start down the hill beneath the overcast skies.

I find it is hard to be grumpy wandering over the back roads in our M Roadster and I was pleasantly surprised with how warm the air was that came spilling over the windshield.

I hoped to make quick work of the meeting so I could fly up to San Luis Obispo before the winds were supposed to come up at 13:00 Pacific Standard Time. I was not successful as we got bogged down in all the forms and some changes that did not make sense. I left with the parting words; “we will see if we need to go looking for the small dollars, you are on the edge.”

After that I needed an aviation fix and as I watched the airport gate slide open I felt like it was pealing back any dark thoughts I harbored.

I had done a particularly thorough post flight Monday afternoon so the preflight went smoothly.

I called Lockheed Martin and there was AIRMET Sierra for ceilings below 1,000 feet and mountain obscuration just off the coast, AIRMET Tango for moderate turbulence and AIRMET Zulu for icing. The Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAFs) were calling for winds 320 degrees at 20kts gusting to 28kts at both SMX and SBP from 13:00 to 19:00. Current winds at Santa Maria were 320 degrees at 12kts and San Luis Obispo was similar.

I added an extra layer under my flight suit for Zulu and pushed The Predator out of the hangar.

I exchanged some words with my friend Mitch who was busy installing the freshly rebuilt Continental in his Mooney and he showed me how the rebuilder had matched the gold color of the case with the gold color of the cylinders. To say he was excited would be an understatement and his excitement helped to lift my spirits.

I climbed into The Predator and worked through my prestart list.

On my recent drive to Cincinnati I had dropped off my helmets at Headsets Incorporated in Amarillo, Texas to have the active noise reduction (ANR) installed in Ed’s helmet and refurbished in mine. I picked them up on the way back and have been very pleased with the results. At the first touch of the button the IO-320 burst into life with the sound that echoes off the metal hangars wonderfully muted by my refurbished headset. The wind noise during flight is also quieted more effectively.

I checked ATIS and runway three zero was in use with winds 290 degrees at nine knots. I called ground for a taxi from Mike to runway three zero. Ground came back with the familiar “Experimental 142 Mike Golf; Runway three zero Mike to Alpha to Alpha eight.”

The magneto Check went well and I switched the transponder to mode C, changed to tower frequency, started my trip computer and taxied up to the hold short line.

I asked for a straight out with a slight right and I heard the magic words; “experimental 142 Mike Golf, runway three zero clear for takeoff, straight out with a slight right approved.”

The rotor came up to speed nicely and I switched on my landing lights, anti collision lights and nav lights just before the nose lifted. She lifted off straight and true and I marveled at the way I seemed to leave the minutia of life on the ground.

As we reached 800 feet MSL (500 feet AGL) I could see the blue of the pacific in the distance. It has been covered with fog on my recent flights. I started to rethink my planned route and was about to ask for a slight left when the tower asked me to make a slight left for a King Air inbound on the ILS for runway one two.

I reported negative contact on the King Air and switched the destination on the GPS to Oceano and changed the frequency on the flip flop to the Oceano CTAF. I was abeam the King Air before I saw him and reported him is sight.

“Once the King Air is passed you can make your slight right Vance,” the tower shot back.

“Experimental 142 Mike Golf, the beach looks nice, I would like to amend my departure to a slight left.”

“Experimental 2 Mike Golf slight left approved; have a nice flight Vance!” was his reply.

Monday it had been much colder at 800 feet MSL than on the ground and the cold wind seemed to cut through to my skin. On this flight the air felt warmer as we crossed the Santa Maria Valley 500 feet above the fields and the usual temperature drop as we approach the Pacific Ocean was absent. The air felt silky smooth with a steady 15kt wind and I called ATC to tell them I would be doing some maneuvering just outside their airspace between 800 and 1,800 feet. This area is on the edge of the DME back coarse approach for runway one two so if someone is off course and below altitude there could be a conflict. ATC is very nice about looking out for me even though I am just outside their airspace.

I practiced some turns around a point, some S turns over a road and then got really silly and started tracing the strange geometric shapes of the fields that cover the Santa Maria Valley. I love the precision The Predator is capable of and reveled in the freedom of the skies.

I experimented with tight turns at 30 kts and was soon spinning like a pinwheel maintaining altitude with just a little over the power needed for 65kts straight and level. I found it difficult to maintain situational awareness and thanked ATC before I changed to the CTAF for Oceano.

After listening to silence for a bit I reported; “Oceano area traffic; white gyroplane five miles to the south, transitioning north along the shore line at 500 feet and 50kts; Oceano”. I reported each odd mile and never heard a word from anyone.

I marveled at how quiet and serene The Predator seemed.

Three miles to the north of Oceano I made my last call; “Oceano area traffic, white gyroplane three miles to the north transitioning north along the shoreline at 500 feet and fifty knots, climbing to 700 feet and changing frequencies, Oceano.”I checked the ATIS at SBP and information Quebec had moderate turbulence in all quadrants reported. I called SBP ATC at 700 feet over shell beach with information Quebec inbound to land.

Conditions were wrong for good radio and I had to repeat that I had Quebec, ident and was to report inbound on the forty five.

I love the view from 700 feet over Shell Beach. I can see all of Avilla Bay and the rugged shoreline is ever changing. The whitewater of the crashing waves adds a kinetic element that I can’t capture in still pictures.

We rocked and rolled through the Avilla Pass and just as I was entering the Edna Valley a different controller asked; “Experimental Two Mike Golf, what is your location and altitude?” The radar is blocked by the hills at that point so it is not unusual for that inquiry. I let them know I had just rounded the hill and was inbound on the forty five. I was to report downwind abeam.

There was a slightly confused Bonanza pilot coming in from the North West and ATC restricted him above at or above 2,200 feet. He had a lot of trouble saying the required acknowledgments and ATC struggled with him and made me aware of him.

I never did see him as he flew directly over me on my left downwind when he was supposed to be making a right downwind for runway two nine. I love the way ATC looks out for me. I hope I don’t meet this Bonanza pilot at an uncontrolled airport.

I was given three gratuitous wind checks and each had the wind blowing over twenty knots in a significantly different direction. As I crossed the threshold my GPS was reading 17kts faster than my indicated air speed. The midfield windsock abeam my touchdown point was showing a direct cross of at least 15kts so I decided to continue but kept some power in incase I needed to abort the landing and go around. I could feel a significant wind shear at 300 feet and saw my airspeed indicator bounce through 15kts. My descent was not as smooth and steady as I would have liked.

The landing was one of those magical experiences where I could not feel the handoff from flying to rolling.

“Experimental Two Mike Golf, thanks for your help Vance, cross Alpha to resteraunt parking.”

I sent Ed a spot, filled out my log book and secured The Predator.

My mind kept returning to the heavens and my recent airborne ecstasy as I worked my way down my post flight check list.

I watched the Bonanza pilot make an inelegant landing on his third attempt. I marveled at the strength of his landing gear.

As I wandered through the Spirit of San Luis restaurant on the way to the rest room to wash up a nice man dressed as a biker kept repeating; “that was really cool, that is really cool, and I like the shark’s mouth!” The first time through I didn’t realize he was taking to me.

We had a nice chat about how The Predator is my motorcycle in the sky. He completely understood the allure of the smells and temperature changes that can only be felt when you are out in the open. He had given up his motorcycle several years ago and was now a Jet Ski enthusiast because the water is much softer than the pavement when things don’t work out.

Several people in the dining room gave me a thumbs up on my way back out to the patio.

I had a very nice lunch and watched the windsock drift in every imaginable direction. I soon found myself longing to return to the heavens.

I had a short discussion with a Cessna 152 pilot who spoke English as a second language (I think he was speaking Farsi to his lady friend) and was unfamiliar with SBP. We talked about the winds in the Edna Valley and the beauty of the area. I love the universal language of aviation and found pleasure in our brief exchange.

I performed a slow, careful preflight and called Lockheed Martin for an update on the weather before I taxied to self serv. All the AIRMETS were still in effect and now there was a chance of precipitation.

I called ground for a taxi to self serve and was told to cross Alpha to Echo, cross runway 29 at Echo then Echo, Juliet, Mike to self serve. It was almost faster than I could write but I read it back correctly and was rolling quickly. I find joy in being familiar with SBP and find the airport map on the back of my radio call sheet very helpful when given complex taxi instructions.

Thank you, Vance
 

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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,440
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
It kept getting better!

It kept getting better!

I had burned a little less than 12 gallons for a little over two hours of flying.

I listened to ATIS Sierra and winds were 310 at 12kts with landing and departing on runway 29.

I asked for a taxi to runway 29 full length and ground came back with “Experimental Two Mike Golf, winds are calm would you like a runway one one departure?” “Experimental Two Mike Golf taxi to runway one one via Mike.” There is no formal run-up area for one one from the west side so I simply stopped short of the ILS line and did a magneto check. I made a last check of my pre-takeoff list and taxied up to the hold short line. I asked for a right crosswind departure with an early right cross. I like to use runway two five for my cross when taking off on runway two nine so I get off the active runway and still have runway beneath me if the engine goes quiet. It would be a much sharper turn from the other direction but it avoids some noise sensitive areas. A right crosswind departure was approved and as we lifted an early right cross was approved.

Everything worked out nicely and we were soon making our way across the Edna Valley at 700 feet (500 feet AGL). The winds picked up a little as we entered the Avilla pass and the silver blue Pacific beckoned over the hills.

As we made our way down the beach a hole seemed to open up in the clouds and provided a wonderful reflection on the water.

I turned east at Oso Flaco and checked ATIS. The reported wind was three six zero degrees at 18kts gusting to 27kts. Runway two was the runway in use.

I called SMX ATC and let him know I would be maneuvering outside his airspace and spent some time tracing my earlier tracks. I called inbound to land and I was to make a left base entry for runway two and report two miles. The winds were changing and they launched a Mooney from three zero just before launching a Citabria on runway two.

Runway two/two zero is seventy five feet wide as opposed to the hundred fifty foot wide runway one two/three zero. There are eucalyptus trees along the runway and I felt it would be good landing practice as the winds shifted around.

It was fun trying to be precise in the turbulent winds and by the last picture and the eighth landing the winds were 290 degrees at 22kts gusting to 28kts and I was headed straight down the runway.

The takeoffs were more exciting than the landings with The Predator trying to lift off twice at 40kts indicated air speed after getting hit with a gust from the side. On the wider runway I would have angled across more but the narrow runway limited my options and helped me to increase my skills.

I have to admit to thinking about the police officer that turned over the departments MTO in Texas and wondering how close to trouble I was.

I sat in front of the hangar for a long time playing the lovely flight over in my mind and filling out my post flight briefing card.

It hadn’t rained, it wasn’t cold and the winds had just added to the fun.

What a lovely surprise.

Thank you, Vance
 

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Joined
Jan 11, 2013
Messages
307
Location
Eureka,Illinois
Aircraft
Challenger ll
Total Flight Time
2100
Thank you, Vance, for taking me--us-- along on your flight. Planning to experience the same as soon as I'm ready. Thank you.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,440
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Glad to have you along Richard!

Glad to have you along Richard!

I continued to be amazed at how this simple flight to San Luis Obispo I have made so many times can seem so special and unique every time.

It is twenty two nautical miles direct each way and this turned into ninety nine nautical miles with nine landings.

My skills improve with every flight and the learning never stops.

If I had a bad flight in The Predator I don’t remember it.

There was a small part of me that said; “Too cold and too windy; I will just fly another day when conditions improve.”

There is something magical about riding a warm wind in The Predator. AIRMET Zulu was for 13,000 feet and it didn't seem to affect the air I was flying in.

Having recently returned from my drive to Cincinnati where I had snow and ice and saw temperatures as low as two degrees I have a renewed appreciation for our climate.

I visited Clermont county airport and the primary activity was plowing and trying to break up the ice.

I visited the Air Force Museum in Dayton and missed most of the outside exhibits for fear of slipping on the ice. There were very few footprints as I left both days.

It snowed on me both ways in Amarillo, Texas when I dropped off and picked up my helmets more than a week apart.

I am off to fly!

Thank you, Vance
 

okikuma

Member
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
2,014
Location
Santa Clarita, CA
A wonderful flight Vance! Thanks for the ride!

Like you, I'm also becoming more and more concerned over the increasing ineptness of some GA pilots these days. I often hear the controller give instructions, the goofball pilot reading back incorrectly, and then flying a totally different pattern that neither resembles the intended controller instructions nor the incorrect read back. Pilot beware!

Wayne
 

Wingnutt

Newbie
Joined
May 15, 2013
Messages
74
Location
Lost in the cloud of BS
Vance
Thanks for taking the rest of us along for the ride, I really like the fact that you add pictures to bring it to life for us as well. Hopefully Ill be finishing up my light sport ticket in the next few months really looking forward to that, and then Ill work on a gyro sign off Hey its been a long non flying winter
Thanks again
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,440
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
I am grateful to have friends I can share the fun with.

I am grateful to have friends I can share the fun with.

Glad to have you along Wayne.

I don’t know that pilots are getting worse, only that I need to look out for me.

I see people are flying less and that probably makes them less skilled because they are not current.

The winds were so squirrely today the tower could not decide which runway to use.

I originally asked for three zero based on the wind sock although the ATIS had runway two in use.

As I was taxiing on Alpha I got a gratuitous wind check; 350 degrees at twenty knots gusting to twenty eight knots.

I switched to runway two.

As I was back taxiing on runway two at 15kts my yaw string was straight out at ninety degrees. I looked further down the runway and it appeared the wind was straight down runway two.

I was already on tower frequency and he kept giving my radically different wind checks.

It turns out there were four aircraft ready for takeoff and they all wanted to see how my takeoff would work out because the see me practicing in the wind. I was glad for my recent practice on runway two.

It all worked out and I had a rocking and rolling flight to San Luis Obispo where they were having even more confusing winds. It was a funny kind of wind without the hard hits of some windy days although at one point I had an elevator ride nearly straight up with four hawks. I love this stuff.

I love having friends to share the fun with that understand why something that many would see as bad flying weather was actually good.

I averaged 40kts for both flights and saw a top speed of just over a hundred knots.

It was 74 degrees at San Luis Obispo and it is still 70 degrees at SMX as I type this. In other words it was just another windy summer day in February.


You are very welcome Ron.

I love sharing the fun and I look forward to reading about your gyroplane adventures. Please take it slowly with the wind in the beginning. I feel I would have tipped her over today with less experience. Over confidence is an ever present nemesis for me.

I am coming up on 1,300 hours as pilot in command and I continue to learn with every flight.

Thank you, Vance
 

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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,440
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
An Aviation Giant!

An Aviation Giant!

You are one of my aviation heroes Don.

I marvel at what you know, what you have accomplished and who you are.

It will enhance my aviation adventures knowing you are along having fun.

Thank you for the very nice compliment.

I suspect you understand the frustration I feel when I look at the words I have written and pictures I have taken and compare them to the feelings I am attempting to share.

Each flight has some magic moments that are so difficult to describe.

The view is ever changing and much more than the pictures can portray.

The theme of this flight was the surprisingly warm weather but the magic lay in the sensuous feel of the wind and the way it spoke to me. I felt in synchronization with the turbulence on some new level for no particular reason. It just felt so good the waves of joy repeatedly washed over me.

I have done all this aviation stuff before and yet each time seems magic and original.

If ever you would like to ride along I am down at Santa Paula for open hangar day perhaps six times a year and sometimes fly down the night before. We could explore the foothills Saturday afternoon. I am certain I would learn a great deal and find joy in the experience. I almost always have Ed's helmet with me and I just had ANR installed.

Thank you, Vance
 

rcflier

Junior Member
Joined
May 24, 2007
Messages
349
Location
Nexø (Denmark)
Aircraft
Auto-Gyro MTO Sport 914
Total Flight Time
6
Hi Vance.

Thank you so much for your stories. It's winter in Denmark and I try to keep up the spirit reading fora. And thinking of the Gyro ride in southern Sweden
I've promised myself this summer. One full hour, logged as flight time towards a certificate and all.

From my early years I've been interested in Gyroplanes, probably because of the flight characteristics and the seemingly financially available ultralight
barnstorming builds out there.

Maybe it was after seeing "Little Nellie", or maybe I had discovered them even earlier. No reason to blame commander Wallis. I had seen pictures of the
Air Command 447 and I was quite impressed with the simple and thoughtful design. I imported a Rotax 447 directly from Austria and joined the local EAA chapter.
They didn't exactly open their arms to someone who had neither a license or a plane. So (in '88 or '89?) I went to the US - although I ended doing it alone.

I knew I wanted to go to Oshkosh, but I also wanted to buy a set of Bumblebee plans from Martin Hollman. So I went to his hometown. But he brushed me off,
before I had said much - he said, he was going to Oshkosh, so he had no time for me. I had taken a large detour for this, so I was late arriving at Oshkosh.

The only really good thing about that trip was buying a set of McCutchen Skywheels 23' blades and a few avionics parts. The blades arrived a few weeks after I got home.
At Oshkosh I had found someone with a BumbleBee and he agreed to copy his plans for me, but life got in the way.

I had gotten the wrong gearbox (for my 62" x 32" maple propeller) with the 447 and arranged a switch, but ended up with a new 503 SC instead.
All those years I have had the engine, blades and avionics ready for a Bumblebee, Gyrobee and now Hornet. A good thing i have them, the price
has gone up considerably. I now have a low wage job, so today I couldn't afford engine and blades at current prices, I'm sure.

I have a strip of land (85meters x 250 meters) that should be large enough for barnstorming. And I live on a small island (Bornholm) in the Baltic Sea, a
very nice place to fly, I'm sure. We have just one local paved airport in the southwest, near our "capital". I live in the southeast, so I'll have most of the
island to myself.

As for building the Hornet, I have these parts ready. Obviously the engine needs an inspection and I wonder if there are some seals to change. It has
never been run. Educationwise, I am a mechanical engineer B.SC. and for a few years I was teaching a bit (math, tech, IT) at our local trade school.
I have a 5½x20 Colchester Chipmaster lathe and a Deckel FP2 tool mill with lots of accessories. Metal band saw, gas welding kit etc. In a quite small home shop.

I now have a friend who is a certified TIG welder (alu and steel); I wonder if he's just as good with gas welding. I fly R/C planes and 600-class helicopters
and I'm looking at the brushless motors we use. The one in my heli is 2800 Watts - that's nearly 4 HP! Even if I derate it some (lower voltage), there should be
enough oomph to drive a prerotator well. I know others here are thinking (and doing something) about those motors.

In such a small country as Denmark there is not much gyro activity. But a Gyro association does exist, though it's probably easier to take my flying lessons
in Sweden or maybe a combination thereof. I just don't know how (where) to take the PPL theory.

To complete the circle and get back on topic, it has been really nice reading about your flights. Like NASA wrote: The Dream is Alive.

Cheers
Erik
 
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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,440
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Glad to have you along Eric.

Glad to have you along Eric.

I am fortunate to live in a place that is so beautiful and has so many nice flying days.

The nearest flying gyroplane besides mine is about 90 miles south of me at the Santa Paula airport, an Air and Space 18A.

I had many challenges getting to fly a gyroplane and they make flying all the sweeter.

I have found more joy than I ever imagined flying gyroplanes.

Martin is no longer with us. He was always generous with his knowledge and friendship with me.

Good luck with your gyroplane adventure Eric.

I find joy in the way the love of gyroplanes transcends borders, language and culture.

Regards, Vance
 

Resasi

Gold Supporter
Joined
Jul 2, 2007
Messages
7,956
Location
London/ Kilifi Kenya
Aircraft
Gyrs, RAF 2000/Mgni/Bnsn/Hrnet/Mrlin/Crckt/MT-03/Lyzlle AV18-A/Prdtor. Pax ArrowCopter
Total Flight Time
100+ gyro, 16,000+ other
Great accounts as always Vance, love the pictures. Both are sharp and clear.

Whenever I see some pilot whose performance is less than stellar I try to remember myself as that white knuckled seventeen year old on an early solo cross country with just enough knowledge to really hurt myself and not very confident about anything. :)
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,440
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Glad to have you along Martin.

Glad to have you along Martin.

thank you Vance for all the good flying story and beautiful picture

You are welcome Martin.

It was much easier to take good pictures from The Predator compared to the Cavalon because of the reflections from the windows in the Cavalon.

All I had to do to take nice pictures from The Predator was rest my camera on the top of the windscreen and click away.

In the Cavalon if I am flying into the sun it is very hard to get a good picture.

My wife takes much better pictures from either gyroplane because she has an artist’s eye.

Thank you, Vance
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,440
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Glad to have you along Leigh!

Glad to have you along Leigh!

Great accounts as always Vance, love the pictures. Both are sharp and clear.

Whenever I see some pilot whose performance is less than stellar I try to remember myself as that white knuckled seventeen year old on an early solo cross country with just enough knowledge to really hurt myself and not very confident about anything. :)

Thank you Leigh, pictures were easier to manage in The Predator.

I report on fewer flights in Puff (the Cavalon) because of the reflections from the windows.

The beginning of writing about a flight for me is to look and see if I took good pictures that help to tell the story. Once I have the pictures picked out the story sort of writes itself by describing what is in the pictures and the emotions they evoked.

Without pictures I do not have the words to tell the story.

Overconfidence is still my nemesis Leigh.

I work to quell overconfidence on every flight and struggle to remember that just because it worked out last time doesn’t mean it was a good aviation decision.

Thank you, Vance
 

StanFoster

Active Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2003
Messages
16,980
Location
Paxton, Il
Aircraft
Helicycle N360SF
Total Flight Time
1250
Vance- You battling over confidence was an underlying feeling in my gut that made me start to get uneasy flying my Helicycle....even though it was continuing to run perfectly. It was one of several small reasons why I decided to walk away .

You are an amazing tenacious person , and that is what it takes to continually overcome your confidence. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Stan
 

Resasi

Gold Supporter
Joined
Jul 2, 2007
Messages
7,956
Location
London/ Kilifi Kenya
Aircraft
Gyrs, RAF 2000/Mgni/Bnsn/Hrnet/Mrlin/Crckt/MT-03/Lyzlle AV18-A/Prdtor. Pax ArrowCopter
Total Flight Time
100+ gyro, 16,000+ other
Vance, while overconfidence is a detriment, confidence in one's ability to cope with an unraveling situation is also important.

We spend our lives honing the skills that keep us alive, and you, more than most do that.

Your improvement in the abilities to both putting into words, and show us the environment that you enjoy so much, has been a progression that has been a real pleasure to watch, and inspiration to many.

It has been a great delight to watch, read, follow and meet you. I along with a large number of others continue to enjoy your thoughtful, quiet and sensible contributions to the forum. If there have been some who have appeared thin skinned, or a little slow, it is probably because they have been just that.

But then it's a big world out there and not everyone likes chocolate. Have a great day. :)
 
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