A spot landing contest at Santa Ynez.


Gyroplane CFI
Oct 30, 2003
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
OOPS! It is late and I intended to post this in the thread More Fun Flying The Predator. I will do that now. Sorry about the double post.

I got an email from Lloyd; the president of EAA chapter 491 that they were going to have a Spot Landing contest Saturday at 10:30 at Santa Ynez (IZA).

I replied weather permitting I would be there.

It was not looking good with Santa Maria (SMX) 300 feet overcast at 9:00.

I headed for the hangar anyway with plan B going to the EAA meeting in San Luis Obispo at 11:30.

At 10:00 the sky magically turned blue and the airport beacon stopped going around. It was very sudden.

I had already checked the weather and VFR was not recommended along my route of flight.

There was a notice to airmen (NOTAM) that the AWOS at Santa Ynez was not reliable.

There was a distinct haze but visibility was still 10 miles plus.

IZA is twenty six nautical miles South East of SMX and there was no way I was going to launch in less than ten minutes so I decided late was ok.

Run up went well and we were soon off right down wind to the South East.

I ran her up to 75kts indicated air speed and climbed to 2,000 feet to get above the mist but ground speed was 56kts for most of the way climbing to 86kts for the last five miles before turning along the river.

There were six aircraft in the pattern and they were all giving amazingly good radio.

I located all but one who was over the top of me and directly in the sun. He decided to make a big overhead cycle till the traffic died down. We all managed to sequence properly in a surprisingly short time. I was number four behind a Maul. I was off quickly and beat the Maul to transient parking.

The flight distance ended up being thirty four nautical miles and I was fifteen minutes late. Lloyd was nowhere to be seen and they were setting up the barbeque and tables.

At 10:50 Lloyd showed up and started working on the rules and score sheet. I was all for a don’t touch the throttle or dead stick but someone with more experience prevailed. Three tries and short meant you hit the carrier and didn’t count. They had the runway marked out so they could easily determine where the mains touched down and had five judges.

The new start time of 11:00 came and went and I moved for after lunch as participants were still showing up. 12:30 was the new fantasy as we enjoyed a very nice lunch.

A little after 1:00 they launched the first flight of three as I warmed up The Predator. I was in the second flight because I needed more warm up.

The winds were picking up with a distinct gusting crosswind.

There were seven aircraft landing before we could launch. We were first off in the second flight of three and my first landing was the best.

I thought we had hit the spot but we missed it by a foot.

Second landing I was going to set her down more aggressively and a gust caught us and we floated to almost 25 feet long. The third and I hit the carrier (about a foot short).

I secured The Predator and went to watch. I was amazed at how good some of the landings were under the conditions.

One particularly stylish RV hit the carrier all three times with elegant landings.

My friend Joe with his Aeronca did the same.

The results were announced and Shy repurposed a trophy that she had won for the best not a Cub at the Cub Fly In in Lompoc.

A nice young man caught all three landings on his phone and promised to send me the video. The slow motion one looked quite graceful. I will post it if he comes though.

Most there had never seen The Predator fly and had nice things to say.

I had a lot of fun flying The Predator.


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