A Tale of Two Cities


Active Member
Oct 25, 2020
Columbia SC
YG4 Air Command Tandem
Total Flight Time
800 hrs
Typical evening at CUB airport, this is just what's staying the night - everything on the ramp at 6:00 PM. Far more high-speed traffic came and went earlier, the last one to leave was the Bombardier in the first photo - which inspired me to shoot the rest of the jets over-nighting at CUB as it passed by my hanger while I was installing a new Air-Fuel Ratio sensor & meter in preparation to boost HP very soon...

As you can see, LOTS more jets & multi engines than little high-wings. Like I said above, this is pretty typical here.

1 Bombardier BD100 2019.JPG2 LearJet 31A 2009.JPG3 Cessna 560 Citation 1990.JPG4 Smith Aerostar 1970.JPG5 Cessna 650 1994 .JPG6 King Air.JPG7 Cessna 560 1990.JPG8 Cessna 650 1994 .JPG9 Cessna 150G 1966.JPG10 Cessna 140 1946.JPG

When I am flying the Gunslinger gyrocopter in the CUB pattern I begin to pick up radio chatter from others at 12 miles out, and they receive me at 10 miles, so we have plenty of time to set up and coordinate landings and pattern traffic. I've never once encountered anything but the utmost courtesy and professionalism with any of our pilots, be they small private planes, corporate multi-engine turbofan or jets, military or MediVac helos.

Perhaps that daily dose of courtesy and professionalism over the years has lulled me into expecting too much when I leave CUB and venture off on a cross country to a fly-in 100 miles away. As I approached one distant destination airport I started calling my "gyrocopter approach from the South, 5 miles out" while going about 85 mph. At two miles out I called my intention to "gyrocopter cross over midfield at 1500 feet, joining downwind pattern to full-stop landing". As I encroached I called, "gyrocopter crossing midfield at 1500 to left downwind, RW_x_".

Immediately following this came a radio call, "Carbon Cub on base leg to final, full stop landing."

I responded, "Carbon Cub, what is your distance and altitude?" No reply. I called again, "Cub, I don't see you and I am on left downwind for full stop landing, where are you?" No response. I called for the third time, "Cub, where are you? I am turning right to crosswind at 1000 feet, will extend onthis leg until I have you in sight." I flew two more miles like this before the plane finally came into view, and called, "Cub I have you in sight, turning left downwind to follow you in."

As he turned to land the pilot called, "Carbon Cub turning left short final for full stop landing RW _x_".

That was the first rude pilot I'd encountered since I last attended Bensen Days seven years ago 2015.

The following morning I discovered that someone had slashed and destroyed my custom-made rotor tie-down strap.

The next day I noticed that the plane that was acting strangely when I arrived was parked on the grass with two men standing under the wing, so I went over to introduce myself. "Hey, how are you guys doing? Somebody call Sarah Palin, I've found her plane", I joked. Neither of them laughed.

"This isn't Sarah Palin's plane, it's his," the guy closest to me said with a sneer, nodding to the other fellow.

"Oh, well, really nice plane, my name's Greg Mills," I said, extending my hand. Neither of them took it. The owner took out his phone and appeared to take a call, though it never rang, turned and walked away.

The other guy said, "he gets important phone calls like that all the time and has to take them."

"Oh, I see. Who is he?"

"That's [name withheld]."

"Ah, OK, that explains a lot. I was just wondering what happened when we arrived here together the other day, did you receive my radio calls OK?"

"We heard you."

He and I chatted about what the pilot's line of work was and the airplane, but as it became obvious that the pilot was not going to finish up his "important phone call" and return to chat, I ended the conversation and politely excused myself.

Later that same day I was flying alone around a favorite field nearby when I came upon a downed gyro in the middle of it, a John Deere close by, and the pilot and farmer standing together below me as I circled and tried to raise the pilot on the radio to no avail. I called again to the airport and reported my location, then headed straight back to land and help with taking care of the downed pilot and gyro.

As I approached and called, "Red gyrocopter approaching on base leg to right short final full stop landing, RW _x_", I realized there was a gyro on the active spinning up to take off, a second gyro on the end approach waiting to take off, and a third gyro flying between the active and taxi. This guy did a steep downwind dive to just off the deck, did some quick, tight Esses, then swoop-climbed up and over the gyro on the approach at no more than 20 feet AGL, turned abruptly, diving back down to just off the deck upwind as the gyro on the active started rolling for TO.

I didn't think much of it. This was, after all, a gyrocopter fly-in where cowboys abound.

I called, "Right turn to upwind, orbital pattern to the left of the active to allow gyro room to take off, then crossing midfield at 200 AGL." As I turned and called "Right crosswind", the cowboy flying between the pavements did an upwind swoop climb, hammerhead turn, then dove back downwind to the grass as the second waiting gyro pulled out onto the active to spin up. I called and flew downwind over the taxiway, to right base, then right upwind orbit to left of active to clear second gyro for take off, then right crosswind crossing midfield at 200 feet.

As I crossed the midfield the flying cowboy called, "_____ gyro turning right crosswind", but instead of turning he climbed straight at me to a closing distance of 30 feet, a truly alarming, unexpected encroachment by any standard. I passed and left him behind, called and started my "Turn to downwind over the taxiway" as I spotted the cowboy turning inside of me, not doing another hammerhead turn back to the grass, cutting me off from flying over the taxiway and forcing out between the blacktop and the hangers. I called several more times that I would be landing for full stop as he continued to fly just inside of, and below, my pattern, forcing me out from lining up on final to an outside orbital upwind to left of active. I got very upset and called, "Will the ______gyro please join the pattern, fly predictably, and allow some of us to land."

That night as I sat in a golf cart drinking a brew and chatting to friends I spotted the cowboy and called out by name to come over and join me. I politely described the earlier situation to him from my perspective and my reason for needing to land quickly.

He denied doing anything wrong, insisting he never flew erratically, or over parked traffic on the approach, that he never flew aggressively nor impeded my pattern or attempts to land, and that at no time did he fly downwind over the grass between the pavements.

Now understand, clearly, that every other pilot that I have ever had an uncomfortable incursion experience with has always acknowledged the absolute truth of any situation, and we have always been able to manage a peaceful discussion about it. To have this man, whom I have always regarded with the utmost respect up to this point, stand before me and lie to my face regarding his actions and thus call me a liar, was intolerable.

I told him he was full of BS and to go f_k himself. It ruined my evening. I left the party and flew home the following morning.

Since this time I have been told that I am a bad actor because I, "Screamed at the [cowboy] and at [the guy with the airplane]."

* * * * *​

I wrecked my gyro in 2016. I attended the local fly-ins from then on with nothing to fly.

One pilot made a snide remark to me that, "Some of us have never crashed a gyro". Shortly after, he totaled his gyro, right off the RW, after his Subaru ate lunch. Other than that everything was great, no irritating encounters or nasty remarks whatsoever.

Never had any social problems, no uncomfortable situations nor confrontations with anyone. In 2020 I got my gyro back in the air, flew off the first 30 minutes on it then trailered it to the fly-in.

The first day there I saw a man whom I regarded as an old friend and went over to talk to him. He got angry, called my gyro a "piece of shit", and told me he was ready to race me any time. Having less than an hour on my gyro, I wasn't comfortable pushing it for any contests so I got up and walked away without another word.

The morning after the fly-in, before heading home, this guy stood up in front of perhaps a dozen of us, declaring,"You never see a Yamaha fly cross country. That's because they can't, they are unreliable, they are junk."

I was taken aback, mostly because the night before he led me to believe he was burying the hatchet, that whatever it was that had him mad at me to begin with (which turned out was nothing I ever said or did to him, but rather something I'd said about another pilot, omg we're in jr hi) he was going to let it go.

The next year I flew the Gunslinger to the fly-in. The night before returning home I did my pre-flight and topped up the oil and fuel. The dipstick is right next to the oil return hose. Upon arriving back at CUB I did my post-flight to check for cracks, leaks, damage, anything missing, etc. When I pulled the dipstick to check for consumption I saw that someone had taken the clamp off of the oil return hose and moved it up the line, off of the oil tank nipple.

I added tie wraps to all hose clamps after that, to make it impossible to move them without cutting off the ties, going forward.

I can't replace the tie down strap my wife made for me though.
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My first fly-in was a hell of a lot worse!
In 2017 ...after being a static display gyro at Oshkosh UL field booth then moving on to Mentone.....my first flight at Mentone was pretty exciting ... as soon as I was airborne ...it yawed hard right ...I flew a quick pattern with full L pedal ...trying to analyze what the HELL????? I thought I'd overtightened the teeter nut! ...after a close inspection ....the rudder trim tab had been carefully & fully reversed ...angled right instead of left!!

I knew when I loaded it in the trailer from home it was flying perfectly & balanced! After examining the many pictures I'd taken of it on display during the week at OSH ..I could see that the tampering had been done the first night after my arrival ...when it was unloaded & hidden from public view on the backside of my trailer ...while I prepared to set up canopy on public-view side of trailer! ALL of us totally missed SEEING the reversed trim tab ...and a LOT of experienced gyro-flyers were helping me with the booth!

I believe some nefarious :devilish::poop: - not knowing I had no intention of demo flying it out of the UL field wanted to "see some excitement "...or worse - considering the tight, unforgiving conditions ...flying that field! :mad:
So glad ...for all the space & light winds at Mentone to sort it out to a safe landing & then noticed the problem!
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What an awful experience. Glad you made it.

Just one thing I don't understand. My trim tab is to the left to help push the rudder to the right - just like yours.

I'd think reversing the trim tab (to the right) would give some left rudder, so you would have to give more right rudder than usual.

Where am I wrong?