It is cold at 7,000 feet!

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
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Nipomo,California
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Givens Predator
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I just returned from a lovely flight to nowhere.

Today is the last day for me to fly solo before I head off for Bensen Days so I really wanted to fly. I didn’t fly yesterday because of 20kt winds gusting to 30kts.

The ceiling was below 1,500 feet until afternoon and then the wind started to come up.

I was going to fly to Santa Ynez until Lockheed Martin said the VFR was not recommended because of mountain obscuration. I asked them about heading north to SBP and it looked good that way. I would be returning at 20:30 Z and it still looked good. The winds were forecast at 300 degrees 15kts gusting to 20kts.

I called that I was ready for a straight out departure to the North West. I would be number two behind the Brazillia. When I was cleared for takeoff ATC gave me a gratuitous wind check of 270 degrees, 20kts gusting to 28kts.

I flew the runway at 30kts ground speed climbing steeply. The wind seemed steady and I was almost 1,000 feet by the end of the runway. There was a Stationair behind me also on a straight out departure and ATC asked me to make a slight left. I reported the Stationair in sight at my 3:00 high.

The flight to the beach wasn’t that bumpy but I was showing 23kts of ground speed at 50kts indicated airspeed. The air was cold and moist and I dropped down to 500 feet as I headed up the beach. I reported,”Oceano area traffic, Experimental gyroplane 142 Mike Golf 5 miles to the south, transitioning to the north along the coastline at 500 feet and 20kts." The wind seemed to be getting stronger. I reported every mile and my speed varied between 20kts and 24kts at 50kts indicated airspeed. I was pointed 45 degrees left of my flight path.

Along the way up the beach a radio controlled delta wing aircraft flew very close.

Eventually I reached the Pismo Pier and called that I was changing frequency. I checked the ATIS at SBA and winds were at 300 degrees at 18kts gusting to 32kts. I decided to head north east over Grover Beach toward the mountains.

I advanced the throttle and climbed quickly as I skirted the edge of the heavily populated area. I backed off the throttle to 2,400 rpm as I approached the hills and continued to climb. I followed the ridgeline for a half hour heading south and east. I soon found myself at 5,500 feet. The hills kept getting higher so I advanced the throttle to 2,500 rpm and leaned her out for 2,550 rpm. I continued to climb.

SMX was 12 nautical miles due east as I climbed through 6,500 feet. I had been flying for an hour and a half so it was time to head home. Two miles later I was at 7,100 feet. My world had expanded as the mountains disappeared into the mist and the ocean looked cold and distant. I savored the enormity of the experience.

“Santa Maria Tower, experimental gyroplane 142 Mike Golf, 10 miles to the east descending through 7,000 feet, inbound to land with Oscar.”

“Experimental 142 Mike Golf report 2 miles,” was the reply.

There was a long pause and then, “how high will that thing go? You usually are a lot lower!”

“Experimental 142 Mike Golf, I am not sure.”

After laughter, “Roger that!”

I pulled the power back to idle, pulled carburetor heat and began descending at a little over 1,100 feet per minute with 26kts of ground speed at 55kts indicated airspeed. We seemed still in the air and I began to wonder if I would reach pattern altitude before I reached the airspace. I realized that at 26kts ground speed it would take me 12 minutes to travel the 5 miles to the class Delta airspace. As slow as I fly they like to have me at 800 feet so I had room to spare. It still seemed to take a very long time to get down. The engine was quite and my ears popped several times. It all seemed surreal.

When I reported 2 miles I was cleared to land and given another wind check, 270 degrees at 22kts gusting to 36kts. The first landing was uneventful until I started rolling backward. I added power and the second landing was nice too.

The flight to nowhere lasted a little over two hours. I am still high from it.

I love flying!

Thank you, Vance
 
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scott heger

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Vance,
I was getting a nosebleed just reading this. I have taken my "little" 582 SportCopter to 9800 feet. It is quite a sight looking down at almost two miles below you in a open cockpit gyro. The last 1,000 feet took longer than the whole rest of the climb. The only mistake I made, was I did it in the summertime and was only wearing a short sleeve tshirt and cargo shorts. Damn was it cold when I reached the top!!!! I am sure that badboy machine of yours will climb up to that altitude also.

Have fun at B-Days, and be careful out there.

Scott Heger, Laguna Niguel,Ca N86SH
 

ckurz7000

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Vienna
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Thanks for the story, Vance! It reminded me of similar experiences I had and painted a smile across my face. It's those common emotions and experiences that unite us as a community.

Hoping to meet you soon, -- Chris.
 

StanFoster

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Vance- Once again your love of life takes your experiences tp the top. Thanks for being such an uplifting person and sharing with us. See ya at BDays. Stan
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
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Nipomo,California
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Givens Predator
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Thank you Robert, I think you are able to fill in the color from your own flying adventures. I struggle to find the words to help share my passion of the flight.

We should have kept climbing Scott; then I would know “how high that thing will go”.

I had throttle left and when we landed we still had 8 gallons of gas on board.

Ed and I are both looking forward to the Bensen Days adventure. I hope to get some training there. We will be driving over 8,000 miles and visiting a lot of great museums. We are particularly looking forward to The Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, the Smithsonian in Chantilly and DC, The American Helicopter Museum in West Chester, The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn and The EAA museum in Oshkosh. Sun N Fun is always fun and educational too. If weather permits we will return over the Loveland Pass, one of the most beautiful places I have been.

Thank you Chris, that is part of the magic of this forum. We are a world apart and we have never spoken, yet our common passion makes us friends. Ed and I look forward to meeting you.

I think you are poking at humor Stan; I will try to be ready for you at Bensen days.

I feel you would have treasured the flight, the world expanding in a glorious way and the strange capricious ambiance as we floated along on the long decent was precious.

Thank you, Vance
 
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mark treidel

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Vance, sounds like a great time to have tried out your new 'space suit'. Always feel like I am flying beside you with your style of writing.....sure enjoy your ventures. Have fun at B/Days. Wish I was going......
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
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Nipomo,California
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Givens Predator
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Thank you Mark, I am glad to have you along.

I get so excited when I fly, I am grateful to have friends to share the adventure with.

I had my flight suit on without the jacket. I had my street clothes on underneath, just a golf shirt and jeans. I had no intention of exploring altitude. I was surprised how well the flight suit managed the cold. I could feel the cold moist air on my face and hands. I was not shivering when I landed and my mouth was still working.

I feel fortunate to take my annual Bensen Days adventure and it is my good luck that Ed can join me.

Thank you, Vance
 
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Steve McGowan

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Gonna Freeze at O'-AGL

Gonna Freeze at O'-AGL

again before Bensen Day's from what the weather channel predicts..

I Know !!..... Next week I'll be crying for it to cool off..

I'll have to second Scotty on this one Vance,, 2.5K is all I've been to with the Sparrow Hawk..

Yes Sir,,, I Skeered
 
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M._Springer

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El Mirage, Ca.
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Years ago I climbed my Bensen with 90. hp Mac to 10,400 ft.

Years ago I climbed my Bensen with 90. hp Mac to 10,400 ft.

Like Scott I made the ascent in summer except I wore regular street clothes , jeans and insulated jacket and still was cold at altitude. The gyro was struggling to climb when I gave it up and enjoyed the ride down.

Vance and Edna, enjoy your trip to Bensen days and beyond.
Marion
 

Vance

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Nipomo,California
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How high will that thing go?

How high will that thing go?

Hello Marion, I wore my flight suit and jacket today to find out what ATC asked me on Thursday.

Only my face was cold. The flight suit and jacket with the fleece lining worked great with just a shirt and Levis underneath.

I wore gloves because I didn’t have to fiddle with the radio.

I called Santa Barbara Approach and asked where they would allow me to climb to however high I could go. They felt that out toward Oceano would be good. They assigned a Squawk code, established radar contact and I was unrestricted.

Oceano is mostly at sea level so as I climbed into the heavens the ground looked very far away. My rotor gets smoother and faster at altitude and I am not able to see it at all.

I was left with a sort of uneasy feeling that if things didn’t work out I would have a long time to think about it.

The rate of climb began to slow down after 6,000 feet and headed west I was making less than 22kts of ground speed at 50kts indicated airspeed. I could not see any movement, either horizontal or vertical. The ground looked to be very far away. I kept leaning her out and was almost full lean when I gave up. My cylinder head temperature was well in the green. I could only get 2,590 rpm when I reached my ceiling.

Santa Barbara Approach called, “Experimental 142 Mike Golf, I show you at 8 thousand 7 hundred feet over Oceano.” I was able to milk another 100 feet out of her and I told approach I would begin to descend. I had been climbing for more than an hour. I still had about 14 gallons on board so I probably could have climbed a little higher as the fuel burned off.

I pulled the power back to idle, pulled carburetor heat and slowed to 25kts indicated airspeed. I showed 0 ground speed on the GPS. We were descending at 1,300 feet per minute almost straight down. Santa Barbara approach said, “Experimental Gyroplane 142 Mike Golf is everything ok? Would you like to declare an emergency?”

I said, “Experimental 142 Mike Golf, everything is fine, thank you for your help, I am headed for Santa Maria via Guadalupe with Romeo VFR!”

Another wonderful flight to nowhere!

Thank you, Vance
 
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Resasi

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Exploring the boundaries is always an adventure Vance. Nice to be along with you on your rides and share your joy.
 

M._Springer

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Vance, Thank you for telling of todays high flight.

Vance, Thank you for telling of todays high flight.

During my own altitude flight I remember thinking how small the gyro and I were to be way up there and that anything else flying up there would be a lot faster than we were and they would never see us...not a really comforting thought so I was happy to finally top out and descend. It took a lot longer going up than it did coming down!

When I told our local FAA inspector of my high flight he said to me, in jest, I hope, that if I continued to do things like that he was going to give me a certificate of insanity!!!

He just might have done that for he had already issued me a certificate of aerobatic competency for gyro flying , even though the gyro isn't aerobatic. The only limitation on the certificate was " Negative G's prohibited".

My hat is off to Bill Clem and Ken Wallis for their altitude flights...they both went a lot higher than I care to in a small gyro!
Marion
 

MarkG

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Hey Vance

I know she'll at least make 8500 ft solo..........

Mark Givans :usa2:
 

GyroCFI

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I've had my Tandem Aircommand up to about 9800, and I think Chuck Roberg had it over 10K. How high did you get it to go Chuck?
 

Chuck Roberg

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I've had my Tandem Aircommand up to about 9800, and I think Chuck Roberg had it over 10K. How high did you get it to go Chuck?
You beat me. I made it to 9,500 before I succumbed to the cold and spiraled down to the warmth below.

I did make it over 10,000 in a Sparrowhawk.
 

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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
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Nipomo,California
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Givens Predator
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Yikes!

Yikes!

To be fair the density altitude was 8,300 feet at 8,800 feet indicated by the altimeter.

Hello Mark, glad to have you along. You designed and built a great machine and I love her. So does Edna and Jim Mayfield. Jim wants her if I die some way that doesn’t destroy the aircraft. Ed wants my Buell.

I did not realize that gyroplane altitude was such a competitive thing. Scott, Marion, Don and Chuck all have me beat. I gave it my best! I am proud to be involved in the same pursuit as these luminaries of the gyroplane world.

I just wanted to be able to tell Mark, one of the SMX controllers, the next time he asked, how high will that thing go?” and I wanted to know if I could fly to Big Bear. I cannot.

Saturday I was back to idle to descend from 4,500 feet, I am still not able to reach Santa Barbara approach on 124.15. They can hear me but I am not able to hear them. I thought it must be an altitude problem because we tested it on the ground and it worked perfectly. I cut the alternator out of the system and that didn’t help either.

I checked with Lockheed Martin and winds were 13, gusting to 19 and not expected to change for several hours. 11 miles south east of SMX I ran into what is estimated at a 50kt wind shear while testing the radio at 3,500 feet in a 30kt head wind with 30kts indicated airspeed. It made the GPS crazy; the screen started rotating with 0 ground speed. Suddenly, without warning the Predator whipped around more than 90 degrees in less than three seconds. I was near the Harris grade. I began to climb without power and my airspeed began to vacillate between 65kts and 0. The rotor made some peculiar hissing thudding noises. The stick felt vague. It felt as though I was balancing on a beach ball. I was not able to descend and I had very little rudder authority. I added power to regain rudder authority and flew about a quarter mile and everything returned to normal. I found this experience disquieting.

I would like to hear from anyone who has had a similar experience or anyone that knows what I should have done to avoid the situation and what should I do to mitigate the result of my poor aviation decision making.

I gave her a very through post flight inspection afterward and the teeter stops looked the same as always and I could not find anything amiss.

Thank you, Vance
 

scott heger

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Marion, I have climbed up nice and high a few times. High enough that I had a 737 pass UNDER me descending to land at SNA while I was over Santiago Peak(I was up checking the snow out on top of the mountain). I could see the jet coming from the east 20 miles away, but they still seem like they are going like hell when they go by. Just a weird sight to see the top of a commercial airliner flying by below a gyro.

Vance,this is not any kind of competitive contest, nor is it meant to be. Modern era gyro pilots are rare enough, the ones that have put at least a mile(or two) between themselves and the earth, is a very small group indeed. I know of many ways to join the "mile high club", they all seem to end with a big smile and a lifelong memory, no matter what you did when you got there!

Big Bear Airport was by far the most challenging airport to fly my gyro into, and would not recommend going to it. Ask me about it next time we see each other.

I have also been caught in a mountain updraft that took me up several thousand feet without any engine power. I was climbing 800 FPM with near zero airspeed and power. The most important thing is to feed some power to the engine/prop so that you can maintain rudder authority and directional stability in that turbulent air. You may think adding power will increase your climb,and is a bad thing, but the rudder authority is much more important, as you found out. It beats being turned sideways when you don't want it. These updrafts will weaken with time and altitude and can be flown out of when you feel comfortable to do it. In the meantime, enjoy the ride. I was unnerved the first time it happened me. If you keep flying around all those mountain ranges that you mention, it will happen again. Just keep your head, and fly the gyro in a straight and level manner with no radical turning or other movements above all else. Vance, you are finding the edges of the flight envelope when the rotorblades start to"talk" to you, be very careful when flying around mountains.....(which motorcycle do I get if it does not work out?)

Scott Heger, Laguna Niguel,Ca N86SH
 
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StanFoster

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Vance- 7700ft. was the highest I ever flew in my SparrowHawk. I was going to go for 10000 ft. sometime, but never tried. Mark Whistler took his Helicycle to 13000 +.......yikes! Stan
 
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