More fun flying The Predator.

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
I could see the mountains in the mist on the other side of the Santa Maria Valley from my office window and poor visibility usually means gentle winds. It seemed like a good day to fly.

Somehow projects slowed me down and I didn’t launch till 10:30.

I started working through a careful preflight and The Predator soon looked good to go.

Lockheed Martin had winds light and variable for the next several hours with six miles visibility most of the day. There was a storm stalled off shore with no precipitation expected along my route to Camarillo.

I called Spencer to see if he could have lunch and left a message with an ETA of around 1:00. Spencer holds the world record for inverted flat spins and is a CFI mostly for aerobatics. He seems to always show up with some interesting friends.

I slowed down a little when I didn’t reach Spencer and decided a little more gas would be a good thing rather than stopping at Santa Barbara for gas. I topped her off and taxied to 30 for a right down wind to the east. She had burned five and a half gallons an hour when I was wandering around aimlessly at forty to forty five knots.

It seemed like perfect flying weather and SMX was strangely deserted. I called for Santa Barbara ATIS on my cell phone and figured it would probably change before I got there. Run up went well and as soon as I called the tower holding short of three zero, ready for departure I was greeted with “Experimental 142 Mike Golf runway 30 clear for takeoff, right down wind approved. Have a nice flight Vance!” How can I miss?

I started gently climbing to the 3,500 feet I would need for the San Marcos pass and was at 3,000 feet and about 12 miles out when an inbound RV was asked to “turn 20 degrees right for opposite direction traffic, an experimental gyroplane at your altitude.” For some reason he turned 20 degrees left and the tower admonished him for turning right into me. I pulled the power to idle and pointed the nose at the ground dropping down quickly and he passed right over the top of me. The tower apologized profusely and I told him I thought he was doing a great job of looking out for me. ”It only works when they follow directions!” He grumbled. I don’t think he would have hit me but it is hard to know. Somehow aircraft look a lot closer up in the air.

Everything looked strangely distant and somewhat mysterious in the mist as I wandered along at 2,250 rpm. I love the sound the Lycoming makes at that rpm; sort of a relaxed but purposeful rumble. The demeanor of The Predator was generally easygoing and capable in the relatively calm air. The temperature was just right. My recently rebuilt headset was doing a great job of making the world seem peaceful.

I reached 3,500 feet well before it was time to call Santa Barbara approach so I backed off on the throttle a little more just as I was getting into some light turbulence. I called approach from 20 miles out requesting to transition his airspace over the San Marcos pass and a nice lady was handling that sector. She gave me a squawk code and altitude was verified. A regional jet at 8,500 feet reported a hang glider over the San Marcos VOR at his altitude and another was reported at 6,500 feet.

I found out why over the pass, it was all I could do to pull her back and stay at 3,500 feet. The cool ocean air felt good on my face and I asked for a decent to 2,000 feet. “Experimental two Mike Golf, remain at or above 3,500 feet for traffic.” After about 15 miles I heard; “altitude restriction canceled; descend at pilot’s desecration.” I was searching the skies for the hang gliders so my descent was slow. I never saw even one.

It is time for bed so I will continue this tomorrow.
 

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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Heroes and Friends!

Heroes and Friends!

As I started to lose Santa Barbara approach on the radio I asked for radar services to be terminated and was told to contact Point Magu. I asked again and was told again. I am too low there to reach Magu so after about four tries I squawk 1200 and checked the ATIS at Camarillo over Lake Casitas.

I began listening to Camarillo ATC from 20 miles out and I was surprised they weren’t busier on such a lovely day to fly. The mountains just before my descent are a little intimidating with lots of wires and few flat places to land.

I contacted the tower from ten miles to the North, North West descending through 2,000 feet; inbound for runway 26 to land with Tango. “Experimental 142 Mike Golf, make right down wind for runway 26; report a two mile forty five.” As I flew over the Saticoy Bridge there was a Cessna that reported he was exactly where I was but I did not see him. About the time I entered the class delta airspace I heard “Experimental two Mike Golf number two behind the Cessna, runway 26 clear to land, follow the Cessna; report in sight.” I couldn’t find the Cessna and flew the pattern until I saw him on short final. He missed his turn off at Bravo and I had to nearly stop to keep from having to go around as he wandered down the runway to Charlie.

All my landing practice paid off with a nice gentle touchdown right at the taxiway. I was told to call ground and he asked what were my intentions. I asked to taxi to restaurant parking and was told to take taxiway foxtrot to restaurant parking.

All this procedure used to intimidate me but now it feels good to manage it well.

It was nearly thirteen hundred as I found a spot and backed her in. As I worked my way through my shutdown list to my surprise Spencer walked up and said he and Bill (an 82 year old aerobatic pilot and CFI) just got a table. As it turned out Spencer was giving Bill his flight review in a Cessna 140 when I called and got the message when they landed just in time to get a table at the Way Point Cafe.

I feel like I am standing (or eating) with giants. I learn so much from these two.

As usual lots of local luminaries stopped by the table and lunch was great.

Spencer was going to fly a plane to Chino for a friend and as we looked her over and we both had reservations. He called his friend and they may end up pulling the wings off and trailering her to Chino.

We stopped by Spencer’s hangar and he showed me how nicely the controls work in his Pitts S2. What a difference maintained makes. The stick was silky smooth and fell forward from the weight of the elevators. I would love to have a gyroplane with controls like that. The Predator’s cyclic is smooth but lacks the feel of precision that Spencer’s stick had and the control forces are much higher with the rotor stopped.

I headed off to the pilot shop at Channel Islands Aviation and they were out of the new Airport Facilities Guide. Mine expired on the 15th and I like to keep a current one on board. The air conditioning felt nice as I called Lockheed Martin. I found I would have a head wind most of the way; sometimes as much as seventeen knots. I decided to stop at Santa Paula for some of their $3.999 a gallon gas (SMX is $4.49 & SS at CMA is $490) and say hello to AL Ball.

After a preflight I called ATIS and then ground for a taxi to runway 26 for a right crosswind departure to the North. “Experimental 142 Mike Golf, Golf two to Golf, Alpha.” I was careful to read it back exactly as they said it because Camarillo is very rigid about read backs.

As I performed my run up I watched a plane takeoff without a run up sounding very ratty. I called ground; “run up complete; taxi to runway 26.” I contacted the tower holding short of runway 26; ready for departure. “Experimental 142 Mike Golf, runway 26 clear for takeoff, no delay early right turn out approved.” I was off quickly in the ten knot wind and turned right at 900 feet. Shortly I heard; “Two Mike Golf frequency changed approved; thanks for the help; have a nice flight!”

I was soon over the Saticoy Bridge announcing on the Santa Paula CTAF. I announced the Junkyard and shortly a yellow Cessna called in over the junkyard. I told him he could pass me on the left because I was slow moving at 80kts of ground speed. He reported traffic in sight and he would stay number two. I love it when there is real communication over the common traffic advisory frequency. I was careful to not let my guard down because of the many aircraft without an operating radio around Santa Paula. I called the golf course, turning base and turning final. The Cessna extended his downwind as we announced clear of runway two two within a hundred feet of the threshold. It is like a big parking lot with no separation between the runway and the rest of the field and a displaced threshold.

The rotor slowed as we taxied toward the north pump but a Twin Beach had pushed back and was just starting up so I headed for the south pump to keep from blocking him.

A windy, overcast flight back to Santa Maria.
 

Attachments

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
A windy overcast flight back to Santa Maria.

A windy overcast flight back to Santa Maria.

After filling up I pushed The Predator to the transient parking and discovered Al Ball was nowhere to be found.

As I walked back I was waved down by a fellow who was just fascinated with The Predator and asked a lot of good questions. He was even more excited when I told him I was a CFI and I may have another student. It felt good to say; “I am a gyroplane CFI.”

I still have not gotten over the excitement of reaching that goal. I am still working on the right demeanor for that phrase. I need to make up some new business cards.

I am still waiting to hear back from Michael about the availability of a training aircraft form Air Gyro.

My new friend had asked a lot of questions about short take offs so I did a short field takeoff as he watched from his friends Cessna.

After dodging some traffic we headed over the mountains toward Lake Casitas and the San Marcos Pass climbing to a westerly VFR cruising altitude of 4,500 feet. The mist was a little harder to see through making picture taking a little harder. The pictures don’t represent the experience. The air was warm and turbulent.

The winds aloft forecast had been accurate with 70 knots indicated air speed showing 53 knots of ground speed.

I love feeling 4,500 foot mountains on my right and the Pacific ocean on my left as The Predator moves slowly across the sky. I feel like a have a very special perspective on the world.

I returned to reality long enough to call Santa Barbara approach and one of my favorite controllers was on station.

He gave me a transponder code and altitude was verified. My transition was approved.

The calm waters and the overcast skies made a wonderful silvery path across the Pacific.

Approach was reporting traffic to a Piper and he actually said; “experimental autogyro at your twelve o’clock opposite direction four miles”. I don’t recall hearing that from a controller and was even more surprised when the Piper replied; “looking for the autogyro”.

I was already over the pass and asked to begin my descent for traffic. It worked out great with the Piper passing well above me. “Experimental two Mike Golf, I have lost you on radar; radar services terminated; squawk 1200, have a nice flight!” I descended to 2,000 feet (600 feet AGL) over Lake Cachuma and wandered casually over the hills to Santa Maria. It looked like it might rain and I found it all very relaxing until I saw a flash of color and movement at my ten o’clock and an older high wing monoplane passed 300 feet below me. I know I have seen that plane at Santa Ynez but I can’t recall when. His flight path would have taken him straight into rising terrain and the mountains so I don’t know where he was headed.

I found some turbulence about 15 miles east of Santa Maria and called from ten miles out descending through 1,500 feet. I was to head straight for the numbers and report three miles. I slowed down a little to savor the end of a lovely flight and the taxi to the hangar was sort of dream like. It seems I can shift out of high alert quickly.

I spent almost 45 minutes in the afterglow until a friend stopped by to say hello.

I wasn’t ready for it to end so I performed a careful post flight and cleaned her up a little.

It was three hours and six minutes of very enjoyable flying with an average speed of 57 knots and a maximum speed of 82kts (94 miles per hour). I managed to have a head wind both directions.

My love of flight continues to grow and I find at a loss to express the magnitude of those feeling.

Thank you for coming along and sharing the fun.
 

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j bird

Gold Supporter
Vance, I enjoyed that wonderful flight with you, all the way there and all the way back. Thank you and good night.
 

EI-GYRO

21st Century Crankhandler
Normal service has been resumed;

Normal service has been resumed;

I enjoyed the trip too.

And congrats on the CFI thing also.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Thank you Jay and Fergus I am glad to have you along.

I worry sometimes that I have written so many times of this flight and have photographed close to the same 90 mile route enough to where it will not be fun to read. That fear is tempered by the unique joy I find on each flight.

It is still nice to hear from people that are riding along and sharing the fun.

I still have memories of how challenging this flight can be when I was learning to manage things.

I used to find Santa Barbara’s Class C air space very intimidating and had to train them on the capabilities and limitations of a gyroplane. Now I feel like I am friends with most of them and was not particularly challenged when the one wanted me to stay on flight following in an area where it wouldn’t work.

The different protocol at Camarillo used to be challenging and now I just go with it. We had a good controller on Saturday so it may not always go that well. Camarillo is an FAA training tower with older, less capable radar equipment and I need to make allowances for that. They announce on ATIS to give ground the direction of flight rather than the tower. The have a particular challenge with the nearby abutting Oxnard class D airspace. All the traffic from nearby Santa Paula adds to their workload. They are the only ground I know that wants me to tell them when my run up is complete before moving into line for takeoff and contacting the tower.

Santa Paula is unique with the mountains so close to the downwind and all the antique aircraft operating NARDO. They have unique pattern procedures and reporting points that are not listed in the AFD.

It is fun to imagine the joy the pilots I train will have when they have mastered the nuances. I will encourage them to meet with the controllers at each towered airport they fly into.

The Predator being open enhances my experiences of flying on such a nice day compared to an enclosed machine like the Cavalon. I love the feel of the sea air on my face and the different smells as I fly low over the country side. If the rain had come on shore The Predator would have been less fun and I would have been wet.
 
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rcflier

Junior Member
Vance, it's so nice you can now relax and tell of your flights again.

I did miss them when you were wound up so tight that you didn't have the resources.

For me still on the ground it's like being up there with you. Thank you.

Cheers
Erik

BTW: The 15th of November is the 75th birthday of Rønne Airport (RNN) and some people have been invited. The local club with some vintage "KZ" planes and also some Ryan RV.
And I was just called up by the ATC an hour ago, that I could invite some gyros also. I had to ask, although they have no connection to the airspace of Bornholm. But the more, the merrier.
So now I'll call the chairman of our gyro union and also send an email to the swedes. After all, they are close to us and very nice people.

BTW, I'm the chairman of our local RC model flying club. We have been invited by the Rønne Airport authorities to show up,
make an exhibit and for me to fly my large-ish 3D electric helicopter. The other club on our small island have a member who flies a turbine jet.
The ATC wants both of us to do demo flights. And we should have some R/C planes on stand by also. I'm crossing my fingers, hoping the weather will be adequate or maybe even good.
 
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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Nice to have you along Erik!

Nice to have you along Erik!

I don’t think of specific direction of resources as being wound up tight.

I miss some of the excitement of the mission and at the same time I enjoy the less purposeful flying too.

It is hard for me to not have fun flying a gyroplane.

Your interaction with the airport is exciting Erik.

Most of the airshows I have flown have an RC club flying.

In the last Cable air show I flew at the same time as the RC club. They were supposed to stay below 400 feet above the ground and I was to remain at or above 500 feet agl. It didn’t work out and I very nearly hit a Large RC biplane at 600 feet AGL.

Be sure to coordinate with ATC so you don’t have a similar incident and attend the pilots briefing to make certain they know what you are doing. The air boss at the event may forget to tell the pilots about the interaction. A hand held radio is important for good communication. If there is enough time it is probably better to fly RC when no one else is flying.

In my experience the more aviators I interacted with the more I learned.

Good luck with your event Erik.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Thank you for for coming along Stan.

Thank you for for coming along Stan.

Thanks for continually bringing me along. It feels like I am still flying.
I think of your often as I am flying Stan.

I suspect you would love the beauty and adventure but not like interactions with ATC and the airspace restrictions.

I know you can understand my love of flying better than most.

Thank you for your friendship, it means a lot to me.

You would like Spencer and Bill.
 
Vance- I totally understand the love for flying like you are experiencing. I hated the ATC part of it, and thus only experienced the minimum amount required to get my helicopter rating....then I was out in the sticks and stayed there! But now I am on a shooting team that competes every Thursday night....and we are under strict range officer control....and I love it! Go figure...

I longed for my competitive shooting days that I was involved in pre-rotorcraft days, and there I happily returned. I have time only for one passion to chase outside of family and my stairbuilding.

I doubt you would divide up your flying time and share it with going 300 plus mph on two wheels again.

You are an amazing personality....tough at times for me to figure out, but that's my lack of perception.

Best to you and your gyro training.
 
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okikuma

Member
Hi Vance,

Thanks for taking me on your flight to KCMA & KSZP and back.

I spent all day yesterday working the Wing, Wheels, & Rotors Expo 2015 at Los Alamitos AAF. Long day. I didn't really push for aircraft to visit this year because of the new restrictions imposed on the event (JAG got involved and push liability concerns) so we didn't have any EAA Young Eagle flights nor helicopter flights on the airfield. There wasn't even any RC aircraft demonstrations! The crowd was much smaller this year, and there was only one CA ANG C-130 and one USCG HH-65 on the ramp with one local CA ARNG UH-60 & C-12. The rest of the UH-60s were hidden out of the way in the hangers. Very sad.

A number of the ARNG aviators were asking if you are going to fly in with a gyroplane again this year. I said no, however they were happy to hear that you are now a Gyroplane CFI. My TV Traffic reporter friends missed seeing you there too.

Wayne
 
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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Glad to have you along Wayne!

Glad to have you along Wayne!

Hi Vance,

Thanks for taking me on your flight to KCMA & KSZP and back.

I spent all day yesterday working the Wing, Wheels, & Rotors Expo 2015 at Los Alamitos AAF. Long day. I didn't really push for aircraft to visit this year because of the new restrictions imposed on the event (JAG got involved and push liability concerns) so we didn't have any EAA Young Eagle flights nor helicopter flights on the airfield. There wasn't even any RC aircraft demonstrations! The crowd was much smaller this year, and there was only one CA ANG C-130 and one USCG HH-65 on the ramp with one local CA ARNG UH-60 & C-12. The rest of the UH-60s were hidden out of the way in the hangers. Very sad.

A number of the ARNG aviators were asking if you are going to fly in with a gyroplane again this year. I said no, however they were happy to hear that you are now a Gyroplane CFI. My TV Traffic reporter friends missed seeing you there too.

Wayne
I missed being at the Wings, Wheels and Rotors Expo Wayne.

I thought about the event as I flew along.

My path to Los Alamitos last year was SMX, SZP, WHP and on to SLI so I could pretend I was going.

I learned a lot and have a lot of great memories from that event last year.

I appreciate your efforts to make it happen.

It is sad to hear it does not continue to flourish.

Maybe next year will be better.
 
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okikuma

Member
Hi Vance,

It is my pleasure in helping you fly into Los Alamitos AAF (KSLI) last year with Puff. That was a fun event.

I definitely would like to have more gyroplanes on display, even if the gyros are only trailered into the event (reduces liability concerns).

Perhaps next year will bring less restrictions and more fun available for the public.

Wayne
 

PW_Plack

Active Member
I definitely would like to have more gyroplanes on display, even if the gyros are only trailered into the event (reduces liability concerns).
Wayne, reduces concerns among the organizers, or reduces concerns of their underwriters? I ask because I've seen gyro static displays banned at some shows over concerns about rotor tips and other potential hazards.
 

Doug Riley

Platinum Member
Vance, I admire your patience with (and positive attitude about) all the ATC procedures and jargon. I guess I share most gyronauts' anti-authority streak, for I allow this sort of thing to irritate me.

I've had occasional trouble sequencing with fixed-wingers in the pattern. If I have not talked to them in advance about what to expect, the gyro's steep glide and rapid return to earth causes them to look in the wrong place and/or to complain that the gyro "cut in front" of them. Do you carry partial power on approach to stretch your glide and put the gyro closer to where the FW pilots expect it? Or have you got them all trained in the ways of the gyro?
 

okikuma

Member
Hi Paul,

I think the liability would be no different than any of the other non-aviation displays that were trailered into the event. The USN, USMC, USCG Auxiliary, DEA, DVA, California OES, CAL Fire, & multiple near by municipalities police & fire departments trailered in displays.

Sorry Vance for deviating from the subject of this thread.

Wayne
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
More answer than you asked for Doug.

More answer than you asked for Doug.

Vance, I admire your patience with (and positive attitude about) all the ATC procedures and jargon. I guess I share most gyronauts' anti-authority streak, for I allow this sort of thing to irritate me.

I've had occasional trouble sequencing with fixed-wingers in the pattern. If I have not talked to them in advance about what to expect, the gyro's steep glide and rapid return to earth causes them to look in the wrong place and/or to complain that the gyro "cut in front" of them. Do you carry partial power on approach to stretch your glide and put the gyro closer to where the FW pilots expect it? Or have you got them all trained in the ways of the gyro?
Good Morning Doug, at a pilot controlled airport (no operating control tower) I try to do what a fixed wing pilot will expect.

This answer is much longer than Doug needs. I feel that managing gyroplane operations near an airfield is important enough to be repeated often of the Rotary Wing Forum for those without a lot of experience with airport operations (not Doug) or those who may have developed bad habits.

These are my thoughts.

I often fly the pattern faster, wider and at fixed wing pattern altitude at a pilot controlled field. I fly a much shallower approach and make an effort to touch down at the taxiway so I am off quickly. I frequently include “slow moving” and my ground speed in my announcements if the CTAF is not too busy.

There is a lot of debate about how to enter the pattern at a pilot controlled airfield. I will go to considerable lengths to enter on a left forty-five (unless it is a right pattern listed in the airport facilities directory or indicated by the ground markings) and fly a standard pattern making the suggested calls.

Part of my flight planning is to plan a pattern entry at each airport that is near my route of flight.

I am familiar with the advisory that says to avoid the flow of fixed wing traffic and I feel it is not practical at many of the fields I fly into. That is a part of why I fly faster in the pattern at a pilot controlled airfield.

Part of my pre-landing procedure is to make certain my landing lights and anti-collision are on any time I am within a ten mile radius of an airfield.

Each airport is different and I try to plan for that. For example: on the approach to SZP there is a mountain in the way of a forty-five degree entry.

Near Oceano I announce more often because there are so many people flying along the shoreline.

For Oceano if I am coming from San Luis Obispo (SBP) or Santa Maria (SMX) it is not practical to announce from ten miles out the way it is advised in the Aeronautical Information Manuel (AIM) because I am still talking to ATC at the class D airport.

How busy the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) is has a lot to do with how I announce and how many questions I ask.

If someone is giving poor radio and I can’t find them I may ask them for their current location and altitude. The phraseology I use is “negative contact”.

I feel it is a mistake to imagine that the other aircraft are going to give good radio or even be on the CTAF frequency. The regulations do not require an operating radio and announcing is not regulatory.

Many pilot controlled airports have unique reporting points and that is why if it is practical I start listening twenty miles out. If I hear the reporting points enough I will learn to report like a local. Example at Santa Paula instead of downwind it is “over the junk yard” and instead of mid field downwind it is “over the golf course.”

I feel it is unlikely people will read my N number in the pattern so at a pilot controlled field I use white gyroplane for The Predator instead of 142 Mike Golf.

Many tower controlled airports do not have a published rotorcraft pattern altitude so I fly the fixed wing pattern and altitude until I have met with the tower (ATC) and reached an agreement on pattern altitude and protocol.

My way may not be the best way so please spend time thinking about what would work for you and spend some time with a radio at a pilot controlled field you are planning to fly into so you can figure what you feel will work best for you.

I have learned from meeting with ATC that using the correct phraseology is important. It is not a time to try to sound cool like I imagine a fighter pilot would sound although I do try to use my airline captain voice.
 

WaspAir

Supreme Allied Gyro CFI
The big challenge in sequencing at a busy field is timing.

It is much easier to fit in if your pattern is of comparable duration (time) to the patterns of those with whom you are mixing. To do this, and satisfy the recommendation of Advisory Circular 90-66A 9.a.(3) for uncontrolled fields, I make my pattern shorter in distance, but similar in time.

I fly a lower, closer in, slower pattern, than the faster fixed wings. From that placement, I can turn in to land whenever the appropriate gap appears, and I can space my arrival in time to make it work. It keeps me from getting run over from behind (or forcing those behind to slow down), maintains a reasonable glide option for me in case of power failure, and puts me potentially in the field of view of airplane pilots looking toward the runway. I announce a "low, close-in downwind for short approach" on the CTAF. I also can look up and outward to spot the airplanes.

For tower operations, I will fly the sequence that the controller assigns, but not the pattern size of the airplanes, because it would take me out of gliding range of the field. Controllers expect twins to fly a bigger faster pattern that maintains the sequence, and I do the same with a smaller shorter pattern. It provides the proper spacing in time without disrupting anybody else. If a tower controller appears unfamiliar with the aircraft type or performance, I advise "STOL capable, short approach preferred."

P.S. I land at a turn-off for a taxiway and get clear of the runway, pronto.
 

okikuma

Member
J.R.,

I like your methodology in pattern sequencing. It is well thought out and it works.

As more and more fixed wing pilots add on gyroplane ratings, and fly the current batch of European gyroplanes with long distance XC capability, they will continue to fly for that "$100 hamburger" with their gyroplane as they did with their fixed wing aircraft. Inevitably, they will fly into more and more busier controlled airports. Gyroplanes are very hard to see from the air. Flying a closer pattern inside the "normal" fixed wing pattern definitely minimizes a chance of midairs, and maintains proper sequencing.

Wayne
 
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