More fun flying The Predator.

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Thank you insights J.R.

Thank you insights J.R.

I too like your methodology.

For me each airport is different and that is why it is part of my flight pattern.

For example it would be hard to do a narrower low pattern at Santa Paula (SZP) because everyone is flying a narrow low pattern.

There are enough slow aircraft at Santa Ynez (IZA) that it is not too disruptive to fly a close pattern. The proximity of the glider port limits the options.

At Buckeye (BXK) I fly and announce a close low pattern.

I fly a close pattern at Flabob (RIR) and so do most of the other aircraft.

At Cable (CCB) they are very busy and very specific about the pattern. Management wants me to fly the same pattern and altitude as the fixed wings and have specific reporting and turning points.

At Spanish Fork (U77) we fly an opposite direction pattern and 500 feet below fixed wing pattern altitude.

I try to describe where I am on the CTAF and do what is expected of any aircraft.

At the controlled airports I fly into most often (SMX & SBP) we have reached an agreement and I fly a close pattern and fly 500 feet below the slow fixed wing pattern altitude.

There is no way to do this at Santa Barbara (SBA) or Camarillo (CMA).

Salinas (SNS) ATC seems to not care how big the pattern is and San Carlos (SQL) ATC seems to want to know exactly.

I feel this is one of the challenges of flying cross country and justifies some planning time.

I assume that everyone in the pattern has never seen a gyroplane fly and make an effort to be seen and predictable.
 

j4flyer

Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2004
Messages
291
Location
Woodland, Ca
If you fly a lower pattern get a copy of all the approaches IFR guys use for that airport. It will give you an idea of direction and altitude the guy practicing the approaches will be using. For example at my airport the guy using the VOR will be coming in from the east at 600 feet. He may not be monitoring the frequency if he has forgotten to change when ATC passes him off. This may intrude on a gyro flying left downwind to runway 18 at 500 feet. It shouldn't be an issue at towered airports.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
I love the flight to San Luis Obispo!

I love the flight to San Luis Obispo!

We had our morning fog and it began to clear around 10:00 so I accelerated working through my tasks in the hope of some nice flying weather. More than 20kt gusting winds were predicted for the afternoon so I wanted to get an early start.

As I started to back out of the garage two men came by wanting to share the word of God and I told them I was on my way to be closer to God as I continued down the driveway.

I mulled this over as I drove to the airport. I find flying expands my spiritual side and helps me appreciate the beauty of the world. It also gives me insight into the order of things. What appears to me to be pandemonium at ground level takes on a serenity and pageantry as viewed from 500 feet above the ground. Even the highways take on a grace and order that I miss when using them as roads. I love the freedom I feel when I enter the heavens. The moment the wheels leave the ground I feel I am entering a magic kingdom.

Preflight went well and Lockheed Martin confirmed what I had learned from Weathermeister. The clock in the hanger showed 11:00 as I pushed The Predator outside. I did a quick inventory before I locked the hangar because more than once I have discovered I have left something inside that I need for the flight.

She started right up and after some stumbling settled down to a steady idle.

I checked the ATIS and called ground with Juliet from Mike for a taxi to runway three zero.

I pulled out my camera early because it is so unusual to see a flaccid wind sock at SMX.

Run up went well after checking my preflight list I called the tower for a straight out departure with a slight right.

“Experimental 142Mike Golf, slight right approved; runway 30 clear for takeoff.”

With no wind the takeoff roll seemed a little long.

The climb out was smooth with none of the usual wandering from turbulence.

I flew direct to San Luis Obispo and was to make what they call a modified dog leg straight in and report the landfill.

This keeps me out of the way of the regional jets until my dog leg to final. It is nonstandard phraseology but it lets all the locals know what is going on and where people are. The landfill is a standard reporting point often covered with seagulls.

There was very little traffic so it seemed a good time to take a picture of short final. I still find the camera a distraction and put it away when I get busy.

Lunch was great with some nice conversations with some interesting people.

I called ground and was to cross runway two nice at echo and follow the RV to self-serve. Unfortunately he was not going to self-serve. Ground apologized and told me Echo, Juliet, Mike to self-serve. I was surprised when The Predator took less than 12 gallons for a little over two hours of flying. I had been flying pretty flying pretty fast coming back from Santa Paula and she usually consumes more than six gallons an hour when I up the indicated air speed.

I checked ATIS and wind was 290 at ten knots and called ground for a taxi to runway two nine full length.

“Experimental Gyroplane 142 Mike Golf taxi via Mike and hold short of runway 29 on the compass rose.”

Half way along Mike a pretty strong gust hit me suggesting the winds had arrived prematurely.

A SkyWest CRJ-200 was lining up for takeoff and I heard ground give him a wind check of 270 degrees at 20kts gusting to 29kts as we were sitting on the compass rose.

I decided to fly through the Avilla pass and down the beach anyway. I needed my shoreline fix and wanted to see the unusually high tide.

“Experimental Gyroplane 142 Mike Golf; left cross wind departure approved; early left turn approved, runway two nine clear for takeoff.”

I had a little trouble controlling the rotor at slow speeds in the gusting winds but she settled right down as I passed 20 RRPM.

We were barely rolling when she lifted off and we climbed to 500 feet above the ground in a series of leaps.

“Experimental 142 Mike Golf, how high will you be climbing?”

I answered 700 feet and she made me aware of some inbound traffic and said; “Just let me know if you need to climb higher for turbulence.” I love the way ATC looks out for me and makes things easy.

I never tire of the beauty of California Highway One through the Avilla Pass with the Pacific shimmering in the distance.

The high tide was at 12:09 so we missed it by a little over an hour but its legacy was still apparent.

I marvel at the ever changing fields. They go from plowed to green to harvested with remarkable rapidity. The farmers vary the crops so the view from above is ever changing. The valley was as lovely as ever but I wanted to include a couple of SMX shots so I left those pictures out.

The winds were 210 at 19kts gusting to 25kts. They felt much stronger to me and getting the rotor spooled down took some time and effort. I saw over 30kts indicated air speed while stopped waiting for the rotor to spool down. I turned her sideways and tilted the disk into the wind to get her stopped. My rotor brake was not strong enough to manage the winds.

The wind was blowing hard between the hangars so I abandoned my afterglow and pushed the Predator inside the hangar quickly.

The hangars creaked and banged in the wind as I worked through the post flight inspection.

I was disappointed to find a crack in a seam in the muffler and removed it to take it up to Smokey’s.

We may have to abandon the oval muffler and go to a round muffler that will block the airflow to the propeller more. As it is we have minimal volume for an effective muffler.

We have not found a way to get the lead cleaned off so Smokey has to sort of float it out of the crack while he is welding it. I like how quiet she is and the sound she makes so I don’t want to go to straight pipes although it might be good for air shows.

As I write this the repaired muffler is back in place.

We had a high wind warning for today but the winds at SMX are currently 340 degrees at 6kts. It appears the high wind warning was just hot air.

There is a NOTAM for firefighting near Montecito of the San Marcos VOR so SMX will be busy with tanker activity. It is probably just as well I didn’t fly.
 

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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
An excellent point Bob!

An excellent point Bob!

If you fly a lower pattern get a copy of all the approaches IFR guys use for that airport. It will give you an idea of direction and altitude the guy practicing the approaches will be using. For example at my airport the guy using the VOR will be coming in from the east at 600 feet. He may not be monitoring the frequency if he has forgotten to change when ATC passes him off. This may intrude on a gyro flying left downwind to runway 18 at 500 feet. It shouldn't be an issue at towered airports.

I find considerable value in studying the approach plates.

At Santa Ynez it is not usual for someone to shoot a straight in instrument approach without ever talking on the CTAF because they are so close to Santa Barbara and talking to Santa Barbara Approach even though the notes on the airport specifically discourage straight in approaches. It is tricky because it is over descending terrain.

If instrument pilots do talk on the CTAF it is often using points that most VFR pilots are unfamiliar with.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Warm, clear and silky smooth.

Warm, clear and silky smooth.

I answered a couple of emails from people who want to know how soon I can start training them as the sky called out to me.

It was clear and warm when I backed down the driveway at 10:00; top down and Hank Williams singing about the lost highway.

I had done an extensive preflight inspection the night before after installing the repaired muffler.

Check the tires, and sample the gascolater and she was ready to go.

I call to Lockheed Martin and the only adverse weather was three pilot reports of moderate to extreme turbulence north and west of San Luis Obispo (SBP).

Winds were calm at SMX and SBP.

The Lycoming came to life at 11:05 and was barely warmed up by the time we reached the run-up area.

The four windsocks I passed were all flaccid.

She failed the first magneto check but after running her up she passed easily.

I asked for a straight out with a slight left and; “Experimental one four two Mike Golf; runway 30 clear for takeoff; slight left turn approved.”

I suspect my battery is getting a little weak because the pre-rotation seemed a little casual. Maybe it was just the lack of wind.

We climbed out quickly and the air was as nice as I have ever felt it; warm and silky smooth.

The indicated air speed and the GPS ground speed were exactly aligned.

I pulled the power back to 1,950 rpm and we just rumbled along across the Santa Maria Valley at 50kts indicated air speed and 500 feet above the ground.

The wind increased a little as we neared the ocean but not at all gusty or turbulent.

I made my first announcement seven miles south of Oceano (L52); transitioning to the north along the shoreline at 500 feet and 50kts. There was an opposite direction RV at 1,500 feet along the shoreline abeam Oceano. When I announced five miles he said he would make a 180 and bug out. I saw him as soon as he banked probably an eight of a mile out and 1,000 feet above our altitude. I reported traffic in sight on the CTAF.

I did very little with the controls and she just motored along as nice as could be.

Just past the Pismo Pier I made my last call, climbed to 700 feet and checked the SBP ATIS.

There were multiple pilot reports of moderate turbulence in all quadrants.

I called the tower abeam Shell Beach and was to make a left downwind for runway 29 and report abeam the tower.

It wasn’t long before I got a traffic advisory for opposite direction traffic at 1,300 feet. SBP ATC can’t see me on radar there because I am too low so they like to confirm my position and altitude if there is any traffic.

ATC was pretty busy and I was number three behind the CRJ; report in sight.

I spotted him about three miles out and was concerned about wake turbulence in the calm air.

I reported him in sight and heard; “Experimental two Mike Golf; number three behind the CRJ; caution wake turbulence.”

I fell in behind and above and carefully watched where he touched down. I land close to midfield so it was not a problem to stay above his flight path all the way to touch down.

There was an experimental jet wanting to make a low pass that I didn’t see till I was shutting down.

I was surprised at how quickly he came back around and parked nearby.

The fuel truck was there to greet him before The Predator was secured.

The owner of The Spirit of San Luis stood at attention and gave me a salute and gave me permission to come aboard. I often wonder what the other patrons think of my special treatment.

I struck up a conversation with a young couple and ended up having a nice lunch with them. He was a computer security drummer and she taught art at Cal Poly. I love the people I meet and the things I learn because I am flying a gyroplane.

After lunch I headed over to the flight school to enjoy the ambiance. It was lively as always and I learned a lot about training dogs and a $10,000 flight simulator. I watched a student fly into a cloud and I have to say it felt real.

There was universal surprise that I was flying in that wind. Several pilots had driven to the flight school and two students’ flights had been canceled. Another student who was renting a 172 came in looking a little unsettled.

At 15:30 I felt it was time to leave so I checked ATIS and was surprised to find winds at 310 degrees at 16kts gusting to 28kts. This is over my gust spread limit so I called the tower for a more current and detailed wind report. I was looking for a place to tie down for the night when the winds seemed to increase in strength with less gust intensity.

I decided to give it a try being ready to abort the takeoff if things didn’t look good.

I kept her nose down to 66kts and then let her leap off the ground just as a gust hit her and we shot into the air seeing 1,450 feet per minute climb briefly.

Once I turned down wind my GPS trip showed a maximum speed of 97kts at 75kts indicates air speed. I flew direct and we averaged 78kts for the flight.

As I flew over the house I saw Ed waving and we made a very steep 360 over the house.

The SMX ATIS had wind at 300 degrees and 12kts.

I felt it was considerably stronger than that with some wind shear and gusts.

I taxied to self-serve and filled her up in the hopes of getting an early start to Santa Paula Open Hangar Day tomorrow.

My preflight is as done as it can be so if the fog retreats early I will be off to Santa Paula; always an adventure with lots of great characters and interesting challenges.

My chart is marked and my radio call sheets arranged.

I love flying more than I could ever imagine or express in words.
 

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PW_Plack

Active Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
8,572
Location
West Valley City, Utah, USA
Vance, your ability to make us feel, through your writing, as if we are flying with you keeps improving.

You often comment on the interesting people you meet, but we seldom see them in your photos. For me, that would take the stories to the next level!
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
I just had a great demonstration of fog.

I just had a great demonstration of fog.

When I got up I could clearly see the mountains 25 miles away so I checked the weather and the temperature/dew point spread and it was less than one degree C (11.7/11.1).

I looked back out my window and could only see the tops of the mountains. Less than a minute later I could not see a quarter of a mile across the valley and the mountains were completely obscured.

The fog didn’t roll in as many people imagine, it just appeared.

My minimum temperature/dew point spread to fly is four degrees C for this very reason.

Lompoc is showing a vertical visibility of 200 feet.

SMX is currently clear with more than ten miles visibility.

I suspect I will be off to Santa Paula as soon as things warm up here.

It is clear all the way to Camarillo so the problem is my departure area.

Sorry to interrupt the fun; I felt this was a learning opportunity.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
I will try it Paul.

I will try it Paul.

Vance, your ability to make us feel, through your writing, as if we are flying with you keeps improving.

You often comment on the interesting people you meet, but we seldom see them in your photos. For me, that would take the stories to the next level!

Your right Paul.

I am too stuck on the flying part even though much of the fun is with people.

I will work to get some people shots today at Santa Paula.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
A lovely flight to Camarillo!

A lovely flight to Camarillo!

Our Son Ryan is going to be working for Polaris Industries in Tennessee taking Katy, Easton and Lily with him so Ed is trying to get trying to get her grandma fix before they head out. Their house here and the one he is buying in Mount Juliet are in escrow so Easton and Lily will be less available soon. We are proud of Ryan’s progress but Ed is already going through grandparent withdrawal. I suspect it will hit me more after they are gone.

I watched the fog come and go over the Santa Maria valley and studied it carefully on the satellite pictures. I checked all the available terminal aerodrome forecasts (TAFs) and decided to give my flight to Santa Paula a try.

I was showing a tail wind the whole way and no pilot reports for turbulence.

The wet brings out the fragrance in the fields and I enjoyed the different scents on my way across the Santa Maria Valley. It is a special part of driving with the top down. Things cleared up nicely a couple of miles North East of SMX.

SMX was VFR when I got there. The tires hissed along the wet pavement as I made my way to the hangar. When I rolled the hangar door open The Predator looked pristine and ready to fly. I worked through what was left of my preflight and checked Lockheed Martin. There was an AIRMET Sierra for ceilings less than 1,000 feet and mountain obscuration; VFR flight was not recommended along my route of flight. There was also AIRMET Tango for moderated turbulence below 12,000 feet.

All the airports along the route were VFR except for Lompoc and the temperature/dew point spread was right at four degrees so I dressed for a little cool weather and pushed The Predator outside. An open aircraft requires a little move thinking about cloths and I dress in layers so I can adjust to temperature changes at my destination.

It was 8:23 pacific standard time when I pushed her outside. I don’t like the time change but it is better than going the other way.

She fired right up and settled down into a steady idle while I checked ATIS and filled out my radio call sheet.

I called ground from Mike with Juliet and was to taxi to runway three zero via Mike, Alpha, Alpha eight.

The wind socks I could see were all flaccid as we rumbled along.

She wasn’t quite warm enough for a magneto check when we reached the run-up area so I set her to 1,200 rpm and let her warm a bit while I worked through my pre-takeoff list. She came up to temperature quickly and the magneto check went well.

Transponder to mode C, taxi up to the hold short line and check temperatures and pressures in the green, change to tower frequency and check the preflight list. GPS set to destination, Spot working, radio call sheets in order, seat belt tight, helmet tight, full cyclic movement, full rudder movement, check transponder set to 1200.

I called for a right down wind departure to the east and soon heard; “Experimental 142 Mike Golf; right down wind departure to the east approved; runway three zero clear for takeoff. Have a nice flight Vance!”

We were at 1,192 gross weight for our weight and balance and she still climbed out nicely in the cool sea level air.

We were wheels up at 8:48. I wanted to stop at the Way Point Café at Camarillo for brunch and there is usually a wait so I was hoping to get there by 10:00 PST.

Climb out was so smooth I pulled out the camera. This is one of my favorite moments of the flight so I felt I should share it. This is when my challenges on the ground get smaller as we climb into the sky.

I pulled the power back to 2,300 rpm and settled on a 70kt climb to the 3,500 I would like to see before calling Santa Barbara approach.

As I climbed over the town of Orcutt off to my right (South) some fog was caressing the little valleys and occasionally spilling over the hills. I had better than 20 mile visibility straight ahead.

In about 15 miles the fog was pressing in a little harder but still more than ten miles off our route.

I found my ten knot tail wind and it was smooth and cool. When we reached 3,500 feet I lowered the nose a bit and ran her up to 75kts indicated air speed. The air felt so nice I increased the power to 2.350 and 80kts indicated air speed. I found a wonderful feeling of slicing smoothly through the air. At that speed the wind wants to snatch the camera from my hand so I check the tether before each shot and my aim is often a little off.

I called Santa Barbara Approach twenty miles West North West of the San Marcos VOR and after some challenges with my tail number he gave me a squawk code and altitude was verified. VFR transition was approved.

The Santa Ynez valley had the smell of wet hay and vineyards. As I neared the summit of the San Marcos pass I could smell the Barbeque at Cold Springs Tavern. About that time we caught an updraft and I was nearly at idle trying to maintain 3,500 feet at 80kts indicated air speed. The bottom dropped out as soon as we cleared the ridge line and after advancing the throttle to 2,450 rpm I asked for a descent to 2,000 and VFR descent was approved. I backed her off to 2,300 and coasted down the hill toward no name pass at 80kts indicated air speed giving me a nice steady descent.

I love the feel of the ocean air on my face and scent of the Pacific. The Channel Islands appeared to be floating on the mist above the water. The entire shore line was shrouded in a mist that softened the colors and gave it a hint of mystery.

ATC was busy but there was only one traffic alert for me near Carpentaria. As my radio reception became fuzzy at my request radar services were terminated and I was to squawk 1200.

As we exited no name pass Lake Casitas looked a lot fuller than Lake Cachuma had.

Ojai had a wet earth sort of scent mixed with lemon.

As we flew over the last ridge before the Santa Clara River Valley at 2,000 feet I could see Camarillo in the distance and went on high alert for the confusing mix of traffic from SZP, OXR and CMA. I picked up our speed to descend to the 877 foot pattern altitude for CMA and cause less conflict with the fixed wing traffic.

The tower was extremely busy with a very good controller. He got our tall number wrong the first time because of the cockpit wind noise. I shielded the microphone with my hand and became “experimental two Mike Golf.” I was to make right traffic for runway 26 and report a one mile forty-five. I have flown here enough that I have aiming points and I aimed first at the Saticoy Bridge and then at the little point of land that would take me to the forty-five entry for 26.

There was a Cessna 210 overtaking us and ATC had them make a left 360 twice. The concept of a standard rate turn seemed to be lost on the pilot.

As I turned down wind I was “number two behind an RV on a six mile final; report in sight.”

I could not find the RV in the ground clutter and heard “Experimental two Mike Golf; the RV is over the numbers runway, runway 26 clear to land number two.” I immediately pulled the power and entered a right base. The pattern is over California Highway 101 and less than a quarter mile from the runway.

I had to slow a little as The RV was a little slow getting off at Charlie. I greased the landing touching down at Bravo and was off quickly. I called ground on the tower’s instruction. It was bravo, foxtrot to restaurant parking.

It was 9:45 when we touched down averaging 94kts (108miles per hour) for the 89 nautical mile flight. For those interested in such things this is a typically a two hour 110 mile drive. For me it was the accident of a tail wind almost the entire way. I felt I had a much bigger adventure and a more vivid experience than someone droving down to Camarillo on the 101.

The wait was going to be an hour so I sat down with some inquisitive people wearing Harley garb and talked about my motorcycle in the sky. They were both familiar with the path I had just taken and had a 2007 FLHTC. He had worked at the nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon when they were building it. Sorry Paul, no pictures of these two people; I started asking for pictures after that. I prefer pictures that aren’t posed but as soon as I ask they feel they should pose.

More on that in the next post about the magic to be found hanging out at airports and Open Hangar Day at Santa Paula. I will try to finish that this evening.
 

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kyron

Newbie
Joined
Jun 7, 2015
Messages
36
Location
Encinitas
Vance,
Loved the flight!
That flight brings back some great memories of our flight up to SBA, in Puff, clearing the San Marcos pass and the magical descent down to RWY15R. It must be so much different being completely open to the elements.
Gina and I need to plan a trip up soon!
Thanks for the great posts...love the details!
Kyron
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Glad to have you along Kyron.

Glad to have you along Kyron.

You and Gena are always welcome.

The weather was much nicer than anything we have flown in.

The smell and the feel of the air add a lot to the magical visual experience.

We had a nice flight to SBA and you flew well, particularly in the wide open spaces. It was a nice break from our more intense ground reference work.

Class C airspace does add a lot to the complexity of the radio communications.

It took a lot of mistakes for me to get the hang of it.

My radio call sheet for Santa Barbara is two pages, one for arrivals and one for departures with clearance delivery.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
People and Things

People and Things

Dave, a local CFI and a friend of Spencer’s saw me waiting and stopped by. He gave Spencer a call and asked him to join us. Spencer had been out giving lessons in a PT19 to a fellow whose name I don’t remember that joined us for brunch. Bill was nowhere to be found. It is not easy going from a table for one to a table for four at a busy restaurant.

Spencer is trying to get me more hooked up with air shows and had a lot of good advice.

We had a discussion about training and the importance of Pilot Operating Handbooks (POH) and what to do when it doesn’t advocate best practices.

We also kicked around the accuracy of the testing of certified aircraft. One aircraft in particular had the practical ceiling at 21,000 feet when in fact that is the absolute ceiling for the aircraft.

Last time I saw Spencer he was going to fly a Starduster to Chino and after inspecting it we both had reservations. I was pleased that he decided not to because it makes me feel better when I decide not to fly over some little squawk. More than a few people have suggested I am too picky about my not flying with a little squawk.

I asked Dave and Spencer to give me their best pilot look and this is what I got. Dave is the one with the hat.

I had pre-flighted The Predator while waiting for a table so after some quick checks I checked ATIS and called ground for a taxi to runway 26 and a right crosswind departure to the north. I carefully read back; Experimental 142 Mike Golf; Golf two to Golf to Alpha. The run-up went well and we were off quickly turning right at the end of the runway as we neared 900 feet. Three miles out I asked for a frequency change so I could start listening to the Santa Paula CTAF. They were still busy for open hangar day.

I reported downwind five miles, over the junk yard, over the golf course, turning base and turning final. The touchdown was slow and sweet and we were off quickly. Lots of people and cameras, I am glad it worked out.

I secured the aircraft and headed off to find Al Ball and saw this lovely aircraft. I never know what I will see on Santa Paula Open Hangar Day. They also have a brand new book about the History of the Santa Paula Airport for sale at the museum. It was a very nicely produced book and I will get a copy soon. The Predator landing with Ed in the back is one of the pictures.

All Ball was not in his shop so I headed off to Pat Quin’s hangar and found the usual suspects. Our Wayne was there along with Jack Norris who wrote a wonderful book about propellers and introduced me to Craig Catto who made the propeller for the IO-320 on The Predator.

Pat had accidently let his Helicopter CFI rating expire after 25 years and graciously welcomed me to the ranks of CFI’s. Wayne had told him about my recent success with the CFI practical test.

I can’t remember the tall gray hairs name, Jack is slumping with his back to the camera. Pat is the tall fellow next to Wayne and I can’t remember the wives names. The slight lady on the left end is Pam whose husband had beautifully restored an Aironca at Santa Paula with it covered by Rowena (the airport manager who covers aircraft with dope and fabric), flown it a little and passed away. It is for sale in Pat’s hangar.

As you can see there is a lot to see in Pat’s hangar and it is a wonderful place to hang out.

Fifteen hundred came too soon and I headed off toward The Predator and stopped by Al’s hangar and saw him briefly. Pat and Al were both concerned about the weather so I cut the meeting short. Sunset at SMX is at 15:07 and I wanted to make it home before dark.

Wayne came by to see me off so for those of you who don’t know Wayne this is his pilot look.

The rain has stopped so the rest of the story will have to wait. I did find 20 to 25kt head winds most of the way back.
 

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okikuma

Member
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
2,129
Location
Santa Clarita, CA
I've known Pat and his brother Tim for 35+ years. Pat is retired from the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) as Helicopter Pilot (and former CA ARNG Aviator). His brother Tim retired from LAFD as a Battalion Chief and his hanger is two rows behind my hanger at Whiteman Airport (KWHP). Pat has numerous items of memorabilia in his hanger including a relay switch that flew in the Apollo 11 Command Module and a piece of fabric off of the 1924 Around the World Flight Douglas World Cruiser aircraft.

John is the the gray haired gentleman's name. Pat's wife's name is Arlys and I forget his sister-in-law's name. Jack Norris is a retired Aerospace Engineer and "Rocket Scientist" with multiple patents and wrote two books in one series: PROPELLERS The First & Final Explanation, THE LOGIC OF FLIGHT The Thinking Man's Way to Fly. http://www.propellersexplained.com

When Vance walked up and sat down, I was talking about my concerns of Millennial Generation of pilots and engineers that are so connected with the "information highway" that they totally rely on electronic information without using the primary dura matter computer between the ears. My example was when one day I came upon a group of university aerospace students holding an aircraft design competition (all the models had fat low aspect ratio wings and large oversized fuselages) and I found out that the students all used the computer program "X-Plane" to design their models! When I asked some basic aerospace design questions, none of the students could give an answer except that's what the program told them how to build the model. Of course, Vance was being the antagonist and said how he likes the younger generation, and how they think and that I'm an old "Fuddy Duddy." LOL

Vance then told the group in the hanger the trials and tribulations in earning his Gyroplane CFI. When it was time to leave, I met up with Vance at the fuel pump and then photographed his departure from KSZP. BTW: 100LL was $3.99 a gallon at KSZP.

The Cream & Red airplane that Vance took the photo of is a Dickerson-Howard DGA-21. Built by Bruce Dickerson as an Experimental Amateur Built airplane with the best features of the Howard DGA-6 and DGA-15. Here's an 2011 APOA article of that airplane. http://www.aopa.org/News-and-Video/...-Howard?_ga=1.148971702.1287325671.1446523059

As one can see, I'm not very photogenic at all, being the average "aviation goof ball." Vance was being very kind with my "pilot look." The hat I'm wearing I received many years ago from the 57th Aircraft Maintenance (Experimental) Squadron, 57th Wing (Red Flag), Nellis AFB. It was a token gift after solving a potentially multi-million dollar maintenance problem the squadron was experiencing when I was at the Wing for an unrelated briefing.

Wayne
 

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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Thank you for filling in the gaps Wayne.

Thank you for filling in the gaps Wayne.

I knew their names until I tried to recall them for the story. Ed has spent a lot of time with those ladies but her brain went dead too.

I like the picture just lifting off a lot. She looks kind of serene compared to how she feels over the bumps.

It was nice to visit with you and thank you for keeping the people at bay.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
I should have left at 14:00.

I should have left at 14:00.

After saying goodbye to Wayne and what seemed like a slow warm up I was wheels up at 3:16. Santa Paula’s bumpy runway seems to talk to my rotors and the lift off never feels quite right.

There was still quite a bit of traffic with someone inbound over the 126 that I was outbound slightly to the left of. The sun shining off the mist made it hard to see him. I made about four radio calls as I climbed out at less than 40kts of ground speed. There was a bit of an inversion but The Predator managed the heat well.

As we climbed out of the Santa Clara River Valley showing 60kts indicated air speed at less than 40kts of ground speed I did some figuring in my head. 90 miles home at 40kts would take two hours and fifteen minutes. Faster would take more fuel and I plan at seven gallons per hour and I have seen as high as 12 gallons per hour. I had twenty two gallons on board. It would be reasonable to expect the wind to get worse and sunset was at 15:07. It is not unusual for the fog to come in around sunset. It is not unusual to have all of the airports along the coast go IFR and that would mean heading for Taft (L17) fifty two nautical miles East North East of Santa Maria (SMX). New Cuyama (L88) is only 38 nautical miles from SMX but there is no fuel. Stopping for fuel at Santa Barbara (SBA) or Santa Ynez (IZA) would put me at SMX after dark. I had made a chain of poor aviation decisions and had to figure out how to best manage the situation. I settled down and realized I could land any number of places and take off when the sky cleared. In retrospect that wasn’t a good plan because it rained most of today accompanied by some strong gusty winds. People wonder why I like to land with an hour of fuel on board and this was a good example. It wasn’t dangerous but flying at night over sparsely populated areas with mountains and fog could get dangerous fast. I like to think I am not stupid enough to do that but I had already put myself in a difficult situation. I decided to fly between 65 and 70 knots indicated air speed for fuel economy vs ground speed.

I called a very busy Santa Barbara Approach 20 miles east of the San Marcos VOR at 4,500 feet for a transition through their air space. They gave me a squawk code and altitude was verified. SBA’s airspace is surface to 4,000 so I was actually 500 feet above the class Charlie airspace but wanted them looking out for me in what I felt were poor visibility conditions as the sun glared off the mist.

It took a little over an hour to reach the San Marcos pass but I was still showing more than half full. It is forty one miles from the San Marcos VOR to SMX. The head wind had pickup up to 25kts and I was making 40kts of ground speed at 65kts indicated air speed. If you look close you can see it in the picture of the panel. The GPS is above the glare shield on the left side. There was a pretty good wind shear because SBA ATC was using runway seven. We found some turbulence any time we were near the ridgeline.

I picked her up to 70kts indicated air speed figuring on making a shallow descent all the way to SMX from 4,500 feet and leaned her out a little more.

About half way to Santa Maria the head wind dropped to about 15kts and we were making 55kts of ground speed.

About ten miles out it looked a lot like the fog had come into SMX but the ATIS still had sky conditions as clear.

The last picture shows my view of the airport from three miles out on a slight dog leg to runway 30.

The sun went down shortly after my arrival and when I dipped the tanks I found I still had eight gallons of gas.

This is the second time I have made a mistake because of daylight savings time. Hopefully I will learn from this one.

It was still a wonderful day of good flying and good friends.
 

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kyron

Newbie
Joined
Jun 7, 2015
Messages
36
Location
Encinitas
Great post Vance!
Sounds like a good lesson. It's easy to lose track of time and hang out with friends. You kept your wits and had several exit strategies. Great pics...great story!
Kyron
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Poor aviation decision making.

Poor aviation decision making.

Great post Vance!
Sounds like a good lesson. It's easy to lose track of time and hang out with friends. You kept your wits and had several exit strategies. Great pics...great story!
Kyron

Thank you Kyron; that is a kind way to look at it.

The best aviation decisions are made on the ground.

The best decision would have been to stay in Santa Paula.

I probably could have gotten a crew car from Signature at SBA to make my way to a motel or spent the night in the pilot’s lounge at Santa Ynez. I would not have made it home the next day till the rain stopped in the late afternoon and then in big winds; 19kts gusting to 29kts at SMX.

The important thing is to not escalate the poor aviation decision making.

Worst case would be heading for Taft with few lights, tall mountains and the potential for fog when short on gas.

It was defiantly a learning experience.

I learn good judgement from exercising my poor judgement.

I still learn a lot from every flight.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
You did a great job Mark!

You did a great job Mark!

Great flying stories Vance!!! Love the pics!!!!!

Thank you Mark; the camera doesn’t really capture how hard it is to see through the mist with the sun reflecting off of it. You have to look close in the last picture to see the airport. It is there and we were less than three miles out.

I love Wayne’s picture of The Predator just lifting off. She almost looks like she is still on the ground until you look close and see an inch under each tire. The Predator has a wonderful serenity about her.

You designed and built a remarkable gyroplane Mark; I love her more each time I fly her.

Some of the hard core pilots at SZP feel The Predator is a real gyroplane and Puff was a sissy gyroplane. Go figure?
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,760
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
An Autumn Flight to SBP!

An Autumn Flight to SBP!

It seemed like a good day to drive with the top down to Lompoc to visit my FAA doctor. I wanted to get the form I had filled out two years ago and the only way to do that was to go see him. He still uses a copy machine that sounds like an old fax machine so getting it from him electronically was not an option.

I have an appointment with him next Thursday to begin the process of renewing my class III medical and the slow process of getting my class II. This is going to require another demonstrated ability medical check ride and a new statement of demonstrated ability (SODA).

I was back at the hangar as SMX by 11:00 so it seemed like a good day to fly up to San Luis Obispo for lunch. Wind was three knots straight down the runway and Lockheed Martin had nothing bad to say.

I checked fuel prices and SMX was the least expensive at $4.18 so I headed over to self-serve. I nice man whose name I don’t remember had just finished a lengthy restoration on a World War II era Aironca L3 in its Grasshopper livery and was filling her up. He had to show me a lot of the details that challenged him and his workmanship was first rate.

It was almost noon by the time I filled her up and called ground.

I asked tower (the same guy, different frequency) for a straight out with a slight left. Mooney on a three mile final and I was surprised to hear; “Experimental 142 Mike Golf; runway three zero clear for takeoff; fly straight out for now and I will call your slight left.” There was someone practicing missed approaches and it created a conflict and there were six aircraft in the pattern so he was a little busy. I was grateful he had launched me because it was about seven minutes before the piper behind me launched. I would have needed to do another magneto check after idling for that long and it is hard to know when to do that when I am waiting for traffic. I don’t like to blast the aircraft behind me.

There was a nice autumn bite in the air and it was surprisingly smooth.

The three knot wind turned into a 12kt head wind as I made my way across the fields making an effort to fly runway heading. I aimed for the point and was soon showing a magnetic heading of 020 degrees. I missed my Garmin 696 that shows extended runway centerlines. The Pilot III on The Predator doesn’t have that feature.

Visibility was more than 30 miles and the clear air made the colors more vivid.

I was outside of the SMX class D airspace before my slight left and a frequency change was approved. I never did see the opposite direction traffic and was grateful to have the tower looking out for me.

I headed straight for the shoreline and started announcing my progress over the CTAF for Oceano.

The Pacific seemed a deeper blue compared to the pale blue sky and I could feel the temperature drop as I neared the shoreline and descended to 500 feet.

After an involuntary; “WOW this is magic!” I slowed to 40kts of ground speed with a considerable crab to the left. I loved the way The Predator rumbled along at 1,950 rpm in the smooth air.

An unusual number of people waved and I tried to return them all with enthusiasm.

I checked SBP’s ATIS at the Pismo Pier and climbed to 700 feet. Wind was 260 degrees at 5kts and they were landing and departing on runway two niner.

I called the tower abeam Shell beach and Ellen had me confirm altitude because there was some opposite direction traffic she was not talking to and she was just about to lose me on radar. Ellen sounded very busy. She is one of the most experienced controllers and handled the traffic with amazing efficiency.

As I slid into the Edna Valley I caught a 15kt tail wind and some turbulence. Ellen had worked a cub onto runway two five and I could just see what appeared to be a ground loop. It looked like his wing touched down just off the runway because there was a puff of dust and then he took off again putting us nose to nose at a mile and a half. Ellen handled it well and managed all the other aircraft in the air although I thought I heard the strain in her voice.

When I was abeam the numbers I heard; “Experimental two Mike Golf; you are number three behind a Cessna on a three mile straight in; report in sight”. Number one was the Cub now lined up for runway two niner.

I backed off the power and climbed a little for rising terrain. About four miles out I reported the traffic in sight and turned base.

I watched the windsock twitching through about thirty degrees and prepared for trouble that never came.

I asked a fellow in a golf cart if I could park on the end and he said; “you don’t take up much room Vance and the Beach isn’t going anywhere soon”. I don’t think he was close enough to read my name tag so I was surprised he knew my name. As he got closer I realized he was one of the parents of a kid I had sitting in The Predator on airport day.

As I filled out my log book I marveled at the range of experiences and fun I had in seven tenths of an hour of flying. There is so much to see and feel it is sort of sensory overload and I seem to prioritize them differently on each flight.

There were no empty tables so I sat down as soon as two pilots got up from my favorite table before it had been cleared. The owner came out and cleared the table spilling a full cup of hot tea on my leg. Try as I might she wouldn’t let me pay for lunch.
 

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