Riding on the train they call the Surfliner!

Aerofoam

Active Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2020
Messages
289
Location
Az.
Aircraft
Pteradactyl, AC 447/503, too many UAVs
Total Flight Time
Over 3k....(From the ground !)
Birds are a problem at CRW to the point that they use Hercules daily to chase them away. The Birds have come to take refuge in that particular hangar. Many of the other hangers along the same row with their doors open do not have so many birds.
They have a machine that makes predator sounds and things that move. It appears they become accustomed and move back in. It is the worst bird problem I have seen in a hangar.

A pellet gun works wonders....
 

Tyger

Super Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2017
Messages
2,172
Location
Clermont, NY
Aircraft
Magni M16
Total Flight Time
475
Pigeons? And Hercules is a dog?
I wonder if it occurs to management that chasing the hawks away might be quite a boon for pigeons, et al.
Dogs might be good at keeping ground-dwelling wildlife away from the runway, but I can't see how one can prevent birds from roosting in a building...

I take it you had no choice but to store it in that hangar... what happened?
 
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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Staff member
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
17,485
Location
Santa Maria, California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
My friend Kyron called me up and told me he had purchased a factory built AutoGyro Cavalon 915 (N915 AG) in Chatham, Massachusetts and wondered if I would like to fly it back with him to Oceanside. Kyron is always a lot of fun and we both felt it would be a great adventure so we began working on the details. What follows is just my opinion on how it should be done and my observations on the journey. It is not the only way; it is simply a compilation of our opinions and experience. It should not be construed as flight instruction and it is based my love of flying and driven by a number of mistakes I have made. I apologize that there are not more pictures. We were both a little busy.

We began by articulating our priorities. 1. Survive the adventure. I feel it is an important number one because it affects aviation decision making. It is too easy to imagine the destination is the point and make poor aviation decisions based on the desire to accomplish the mission. I have read enough accident reports to recognize this is number one. 2. Don’t damage the aircraft. Particularly with a turbocharged engine it is easy to overstress the engine to manage some flying challenge and with a gyroplane it is easy to tip her over and do major damage so we wanted to remember to stay away from the edges. 3. Teach Kyron to take off and land. Seven years ago Kyron helped me to practice giving instruction in a Cavalon and he flew very well. I felt at the time I did not have the skill set developed to teach the two things that cause most of the gyroplane mishaps, takeoffs and landings so Kyron was still without those skills. I did not want to simply ferry the aircraft back to Oceanside so we allocated a day to teach Kyron to take off and land. I would be there to fix it if I felt he did not have the skill set to manage a particular challenge. 4. Have a great adventure. This was a sure thing and we wanted to have it last because the other three were so important.

We felt having enough time was an important part of the fun so we allocated what we felt was plenty of time.

Flight planning for me is aviation foreplay and it is free and safe. We began by using Sky Vector as a flight planning tool and it allowed Kyron to plan and then send his plan to me so we could discuss his plan at length. As part of my teaching the final decisions were always his. Kyron is an experienced single engine land pilot so following roads is foreign to him. I am a follow the roads enthusiast so when the engine goes quiet we don’t have far to walk. I don’t land on the roads, just somewhere nearby.

I am a paper chart enthusiast and Kyron was enamored with electronic flight bags. After some conversation he purchased paper charts for the flight. I feel paper charts improve my situational awareness and I like to mark them up to see our progress as the flight unfolds. Kyron came to enjoy the paper charts.

We went back and forth for about six weeks until we finally settled on a route. Four and a half days of flying. We figured around 2,600 nautical miles (3000 statute miles) taking us around 35 hours of flying time figuring on big head winds in Texas and New Mexico. I like to fly low (1,500 to 2,500 feet above the ground) to see the sights which is slower and less direct than flying higher. Speed was not a priority for of us. For me the destination is the excuse to go flying and I have no desire to shorten the magical time in the air.

Kyron then downloaded our flight plane on Foreflight.

I love the United States of America and in my experience it becomes even more beautiful from a thousand feet above the ground and the people we meet at airports are people I love to meet.

Cavalon 915 Alpha Golf is equipped with all the latest Garmin navigation and radios and has a nice glass panel. I particularly like some of the radio features. I am not a glass panel enthusiast. I felt fortunate to have Kyron’s help so I did not have to learn how to work all the gadgets.

With any new to me aircraft I feel it is best to fly locally before going cross country. Often there are little challenges that need to be worked out. This Cavalon had been flown almost daily and the maintenance had been meticulous so we accepted the elevated risk. The fuel pumps had already been replaced.

This was a certified gyroplane so we were not supposed to fiddle with it much beyond spark plugs and oil changes.

Kyron’s pre-buy inspection flight had been magical with Jan expertly managing her local airspace. At one point he had difficulty hearing air traffic control (ATC) until they were about seven miles out when the tower could hear them from twelve miles out. It was not repeated and both Jan and Kyron felt it was not a cause for concern. Kyron felt the difficulty in hearing ATC was because of the old David Clark headset he was wearing and assumed Jan could hear better with her Bose headset. One of our areas of concern was that my helmet headsets might not work any better than the David Clarks.
 

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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Staff member
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
17,485
Location
Santa Maria, California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
I was watching the weather almost daily at Chatham and could see some challenges with low ceilings in the morning and wind in the afternoon so plan B was to launch when we got there and spend some time training further along the route.

I took the Pacific Surfliner from Guadalupe to Oceanside leaving at 6:47 and much of the trip was scenic in a train that had few travelers along the shore of the Pacific Ocean.

The last time I flew commercial was 1995 and things have changed since then. We arrived two hours before our flight was scheduled and I found the TSA experience disquieting. I put the contents of my pockets, belt and shoes in one tray, the helmets in a second, my lap top out of the bag in a third and my garment bag in a forth. The TSA rummage through everything and they had to run both of our garment bags through the machine several times to get the pictures just right mixing the trays with other peoples trays. They opened each of the compartments in my garment bag and checked all of the seams for traces of explosives. They brought new meaning to “just throw everything in the bag and smash it down” as they roughly repacked our luggage. My four trays were spread out with people grabbing for their possessions as I struggled with my belt and shoes. Kyron was better prepared and thought it was funny to tell them I was his father and a little confused because I was new to flying.

Finally we were off to Newark and found plenty to talk about on the flight. Kyron is an engineer and architect and wants to understand everything. His tendency is to over think and mine is to over explain.

When we reached Newark we discovered that our flight to Providence was boarding in a different terminal and required going through TSA again. We raced through the terminal in a way that was reminiscent of the OJ Simpson Hertz commercials. Out of breath we were horrified to see a line close to a quarter mile long that weaved back and forth. Kyron remarked several times there is no way we will reach our gate on time. Fortunately for us our flight was late and we made it to Providence, Rhode Island only to find out that the hotel that was just across the street in the pictures was over a mile from the gate. It is funny how my garment bag, computer and helmet got heavier as we hiked along. Kyron is younger and it better shape than I am and he was still winded as we searched for the secret passage to the Hotel. The room was nice and I chose to write a few things down and eat some jerky as Kyron went out in search of a meal. He was kind enough to bring something back for me and I was out by 11:00. I am a noisy sleeper and despite Kyron’s earplugs he did not get a full night’s sleep.

The next morning he was adrenalin driven and was up early to pick up our one way rental car. We dropped it off at the airport in Hyannis and Jan picked us up for the final leg to Chatham, Massachusetts.

Sunshine, blue skies and light winds greeted us at the Chatham Municipal airport. It was at odds with my weather impression and expectation.

The first order of business was to see if the heads sets and ANR (active noise reduction) worked and we were pleased to find out they appeared to work well.

Then we discovered that a week’s worth of clean clothes for two men and their support stuff would fit in the aircraft behind the seats with two large pilots. Cockpit management would be an important of our journey. We sent some dirty cloths back and my hand held radio along with some spares that we felt were superfluous.

I tried the instructor throttle that had just been installed and it hit my leg so we worked at modifying it eventually calling in an excellent airframe and power plant mechanic at the field who had done most of the maintenance on the aircraft and had installed the instructor throttle. We soon had it working well although still a little sticky. Being smooth with the throttle is important with a 915. We felt it was good enough.

We used pinstripe tape to put my training lines on the windshield because I have found that it is challenging to develop a sight picture through a windshield with no straight lines.

We did some practice pre-rotations and were ready to fly when the rains came.

We had a nice dinner with Jan at the Del Mar restaurant and turned in early.

We had an early start and arrived at the airport to drizzle and a low overcast.

We still had plenty to do.

After lunch the ceiling lifted a little as the winds came up. I feel that it is difficult to learn to take off and land in a gyroplane in strong, gusting winds so we did some more practice pre-rotations and called it a day. I felt it was a lovely way to spend a day.

Kyron felt that because I am a noisy sleeper a separate room would be beneficial.
 

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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Staff member
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
17,485
Location
Santa Maria, California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
I had put each of our flight legs into my weather program and it was not looking good At Chatham for several days out. I checked it several times during the night. The second leg looked better so I figured it might be worthwhile to just start our journey and wait to teach Kyron to take off and land further down the line. Kyron had reached the same conclusion by looking at how the high pressure system was lingering so we decided to launch after a nice breakfast when the ceiling improved. The winds were already up about the same time the ceiling reached 1,500 feet with an eleven knot gust spread. My recollection is 18kts gusting to 29kts. In my opinion it was a poor aviation decision to launch as it was at an unfamiliar airport in an unfamiliar gyroplane. I have considerable time flying and instructing in a Cavalons. This was the first time I had flown a Cavalon 915. I was not surprised when a gust lifted us off early and pushed us hard across the runway. We were lucky because although the takeoff lacked elegance it was otherwise uneventful.

Once airborne I wanted to put some distance between us and the Cape. When I had checked in the morning the winds predicted to be much better about 100 miles West of Chatham. As we checked ahead with our Foreflight it appeared the winds were not diminishing.

Kyron tried to pick up flight following and discovered we could not hear ATC more than about seven miles in front of us but we could hear it quite a distance behind us. ATC tried to help us out with various frequencies with little success. It was soon clear they could hear us long before we could hear them. We abandoned flight following and squawked 1200.

We were making over 100kts of ground speed at 70kts of indicated air speed so we decided to press on and dodge the C and D airspace. The winds diminished around 200 nautical miles west south west so we decided to stop at Essex County Airport (CDW) for lunch and to gas up. After some difficulty we were able to hear the tower from about six miles out and although the winds were strong and gusting the landing was uneventful. The FBO (Airbound Aviation) leant us a very nice crew car to get lunch at Burger King because there was not a restaurant on the field.

We continued to make adjustments to the radio with little progress. Poor Kyron had his hands full explaining the situation to ATC. I was a little busy managing the aircraft with lots of 15kt plus wind shears. She did pretty well scaring me enough to keep her around 70kts. The winds were relentless as we continued west, south west. Fredrick, Maryland (FDK) was the first airport with winds of less than 15kts and it was a welcome relief stopping for gas.

I suggested we spend the night there. Kyron was excited about the improvement in the weather and wanted to press on to Charleston, West Virginia (CRW) 207 nautical miles west, south west. In the morning I had seen a chance of drizzle near that route. Foreflight was showing good weather ahead. Because of the tail wind our fuel consumption had been low so we toped her off for our final leg of the day. The airports were fewer, smaller and further between so that would lower Kyron’s radio workload although CRW is a class C airport where I typically call approach from 20 miles out. We could clearly hear one pilot doing pattern work for 40 miles behind us at a non towered airport so we felt the radio challenges had improved.

Kyron took the controls for a while and I felt he was managing yaw, altitude and airspeed with greater precision than I was. He had not forgotten much in seven years.

I was not comfortable as the terrain ahead was rising and the ceiling appeared to me to be sinking as we approached the Blue Ridge Mountains so I resumed flying. Kyron began singing a John Denver Song as we crossed over the Shenandoah river. Small drops began to hit the windshield with what appeared to be rain ahead and we turned north to dodge the storm losing our tailwind although the increase in altitude allowed me to increase our airspeed at the same power setting. I did not like leaving the road behind and we flew a little higher above the ground to reach potential emergency landing sites. The windmills dotted the ridgeline and gave us an idea of which way the wind blew. There was the occasional road snaking up the mountains and some lovely rivers. I thought I heard banjo music.

We eventually made it around the rain and headed south toward CRW with a dark overcast to the west. It was around 7:39 and I knew the sunset at CRW was 8:28; we felt we were less than an hour from touchdown. The storm to the west reduced the sunlight and over the Blue Ridge Mountains is not a place I want to fly after dark. Fuel was still looking good despite adding around 60 miles to this leg of the flight. I like to land with an hour of fuel on board.

Kyron called approach from 30 miles out and heard no answer. Kyron tried tower and ground and still nothing switching back to approach.

Kyron turned off the squelch and around 14 miles out we received a very week response from approach that was barley readable. The signal got better as we got closer and Kyron asked ATC to turn on the lights which they did even though as they pointed out it was a half hour to sunset.

The airport looks like they took the top off of a mountain off with an intimidating blunt end on approach to runway five.
 

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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Staff member
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
17,485
Location
Santa Maria, California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
When the lights came up to high intensity it looked like a giant had opened up a box of jewels.

Approach turned us over to tower and we were number two behind a twin; runway five clear to land.

The twin asked ATC if they could stop and watch us land as they had never seen a gyroplane land.

Kyron is not use to the steep approach of a gyroplane and was trying to help by calling out the decent rate. I was trying to find the appropriate power setting for a 500 foot per minute descent and could not see the vertical speed indicator on the glass panel from the left seat. We went from 200 feet per minute to 700 feet per minute at a steady power setting of 3,700 rpm. The approach was not stylish and neither was the landing.

We taxied up a long hill to the Capital Jet Center and was guided to parking by a marshaller. They gave us a place to park in a hangar for $25 and got us a discount at the Hotel and drove us to the Hotel. It is a beautiful facility and everyone there and in town was very cordial.

Tuesday we were excited to find a Garmin sign on one of the hangars. The fellow was very nice but did not offer much help. It is a remote radio so we could have replaced it easily but the wait on that model of Garmin was six weeks. We exhausted our phone list and most felt it was a loose connection somewhere so we pulled up the seats and checked everything we could reach. Michael at Cierva Aero who has a lot of Cavalon building experience suggested the antenna might be bent too far so we sent him a picture and Marc said it looked good to him.

An SUV with police lights on the top came by to look at the aircraft and Kyron figured it was a drug sniffing dog. Turned out it was Hercules who chases the birds off the airport and has his own tic tock channel.

We asked ATC if we could test the radio in flight and they directed us on a course and altitude that kept us out of the way in case the radio failed.

The runway is up hill with a big hill at the end and even though the runway 6,715 feet long the sinking air on the lee side of the hill made our climb out irregular. We found rising and sinking air everywhere over the hills. We flew an arc gradually increasing our distance from the airport. Seven miles out we lost contact with departure and he was in the process of relaying his message for us to a helicopter when we picked him back up as we got a little closer. Both approach and departure said they could hear us five by five even when we could not here them.

We sat and thought for a long time before deciding to abort the mission. We felt flying with our marginal radio put everyone in the air at risk so we decided to call it quits at five.

I suspect it is something simple that we could have fixed. We felt we had exhausted our resources.

I call Marc at Cierva Aero and he agreed to pick up the aircraft Friday and take it back to Petaluma for repairs. Marc and Cierva Aero appear to understand customer service on a high level.

Kyron arranged for a hanger to store 915AG while waiting to be picked up. The only hangar available has lots of birds in it. The plane in it and the floor is covered with bird poop. We borrowed the crew car and went into town to pick up dinner and a tarp.

Kyron arranged the trip home for both of us without calling anyone. I went to Charleston, Dallas and San Luis Obispo. He had a different route through Denver to reach San Diego.

Marc called us and said it would help allot if we pulled off the rotors so we sent one of our new friends off to find an adjustable spanner and a six foot ladder. The nice man at the desk loaned us a nice little box of tools.

Our friend came back with three adjustable spanners and went off to find some pads to set the rotor on. Soon we had her wrapped up like a Christmas present in the corner of the bird hangar.

Kyron and I had a wonderful adventure, learned a lot and made a lot of friends along the way.

Despite deviating from our plan we are both excited about making our flight back from Petaluma into an adventure and likely not a straight line once Cierva Aero is finished with the work. They are going to repair the radio, do an annual inspection and install the latest rotor head on her.

What lessons were reinforced by our journey?

The value of flight planning that gave us options.

The value of a careful pre-flight inspection.

The value of following roads.

The value of a personal locator device (SPOT).

Flying west in the late afternoon is ill advised.

Flying over sparsely populated mountains after dark is a bad idea.

The value of landing with an hour of fuel on board.

The value of paper charts.

The value of cockpit management; there was a lot of stuff to manage in a small space.

The value of crew resource management; I managed flying in the winds and Kyron did a great job of managing the communications and navigation.

Our love of a great adventure and our friendship was enhanced by the experience.

I feel if every challenge in life works out I am not aiming high enough.
 

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SgurlEd

Active Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2008
Messages
1,181
Location
Nipomo
Aircraft
Mark Given Creation Called "The Predator"
Total Flight Time
Ask Vance's log book
My friend Kyron called me up and told me he had purchased a factory built AutoGyro Cavalon 915 (N915 AG) in Chatham, Massachusetts and wondered if I would like to fly it back with him to Oceanside. Kyron is always a lot of fun and we both felt it would be a great adventure so we began working on the details. What follows is just my opinion on how it should be done and my observations on the journey. It is not the only way; it is simply a compilation of our opinions and experience. It should not be construed as flight instruction and it is based my love of flying and driven by a number of mistakes I have made. I apologize that there are not more pictures. We were both a little busy.

We began by articulating our priorities. 1. Survive the adventure. I feel it is an important number one because it affects aviation decision making. It is too easy to imagine the destination is the point and make poor aviation decisions based on the desire to accomplish the mission. I have read enough accident reports to recognize this is number one. 2. Don’t damage the aircraft. Particularly with a turbocharged engine it is easy to overstress the engine to manage some flying challenge and with a gyroplane it is easy to tip her over and do major damage so we wanted to remember to stay away from the edges. 3. Teach Kyron to take off and land. Seven years ago Kyron helped me to practice giving instruction in a Cavalon and he flew very well. I felt at the time I did not have the skill set developed to teach the two things that cause most of the gyroplane mishaps, takeoffs and landings so Kyron was still without those skills. I did not want to simply ferry the aircraft back to Oceanside so we allocated a day to teach Kyron to take off and land. I would be there to fix it if I felt he did not have the skill set to manage a particular challenge. 4. Have a great adventure. This was a sure thing and we wanted to have it last because the other three were so important.

We felt having enough time was an important part of the fun so we allocated what we felt was plenty of time.

Flight planning for me is aviation foreplay and it is free and safe. We began by using Sky Vector as a flight planning tool and it allowed Kyron to plan and then send his plan to me so we could discuss his plan at length. As part of my teaching the final decisions were always his. Kyron is an experienced single engine land pilot so following roads is foreign to him. I am a follow the roads enthusiast so when the engine goes quiet we don’t have far to walk. I don’t land on the roads, just somewhere nearby.

I am a paper chart enthusiast and Kyron was enamored with electronic flight bags. After some conversation he purchased paper charts for the flight. I feel paper charts improve my situational awareness and I like to mark them up to see our progress as the flight unfolds. Kyron came to enjoy the paper charts.

We went back and forth for about six weeks until we finally settled on a route. Four and a half days of flying. We figured around 2,600 nautical miles (3000 statute miles) taking us around 35 hours of flying time figuring on big head winds in Texas and New Mexico. I like to fly low (1,500 to 2,500 feet above the ground) to see the sights which is slower and less direct than flying higher. Speed was not a priority for of us. For me the destination is the excuse to go flying and I have no desire to shorten the magical time in the air.

Kyron then downloaded our flight plane on Foreflight.

I love the United States of America and in my experience it becomes even more beautiful from a thousand feet above the ground and the people we meet at airports are people I love to meet.

Cavalon 915 Alpha Golf is equipped with all the latest Garmin navigation and radios and has a nice glass panel. I particularly like some of the radio features. I am not a glass panel enthusiast. I felt fortunate to have Kyron’s help so I did not have to learn how to work all the gadgets.

With any new to me aircraft I feel it is best to fly locally before going cross country. Often there are little challenges that need to be worked out. This Cavalon had been flown almost daily and the maintenance had been meticulous so we accepted the elevated risk. The fuel pumps had already been replaced.

This was a certified gyroplane so we were not supposed to fiddle with it much beyond spark plugs and oil changes.

Kyron’s pre-buy inspection flight had been magical with Jan expertly managing her local airspace. At one point he had difficulty hearing air traffic control (ATC) until they were about seven miles out when the tower could hear them from twelve miles out. It was not repeated and both Jan and Kyron felt it was not a cause for concern. Kyron felt the difficulty in hearing ATC was because of the old David Clark headset he was wearing and assumed Jan could hear better with her Bose headset. One of our areas of concern was that my helmet headsets might not work any better than the David Clarks.
Wonderful story telling as always Sweetheart!
Here’s the pix of SPOT I received while you and Kyron were on your little adventure! It’s always fun to follow along with SPOT and also gives me great “piece of mind” knowing where you are and that you’ve landing safely!F2E5A54F-F88A-4C3A-AFDC-6053C9C70E75.png038CBB2F-5CC1-4510-BE39-C93B8AA194DD.jpeg64129CB1-9A14-46C9-9F4C-40CBCB65F137.png
 

Tyger

Super Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2017
Messages
2,172
Location
Clermont, NY
Aircraft
Magni M16
Total Flight Time
475
How were you able to navigate the NY Class B with such a bad radio? Or did you just fly beneath the shelf to get to Caldwell?
 
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