Short fields, grass/gravel fields, backcountry flying

Rowdyflyer1903!

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Rowdyflyer - I was landing up hill on steep incline on a grass field in NH once with my SC M912, and the front tire got pushed way into the mud. Luckily, I didn't have much forward movement on landing due to the incline, but a lot of weight push down on the front tire and lifted the back end up. I was able to get the gyro to roll back out of the mud, then spun it around 180, and took off down hill. Of course, with all the excitement of almost getting stuck I took off down hill with the rotor brake on. I landed at a near by airport to clean off all the mud. Again, another case where it would be non-issue for my Cub since it would have just rolled up the hill on the two big main tires spreading out the weight or would have just landed on the side of the hill with the Cub.

Hindsight, I should have flown up the hill (climbing) more then land as opposed to flying at the hill (descending) then landing... but there was a wood fence which I had to land before which made it difficult.
You know, you make decisions on the situation as it unfolds. you did well.
 

loftus

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I think Dave is spot on. Gyros as a rotorcraft are extremely capable as short landing machines. They are generally not very capable as short take-off machines but are much more squirly in short take-off situations and on anything less than smooth runway surfaces. My parked gyro was struck and the blade destroyed by a gyro on it's takeoff roll which hit a bump and veered off to the side of the runway. In my own experience bumps also punish the rotor head at least until full flight RRPM is reached.
 

Rowdyflyer1903!

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Yes, I agree. While the disk is more or less stable in wanting to go in its direction of travel, the fuselage is free to move in an undulating fashion. The movement of the stick tells you the difference between the intent of the rotor and the movement of the fuselage which is connected by effectively a u-joint further connected by control rods. The grip of the tires to the terrain is at odds with what the rotor wants to do. With the nose wheel off the ground and the machine is a speed where the rudder is weak, what do you have at your disposal to correct that bump and causes the veer? Without differential braking and smart rotor management you are or can be in trouble. That brief period of time, whether it be departures or landing, where the thing you are strapped into transitions from some that rolls to something that flies or vice Veras, should be kept short and controled.

I was flying around my local area. Just a short hop and I didn’t check the weather. While I was up a front blew through. I had time out gazzuuzuuu with this plane. I got this I told myself. The maximum cross wind component was 15 knots at 90 degrees. The wind was cross at way more than that. In affect I just became a test pilot. I approached in a proper crab and caught the drift. Just before touch down I pulled the wing low into the wind and jammed the rudder to keep her from turning. I touched down on that one wheel tracking straight down the runway. Sweet I got this when a gust of wind hit my tail an the the aircraft pirouetted as pretty as a ballerina, departed the runway heading for trees and the airport fence. I got this I said again and reached and tapped the brake. You idiot that wheel is in the air! What else you got to control this. I had only one option left and that was to add full power. I had to get wind across my rudder. With tree looming the tail swung into the wind and with level wings, all three wheels on the ground, I shut it down. No damage. The thing that flies was now a thing that rolls and in control.

All of this happens in a split second. Time does slow for us as we flip though our mental Rolodex for solutions to the mess we are in. If you are like me, you can’t remember when you learn what you learn but it’s there waiting for you. Your training, experience and familiarity with your machine won’t let you down.
 

fara

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This was at a private airstrip with grass runway which you know of in MA. It happened a while ago, but I did spin up rotor to 200 rpm before take-off roll. However, I did slow down when I saw the deep impressions across the runway (couldn't stop in time) and I suspect the rpms dropped enough to start a flap...

My point is off airport strips will have all kinds of surface issues which are not ideal for a gyrocopter, but are fine for bush planes. This scenario is a complete non-issue for a bush plane. It would just roll over them and keep going...

I agree with all the information you mentioned above too...

Massachusetts Boston area rechecks suck :)
Specially those pesky trike yahoos.
How come you couldn’t stop with that big umbrella above you. I am not sure you really should have slowed down. I think your gyro would have just rolled through it. Those impressions have to be pretty deep and bad. The Vortex I though has suspension for rougher fields. Sun N Fun Paradise city and even Oshkosh has some really bad spots. Oshkosh has a few launch point in their ultralight field. It will launch you up and you will come back down even in an airplane or a trike. Definitely not smooth. Have to be careful.
 
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fara

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I believe on of the larger issues is the nose wheel. How much of an impact can, for example, a Dominator style machine endure before it turns into a Yard Dart and spikes the ground. In landing this is serious, during take off speeds, it can be un survivable. I believe if I wanted to equip a Gyroplane for less than groomed non topped runways, a skid plate or perhaps a purpose built composite fairing which could lift the fuselage and skim the surface in case of a nose gear collapse Would be in order. Something has to be in-place to extend the duration of impact. This is the key. Sudden stops kill.

Any nose gear aircraft being fixed wing or sling wing will be at a disadvantage to that of conventional landing gear With the training wheel in front a nose geared aircraft is at more risk. Even at touch down a burst of power will send the super cub skyward. Where as a Gyroplane pilot has much todo before this happens. Propeller clearance is also an issue With pusher style nose gear machines.

Bigger fat tires, long throw suspension, independent brakes, a robust dependable pre-rotation and one tough nose gear plus experience can go a long way to achieving safer off field landings and departures. Uphill landing and down hill departures regardless of the wind is what Bush pilots recommend within intelligent limits.

I do wish more tractor style taildragger Gyroplanes were available for exploring. Two out of the three fixed wing birds which I have owned were conventional gear. Many times I flew home loaded with camping gear and cow shit splattered on my horizontal. With little argument landing a taildragger requires an additional skill set and mind Set.

Fly formation with a super cub and let he/she be the landing dummy. If he/she is not successful, fly and go for help.
Dominator nose gear breaks off at Zephyrhills runway right in front of us on a little hard landing. That tall skanky thing isn’t going to hold up but you are wrong that the person would get killed or something. Seen two Dominator fronts give out and the person walked away and both rebuilt it and they still fly here.

On takeoff the soft field technique should be used which means you want that nose wheel up with disc at high alpha and get off the ground a bit prematurely and then put the attitude down and build speed before climbing up. This is a bit easier to do on bent keel designs than straight keel ones for obvious reasons.
 
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fara

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This might have enhanced the feeling of being "top heavy".

The slopes I have been mentioning are much more than what you would typically find on a beach. In my experience flying off airport with SC M912 the airstrips with flat surfaces are fine, but everything else bush planes are much better for this use case. In New England, many of the air strips I flew into with my Cub would not be possible for a gyrocopter to take off (I tried many...).

Found a photo of one of the strips I landed where I had a lot of problems sliding down slope trying to take off in the SC M912. Its hard to see the slope angle, but drew some lines. Its much steeper in person than it looks in the photo. What do you think the angle is? 15-20 degrees? The plane is angled to land flat with the surface. Flew into this strip all the time in my Cub and no issue at all, but very challenging in the gyro due to side slope. Actually, I wasn't able to take off where the Cubs took off. I had to go all the way down the hill to a flatter spot next to the tree line to take off, but now didn't have enough runway to clear the tree tops so did 180 just before tree tops.

Also, when I tried to taxi up the slope to park the gryo the gyro fell back on its tail wheel with front nose sticking up in the air. Talk about a pain in the arse. I had to shut down, and figure out how to get out without the gryo rolling down the hill without me in it since needed to hold brakes to keep it from rolling back. The SC M912 didn't have a parking brake lock. I got a whole round of applause once I figured out how to park the gryo on a typical off-airport strip we flew into by my SuperCub friends. :) It was comical.
View attachment 1153695

So off airport operations with a gyro is possible, but not ideal for backcountry IMO. Like any aircraft, you have to fly it within its capabilities. Given this I'm still interesting in getting an M22 and modifying it for off airport operations. :) BTW - I sold my SC M912 since it was too slow to get to my off-airports spots I enjoyed flying too, and unfortunately was not able to go into many of the strips I flew too... No fun to circle the air strip while all the other bush planes have landed... The tandem gyros are much faster so can address the first issue. I'm out in Colorado now and everything is flat so that addresses the second issue. :)

Yeah some of these issues seem to be particular to the model you were flying. I am going to look at that picture on my laptop instead of phone. I remember Greg flew off AR-1 once from Russel Brown’s home. Not exactly a strip. Just grass growing on his property. He had about 700 feet before some 20 foot bushes. There is video of it I made with the phone on YouTube. It actually went quite well.
I have two customers right now wanting a more outback version of AR-1. I am planning on copying my stick trike stuff on to the gyro. I landed on many grass fields with that. Though not so much slope.
 
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Rowdyflyer1903!

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Dominator nose gear breaks off at Zephyrhills runway right in front of us on a little hard landing. That tall skanky thing isn’t going to hold up but you are wrong that the person would get killed or something. Seen two Doninator fronts give out and the person walked away and both rebuilt it and they still fly here.

On takeoff the soft field technique should be used which means you want that nose wheel up with disc at high alpha and get off the ground a bit prematurely and then put the attitude down and build speed before climbing up. This is a bit easier to do on bent keel designs than straight keel ones for obvious reasons.
Good to hear no serous injuries andthe machines were repaired. This speaks to the slow speeds of landing and departure even if the departure distance is a bit more lengthy. I have often said that I flew aircraft which were slow because they crash slow and crashing slow is important.
 

Rowdyflyer1903!

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Good to hear no serous injuries andthe machines were repaired. This speaks to the slow speeds of landing and departure even if the departure distance is a bit more lengthy. I have often said that I flew aircraft which were slow because they crash slow and crashing slow is important.
One more bit of observation. There are a few instances which we have seen on video of the classic rotor flap, hitting the stops and the roll to the left resulting in impact. This is not the result of gear collapse but it is certainly violent. The angle at which the fuselage impacts the ground is important. If designers have this in mind when designing gear and enclosures…… heck it’s all a compromise. Sorry about beating a dead horse.
 

Rowdyflyer1903!

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Dominator nose gear breaks off at Zephyrhills runway right in front of us on a little hard landing. That tall skanky thing isn’t going to hold up but you are wrong that the person would get killed or something. Seen two Doninator fronts give out and the person walked away and both rebuilt it and they still fly here.

On takeoff the soft field technique should be used which means you want that nose wheel up with disc at high alpha and get off the ground a bit prematurely and then put the attitude down and build speed before climbing up. This is a bit easier to do on bent keel designs than straight keel ones for obvious reasons.
I am going to drift a bit and ask something specific in relation to what was stated about bent keel verses straight keel designs. I am guessing this was said in regard to the amount of degrees one can rotate before the tail wheel touches? How much rocker is needed to allow the balancing on the mains and sufficient flair when landing? Obviously this thick skull of mine doesn’t see the obvious.
 

Tyger

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Even with my straight keel, I find it's not at all hard to get that nose wheel off the ground "prematurely". I fly off a slightly bumpy grass runway most of the time, and getting that nose wheel up soon is always part of my plan. I do have plenty of space ahead to build up airspeed for the subsequent climb out. As my instructor used to say, "Don't try to combine a short-field takeoff with a soft-field takeoff".

As far as "sufficient" flare when landing, I have never found that to be a problem... which is not to say I haven't touched the tail wheel down first a few times! 😇
 
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fara

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Yes, I agree. While the disk is more or less stable in wanting to go in its direction of travel, the fuselage is free to move in an undulating fashion. The movement of the stick tells you the difference between the intent of the rotor and the movement of the fuselage which is connected by effectively a u-joint further connected by control rods. The grip of the tires to the terrain is at odds with what the rotor wants to do. With the nose wheel off the ground and the machine is a speed where the rudder is weak, what do you have at your disposal to correct that bump and causes the veer? Without differential braking and smart rotor management you are or can be in trouble. That brief period of time, whether it be departures or landing, where the thing you are strapped into transitions from some that rolls to something that flies or vice Veras, should be kept short and controled.

I was flying around my local area. Just a short hop and I didn’t check the weather. While I was up a front blew through. I had time out gazzuuzuuu with this plane. I got this I told myself. The maximum cross wind component was 15 knots at 90 degrees. The wind was cross at way more than that. In affect I just became a test pilot. I approached in a proper crab and caught the drift. Just before touch down I pulled the wing low into the wind and jammed the rudder to keep her from turning. I touched down on that one wheel tracking straight down the runway. Sweet I got this when a gust of wind hit my tail an the the aircraft pirouetted as pretty as a ballerina, departed the runway heading for trees and the airport fence. I got this I said again and reached and tapped the brake. You idiot that wheel is in the air! What else you got to control this. I had only one option left and that was to add full power. I had to get wind across my rudder. With tree looming the tail swung into the wind and with level wings, all three wheels on the ground, I shut it down. No damage. The thing that flies was now a thing that rolls and in control.

All of this happens in a split second. Time does slow for us as we flip though our mental Rolodex for solutions to the mess we are in. If you are like me, you can’t remember when you learn what you learn but it’s there waiting for you. Your training, experience and familiarity with your machine won’t let you down.

When you are doing takeoff roll and your front wheel is in the air as it should be but your ground roll is slow you have loads of rudder authority because your engine is buzzing like a chain saw and all your rudder sees is localized relative wind from your prop blast. This is why on gusty crosswind landings you should do a power on approach and landing and it’s much more true in Gyroplanes than even airplanes and trikes because we touch down at 5 mph.
 

Rowdyflyer1903!

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When you are doing takeoff roll and your front wheel is in the air as it should be but your ground roll is slow you have loads of rudder authority because your engine is buzzing like a chain saw and all your rudder sees is localized relative wind from your prop blast. This is why on gusty crosswind landings you should do a power on approach and landing and it’s much more true in Gyroplanes than even airplanes and trikes because we touch down at 5 mph.
Too bad they sound like chainsaws too. The Mosquito helicopter is named correctly. Bzzzzzz bzzzzz bzzzzz
 

Vance

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Your gear although extended is welded 4130 chrome moly multiple bracing. It is not suspended but certainly could take at least moderate abuse.

As discussed in this forum, Gyroplane gear is different in its weight bearing distribution than that of a tri cycle fixed wing. a Gyroplanes gear is certainly unique unto itself.

The center of effort resulting from the rotor vs the center of gravity which is born by the main gear is unique also. This perhaps goes back to the hang test but how would one know where the position of the main gear should be with out the knowledge of where the CG would is?
The Predators main gear is suspended and the nose gear also has suspension.

Most modern gyroplanes have some sort suspension all around.

In my opinion you should not fly any aircraft without knowing where the center of gravity.

By observation suggests a gyroplane typically has a larger CG envelope than a fixed wing of similar weight.

Your questions should have been answered in the first few hours of gyroplane instruction.

I feel you would likely find value in some additional flight instruction in a gyroplane because it is easier to demonstrate than explain.
 

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Vance

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I am going to drift a bit and ask something specific in relation to what was stated about bent keel verses straight keel designs. I am guessing this was said in regard to the amount of degrees one can rotate before the tail wheel touches? How much rocker is needed to allow the balancing on the mains and sufficient flair when landing? Obviously this thick skull of mine doesn’t see the obvious.
The Predator touches her tail wheel down with the nose tire around six inches off the ground. This dimension changes a little with load.

Some of the writing about straight keel verses bent keel comes from the AutoGyro gyroplanes not having a tail wheel.

In my experience how much rock back is available does not make much difference in the basics of how she flies.
 

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Vance

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Yes, I agree. While the disk is more or less stable in wanting to go in its direction of travel, the fuselage is free to move in an undulating fashion. The movement of the stick tells you the difference between the intent of the rotor and the movement of the fuselage which is connected by effectively a u-joint further connected by control rods. The grip of the tires to the terrain is at odds with what the rotor wants to do. With the nose wheel off the ground and the machine is a speed where the rudder is weak, what do you have at your disposal to correct that bump and causes the veer? Without differential braking and smart rotor management you are or can be in trouble. That brief period of time, whether it be departures or landing, where the thing you are strapped into transitions from some that rolls to something that flies or vice Veras, should be kept short and controled.

I was flying around my local area. Just a short hop and I didn’t check the weather. While I was up a front blew through. I had time out gazzuuzuuu with this plane. I got this I told myself. The maximum cross wind component was 15 knots at 90 degrees. The wind was cross at way more than that. In affect I just became a test pilot. I approached in a proper crab and caught the drift. Just before touch down I pulled the wing low into the wind and jammed the rudder to keep her from turning. I touched down on that one wheel tracking straight down the runway. Sweet I got this when a gust of wind hit my tail an the the aircraft pirouetted as pretty as a ballerina, departed the runway heading for trees and the airport fence. I got this I said again and reached and tapped the brake. You idiot that wheel is in the air! What else you got to control this. I had only one option left and that was to add full power. I had to get wind across my rudder. With tree looming the tail swung into the wind and with level wings, all three wheels on the ground, I shut it down. No damage. The thing that flies was now a thing that rolls and in control.

All of this happens in a split second. Time does slow for us as we flip though our mental Rolodex for solutions to the mess we are in. If you are like me, you can’t remember when you learn what you learn but it’s there waiting for you. Your training, experience and familiarity with your machine won’t let you down.
When I am on the ground all gyroplanes I have flown steer with the rudder pedals and when I am in the air she steers with the cyclic.

Typically with a wind from the left just before liftoff I will have right rudder (right pedal) and left cyclic.

The Predator has a free castering nose wheel with differential braking. I have not ever used a brake for steering on the takeoff roll.

Some gyroplanes have a maximum cross wind component for landing listed in the pilot’s operating handbook. In my experience it is only if you are trying to keep her on a narrow runway.

Because of short landing roll; cross wind component becomes a nonissue for landing.

An experienced gyroplane pilot can simply land into the wind.

Takeoff does have a cross wind limitation depending on the situation because of the longer takeoff roll. With enough wind the takeoff roll may become very short.

I low time gyroplane pilot should build up their wind limitations slowly.
 

DavePA11

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Too bad they sound like chainsaws too. The Mosquito helicopter is named correctly. Bzzzzzz bzzzzz bzzzzz
There was a Mosquito helicopter at my old airport, and amazing aircraft. It would be cool to have one of these modified with Rotax 915 engine. The 2 cycle engines always fail as did this one with MZ202. Last time it failed it went swimming in a lake.
 

DavePA11

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Massachusetts Boston area rechecks suck :)
Specially those pesky trike yahoos.
How come you couldn’t stop with that big umbrella above you. I am not sure you really should have slowed down. I think your gyro would have just rolled through it. Those impressions have to be pretty deep and bad. The Vortex I though has suspension for rougher fields. Sun N Fun Paradise city and even Oshkosh has some really bad spots. Oshkosh has a few launch point in their ultralight field. It will launch you up and you will come back down even in an airplane or a trike. Definitely not smooth. Have to be careful.
Yeah, but I really miss flying out there with those pesky yahoo’s! Spent most of our time just hanging out at the airport which was just as fun. Nothing like that here in Colorado that I have found. Looking to move back.

I didn’t really understand flap until I experienced it first hand. I know what to do now to avoid it. Instructors should emphasize how important it is to keep rotor rpm up on all phases of take off… I hear talk about hand spinning rotors and building up rotor rpm as you go down the runway, but no one mentions this I can lead to flap if you hit bumps.

I used a lot of the suspension on the SC M912 and doubt any other gyro could land in some of those places without damaging something. So I learned the hard way that gyros were not ideal for the same off airport places I was flying the Cub. Still a blast to fly.

SC M912 is a truly great machine! Thinking of buying and M22 with 914 and putting big tires on it like the NZ guy did. Have to sell my Husky first. It’s still being fixed from when I crashed in WY. Husky didn’t like being landed like the SC M912 with suspension and gear collapsed… :-(

Dave
 

Rowdyflyer1903!

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Yeah, but I really miss flying out there with those pesky yahoo’s! Spent most of our time just hanging out at the airport which was just as fun. Nothing like that here in Colorado that I have found. Looking to move back.

I didn’t really understand flap until I experienced it first hand. I know what to do now to avoid it. Instructors should emphasize how important it is to keep rotor rpm up on all phases of take off… I hear talk about hand spinning rotors and building up rotor rpm as you go down the runway, but no one mentions this I can lead to flap if you hit bumps.

I used a lot of the suspension on the SC M912 and doubt any other gyro could land in some of those places without damaging something. So I learned the hard way that gyros were not ideal for the same off airport places I was flying the Cub. Still a blast to fly.

SC M912 is a truly great machine! Thinking of buying and M22 with 914 and putting big tires on it like the NZ guy did. Have to sell my Husky first. It’s still being fixed from when I crashed in WY. Husky didn’t like being landed like the SC M912 with suspension and gear collapsed… :-(

Dave
I’m jealous
 

MonkeyClaw

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Great stuff everyone! I also read the suggested threads. Very fun reading! I think I'm going with the bigger tires with the idea that:
1) this isn't going to be a long cross country machine (I have a FW for that); and
2) I want to go places where my FW won't take me (either because I can't land or TO where I want to go, or I'm too chicken to try).

I have no plans on doing any hardcore back country landings, beach landings, etc. but I like the idea of having way more capability than I'm going to use.
 

fara

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Yeah, but I really miss flying out there with those pesky yahoo’s! Spent most of our time just hanging out at the airport which was just as fun. Nothing like that here in Colorado that I have found. Looking to move back.

I didn’t really understand flap until I experienced it first hand. I know what to do now to avoid it. Instructors should emphasize how important it is to keep rotor rpm up on all phases of take off… I hear talk about hand spinning rotors and building up rotor rpm as you go down the runway, but no one mentions this I can lead to flap if you hit bumps.

I used a lot of the suspension on the SC M912 and doubt any other gyro could land in some of those places without damaging something. So I learned the hard way that gyros were not ideal for the same off airport places I was flying the Cub. Still a blast to fly.

SC M912 is a truly great machine! Thinking of buying and M22 with 914 and putting big tires on it like the NZ guy did. Have to sell my Husky first. It’s still being fixed from when I crashed in WY. Husky didn’t like being landed like the SC M912 with suspension and gear collapsed… :-(

Dave

Well those trike yahoos have an AR-1 there now and Tabor is a Sport CFI for gyroplanes now as well.

I really have not found a case where the places I would go on trikes cannot be handled even by the standard AR-1, though it would be better to have bigger tires like the Apollo Monsoon or other trikes. The rotor RPM have to stay high as you move over rough surfaces because our wing (rotor disc) is only somewhat solid when it has centrifugal force pulling those blades out enough. If you suspension is good it should not be just passing the shock into the rotor disc. It should be absorbing it right in the suspension. Is it just a spring or rubber and not actual shock? Shocks would take that movement and energy, convert them into heat and not pass it on as much. A La Champ versus Cub's bungees.
 
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