Unanticipated Joy!


Gyroplane CFI
Staff member
Oct 30, 2003
Santa Maria, California
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2600+ in rotorcraft
When I head off to fly I know it will be an adventure but I never am able to plan what sort of adventure it will be.

I thought today would be about our summer after Christmas weather; blue skies, light winds and mild temperatures.

I underestimated the possibilities.

Lockheed Martin did not have any big winds in the Terminal Aerodrome forecasts and the nearest IFR conditions were in Bakersfield area.

Winds were 290 at 11kts.

They were working on runway 12/30 so they were landing and departing from 20.

I was number 2 behind my friend Mitch in Jolie’s Mooney. There were five aircraft in the pattern but ATC snuck the two of us out. I promised not to overrun Mitch.

She snapped around as soon as we lifted off.

The flight across the Santa Maria Valley was nice and smooth with around a ten kt head wind.

The Met Life Blimp was up flying and it looked large.

Oceano was busy with a Cessna 172 doing touch and goes even though the noise abatement procedures prohibit them and two aircraft were patrolling the beach.

The flight through the Avilla pass was bumpy even though there was not much wind at San Luis Obispo.

I was proud of the landing and several people on the patio asked about the little helicopter. One young man identified The Predator as a gyrocopter because he had shot one down in a video game.

It was so clear I thought I would head for Huasna and then the blue waters called to me. I asked for a left downwind departure to the south east with an early left turn. I took off behind some new friends in a 172 and promised not to over run them. My early left was approved once I had the Cessna in sight. I was to maintain visual separation.

It was uncomfortably turbulent near the hills. I climbed to 2,000 feet in an unsuccessful attempt to find smoother air.

I called Oceano from 3.5 miles to the north over the shoreline descending through 1,700 feet to pattern altitude of 1,000 feet inbound for left traffic for runway 29 to land.

There was a Cessna four miles to the north at 3,000 feet, I never saw him but I reported more often. Three miles to the south of Oceano he turned around and flew back up the beach at 1,500 feet. I set up for an engine out landing and as I got close a friend in another Cessna looked a lot like he was going to cross mid field. His wing was blocking his view and there was no response when I reiterated that I was on short final for runway 29.

I aimed for the last taxiway and boinked the landing.

My friend called crossing the runway mid field and said; ‘Hello Vance, how is the flying.” It was great except for the ugly landing.

As I worked my way through the self serve process with my helmet on a big man, about my age stood at a respectful distance with a thin teenager and a darling young girl.

He asked permission to approach and I removed my helmet and filled out my log book in preparation for the gyroplane explanation. I soon realized that the young man was technically astute and understood aviation terminology. I asked him about it and he said he wanted to learn to fly Helicopters in the army. He already had a lot of books about how helicopters fly and understood what a gyroplane was. He felt if you were going to fly a Helicopter you should understand what makes them work.

The big man was his grandfather and had been in airborne artillery in 1967. We shared some of his in country experiences and explained what airborne artillery was. I sensed that Dane had heard these stories before and he began looking at The Predator in a very thoughtful way as the young girl fidgeted.

I quietly asked the grandfather if I should offer Dane a ride while Dane was closely examining the empennage. He rushed over to Dane in the manner of a person who gets things done and asked him if he wanted to go for a ride. To my surprise Dane was very reserved, perhaps even embarrassed by his grandfather’s audacity and timidly asked if it was even a possibility.

I could feel his excitement as I explained about experimentals not meeting FAA certified aircraft standards and about why I flew with a SODA. We discussed risk assessment and reached agreement. I showed him how the seat belts worked, what to do if we tipped over, how to put on the helmet and where to plug it in. He waited patiently with the helmet on as I did a preflight, paying particular attention to the things that a boinked landing can damage. He seemed to understand the reasons for it all.

I loaned his grandfather my camera and told him I would email the pictures to Dane.

I showed Dane the procedure for boarding the Predator and where to put his feet. I hopped in and began securing myself. His grandfather helped Dane with the belts and we tested the intercom. I explained about a magneto check and Dane was familiar with the procedure. It took a while for the temperatures to reach the green and the magneto check went well.

We were off quickly and waved at our friends getting smaller quickly on the ground.

I called San Luis Obispo ATC to let them know we would be maneuvering very near their airspace. He asked me to squawk 0126 so he could keep an eye on us.

We were fighting a 15kt headwind heading north up the beach and when we approached Shell Beach the rotors off the hill hit us pretty hard. Dane understood what a rotor was and why I was climbing unsuccessfully to get out of them.

I could feel the winds slapping me in the face and the yaw string was jerking though 80 degrees. I hoped that Dane was not afraid because I suspected he would not tell me if he was.

I heard ATC announce that winds were variable at 20kts gusting to 25kts.

We headed out over Avilla Bay and climbed over the hill. We found some steady winds and did some maneuvering. It was not to my usual standard because I did not know where the good air ended.

We did an engine out landing from 1,000 feet on the narrow runway and it was as nice as could be.

Dane was dressed only in a T shirt and that may be why he was shaking too hard to write his email address down legible. It may also have been that he had just had a big shot of adrenalin.

He could not find big enough words to describe his experience and thanked me profusely for the memories.

It is fun to imagine him years from now hanger flying with his pilot buddies telling the story of his first rotary wing flight.

He is a bright focused young man and I am grateful for our meeting.

Thank you, Vance


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I was that little girl once...when we first got together...I thought of all the wonderful adventures you'd go on without out me. She looks so forlorn...yet it will be something for her to look forward to maybe one day!
Just think of the door you opened up for that young boy...you are indeed a special man. But that is why I love you so much!
<3 Ed<3
A caring man and a sharing man.:yo:
I think you could compile your flight descriptions and pictures into a journal. It would be interesting reading for a lot of people. You take great pictures and have a flare for words.
A special picture!

A special picture!

I was that little girl once...when we first got together...I thought of all the wonderful adventures you'd go on without out me. She looks so forlorn...yet it will be something for her to look forward to maybe one day!
Just think of the door you opened up for that young boy...you are indeed a special man. But that is why I love you so much!
<3 Ed<3

Hello Ed,

I loved the picture that her grandfather took of that darling young girl watching her brother in The Predator.

She looks like she is standing at parade rest and intently focused on the action.

I didn’t know why it spoke to me until you explained it.

She was being very good and very patient as we discussed things that were probably outside of her interest.

I could tell she loved being with her Grandpa.

She was doing cartwheels for Grandpa while we were gone.

They were each salient players in this lovely vignette.

I find it is fun to imagine you as a young girl watching your older brother have an adventure that you were left out of.

I love our adventure and our life together.

I learn so much from you.

Love, Vance
Enchanting Facet of Aviation

Enchanting Facet of Aviation

Thank you Leigh,

I love to try to share the magic and freedom of gyroplane flight.

I feel so fortunate to have had so many wonderful adventures.

I am grateful for the knowledge and insight you have shared with me.

For me that sharing is an enchanting facet of aviation.

Thank you, Vance
That is The Plan!

That is The Plan!

Thank you Mark,

Glad to have you along.

Writing a book about our adventures is a part of the adventure.

I am grateful for the opportunity to practice photo journalism with my friends on the forum.

I continue to learn and I feel the book will be better for it.

Ed will add a lot with her insight into what people are feeling.

I feel the plan is progressing well.

Thank you, Vance
Most excellent journey buddy!!!!

I've missed your adventures and the forum; thank you for the pictures and sharing the joy of flight!
Glad to Have you Back John!

Glad to Have you Back John!

I am looking forward to taking you flying around here when you finally make it up this way.

Life is too short to put off the fun stuff.

Ed and I may fly to Santa Paula on the first for Open Hangar Day.

I am waiting to hear from Rowena in case they do not want to have Open Hangar Day on New Year’s Day.

Thank you, Vance
A Call from Rowena

A Call from Rowena

I just got a call from Rowena, the airport manager at Santa Paula and the Museum will be closed but Open Hangar Day is on for January 1.

Weather permitting Ed and I will fly down either Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Thank you, Vance
'All In' is not just a handle it an illness. When I work or play I do it 20 hour a day. Coming out of retirement required new product(s) to sell.

I hope, no one else gets ill or dies and think things are settling down enough to get some free time soon.

I've finished the Aviomania USA's new web-site, 80% of a new web-based accounting package, and a new version of E-Trail Notebook in testing now. So I've been working my but off even in hospitals and at nights.

Will start hiring salesmen in mid January for the two new products and then I'll start playing again almost full time.

It will be soon as I need a break!!!!
John, I was watching a show the other day. Can't remember the name. I watch way too much TV. :D
Part of it was filmed at a marina. One of the boats was named the All-In. Any relation.
John, I was watching a show the other day. Can't remember the name. I watch way too much TV. :D
Part of it was filmed at a marina. One of the boats was named the All-In. Any relation.
Hi Chuck

No I've never renamed a boat. It is one of those sailor bad luck traditions I follow :wacko:, but do not really believe in.

I've seen the ceremony to rename a boat and it hasn't sunk yet so I guess it works.
With this young Mans unanticipated joy of flying with Vance I so look forward to Open Hanger day at Santa Paula!!

I think of all the wonderful experiances that await him once he makes that final decision...

I've been there and I've done that! I hope that Vance has opened some doors for this young man that not many can do...

That is what I love about Vance he makes people think...think about their purpose in life and the goals they are trying to achieve!

What more could you ask for out of life??

Bring it On!

Bring it On!

Cali Weather is looking very promising for the New Year. No more Backseat Popsicle...hopefully!

It's been a while since I've enjoyed open Hanger day the weather is supposed to be 72ish Woo Hoo!

Hopefully my Camera won't act up and I'll be able to get some really good shots!

Cheers! Ed
Ed- I will be looking forward to reading yours and Vances posts the next few days. They will expand my very small world I am experiencing right now. Stan
My photo taking will now have even more special meaning with just you in mind. How much longer are you in the hospital for anyway?

Hospitals drive me bananas...I feel for you but keep up the good work so you can break outta there!

BTW are you on Facebook?

Love & Hugs...
Enjoy your flights while impatiently awaiting our turn!

Enjoy your flights while impatiently awaiting our turn!

Looking foward to hearing all about it.

We have gorgeous flying weather here in Kansas also.

Very rare to get "Aussie -like" winter days here in KS!

Feeling resentful about all the stink'n delays which mean we ARE NOT FLYING ---YET!!! ARGHHHHH!:mad:
Looking foward to hearing all about it.

We have gorgeous flying weather here in Kansas also.

Very rare to get "Aussie -like" winter days here in KS!

Feeling resentful about all the stink'n delays which mean we ARE NOT FLYING ---YET!!! ARGHHHHH!:mad:
Two days ago we had Santa Ana like weather here in Nipomo...it felt like Indian Summer was back again I ran home and put on my tank top and shorts along with Flip Flops ...I really wanted to head out to the beach...it was that beautiful! I was bummed That I couldn't go to the beach I had too many irons in the fire...oh well!
Tomorrow is another day!
Cheers! Ed
I’m am Dane’s father and I can not find words big enuf to thank you for giving my son an experience that he will never forget. I am humbled by generous men like yourself who are willing to share the exhilaration of flight with complete strangers. And for Dane to be on such a short list of individuals that have flown in a gyroplane, I can tell you for certainty that his experience will never be forgotten. From every fiber that makes me a human, thank you sir.

Your observation of Dane’s astuteness is spot on. Like many young boys he has been interested in flight from a young age. As he got older his interests matured into the mechanics of flight. He was never fascinated by high-tech modern aircraft. We have attended many different airshows, EAFB, VAFB, but the one that always made is eyes open was the WW2 fly in at Shafter’s Minter Field. For him, the stranger and more utilitarian it looked, the better the spectacle, and a flight in gyroplane was at the top of his list of awesome aircraft. Pure and simple. Pilot, aircraft, motor, sky and ground. A pure form of flight.

Dane called me right after his flight. I could tell he was shaking like a mini-bike. The shot of adrenaline had him bouncing off the revlimiter.


“Stop. Slow down. Start Over. Speak in English.” I tried to calm him down as to understand what he was talking about. He went over every moment. He soaked in everything.

I wish I had the opportunity to whiteness his experience, His mother and I had to leave the day before and return to Bakersfield for work. Dane would spend the rest of the week there with My Mom and Dad and I’m glad he made the decision to stay. He returned home yesterday (Saturday) and obviously couldn’t wait to talk about his flight.

My father, Dale, has been a working man from day one. He grew up in Sunset work camp, just outside of Arvin (grapes of wrath), working on a dairy at a very young age. He had just secured a job as a heavy machine operator at a cement plant east of Gorman before he was called to service in Vietnam. After his tour he returned to work there until his retirement. He is a man that lives in black and white. There are no grey areas for him and he is defiantly the type to do things. His attitude for doing makes him very popular with the people he knows, as he will not turn down any request for help, even if his body suffers after it. He now lives his life vicariously thru his grandchildren. All that he has attained in his life is geared towards spending whatever time he and my mom can with them. It was hard to tell who was more excited, him or Dane.

I write these thing because I want you to know that your act of kindness not only touched a young man, but a couple of older farts too. Thank you again for giving him this experience and for sharing your encounter in such eloquent words. I tear up each time I read it.

A Multigenerational Gift.

A Multigenerational Gift.

Thank you for sharing your family with me Rob.

They cover quite a spectrum.

Dale caught my attention right away with his asking permission to approach.

Fueling and preparing to fly is not a simple process and most are not at all sensitive to that.

Young kids want to put their foot on the fabric tail.

Starting her up is a very nervous time if kids are running around.

Dale clearly had his granddaughter under control and was trying to minimize distractions for me.

To me this demonstrated a respect that comes from an understanding of the risks in aviation.

He waited patiently as I filled out my log book.

As I answered Dale’s questions I could see that Dane was technically several layers above my explanations.

Dane’s love of aviation was not hard to recognize.

His reaction to the offer of a ride surprised me and it was fun to discus risk assessment with him.

Dale’s patience was reflected in Dane as he waited me to go through my preflight check list.

The ride was very limited by the strong winds and I felt he truly understood what was going on with the limitations of the rough air.

Most young men would have been disappointed that we didn’t do things that were more extreme.

Dane’s excitement was unmistakable

Your post fills in the family portrait for me.

Most men are not able to express their feelings in such a concise and powerful way.

I consider the experience a wonderful multigenerational gift.

I would love to take Dane on a more expansive flight with more appropriate clothing in better weather.

You have my email or you can post on the forum if a more complete flight seems attractive. Just let me know when it would be convenient. A days notice is usually enough.

I would take it as an honor that you would trust me with someone so precious.

I love the idea of being a fun story told among pilots in the distant future about Dales introduction to rotary wing flight.

Thank you, Vance