Flying the String Wing Again

If you’ll recall in my blog post titled I Went And Bought A Thing I bought a powered parachute (PPC). I’ve made some engine modifications and done all the testing and everything looks good. I’ve flown it 4 times now and am finally getting comfortable being back in the string wing saddle again.

This morning I drove out to New Jerusalem to get a quick flight in before work. I was greeted with not one but two crop duster crews. I went and talked to them to find out where they would be flying so I could stay out of their way. Wasn’t going to be a problem. In order to further stay out of their way I took off and landed on the taxiway. The crop dusters never use it. They land toward their ground crews and take off in the opposite direction; no matter what the wind is doing.

I laid out my parachute and hopped into my little pink go cart. I was a little worried about starting it. It gets notoriously hard to start when the engine is hot. This is why I don’t let it warm up too much before flying. However, I needn’t have worried, it fired up on the first pull. After a quick prayer thanking God for this gift and for His protection, I punched the throttle. The chute popped off the ground and inflated nicely. The taxiway had plenty of room for me to maneuver and stabilize the chute. Once it had stabilized I added throttle and pretty much just jumped off the ground. I reduced throttle to put it in a gentle climb.

I tried to keep my eyes on the crop dusters because they rarely use the radio. I listened for them on the radio anyway. After getting getting airborne I noted that there was a pretty good breeze blowing at about 100 feet off the ground. My forward progress slowed considerably the higher I climbed. Even though there was no wind at ground level, it was definitely breezy above. But it was smooth so no problem.

Cruising over the orchard next to the runway
Sunrise

After about 20 minutes of cruising around near the airport it was time to head back so I could get to work on time. I didn’t want to get too far from the airport as last time I had a fuel line rupture after I had landed. I repaired the problem but I wanted to stay close in case the broken fuel line was a symptom and not THE problem. I flew out over the orchard to the south of the runway and made an abbreviated approach (made possible by the stiff breeze). Just above the runway the wind quit and I sped up! Not a problem though, it actually helped my landing. After landing everything on the fuel line looked good. Having survived a sortie in the sky once more I loaded up the “Pink Thing”, taunted the crop duster crew a little, and then drove to work.

As a treat for reading this far here is a short video from the flight this morning.

PPC – First Modifications

After getting my Powered Parachute (PPC) back home I wanted to start it up to see how it runs. The seller had sent me a video of the engine running but I wanted to see it for myself. It started up okay but ran pretty rough and would NOT idle correctly. If I brought the throttles back anywhere near their fully back position the engine would die. After talking to a friend who is pretty knowledgeable on PPCs and doing some online research I decided to remove the intake silencer. Most sources said they don’t really work all that well on quieting engine noise and don’t do anything to make the engine run better. So my first modification was to remove it.

Intake silencer installed on the engine. Started the removal process.

I unbolted the intake silencer and removed it from the engine.

Next I covered the carburetor intakes while I ordered the parts I would have to replace as a result of removing the intake silencer. First, I would need two air filters, one for each carburetor. Next I would need two new main jets as Rotax has a main jet recommendation for use with and without intake silencers and the jets are two different sizes. So while I was ordering the correct parts I covered the air intakes.

While the parts were on order I also decided to check the other components of the carburetor to make sure they were clean and correct. I checked the main jet, idler jet, needle jet, and jet needle (yes those are two different things) to make sure the correct parts were installed.

148?? Nope need a 158 main jet.
2.68 Needle Jet…. Yep, that checks out. Correct.
11K2 Jet Needle. Yes, that’s the right part.
45 Idler Jet… Yes, also correct. We’re in pretty good shape.

So after verifying and cleaning these jets and the needle I reassembled the carburetor and ordered two air filters and two 158 main jets.

After receiving the main jet installation is very simple. Remove the carburetor bowl (slide one clip out of the way and drop the bowl) and unscrew the main jet at the bottom of the carb. Screw the new jet in and replace the bowl. Next I put on the two new air filters.

Now after having verified the right parts in the carburetor it was time to adjust the idle. I went with Rotax’s standard recommendations to start with. Setting the idle speed on this carb is kind of like hitting a moving target. There are so many adjustments to make and every adjustment affects every other adjustment. Rotax recommended screwing in the air regulating screw all the way in and then back out 1/2 turn. They recommended screwing in the adjustment screw all the way in and then out 3 full turns. This is were I started and the only difference from these defaults was that I ended up screwing the adjustment screw out 2 1/2 turns. This gave me an idle speed of 2200 rpm with the throttle at the rearward stops. Now, here is the translation. The air regulation screw controls the idle mixture, so the closer you are to sea level, the richer it needs to be. The higher up you are, the leaner. What they call the adjustment screw actually just limits how far the throttle slide inside the carburetor will travel to the closed postion. So once you get the idle RPM running nicely with the air regulation screw, you set the minimum idle speed with the adjustment screw. If I were to give them names I would call them the idle mixture screw and the throttle stop screw.

Next I have to take the PPC out to the airport and do some full throttle tests. I don’t want to do that in my neighborhood because it’s way too noisy. More to come!

I Went And Bought A Thing

The bad news was that the flying club I belong to is closing down. I hate bad news. To console myself I started browsing Barnstormers.com for airplanes I couldn’t afford. I thought about the powered parachute (PPC) that I owned and I kind of missed it. I started looking at PPC’s on Barnstormers and all were either on the East Coast or where out of my price range. Then I stumbled on an ad for a Six Chuter PPC – call for details. I emailed the guy and got back a detailed list of what he was selling and for how much. His price was firm but it was a very good price for what he was offering. I put a deposit down on it on the spot. I ran the ad by my friend who has been into PPCs for years, got me into it. He agreed it was a smoking deal so I made arrangements to complete the purchase. The only problem, it was two states away from me almost on the Canadian border. About a 950 mile drive. One way.

No problem.

I asked Mrs. Flying Dutchman if she was up for a road trip. She hemmed and hawed a bit until I told her she could just ride with me half way and then stay in Bend, OR, our first overnight spot and spend the day shopping while I drove the rest of the way to pick up the PPC. She was sold.

We left home at the crack of 7:30am and started driving north from central California. Past Sacramento and up the Central Valley. We stopped off in Williams, CA to have lunch at Granzella’s. Delicous Reuben sandwiches and nice restaurant as well as the deli where we got the sandwiches. We stayed on I-5 until we got to Weed, yes, Weed and then jumped over to US 97 and took that past Klamath Falls all the way into Bend. It was kind of a whirlwind journey.

Klamath Lake
US 97 just goes on and on and on…

We got to our hotel in Bend, The Hampton Inn in the Old Mill District. We had dinner and pretty much fell into bed exhausted. We did take in some sights before crashing for the night. I got up and hit the road at 4:30am the next day and didn’t get back until midnight. It was a grueling drive up to Chewalah WA which is about 30 miles north of Spokane, and about 30 miles from the Canadian border! I didn’t take many pictures. Here are a couple I managed to grab on my way up.

Cristy enjoyed her day in Bend however. Here are a few photos that she took.

So all that driving… what the heck did I come home with?

When we finally got back home we were completely exhausted but at least I know I got a great deal. Now to go over it with a fine tooth comb and make sure it’s airworthy. More to come!

Red Hills Fly-In 2021

It’s already that time of year, time for the Red Hills Fly-in! Sadly this event was cancelled last year out of concern for the health of our hosts, Jack and Myrna who are well into their 70’s. But this year we were all unafraid and pushed ahead with the fly-in on our usual Memorial Day weekend. The biggest change was that this year I truly had nothing to fly to or at the fly-in. Our flying club in Oakdale (O27) is closing it’s doors and I sold my PPC two years ago. To add insult to injury I was on-call for work this weekend so there was no way I could camp with everyone else. However, there was also no way I was going to miss it. It’s only an hour drive away so I drove up Friday and then again on Saturday to visit. We had a great visit with Jack and Myrna and caught up with old friends. Always a lot of fun.

Can’t wait until next year!

See you next year!

We Bought A Kayak

An inflatable kayak. Seemed the best way to transport a kayak. Especially as we start full-time travel. I chose the Sea Eagle 370, big enough for two people and all the gear they would want to stuff in there. It inflates quickly and easily. I tried it in my garage and it went together quickly. We were eager to try it on the water so I picked a likely launch spot at New Melones Lake, near Sonora, CA.

We drove up to Sonora and had lunch at Schnoog’s. Then we headed over to the spot I had chosen. Then we ran into the first problem. It was muddy, and crowded. And full of boats playing obnoxious rap music. Eh… nope. We drove over to another part of the lake and after taking one look at the shoreline we decided that was a no-go too.

NOPE!

By now the wind started picking up. It was going to make launching an inflatable kayak challenging for the first timers that we are. We decided to walk up the shoreline to see if it got any better. Then we ran into this.

Vultures sitting on a dead tree

If the rocks weren’t enough, if the wind wasn’t enough, the vultures were enough to make us realize that this was not the day to go on the maiden voyage of our kayak! We have rescheduled for this Friday morning back at Modesto Reservoir. We’ll let you know how that goes!

Flight To Auburn With Angela

This past Saturday was awesome not only because I got to fly, it was awesome because I got to fly with a young woman I love very much! My daughter Angela. When she was younger I took her flying a few times. She went because I was her dad and told her we were going flying. Well, she’s grown up now and I can’t make her fly with me any more. Luckily she has, without any intervention on my part, started to develop an interest in aviation. I never wanted to pressure my family to like my hobby, just accept that aviation is a huge part of who I am. So it came as a wonderful surprise to me that she was developing this interest.

So about 4 months ago we went flying and I let her take the controls and see what it felt like. It was a lot different that what she expected I think. The plane seemed to do whatever I asked but it didn’t seem to want to listen to her. I explained that after some time in the cockpit you develop a feel for the plane and it becomes much easier. We tried again last month but the plane’s engine didn’t sound right so I asked the owner to check it out. I belong to an aero club and don’t own my own aircraft any more.

Well the stars finally aligned this past Saturday and we got in the trusty little Cessna 152 and launched toward Auburn Airport (KAUN). As soon as we had reached our cruising altitude of 3000 feet MSL (mean sea level) I gave her the airplane. When an airplane is trimmed up properly and on course, there really isn’t a whole lot to do. She finally tried some turns with some coaching from me. She was having problems with the nose dropping when she turned the plane. I told her that what I do is pull back slightly on the yoke when turning. For a very gentle turn I told her to just squeeze the yoke, that would cause her to involuntarily pull the yoke back just enough. She tried a few turns and started to get the feel of it. Mostly she was just content to hold the plane on course for Auburn.

Wings Grill and Espresso Bar

Once we got to within 10 miles of Auburn I took the airplane back from her and brought us in for a fairly decent landing. We taxied to the transient parking area and tied the plane down. We walked across the ramp to the Wings Grill & Esspresso Bar. We ordered a couple of fancy coffees and then grabbed a table and watched the airplanes taxi, takeoff, and land. Coffee and a show! It’s always a lot of fun to be able to just sit and talk to my daughter. We don’t always communicate that well, at least I don’t, so it’s always a treat for me to talk to her and find out what kind of woman she’s become. Happily the one thing we do have in common is Jesus!

Watching the show out on the runway

After coffee we walked around the ramp a little at looked at some of the airplanes. She was especially interested in the Russian Antonov AN-2 Colt biplane that was parked there.

Antonov AN-2 Colt at Auburn Airport

It was starting to get hot so we both thought it best to start heading back. I didn’t want her perfect (so far) flight to be marred by a bunch of thermal turbulence on the way home. We got back into the airplane taxied out to the runup area and prepared to depart. I made sure to lean the mixture for best power prior to takeoff, Auburn is at 1500 feet elevation and with a temperature of about 85 degrees that made the density altitude (the altitude the airplane “thinks” it’s at) about 3500 feet. There was no issue during the takeoff run and we cleared all the surrounding hills easily. It’s mostly downhill back into the valley after that.

We cruised back home looking for airplanes, helicopters, or anything else that might want to ruin our perfect day. Angela flew a bit more but I think it was becoming a little fatiguing. Step by step, she’ll get it. I don’t think this means she wants to become a pilot just yet but I’m so happy she’s expressing at least an interest in aviation. But to be on the safe side I bought her a logbook and a set of aircraft headsets. Hey, a dad can dream can’t he?

4 Year Work Anniversary

A little over 4 years ago I got the news that I was about to be laid off. Again. I was working for McClatchy Newspapers and was told that within 3 months we would all be let go. I went into full-blown job search mode. I started sending out resumes, I started researching was I could make money online and go into business for myself.

In the middle of all that I began praying in faith to God. My prayer was, “Father, I know you have my next job already picked out for me. Please just give me the wisdom to recognize the opportunities you present me with.”

Within a month of praying that prayer I saw job posting at a county hospital. They were looking for someone with my exact qualifications. So, on the last day the posting was open, I applied and didn’t think anything more about it. A few weeks later a followup questionnaire was emailed to me. I filled that out and sent it back and then didn’t think anything more about it. A few weeks later I was called in for a panel interview. I interviewed with them but didn’t think it went particularly good. And then didn’t think anything more about it.

Then on a Friday afternoon I was called in for a second interview with the CIO and a few other people. One woman just kept staring at me like I was crazy. I answered all their questions. I had been doing at my last job exactly what they were looking for for this job. That afternoon there was an email in my personal email box from the CIO stating “I should’t tell you this but you got the job!”

God had provided for me… YET AGAIN! My family would be taken care of by GOD! So this is more than just a job. More than just a work anniversary for me. It is the anniversary of date that God provided for my family. I had prayed in faith, and God had responded to my faith. I’ve certainly done nothing to deserve it. But I feel the need to witness what God has done for me.

So Happy Anniversary to me and thank you God!

Bun Moreland Gone West

“Gone west” is a euphemism that pilots use to refer to a pilot passing away. I just learned this past weekend that a very special pilot passed away. His name was Bun Moreland. That’s right, Bun. He was a flight instructor. My first flight instructor in fact. He was the man that introduced me to the sky. He was the man that kept pointing out everything I was doing wrong. He was the man who used to try to mess up my airplane controls just to see if I was paying attention. He was stern while I was a student pilot. It made me a fair pilot.

I’ll never forget the day we met. I walked into Sierra Aviation and asked if they gave airplane rides. Merle Furry, the owner said they did demo flights. I told him I’d take one of those. You see, I was supposed to ride with a friend of a friend and they never showed up so I was determined to get my airplane ride. Merle calls to this balding older guy that looked more like a farmer in his plaid flannel shirt and blue jeans, “Hey Bun, this gentleman was to go on a demo ride.”

So Bun walks me out to the airplane and goes through preflight inspection with me. Explaining everything he was doing without even setting his coffee cup down. He told me to get into the pilot seat. I thought he’d tell me to move before we flew but he got into the passenger seat. He fired up the airplane and we taxied out. He did his runup (more preflight checks) and then taxied to the runway and took off. He told me to put my hands on the yoke and my feet on the rudder pedals, which I did. He then let go of everything and then said, “your airplane.”

I asked him what I was supposed to do now. He said, “I dunno, whatever you want I guess.” Simply awe-inspiring. But he did let me do whatever I wanted. We climbed we turned. After half an hour or so he talked me back to the airport pattern and then took over and landed the airplane. He walked over to the display case holding all the pilots supplies and filled out a logbook. The first entry (which I still have) turned out to be my very first flying lesson. I was hooked. It was the most expensive $20 I ever spent.

After I passed my checkride and received my certificate, he became a different person. He moved from stern instructor to mentor. Also giving me advice, which I took. Later still he became a comrade, a man who could find the humor in anything. I never would have guessed when I was his student. When we became peers, I found that the man could, would, and did laugh at everything, most especially himself. And more than occasionally, me. He taught me to laugh at myself.

My favorite Bun Moreland story was when I was still a student. We were on my first long cross country flight. We were over Sacramento, California and the engine started sputtering. He immediately called, “my airplane” and took the controls. He tried carburetor heat, mixture, magneto check but nothing would bring the engine back to life. He then called Sacramento Approach and declared an emergency. Air Traffic Control asked our intentions and Bun asked for the nearest airport. That airport happened to be an active US Air Force base. But in an emergency, you will be cleared to land there.

Bun had milked the plane most of the way to the Air Force base when the engine quit completely. Coincidentally the tower called us on the radio and said that our approach end of the runway was under construction and could we please land long? I’ll never forget the look on Bun’s face as he looked at me with a half smile, half what-the-heck expression. After a few seconds he looked back out the front and simply said “unable” on the radio.

As we were gliding toward the runway we saw it was indeed torn up but the taxiways were in perfect shape and much larger than our runway at home in Oakdale. Bun just side-stepped the plane over to the taxiway and continued our approach. I looked over at the runway and men were diving off their tractors and running. Trucks were speeding away from the runway as fast as possible. At the time I just thought, “huh, look at that.” It was much later that we found out that all those men know was that “an airplane is about to crash at the airport.” The had pictures of a huge cargo jet crashing and exploding on the torn up runway. That’s why they didn’t notice the little two-seat Cessna quietly gliding past them.

But set it down on the taxiway as pretty as you please. We were just congratulating each other when I pointed out a large barricade designed to warn other aircraft that the taxiway was closed. Bun wheeled our little plane around it, though how he could have missed is beyond me. It was almost as big as my house. We costed to a stop just as a fire truck also as large as my house rolled up with firemen in their moon suits pointing a huge foam cannon at us. I jumped out and put my hands up and said “Don’t shoot!” Though they didn’t see much humor in it.

First the fireman asked us what happened. Then security arrived and asked us what happened. Then all sorts of men in uniform started showing up and asking what happened. We spent about 30 minutes trying to tell the story and getting interrupted as the next guy that was higher up the food chain in the Air Force showed up. Finally we were stuffed in a security car and taking to the security office to make our formal statements. In separate rooms. That was another two hours of filling out forms. The last form was one Bun had to fill out. A landing permit, and that’s the one that finally set him off. “Next time I’m going to put us in a f…ing bean field!” But after the fact Bun found a way to laugh at almost everything that happened during that incident.

Why Dogs Roll In Poop and Other Stinky Things

Another time Bun and Vito (another of Bun’s former students) flew their plane up to Columbia and I flew up in my plane. We all got on the ground and were just telling stories and lies on the ramp when we noticed a plane landing really long and fast. We were waiting for him to go around but many minutes later he finally came taxiing in. They all piled out of his airplane and everyone was arguing. Except for one small dog who jumped out of the plane and immediately started rolling around on the ground, sniffing the asphalt and licking it. Bun said, “Hey look at that dog!” I said, “He sure is happy to be on the ground.” And for some reason that just struck a chord with the three of us and we almost bust our guts laughing so hard. We still laughed at those stories every time we saw each other at the airport.

And now, that’s all that’s left of Bun. Oh, he had children but they never got into flying and I don’t really know them. But Bun’s stories will live on in my memory. Bun Moreland, the man that taught me to fly. The man who introduced me to the sky. CAVU Bun Morland. Rest in peace my friend.

sunset cessna | Photos: Cessna 150M Aircraft Pictures | Airliners ...

Yank’s RV Resort

Friday:

About a month and a half ago, I was thinking of booking us at another Thousand Trails campground.  I was looking at the one in Paicines, CA but after reading the reviews I decided to look elsewhere.  Doesn’t seem the TT’s in California get very high reviews.  I wasn’t very impressed with the first and only one we’ve stayed at so far.  After reading the reviews I started looking for campgrounds near Paicines.  The thought was that we would take a day trip to Monterey, CA.  Yeah, that was a month and a half ago, before the COVID 19 outbreak.

It was a two and a half hour drive from our home to Yank’s but thanks to the pandemic, traffic was very light.  We arrived around 1pm and check in was super easy.  They had our paperwork waiting for us at the front desk.  We were only one of two checking in that day.  They were really hoping the second party showed up.  They were grateful we showed up.   They guided us to our back-in site, one of only about 8 in the whole park, all others were pull-through.  The back-in sites had more room so I requested one.  They backed us in and camp was set up in less than 20 minutes.

We fixed lunch and took a nap. (Naps are mandatory when we’re RV’ing) 🙂  The weather was beautiful when we arrived.  We took a walk around the park to orient ourselves and stretch our legs.

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The park is fantastically clean, I’m just talking about the grounds.  Our site was bordered with rosemary hedges which smelled wonderful.  They have a pool, workout room, horseshoe pits, and a dog park with obstacles for the dogs (concrete pipes).   They had a nice little convenience store with all the basic “I forgot” items; frozen dinners, candy bars, sewer connections, power cords, RV decorations, etc.  After our walk we went back to the trailer and started on dinner and then watched a movie on the outstanding cable they had at the park.

Saturday:

The next day after sleeping in we decided our mission was to try to find some Kleenex since all the stores in our hometown had been cleaned out of ALL paper products.  We drove down to the Safeway in King City and found two four-packs of Kleenex left on the shelf. Being responsible citizens we only put one in the cart, and a roll of paper towels to be on the safe side.  We bought a few extra snacks as well and then went in search of gas.  Which we located after a brief search; right across the freeway.  As we drove through King City you’d never know that the governor of the State of California had put in a mandatory stay-at-home order.  Folks were in the restaurants, out on the streets, business as normal.  Kind of felt nice to see.

We drove back to the trailer with a full tank of gas and a full grocery bag. We watched more TV as there was not a lot else to do.  It had rained all night and most of the day.  Just before sunset the rain had stopped and we went out for a walk to breath the clean air.  We also took this opportunity to check out the little store in the resort office.  I hadn’t really looked at it when we checked in.  We chatted with the woman at the front desk who was bored out of her mind.  She told us that Yank’s RV Resort was built in anticipation of Yank’s Air Museum which was being built next door, along with some shops and restaurants.  Good to know.  I bought a magnet to commemorate our visit and then we headed back to the trailer.

More movies that night and then an early bed time.  Love the RV life!

Sunday:

We tried to sleep in on Sunday morning but a local crop duster had different ideas.  At 7am sharp he made his first turn over our RV park and spent the next several hours dusting the field around the RV resort.  Ah well….  We got up and set up the iPad so we could watch church online.  After church it was time to clean up.  We would just be ready to go right at the 11am checkout time.

Cristy started cleaning up the trailer, putting things away, etc.  I went out and started dumping the tanks.  If I do it right it usually takes me about 30 minutes with prep time and proper clean up.  I don’t normally put the hose out until I’m ready to dump so this counts as part of the prep time.  I got that dirty deed done and then pack up all the hoses, cable TV connection and stabilizer pads.  We hitched up and then headed home.

It wasn’t a big awesome adventure or anything but it really helped to clear our heads.  Especially with everything going on in the world.  There is just something about RV’ing that slows us down and let’s us breathe and think.  I love it every time I go out.  Time to start planning the next boring adventure. 🙂

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