Back In The Saddle

Related imageWell after 4 years away from fixed-wing aircraft flying both my powered-paraglider and my powered-parachute, I am now flying a Cessna 152 owned by a local flying club.  Why did I get away from parachute-type aircraft?  I was starting to miss flying longer distances and missed the speed and utility of fixed wing aircraft.  But ultimately I believe it was a God thing.  It goes like this…

About a month ago I got a letter from the United States Ultralight Association which is an advocacy organization for ultralight type aircraft of which both my parachutes were.  The letter was informing members that their insurance carrier had decided to stop insuring ultralight aircraft and that at that point there was no other insurance carrier willing to insure their members.  So starting at the end of May 2019 I would no longer be insured.

Two weeks later I got a call out of the blue from someone asking if my powered parachute was still for sale.  It wasn’t but really, everything is always for sale.  I told him that it was.  He asked for my “bottom line” price to sell it.  I quote him a reasonable price for both the powered parachute and the trailer.  After some back and forth on when and how he could see it he showed up the Saturday following that phone call, gave my my price in cash, and drove it back home to Arizona.

The events and their timing made it pretty obvious to me that God’s hand was moving in my life.  For whatever reason I was being steered back to fixed wing aviation.  So to that end I joined the Oakdale Aero Club and this morning got my biennial flight review and club checkout done at the same time.  So as of now I am once again a fixed wing pilot.  It will be nice to be able to fly to other airports again.  Especially with my buddy Jordan.  We’ll probably do some flying together in order to save costs.  Stay tuned for more flying adventures!

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Circle Of Life

So waaaaay back in 2005 my family started attending a new church.  At that church I met a young man named Jordan who was interested in aviation.  His dream was to be a pilot one day.  Like any good pilot I wanted to encourage that dream and so I took him for a ride in my RV-4.  This logbook entry records the occasion.

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Fast forward to this past Wednesday.  I met Jordan out at Oakdale Airport (O27) after work.  Jordan had rented a plane and was ready to give me my airplane ride.  It truly was one of those circle of life moments for me.  Here’s a guy I’d been encouraging for years in his desire to learn to fly, and he actually went and did it.  It was a long journey for him with stops and starts but he saw it through and I have to say I’m quite proud of him!

I’m going to join the same flying club out in Oakdale that he’s a member of and if all goes well with insurance and my biennial flight review, we’ll be flying together a lot more.  It will be a great way for us both to save some money and enjoy flying fellowship with another Christian pilot.

Can a man fly AND love Jesus?  You’d better believe it!

Jordan definitely agrees!

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Jordan

Okay God, I’m Listening!

Just a month or so ago I got a letter stating it was time to renew my aircraft insurance from First Flight Insurance Co.  I dutifully did this because… well… it’s insurance and accidents happen.  Last week I got a letter from them saying that First Flight had elected to stop providing insurance to the Part 103 (Ultralight aircraft) community.  The US Ultralight Association to which I belong said that they are scrambling to find a new insurance carrier but in the mean time, no ultralights would have insurance.  I didn’t think much more about it other than I would just wait and see what USUA came up with as far as insurance companies.

Then, this past Wednesday I get a text out of the blue asking if my P3 Lite Powered Parachute was still for sale.  I was tempted to say no because I’ve been getting sporadic interest in it from an ad I placed on a PPC equipment for sale website.  But they had incorrectly listed my location as Albany NY.  So I was getting calls from guys in New York who would ask lots of questions and then hang up when they found out I was in California.  I had decided not to sell the P3.  I’ve really been enjoying flying it.  But then I got this text asking if my P3 was still for sale.  I first told him that the aircraft is in California and then asked him if he was still interested.  He responded yes.

There ensued a long text exchange (during one of the busiest weeks I have had at work in a long while) between the prospective buyer and I.  I didn’t really believe he was serious until he started asking when he could come pick it out and was cash okay?  So this (Saturday) morning he showed up at 7am, handed me the agreed-upon price in cash, loaded up my powered parachute and drove back to Arizona.

At first I was just kind of amused thinking about how fast these events occurred.  But then I started thinking about it a little deeper with respect to the Providence of God.  The timing is just TOO coincidental.  Since I don’t believe in coincidence or luck, I believe it is God’s Providence.  That within two weeks my aircraft insurance should be cancelled and refunded, by the way, and my aircraft sold… well…  it just feels like this was God’s plan for me.  I have spiritual ears and I’m using them to listen to what He’s trying to tell me.

So… what’s the plan now?  Am I done with aviation?  Nope.  In fact I’m going full circle.  In my aviation career I have rented, owned, built two fixed wing airplanes, sold them, got into parachute aviation, and have now returned to renting fixed wing again.  And really when I think about it, my whole reason for going with the parachutes was to have a way to fly that was very portable.  Renting airplanes in different parts of the country is even more portable.  I don’t need any special place to store an aircraft, don’t need to bring any tools to maintain it, and no maintenance records to track.  I’ll miss owning my own aircraft for the bragging rights if nothing else but in reality this really lifts a burden from me.

I’m going to be contacting a local flying club that a friend is a member of and begin flying with them.  I’ll be flying a Cessna 152, which is essentially the same aircraft I learned to fly in.  It’s a whole circle of life thing.  Looks like I’ll be ending my aviation career as I began it.  And there is nothing wrong with that.

Stay tuned for more pictures and video from the next chapter of my aviation story.

Aeronautical Contact

It’s been somewhat breezy in California’s vast Central Valley this past week but the winds died down this past Sunday evening and I took advantage.  I loaded up my powered parachute and high-tailed it out to New Jerusalem Airport.  I got off the ground at about 6pm.  The winds near the ground were mildly rowdy, and I mean mildly.  As I climbed up through 300 feet MSL ( above mean sea level), the air became silky and warm.

I brought along my Icom VX-6R Ham radio HT (handi-talkie) to try to make an aeronautical contact.  I was circling the field and called out on the SARA repeater frequency.  I got an immediate call back from KM6MHT.  A gentleman by the name of Mike whom I talk to on the radio every now and again on my commute home.  He said I was pretty scratchy but readable but since we both heard each other we can log it.  Since the radio was so heard to hear I decided to just put it away and enjoy the evening flight.

I flew around the New Jerusalem area (just southeast of Tracy, California) and enjoyed the sunset.  The air was perfect, there was no traffic, it was so peaceful.  I shot three landings for practice and then decided to put my PPC away before it got dark.  It was then that I found the only flaw in my day… the mosquitoes!  I put my PPC away in record time and jumped into my pickup truck to escape the onslaught.  It was a perfect end to the weekend.img_20190331_185446

Aeronautical Contact

Image result for yaesu vx-6rFor quite some time I’ve been trying to join up my hobbies of aviation and Ham radio.  Every time I tried to call someone they either didn’t respond or if they did they said I was unreadable.  Well, today I figured out there was a 9 volt battery in my headset that has been there probably since the thing was made.  I changed out the battery yesterday and tried it with my Yaesu VX-6 today.  I unloaded my powered parachute and warmed up the engine.  While it was warming up I tried to make contact with any station from the ground using my headset.  I stood at a good distance from the running powered parachute to minimize both ambient and electrical noise.  I got a call back saying that I was loud and clear!  So my next step was to sit in the seat with the engine running and make another call.  I shut my engine off and rolled the craft onto the runway and got it all set up.  I sat down, strapped in, fired up the engine and made another call as N6SVA-AERONAUTICAL.  The local hams knew what was up by now so I got a couple of call backs all of which said I was perfectly readable even with my engine running.  Next step, pour the coals to my powered parachute and get it up in the air!

I climbed up to only about 100 feet or so and made another call.  This time appending AERONAUTICAL to my callsign. The first ham operator to respond was Gary from Manteca, WA6UXA.  He said he could definitely hear my engine but I was completely understandable.  Success!  I thanked him for the reply and then got my second aeronautical contact from Roy, KK6OQP.  It was actually quite thermally so I went ahead and landed counting my morning as completely successful.  Then I got another call from a gentleman in Sacramento trying to make an aeronautical contact.  He was a little crestfallen when he found out I was back on the ground already.  Well, this was just a test after all.

My next goal is to try to be airborne for the next Parachute Mobile event.  I’ll be calling a ham operator who has jumped out of a plane and is descending in a parachute while I’m ASCENDING in a powered parachute!  Nerdy aviation, I love it!

Saturday Flying

My good weather flying streak has moved into it’s second day.  I got up early this morning and drove out to New Jerusalem for another morning of flying.  I got out to New J around 7am and was off the ground by 7:30am.  I flew south along the San Joaquin river initially.  I was noting how high it’s running and looking at the fog that had formed over it.  It was quite beautiful in the early morning hours.

Then I flew west along Highway 132, my old commute to work.  Then I turned northward and flew up Highway 33 towards Tracy.  As I came upon Kasson road I turned back east and flew around the airport for a while.  I only spent about an hour in the air but it was very enjoyable.

 

 

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Don’t tell the cops I ran a red light!

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Different almond varieties all planted in neat rows.  Note how some are flowering and others are in various stages of budding.  This farmer must harvest all year long!

I had an adventure on the way home and didn’t even know.  As I pulled up in front of my house I noticed that the battery that run’s my utility trailer’s winch was dragging along the ground.  It was attached to the trailer only by the two battery cables!  Both sides of the batter were scuffed up pretty badly and the top casing of the battery was chipped, however, the battery still worked!  I’ll be replacing the battery but it’s amazing how tough this little battery is!  FYI it’s a ExpertPower 12 Volt 18 Ah Rechargeable Battery (EXP12180).

 

I’ve secured the battery a little better so I’m ready to head out again!  More pictures from the next flight.

EDIT:  Forgot to add video from today’s flight.

Parachute Mobile Mission MISSED!

I drove out to New Jerusalem this morning on a mission to attempt to make contact on my ham radio with another ham.  He was to be coming down in his parachute while I was going up in mine.  Sadly it didn’t work out that way.  My radio was unreadable… AGAIN.  So I contented myself with merely enjoying the beautiful scenery.

After all the storms today was just stunning.  It was a perfect Spring day.  I could smell the almond blossoms and alfalfa from 400 feet up.  I’m afraid I’m going to have to do this all over again tomorrow.

Enjoy a little raw video footage: