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:

 

Parachute Mobile Mission 34: March 16, 2019

Going to try to participate in Parachute Mobile tomorrow morning but I’m going to try to take it one step father. I’m going to try to contact a parachute from a parachute, a powered parachute that is.

More info about parachute mobile is available on their website:

https://wp.me/p1po2b-tD

Finally Back At New Jerusalem

Had a fantastic afternoon today.  The winds were calm and there was a high overcast layer meaning there would be no thermal activity today.  Temperature was about 60 degrees.  It was perfect flying weather.IMG_20190126_153750

My wife wanted to get out of the house so she tagged along.  She packed some water and some snacks and her book and she just chilled in the truck while I flew around.  At one point she came out and took some pictures of me while I was flying around.  I flew in circles around her a few times and then flew out to look for coyotes and jackrabbits.

 

“Cristy, you look like an ant from up here!”

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Finally here is some video I shot during the flight.  Enjoy!

 

Flying At Oakdale Again

This past Saturday I towed my powered parachute out to Oakdale Municipal Airport for our EAA Chapter 90 meeting.  The plan was merely to give the trailer an extensive road test.  However, once I arrived at Oakdale the conditions were perfect for a PPC flight.  As I had not flown for over 3 months I jumped at the chance to give it a go.

After warming up I taxied down to the blastway on the runway 10 end of the field.  This would be the extreme west end.  I laid out my chute and strapped in.  Moments later as I advanced the throttle and lurched forward I noticed that a small crowd had gathered to watch me fly.   I’ve flown out of that field probably more times in 26 years than most of the other club members.  Now that I fly out of New Jerusalem so much it’s kind of a rare event to see me flying there.  There were plenty of cameras to gather documentary evidence.  My friend Les Homan was kind enough to supply the following pictures and video.

 

First the takeoff…

 

And the landing…

 

It felt very good to fly the pattern at Oakdale again.  As well as catch up with old friends.

Speaking of Trailers

So recently I sold the cargo trailer that I used to haul my powered parachute around.  It was nice in that it had lots of storage and was convenient to sleep in when I went to fly-ins but it was a bear to tow.   Because of its high profile it was very susceptible to wind and the faster I drove, the worse my gas mileage got due to the wind resistence of the trailer.

To remedy this I purchased and built up a Harbor Freight trailer.  I built it pretty much standard as it comes out of the box.  I put a 3/4 inch plywood deck on the top of it and then got it registered and licensed.  As a side note there was a problem registering Harbor Freight trailers for a short while but that issue has been straightened out.  Registration was pretty easy though a little time consuming.  The process is basically:

  1. Complete an Application for Title of Registration (Form REG 343).  This is available for download from the California DMV website.
  2. Bring the form along with the trailer’s title California DMV office.  Harbor Freight will give you a title when they sell the trailer kit to you.
  3. Bring documentation of sale price of the trailer (the receipt from Harbor Freight)

I suggest making a reservation at the DMV office rather than just showing up.  You’ll still have to wait but it won’t be as long a wait. Once it was my turn, they checked out the trailer (mostly just making sure the VIN number matched what was on the paperwork) and then handed me the license plates before I even left the office.  The official registration was mailed to me later.

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Since the trailer is too narrow for the wheelbase of the PPC, I added some outriggers on the rear of the trailer and cut a section from a loading ramp and bolted it across the outriggers.  This became the platform for the rear wheels.  I mounted it upside down to keep the wheels from sliding off the edges.  I also placed a heavy duty floor mat on this platform to keep the metal from cutting into the PPC’s tires.  The remainder of the cut up loading ramps were used as… you guessed it… loading ramps.  They will be finished off with ATV straps (not shown in these photos) that will hold the tires down on the platforms.

My PPC isn’t all that heavy but pulling it up the ramps has to be done slowly and carefully so that the wheels don’t fall off the sides of the ramps.  To make that a more precise operation I mounted a winch in the front of the trailer.  It is remotely operated so I can stand in front of the PPC and guide it carefully onto the trailer while the winch does the pulling.  I also added a battery to operate the winch rather than run it off my truck power.  I’ll just put the battery on a charger every month or so and it should be fine.

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Now I just have to wait for the weather to clear up so I can give the trailer a test and drive it out to New Jerusalem and do some flying!

Here’s a bonus video of me describing the trailer.