Saturday, June 22, 2019

So, ..you want to become an Ultralight Pilot?

First off, apologies to our foreign friends but please note that the Canadian UL-PP, which is described below, can only be used in Canada for recreational purposes.

Let me start with a little History  

On or about in 1985 while driving the TC east of Kamloops I was sidetracked by a lot of activity in a field. There was a bunch of cool looking little aircraft parked, something one might consider an office and a few small hangars. Being drawn by the Beavers, Birdman's and Lazair's buzzing around with their smoky and screaming 2 stroke engine over that field I decided to stop in and take a closer look. I was somewhat intrigued by what one witnessed and little did I know how this short stop-over would have an affect on the rest of my life. Add to this a visit to the Vancouver Home Show about the same time and the display of a CH-701. I can't recall if I actually talked to Chris Heintz at that time but whoever it was, it really set me off onto this now 30+ plus year of Kitplanes subscription and my path of aviation. To be able to build and fly ones own airplane is just something that will never grow old with me. But how times have changed.
It was no doubt a bit of the wild west what recreational aviation concerned in those days, little training needed, "..buy a kit from me and I'll teach you how to fly it" and new designs popping up like unicorns in a magic irrigation pipe and sailcloth forest, with each and everyone claiming the performance of a Cessna 185 with the operating cost of your Grandpa's trusty old Taylorcraft.
But best of all in those days, there was no tall wire fences, no "Keep Out" signs, keyed gates and locked hangars, all of which has turned us into a somewhat "privileged access" lot of individuals. There were a lot more active airports,  farm fields, pilots, schools and training across this great land then now. UL Flight Training in those days was simpler, basic and if you had an RX 350, 550, 650, Lazair, Chinook most likely a few hours of dual would send you on your way.
Over the years and plagued by numerous fatal accidents the industry and Transport Canada, realizing some of the same re-occurring problems, lack of organized training being one, decided to restrict this wild west mantra somewhat with a few rules. And so we got the BULA, AULA, Flight Instructor Training, Flight School registration, LAMAC, "Fit for Flight", Passenger Carrying, ..and the list goes on, which brings us to today.


Where to start? 

My first question to any prospective new student is generally what the "Mission Profile" is going to look like? What are your dreams, expectations, realities? For starters, the basic ULPP only allows you to either fly by yourself, with an instructor or with another licensed pilot. The MTOW (here starts your training :-) ) is either 1200 lbs in the GA, Homebuilt/Experimental, BULA and/or 1232 lbs in the AULA category. Unlike in the US we don't have the no license UL aircrafts nor do we have the LSA's with the higher gross weight of 1320 lbs. Anything you fly in Canada will need a license of some form and fashion.
Next and here comes the big one, do you want to rent an aircraft or are you planning on having your own. Simply put and not to burst your bubble, but there are less and less options to rent an ultralight aircraft in Canada. So this immediately makes flying UL's for a rather serious financial commitment up front. However it will also save you some money, especially if you compare it to the cost of getting a Private Pilot License (PPL) via the rental route. It could account for almost a third of your potential UL aircraft acquisition.  The biggest benefit of having your own is that you are building time in what you will be flying, you will have a better understanding of the aircraft, an easier time getting insurance and a whole slew of other benefits. Now, don't just rush out and buy an aircraft before making that phone call to your instructor and/or flight school as not all aircraft are set up and suitable for training. Also not all flight instructors are current on all models. Tailwheel aircraft being a big one! Do your research, surf, call, gather as much info and understanding as possible before spending your hard earned cash.
 

First Steps, the Basics, and Ground School

Once you've decided on a Flight School/Instructor, go for an introductory flight lesson, and see if this is really for you. Meet the folks in person, come prepared, bring a written list of still outstanding questions if needed, systematically work through them and see if this will bring you near the anticipated "Mission Profile", whatever it may be. All training consists of two basic parts, the flight training, which is the fun part, and the much threaded Ground School which is the not so fun part of getting your license or permit. My general recommendation is to sign up for on line Ground School, the cost is about the same as your Introductory Flight and to state it very clearly, ..if you can't finish your ground school, for whatever excuse you may try on your flight instructor, you can't write any exams, and for that matter will not receive a sign off or LOR.  I've seen this done in as little as 5 weeks and as long as 5 years. In the past you could sign up for weekend courses but as a fellow instructor put it so nicely; it's like drinking from a fire hose, only so much goes in. On-line allows you to work through this rather dry material at your own pace.
Remember, you will occupy the same runways, airspace, circuit and being held to the same quality of radio communication as a private or commercial pilot. ULPP's are not an excuse for not understanding half the things around an airport. Once you are nearing the completion of your on-line training, this will be a good time to get serious about the flying. Most students, subject to the complexity of the aircraft and their own ability will finish within about 16 to 25 hours of dual training. It only takes 2 hours of Solo Flight to complete your license and get your LOR and SPP signed off. Ideally, if you can book out 2 x 10 days to concentrate on finishing your ground school and flying, you will be much faster to finish than doing it over a longer period of time. Another common mistake, don't fall short in the beginning of your training, learn to fly properly versus rushing towards your Solo, scaring yourself badly the first time out alone and having that bad one experience forever ruin the rest of your flying career.

Additional Training and Passenger Carrying

There is many benefits to switching to the lighter side of aviation. For one, flying in the winter on skis you don't nearly get stuck as often and as badly as guys with their Supercub's, Citabria's and 170's. For playing on floats, you'll love to have an aircraft that doesn't need a bunch of folks to beach, dock, or launch. However, no matter which configuration the aircraft is in, get some training. There is no formal Float Rating, Ski Rating, or Tailwheel Rating for Ultralights. In either case, get some training, ..did I mention to get some training. Most likely your aircraft flies and behaves about the same in the air, given floats, wheels or skis. On the ground it is all together a different story, waves, winds, docks, boat wakes, shallow rocks, wind ripples, snow drifts, buried trees, overflow, flat light, glassy water, upwind, downwind, updrafts, cats paws, down drafts, hay stacks, both kinds, liquid and biological,  ..do I need to go on? Training, training, and more training. Don't just finish your permit and think you've done it. Flying is a very demanding sport, financially, timely and mentally that needs a constant honing and re-affirming of your skills. The best pilots are those who fly often with the least stories to tell.

As for the fun part of flying UL's? I wont even go into the access a little Chinook, CH-701 or Kitfox can provide versus a GA, ..no matter how big the tires and STOL sticker on the side. Yup, and there is the fuel economy of a Rotax 912. I rest my case. But there will be a time when your wingman can't make it. Luckily you've just rolled in a whole bunch of hours on your own, ..at least 25 or so. Now you may want to look into getting your Passenger Carrying Endorsement. If you are sticking with the UL's, by all means, upgrade your permit with the PCE. If you are thinking that you may want to upgrade your aircraft in the future (only to forever regret selling your Kitfox) to a GA, you may want to entertain the option of a Recreational Pilot Permit. It will allow you to fly "regular airplanes" with a (1) passenger such as the Cessna 172, PA18, Citabria, etc. Which is a good thing, that one passenger I'm talking about, ..because they can help you dig out from the overflow, dock, beach and heave you up another Jerry Can of overpriced 100LL.  Just sayin..  :-), ..no really, it's a good thing :-), ..after all spouses love Jerry Can heaving. I actually think it's one of their favourite Sunday on the Airport past times.  ;-)

I know why I'm still, after all those years, like the UL category. For one, it's the least infringed category and freedom of flying in Canada. To build your own plane. To maintain your own plane. To modify your own plane to suit your needs. Not having to comply with every service bulletin ever written, buying every expensive part ever made, but being allowed to experiment with the latest and greatest technologies in aviation. In recent years the true innovation in aviation has happened in this broad spectrum area of experimental/recreational aviation. But it is not for everyone, as with this freedom there is additional risk in dealing with the unproven and non-certified. I fully respect that! It will most likely satisfy those select few that rather build than buy, that don't mind being self  responsible for their equipment, maintenance and actions.
As for recreation, in my opinion, its the category of choice! It's the hidden lake or airstrip to paved runways, the quiet farm field in the morning to hustling, bustling FBO's for lunch. It's the "Pilot's Cave" and all the help and opinions one could ever ask for versus the costly AMO.  Maybe its time to make that first step into recreational aviation, or maybe you just want to re-kindle an old passion, now that you have the time. Whatever your Mission Profile might be, maybe its time to pick up that phone and get serious about it. After all, every journey starts with a first step and every flight with a taxi to the runway. Why not taxi towards some additional freedom in the UL category?



Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Sum of all Fears! 

                 ..or when to shut down your engine versus waiting for it to fail!! 

As most September days go, this was just a beauty of a day. Smoke from the ongoing Cariboo - Chilcotin Fires finally cleared out and excellent flying days are ours once again. John has returned from the US and we are playing with the Maule M5-210 on floats to get a bit more of a feel for this thing. Nice, big, solid, and thirsty it is everything I once wanted in an aircraft, but no longer have a desperate need for. My flying has come to an enjoyable point where Nellie (our BushCaddy R80) or a trusty ol' Zenithair CH-701S can pretty much fulfill most every job and desire. 

But "Life is a Maule" and so off we go for more hidden away fishing holes on road inaccessible places of the Cariboo Mountains. Best playground in the world, at least we like to think so. As the day draws to a near close for the splash and dash games of being a float pilot on a high performance aircraft, I have yet to fulfill a sunset flight promise with Nellie and Hans, my fellow CH-701 Dreams pilot who's up for a visit from his new home in Cali, Columbia. 
We've already logged all the refresher/conversion hours and are due for a fun flight, no particular destination or training regime, just a simple fun one hour evening flight. What could possibly go wrong, right? 
Prior to our flight in the Maule earlier,  I re-installed a modified alternator bracket which is longer, stiffer, better fitting to tighten the belt on the Subaru. With everything ready and snug, I was hoping for a little less harmonics coming from the electrical setup, not that it was bad, but it just bugged me a bit. I like smooth, no shakes, no hums other than that engine pulling me along without any hiccups. 
40 hrs in and going, the last 25 with absolutely nothing to do other than checking fluids, and the usual belt(s) tight, no leaks, no chafes, no rubs under the cowling check. 

Hans & me cruising the Cariboo in Nellie

1hr plus a little reserve of fuel on board, Spot Tracking running, and off we go entering for a backtrack on 33 from Bravo to warm up the engine and get us to the bottom of the grass runway at CZML. Hans on the controls, doing his run up and pre take off checks and next thing I know we are climbing out towards the N over 108 Mile Lake, along Hwy 97 for LaclaHache and Timothy Lakes. Everything is smooth, no hums, no shakes, no pumps, no thermals, just that perfect colourful fall evening. As we are working our way up towards Greeney Lakes we trying to figure out our route ahead, hey "..how about Ten-ee-ah Lodge" haven't been past it in a while?" Ok and so we avoid the right turn towards Timothy Lake (and the grass strip) and carry on semi straight due north. Another few minutes go by and me just watching Hans flying leisurely along over the pastures and trees as I am trying to figure out if I just got a whiff of exhaust or if there is a funny smell. About the same time we both hear a loud "tick" under the right cowling and I reach immediately for the controls. WTF ..was that, more or less. Engine Instrument still scan all in the green, but about that time another loud "TICK" and this time the voltmeter just goes to "0" and we guess that the alternator belt just decided to no longer deal with the extra tension. Now that's bad, really bad, since that belt also drives the water pump and with one eye on the temperature gauge its time to look for a suitable place to land. Luckily we just few past a farm with several fields, a lake and lots of room to fly a nice engine out approach. As I'm finishing the turn towards the fields my temp reaches 215F, up from the usual 190F and I decide to shut the engine off to prevent an overheat and totally ruin the Subie. You gotta love these big floaty wings on the BushCaddy as I literally have to force Nellie into a dive on short final to get down onto the fields in time/distance and also to pick up a little extra speed and energy to prevent a slow stalled drop in landing. 
And in we go, away from the lake, across the drainage ditch for that furthest (dry in my thinking) field. Nose slightly up, decelerate, oops that grass is tall, decelerate, no matter, hold her off, three point and don't let go of that stick, 33mph indicated and Nellie finally decides to settle slowly into the deep grass. I've done this so many times, after all I teach this stuff over and over again, so no different so I thought. Wrong twice in the same flare, hah, ..and just as we think its all good and over, we get this breaking feeling, up comes the tail, next we look straight down at standing water in the grass, ..WTF ..did the water come from?, and with us getting forced down into the 3 point restraints we find ourselves hanging from the seat belts looking upside down into the direction we just came from. Could have been worse, at least we are not in scuba mode and don't see fish swimming by upside down, that's when you know you really screwed up. 
"Hans, are you ok?" "Yes, but lets get out of here!"  My thoughts exactly and with me giving him instructions to "hang tight" (lol) for the moment while I release my seatbelt, plunk down onto the ceiling and open the door on his side. And out we go, me first, Hans following not a few seconds later. While everything seemed to be slow going, don't think it took as even a minute to depart Nellie, now resting on her back in the deep grass. 
Look at the tailwheel track

There is no excuse for not having good helmets, good seats, good seat belts, and ideally an airplane built like the proverbial bricks...house 

All factors combined helped in us getting away without even a scratch. Add to this, training, training, training and route selection. Stay over roads, farm fields, away from urban sprawl AND always, always keep those possible emergency fields in mind. Connect them in your flight planning, the detour is worth it, the fuel cost is minimal. NO, this is not just a Subaru Problem, I've had issues with Rotax's, Lycoming's, and Continental's just the same. Roll in a couple a thousand of hours and you may find yourself occasionally in an unforeseen event. In all cases you will have the realization that you've just crashed while still in the air, so use the time to find the most suitable place and do everything in your power to make it as least painful as possible. Just my .02 cents of real life experience on that matter.    
Nellie on her back, not looking so good since we trampled the roof a bit in our exit. Next secure the fuel and oil! Placing rags in the engine cowling for the oil and closing all fuel valves to prevent any possible air/fuel leaks. Mind you, fuel is lighter than water and we are standing ankle deep in watery Cariboo muck. Now I wish I would have left my 26" tundra's on the plane, but given the depth of the grass and seeing the hay bailing around each gear leg I doubt it would have made much of a difference. As we are leaving the plane with our belongings for the farm house we count our blessings, amongst them, not having been in the 701 with the nose wheel, that would have been really bad. Nor did we have as much confidence in the cabin structure as we do in Nellie's. All in all, we have had everything work in our favour during a really bad event and had a good outcome.  Low stall speed, low mass energy of course also helped. Don't think we would have been as lucky and unharmed in a 172 or Cherokee.  

With the accident site right under the regular flight line between CZML and CYWL we decided to immediately contact the RCMP and file a report. This was followed up by submitting the same and talking to the TSB. The next day we returned with them -RCMP- to inspect the site for possible fuel, oil spill(s) and to contact the property owner. Neither was found, no fuel, no oil, and the owner was off on holidays and only returned after we have had removed everything from the field. Every care was taken not to do more damage during salvage and to assure no spills of any kind. In my case, I rather do this alone than being sped along by folks with different agendas and calendars. Too often have I come across re-builds where more damage occurred on retrieval than the initial hard landing or crash, whatever words best describe your mishap. Take your time, I went back over a three day period to disassemble and prep for transport. Only then I  asked for help to bring everything out and it was done over a 2 hour period with not even an added scratch. Thanks everyone for their help, Willis, John, Hans, Dick and you, the unknown neighbour we pulled from the drainage ditch on your quad. Nothing like showing up when the jobs done and needing a rescue yourself, eh!?   :-))) 

Sooo.., now why would that belt that ran the last 26hrs decide to leave me in 20 minutes? Time to ask Google to see if there is similar issues in the past. After about 2 hours of searching I came across an  old post from 2006  with an issue on water pumps for the EA81. Turns out there are 3 different pumps for the EA81. One for the 1600, 1800, and a rebuilt version respectively. They are differentiated by the color of their pulleys as they differ in heights from the crankcase. I've ordered the last 2 pumps in stock from NAPA out of the Edmonton warehouse, all proud I got a spare, not realizing this fact and also blindly trusting that they are just a bolt on and all the same. Hard to tell without a ruler that it actually is slightly off and make a long story short, the extra tension over the misalignment helped to wear the belt to failure in a short period of time.  Given the constantly higher RPM needed to run the Subie in aircraft applications it is recommended to change the ratio of the main crank pulley and this will be part of the engine upgrade over the spring here. And a slightly shorter engine mount to move the CofG a bit back, maybe? 

As for Nellie, she is still in surgery, coming along slowly. One more Whoa to add to her repertoire but we do look forward having her back for more flying adventures. Stay tuned! Share! Subscribe! ..or even better, join us in the Cariboo for one of our sessions, fly ins, training, holidays. 

   

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Up in Smoke!

Well, I'm not referring to my recent flights nor the upcoming legalization of Marijuana in Canada, but more so to the ongoing summer wild fires and the smoke impact on recreational flying here in British Columbia. By all means, maybe having a "legal toke" after this summer might ease the mental pain momentarily, but it certainly won't cure the financial losses incurred once again by tourism, recreation, aviation, in short the fun things folks usually do in the summer and spend money on. Like flying Ultralights and getting their licenses.
On a positive note, here in the southern Cariboo we didn't get evicted this summer and while the smoke got really thick (sickening thick) and parked pretty much anything winged & rotored once again, it wasn't as bad as last year. So keep calm and close the shop doors. Certainly, if I have a choice, stick and rudder always sounds better than chisel and glue but such is the "New Norm" as they call it now.
Building a Fisher FP404 Wing 

Winter jobs become summer jobs and winter really has become almost the prime season for us to fly, teach, and play. I cannot stress enough all the good points about winter (ski-)flying here in the Cariboo. Lakes! Lots of lakes being one of them! With towns, resorts, restaurants and gas stations along these lakes, it's never too far to jog across the road with a Jerry-Can to get more gas for your next leg in the journey or have that much needed warm up coffee and burger. Ever been ice fishing, snow-shoeing, or visited a trappers cabin on a secluded lake only ski planes can get too? Ever gone out with a group, gaggle, flock, pack, murder, or whatever you'd like to call it, of ski planes? Fun, Fun, Fun!
Talking of Fun, I had a return to heli skiing for a few weeks with CMH last winter, but as expected it cut into the best weeks of ski flying. So for this 2019 season I will make the commitment to solely concentrate on introducing as many folks as possible to ski flying here in the Cariboo. If you are reading this, don't delay, pick up the phone, send an email, inquire now and tentatively book your spot! You wont regret it :-)

Our Cariboo Ski Fly In Week last winter in February, coupled with a TC approved Refresher Course was a great event and I do believe we can make it even bigger and better this year. While there are no plans on a TC Refresher for this season, we will extend the actual "Cariboo Ski Fly In" to 10 days over a two weekend period. This will hopefully allow for weather and also have more time for folks to join from further afield. If there is sufficient interest, turn out and participants I'd be more than happy to organize some guest speakers for evening talk sessions and presentations. Furthermore, we will once again work with CZML and have the Snow Runway at the South Cariboo Regional Airport. We do have the 108 Resort and Hangar Restaurant for accommodations and meals available ramp side. Group rates will require some upfront commitment, so how many can we get?
"Nellie" on Lang Lake

As for "Snow How" training, our BushCaddy R80 (Nellie), is finally up and running as of last winter. She has performed flawlessly all summer. With the Federal 1500 Skis it does make for an ideal and roomy trainer, especially with those thick winter coats. Did I mention it has a nice heater?

Some of you might wonder, why the change of heart? Let me start by saying that we have been working in recreational aviation, commercial aviation, aviation related aviation work for the better part of our lives. Aerial Escapades is now in it's 21st year. Before that, there was Sky West Adventures and Eagle River Aviation in the Shuswap. In between there was Ten-ee-ah Aviation Ltd. operating as a 702/703 charter service. So yes, some 30+ years in there comes the occasional doubt of "..how much longer"? Add to this the loss of several friends on the commercial side of things and doubt starts battling passion.
BUT, flying is a passion for me, us really, and this has manifested itself in most everything we do today. We have literally built our lives around this endeavour and over the years can look back on some amazing flying trips and adventures with wonderful people who share the same passion. Last but not least is our loyal following that keeps us up and running. With their friendship, encouragement and their repeat bookings, business from the shop, training, rental and whatever crazy adventures we decide on next. Thank you! It is really you who keeps nourishing this passion.

Done with the sermon and back to reality. We usually start gearing up for ski flying right after Remembrance Day and here are some 2019 dates to pencil in your calendar:


February 09, 2019 - March 30, 2019                           Prime Ski flying Season
                                                                                     Weekly bookings will have priority over hourly bookings

February 14th - 23rd, 2019                                          Cariboo Ski Fly In*
                                                                                     Rentals, training may be limited, please inquire


Please note that all bookings in our Suite are on a first come/first serve basis! 
Visit us on AirB&B for more information or to make a reservation.



















Friday, April 13, 2018

Let me start by saying...

Hello Family, Friends and Follower's,

It's not an easy task for any one man to follow and update the maze of social media platforms that are bombarding us every day. In an effort to bring everything from Facebook, Pages, WeChat, Messenger, Google+, Webpage, WhatsApp, Messages, Blogger, Hangouts, and you name it under control and under one roof, I have decided to reduce the places you will find information and updates into just a few. In order to do this, it will be separated into the static part such as our webpage and the dynamic part, this being my new blog and the occasional Google+ updates. In time it will all be Google based.
Why Google, you may ask? Aren't they just the worst? ..well to be honest they all are, but remember we all have a choice where to post, not to post or post privately and/or turn off our mobile phone, this constant personal tracking number we all have willingly chosen. I wont get into the paranoia of being tracked every step of the way, as far as I am concerned they, whoever "THEY" are, can full well know that I get my food from SaveOnFoods and I occasionally shop at Canadian Tire. Go ahead, track me, I'm just the another grey mouse in the system that covers millions, billions of folks on this planet. I doubt that at the end of the day its really that interesting what I shop for or post for that matter, with the exception for the likeminded few like yourselves that are actually reading down this far on my literary ramblings.
Now if you have an extremist view on government, religion and society as a whole and want to spread this hate publicly than, in my honest opinion, maybe you should be followed and followed closely.
As for the few ol' guys and gal's enjoying some skiing, hiking, fishing, kite boarding and recreational flying, ..doubt we are of much interest to the super conglomerates, especially if you're as frugal as a Scottish Senior with a Swiss wife.
The other real reason is that Google has become a great overall platform and what used to be a simple search engine and email thingie has entered the global stage to compete with ease, I may add, with the products such as Windows and most of all Apple. As a long time Apple user I finally switched last year, getting tired of some of the proprietary system they are applying and picked up a Google Pixel phone. The rest is history as one would say. How much easier can it get? Yes there is a few apps that I really like such as FotoMagico, iMovie, but Android based apps are out there and there is not only one but there is choice. But who knows, maybe in 15 years I may find myself at the same place as I did with Apple a year ago.
If you are still reading this and haven't grown tired, (you should really hit the follow button now) here is my thinking; can't leave Skype, I subscribed early on and it still has it's merit today as Google Voice is only available in the US and Hangout's doesn't do what Skype does. - correction, Hangout's Dialer does it!  I will have to try it out, before I'll change. 
Next is WhatsApp; well Euro's love it because it's not Messenger or Facebook, ..really?! It's encrypted end to end, so Mr. Zuckerberg testified to the Senate hearings, but it is still one of his products, hmm, not sure yet on that one and thus far it still works on my phone.
WeChat probably is my all time favorite and using it extensively in China, you gotta love it. Are you being watched you ask? I'd say no more than the usual NSA, CIA, CESIS and all the other 3 or 4 lettered conspiracy entities that are part of making (you paranoid) our lives so safe. It stays, too many friends in China that can't get Google and its products.
So this means that Facebook, Pages, Messenger (Skype?) are going on the dynamic end and most likely our webpage is to follow on the static end in not too long. It will be a bit of a process and re-shuffling and certain contacts will not be crossing over. I realize that and accept that!

At this point I'd like to thank all those who have moved over, subscribed as followers, are still me friends even though the format has changed. Let me remind you that this platform is as dynamic as the world around us, by all means a work in progress, ..so let us boldly go and see where it takes us!