Thursday, August 5, 2021

Up in Smoke, ..again!

 

One might think, "..what's the big deal, couple of trees on fire!" and looking at this photo beside here from the Canim Lake Fire taken on July 05, 2021 I'd tend to agree somewhat. But as usual, it's easy to get hung up on the snippet that either sensationalizes or diminishes on the whole story all subject to the agenda that is being driven by mass media and it's daily dose of woke hype and hypocritical BS. Did I just type that? 

In a world where we are being ever so overfilled by by GB's of information it has become harder and harder to filter of what is real and what is really overhyped. Well let me tell you, the fact that we are loosing forest lands at an unprecedented rate is no overstatement. What is going on? Climate Change? Warming Planet? ..coming out of an Ice Age? Maybe the mere fact that for years the forest industry,  its multi-national benefactors and governments alike been more concerned on Forest Revenue than Forest Health? I guess it is the sum of all and depending which side of the aisle your'e on, the weighting of the facts drastically changes. Fact remains, it's happening all over the globe. Beam me up Scottie! 

Our latest video is up, check it out below; 





Saturday, June 12, 2021

New Movies are up!

     Isn't it great to have Teenage kids? How would we old timers ever make it in this new century without their helping hand and advise navigating through all the social media, on line shopping, dating, ..you name it. While my kids have left their teenage for the tweenage years I have found that their assistance in everything cybernetics is ever more appreciated. So big "Thanks" to my son Koby for telling me how to upload these last two movies after many frustrating hours trying to get iMovie to ..JUST DO IT! 

    Well, iMovie didn't and I have finally have come out of my YouTuber depression and attempted these new "Tweenager-Ways". IT WORKED, ..who says you can't teach an old Super 8 Monkey new tricks :-)) 

                                                                           Winter 2021


Spring 2021


Flying the Classics!

 One of the many questions that I get asked from prospective students is: "Can I fly a real airplane with an ULPP?" Needless to say this causes always a grin on my my face and the standard answer, ..you mean a REAL airplane like a BushCaddy or a Kitfox, or a REAL airplane like a Cessna or Piper?  So before we delve to deeply into looking at these REAL "factory aircraft" lets take a peek of our current regulations the CAR's in particular the Ultra-light Aeroplane Transition Strategy section 2.1.3 where is states as follows; 

...an aeroplane having no more than two seats, designed and manufactured to have a maximum take-off weight of 544 kilograms and a stall speed in the landing configuration (Vso) of 39 knots (45 mph) or less indicated airspeed at the maximum take-off weight. Now those 544KG's = 1200Lbs, just to make it more confusing. The Key wording here is maximum take-off weight also referred to commonly as the MTOW and the definition can be found in the Ultralight Transition Strategy and reads as follows: 

"Maximum take-off weight" means the total weight, resting on the surface of the earth installed equipment and appliances and, if installed, floats and a ballistic recovery system; 

It is not to be confused with: Maximum permissible take-off weight means the maximum take-off weight for an aircraft as authorized by the state of registry of the aircraft or as provided for in the aircraft type certificate; 

..and/or: 

MCTOW or maximum certificated take-off weight means the weight identified as such in the type certificate of an aircraft; (MMHDoumasse maximale homologuée au décollage )


Now, lets take a quick look in which classic aircraft you may meet these parameters with your ULPP. This is based on the restrictions of your permit to fly SOLO in the aircraft and an average weight of a 200lbs pilot and some fuel. As in my previous posts I have * the aircraft I have either owned or flown in the past. But before we go any further, remember that many of these classic aircrafts, frames, tubes, spars, etc. are going on 80 years of age. The tooth of time has been gnawing away, no doubt, and most likely in places where inspection(s) are almost impossible. But never they less here are the more common models with a serious caveat of "Buyer be aware!".  

Taylorcraft - The BC-12D came standard with the Continental 0-65, was a side by side model and performed beautifully. My friend and fellow aviator Hans H. flew his from BC to Patagonia, up the East coast of South America, island hopped his way into Florida, up into Nunavut, Greenland and back to BC. All on 65hp. And 2 summers ago and almost 3 engines later, took it for another camping trip into the Yukon. For a big boy, they are a bit crammed inside, but no worse than a Kitfox 2 or Avid MK4. In their original version they will fit the category nicely with an average empty weight at approximately 860 lbs.   

Piper J3 - Derived from the Taylor Cub, yup you read it right! Mr. Taylor also designed the Cub and after a falling out with Mr. Piper it became the best known yardstick that every other LSA, Ultralight, Experimental, STOL or GA is compared to. While I have a bit of J5, PA18, time I have yet to shoe-horn myself into a J3 and see if all these claims, some rather outlandish, are actually true. It is also one of the most copied aircraft out there and these days I'd recommend to start with a fresh airframe from one of the numerous manufactures or plans providers.  Empty weight on the original came in at 765 lbs, so nicely in the Category. Drawback to the Taylorcraft, it's tandem, it's slower, but it packs a load and does so reliably into most every backcountry strip, and as long as you don't mind to fly from the backseat. 

Piper PA-15 Vagabond*- In my opinion a very much overlooked aircraft. Vagabonds have pizzazz, they are a great bird with a C-85-8 or preferably -12 which includes an electric starter. Hop up the engine to a tweaked 0-200, add some big tires and you're in for some great backcountry fun. Originally designed as a trainer (and competition to the Taylorcraft) it does that just fine. While not a worst Taildragger out there, it being short coupled does make for some interesting roll outs (..right, Rob? 😬😂), but it gives you nimble toes. There is also no Flaps to deal with, so bank it over into a sideslip and you'll sink in beyond those tall trees just fine. They are big enough for a weekend trip with full fuel and gear with an original 620 lbs empty and an 1100 lbs gross. They are great on skis, but with the shorter wings wouldn't make much of a floatplane, get a J3 if you're a wheels, skis, floats seasonal operator. 

Check out Tigger doing his first solo with us here.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD5KZBaB2H4

Aeronca 7AC Champ - Now what's not to like on a Champ? About 7200 were built between 1945 and 1948. So they are plentiful out there and make a great trainer. Land-o-matic gear to grease every, well almost, every landing and a fuel sipping C65-8 like most trainers of this era. Empty weight ranges around the 740 lbs and gross is listed at 1220 lbs. Some concerns with the wooden wing spars and an occasional de-lamination of plywood doublers. But there is a good many out there, so look around, do your research and proper pre-purchase. Upgraded to a C-85, C-90 or O-200 and they make for a great all around aircraft on wheels, skis and floats. A great and slightly more affordable option to the J-3's and you get to sit up front with elbow room to spare. And that is why I like the Champ. 

Cessna 120/140  OK, now we are starting to push the limits a little bit since the Cessna's came in with a rather hefty 890 lbs empty, add the 210 lbs pilot and you'll get 16 gal of fuel into the Tanks before you run yourself out of the UL category. Stable, a nice 105mph cruise speed and YES it's a Cessna. Expect it do to exactly what it says in the manual and maybe a little bit more. Being an all metal, albeit some came with fabric wings they are a collectable classic and will hold or increase in value. While not a thought after as maybe a J3 or Taylorcraft, a little less usable in weights and loading as the PA-15, 16, or Luscombe 8a it is actually legally possible to fly it with your ULPP licence. 

Luscombe* My personal all time favourite! I've had the pleasure of owning and flying a straight 8A with a 65hp Continental for a few years. In reminiscing about KIZ I can only conclude that I have yet to fly a modern Ultralight, LSA on 65hp and get as much performance out of it as I did in the Luscombe. I have said this before and will put it here in writing, ..the ol' Boys with their slide rules are still putting some aeronautical computer engineers to the test with this classic design. Having owned a early model 172, 180, and build and rebuild several all metal homebuilts and UL's, you come to appreciate the ingenuity of the Luscombe design. Look back into the fuselage, check out the building of the tail section. Make's you wonder why not more modern designs take a lesson in forming sheet metal into strong parts. As for flying fun, par none! As for room inside, tight for two fully grown grain feed mid westerners or beef eat'n Albertans, no doubt here. As for models, the one you want is the original dual strut fabric wing version, single tank, ideally upgraded to a C-85 or 90 with no electrics and no frills of any kind. With an empty weight similar to the Cessna 120, 140 you will have to manage your load a bit more careful to remain legal. But this pretty much goes for all birds listed here in this article. 

In conclusion, we at times have simply wandered too far from the simplicity that a "basic aircraft" needs to provide. Looking over many a log books over the years and seeing what the average flight times per outings are I'd say that dead reckoning, use your watch, manage your fuel, should certainly rank higher in the curriculum than understanding your latest Garmin updates into its finest detail. I guess it's everyones choice on how just how simplistic a classic should be kept. History tells me, they've done ok for quite some time, ..flying simply, flying with just the basics that is, but can you? Dare ya, UNPLUG, enjoy the scenery! 

See you at the flight line! 

Forward and Onward in 2021

    I'd like to take this opportunity to update on the happenings here with us and what to expect for services in 2021. On a good note, we are still here, still doing the same thing even though at a much reduced level from what one might consider normal. While I'm no longer exactly sure on what "normal" was or was supposed to be, I've also never have been a huge friend of situation normal.  This to me, just signals stagnancy in some form or fashion in your life. It's some place we usually shouldn't hang around for too long as the associated boredom of situation normal is just a motivation killer in my humble opinion. So if you are looking for a back to normal way forward and onward out of this, Covid - Corona that is, ..better start looking again, adjust, adapt, get with the times and get on with what has become the NEW norms. Move along with fresh ideas or get dragged down with the masses all wanting to go back to normal. Nope, not going to happen, not on this little patch of grass in the Cariboo here.

    So how did things change for us, you might ask? Life as a whole slowed! Short 2020 ski season since we all closed early. Slow in the shop since we ended up in the first (of several) lock downs. A bit of a reprieve from the craziness during the summer month and finally drifting into a slow dark fall and winter with more shut downs and no ski season 2021 for us aging Powder Hounds. But time doesn't have to be a wasted, repair, rebuild, review, regenerate and move forward. And there is highlights such as seeing Brad taking his better than new Merlin GT back into the air in midsummer 2020. We had a great time in our shop restoring this beauty and it flies as good as it looks :-)), or at least that what he tells me. 


Brad getting ready for a flight! 

    And there is more and more Merlin's coming into the Cariboo. Good Choice! Chris in Quesnel decided to pick up an 80hp Rotax powered one and is finally enjoying flying it. 


                                                                   Chris' new toy! 


     And finally Damon from Williams Lake who went all the way to Ontario to find a homebuilt Merlin that is seeing an engine upgrade from a 582 Rotax to a Rotax Rick 670 and should be on floats come summer. Damon also just finished upgrading his ULPP to an RPP so he can introduce the next generation to the fun of backcountry flying. 


Damon doing a Test Run of the RR-670 

    Keep on keep'n on! Enjoy the upcoming re-opening and let's move forward and onward! I for one have little interest to going back to what was a normal yesteryear. Just think of the adventures ahead ;-) 



Sunday, November 29, 2020

Flying on the Cheap!

Is it still to be had?

Well, there is a short and long answer to either Yes or No and it really depends what your "Mission Profile" is going to look like. If you have lots of money, just retired at 45 with a golden Bay Street parachute and can buy a factory built LSA at six figures from south of the line, no need to read on. What I'm trying to enclose below is more for the hard working average Canuck who shares the dream of flight and is looking for ways to make it happen. I also will not talk about Cherokees, 172's or private pilot license holders, but will concentrate (as usual) on the recreational flyer and direct this to the potential ULPP holders, here in the great white North. Now, I have to confess, there are more potential aircraft than what is listed below, but I've tried to keep it CANADIAN, as we do have ultralight manufacturing here and there was an AULA category in this land long before the LSA in the States was all but a faint dream. Clear Prop, lets get started!

Most every call I receive for ULPP flight training usually ends up in a discussion on suitable aircraft. What to buy, not to buy, flies nice, floats - wheels - skis capable and pretty soon you're looking for the princess in the sky that shall fulfill your every aerial dream. How about a girlfriend, maybe spouse, ok to move into the hangar, ..but doesn't take over your life (and wallet) completely?
Let's momentarily pull our heads out of the sky and get started with some ground school and basic lessons here first. A ULPP license only allows you to fly solo for the let's say roughly 50 hrs after which you either will have to upgrade to a passenger carrying endorsement or a recreational pilot permit. Having said that, the ULPP does allow you to bring another pilot or instructor.
As for aircraft, start your separation into the two main building materials, those being all metal and tube/fabric. Yes there is wood, composite, wood composites, tube and wood, but for starters lets stick with metal and fabric.
Next, if you are unsure if you are going to stick with an aircraft, look for something that your flying buddy desires (remember the girlfriend every one wants) and that has a good resale/trading value, just in case you tire on that first great love a little bit. Ideally those are aircraft that are still in production and/or had numbers produced at least in the thousands. Stay away from the "one of's" (they are usually weird), and aircraft which have little support (i.e. the family) in regards of parts, on-line groups, etc. Groups are good for info, but at times are totally useless as there are a lot of keyboard fliers commenting on things they don't know sh*& about (like the girlfriends Ukrainian cousin). 
Is the aircraft for training? If so, ..better talk to your instructor first. He will tell you what he's comfortable flying in and what not. It will have to be suitability for training with dual controls, dual brakes, suitable ergonomics, and the list goes on.
Next in your research go to Kathryn's Report and do a bit of research on your prospective aircraft(s) accidents and see if they are pilot related, like running out of fuel, show boating, bad weather or actual aircraft related events like in-flight structural failures. You should also go the manufacturers web page and look for service bulletins or AD's, so called Airworthiness Directives. Occasionally Transport Canada or the Transportation Safety Board of Canada issues an "Aviation Safety Advisory", most recent concerning the Quad City Challengers.  So do your homework and don't end up purchasing a future statistic or you'll end up in divorce before you get to the honeymoon. 
items.[0].image.altAlso, I recommend to join either UPAC or COPA or both, as they will provide you with some updated info not only on occurrences, but also they have a large buy and sell section. If you are reading this as a link from TVSAC you already have the best site for western Canada, BIG THANKS to Camille and his ongoing efforts.

So which one to get? That's easy! What does your most recent account statement tell you? Maybe time to sell your sled, ATV, and the wave runner. Remember we live in Canada and we have four seasons. So to find an aircraft that is 4 season capable is of great benefit as it will allow you to make use all year around by simply changing from wheels to skis or maybe floats to skis, or maybe you have Full Lotus Floats and the configuration is never going to change. There's always some of those around, not Full Lotus', but guys that never change! Enclosure is a bonus, short winter hops are ok in a snowmobile suit. Just depends on how hardy you really are.

So let us work down my little list of invaluable opinions (remember its my blog😎). I will star* aircraft that I have either personally owned, flown, or re-build and keep it to Canadian or former Canadian manufactured aircraft. 


Beaver RX 550 or 650*  - Old Faithful!   lot of UL pilots have learned to fly in Beavers. They are easy to fly, repair and own. Sails are still available for the 550 and so are parts used and new. The 650 is fabric covered, there's fewer of them out there and some issues arose in the past around wing strut inserts being riveted with the wrong rivets. Prices range from 4,500.- to 15,000.- Personally I have not seen a Beaver listed that would substantiate much over 10 as of late. Just my .02 cents! For some great Beaver Flying shots and what's happening on the other side of this great land, check out Matt's youtube channel

Chinook Plus 2 - They have been another staple of UL instruction in the past and there is still support and parts available or you can buy a new one if you like. Costs are about the same as for the Beavers. Oh by the way, did I mention this little aircraft is holding the Valdez STOL Competition Title! Slightly upgraded, some mighty fine flying and a lot of practice, practice, practice. Here's a few more links!  



 Merlin GT* - Fear not, ..you can still get a new Merlin now even bigger and roomier and called the Mule. However, there is also still a good supply of reasonably priced Merlin's around these days and according to John Burch the original designer of the Merlin, ..it flew best with the Rotax 618. Keep that in mind. Merlin's come with every kind of engine from 503's up to 120hp 3.3ltr Corvairs. The Rotax 912 being a great match. Watch for possible D-Cell leading edge corrosion under the fabric. Prices vary from projects at below 10 to mid 20's. Similar in design are Lil Buzzards, Karatoo J6's which also should be given due consideration.

No flying today! Zenair CH-701SP* - The little airplane that can and will do everything you might ever want. For a little more money you are nicely moving up into the all metal category. We have flown this aircraft from Florida to BC, played on skis, floats, from pavement to backcountry mountain top landings. Bang for the buck, nothing will deliver like a 701. Ideal engines are the Rotax 912 series, but pricey. Considerations to lighter (and cheaper) 2 strokes such as a Rotax Rick 670 or Simonini Victor 2 will certainly make most STOL and fledgling Bush Pilots happy. I'd probably stay away from Auto Conversion in this aircraft simply for the places you will end up with the 701. Trying to find one might be a little chore as they seem to sell rather  quick and fewer owners part with them.

Zenair CH-601HD* - If backcountry flying isn't as much of interest as in going places at a good clip than a 601 will fill that niche for you nicely. Still grass capable but faster than the 701 and no doubt a little sexier in its appearance.

 BushCaddy R80* - Roomier, bigger, slightly heavier and unfortunately gone to China. If you are a big guy, want all metal, set up for the bush than this is the aircraft for you. They fly nice with the Rotax UL but a ULS makes them that much better.
I can attest personally to the proverbial take a licking and keep on ticking of this airframe. Prices range from mid 20 into the high 60's. You can't go wrong getting a BushCaddy in my opinion , no matter what configuration and/or price. Unfortunately they got a real bad rap in 2010 from a disgruntled person and it did very much disservice to the aircrafts manufacturer. According to the former owner, Sean Gilmore, the R80/R120 are undoubtedly the strongest of the bunch given it sizing of materials and rivet spacing. Considering that this very same aircraft is 1500lbs capable in the Experimental/Homebuilt category and 1750lbs with former factory authorization I do think there is some nice reserve build in into our 1232lbs legal AULA weight requirement. 

Murphy - Don't know what to tell you, but living only a few hours from the factory is not an excuse to know more about them. By the sounds they are back, or are they? Checking their webpage they do claim "affordable" and are within range with the Maverick kit if compared to the CH-701 for entry into the sport. Additional savings could be had by being able to pick up your kit in Chilliwack, BC vs. cross country shipping if you live in the western provinces.  

Fisher Flying Products* - If you have the time and love woodwork these aircraft are a piece of art. Geodesic Design gives them strengths and there is one for everyone. From single to two seats, high wing, bi-wing, classic or modern, go ahead pick your dream machine. As for building one, you will spend hours glueing, sanding and finishing. As buying for used, ok, .maybe, ..depends? For me personally ideally with all the fabric off so one can see every joint and if the wood sealer really got into even the last corner to stop possible dry rot or weathering.  These aircraft are a wonderful builder/owner/pilot plane, but not as much a re-sellable used aircraft. I don't recall ever any advertised in school or instructional use. And there might be a reason for that. Dave, the owner, has done a great job on his youtube channel which has tons of valuable insights and information. 


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.