High Sierra Flyin 2018

I finally got to return to the High Sierra Fly-in this year after missing last year due to having my parachute repaired and inspected.  The High Sierra Fly-in or HSF was started by a group of guys who liked to land their airplanes at off airport airstrips and in out of the way places.  I joined them a few years in my Rans S6ES.  That was why I built it in the first place.  Even after I had exchanged my fixed wing for my powered paraglider I still went to HSF.  This year will probably be my last but I’ll get to that later.

HSF is held on Flanagan Dry Lake which we call Dead Cow Lake.  That’s because the first time our organizer, Kevin Quinn, landed there he came across a dead cow and so the place was called that.  Dead Cow is roughly 2 miles wide by 4 miles long.  It has lots of room to maneuver and park airplanes.   Lots of camping space too.  A few of our group purchased property on the northwest shoreline of the dry lake and this is where we camp.  The rest of the lakebed is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is open to the public for recreational use.

 

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I left on Thursday morning and made the 5 hour drive to Dead Cow.  I took the long way which is on mostly paved roads.  There is a shorter route that is pretty heavily washboarded and rutted.  I elected to spare my trailer this abuse.  It was only about 30 minutes longer to drive the northern route anyway.

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The last part of the drive was across deeply rutted roads piled almost a foot deep of fine dust the consistency of talcum powder.  I was really nervous about this last portion of the drive even though it’s only two miles or so.  My truck doesn’t have 4 wheel drive so I was a little concerned about getting stuck but the truck, even pulling a cargo trailer, did just fine and I made it out on the the playa of the lakebed.  The lakebed itself is as hard as concrete and almost as smooth.

I drove around a while looking for familiar faces or a good place to camp.  I finally ran across some other PPC’ers at the extreme southern end of the camping area.  There was a small “bay” in the dry lake that was a perfect place to launch PPCs.  I pulled in next to them and set up camp.

 

 

I got done just as the sun was about to set.  My windsock indicated that there was ZERO wind and it was 73 degrees.  Perfect time to go fly.  So the evening I arrived I got to take my first flight at HSF 2018.  It was about as perfect a flight as you can get.  The only problem I had was I had to run full throttle to stay airborne.  After landing I realized I hadn’t changed the mixture in the carburetor but I was now operating at 4000 feet above sea level.  I changed to a leaner jet in the carburetor and this seemed to solve my problem.

 

I flew for a short time with one of the guys I was camped next to, Ryan.  He has the exact same PPC as I do, a Six Chuter P3 Lite. (sorry for the blurry photo)

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After landing and putting my parachute away I broke out an MRE, heated it up, and had a nice dinner under the stars.  There were no clouds and only a half moon so the stars were pretty bright.  I had my propane heater on the ground in front of me keeping me warm since temperatures in the desert drop rapidly after the sun goes down.  That’s no joke.  It was 73 degrees at sunset, by sunrise the next morning it was only 23 degrees!

At sunrise I got up and took care of business.  I saw Ryan getting his P3 ready so I decided to go fly too.  It was around 8:00am by this time and it had warmed up to about 35 degrees.  I had my thermal layer on, a thick fleece, my North Face jacket, and some ski pants on and they were just enough to keep me warm while flying.  My nose was freezing though!  35 degrees air temperature and a 35 MPH wind equals about 20 degrees with the wind chill factor.  Still it was another great flight.  So great that I flew 3 more times that morning!  I made several passes over the main part of the camping area to the north.  Even though the even did not begin until Saturday, it’s amazing how many planes and campers were already there Friday morning!

 

All in all on Friday I flew 5 times, two more times in the evening plus the three flights that morning.   Here’s a short clip of me flying over the campsites.

 

I didn’t stay for the entire event however.  As Saturday morning progressed more and more airplanes arrived and there was more and more activity over the lakebed.  I didn’t feel safe flying my parachute in the area any longer.  There were a few other guys there with PPCs but they tended not to wait around for me.  I didn’t want to fly alone away from the lakebed very far and I didn’t feel safe flying in the lakebed so I decided to pack it up and head home.

The most worrisome part of getting home was the access road to the lakebed.  It was full of that deep powder only this time I was driving uphill to get out.  I was afraid my two-wheel drive pickup and cargo trailer would get stuck.  However, they did just fine and I was soon out on the main road.  Four hours later I was pulling in front of my house.

I really enjoyed this year’s High Sierra Fly in, however, I think this will be the last year I attend.  For a few reasons.  First and foremost, it is DUSTY!  The alkali dust doesn’t bother me too much but I worry about what it does to my machine and parachute.  I intend to clean both but still… it’s not good for the machine.  The second reason I’m not returning is the same thing that makes the event so awesome… the sheer number of aircraft attending.  It’s a crazy awesome mix of Oshkosh and Burning Man.  I know a lot of pilots bristle when I say that but that’s exactly what it is.  The more aircraft that attend the more chance we have of attracting those who don’t operate their aircraft as safely as we do.  If I had a fixed wing airplane still I wouldn’t hesitate to go, however, my slow plodding PPC just doesn’t mix well with the other aircraft.  Could it be done safely?  Yes.  Is it worth the risk?  Not to me.  Not at this point in my life.

We finish old chapters and start new chapters in life.  Doors close.  Doors open.  It’s not like I’m giving up flying.  There are still some really nice (and smaller) fly ins closer to home that are more conducive to my type of flying.  I’ll stick to these from now on.  I wish the organizers of the High Sierra Fly in all the best and sincerely hope everyone operates as safely as possible.

Fly safe.

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Time Off From Work

I’ve taken the latter part of this week off from work.  I definitely need it.  The pas few days I’ve been doing my best to practice for retirement.  Though as you can see from my countdown ticker it’s still several years away.  I got up before the sun each morning, hitch up my trailer and drove out to New Jerusalem Airport.  Both days the air was smooth and nice.   I guess the wind thought I was at work.  The P3 performed flawlessly, the engine never stuttered or skipped a beat.  Two days in a row I flew past a local elementary school and got the kids all excited.  They were jumping up and down and waving.  I waved back of course.

It’s a wonderful feeling to be just sitting up in the air in a comfortable chair watching all the commuters rush to work, watching food being harvested, watching life from above.

Yesterday I a local balloonist was out as well.  It’s always fun to watch them set up and launch.  It’s the only aircraft that is more trouble to set up than my own.

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I’ll leave you with a few more photos of the past few days.

Happy landings everyone!

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Is It For Sale Or Not??

I’ve been flying my P3 more now that I have it up for sale.  Or is it for sale?  I was going to take it off the market and keep it but there has been a sudden interest in it from a few different parties.  In fact, this caused some confusion on the part of the good folks at Six Chuter but all is well now.  So if the sale falls through with these new folks, then I will OFFICIALLY take it off the market in every way shape and form and just sell the trailer.  But know this potential buyers; it’s not going to sit and collect dust!

Here’s a video of this past Saturday’s flight.  What a great morning!

More Air!

It’s Labor Day weekend here in the USA.  I’ve been blessed to be able to fly this morning and a wonderful flight it was!  The air was cool and calm.  I flew “feet off” meaning I didn’t have to do much steering; just point it in the direction I wanted to go and then rest my feet on the bars.  Here is a quick video clip recapping this morning’s flight.

I’ll be back at it again tomorrow morning!  Happy Labor Day!

Pattern Work Before Work

Winds were forecast to be calm(ish) on Friday morning so I decided to try to get in a little flying before work.  I didn’t have much gas and I didn’t have much time but there was just enough of both for me to get in 4 circuits around the runway.  I was a little dubious about the visibility but again there was enough to fly safely.

I was up at 5am without the alarm.  I took that as a sign that I should go ahead and hitch up the trailer and head out to New Jerusalem.  I headed west out of town on a dark country road.  Then pulled into Friday commuter traffic on a dark country highway.  They are all driving to the San Francisco Bay Area.  I’m only driving to New Jerusalem.  No hurry.  They can all cut each other off and drive like lunatics.  I take my time.  Turned right onto another country road.  A short time later I turn on the the dirt farm road that leads to the gates of New Jerusalem.  No literally.  There is a fence around the New Jerusalem airport.  Luckily the good folks at the City of Tracy shared the combination to the lock so we can get in and enjoy this little gem of an airport.

I parked, put up the wind sock, unloaded the P3 and started the engine so it could warmimg_20180824_064059 up.  It was really chilly this morning.  It felt and looked more like winter than August.  I got into my ski pants while the engine warmed up.  I could just make out the sun as it started to rise.  The haze was really thing this morning.  A combination of smoke and fog.

After warming up the engine and doing a run-up I taxied the P3 about halfway down the taxiway and setup for takeoff.  There was  a light wind blowing but it was straight down the taxiway.  I started the take off roll, waited for the parachute to settle down, and then applied full throttle and gently started climbing skyward.

I flew about 4 circuits and the landed to pack up and head to work.  The rest of the story is pretty boring so I’ll just leave with a short video of a portion of today’s flight.

P3 Lite Is Running Great

I took my P3 up for a quick flight this past Sunday morning.  Turned out to be a perfect morning and if I didn’t have to go to church I would have flown longer.  The smoke from all the wildfires we have here this year had backed off to the north and east and the air was crystal clear over New Jerusalem.  Just flew around for a bit to stretch my wings and set back down so that I could make it to church in time with my wife.  Made it home with 15 minutes to spare!

Here are a few photos and a video from the flight.

 

For Sale: Six Chuter P3 Lite

It’s official!  My Six Chuter P3 Lite is for sale.  The machine is running great.  I’ve really enjoyed flying it.  However, I’ve really been wanting a travel trailer to take my wife camping.  Now if I were made of money, I would just buy a travel trailer, no problem.  Since I am not, I will have to sell something to buy something.  This absolutely will NOT be the end of my flying career.  I will probably go back to a powered paraglider at some point.  But for now, in this season of life, we’re really looking to travel and camp.  And we don’t want to wait for “someday”.   You can check out my last blog post for that.

So all that out of the way here are the details:

Six Chuter P3 Lite and Continental Cargo trailer offered as a package: $13,000

I’ll link to the For Sale flyer here

Just so you know, I’m going to keep flying this little beastie until it sells.  It ain’t going to be sitting around collecting dust!

Lastly I just want to say what a great team Six Chuter is.  They have bent over backwards to help me with any issue that has cropped up.  Even if that issue was only in my head.  They provide EXCELLENT factory support and you couldn’t find a better bunch of guys and gals to deal with.