All Dialed In

I went for a quick flight this morning before work.  I have to say it was a really pleasant flight.   On my last flight the P3 was pulling to the right fairly strongly.  This morning’s flight was to try to figure out what was happening.  However, the right turning tendency was gone this morning.  I have to assume that the issue was either a stick stuck in a line or something wonky with one of my risers.  I laid the chute out slowly and carefully this morning and double-checked everything for tangles.  The air was calm, the engine was just purring, I made a few touch and goes and decided to call everything good.

My next opportunity to fly will be this weekend.  However, the weather doesn’t look as though it will be cooperating.  I might get to sneak a flight in on Sunday morning at a new location.  More about that when/if it actually happens.  For now, here is a short video from this morning’s flight.

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P3 Light Final Tweaks

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My last flight on the P3 had me setting down early due to high cylinder head temperatures on my engine.  I called J-Bird and they made some suggestions.  This morning was the first non-windy day I had to go on a test flight so I headed out to New Jerusalem Airport just before church.

Happy to report that all went well.  CHT’s were well below where they were on the last flight.  I made several changes to the P3 to achieve this:

  • Change the prop pitch bocks to 13 degrees (they were at 12 degrees before)
  • Change the carburetor jet needle position.  The retainer clip is now 1 slot down from the top of the needle.  This causes the carb to run richer at midrange throttle settings.
  • Change the carburetor high jet to 360 from 370.

All these worked together to reduce the engine temps.  I also change the CG of my P3 by moving the retaining clips on the lift tubes from the bottom most position to the second set of holes up.  This allowed the P3 to ride closer to level and has also eliminated the left turning tendancy the cart had in flight.

Here is an abbreviated clip from this morning’s flight:

 

And here is a quick rundown of the P3’s status at this point:

 

CG Adjustments Part 1

I’m happy to report that I’ve lost enough weight that it is time to adjust the CG (Center of Gravity) on my Six Chuter P3 Lite Powered Parachute.   It was adjusted for max pilot weight.  I am nowhere near that weight.  Also, when I take off I noticed that the carriage swings on the pitch axis (nose to tail) on lift off.  Kind of like a teeter-totter effect.

So after checking the manual I adjusted the lift tubes for my current weight + 10 lbs.  The lift tubes are what the parachute risers are connected to.  If you extend them, you move the CG forward, if you retract them, you move the CG rearward; the lighter the pilot, the more forward you have to adjust the CG.  Six Chuter made this fairly easy by pre-drilling holes in the lift tubes through which you insert a pin.  The lift tubes are designed in a telescoping manner and you extend or reduce them to the proper measurement as called out in the manual for pilot weight.  Then insert a locking pin through the hole and the CG has been set.  The adjustment I made to the lift tubes ended up being extended them such that the pin was moved two holes in each tube.

This morning I drove out to New Jerusalem and gave it a test flight.  What I found was that the cart lifted off rear wheels first and the nose wheel was rolling on the ground.  Not by much but enough that I noticed it.  I immediately cut the power and landed again.  I had extended the tubes by too much.  Apparently I had underestimated the weight of all the gear I fly with, it’s obviously more than 10 lbs worth.

After landing I was still rolling and decided to try something.  I was about 1 quarter of the way down the runway and slowly pulled off to the extreme right of the runway, keeping my parachute centered overhead.  Then I slowly fed in left rudder bar and the chute started to sway to the left.  I entered an easy left turn and the chute returned overhead while I was still turning.  I steepened the turn and fed in more left rudder bar until I had done a 180 turn.  I relaxed the rudder input and as the parachute started to veer right I straightened out the turn and the chute returned overhead.  I was able to drive all the way back to my trailer like this.

Long time PPC guys will say “So what?  I do that all the time!!”

I say, “Good for you PPC guys!”  This was my first time being able to do a 180 on the runway and taxi back.  It felt pretty good to me.

After getting back to the trailer and putting the chute away I set about RE-adjusting the CG.  I shortened the riser tubes by one hole which SHOULD put the CG back about where I wanted it to be.  So the net effect will be that I only lengthened the tubes by 1 hole.  I’ll give it a test flight tomorrow morning and report back.

Here’s a short video from my POV…

Quick little PPC Mod

I have no way of knowing how much fuel is in my PPC tank unless I lean around and look or time it.  I don’t like leaning out that far in the PPC when I’m flying, strapped in or not.  I came up with another solution:

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It’s just a clamp-on mirror I bought off Amazon (Click here to save you some searching time).  I discarded the clamp that came with it and used a spare adel clamp I had on hand. I had to drill out the holes in the clamp slightly larger than they were to accommodate the threaded portion of the mirror.  I used a little electrical tape to prevent the steel clamp from scratching the frame.

Now I have a wireless, probeless, fuel gauge that takes absolutely no power to run!

Blackhawk Fly-In 2018

This past weekend I attended the Blackhawk Flyin up in Valley Springs, CA.  The fly-in is put on by Blackhawk Paramotors.  They offer training and sales of powered paramotor equipment.  Normally the field is only open to their customers but once or twice a year they open it up to everyone.  This past weekend was their Spring fly-in.  I towed my PPC to work with me on Friday so that I could drive directly to the fly-in after work.

After work on Friday I drove up Highway 26 to Linden where I tanked up my truck and mixed up some fuel for my PPC.  I continued up to Blackhawk Ranch located on the south end of New Hogan Reservoir.  I pulled onto the field and found a spot on the northwest side of the field.  After parking I pulled my PPC out into the sun and started walking the field checking out all the other flying machines.  It was also fun to pause and watch the takeoffs and landings.  Some of them showed some very interesting…um… techniques.

 

I ran into some friends that I fly with at New Jerusalem and talked with them for a while.  Then I decided to cook dinner.

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Yes, I had a heaping helping of MRE’s for dinner.  If you don’t know what that means it’s “Meals, Ready To Eat.”  You either love them or hate them.  I think they are just fine.  You can store them for years, they don’t need refrigeration, and come with water-activated heater to heat the food up.  After dinner I watched the evening flights and after dark listened to the coyotes calling to each other around the valley.

The next morning I put on my thermal layers under my clothes and started warming up my PPC.  It was cold and dewy outside as taxied over to my selected launch spot.  I laid out my wing in the driest spot I could find.  There was no wind as I launched into the air.  The ground run was longer than I was used to  I was coming up on the end of the field so I kicked my rudder bars a couple of times to get off the ground.  When I relaxed my feet the PPC sunk back toward the ground.  So I held a little rudder in until I was climbing and then slowly let it out.  Climb rate was not stellar, I was just above the tree tops as I climbed out of the small valley.  After a few nerve wracking moments I was comfortably above the trees and climbing over the hills.

I tried to relax and just enjoy the scenery.  I’ve flown over this area for over 25 years but something about flying slow in a PPC give you time to notice details you’ve never seen before.  I spent about 45 minutes flying over the lake and rolling hills.

Given all the activity at the field I was a little nervous about the landing.  However, there really was no problem landing.  I just picked an area that no one was in and set down there.  I folded and stowed my parachute, put the PPC back at the trailer and then went to socialize some more.   I also took the opportunity to change my main carburetor jet to one size leaner.  I was hoping that this would give me a little better engine performance.  Given that the engine temps were so cool, my RPMs were so low (only 5900 rpm on climbout)  and my climb was so poor, I thought maybe the engine is running too rich.

After changing my main jet afternoon slowed down quiet a bit.  Kind of a lazy warm Spring day.  Spent the rest of the day napping, socializing, and then having dinner with the other pilots.  The fly-in organizers put on a dinner.   After dark I went back to my trailer and called it a night.

The next morning (Sunday) it was just as dewy as the previous morning.  Since I really didn’t feel good about my climb-out performance the previous day I decided to sit out the morning flight and just pack up.  I’d rather do my engine testing in friendlier terrain.  I said my goodbyes to everyone and headed for home.  Even though I only got one flight in I really enjoyed the weekend.  It was great to get off the grid, fly, and do nothing at all.

When You Get Back Is Not Like When You Left

The winds looked good this morning. They were not forecasted to pick up until after Noon. Seemed like a great morning to go fly. I got out to New Jerusalem at about 8:00am. There was no wind, dead calm. I unpacked as usual and set up as usual. One last look at the wind sock told me it was going to be a great flight. It was hanging down, not a breath of wind.

I took off and flew south along the San Joaquin River. I circled back to overfly the Screenshot_20180404-092604confluence of the Stanislaus and San Joaquin Rivers. It was probably a big deal back before the rivers were dammed. Now it looks like two irrigation canals coming together. I continued on south over Highway 132 and towards a large pond just next to the river. I wasn’t too keen on flying over the acres and acres of orchards in front of me (I’m still learning to trust this engine, it didn’t skip a beat) so I turned back north. Once I got just north of Highway 132 the cart started to swing and my ground speed dropped from 28 MPH to 19 MPH!

I was about 3 miles from the airport and my ground speed kept dropping and the cart kept swinging. I might have said a prayer or two. As I came in on final approach my ground speed was down to 14 MPH. Things got a little more swingy near the ground but I managed to make a really decent landing. The cart was rolling on the ground so I killed the engine and tugged the brakes to bring the chute down. After it settled down behind me I just sat there as is my habit. I listen to the wind, the birds, the sound of the engine ticking as it cooled down. I unbuckled and immediately the wind started inflating the parachute and pulling the cart backwards. I grabbed one of the brake lines to deflate the chute. I dropped my helmet on the rear corner to keep the chute from billowing up again. If the ride back to the airport was interesting packing the chute back up was every bit as interesting. I finally got it in the bag and stowed on the cart.

I thought it was just me having a problem with the wind but then I saw a Cessna 172 on final approach and he was bucking and crabbing every bit as much as I was. I was just of the runway on the downwind side and started backing up when I saw he kept drifting towards me and looking like he was going to land on my PPC! He finally decided to go-around and passed about 30 feet above me. Yeah, so much for a full flap landing in a stiff crosswind. I got the cart back to the trailer before he tried his second approach. He made it down this time. Good for him.

So the moral to today’s story is that weather conditions can change very quickly. Stay on top of the weather, stay on top of your skills, and be ready to use those skills.

And now enjoy a short video of (most of) the flight…

 

And if you’re interested in where I flew today…

Quick Flight Before Church

I took a quick flight this past Sunday before heading off to church.  Weather was good if not chilly: 38 degrees F and 2-3 MPH crosswind from the right.  Otherwise wonderful flying conditions.  Thanks to some tips from a local group of PPC pilots I’m finally learning how to land!

Sorry for the low audio at the end.  What I basically said is that I’d like to thank J Bird Aviation and Six Chuter International for their amazing customer service.  They’ve been calm and helpful even when I wasn’t.  It’s a good machine and now I just need to learn to fly and enjoy it!