Engine Out With a Twist
June 30, 2007 Elburn, IL
Saturday was one busy day. Bookended with paramotor flying, the middle
held a hang glider trike adventure—and my first engine out
landing in corn. Let me tell you, there are fewer options with the hang
glider trike than the powered paraglider.
The morning flight with Tim was its usual relaxing cruise around the
local area. Taking in the sights and smells still renews my mind even
the hundredth time. We have to be far more careful
now as there are people strolling through the newly built pathways of
our nearby prairie preserve. It's not just following the letter of the law, it's
avoiding a perception of danger. So we keep our distance and fly quiet
motors. I wouldn't do this with my buzz-bomb direct drive.
The morning was unusually clear. Post cold front weather allowed us
to easily see downtown Chicago.
After the local cruise I took out my in-line skates. Tim manned the
camera and I went to work. That little adventure
stands on it own.
Harryport & The Corn-Fed Hang Glider Trike
In the afternoon I headed out to fly with Harry and got a bonus of
Jeff and Pam Neilson. Jeff is a hang glider instructor and his
experience would be welcome later. When I arrived the Samba was already
out and had been flown by Harry. After some kibitzing it was time to
launch for a little sortie over to Polo Field and around. I'd only flown
the Samba once this year so it was good to get the feel back. What a
nice flying machine. The polo field was vacant when I arrived so I so I
kept cruising around, heading north.
One huge sod farm enroute provided some great play—I spent the whole
time below 5 feet, circling and doing "wheel drags" there—I'd fly along,
grass-skimming the main gear, while holding the nosewheel just above the
ground. Bumpy conditions made that more challenging but it was fun and I
got better with practice. Then
it was up and back to the field. At a very few points I thought how an
engine out would be inconvenient at best. That made me climb higher. I
also decided to keep near roads instead of flying right over the corn.
Both decisions proved beneficial.
Engine Wind Up with a Yard Landing Twist
Cruising westward at about 300 feet I noticed a familiar house. It
was the one I'd
flown a friend of Jim Filgut's from in Ellie (a helicopter). Cool.
Sad, though. He was a terminally ill cancer patient but with the most
amazing attitude. I'm sure he had his moments, who wouldn't, but he was
a pleasure to be around—more than I can say for a few who are blessed
with physical health. I digress.
Not long after noticing this house, the engine revved way up as the
thrust diminished and I started descending. I turned immediately to
position myself for an upwind landing that ended roadside. It was
obvious the belt had loosened and I played with the throttle trying to
find a setting where it would grab enough to fly level. That was a waste
given that I was mostly level when it happened. So I went to idle to insure any residual
thrust didn't affect my approach. Then I noticed the grassy back yard.
There were two areas of that yard, a larger one to the west and a
piece south and east. The westerly one had trees that could have
concealed wires so I opted for the known but smaller eastern one where
an over or undershoot meant merely going through more corn. There would
be no way to land and stop in the grass but, the thinking went, it sure
would be nice to avoid dragging it through corn so I set up to touch in
the corn just prior to the grass patch.
It worked. The landing was level and just prior to the grass. But the
ground was inclined making for a hard touchdown. I rolled through the
grass and into corn on the other side, going about 4 rows in. It was
indeed easy to extricate the Samba and get it to to an open area. Boy
would a powered paraglider be easier, though!
Examining the reduction drive revealed a belt tensioning bolt was
broken clean off, allowing the pulleys to move closer, loosening the
belt. Too bad because, while awaiting Harry, I found a place to
re-launch if we could tighten the belt. Nothing doing—even if we had the
bolt we'd need to extricate the original bolt's remains. As it turns
out, that may have been good because closer inspection showed a slight
bend in a support bolt.
Harry, Gary, his daughter Christy and Jeff came with a big hay
trailer and we strapped the Samba on to return. Thanks to everyone who
helped. Jeff Neilson showed us how to remove the wing so we can get
everything straightened out.
Icing on the Grass
It's all such an adventure as long as nobody gets hurt. When we got
the Samba back to Harryport, PPG pilots Dave Moore and Kevin Kanarski
were there. I was originally meeting them at another nearby paramotor
site when my bad bolt derailed the plan. Thankfully, there was just
enough time for a last little play in the air. Dave brought a beach ball
and we had a great time picking it up then dropping it. Kevin did a
masterful job landing to fetch some fallen piece of his kit. It was,
all-in-all, one of my most flightful days of the year.
Kaleb, pictured left, saw us flying around and was fascinated. Dave
noted that he was the same way about two years ago and now, of course,
we know Dave to have gone over the deep end. We answered all the usual
questions and hope to start seeing Kaleb around one of the local schools